Swiss Cult Leader Ordered Her Followers to Nail Her to a Cross by Her Breasts
On Christmas Day of 1794, a large Swiss family welcomed its newest member, Margaretta Peter. Perhaps her birth date was an augury, because Margaretta was passionately religious from an early age. She became a preaching prodigy by the time she was six, captivating congregations with a grasp of the Bible that exceeded that of many adult preachers, and delivering impassioned sermons that moved churchgoers. She also had a powerful personality that enabled her to turn her relatives and neighbors into her disciples, by spiritually dominating them.
When she was 20, Margaretta set up her own congregation in her village, and announced that she was a prophetess. She became a roaming preacher, and gained a reputation and following throughout Switzerland. In 1823, her preaching began focusing on Satan, and she took to warning her followers that the Devil was all around them. Soon, she was having prophetic visions of demons taking over the world.
Then one day she announced that the final battle between God and Satan was about to begin, and directed ten devoted followers to arm themselves – literally – and pray. On Margaretta’s instructions, they collected clubs, axes, and whatever weapons they could find, and barricaded themselves in an attic. She told them that invisible devils had surrounded the house, then suddenly shrieked that the demons had broken in. So her followers began swinging their weapons wildly, at imaginary devils only she could see.
Margarett’s devotees kept at it for hours, destroying the attic in the process. They then descended to the ground floor, and started hitting each other, reasoning that pain would ward off the demons. That went on until neighbors finally called the police, who arrived to find Margaretta’s followers senseless on the floor, while she continued beating them up.
Next day, her followers were told that more pain was needed to keep the Devil away. Her devotees, still black and blue from the previous night, resumed pummeling each other, while she grabbed an iron wedge and began bludgeoning her brother. Margaretta finally took a breather, to announce that her dead mother’s ghost had ordered her to sacrifice herself. Her devoted sister stepped up, however, and insisted that she be sacrificed instead. Margaretta accepted, and began beating her sister with the iron wedge. When a follower protested, Margaretta assured everybody that her sister would rise from the dead in three days. That was good enough for the rest of the congregation, and they enthusiastically joined the prophetess in beating her sister to death.
Ratcheting up the crazy, Margaretta then ordered her followers to crucify her. They were hesitant at first, but she assured them that, just like Jesus, she would come back to life in three days. So they made a cross, and with Margaretta urging them on, nailed her to it by her breasts, hands, feet, and elbows. She then directed them to stab her through the heart. They tried, but kept botching it, so they finally gave up on stabbing her, and used a crowbar and hammer to smash her head instead.
Then Margaretta’s congregation gathered around her corpse and that of her sister, and started praying while waiting for them to spring back to life in three days. Of course, the three days came and went, but the dead prophetess and her dead sister stayed as dead as doorknobs. Margaretta’s followers were tried for murder, and eleven were convicted and given prison sentences ranging from six months to 16 years.
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