Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Madeline de Demandolx

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Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Madeline de Demandolx
b. 1596, France; d. 1670, France

Madeleine de Demandolx de la Palud, a young nun in Aix-en-Provence, played a pivotal role in the early witchcraft trials in southern France. In 1609, at the age of thirteen, she began to suffer from depression and was sent home to Marseille, where she came under the guidance of Father Louis Gaufridi. Their relationship roused suspicion and Madeleine was placed in a convent at Marseille. When she confessed to intimacy with with the priest, she was sent back to Aix. Soon she began exhibiting symptoms of hysteria, which spread like an epidemic through the convent. Madeleine and another nun, Louise Capeau, were taken to the Grand Inquisitor for examination. Gaufridi, fantastically, was called in to perform an exorcism, but Madeleine's demonic visions became even more graphic, replete with tales of sodomy and witches sabbats. Suddenly the inquisitors began to take a closer look at Gaufridi. He was interrogated, found guilty of magic, sorcery, and fornication, and publicly burned after a gruesome torture. Meanwhile, Madeleine recovered, but in 1642 and again in 1652 she herself was accused of witchcraft. The second time, she was convicted and spent the rest of her life in prison.

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