Sicily. August 11, 1676. Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione wakes early at her home at the Monastery of Palma di Montechiaro, covered in ink. Before her, a letter scrawled in a strange archaic alphabet. The work, the nun claimed, of the devil himself.
Her sisters in the convent agreed, believing the strange texts must be the work of the devil, and part of an elaborate scheme to turn her away from God. But, despite many attempts by codebreakers and scholars over the past three centuries, no one could read the letter.
Using code-breaking software found on the dark web, individuals at the Ludum Science Center in Catania, Sicily have begun deciphering the ancient letter.
“We heard about the software, which we believe is used by intelligence services for codebreaking,” said Daniele Abate, director of the Ludum Science Center. “We primed the software with ancient Greek, Arabic, the Runic alphabet, and Latin to de-scramble some of the letters and show that it really is devilish.”
The software was primed with those languages because they were the ones that the nun most likely knew. She was known to have become quite adept at linguistics during her time in the convent, and scientists believed that the letters were written in a mishmash alphabet of the languages she understood.
While the team is still working on fully translating the letter, so far 15 lines have been decoded. It speaks, in a rambling, not always coherent way, of the relationship between humans, God and Satan.
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