The Cult of the Satanist Abbé Boullan

In March 1856 Boullan assumed the spiritual direction of a young woman from Soissons, Adèle Chevalier. After being told by several doctors that there was no hope left, during a pilgrimage to Our Lady of La Salette she had been miraculously cured of blindness and pulmonary congestion. The news was soon to spread throughout the diocese and the bishop of Soissons had delegated his Vicar General to conduct an investigation. His report was clear and precise: "After careful consideration of the circumstances which led to the recovery of sight and the healing of the lungs, I do not hesitate to believe in a supernatural intervention by the Mother of God."

From that time, sister Chevalier was in communication with the Virgin and - inspired by a divine grace - frequently receiving revelations from a mysterious voice. The monks of La Salette asked the bishop of Grenoble permission to entrust her to the direction of abbot Boullan, whose scientific and mystic theology was well known to them. Immediately, Boullan had great faith in the supernatural qualities of the penitent. It was decided that he would travel to Rome to present the miracle to the Pope and the Sacred College.

This mission would not be the only one. Around the same time, Boullan had to deal with the case of Miss Mary Roche, who had been entrusted to him by the bishop of Rodez. She also claimed to have a divine mission and to receive heavenly inspiration of a prophetic nature. Events of the utmost gravity had been announced to her: one prophecy applied to the Pope who would meet a violent death and another to the French Emperor who, if he did not follow the orders Marie Roche gave him, would perish through the hands of his officers to make room for Henry V. Marie Roche was also taken to Rome by the abbot and presented to the Sacred College.

Claiming to have received from the Virgin a revelation in which she ordered him to found a religious Society for the Reparation of Souls, Adèle wrote down the rules of the Society which also were dictated to her in a divine manner. In his journal Les Annales de la Sainteté au XIXe Siècle Boullan later explained that he tried "to offer to God a satisfaction or reparation - by special prayers and the physical or moral sufferings Christians accepted and even sought - in order to restore the balance that was distorted by the offenses against the divine majesty, committed by sinners who were not repentant".

With the approval of several senior prelates, the Society was installed at Bellevue Avenue in Sèvres, in the department of Seine-et-Oise. In fact, however, the community served only to conceal the amorous relationship between the abbot and sister Adèle. Soon, bizarre practices were recorded, with which Boullan tried to heal the nuns who where attacked by strange diabolical diseases. The abbot exorcised one of the sisters who was tormented by the Devil by spitting in her mouth; another had to drink his urine mixed with that of sister Chevalier, and a third was ordered to eat poultices made of faeces. Clerics asked abbot Boullan and sister Chevalier how they could reconcile - for money - the favour of the Blessed Virgin, and finally some very worldly women consulted them in matters of conscience. In 1860 he was reputed to be responsible for the disappearance of the child that was the fruit of his forbidden love for Adèle Chevalier. Some even said the child was sacrificed upon the altar.

Complaints were filed to the police and the bishop of Versailles, especially concerning the money Boullan made with his strange therapies. An investigation was opened against Father Boullan and sister Chevalier, who were accused of fraud and indecency. The Court of Versailles dismissed the latter, but sentenced Boullan and Chevalier to three years in prison on the first accusation, which Boullan served from 1861 to 1864 at Rouen.

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