Let us introduce ourselves and explain why we are writing to you at this time. Some five hundred years ago our Christian civilization was threatened by a giant conspiracy of Evil. The ever-threatening Anti-Christ, Satan himself, was again prowling the world. He was recruiting many humans to his cause through an obscene ritual in which they sold their souls and entered into a blood pact with the Devil.
Satan in his devious malevolence taught them how to attack Christians individually, killing their children, slaughtering unborn babies in the womb, causing disease and the death of animals. They were taught how to use secret weapons of a magical kind, spells, poisons, acting at a distance and almost undetectable. They also used weapons of mass destruction like bubonic and other plagues, they poisoned wells and sent swarms of locusts.
These witches, as they were known, formed secret cells or ‘covens’, usually numbering 13. They engaged in obscene rituals to cement them in their evil; they ate human babies, had obscene sex not only with their Master but with male and female demons (‘incubi’ and ‘succubi’ as they were known), flew through the air, committed blasphemous acts with the holy sacrament. It can be summed up as an inversion of all true Christian values, and indeed of all the true values of our western world.
It became clear that if they were not stopped our whole moral system, our religion, our society, our families, our leaders and all we valued would be undermined. The world would become a grotesque haunt of evil spirits, of people whose souls had been sucked out of them. Something clearly had to be done.
Yet there was no clear manual on how to deal with this menace. There had been previous threats from other infidels – Jews, the followers of Mani (Manichaeans) and other subversives. The Holy Church, in alliance with the Godly Rulers, had crushed them with fire and sword. But this was a new threat, unprecedented in its seriousness and scope. All that was available for guidance from the authorities were scraps of advice and a few precedents.
So our blessed leader, Pope Innocent VIII, issued a papal bull in which he outlined both the need for a new crusade, and instructed us to write the manual for this. Let us quote you a few little lines to show what we were instructed to try to counter. The Pope wrote:
"It has indeed lately come to Our ears, not without afflicting Us with bitter sorrow, that in some parts of Northern Germany, as well as in the provinces….many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation, and straying from the Catholic Faith, have abandoned themselves to devils, incubi and succubi, and by their incantations, spells, conjurations, and other accursed charms and crafts, enormities and horrid offences, have slain infants yet in the mother’s womb, as also the offspring of cattle, have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine, the fruits of trees, nay, men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, vineyards, orchards, meadows, pasture-land, corn, wheat, and all other cereals; these wretches furthermore afflict and torment men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, with terrible and piteous pains and sore diseases, both internal and external; they hinder men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving, whence husbands cannot know their wives nor wives receive their husbands; over and above this, they blasphemously renounce that Faith which is theirs by the Sacrament of Baptism, and at the instigation of the Enemy of Mankind they do not shrink from committing and perpetrating the foulest abominations and filthiest excesses to the deadly peril of their own souls, whereby they outrage the Divine Majesty and are a cause of scandal and danger to very many." (Malleus Maleficarum, ed.M.Summers, xliii)
Because some people were questioning our work and saying these witches did not exist, the Holy Father gave us express permission to carry out the work of extirpation. And if anyone obstructed us, our Blessed Father ended his bull by stating: ‘let him know that upon him will fall the wrath of Almighty God, and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul’, given out at St. Peter’s on 9th December 1484.
So we set out our thoughts in a Manual which the authorities elsewhere could use and which we called the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Evil. You may, indeed, have heard of it, for we are told that you are learned leaders of the world and have many close advisors who could bring our book to your attention.
This work gave the authorities what they needed and thereafter the conspiracy of Evil was faced properly and hundreds of thousands of witches were herded up. The danger spread from Germany, as we had feared, and the hunt was pursued all over Europe, from Sweden and Scotland, to Italy and Spain. Many thousands confessed, others died on the flaming pyre still urged on by Satan to protest their innocence. So for a very long time our book was a great source of strength and we feel proud that we helped to save Christ’s Kingdom from the Evil One and his deluded followers.