Ghosts, phantoms, demons, and witches. Do you believe in the supernatural? Do you think there might be other forces at play in our world, perhaps something that we do not fully understand yet? Even the most fervent of all skeptics might feel a little doubt when walking around an abandoned place such as this abandoned and possibly haunted convent in Sicignano, Italy.
There are many deserted church buildings, convents, and monasteries throughout the Italian peninsula. That said, this particular one is unlike most of them. It has a long-lasting association with the paranormal, steeped in local lore and legends. The monastery has long been rumored to be haunted by ghosts and demons. For many years, locals have known this building as “The convent of the Devil’s monks.” Folk tales and various contemporary accounts deal with sightings of the phantom of a monk. The spirit still lyrics around the dark, shady corridors, empty hallways, and decaying surroundings of the monastery. The sinister reputation of this building might date back to the 1600s.
This was a difficult time for Italy and most of Europe. Not only were the Spanish occupants oppressing the locals, but it was also an age of danger and disease. In those years, a wandering man found himself at the convent’s doorstep, asking for hospitality. The monks were happy to have the man, but only on the condition that he would join them and take the vows. Left with no other option, the man took them up on their offer and became a monk. However, he quickly fell into his old habits. The man became infatuated with a beautiful local girl and started an illicit relationship with her. Somehow, the other monks found out, and they were not OK with it. The girl received harsh punishment. They burned her alive, as she was accused of being a witch, seducing an “innocent” monk. The man, on the other hand, was pardoned. He was accepted back into the convent as long as he promised to commit to a life of monastic chastity. As the story goes, the pain was too much for the man to bear, and it consumed him to the point of death. With his last breath, the man cursed the convent and everyone in it. One by one, the monks died horrible deaths. Eventually, everyone left, never to come back!
Well, at least this is what the legend says!
I’m afraid that actual historical records are a little less exciting.
The “haunted” convent in Sicignano dates back to the 1500s, so it is probably much younger than the legend states (It would have already been an established monastery by then, according to the tale).
It continued to prosper throughout the ages and up until the 20th century. It also became a school and a college, but eventually, it was abandoned in 1973. The government, which owns the building, attempted to turn it into a school without success. Today, it stands as a fascinating example of an authentic medieval convent, offering some exciting sights to people who find their way among its corridors and halls. Today, it’s possible to see vegetation soaring throughout the buildings as well as several acts of vandalism, perhaps committed by the bored local teenagers! With all the legend surrounding this place, one can only imagine this would be a popular hangout for young thrill-seekers. One of the highlights of the convent is perhaps the church itself. The main room still bears a beautiful altar. It is possible to discern some of the colors and the paint on the walls. However, most of it is fading, and continues to decay.
Also, check out this Youtube video Sven van der Wal and I produced with our DJI Air 2S drone for our project Boys with Drones: