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Carmine Mirabelli: Physical medium who was a mystery for scientists

Carmine Carlos Mirabelli was born in Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil, in 1889 to parents who were of Italian descent. He began studying Spiritism at a young age, and was introduced to the writings of Allan Kardec as a result of his studies.

The medium Carlos Mirabelli
The medium Carmine Carlos Mirabelli © Image Credit: Rodolpho Hugo Mikulasch

During his adolescent years, he worked in a shoe store, where he claimed to have witnessed poltergeist activity, in which shoeboxes would literally fly off the shelf after shelf. He was committed to a mental institute for observation, and psychologists determined that he had a psychological problem, despite the fact that he was not physically unwell.

He possessed only a rudimentary education and was widely regarded as a ‘plain’ individual. Carmine, despite his poor beginnings, possessed a diverse range of skills that were truly extraordinary. He possessed the ability to make automatic handwriting, materializations of items and people (ectoplasm), levitation, and movement of objects, among other things.

The medium Carlos Mirabelli (left) with alleged materialization (centre).
The medium Carmine Carlos Mirabelli (left) with alleged materialization (centre). © Image Credit: Rodolpho Hugo Mikulasch

People close to Carmine claimed that he only spoke his native language, but in numerous documented events, he demonstrated the ability to communicate in more than 30 languages, including German, French, Dutch, Italian, Czech, Arabic, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Hebrew, Albanian, several African dialects, Latin, Chinese, Greek, Polish, Egyptian, and ancient Greek. He was born in the country of Mexico and raised in the country of Spain.

His friends were even more perplexed when they learned that he spoke on subjects such as medicine, sociology and politics, theology and psychology as well as history and astronomy, music and literature, all of which would have been completely foreign to a guy with just the most fundamental education.

When he performed his séances, he displayed handwriting in over 28 different languages at an abnormally fast rate that others found nearly impossible to imitate. In one known instance, Carmine scribbled in hieroglyphics, which have yet to be deciphered to this day.

Carmine possessed a variety of other unusual abilities. For instance, he possessed the ability to levitate and appear and disappear at will. Carmine was rumored to be able to levitate 3 feet above his chair during séances.

In one event, Carmine was seen by numerous witnesses to vanish from the da Luz railroad station within seconds of arriving. Witnesses have claimed multiple instances in which Carmine would disappear in one room and reappear in another one within seconds.

Carmine was strapped to a chair in one controlled experiment, and the doors and windows were blocked, and he was left to his own devices. He emerged in another room on the opposite side of the structure within seconds of appearing in the first. When the experimenters returned, the seals on the doors and windows were still intact, and Carmine was still sitting peacefully in his chair, his hands still tied behind his back.

Another confirmed incidence, which was witnessed by Dr. Ganymede de Souza, involved the appearance of a young girl in a confined room during broad daylight. According to the doctor, the apparition was in fact his daughter, who had died only a few months before.

She was asked some personal questions by the doctor, and also images of the incident were taken by the doctor.

The number of witnesses who witnessed Mirabelli’s supernatural events, as well as the subsequent study of images and films, were the most astonishing aspects of Mirabelli’s supernatural experiences.

In some cases, as many as 60 witnesses were present, including 72 doctors, 12 engineers, 36 lawyers, and 25 military personnel, among other professions. When the President of Brazil witnessed Mirabelli’s abilities, he promptly launched an investigation into his activities.

In 1927, scientific evaluations were carried out in a controlled atmosphere alone. Mirabelli was restrained to a chair and subjected to physical examinations before and after the tests. The tests were carried out outside, or if they were carried out indoors, they were illuminated by bright lights. The tests resulted more than 350 “positives” and less than 60 “negatives”.

The doctor conducted a thorough examination of a bishop, Camargo Barros, who materialised during one of the séances after the room was filled with the scent of roses. Camargo Barros had died only a few months before the séance. During these occurrences, Carmine was restrained to his chair and appeared to be in a trance, but he was not.

The bishop instructed the sitters to observe his dematerialization, which they properly did, after which the chamber was filled with the scent of roses once more. Another incidence of recognition occurred when a person materialized and was recognized as Prof. Ferreira, who had recently passed away, by others there. He was checked by the doctor, and a photograph was then taken, following which the figure grew cloudy and disappeared’, according to the doctor’s notes.

When Carmine was having the séances, the investigators noticed significant changes in his physical state, including variations in his temperature, heart rate, and breathing, all of which were extreme.

The materialization of Dr. de Menezes was yet another example of Carmine’s mediumship occurring of its own accord, demonstrating the spontaneous nature of his abilities. An object placed on the table levitated and began to ring in the air; Carmine awoke from his trance and described an individual who could be seen by him.

Suddenly, the man described appeared in front of the group, and two of the sitters recognized him as de Menezes. During an attempt by the doctor there to study the materialization, he became dizzy as the form decided to float away on its own. Fodor describes how “the form began to melt from the feet upwards, the bust and arms floating in the air” as the figure began to dissipate.

In 1934, Theodore Besterman, a researcher with the Society for Psychical Research in London, went to several of Mirabelli’s seances in Brazil, and he came away with some interesting findings. He returned to Italy and prepared a brief, private report, saying that Mirabelli was a fraud, but that report was never made public because it was never published. He said nothing unique in his published report, other than to say that he had seen nothing unusual.

Throughout Mirabelli’s life, reports of mediumistic phenomena continued to be received. Given the widespread belief today that apports and materializations can only occur as a result of magic tricks, it is difficult to believe that Mirabelli will be able to avoid widespread accusations of engaging in legerdemain, no matter how extraordinary some of his mental feats may have appeared at the time.

In the end, though, all of the favorable feedback came from people who were personally acquainted with him. There was never a convincing research conducted, maybe due to the unfavourable character of the early findings, particularly those of Besterman.