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Abbazia (2)

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The Sources:

Robert Ambelain :
"Le Vampirisme - de la légende au réel" [1977]
Robert Laffont, Paris, France, 1977

Jean-Paul Bourre :
"Les Vampires" [1986]
MA Editions, Paris, 1986

The Case:

According to Ambelain this report dates back to 1938, and its source has been "an English member of the Theosophical Society" who had been on a holiday in Croatia. This, more or less, is his story:

While the English theosophist was staying in Varazdin, he had been discussing his personal ideas about vampirism with what he describes as "educated persons". They had then told him about things that were said to have happened two years earlier in the village of Kneginec.

A number of young men and women had become the victims of a mysterious disease. Several died within a few weeks, others within two or three months at most. All of the victims had on their throats one or two bluish marks. Some of the victims would wake up during the night after suffering from horrible nightmares. But this only happened during the first couple of nights.

Both the authorities and the local priests were against "the kind of investigations and executions that were so common in the past". According to a legend from the region, it was not the first time. Things like this did happen from time to time, but with very long intervals. Maybe thirty, forty, sixty years, separated these mysterious epidemics. According to old people, these deaths were caused by a corpse that had been buried in the Castle of Herdody in Varazdin. But they did not give further information about the name of the person who had been buried there, or about the location of the grave.

In a footnote, Ambelain adds: "This legend has perhaps inspired Sheridan LeFanu for his episode about the hidden tomb of Mircalla von Karnstein."

Of course we can count on Jean Paul Bourre to give us some further "information":

According to him "Barbara of Cillei came out of her grave to haunt the Castle of Varazdin, the place where she was buried." He then gives us Robert Ambelain's account of the happenings, but adds the following:

"The ritual of Exorcism was done in the ruins of Varazdin, by an orthodox priest of the Oriental Church. The manifestations suddenly stopped. The old people from Kneginecc said that the Great Exorcism had liberated the village, but nobody said if the local authorities have dug up the remains of Barbara of Cillei, dead in the XVth Century."

The Date:

We were given a date for the mysterious deaths: two years before 1938, which should make it around 1936 or so.

The Place:

Kneginec, where these things are said to have happened is a place in Croatia. It is situated South of the town of Varazdin. Ambelain refers to it as a village. It could be that, or it could even be a small town for all that I know. Fortunately for us, Kneginec does have its own website:  www.kneginec.hr . And there is even better news. We were contacted by someone who actually lives in Kneginec. He has taken an interest in this case and has started a discussion about it in a forum on the local website. It will be interesting to see how this develops and if it will bring to light any new material. The town of Varazdin also has its own website. In case you want to check it out:  www.varazdin.hr .

Personal Comments:

Far be it from me to suggest that Jean Paul Bourre should not be trusted. But I have read quite a few of his books, and he does not strike me as the kind of writer who would let something as trivial as "the truth" stand in the way of a good sensational story. His observation that the corpse of Barbara of Cillei has been buried in the "Castle of Varazdin", does seem rather unlikely seeing as how most experts seem to agree that Barbara has been buried in Prague.

Possible Follow-Up:

Never trust anyone, least of all me. So check out the books by Ambelain and Bourre, and see if I have given you the correct information. Ambelain's remark that he has got this story from an "English member of the Theosophical Society" sounds promising. It might be worth checking out the Society's publications from around 1938. Perhaps there is more to be found about the case itself, or it may help us to establish the identity of the man who travelled through Croatia.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009
Links last checked 22 September 2008

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