The woman had exhibited “inexplicable behaviour” since 2007, including fits, stiffening, and other “unusual phenomena”, a Milan court heard. Her husband attributed the episodes to “demonic possession”.
Her sister, as well as a priest and a Capuchin monk confirmed the strange behaviour, testifying that the woman – a devout Catholic – had at one point knocked over a church pew, hurling it towards the altar using just one hand.
Witnesses even claimed to have seen her levitate, before falling to the ground.
The Milan court tribunal acknowledged that the woman was “clearly agitated” but said she “did not act knowingly”, according to Il Corriere della Sera daily.
The judge ruled that the incidents couldn't be attributed to an illness, since the woman was judged healthy following by doctors and psychiatrists. Several exorcists had also attempted to cure her over the years, but to no avail.
The couple, who have two children, were eventually granted a no-fault divorce.
Italy had no provision for divorce until 1970 and the difficulties caused by this were the subject of a celebrated 1961 film “Divorce, Italian Style”. The comedy features Marcello Mastroianni as a Sicilian noble who cooks up a plot to kill his wife in a crime of passion so he can be free to marry a younger model.
However, legislation which came into force last year made it easier and quicker to end marriages – prompting a 57 percent surge in the divorce rate.
Now only one year of official separation is necessary before couples can begin divorce proceedings, or six months in the case of a separation by mutual consent. Previously, couples had to be officially separated for three years.