Benedetta (2021) Movie Script

This film was inspired by real events
[birds chirping]
[speaking French]
I greet you, O my sister.
You want to sing her a song?
[singing in French]
What's your business?
We're going to Pescia
for my daughter to take the veil.
They must carry silver coin, captain.
The convent dowry.
I have promissory notes, not silver!
You have something worth taking!
[chain rattling]
Give that back!
It's my mother's.
She has bigger balls than you!
The Blessed Virgin will punish you.
How do you know, child?
She does all I ask of her.
She can go to hell,
your Virgin!
[bird chirping]
You hear that?
The Virgin's voice.
To prove she heard me.
[man] Shit!
The Blessed Virgin
will have fun with you!
[horses neighing]
-[farting noises]
[indistinct chatter]
[bell tolling]
Good day, Signor Carlini.
If you'd care to follow me.
Wait here.
The Theatines are grateful
for your bringing Jesus a new bride.
Benedetta will be happy here.
[Carlini] I also bring oranges, apples
and wine in significant quantities.
For the next 25 years,
you will receive the same.
Every year.
That is very generous of you,
Signor Carlini.
And for the dowry?
When my Benedetta was born,
she almost died.
By miracle, God saved her.
I pledged her to him.
A very moving story.
I have heard many like it.
Each time, I am touched.
But every year,
we receive hundreds of girls,
who want to serve God.
This year's candidates.
And I can only take three.
Aware of the challenges you face,
I'd be delighted to donate 50 gold scudi.
The fruit and wine
might also count for something.
Am I right?
Beyond these walls,
a bride's dowry
never descends below 150 scudi.
Is a bride of Christ
worth less than a hundred?
Let's split the difference. 75!
You'd haggle like a Jew
over 25 scudi?
After all, Giuliano,
she's your beloved daughter.
100 scudi.
We are not horse-trading.
Your word is enough.
And your promissory note.
Too big.
-They're so beautiful.
Who gave you that?
My mother.
For me to pray to the Blessed Virgin.
Child, the convent has its own Virgin.
From now on, you'll pray to her.
-But she's mine!
-Come on, hurry.
Undress now.
It's so itchy, it's horrible.
As it should be.
Your worst enemy is your body.
Best not to feel at home in it.
When I was barely older than you,
I lost two inches of flesh
to a drunkard's knife.
This wooden finger is dearer to me
than the other nine.
If I could,
I'd replace every part of my body,
until I was a block of wood,
carved with the name of God.
Like a gravestone?
You're an intelligent girl.
But intelligence can be dangerous, child.
And not only for others.
[bell tolling]
Benedetta, this way.
[Sister Jacopa]
Give me that.
This is your cell.
Wear this tomorrow.
[wind blowing]
My beloved Mary,
you are my mother now.
I pray thee, help me.
I feel so alone.
Do you even hear me
from where I am?
[Sister Jacopa]
Are you hurt?
Raise the statue!
-Did you touch it?
Something snapped and it fell.
Why were you here?
I wanted to pray to the Virgin.
Can your legs hold you?
It's a miracle she wasn't crushed.
Well, go back to bed
and take Benedetta to hers.
Could it be a real miracle?
[Reverend Mother]
Let's not have loose talk.
Miracles sprout like mushrooms,
and usually they're more trouble
than they're worth.
I didn't really believe it.
18 years later
I so desired to see my son,
the Lord Jesus.
I so desired
his bodily presence once more.
Then God,
in his infinite generosity,
sent me an angel,
who proclaimed this night,
"You shall ascend to your son in glory!"
To have your company here,
my brothers,
I have fervently prayed.
Noble lady,
full of grace and wisdom,
you are our reward.
Now I shall lay in this bed,
arrayed here for me.
[lamb bleating]
You are my wife!
Come to me!
I'm coming, Lord.
I'm coming!
Come to me!
Benedetta, your feet!
This feast is a gift
from our generous guest,
Giulano Carlini.
Let us drink to his health.
A thought for our dear bishop of Milan,
taken from us last week.
I heard it was the plague.
The bishop was a good man.
But I always thought his cathedral
turned his head.
If it pleases God,
the bishop's seat
will better fit your Grace.
No. No, no.
And it is sad.
Despite courting the Vatican
with the impudence of a harlot,
I am quite simply not conspicuous enough.
I would be a prodigy if the Pope
could locate Pescia on a map.
So let us hope
for a cartographic miracle.
Why were you moving your feet?
You were supposed to be dead.
I saw Jesus.
He came to me.
I'm his bride, am I not?
Yes, of course.
Open the door!
[banging continues]
Open it.
He'll kill me! Help me!
Open up! Please!
[sheep bleating]
Take me! No, he's coming!
Please, help!
[man] Harlot!
You can't escape!
You're mine, little whore!
Let me stay! Please!
-Come on!
You're looking for a fight?
This is a convent.
I love Jesus.
Take me.
I'm her father.
She belongs to me.
Let me stay here.
A convent
is not a place of charity, child.
You must pay to come here.
Do you have money?
Enough now. That's enough!
Let me go.
I want to serve God.
-Mother, help her!
-We'll pay.
Pay a stranger's dowry?
I'll pray my whole life for you, sire.
Signor Carlini,
the rich do not enter
the kingdom of God.
Jesus said so.
Reverend Mother,
you have devoted yourself
to ensuring my entry.
Very well.
A gift for you, Benedetta.
What gift?
You won't get my daughter for nothing.
Not on your life!
Ten dinari, no more.
Twenty. And the price of a good dog
to replace the slut.
[sheep bleating]
That's delicious.
Here, catch.
Soap yourself well.
What's your name?
Sister Benedetta. And you?
Bartolomea what?
Bartolomea nothing.
Washing well is a rule?
A clean soul demands a clean body.
I scrub as hard as I can.
Shit, my soap. Where is it?
[yelping, gasping]
I nearly fell.
Is any water left so I can rinse?
Sister Benedetta?
Your nightgown is on the table.
[water splashing]
-[metal rattling]
-[Bartolomea] Sister Benedetta?
To take a shit, where do I go?
Follow me.
Real commodes?
-Where did you do it?
-Outside. With the animals.
That's so good! What a relief!
We must not talk so loudly at night.
That's allowed, I hope.
Forgive me, who did that?
My father.
The plague took mama last year,
so my father made me his wife.
I always told him no.
He always told me
he didn't give a damn.
-His wife for everything?
-Yes, everything.
My brothers did the same behind his back.
[birds squawking]
This morning,
I tried to stick him with scissors.
For that, he massacred me.
That's why I ran away.
Beauty is not always an advantage.
If I were a goat, he'd do the same.
I'm beautiful?
You mean you don't know?
No, we never had a mirror.
You are beautiful.
View your reflection in my eyes.
I see nothing.
You have to be closer.
You see yourself?
What are you two doing?
She didn't know where the privy was.
Who's she?
our Reverend Mother's daughter.
And she spies for her mother?
[metal rattling]
[metal rattling]
Holy Mother, I believe
Sister Bartolomea seeks my guidance
but I am not worthy to teach her.
[woman's voice]
God himself put this girl in your path.
Is she not in need of love and advice?
[Benedetta] Yes, but she must be
directed with a strong hand.
Which I lack.
[woman's voice]
God will show the way.
[women singing]
[hissing, rattling]
[hissing, rattling]
Help me! Jesus!
-What did these beasts want?
-[Jesus] To kill you.
They were demons,
trying to keep us apart.
But they are stupid.
Neither life nor death
can separate us.
Stay with me.
Yes, sweet Jesus.
I'll stay with you.
[singing resumes]
Speak, sister.
I have seen Jesus.
In a dream?
In the flesh.
As I see you before me now.
Seeing him, what did you feel?
-Then it was a false vision.
A true manifestation of Christ
fills us with joy.
How can I know what is true or false?
Through suffering.
Suffering is the only way to know Christ.
I know God wants us to suffer but...
-It frightens me.
The ways of the Lord
are often terrifying.
Imbeciles say,
"I do not fear him
for I know he is good."
Have they never seen a surgeon at work?
So we must welcome affliction?
Pray that it shall come.
Ego te absolvo.
[loom rumbling]
[fire crackling]
The bobbins are ruined.
You know their value?
-You idiot!
-You ran into me!
Pardon me?
It's your fault.
Stop lying.
It was you.
Take the bobbins out.
The water is boiling.
or you go back to your father.
[water bubbling]
[water bubbling]
-[water splashing]
Now, the rest.
I must do it again?
While we talk, the bobbins break.
[bobbins clattering]
Well then?
What is this now?
Bartolomea burned her hand.
Back to work!
Sister Petra,
she needs to go to the infirmary.
Take her.
[Reverend Mother]
I hear one of your sisters
damaged bobbins of silk
and you took it upon yourself
to administer punishment.
No, Reverend Mother.
My aim was not to punish
but to hurt her.
You wanted to inflict pain
on your sister?
-Yes, deliberately.
[Reverend Mother]
There was no malice in it?
If you say it was malice,
I'll know it to be true.
You don't know your own feelings?
It seems not.
Did Bartolomea do something
to anger you?
Do you detest her for some reason?
Do you feel affection for her?
I feel...
compassion, yes.
For all her sufferings.
Including those you inflict?
Father Ricordati says
sufferings guide us to God
and make us stronger.
Our own sufferings.
Not the sufferings of others.
You were overzealous.
You'll go without bread for a week,
and for two weeks,
you'll change Sister Jacopa's bedding.
You may go.
Yes, Reverend Mother.
-[Jacopa groans]
-I'm here to help.
Stay back!
I take pride in my suffering.
Pride is a mortal sin.
We're all entitled to a sin.
What's yours?
I have never sinned.
But I could at any moment.
Of course.
Help me.
My sin is,
I was born a Jew.
Sister Petra was a whore.
Selling herself in privies in Florence.
Nobody cares.
But my father's prick was circumcised.
And that fault is unforgivable.
You've discovered my secret lover.
You call that love?
God will speak to you
in many tongues.
If your heart is brave enough
to let him in.
[metal rattling]
[indistinct whispering]
[indistinct chatter]
[woman screaming]
[screaming continues]
[indistinct chatter]
Stand aside!
Let the abbess through.
[screaming, grunting]
It hurts too much!
It's torture!
Hold her legs.
[Reverend Mother]
Tie her down.
Fetch the doctor.
[bell ringing]
[distant screaming]
How is she?
I gave her poppy juice to drink.
She's sleeping.
What was it?
I found nothing abnormal.
But she is clearly in pain.
She howled for hours on end.
There's black bile in her urine.
That's common.
[Reverend Mother]
If it starts again?
I'll leave you some poppy juice.
Twenty dinari.
[metal rattling]
Why are you so cruel?
You want to be with me?
I want to be with you.
[metal rattling]
[gasping, panting]
[screaming, grunting]
Thank you, sweet Jesus!
I shall heal your wound.
-You're not Jesus.
-[man] I am Jesus.
You are my bride.
No! It's a lie!
Give yourself to me!
I'll chop you to bits!
[metal rattling]
You're getting a cellmate.
[metal rattling]
Feeling better?
I feel what God wants me to feel.
I've decided
to place someone at your side.
To be with you day and night.
To care for you, pray with you.
Give you your remedy if necessary.
I'm sorry to be such a burden.
We'll see if this improves things.
[Reverend Mother] Bartolomea
was the only sister
to volunteer for this duty.
I hope there is something providential
in the choice.
A lesson in forgiveness, perhaps.
Why are you here?
To torment me?
Have I done something to suggest that?
How can anyone put anything in here?
The dress I wore the day I arrived here.
And this?
My mother's.
A gift from her as a child.
So let's put it...
I was deceived by the devil.
He made me hurt you.
But you came back.
You're out of bed?
I want to be useful again.
Reverend Mother
needed help with the accounts.
What's all that?
Beyond me.
I can teach you.
I'm not very good at learning.
Nice and warm.
Anything else?
No, thank you.
I'm going to bed.
[metal rattling]
I'm not allowed a look?
We must not be seen nude.
Saw you!
It was a joke.
Only you find your jokes funny.
I saw your breasts.
I saw them.
[wind blowing]
Will you suffer
to show your love for me?
Take off your clothes.
It's forbidden to be nude with others.
Wherever I am,
there can be no shame.
Do as I say.
Yes, Lord.
I shall.
Come to me.
Remove what separates us.
Place your hands on mine.
[gasping, groaning]
Such pain!
My God!
My God, it hurts!
Too much!
I can't stand it.
Help me.
Help me!
[breathing heavily]
[singing stops]
Jesus did this to me.
Last night...
He did this to me.
Here, too.
The stigmata!
Were you praying when it happened?
I was in bed.
That's when it happened.
St. Francis was in prayer
when he received the stigmata.
Catherine of Siena, also.
Neither was sleeping.
I was sleeping.
And Jesus marked me.
It was Jesus. I saw him.
You saw him?
I heard him speaking.
What did he say?
I don't remember.
I'd expect the word of God
to make a greater impression.
Bring Sister Benedetta to my chamber.
Open it, will you?
However often I wipe her wounds,
they bleed again.
They are very deep.
Her feet are the same.
-[Cecchi] And her side?
-[doctor] Worse.
How is this possible?
I don't know.
I've never seen the like.
What can we do?
Keep them clean.
New dressings every two hours.
Remove her wimple.
No blood.
It hurts.
When he was made to wear
the crown of thorns,
Jesus's forehead bled.
I don't see anything.
Dress her wounds.
Close after us.
You are doubtful?
The girl was in bed.
No miracle occurs in bed, believe me.
What do I write?
The absence of signs on her head
is troubling.
In all confirmed cases of stigmata,
evidence of the crown of thorns
was recorded.
God is not bound by any rule book.
Do we agree?
-[Benedetta] Your Grace?
-[Cecchi] Yes, my child.
May I go?
Of course.
Would you care for a glass of wine?
Most gladly.
Leave me. I need to pray.
You find me too willing
to believe this miracle?
My dear provost,
I don't think you believe it at all.
Am I so cynical?
Unless I have a vision of my own.
It seems possible.
A vision of St. Francis, perhaps?
Assisi was once
an insignificant village.
Now, pilgrims flood there.
Filling both its basilicas.
Administered by a bishop,
not a provost.
-[Benedetta] [grunting]
Jesus, what's happening to me?
[satanic voice]
Know, O sinners,
that as plague stalks the land,
Pescia has been spared
only by the grace
of my bride!
You harass,
torment and persecute
she who has protected you!
What did you see?
-She fell.
-[glass crunching]
A timely miracle.
Your Grace,
this has gone far enough.
You'd bring the fury of God upon us?
You heard the words spoken
a moment ago.
-I heard words.
-You mock me now as well?
The child's words,
however troubling, are of God.
I feel it deep in my soul.
This miracle glorifies the Theatines.
Can you not see?
I see, your Grace.
You act docile...
but you'll stab me
as soon as I turn my back.
we'll see if God gives us
all we desire.
[chickens clucking]
Praise be to Benedetta.
[woman 2]
Santa Benedetta.
Bless us all, Santa Benedetta.
[Christina] People really will think
Benedetta's a saint,
when we know it's nonsense.
[window closes]
Do we?
You remark on her unwounded brow,
and suddenly, she smashes a glass
and wounds appear.
Did you see her?
Were you there?
So you know nothing.
I saw nothing.
But I know.
How do you know?
Did God show you?
Did you have a vision also?
Why are you defending her?
We don't always understand
the instruments God uses.
Perhaps he put Benedetta in a trance
and in that state,
she harmed herself.
Or perhaps God sent us a madwoman,
who spouts nonsense to serve his ends.
I want you to give me your heart.
Will I not die without my heart?
You will live. Do you love me?
Can I love you without a heart?
I'll give you a new one. Mine.
[thunder rumbling]
Jesus gave me a new heart.
It's so big!
Too big for my chest.
Feel it.
Feel how big it is!
[thunder rumbling]
[thunder cracking]
[breathing heavily]
Yes. I feel it.
[breathing heavily]
-[metal rattling]
What's wrong?
Benedetta had a nightmare.
I'm fine.
Go to your beds.
[thunder rumbling]
Something wonderful has happened to us.
Jesus Christ
has chosen our blessed sister,
We saw her wounds.
The wounds of Jesus!
Praise the Lord!
[all] Praise the Lord!
Jesus chose her.
That is why we,
invested with the powers of his Church,
choose Benedetta to be abbess
of the Convent of the Theatines.
In nomine Patris
et Filii et Spiritus Sancti...
Lord God...
[plays dissonant chord]
This cannot be.
Sister Christina,
what has come over you?
With all due respect, Father...
it is for us...
Us! As sisters of this convent...
to choose a new abbess.
And only us!
Jesus has chosen.
Your Lord and Master.
It is God's will.
But who decides what is God's will?
Don't we, as sisters...
Causa finita.
I ask the Reverend Mother
to relinquish her functions.
Sister Benedetta!
Come forward.
[metal clanking]
[women giggling]
[Benedetta giggling]
It's bouncy.
-It's my bed.
-So soft.
-And it's all ours.
-[Benedetta] Mm-hm.
Sister Jacopa fell!
She can't move!
I doubt she'll last the day.
Reverend Mother,
I'll stay with her.
Of course.
But if she doesn't go by vespers,
you must leave her side.
It will be my first divine office
as abbess.
Jesus told me you must attend.
Yes, Reverend Mother.
I'll stay with Sister Jacopa.
Until lauds, if necessary.
Jesus didn't mention you.
They throw mud in your face
and you say nothing.
It's how the game is played.
And in the end, we all win.
The provost gets his bishopric
and the Theatines will prosper.
That's so important?
It may be vain and useless
but I have devoted my life to it.
[gasping, groaning]
I had one life to give
and I chose this convent.
Perhaps it chose me.
Mother, you can't...
Call me Sister Felicita.
People have to know.
What's going on here is blasphemy.
Everyone who matters already knows.
If they don't denounce Benedetta,
they don't want her to be denounced.
If you speak out, they'll destroy you.
You'll be alone.
I will not defend you.
[bell tolling]
Time for vespers, Sister Felicita.
[rain pouring]
[thunder rumbling]
I want to confess.
At this hour?
I must, Father. Please.
You refused to bow before God.
Have you repented?
The Lord taught me never to lie.
And that has led me to repentance.
Speak. Restore your bonds to the Lord,
the living Christ.
It concerns Sister Benedetta. I...
You refer to the Reverend Mother?
Yes, I refer to the Reverend Mother.
She's a false prophetess.
Her miracle was false.
She created her stigmata.
This is confession.
You came to accuse others?
I accuse myself of remaining silent.
It was cowardice.
Do you have proof?
The stigmata on her head.
She used a shard of glass
to lacerate her brow and make it bleed.
Did you witness this?
A three!
That is a...
-Yes, go on.
You're pressing too hard.
Try again.
-I can't.
-You can.
Come on.
[breathing heavily]
You want to see them?
Show me.
Go deeper.
I can't.
My hand's too big.
Want a taste?
My God...
Yes, come now!
It won't stop!
[moaning loudly]
My sweet Jesus!
You want more?
Today's reading is taken from Leviticus.
But before I begin,
I want to address questions
troubling the hearts of some sisters.
Sister Christina.
If something preys on your mind,
it is your duty to express it.
You want me to talk now?
-Where else?
Pour out your heart.
Stand, speak.
Go ahead, speak!
Our Mother Superior
deceives us,
lies to us.
Sister, explain yourself.
Do you have a grievance
against our Reverend Mother?
All I know is...
What do you know?
Benedetta tricks us.
She marked her forehead herself.
When she fell,
she broke a glass jar and...
cut herself with it.
I saw her.
My dear sister,
what are you saying?
And I'm sure the other signs
came about the same way.
Sister Christina...
So you saw
our Reverend Mother cut herself
with a shard of glass?
Is that right?
Yes. And I told the abbess.
What did you tell her?
What I saw.
What Sister Benedetta did.
You do know
false witness is a mortal sin?
I'm not the one who lies.
Sister Felicita,
step forward.
Did Sister Christina
tell you that she saw Sister Benedetta
inflicting wounds on her own forehead?
She had serious doubts.
But did she see it?
She did not say
she witnessed it directly...
Did she witness it or not?
She did not witness it.
[satanic voice]
She denies me!
Satan has possessed her!
Punish her!
She must flagellate herself!
The devil must be
driven out of your body!
-Bare yourself!
-[Christina sobbing]
Free yourself of the demon.
Strike, my dear sister!
[grunting, sobbing]
[door opens]
At last!
[door closes]
The rain has stopped.
I have a gift for you.
It will go deeper than my fingers.
Want to try?
It's a little rough here.
I'll see to it.
Take this off.
You enjoyed it, didn't you?
What did I enjoy?
Christina whipping herself.
I saw you.
No, you're wrong.
It was later.
Thinking of you.
Of what it would be like.
Shall we try?
Nice and smooth.
It hurts?
No, it feels good.
[moaning loudly]
There's a fire?
Is it a star?
A comet.
[wind blowing]
The comet is directly over our convent.
-What does it mean?
-It's a sign from God. A warning.
-Something terrible will happen.
-[body thudding]
-[crowd exclaiming]
What have you done?
What have you done?
You silly girl, what have you done?
I'll lay hands on her
to intercede for her soul.
Don't touch her!
I must!
A suicide's soul is bound for hell.
I can intervene.
Hands off her! Get away!
A word from me
and Jesus saves her from the flames.
You're the one who'll...
You lying bitch!
[muffled screams]
[water trickling]
[wagon clattering]
She gave me an order.
Even if she's not abbess...
Where did she go?
To Florence.
Sister Felicita has left.
Going to Florence.
To see the Nuncio, I suppose.
And tell him what?
What do you fear she'll tell him?
That my miracles aren't real?
No, I didn't mean that.
I cut myself with a stupid shard.
That's what you did, isn't it?
Didn't you?
I don't know.
I don't know
how God makes things happen.
But his will is done through me.
This is not my flesh alone.
It is his also.
Stop! You disgust me.
That's what you fear.
What Sister Felicita might say about us.
And what we do.
Should we be ashamed?
Shame does not exist
under the protection of God's love.
God's love?
You love only yourself.
-So come closer.
Just your breasts.
My Jesus, no!
Don't ask that of me, please!
The sisters must dig a grave.
[wagon clattering]
[bell tolling]
[paper rustling]
Where's Teresa?
At the hospital.
She won't survive, your Excellency.
Probably not, no.
That's three since Sunday
but I'm not afraid.
Perhaps because
you're too full of life.
A few more weeks and he'll be here.
I already have milk.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
I told you everything.
It's in your hands now.
Extraordinary accusations
require extraordinary proof.
I spoke only the truth.
You may suspect my motives,
but come to Pescia
and you'll see for yourself.
If you look honestly.
If there is devilry in Pescia,
I shall unmask it.
And if this sister
is guilty of blasphemy,
she will burn.
But if your testimony proves false...
what shall we do with you?
Who can say?
Our Lord!
[singing in Latin]
Have mercy on us!
[singing continues]
It is a sign of God's judgment!
"For the 3rd angel sounded his trumpet
"and a great star fell from the sky
like a torch.
"Its pestilence will poison
a third of the waters."
The plague!
The instrument to punish us.
The plague will come to Pescia!
[praying in Latin]
[praying continues]
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you!
Do not fear.
The comet is the sign
that the Lord protects us.
The plague will not touch Pescia!
Jesus made a promise to me,
his bride,
to spare this town!
Lord Jesus, protect us!
Protect our city!
[all exclaiming]
Thank you, Lord Jesus!
My sweet Jesus,
we know you are among us.
Thank you, my God.
Shut the city gates!
Let no one enter.
It is the will of the Lord.
Shut the gates now!
What is happening?
The grave is for you?
Answer me.
[grunting continues]
A letter! It came from heaven!
The end is nigh!
Let the bell toll!
It is written! Read it!
It's a letter from God!
Give me absolution.
Your Excellency, I'm dying.
Do not let me die like this.
Seek out your parish priest.
Ask him for absolution.
That's me.
I'm the parish priest!
[indistinct shouting]
[wagon clattering]
Open the gates for the nuncio!
The gates stay shut.
No one in, no one out.
I'm the nuncio of Florence. Open up!
Even if you're the pope,
we won't open up.
You're under my authority,
the Church's authority.
Here we're under the authority
of Jesus himself.
The gates stay shut!
Your Excellency.
I am the provost of Pescia.
I am Alfonso Giglioli, papal nuncio,
here to talk to the abbess
of the Theatines.
It grieves me to tell you,
the holy Benedetta died this afternoon.
We are sorry you came all this way.
I'll celebrate the funeral mass with you.
Take me to her.
Let's go.
The plague must stay outside.
Anyone who enters must be examined
by our doctors.
Even you, Excellency.
God has sent us.
And you will not stop us.
We go in.
-[banging on door]
-Open up.
An honor to welcome you, Excellency.
[loud thud]
You chose today to put on a theatrical?
No, your Excellency.
Before she died, the abbess revealed
how God wanted us
to celebrate her ascension to heaven.
-Another vision?
-Yes, Excellency, exactly.
Her coffin was to be carried
by nine novices dressed as angels.
[singing stops]
Skin intact.
No trace of plague.
She received the last rites?
No, her death was too sudden.
I shall administer them now.
Make preparations.
Are you satisfied?
I never wanted her to die.
Not so quickly, at least.
[speaking in Latin]
Jesus, hold onto me!
Don't let me go back!
I want to stay with you.
I was in heaven, in perfect peace.
But I was torn from it.
Like a baby from the womb,
I was sent back.
Jesus brought me back here to Earth.
Why so, mother?
I saw the souls
of those who are soon to die.
I saw your souls,
shed floods of tears.
You saw mine as well, I suppose?
Jesus sent me back down here
to save you from the plague
and what lies beyond.
The eternal flames of hell.
Concern yourself
not with the fires of hell.
It may be the fires of this world
that consume you.
Black Death approaches Pescia.
He waits, sharpening his scythe.
I saw swollen bodies. I saw blood.
Rich and poor, women and children.
But Jesus was there too.
He swore that as long as I live,
you shall live!
You stand accused of blasphemy,
heresy and bestiality.
Your trial will begin tomorrow.
We found nothing, your Excellency.
You searched everywhere?
Gutted the mattresses and cushions?
Yes, your Excellency. Nothing.
It's that big.
It must be somewhere. Look again.
What will you tell them?
The truth, what else?
You can tell them something else.
Novice Bartolomea, stand up.
Stand up!
Sister Felicita,
tell us what you saw.
I have no words for such acts.
Do your best.
I saw this girl in carnal embrace
with Mother Superior Benedetta.
Can you be more specific, sister?
They used each other,
by turns,
as a man uses a woman.
[Giglioli] How did you come to
witness these acts?
Through a spy hole that I cut myself
in the wall of my former chamber.
Is that not a mortal sin?
Spying on her mother superior.
We are not judging
the former abbess's conduct.
We should.
How do we know her declarations
are not born of jealousy?
-Or spite?
-Sister Felicita's testimony
is a beginning not an end.
how do you respond to this accusation?
Is there truth in it?
-I didn't understand.
-Pardon me?
I didn't understand what she said.
Have you looked
upon Abbess Benedetta with lust?
Lust? Between women?
This convent seems rarely bound
by the possible.
yes or no, have you looked
upon Abbess Benedetta with lust?
With love.
All I feel for Mother Benedetta is love.
The love I feel for all my sisters.
You have not expressed your love
for your sisters
in the same way, have you?
Sister Felicita,
by what means
did novice Bartolomea express
her love for the mother superior?
She used a wooden figure
of the Blessed Virgin
to penetrate
the sex of Benedetta
and bring her to crisis.
Crimen nefastum.
A sacrilegious inversion of natural order.
An abomination that merits
the ultimate punishment.
The stake!
It's not true.
Not true.
You might yet save your soul, child.
If you confess.
I have nothing to confess,
your Excellency.
If you know, why must I confess?
Confession mitigates your sins.
You might save yourself from the stake.
Benedetta, too.
Undress her.
[Bartolomea sobbing]
You can save your soul if you speak.
All right.
I confess.
I've had horrible thoughts.
Sister Juliana is hateful.
I wished her dead!
Let me go now!
My child...
that's not what we want.
The pear of anguish.
Have you seen the like before?
-[metal creaking]
-Joan of Arc was a courageous warrior,
which even her enemies acknowledged,
and yet, she confessed to all her sins
upon sight of the torture instruments.
There is no need to pretend
to be braver than Joan of Arc.
No need to pretend anything.
I've already confessed.
I told you
I wanted to kill Sister Juliana.
I am guilty of murder.
Have mercy.
[Bartolomea sobbing]
I've confessed!
[door closes]
We are strangers as yet
but we're on the same boat.
The journey may be long.
It may be short.
Let's pray God lights our way.
No, no, no, no, no!
[Bartolomea screaming]
[screaming continues]
[screaming continues]
[knocking on door]
[door opens]
What do you think love is?
I think...
love is not feeling alone.
a warmth here.
Your feet are sore?
The abbess would wash my feet?
As a novice,
I washed more than my share.
You have never touched a man?
You don't feel
a woman's natural desires?
My only desire is for God.
Trying to seduce me?
Where'd you pick up a whore's talents?
I know little of a whore's talents.
And I won't ask
how you came to know them.
Play with me, play with fire.
I'm not afraid.
Of course.
You advance,
wearing armor of light.
Love is the only armor I need.
The love of Christ, do you mean?
Or the love of Bartolomea?
That of Bartolomea also.
So Jesus must share?
He joyfully shares everything.
With the whole human race.
That warmth you feel.
It's not love
for the whole human race.
It's particular, isn't it?
Bartolomea is the particular.
Through her, I reach universal love.
Or the universal reaches you
through a chunk of wood, is that right?
[knocking on door]
Stay away from me!
I told them how you deceived me.
How you forced me to sin.
They put lies in your mouth.
I won't suffer for you anymore!
Go to hell!
Are you ready to confess now?
Here's the proof you're looking for.
There is your love, Benedetta.
[satanic voice]
You mock!
You mock my bride
as they mocked me on the cross!
You have all been judged!
You, Alfonso Giglioli!
You have been judged.
You'll pay for your blasphemy.
With your blood, black pus,
and buboes!
[metal rattling]
When did it occur?
An hour ago.
Not a word of this.
Put her in the cellar.
Post a guard.
No one enters or leaves.
Burn everything she touched!
[metal rattling]
Hold your head high.
One thing I learned as a prostitute,
humiliation doesn't leave a mark.
[indistinct chatter]
[women laughing]
[laughing continues]
Thief! Stop her!
The people of Pescia
won't let you burn their protector.
They have no say.
The Church decides.
And has decided. Sign.
Nuncio, remember
the child was pledged to Christ...
Consider your job done.
I feel pity for Benedetta.
And love.
But pity and love
have nothing to do with duty.
The sentence is mandatory.
[door opens]
[door closes]
Your Excellency?
Sister Benedetta has a request.
She asks to be allowed
to pray with Sister Felicita
and beg her forgiveness.
She also asks
to be carried onto the square
on a donkey,
like Christ entering Jerusalem.
For the donkey, no, of course.
But I will allow
her little scene with Sister Felicita.
We must all play our roles
to the end, mustn't we?
Very well.
You can go.
Are you happy to see me dying?
I came to tell you
Jesus's revelations to me.
Your daughter
waits for you at his side.
I don't believe a word of it.
But she's not in hell.
That's something.
You gave your life to God
without ever believing in him.
Now, when he should be your comfort
and salvation,
you are alone
facing the terror of death.
God never spoke to me
the way he speaks to you.
He speaks to you at this moment.
He speaks to you through your pain.
He's very eloquent then.
But I've no idea what he's telling me.
What is it?
What is he telling you?
You believe that I know?
Perhaps, yes.
Yes, you know.
Tell me.
Tell me.
Tell me.
[indistinct whispering]
[doors creaking]
[crowd clamoring]
Forgive me!
Benedetta! Benedetta!
Look at me!
Forgive me! Please!
Tell me you don't hate me.
It's fine. I had to be betrayed.
[crowd booing]
Death to the nuncio!
Release her!
[shouting, booing]
Let me go!
[shouting continues]
I grant you the mercy of strangulation.
You will not endure the flames,
but make a full confession.
Renounce your vanity!
I shall confess.
[shouting continues]
Poor city of Pescia!
I could not save you.
Or make you renounce wickedness.
[satanic voice]
You betrayed my love!
[crowd gasping]
None of you will be spared!
Death will run through the town,
like a wind
scything down all in its path.
The angel of death
has stretched out her hands.
Death is here.
Death walks among you already.
Angel of death!
Show your face!
[crowd gasping]
He did this to me!
The nuncio!
He has brought the plague to Pescia.
Upon you!
And your children!
To the stake!
Take her to the stake!
To the stake!
-[crowd clamoring]
No! If she dies,
we shall all be cursed!
It's the nuncio!
The nuncio has brought death to us!
It's the nuncio who must burn!
To death! To death!
[shouting, clamoring]
[fire crackling]
[shouting, clamoring]
Untie her!
The kiss of peace!
Catch him!
[fire crackling]
Shall I pray for your soul?
When you died,
you saw the other world?
Jesus showed me
the place of every soul,
past, present and to come.
And me?
Did you see me in paradise or hell?
To the end, you lie.
[fire crackling]
[birds chirping]
[bell tolling]
[bell tolling continues]
What are you doing?
I must go back.
There's nothing left there.
Why go back?
The convent's my home.
I swore to live out my days there.
That's all in the past.
Not for me.
We can go where we want now.
-You think?
-Yes, anywhere.
We can go to Rome, Venice, Spain...
How would we eat?
By stealing?
Selling ourselves?
There's worse.
At least you'd be alive.
Go back,
and you go back to the stake.
They won't burn me.
I'll be protected.
By who? Your husband Jesus?
You still don't believe in me?
-After all you've seen?
I've already explained.
-God possesses me and...
We're alone. Admit it!
These stigmata are all stories.
Say it!
Say it.
If you care about me, say it.
Say it!
Why make me say atrocities?
I don't want you to die.
The people behind you yesterday
will throw you to the flames.
You're right.
They'll tie me to the stake.
They'll set it on fire.
The flames will touch me
but will not burn me.
God won't let them.
And all will see.
No one will doubt ever again.
You will never doubt
or fear anything again.
That will be my gift to you.
You are mad. Mad.
You're a child, Bartolomea.
And that's part of your charm.
Go then!
Go to the devil!
I hope he burns you!
Sister Benedetta was denied martyrdom.
She lived to the age of 70,
confined in the convent of
the Theatines.
She was permitted to attend mass
and on occasion to dine with
her sisters,
seated on the floor.
The plague ravaging the country
completely spared Pescia.