‘Immaculate’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Why Did Cecilia Kill The Baby?


Immaculate is a new supernatural horror film with an already eerie setting as its backdrop—an old Roman Catholic convent in the Italian countryside that is supposed to take care of elderly nuns. The plot follows Sister Cecilia, a young woman who joins the convent, leaving her usual life in the United States behind, as her life turns upside down when she becomes the centerpiece of a hugely important religious event. Overall, Immaculate largely maintains the spooky nature that is introduced from the very beginning and would be a good watch for fans of the horror genre.

Spoiler Alert

What is the film about?

Immaculate begins with a scene of a young woman, Sister Marie, kneeling and praying in front of an altar quite late at night. Asking for forgiveness from Holy Mary, she then gets up and sets in motion a grand plan she has made. Marie happens to be a nun at an old, strict convent, and something about the place has made her determined to escape by any means. Sneaking into the room of a senior sister, she steals a bunch of keys and then runs out of the building, towards the heavy metal main gate. As she tries to figure out the specific key for the gate from the bunch, alarms are sounded, and four nuns wearing hoods approach her and grab hold of her. Marie is caught right as she is about to make it out of the compound, and the nuns do not care about the fact that her leg is horribly injured in the process. In fact, Marie is then soon buried alive as punishment for having tried to flee the life of a nun.

A few days later, another young woman named Cecilia arrives at the convent after having flown to Italy from the USA. Cecilia has decided to leave her old life behind and be a nun at the place, doing God’s work and spending her life amidst her beloved religion. She is welcomed by the senior nuns and also gets acquainted with a sister her own age, named Isabelle, who is clearly not very happy with her presence. As Cecilia makes herself comfortable in the room that has been allotted to her, she meets another young woman like her, Gwen, who is also about to take the vows of celibacy with her. The two become close friends quickly, and the protagonist then meets with Father Tedeschi, the priest who had originally written to her about joining the Italian convent. 

Despite her life’s initial days at the convent being exactly how she had imagined them to be, there is also something that spooks Cecilia slightly, making her feel uncomfortable. As the convent is basically a retirement home for elderly nuns nearing death, it requires younger sisters like Cecilia to take care of these women, some of whom the protagonist finds scary. She is also confused by the animosity that Isabelle always expresses against her. But the eeriest experience she has is on the night of her vows, after the celebrations have ended and everyone has retired to their rooms. Cecilia hears the sobs and prayers of a woman from the main chapel, and as she goes to investigate, she finds a nun lying in a posture of prayer, with her face completely covered with a red cloth.

Right then, the Mother Superior also walks into the place and reveals to Cecilia that the convent actually has a very important religious relic, which is a large nail that is believed to have been used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just seeing the relic and processing its true significance makes Cecilia dizzy, and she loses consciousness immediately. When she wakes up the next morning and seemingly tries to forget about the strange experience, her life takes a very different turn, as her body starts to show signs of pregnancy. 

Why had Sister Cecilia joined the convent?

When Cecilia first joins the convent, the question of why she had taken such a major step, flying from the United States to settle in Italy, that too under such rigorous rules, is naturally relevant. Her first and only friend at the place, Gwen, also tries to find out why this is the case, as it is expected that women in the most helpless situations would decide to become nuns. For example, Gwen reveals that she had been in an abusive relationship, which led to physical assaults, too, and she eventually left. As part of a support group for women in such toxic relationships, Gwen first considered becoming a nun after noticing how effortless their lives were. Having a shelter to stay at and having food served on a regular basis in exchange for work that did not require immodesty were enough reasons for the woman to become a nun, and eventually, she too was contacted by Father Tedeschi and brought to the convent.

In the case of Cecilia, though, there was no such desperation or urgency to become a nun, but she genuinely wanted to become one. When she was a young girl, Cecilia had accidentally fallen into a partly frozen lake, getting trapped under a thick sheet of ice. After she was rescued and taken to the nearest hospital, the doctors announced that she was dead for seven minutes before her organs started working again, and she survived the accident. This traumatic experience, and perhaps hearing about her miraculous recovery from her parents, made Cecilia very religious, as she started to believe that God had saved her. She also grew confident that God had protected her from death for some very specific purpose, and in order to understand what her aim in life should be, she had decided to become a nun. Since her recovery from the accident, Cecilia has been searching for an answer regarding her purpose in life, and she has started serving her religion back in the USA. But when her local church closed down, and Father Tedeschi wrote to her, she agreed to come down to Italy and join the convent.

Gwen first states that Tedeschi has some natural instinctive way of finding out women who are either emotionally broken or are in some desperation, asking them to join the convent. However, it is revealed that there were no instincts used by the man but a very real network of churches to gather information about such women. When Cecilia finds a file with her description in it, she realizes that she had been specifically researched and targeted by Father Tedeschi and that he had written to her, knowing well about her desire to work for the church. When Tedeschi’s real plan is revealed, it becomes quite obvious that he needed women who could be manipulated easily, at least into coming to the convent, from where nobody can escape after they have taken the vows.

What is Father Tedeschi’s real plan?

The real mystery behind this unique convent in Italy is rooted in the real identity of the priest, Father Tedeschi. When Cecilia starts showing symptoms of pregnancy, she is immediately tested by the authorities inside the convent, headed by Dr. Gallo, who works and seemingly stays at the place. A final sonography test reveals that there is indeed an embryo growing inside her body, and Cecilia is immediately questioned about whether she has gotten intimate with anyone in the recent past. However, she had never had such an experience with any man in her entire life, and since her organs also prove this claim, Cecilia is considered to be a saintly figure, bearing a child in a miraculous manner while still being a Holy Virgin. She is suddenly given all the importance and care in the world by the same nuns who did not mind misbehaving with her earlier. Although she becomes the center of attention for everyone at the convent, Cecilia finds the whole situation very suspicious and difficult to accept.

The protagonist does not have any intention of becoming a mother, and so she tries to come up with various ways to save herself. She realizes that once her miracle baby is born, the nuns and priests will no longer care for her. Cecilia is also naturally concerned about her own health, as she believes that she needs proper medical attention at a hospital. It is for this reason that she fakes a miscarriage by stuffing a dead, bleeding chicken inside her body, only so that she will be rushed to the hospital. But her ploy is revealed when a sister finds the head of the chicken in her room and immediately informs Father Tedeschi about the same. 

It is now that Tedeschi reveals his true plans and the real purpose of the unusual convent. Before becoming a priest, the man had been a scientist, with extensive research on genes and human DNA. When he learned of the nail artifact kept in the chapel of this convent, Tedeschi started a new experiment of his after becoming a priest as well. Examining the nail that was supposed to have pierced the right hand of Jesus Christ, he found traces of blood, tissue, and bone remains on it and was sure that they belonged to the religious leader. He then attempted to create embryos with this DNA sample and impregnated nuns with it, wanting to have Jesus Christ born again. Tedeschi’s genetic experiment failed multiple times, leading to the babies dying before being born and also getting malformed during the fetus stage.

However, in the case of Cecilia, the impregnation had worked greatly, and the embryo inside her body was growing in a healthy manner. It seems most likely that she had been impregnated via a syringe when she passed out on the night of her vows after being drugged through her drinks. This was all a plan of Tedeschi, and he had tried the same on numerous women before, including Sister Marie, which is why some of them still carry signs of the experiment. The elderly nun who creeps Cecilia out also had crosses burned onto her feet, and the protagonist also now receives the same torturous symbols on her feet in order to mark that she was really the chosen saint. In fact, Marie was the previous resident in Cecilia’s room, and she had left a secret note behind a painting on the wall, which was to alert anyone in her situation. There was an entire group of nuns working, especially under the command of Tedeschi, and they were the ones wearing red clothes over their faces. They had carried out the whole operation, just like always, and it was also them who had killed Sister Marie at the beginning of Immaculate.

What happens to Isabella and Gwen?

Isabella works as the assistant to the head sisters at the convent, and she evidently wished to gain some favors because of this situation. The reality was that Isabella had somehow gotten to know about the experiments by Tedeschi, and she wanted to be the one who would be impregnated with the genetically created embryo and play the role of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, she was tremendously angry when Cecilia was chosen for the job, and so Isabella tries to drown the protagonist out of jealousy. She is immediately taken away by the nuns and guards at the place, and the next time she is seen, Isabella jumps from the terrace to kill herself, with signs of tremendous injuries on her body. The nuns had tortured her to the extent of committing suicide, or they might have even pushed her off the roof to kill her.

On the other hand, Gwen is infuriated by the fact that Cecilia is not taken to the hospital despite her pregnancy, and she speaks out against the authorities publicly. Naturally, Gwen is immediately captured by the religious priests and nuns, and the protagonist later sees her being tortured by Tedeschi’s nuns. Gwen’s tongue is cut off for having spoken against the rules of the convent, and she is also killed, the proof of which is found by Cecilia towards the end of the film, when she finds Gwen’s dead body in the catacombs. 

Why does Cecilia kill Her baby?

During Immaculate‘s ending, Cecilia manages to burn down Tedeschi’s laboratory and also kill the man, finally managing to escape the convent through the catacombs. Right when she had started to bravely kill one figure after another, using all religious objects like a crucifix and the rosary, Cecilia’s water broke, and she was nearing giving birth. Finally, when she makes it out in the open, Cecilia gives birth to the baby that was growing inside her, but it is seemingly not a normal human being. We are not shown the baby and can only hear its breathing, which makes it clear that it does not have normal human anatomy. The strange noise might suggest that the baby was born deformed and would not have a healthy life, or that it is not even human and something supernatural. 

Immaculate ends with Cecilia finding a heavy rock and throwing it down on the baby, killing it. Cecilia had never wanted to have this baby, and this enforced motherhood would always remind her of the torture she had to experience. While she could have just left the baby to be found by someone else, her decision to kill it suggests that it was born heavily deformed, and so she does not want to suffer throughout its life. The baby would obviously be hailed and regarded as the second coming of Jesus, and so he would be kept alive for many years, which would be a great struggle for him. Therefore, Cecilia kills him as the first step in recovering from the trauma at the unusual convent. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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