To deal with attacks from the Evil One that go beyond
temptation and obsession and cross over into possession, a Solemn
Exorcism is in order. Each
diocese should have at least one priest who is specially trained
as an exorcist. When an exorcist is called, he will first investigate
to determine whether or not the Solemn Rite is truly needed. He will
try to rule out other causes of what the afflicted one or his friends
and family believe is
oppression or possession, likely calling on the expertise of medical
doctors, psychologists, and other experts operating from a scientific
point of view. Mental illness, physical illness,
phenomena that can mimic paranormal effects -- all of these have to be
considered before a major exorcism is done.
Once it is determined that an exorcism is necessary, the priest will
beforehand, often by Confession, fasting, and deep prayer. When
possible, he will
gather a small team of four people to work with him -- other priests,
laity, whoever is willing and whom the priest deems to be good
candidates. Those assistants will pray, make the responses required by
the Rite of Exorcism, help to hold the possessed person down if they
become violent, etc.
Throughout the centuries, the Church has learned how to deal
with demons, and the traditional rite of exorcism -- the Ritual of 1614
-- includes twenty-one directives that exorcists need to keep in mind
as they go about their work. These directives are:
- The priest who
with the particular and explicit permission of his Bishop is about to
exorcise those tormented by Evil Spirit, must have the necessary piety,
prudence, and personal integrity. He should perform this most heroic
work humbly and courageously, not relying on his own strength, but on
the power of God; and he must have no greed for material benefit.
Besides, he should be of mature age and be respected as a virtuous
- To perform his
task correctly, he should be acquainted with the many practical
writings of approved authors on the subject of Exorcism. These are
omitted here for the sake of brevity. He should, in addition, carefully
observe the following few rules which are of major importance.
- Above all, he
must not easily believe that someone is possessed by Evil Spirit. He
must be thoroughly acquainted with those signs by which he can
distinguish the possessed person from those who suffer from a physical
illness. The signs of possession by Evil Spirit are of a peculiar
genre. Among others; when the subject speaks unknown languages with
many words or understands unknown languages; when he clearly knows
about things that are distant or hidden; when he shows a physical
strength far above his age or normal condition. These manifestations
together with others of the same kind are major indications.
- To be all the
surer, the exorcist should interrogate the subject after one or two
exorcism addresses, asking him what he feels in his spirit or in his
body. In this way, also, he will find out what words disturb Evil
Spirit more than others; and thus he can repeat such words and have
greater effect on Evil Spirit.
- Let the exorcist
note for himself the tricks and deceits which Evil Spirits use in order
to lead him astray. For they are accustomed to answering falsely. They
manifest themselves only under pressure--in the hope that the exorcist
will get tired and desist from pressuring them. Or they make it appear
that the subject of Exorcism is not possessed at all.
- Sometimes, Evil
Spirit betrays its presence, and then goes into hiding. It appears to
have left the body of the possessed free from all molestation, so that
the possessed thinks he is completely rid of it. But the exorcist
should not, for all that desist until he sees the signs of liberation.
- Sometimes, also,
Evil Spirit throws up every possible obstacle in order to stop the
possessed from submitting to Exorcism. Or it tries to persuade him that
his affliction is quite natural. Sometimes, during Exorcism, it gets
the possessed to go to sleep; or it shows him some vision. But it hides
itself, so that the possessed appears to be freed from it.
- Some Evil
Spirits reveal an occult spell and by whom it was made, and the way in
which it can be loosened. But the exorcist must beware of having
recourse in such matters to witches or warlocks or sorcerers or to any
others beyond Church ministers. And let him not rely on any
superstitious practice or any other illicit method.
- Sometimes, Evil
Spirit leaves the possessed in peace and even allows him to receive
Holy Communion, so that It seems to have gone away. In sum, innumerable
are the stratagems and deceits of the which Evil Spirit uses in order
to deceive men. The exorcist must practice caution in order not to be
deceived by any of them.
- He must
remember, therefore, that Our Lord said there is a species of Evil
Spirit which cannot be expelled except by prayer and fasting. Let Him
make sure that he and others follow the example of the Holy Fathers and
make use of these two principal means of obtaining divine help and of
repelling Evil Spirit.
- If it is
convenient, the possessed can be exorcised in a church or in some other
religious and appropriate place apart from the public eye. If the
subject is ill, or if there is any other good reason, he can be
exorcised in a private home.
- The possessed
must be encouraged to pray to God, to fast, and to get spiritual
strength from the Sacraments of Confessions and Holy Communion, if he
enjoys mental and physical health.
- The possessed
should hold a Crucifix in his hands or have it in front of him.
Whenever available, the relics of the saints can be placed on his
chest, or on his head. They should be appropriately and safely covered.
But let care be taken that these holy things are not treated
irreverently and damaged by Evil Spirit. The Holy Eucharist should not
be placed on the head or anywhere on the body of the possessed. There
is a danger that it will be treated irreverently.
- The exorcist
must not make great speeches or put superfluous questions out of vain
curiosity, especially about future events and hidden matters which have
nothing to do with his work. He should command the unclean spirit to
keep silent and only to respond to what is asked of it. And he must
give no credence to Evil Spirit, if it claims to be the soul of some
saint or of a dead person or to be the Good Angel.
- Questions he
must ask the possessing Evil Spirit are, for example, the number and
name of possessing spirits; when they entered the possessed,; why they
entered him; and other questions of the same kind. Let the exorcist
restrain the other vanities, mockeries, and foolishnesses of Evil
Spirit. He should treat them with contempt. And he should admonish
those who are present--who should be few in number--not to take any
notice of what Evil Spirit says and not to put any questions to the
possessed, Let them pray humbly and fervently to God for the
deliverance of the possessed.
- The exorcist
should perform and read the exorcism with command, authority, great
faith, humility, and fervor. And, when he sees that the possessing
spirit is being tortured mightily, he should multiply all these efforts
at pressuring it. Whenever he sees some part of the possessed person's
body moving or pierced or some swelling appearing, let him make the
Sign of the Cross and sprinkle Holy Water.
- Let him pay
attention also to the words and expressions which disturb Evil Spirit
most, and repeat them very often. And when he arrives at the point of
Expulsion, let him pronounce that Expulsion again and again, always
increasing the punishment. And, if he sees that he is succeeding, let
him persevere until he is finally victorious.
- Finally, let the
exorcist beware not to offer any medicine to the possessed or suggest
any to him. All this he should leave to the medical doctors.
- If he is
exorcising a woman, he should have with him some reputable women who
will hold the possessed when she is tormented and shaken by Evil
Spirit. Such women should be of great patience and belong to the family
of the possessed. The exorcist must be mindful of scandal and avoid
doing or saying anything which could provoke ill for himself or for
- During Exorcism,
the exorcist should use the words of the Bible rather than his own or
somebody else's. Also, he should command Evil Spirit to state whether
it is kept within the possessed because of some magical spell or
sorcerer's symbol or some occult documents. For the exorcism to
succeed, the possessed must surrender them. If he has swallowed
something like that, he will vomit it up. If it is outside his body in
some place or other, Evil Spirit must tell the exorcist where it is.
When the exorcist finds it, he must burn it.
- It the
possessed person is freed from Evil Spirit, he should be advised to be
diligent in avoiding sinful actions and thoughts. If he does not, he
could give Evil Spirit a fresh occasion for returning and possessing
him. In that case, he would be in a much worse condition than before.
directives, we can see that the Evil One is a trickster, a liar. The
priest performing an exorcism must not pay heed to those lies. He
mustn't fall into the trap of becoming overly curious! Additionally, he
must be prepared for the possibility of demons revealing his secrets
and sins, especially unconfessed sins, and the secrets and sins of
others present in the room. The devils will do all they
can to make the rite stop.
Exorcisms normally takes place in a church, when possible, or in the
home of the possessed, with the
priest wearing his surplice and stole. He'll stand in front of the
demoniac -- the possessed one -- and, through the use of holy water and
the Sign of the Cross, ask for protection for
the possessed, the
members of his team, and himself. The demoniac might be tied down if
there's any danger of violence.
The Rite continues with the Litany of the
Saints, the Pater Noster (Our
Father), and Psalm 53. Then the exorcist will pray this prayer:
Let us pray.
God, it is an attribute of Yours to have mercy and to forgive. Hear our
prayer, so that this servant of Yours who is bound with the chain of
sins, be mercifully freed by the compassion of Your goodness.
Holy Lord! All powerful! Father! Eternal God! Father of Our Lord Jesus
Christ! You Who destined that recalcitrant and apostate Tyrant to the
fires of Hell; You Who sent Your only Son into this world in order that
He might crush this Roaring Lion: Look speedily and snatch from
damnation and from this Devil of our times this man (woman) who was
created in your image and likeness. Throw Your terror, Lord, over the
Beast who is destroying what belongs to You. Give faith to your
servants against this most Evil Serpent, to fight most bravely. So that
the Serpent not hold in contempt those who hope in You and say as it
said through the Pharaoh; 'I do not know God, and I will not let Israel
go.' Let Your powerful strength force the Serpent to let go of Your
servant, so that it no longer possess him (her) whom You designed to
make in Your image and to redeem by Your Son, Who lives and reigns with
You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, as God, for ever and ever.
After this, the
Evil Spirit is summoned with these words:
Whoever you are, and all your companions who possess this servant of
God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, the Sufferings and Death, the
Resurrection, and the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ: by the
sending of the Holy Spirit; and by the Coming of Our Lord into Last
Judgment, I command you:
Tell me, with some sign, your name, the day and the hour of your
Obey me me in everything, although I am an unworthy servant of God.
Do no damage to this creature (the possessed), or to my assistants, or
to any of their goods.
readings from the Gospel: John 1: 1-12; Mark 16: 15-18; Luke 10:17-20;
Luke 11:14-22, after which comes this prayer:
Let us pray.
All-powerful God! Word of God, the Father! Christ Jesus! God
and Lord of all creation! You gave power to Your Apostles to pass
through dangers unharmed. Among Your commands to do wondrous things,
You said; 'Drive out Evil Spirit.' By your strength, Satan fell like
lightning from Heaven. With fear and trembling, I pray and supplicate
your Holy Name. Pardon all the sins of your unworthy servant. Give me
constant faith and power; so that, armed with the power of Your holy
strength, I can attack this cruel Evil Spirit in confidence and
security. Through You, Jesus Christ, Our Lord God, Who will come to
judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
will invoke divine protection on himself and on the possessed by making
the Sign of the Cross. Then he places the tip of the stole on the neck
of the possessed and his right hand on the head of the possessed. He
and his assistans pray, after which the exorcist directly exorcizes
I exercise you,
Most Unclean Spirit! Invading Enemy! All Spirits! Every one of you! In
the name of Our Lord Jesus + Christ: Be uprooted and expelled from this
Creature of God. + He Who commands you is He Who ordered you to be
thrown down from Heaven into the depths of Hell. He who commands you is
He Who dominated the sea, the wind, and the storms. Hear, therefore,
and fear, Satan! Enemy of the Faith! enemy of the human race! Source of
death! Robber of life! Twister of justice! Root of evil! Ward of vices!
Seducer of men! Traitor of nations! Inciter of jealousy! Originator of
greed! Cause of discord! Creator of agony! Why do you stay and resist,
when you know that Christ our Lord has destroyed your plan? Fear Him
Who was prefigured in Isaac, in Joseph, and in the Paschal Lamb; Who
was crucified as a man, and Who rose from death.
He makes the
Sign of the Cross on the demoniac's forehead and says:
therefore, in the name of + Father, and or the + Son, and of the Holy +
Spirit. give way to the Holy Spirit, because of this sign of the Holy +
Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns as God with the
Father and the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.
The exorcist and
his assistants pray some more, then the priest will make three Signs of
the Cross on the chest of the demoniac while saying:
+ Preserve what
is within this person.
+ Rule his (her) feelings.
+ Strengthen his (her) heart.
Let the efforts of the Enemy power be dispelled from his
(her) soul, Lord, because of this invocation of your Holy Name. Grant
the grace that he who has inspired terror up to this, now be put to
flight and retire defeated; so that this man (woman), Your servant, be
able to worship you with a firm heart and a sincere mind. Through
Christ Our Lord.
Then come two
Enjoinings of Evil Spirit, in between which the exorcist and his
assistants pray and make responses, respectively. The first Enjoining:
I enjoin you
under penalty, Ancient Serpent! In the name of the Judge of the Living
and the Dead! In the Name of Our Creator! In the Name of the Creator of
the world! In the Name of Him who has power to send you into Hell!
Depart from this servant of God (the exorcist names the possessed) who
has had recourse to the Church. Cease to inspire your terror in him
(her) I again enjoin you solemnly + ) on the forehead of possessed),
because of myself who am weak, but because of the strength of the Holy
Spirit: that you go out from this servant of God (name of Possessed)
whom the all-powerful God made in his own image. Surrender, not to me,
but to the minister of Christ. His power forces you. He defeated you by
His Cross. Fear the strength of Him who led the souls of the dead to
the light of salvation from the darkness of waiting. May the body of
this man + (on the chest of the possessed) be a source of fear for you.
+ God the Father commands you. + God the Son commands you. God the Holy
Spirit commands you. + The faith of the Holy Apostles, Peter, and Paul,
and the other saints commands you. + The blood of the Martyrs commands
you. + The purity of the Confessors commands you. + The pious and holy
intercession of all the Saints commands you. + The strength of the
mysteries of the Christian faith commands you. + Get out! Offender! Get
out! Seducer! Full of guile and falseness! Enemy of virtue! Persecutor
of the Innocents! Give way, most despicable being! Give way, most
impious! Give way to Christ in whom you did not find any of your own
doing!s He destroyed your kingdom. He bound you up in defeat. He broke
our strength. He threw you out into the exterior darkness where
destruction was prepared for you and your followers.
But why are you resisting truculently! Who do you dare
refuse? You are condemned by the all-powerful God Whose law you broke.
You are condemned by his Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. You dared tempt
him and you dared to have Him crucified. you are condemned by the human
race to whom you offered the deathly poison of your suggestions.
I, therefore, charge you solemnly under penalty, Most Evil
Serpent, in the name of the Lamb + most immaculate who walked unharmed
among dangers; Who was immune to all Evil Spirit: Depart from this
person+ (on the forehead of possessed). Depart from the Church of God +
(over the assistants). Fear and take flight at the name of Our Lord
whom the powers of Hell fear, to whom the Powers and Virtues and
Dominions of Heaven are subject, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim praise
with unceasing voices, saying: Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Hosts!
The Word made flesh + commands you. He who was born of a
Virgin + commands you. Jesus + of Nazareth commands you. When you
ignored contemptuously His disciples, He ordered you broken and
humiliated to get out of that man. And when He tore you from that man,
you did not dare in His presence even to enter the swine. Now that you
are enjoined in His name +, depart therefore from this person whom he
created. It is impossible for you to will to resist. + It is impossible
for you to refuse to obey. + Because the more you delay, the more
punishment you will get. It is not men you are disobeying. It is He who
rules the living and the dead. It is He who will come to judge the
living and the dead and the world by fire."
enjoin every unclean spirit, each devil, each part of Satan: In the
name of Jesus Christ + of Nazareth. After His baptism by John, He was
led into the desert and He conquered you on your own ground. Desist
from attacking this man (woman) whom Jesus formed from matter for His
honor and His glory. shake with fear, not at the human fragility of a
miserable man, but at the image of the all-powerful God. Surrender to
God, therefore, +, Who put you to flight from King Saul by the
spiritual songs of His faithful servant David. Give in + to God, Who
damned you in Judas Iscariot, the traitor, For He touched you with
divine punishment and shouting, you exclaimed; 'What is there between
us and you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Have you come here before
the proper time to torture us?' He who drives you now into perpetual
flames will say at the end of time to Satan and his angels; 'Leave me
Cursed Ones! And go into eternal flames which have been prepared for
the Devil and his angels.' Death is your lot, Impious One! And for your
angels there is an endless death. For you and for your angels the
unquenchable flames I prepared, because you are the Prince of cursed
homicides, the author of incest, the head of all the sacrilegious,
master of the most evil actions, the teacher of heretics, the inventor
of all obscenity. Go out, therefore, + Impious one. Go out + Criminal!
Go out with all your falsehoods! God has willed man to be his temple.
Why linger any longer here? Give honor to God the Father + the
all-powerful, to Whom every knee will bend. Give place to Our Lord
Jesus + Christ, who poured out His Blood for man. Give place to the
Holy + Spirit who through the Blessed Apostle Peter defeated you
manifestly in Simon the Magician, condemned your falsehood in Ananias
and Saphira, frustrated you in the magician Elymas by afflicting him
with blindness. By the same apostle, He ordered you to depart from the
Prophetess of Python. Leave therefore now + . Go away + Seducer! The
desert is your home. The serpent is your dwelling. Be humiliated and
cast down. The time cannot be put off. Behold the victorious Lord is
near and quick. The fire is burning before him and devours all his
enemies. For, even though you have deceived men, you cannot make a
mockery of God. From His eyes nothing is hidden; He has ejected you.
All things are subject to his power; He has expelled you. The living
and the dead and the world will be judged by him with complete
discernment; He has prepared Hell for you and your angels.
The above is
repeated as necessary, possibly coupled with the praying of the Pater
Noster, Ave Maria, Credo, Magnificat, and the Benedictus Canticle over
the possessed. After this, the Athanasian
Creed is prayed, Psalms 90, 67, 34, 30,
21, 3, 10, 12 are read, and a concluding prayer is offered to God.
quickly; others may last for years.
Important Note: The Old Rite of Exorcism
vs. the New Rite
The Rite of Exorcism used before it was changed in January of 1999 was
the "Rite of 1614," which was found in the the 1953 version of the
Roman Ritual. The rite that replaced the older one is
defective, so defective that
Fr. Gabriele Amorth, an exorcist, had
this to say about it in the interview below: "We exorcists
have all tried out the new prayers in the New Ritual
ad interim and we have come to realize that they are absolutely
ineffectual." Read that again.
He is telling us that the new rite of exorcism is ineffective -- "absolutely ineffectual" -- that it does not work. In his paper, The
Ancestry and Theology of the Rite of Major Exorcism (pdf),
theologian Daniel G. Van Slyke compares the rite found in the older
Roman Ritual (RR1953) with the rite in use now (Ex1999) and concludes,
The rite of
major exorcism of Ex 1999 can be summarized in one word:
celebratio or “celebration.” An editor who emended the introduction for
the 2004 edition found problematic the designation of major exorcism
as celebratio liturgica or “liturgical celebration,” and so
changed it to actio liturgica or “liturgical action.”
The notion of exorcism as “celebration” remains, however, in
several places, including a rubric affording the exorcist an
opportunity to prepare the congregation “for the celebration.”
In fact, this word summarizes the radical difference in
theological tone between the major exorcism of Ex 1999 and that of RR
1953. The major exorcism of RR 1953 is a weapon for the priest-exorcist
acting by the power of Christ and confronting the demon who is
personally present there and then. For the sake of liberating a man
held in bondage, the exorcist, by ancient and explicitly imperative
formulae, commands the demon to depart. The name of Christ and the
threat of impending judgment and punishment are invoked to intimidate
the demon and to illustrate the power behind the com-mands. The texts
boldly employ language and imagery drawn from Vulgate scriptural
pericopes recounting exorcisms and the ongoing struggle with the demon
even after the accomplishment of Christ’s paschal mystery.
The major exorcism of Ex 1999 is a sacramental deriving its
force from the supplication of the Church, particularly as manifest in
“deprecatory” or “supplicating” formulae. By means of this rite, the
Church celebrates Christ’s temporally past victory over evil through
the paschal mystery. Instead of addressing the demon, an act now
entirely optional, the major exorcism of 1999 asks God the Father, with
repeated epicleses, to send the Holy Spirit upon the vexed
Christian, while anamnetically calling to mind Christ’s victory
in the paschal mystery and the vexed Christian’s entry into it through
baptism. The rite bypasses key scriptural passages, including the cure
of the Gerasene demoniac and the exorcisms related in Acts. Also absent
from Ex 1999 is the abundance of biblical figures of the demon and
scriptural language depicting the ongoing struggle with the demon that
remained in RR 1953. Ex 1999 also departs from Scripture and the
tradition of major exorcisms by altering the grammar of exorcism
through new uses of such verbs as adjuro, through drastic reduction of
third person verbs describing what God or the Church does to the demon,
through the disappearance of verbs such as praecipio, and through
shifts in the use of per formulae. The formulae of the major exorcism
in RR 1953, which can be traced to the very origin of Latin liturgical
books, do not support the theological understanding of exorcism evinced
by such scholars as Balthasar Fischer and Achille M. Triacca, who
worked on revising the Rituale Romanum after the Second Vatican
Council. The ancient formulae, therefore, were discarded. Only
scattered phrases drawn from them survive in the major exorcism of Ex
1999/2004, above all in optional imperative formula III. In short,
careful theological, historical, and literary analyses demonstrate that
the rite of major exorcism was not, in accordance with the mandate of
the Second Vatican Council, “revised carefully in the light of sound
Rather, the rite of major exorcism was rewritten in order to
accommodate experimental and tendentious opinions on possession and
exorcism. It is to the credit of Cardinal Medina EstÚvez and
then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that they ensured exorcists the world
over the use of the reliable rite of exorcism in the Rituale Romanum of
in the position of needing an exorcist, be sure to ask
for one who will use the Rite of 1614, which any exorcist has every
are the thoughts of two priests on the new rite
vs. the old:
Cases of Possession and Exorcism
of Nicola Aubry
For the full account of this exorcism, see "The
Triumph of the Blessed Sacrament, Or History of Nicola Aubry"
(pdf), by Fr. Michael Muller (1825-1899).
of Anna Ecklund
The story of the
possession of Anna Ecklund as recounted in "The Encyclopedia of Demons
and Demonology," by Rosemary Ellen Guiley:
One of the
best-documented demonic possession cases in the 20th century. The
possession of Anna Ecklund also is unusual for the combination of
demonic entities within one victim.
Anna was born in the Midwest about 1882 and was raised a devout and
pious Catholic. She first began showing the symptoms of
possession—revulsion toward holy objects, inability to enter church,
and disturbing thoughts about unspeakable sexual acts—at age 14,
finally becoming totally possessed in 1908. In the account of Anna’s
travails, Begone Satan!, written in German by the Reverend Carl Vogl
and translated into English by the Reverend Celestine Kapsner, O.S.B.,
Anna’s aunt Mina, a reputed witch, caused her possession by placing
spells on herbs used in Anna’s food. Father Theophilus Riesinger, a
native Bavarian and a Capuchin monk from the community of St. Anthony
at Marathon, Wisconsin, successfully exorcized her on June 18, 1912,
only to have her fall prey to the Devil again after her father heaped
CURSEs on her and wished her possessed. In 1928, when Anna was 46 years
old, Father Theophilus tried again.
Seeking a place where Anna was unknown, Father Theophilus approached
his old friend, Father F. Joseph Steiger, parish priest in Earling,
Iowa. With great reluctance, Father Steiger agreed that the exorcism
could take place in the nearby convent of the Franciscan Sisters. Anna
arrived in Earling on August 17, 1928. Trouble started immediately;
sensing that someone had sprinkled holy water on her evening meal, Anna
threw a fi t, purring like a cat, and refused to eat until unblessed
food could be served. After that, the devils within her always knew
whether one of the nuns had tried to bless the food or drink, and they
The ancient ritual began in earnest the next morning. Father Theophilus
had several of the strongest nuns hold Anna on a mattress laid upon an
iron bed, and her clothes were bound tightly around her to prevent her
from stripping herself. With Father Theophilus’ first exhortations
Anna’s mouth clamped shut and she fell unconscious, followed almost
immediately by an extraordinary feat of levitation. Rising swiftly from
the bed, she hung onto the wall above the door like a cat, and it took
great effort to pull her down. Although Anna was unconscious and her
mouth never moved throughout the sessions, voices issued from within
her, accompanied by screams, howls, and unearthly animal noises.
Earling citizens, alarmed by the outcries, gathered at the convent,
ruining Father Theophilus’ hopes of keeping the exorcism secret.
Totaling 23 days, the exorcisms covered three sessions: from August 18
to the 26, from September 13 to 20, and from December 15 to 23. Through
it all, Anna’s physical state deteriorated to the point of death. She
ate no food but only swallowed small amounts of milk or water.
Nevertheless, she vomited enormous quantities of foul-smelling debris,
often resembling tobacco leaves, and spit prodigiously. Her face became
horribly disfigured and distorted, often suffusing with blood as her
head swelled and elongated, her eyes bulged, and her lips grew,
reportedly, to the size of hands. Her abdomen would swell to the point
of bursting, only to retract and become so hard and heavy that the iron
bedstead would bend under the enormous weight.
In addition to the physical changes, Anna understood languages
previously unknown to her, recoiled at holy words and objects, and
revealed clairvoyant knowledge by exposing secret childhood sins of the
other participants. The nuns and Father Steiger were so frightened and
troubled that none of them could stay in Anna’s room throughout the
entire exorcism but instead worked in shifts. Father Steiger, taunted
by the devils for having agreed to the exorcism in his parish, was
especially harassed and suffered an auto accident that the devils had
predicted and apparently arranged. Only Father Theophilus, confident of
his powers, remained steadfast.
Hordes of lesser devils and avenging spirits, described as like “a
swarm of mosquitoes,” possessed Anna, but her principal tormentors were
BEELZEBUB , Judas Iscariot, and the spirits of her father, Jacob, and
his mistress, Anna’s aunt Mina. Beelzebub revealed himself first,
engaging Father Theophilus in sarcastic theological conversations and
acknowledging that the curses of Jacob, Anna’s father, sent the devils
into her at age 14. Father Theophilus tried to reach Jacob, only to be
answered by a spirit identifying himself as Judas Iscariot, who
admitted he was there to torment Anna to commit suicide and thereby go
Jacob eventually spoke and said that he had cursed Anna for not
submitting to his incestuous advances, calling upon the devil to tempt
her with every unspeakable sin against chastity. In Begone Satan!
the author describes Jacob’s life as “coarse and brutal,” taking Anna’s
aunt Mina as a mistress while he was still married and repeatedly
trying to seduce Anna. At his death, a priest had administered extreme
unction, but Jacob ridiculed him. The author continues: “In the
judgment after death even all that was pardoned him, but (because) he
had cursed his own daughter . . . that ultimately was the guilt of his
eternal damnation. And so he was still scheming in hell how he could
torture and molest his child. This Lucifer gladly permitted him to do.”
Whether Anna’s virginity really remained intact, even at age 46, or
whether she had repressed her sexual contact with her father is unknown.
A high, falsetto voice, present from the beginning among the other
voices, revealed itself as that of Mina. God had damned her for living
with Jacob and for murdering four children. Begone Satan!
suggests that the children were Mina’s own, but they may also have been
multiple abortions. The author describes Mina as any devil’s equal for
malice and hate, filled with spite and blaspheming the Blessed
The author remarks that the truly amazing aspects of Anna’s possession
were her basic virtue and pious disposition throughout her ordeal,
because “the devil has no power over the free will of a human being.”
Sensing his eventual triumph, Father Theophilus continued to exhort the
devils to depart, and by the latter part of December 1928, they began
to weaken and moan, rather than scream, against his efforts. Father
Theophilus demanded that when they returned to hell, each should call
out his name as a sign of his or her departure, and the devils agreed.
On December 23, 1928, at about 9:00 P .M ., Anna suddenly jerked up and
stood erect in bed, looking as if she were about to rise to the
ceiling. Father Steiger called for the nuns to pull her down, while
Father Theophilus blessed her and roared, “Depart ye fi ends of hell!
Begone Satan, the Lion of Juda reigns!” Anna crumpled back onto the bed
as a terrible shout of “Beelzebub, Judas, Jacob, Mina” followed by
“Hell, hell, hell” filled the room, repeated several times until the
sound seemed to fade into the distance. Anna opened her eyes and
smiled, while tears of joy ran down her face and she cried, “My Jesus,
Mercy! Praised be Jesus Christ!”
Begone Satan! describes the end: “During the first thrills of joy
they were not even aware of the terrible odor that filled the room. All
the windows had to be opened, the stench was something unearthly,
simply unbearable. It was the last souvenir of the infernal devils for
those they had to abandon upon the Earth.”
Kapsner wrote of this possession in "Begone Satan!," which you can
download in pdf format here: Begone Satan!
The Possession of Roland Doe, a.k.a. Robbie
One of the most famous cases of exorcism is that involving the story
behind William Peter Blatty's book, "The Exorcist", made into a
movie in 1973, starring Linda Blair as the demoniac. It involved a
young boy who became known as "Roland Doe," not a girl as in the book
and movie based on the case. He lived in Cottage City, Maryland, and in
1949, his Aunt taught him how to play with a Ouija board. After she
died a few weeks later, strange things began to happen -- the usual
sort of activity attributed to "poltergeists." Things moving around on
their own, pictures of Christ being slammed against the walls,
scratching and knocking sounds coming from under the floor, etc. Then
the boy's mother entered his bedroom only to find his bed shaking
violently. The boy began to be covered in scratches, welts, and bruises
that couldn't be explained, and then his behavior started to
dramatically change. After consulting with doctors and psychiatrists,
they contacted a Catholic priest, Father Albert Hughes.
When meeting the boy at the rectory, Father Hughes, as related by
another priest, Father Bober, said he noticed a "dark stare, almost as
if there were nothing behind the eyes.” "Roland" showed an aversion to
holy things at this first meeting, and the room grew cold. The
telephone on Father's desk moved "by itself." Father gave the family
blessed candles and a bottle of holy water to use. The next morning,
"Roland's" mother called Father to tell him that something had picked
up the bottle
of holy water and smashed it, and that when she lit one of the candles,
the flame shot up as high as the ceiling, so she had to put it out.
When Father tried to call her later, he heard a crashing sound as she
answered the phone: the telephone table had just shattered, seemingly
of its own accord. Then came the speaking of languages unknown to the
demoniac. In Latin, Father
asked the Evil Spirit within Roland, "Who are you?". The boy responded,
in Latin, "I am legions." Roland asked him as well, "O sacerdos
Christi, tu scis me esse diabolum. Cur me derogas?" (Oh, priest of
Christ, you know that I am the devil. Why do you keep bothering me?")
The boy was placed in a Jesuit-run hospital in Washington, D.C. so he
could be cared for while undergoing what would be unsuccessful
exorcisms. He became violent, and he showed super-human strength by
breaking out of the restraints placed on him in order to prevent him
harming himself or others. In one instance of his breaking his
restraints, he reached under the bed, pulled off a bed spring, and
slashed Father's arm from wrist to elbow. While Father was away
healing, the words "Saint Louis" appeared on the boy's skin in welts,
and his parents took the boy out of the hospital and moved with him to
that city, staying with relatives. They once again turned to the
medical profession, but were failed by them. So they contacted yet
another priest, a man named Father William Bowdern.
Father Bowdern assembled a team of priests to deal with this case,
knowing of Father Hughes's failure and of the violence the demon had
committed against him. He was taken to a Catholic hospital in St.
Louis, and there the exorcisms continued. But things went badly for the
priests, with one having his nose broken, and with no success in
driving away the Evil Spirit. They decided that the boy needed to be
baptized, something the boy strongly resisted but eventually underwent.
When they went to give him the Eucharist, a fierce battle broke out,
but the demons finally relented. Armed with the Sacraments, the boy's
mouth opened, and the priests heard these words, "Satan! Satan! I am
Saint Michael, and I command you, Satan and the other evil spirits, to
leave the body now.“ A corner had been turned, and the priests went on
to finally exorcize the demons successfully.
The boy known for decades as "Roland Doe" was actually named Robbie
Mannheim, and in the Rare Books and Archives Division of Saint Louis
University's Pius XII Memorial Library are several binders of
documents, case studies, and historical artifacts related to his case.
Diaries the priests kept during the exorcisms have been published into
a book, "Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism" (see book above
right). Read a day by day account of what happened in the case study here (pdf).
The Possession of
The exorcism of Anneliese Michel forms the basis for the movie, "The
Exorcism of Emily Rose" (2005). Anneliese, born
in 1952, was a very devout, young Catholic girl who suffered from
various illnesses, including epilepsy and depression. Medical care did
little to help with those conditions, and they certainly didn't help
when she began to suffer from demonic obsession and oppression. She
began to see "devil faces" and to hear voices telling her she was
damned. Then came an aversion to sacred objects. Her family approached
priests, asking for an exorcism, but were refused as she hadn't met the
criteria necessary (paranormal activity, etc.).
Later, she began to engage in foul behaviors, such as eating insects,
drinking her own urine, etc. Another priest they approached, Father
Ernst Alt, became convinced he was dealing with a case of demonic
possession and was granted permission from his Bishop to proceed. Her
parents made the literally fatal error of withdrawing medical care
during the course of the 67 exorcism that followed, taking place over a
period of time lasting ten months, in the years 1975 and 1976. The
priests involved said that the demons that tormented Anneliese were
successfuly exorcized, praise God, but, sadly, she died from
malnutrition very soon afterward. The priests and her parents were
prosecuted, with the priests being found guilty of
manslaughter, serving six months in jail, suspened, and three years of
For further study:
Malachi Martin, Exorcist
Fr. Malachi Martin by Art Bell and by journalist Bernard Janzen can be
found in this site's Catholic
library. The third interview with Janzen is most apt with regard to
book, "Hostage to the Devil," is one of the most frightening -- and fascinating
-- books you
can read on the topic of exorcism. It's available here, on FishEaters,
in .PDF format, or you
can buy it so it can be more easily passed around to the people you
Books by Father Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist
Relevant Books of Interest
Move on to:
Oppression, and Possession