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Turin is undoubtedly an interesting city from a historical and architectural perspective; however, there is no doubt that part of its charm is owed to legends (true or presumed) that frame it as a magical city par excellence. It’s not surprising, then, that there are many stories narrating the presence of ghosts or diabolical activities. Wherever there is the devil, there must also be the counterpart of good. It is in this context that the life of Enrichetta Naum fits.

The rituals of Via Cappel Verde

Enrichetta Naum, born in 1843, spent much of her life at the house on Via Cappel Verde, number 6. She was a relatively unremarkable woman, not highly educated, and spoke exclusively in the Piedmontese dialect, leading a simple life. Despite this, in the last two decades of the 19th century, she began to attract attention.

Enrichetta, although lacking any medical knowledge, seemed capable of healing people through strange rituals. She would boil concoctions and recite incomprehensible phrases. People sought her out for various reasons, and after their recovery, she would accompany them to the nearby Corpus Domini church for a prayer of thanksgiving

Enrichetta Naum and Giuseppe Brossa

Many are the rumors and tales about the people she treated and healed, but there is nothing that can give us certainty about her abilities and talent. The only documented case is that of Giuseppe Brossa, a fourteen-year-old boy whom his mother brought to her because he was believed to be possessed by a demon.

Enrichetta Naum’s house in via Cappel Verde

Enrichetta has him sit in her house on Via Cappel Verde, asking him to kneel on the floor. She begins to utter her mysterious incantations, then pauses and prepares one of her infusions. From the pot placed on the fire emerge scents of linden and incense that fill the entire room. After a few minutes, the boy starts convulsing, with green foam coming out of his mouth. Enrichetta grabs him by the hair, looks into his eyes, and commands the devil to leave the boy’s body and hide in the herb-filled pot. A strong impact is heard, the infusion spills onto the floor, and the pale, sweaty boy remains lying there. After a few days of rest, Giuseppe Brossa is completely healed.

Certainly, it is difficult to distinguish truth from imagination, especially considering that people were much more suggestible at the time than they are today. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Enrichetta Naum was officially recognized as an exorcist by ecclesiastical authorities in 1895.

The End of the Myth 

Enrichetta’s abilities, however, were not appreciated by everyone. The many people who sought her help and the loud noises emanating from her house during healings were unwelcome to the neighbors. The protests from other tenants prompted her to move to an attic on Via Garibaldi. There, she continued her healing activities even after her husband’s death.

Enrichetta Naum passed away in 1911 at the remarkable age (for that time) of 68 years. The city was experiencing the exhilarating days of the Great Turin Exhibition, and despite her fame, the news seemed inconsequential. The announcement of her death appeared in the Gazzetta del Popolo only after her funeral, with a brief obituary

Enrichetta Naum: Reality or Fantasy?

But how did a woman who was almost illiterate and poorly educated like Enrichetta learn to perform healings and rituals? Well, there are many hypotheses and theories about this aspect, but nothing is certain.

Enrichetta Naum
Enrichetta Naum

Some argue that Enrichetta was actually related through her maternal line to some “masca,” which refers to women living in the neighboring valleys and who were attributed, and still are, with presumed esoteric and spiritual abilities.

According to others, it was her husband Gaetano who possessed this power. He worked in a candle factory that supplied the Turin Cathedral. However, he preferred to remain behind the scenes for fear of losing his job if it became known that he had contacts with the devil.

A third version suggests that Enrichetta was self-taught, drawing from the libraries of nearby churches where many Latin texts on demons and exorcism were preserved. However, this thesis seems unlikely. As mentioned, Enrichetta only spoke in Piedmontese, so it would be difficult for her to read books written in Latin.

Perhaps it’s not so important how she learned her craft; what remains is the myth and legend of a bygone era. And the house at Cappel Verde number 6 still stands, with its 72 steps to climb to be received by Enrichetta—a must-visit for magic and esotericism enthusiasts