The woman, from Conservano, a town in Puglia's Bari province, paid €6,000 a month over almost two years to the phony psychics, which they said would cure her ailing father, or at least get him past the pearly gates, Il Messaggero reported.
But to guarantee this, they said the money was needed to buy three crucifixes, made by a carpenter in the northern Italian city of Bassano del Grappa.
The crucifixes were then ‘blessed’ by a non-existent nun – Sister Mary of the Cross – every 30 days, before being given to the fraud victim.
Thousands more euros – always paid by the duped woman in cash – were donated to the pair’s local “religious community” .
The woman met the pair – Lucia Borrelli, 51, and 40-year-old Paola Catanzaro, who before having a sex change was known as “Mystic Paolo” – at a prayer and spiritual healing group in Conservano.
“God asked me for three crosses a month,” the woman told investigators, adding that “Mystic Paolo” convinced her she was an archangel sent by God to deliver messages to her.
The woman only twigged she was being swindled in April 2012, after the pair kept asking her for money to maintain their spiritual group and to fund the distribution of the special crucifixes across the world.
But her moment of clarity came only after she had sunk into heavy debt, having borrowed from family and friends and taken out a bank loan.
The pair are now on trial in Bari.