For the most part they denounced themselves, the women of Querétaro. Before you learn anything else, it’s important that you realize this. No one brought them to the holy men; no one had to. They were all very devout, the women, very holy, humble, pious, penitent, and yet, over the course of a year, perhaps thirty of them were possessed by the devil and his hosts. Juana de los Reyes alone was plagued by over four hundred distinct imps at one time or another.
The learned doctors were very patient, and had not a few successes, but of course they seemed always to be paddling against the tide. For every hundred demons they drove out, another thousand swarmed in, or a thousand thousand. In the longest surgery of the year, a team of four Franciscans worked around the clock for two days, and delivered the sweating victim, a twelve year-old girl called Caterina de las Casas, of four avacado pits, half a pound of river pebbles “resembling small nuts”, a human femur, two live toads, and one small snake, all vomited forth and all “indescribably foul smelling.” Finally, Lucifer himself climbed to the de las Casas girl’s tongue and confessed that he had been sent into her body “by God himself, for his greater glory,” and he and his devils would plague the town until they “realize[d] that God is just”.
The Holy Court, in despair and outrage at this blasphemy, ordered the possessed women cast out and forbad any more exorcisms on pain of excommunication. Depending on how you feel about these things, it was the beginning, or the end, of something.