A man in Italy has been granted a divorce following claims that his wife was possessed by the devil.
Speaking at a court in the northern city of Milan, the man said that since 2007 his wife had exhibited “inexplicable behaviour”. This included having fits among other “unusual phenomena”.
The woman, who was a devout Catholic, had at one point hurled a church pew towards the alter with just one hand, he said. This claim was actually backed up by her sister, a priest and a Capuchin monk. Other witnesses insisted they had seen her levitate. Several exorcists were reportedly brought in during the last ten years in order to cure the woman but none were successful.
The Judge ruled that these incidents could not be blamed on an illness, as the wife had been deemed healthy by doctors and psychiatrists who examined her. He said that while she was “clearly agitated” she “did not act knowingly”. The Judge then granted the couple, who had two children together, a no fault divorce.
In Italy, divorce has only been legal since 1970. In order to appease the Catholic Church, which is very influential in the country, the original law declared that a couple must be separated for at least five years before they are able to divorce. This lasted until 1987, when the minimum time required was reduced to three years. In 2015, lawmakers passed a bill which further cut the waiting time. Now couples need only wait six months if the divorce is uncontested and one year if there is a dispute.
By contrast, in England and Wales couples must be married for at least a year before they can divorce regardless of whether it is contested or not.