Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mormon Missionaries Encounter a Naked Woman

Jan Harold Brunvand, "Modern Legends of Mormonism, or, Supernaturalism is Alive and Well in Salt Lake City." In Wayland Hand, ed., American Folk Legend: A Symposium (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971), pp. 197-8.

Another example was heard by a student at a Stake Conference a couple of years ago; it was told by a missionary just returned from Brazil. It is a form of story that crops up repeatedly in the archive, usually attributed to a missionary in a Catholic country and sometimes told to explain why missionaries are required to work and travel in pairs. Clearly, I think, we can recognize here one effect of cutting young men off from normal female companionship for two years at a time in a foreign country; where reality is lacking, fantasy enters:

My companion and I were walking through a town one day when we decided to knock on one door, and a beautiful nude woman appeared at the door. We got out of there as quick as possible, but this woman kept calling up my missionary companion to come over and see her. [In some versions she locks them in with her and pursues them around the apartment until they manage to escape.] He became very upset about it, and we decided to go back there and see if this woman was possessed by evil spirits. My companion and I commanded the evil spirits to leave her body. Her body became limp and she fell on the floor. She came back to consciousness, but she almost seemed to be an imbecile. So we took her to the police to find out her identity, and later it was discovered that she had escaped from a mental hospital and her family had been searching for her for two weeks. We told our mission president and he told us that many evil spirits took possession of the bodies of the mentally ill.