Chapter 10. Jean Sempé’s Prayers and Texts in Julio’s (1896), Marvelous Prayers for the Healing of all Illnesses
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Title: Chapter 10. Jean Sempé’s Prayers and Texts in Julio’s (1896), Marvelous Prayers for the Healing of all Illnesses
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Creator: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Publication Date: 2011
Subjects / Keywords: Vodou
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Chapter 10. Jean Sempe's Prayers and Texts in Julio's (1896),

Marvelous Prayers for the Healing of all Illnesses

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

As mentioned in the introduction to Chapter 9, oungan Nelson Marcenat, like many other Vodou

priests and priestesses, includes some French language Catholic mystical literature in his Vodou

practice. While he serves the lwa in his various activities, he also makes use of Sempe's texts found

in Julio's (1896), Pnriees . . . . .. pour la guerison de toutes les maladies 'Marvelous Prayers for the

Healing of all Illnesses,' and the texts of Coret (1851), L'ange conducteur 'The Guiding Angel,' for

healing treatments, childbirth and burials. Oungan Marcenat is, in his own words, a pike liv 'a book

stake' who has the literacy skills needed to recite French and Latin Catholic texts for rituals and

functions like burial, baptism, healing, protection, the expelling of demons, etc. Some Catholic texts

are also commonly recited and sung prior to ceremonies for the lwa. Thus for certain occasions and

rites of passage, an oungan, especially one who is literate in French, will be called upon to serve as a

pike liv or as ape sarann 'a recognized spiritual leader of a community who uses Catholic texts in

special contexts.' These texts can be used apart from Vodou, depending on the context, or they can

be syncretized with or appended to Vodou content.

As Leyburn (1941) pointed out, many Americans, Britons or Italians, among other cultures,

inherit an exclusive attitude about religion: a believer is one thing and not two things. Haitian, Fon or

Yoruba cultures, however, comfortably absorb foreign deities, notions and traditions into their

systems. Prior to the slave trading of the colonial period, West African cultures commonly added

foreign elements to their pantheons and theologies. The religions in these cultures induct foreign

deities into their heavens and engage in 'divine naturalization.' In these cultures, religious ideas have

a composite character in which assemblage out of diversity forms an underlying principle. In Fon and

Yoruba areas, initiation into a given tradition usually requires the acquisition of the language

originally associated with the tradition. For example, Chango initiates in Fon-speaking Benin are

expected to acquire the Yoruba language. In periods of ethnic conflict and war, the most desirable

war booty included the priests, statues of conquered gods and shrine paraphernalia. Upon invasion

and annexation, foreign deities and priests were incorporated by both the invaders and the invaded.

Inter-ethnic marriages also facilitated influences from the outside. Following the advice of oungan

Marcenat, we offer selections of Jean Semp6's prayers and texts in order to provide examples of the

kinds of Catholic texts that are utilized by Vodou priests and priestesses. These texts illustrate how

the spirit of assemblage is alive and well in Haiti. Catholic literary influences in Vodou are extensive,

so this material should be understood as a small sample. Mystical Catholicism shares a great deal in

common with Vodou: these texts assert the primacy of the Supreme Being and recognize a special

role for angels (Iwa), saints (/wa) and demons (dyab) as intercessors or malevolent trouble-makers who

take action on earth. Like Vodou texts, Jean Semp6's texts seek the healing of the sick, protection

against misfortune, and the strength and well-being of the faithful.

Invocation toute-puissante

qu'il est bon de recidter avant d'entreprendre unegudrison


t 0 Toi, par qui tout a ete fait et par qui tout

sera transformed pour retourner a la source

premiere, Principe emane du sein de l'Etemel,

Ame de l'Univers, Divine Lumiere, je t'invoque

a mon aide. Oui, viens, Fluide createur, penetrer

mes sens amortis. Et vous, augustes Messagers

du Tres-Haut, Anges de lumiere, Esprits

celestes, vous tous, Ministres des volontes de

mon Dieu, venez a moi, j'implore votre

assistance. H2tez-vous, venez m'eclairer et me

guider ; portez a Dieu ma priere : il connait mes

desirs. Je veux soulager mes freres et sceurs, les

fortifier, les maintenir ou les rendre justes

devant lui...

Je vous implore par le Fils Unique, legal au

Pere, qui regne avec le Saint-Esprit, en l'Unite

d'un seul Dieu. Ainsi soit-il !

Priere avant d'entreprendre un voyage

All powerful invocation

which is good to recite before undertaking any healing

t Oh You, through whom all was made and

through whom all will be transformed to return

to the first source, Principle emanated from

within the Eternal, Soul of the Universe, Divine

Light, I invoke you to help me. Yes, come,

creator Fluid, penetrate my dull senses. And you,

august Messengers of the Most High, Angels of

light, celestial Spirits, all of you, Ministers of the

wishes of my God, come to me, I beg for your

assistance. Hurry, come to enlighten me and

guide me; carry my prayer to God: he knows my

desires. I want to relieve my brothers and sisters,

fortify them, maintain them and make them

worthy before him...

I beg you by the Only Son, equal to the

Father, who rules with the Holy Spirit, in the

Unity of a single God. Amen!

Prayer prior to undertaking an important trip


t Que le Seigneur tout-puissant et

misericordieux me dirige et m'accorde un

voyage de paix et de bonheur; que l'Archange

Raphael m'accompagne dans ma route, afin que

je revienne dans ma mason avec la paix, le salut

et la joie.

Seigneur, ayez pitie de moi. Christ, ayez pitie

de nous. Seigneur, ayez pitie de tous.

Pater noster, etc.

Mon Dieu, sauvez votre serviteur, qui espere

en vous.

Oraison de Saint Charlemagne

O Dieu tout-puissant, vous avez subi la mort

sur l'arbre patibulaire de la croix pour expier

mes p6ch6s.

O Sainte Croix de J.-C., soyez toujours

avec moi.

O Sainte Croix de J.-C., repoussez loin de

moi toute arme tranchante.

t 0 Sainte Croix de J.-C., preservez-moi de

t May the all mighty and merciful Lord direct

me and give me a peaceful and happy journey;

may the Archangel Raphael accompany me on

my path, so that I may return to my house with

peace, salvation and joy.

Lord, have pity on me. Christ, have pity on us.

Lord, have pity on all.

Pater noster, etc.

My God, save your servant, who hopes in you.

Prayer of Saint Charlemagne

Oh all mighty God, you underwent death on

the sinister tree of the cross to atone for my sins.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, be always

with me.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, keep all

sharp weapons far away from me.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, preserve me

1 Latin for 'our Father' in English.

tout accident corporel.

t 0 Sainte Croix de J.-C., detournez de moi

tout mal.

O Sainte Croix de J.-C., versez en moi tout

bien, afin que je puisse sauver mon ame.

O Sainte Croix de J.-C., 6loignez de moi

toute crainte de la mort et accordez-moi la vie


t 0 Sainte Croix de J.-C., gardez-moi et

faites que les esprits malins, tant visible

qu'invisible, fuient devant moi, des aujourd'hui

et dans tous les siecles des siecles. Ainsi soit-il !

Aussi vrai que Jesus est n6 le jour de Noel,

aussi vrai que Jesus a ete circoncis, aussi vrai

que Jesus a regu les offrandes des trois Rois

Mages, aussi vrai que Jesus a ete crucifix le

vendredi saint, aussi vrai que Joseph et

Nicodeme ont 6te Jesus de la croix et l'ont mis

dans le s6pulcre, aussi vrai que Jesus est mont6

au ciel ; de meme qu'il soit aussi vrai que Jesus

me preserve et me preservera de tout attentat de

mes ennemis, tant visible qu'invisible, des

aujourd'hui et dans tous les siecles des siecles.

Ainsi soit-il !

from all physical accident.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, turn all evil

away from me.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, pour into me

all good, in order that I may save my soul.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, distance

from me all fear of death and give me eternal life.

t Oh Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, protect me

and make the evil spirits, whether visible or

invisible, flee before me, as of today until the end

of time. Amen!

As true as it is that Jesus was born on

Christmas day, as true as it is that Jesus was

circumcised, as true as it is that Jesus received

offerings from the Three Wise Men, as true as it

is that Jesus was crucified on good Friday, as true

as it is that Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus off

of the cross and put him in a tomb, as true as it is

that Jesus rose into the heavens; in the same way

it is just as true that Jesus preserves me and will

preserve me from all attacks from my enemies,

whether visible or invisible, from today until the

end of time. Amen!

0 Dieu tout-puissant, sous la protection de t

Jesus, Maria, Joachim, t de Jesus, Maria,

Anna, t de Jesus, Maria, Joseph, je me remets

entire vos mains. Ainsi soit-il !

O Seigneur, par l'amertume que vous avez

soufferte pour moi sur la Sainte Croix,

principalement lorsque votre ame s'est s6paree

de son corps, ayez pitie de mon ame, quand elle

sera s6paree de ce monde. Ainsi soit-il !

Prikre pour chasser d'une habitation tout

mauvais esprit ou emp&cher tout bruit


Je te chasse, Esprit du mal, et je te some

par le Dieu Vrai, t par le Dieu Vivant, t par le

Dieu Saint, de sortir et de t'eloigner de ce lieu,

pour n'y plus jamais revenir. Je te l'ordonne au

nom de Celui qui t'a vaincu et qui a triomph6 de

toi sur le gibet de la croix et don't la puissance

t'a lie a jamais. Je t'ordonne de ne plus

6pouvanter jamais ceux qui habitent en cette

demeure, au nom de Dieu t Pere t Fils t et

Saint-Esprit, qui vit et regne dans tous les siecles

des siecles. Ainsi soit-il !

Oh all mighty God, under the protection oft

Jesus, Mary, Joachim, t of Jesus, Mary, Anna, t of

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I put myself in your hands.


Oh Lord, by the bitterness that you suffered

for me on the Holy Cross, most importantly

when your soul separated from its body, have pity

on my soul, when it will be separated from this

world. Amen!

Prayer to chase all evil spirits from a property

or to hinder all suspicious sound

I chase you, Spirit of evil, and I enjoin you t

by the True God, t by the Living God, t by the

Holy God, to leave and to get away from this

place, and to never come back here. I order you

do that in the name of the One who defeated you

and who triumphed over you on the gallows of

the cross and whose power has bound you for all

eternity. I order you to never again frighten those

who dwell in this place, in the name of God t

Father t Son t and Holy Spirit, who lives and

reigns throughout all of the ages and millennia.

Nous vous en supplions, Seigneur, visitez

cette demeure, et chassez-en bien loin toute

embuche de l'ennemi ; que vos Saints Anges y

habitent, nous conservant dans la paix ; et que

votre benediction soit toujours avec nous. Ainsi

soit-il !

Prikre contre la possession et autres

tourments des mauvais esprits

Cette priere doit se dire tous les jours pour

&tre preserve du malin esprit, du fer, de l'eau, du

feu, de la foudre, de la mort subite et tout

danger de tomber en injuste captivity.

Pour se d6livrer d'un mauvais esprit, il faut la

dire trois fois de suite avec un cierge allume.

On s'y prend de la meme maniere, lorsqu'il

s'agit de d6livrer une femme en travail d'enfant.

On la dit en neuvaine contre les mal6fices de


Verbe, qui avez ete fait chair, qui avez ete

attache a la croix, qui &tes assis a la droite de

Dieu le Pere, je vous conjure par votre saint


We beg you, Lord, visit this place, and chase

far away from it all pitfalls of the enemy; may

your Holy Angels dwell here, conserving us in

peace; and may your blessing always be with us.


Prayer against possession and other torments

of evil spirits

This prayer must be said everyday to be

protected from evil spirits, from iron, from water,

from fire, from lightening, from sudden death

and all danger of falling into unjust captivity.

To deliver oneself from an evil spirit, it must

immediately be said three times with a lighted


One makes use of it in the same way when

delivering a woman who is laboring with child.

One says it for the novena3 against the evil

deeds of marriage.

Verb, who became flesh, who was crucified on

the cross, who is seated on the right of God the

Father, I beg you by your holy Name, at the

Nom, a la prononciation duquel tout genou

fl6chit au ciel, sur la terre et dans les enfers,

exaucez les prieres de ceux qui mettent leur

croyance et confiance en vous, daignez

preserver cette creature, N..., par votre saint

Nom, par les m6rites de la Sainte Vierge votre

Mere, par les prieres de tous les Saints, de toute

attaque et mal6fice de la part des demons et des

malins esprits, vous qui vivez avec Dieu le Pere,

en l'unit6 du Saint-Esprit. Ainsi soit-il !

t Voici la Croix de Notre-Seigneur J6sus-

Christ, d'oP depend notre salut, notre vie, notre

resurrection spirituelle, la confusion de tous les

demons et malins esprits.

Fuyez donc, disparaissez d'ici, demons,

ennemis juries des hommes, car je vous conjure,

demons infernaux, esprits malins, qui que vous

soyez, presents ou absents, sous quelque

pr6texte que vous soyez appel6s, invites,

conjures ou envoys de votre bon gre ; ou

forces par menaces ou par l'artifice d'hommes

mechants ou de femmes m6chantes, pour y

demeurer ou habiter, je vous conjure donc

derechef, quelque opiniatres que vous soyez, de

pronunciation of which all knees bend before

heaven, on earth and in hell, grant the prayers of

those who place their belief and confidence in

you, deign to preserve this creature, Name..., by

your holy Name, by the merits of your Mother

the Holy Virgin, by the prayers of all of the

Saints, from all attacks and evil spells carried out

by the demons and crafty spirits, you who live

with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy

Spirit. Amen!

t Here is the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

from who depends our salvation, our life, our

spiritual resurrection, and the confusing of all the

demons and crafty sprits.

Flee then, disappear from here, demons,

sworn enemies of men, for I entreat you,

infernal demons, crafty spirits, whoever you are,

present or absent, for whatever pretext that you

have been called, invited, invoked or sent by

your own free will; or forced by threats or by

the artifice of mean men or mean women, to

dwell there or live there, I entreat you thus to

henceforth, however opinionated you may be,

to leave this creature, Name..., t by the Great

quitter cette creature, N..., t par le Grand Dieu

Vivant, t par le Dieu Vrai, t par le Dieu Saint, J-

par Dieu le Pere, t par Dieu le Fils, t par Dieu

le Saint-Esprit, principalement t par Celui qui a

ete immol6 en Isaac, t qui a ete vendu en

Joseph, t qui etant homme a ete crucifix, t qui a

ete immol6 comme un agneau, t par le sang

duquel Saint Michel, combattant contre vous,

vous a vaincus, vous a fait fuir. Je vous defends,

de sa part et par son autorit6, sous quelque

pretexte que ce soit, de ne faire aucun mal A

cette creature, N..., soit dans son corps, soit

hors d'elle, ni par vision, ni frayeur, ni crainte,

tant la nuit que le jour, soit qu'elle dorme, soit

qu'elle veille, mange ou prie, soit qu'elle agisse

naturellement ou spirituellement. Si vous &tes

rebelles A ma volont6, je lance sur vous toutes

maledictions et excommunications et vous

condamne, de la part de la Tres Sainte Trinit6, A

aller dans l'etang de feu et de soufre, ou vous

serez conduits par le bienheureux Saint Michel.

Si l'on vous a invoques, en vous faisant quelque

fort et expres commandement, soit en vous

rendant un culte d'adoration et de parfums, soit

Living God, t by the True God, t by God the

Son, t by God the Holy Spirit, principally t by

the One who was immolated like Isaac, t who

was sold like Joseph, t who as a human was

crucified, t who was sacrificed like a lamb, t by

the blood of which Saint Michael, fighter

opposed to you, defeated you, made you flee. I

ban you, on his behalf and by his authority, for

whatever pretext it may be, to do no evil to this

creature, Name..., whether it be in her body,

whether it be outside of it, neither by vision,

nor by fright or fear, whether in the night or in

the day, whether she is sleeping, whether she is

awake, eats or prays, whether she acts naturally

or spiritually. If you are disobedient to my

authority, I cast upon you all curses and

excommunications and condemn you, on

behalf of the Most Holy Trinity, to go into the

lake of fire and sulfur, where you will be led by

the blessed Saint Michael. If you have been

invoked, while doing for you some strong and

intentional command, whether by establishing a

cult of worship and perfume, whether by

casting some kind of spell by words or by

que l'on ait jet6 quelque sort par paroles ou par

magie sur les herbes, les pierres, ou dans l'air,

soit que cela se soit fait naturellement ou

mysterieusement, soit que ces choses soient

temporelles ou spirituelles, ou enfin qu'on se

soit servi de choses sacr6es, qu'on ait employ

les noms du Grand Dieu ou des Anges, qu'on se

soit servi de caracteres secrets, qu'on ait

examine les minutes, heures, jours, mois et

annees, quand on aurait fait avec vous quelque

pacte tacite ou manifeste, meme avec serment

solennel ; je casse, d6truis et annule toutes ces

choses, t par la puissance et vertu de Dieu le

Pere, t par la sagesse du Fils, R6dempteur de

tous les hommes, t par la bont6 du Saint-

Esprit; en un mot, t par Celui qui a accompli la

loi en son entier, t qui est, t qui etait, J et qui

sera toujours t Omnipotens, t Agios, t

Ischyros, t Athanatos, J Soter, tJ

Tetragrammaton, t Jehovah, t Alpha et

Om6ga ; en un mot, que toute la puissance

infernale soit mise en fuite et d6truite en faisant

sur cette creature, N..., le signe de la t Croix, sur

laquelle Jesus-Christ est mort, et par

magic through herbs, rocks, or in the air,

whether it was done naturally or mysteriously,

whether these things were temporal or spiritual,

or finally whether one used sacred things,

whether one used the names of the Great God

or the Angels, whether one used secret

characters, whether one examined the minutes,

hours, days, months and years, when one would

have made with you some tacit or manifest

pact, even with a solemn oath; I break, destroy

and annul all these things, J by the power and

virtue of God the Father, J by the wisdom of

the Son, Redeemer of all men, t by the

goodness of the Holy Spirit; in a word, t by the

One who fulfilled the law in its entirety, t who

is, J who was, J and who will always be, J

Omnipotens t Agios, t Ischyros, t Athanatos, J

Soter, J Tetragrammaton, t Jehova, t Alpha

and Omega; in brief, may all the infernal power

be made to flee and destroyed by making upon

this creature, Name..., the sign of the t Cross,

upon which Jesus Christ died, and by the

intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, of the

Holy Angels, Archangels, Patriarchs, Prophets,

l'intercession de la bienheureuse Vierge Marie,

des Saints Anges, Archanges, Patriarches,

Proph&etes, Ap6tres, Martyrs, Vierges et

Confesseurs, et generalement de tous les Saints

qui jouissent de la presence de Dieu, aussi bien

que des saints Ames qui vivent dans l'tglise de

Dieu. Rendez vos hommages au Dieu Tres

Haut et Tres Puissant et qu'ils p6n&trent jusqu'a

son trone comme la fum6e de ce poisson des

abimes qui fut brt6le par l'ordre de l'Archange

Raphael; disparaissez, comme l'esprit immonde

disparut devant la chaste Sara. Que toutes ces

benedictions vous chassent et ne vous

permettent nullement d'approcher cette

creature, N..., qui a l'honneur de porter sur son

front le signe de la t Sainte Croix ; parce que le

commandement que je vous fais maintenant

n'est pas le mien, mais de Celui qui a ete envoy

du sein du Pere Elternel, afin d'an6antir et de

detruire vos mal6fices [...]

Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins and Confessors, and

generally all the Saints who take delight in the

presence of God, as well as the holy souls who

live in the Church of God. Give your thanks to

God the Most High and Most Powerful so that

they may penetrate to his throne like the smoke

of this deep water fish which was burned by the

command of the Archangel Raphael; disappear,

like the unclean spirit disappeared before the

chaste Sarah. May all these blessings chase you

and not allow you whatsoever to approach this

creature, Name..., who has the honor of

carrying on her forehead the sign of the t Holy

Cross; because the command that I give you

now is not my own, but from the One who was

sent from within the Eternal Father, in order to

annihilate and destroy your wickedness [...]

Chapter 10. Jean Semp6's Prayers and Texts in Julio's (1896), Marvelous Prayers for the

Healing of all Illnesses

1 Consentino (1995:30).

2 Blier (1995:75).

3 In the Roman Catholic Church, the novena is the recitation of prayers for nine consecutive days to

achieve a specific purpose (Encarta Dictionary).

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