Exorcisms are not real, or are they? You would think that the movies are all based on fiction, although in reality most are based on the truth. The truth is that exorcisms really do exist and there are several that have been documented. ABC News reports that there has actually been a rise of possessions in the past couple of years. In fact, there have been several deaths in the US and other countries related to people trying to rid family members of demonic forces.
However, true exorcisms are only carried out by a priest, and it has to be approved. It has also been said that possessions are very rare and the church is very careful in deciding a case, but some are real. Some cases are too believable to ignore.
There's The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and other cases that you probably didn't know anything about. But let's not talk about the Hollywood versions that are meant to make you jump in your seat. Let's examine the true accounts that inspired the movies and some that haven't yet made it to the big screen.
14 Anna Ecklund
Emma Schmidt, aka Anna Ecklund, lived under the possession of several demons for over 20 years. The demons included her incestuous father, her aunt, and at least two others. She would hear voices, was extremely obsessive, and despite being very religious, she found herself struggling with an unexplained anger towards religious places and objects.
Father Theophilus Riesinger carried out the rites of exorcism on Emma in a convent, with the permission of Bishop Thomas Drumm. The rite was carried out three times over a three week period. The events were recorded with the help of Vogl, who wrote that Emma's body flew through the air and lodged itself above the door. Emma had refused any food or drink that had been blessed, and her face would often become distorted. It was also documented that despite Emma's low food intake, she vomited green bile constantly.
Emma was finally freed after several attempts and screamed out “Praised be Jesus Christ” afterwards.
13 Michael Taylor
Not all exorcisms have happy endings. This was the case with the exorcism of Michael Taylor, who killed his wife Christine Taylor, in October of 1974. He was taken into police custody after he strangled her, gouged out her eyes with his fingers, and ripped part of her face off before ripping his mother's dog apart by the limbs. He was deemed mentally unstable after the members of his church backed his rather unusual story.
They all claimed that he had just undergone an exorcism in which the majority of his 40 demons had been excised. The church performed the exorcism based on his growing obsession with the woman in charge of the study group at the church. His wife had called him out for cheating on her while they were at a sermon, but this caused him to attack the woman in question.
When Michael's behavior consistently grew worse the church decided that he was possessed. The exorcism consisted of spoons being forced down his throat and he was doused with holy water. This went on until the group grew tired and sent the couple home until they could resume the exorcism the next day. None of this was documented until after he was charged with murdering his wife.
Michael claimed that he didn't recall any of the ordeal, but did say that he was possessed by demons.
13. Janet Moses
In 2007, Janet Moses woke up in the night in fear of her life and began threatening the lives of those around her. Her family believed that she and another relative had been possessed because of the theft of a concrete lion taken from a pub. The lion was returned to the pub, but things didn't improve. The family decided that an unsupervised exorcism was the answer. The ritual was carried out by 10 family members, none of which had any idea what they were doing.
Chaos erupted after several days of prayer and blessings in the apartment. Neighbors claimed to hear loud thumping or clumping noises. The kitchen floor flooded because the relatives had left the faucets running as they were dousing Moses' face with water. The water dousing ritual was followed by the family members sucking on her eyeballs.
Moses was dead for 9 hours before the police were called. Her cause of death was ruled as drowning. The other girl who was believed to be possessed lived, but her eyes were badly injured. Five of the family members were found guilty and another 6 were acquitted, but none went to jail.
“Julia” was the pseudonym given to a young lady whose possession and exorcism was documented by psychiatrist, Dr. Richard E. Gallagher. Julia began to show moderate symptoms of possession after being involved with numerous satanic cults. Her demons were not shy natured either, as she would often levitate in front of priests, nuns and psychiatrists.
Julia also knew things which she could not have possibly known. Private things that would go on with family members back home like deaths, illnesses and even arguments. Julia spoke several languages fluently although the true Julia only knew English. She would also go into trancelike states and speak in a voice different from her own. Julia would say things like “she's ours” and “leave, you imbecile priest”, according to documents written by Gallagher. When the rite of exorcism began she remained quiet at first, but later started to projectile vomit and spout growling inhuman sounds from her mouth.
Dr. Gallagher has not confirmed if or when Julia's exorcisms were concluded. Or if she was ever cured, but she is not the first case to remain unsolved, or the last for that matter.
11 Mother Teresa
It would be nice to believe that nuns, priests, and all church officials are safe from the demons that lurk in wait of an opportune victim. If those who are supposed to be holy are not safe, then what chance do the rest of us have?
Sorry to disappoint, but even Mother Teresa was not safe when it came to demons. Apparently, she had a bout of insomnia while she was hospitalized a few months prior to her death. Lucky for her an archbishop was also hospitalized just a few rooms down.
Archbishop Henry D'Souz was quick to rationalize that demons might be troubling her sleep after the doctor told him of Mother Teresa's troubles. D'Souz asked the hospital priest permission to perform a "prayer of protection" on the disturbed nun.
The exorcist felt that it was possible that Mother Teresa's sleep was troubled because the devil may have been trying to attack her. He claimed Mother Teresa appeared troubled at first sight, but that she seemed to be at peace following the “prayer of protection”.
It was said that Mother Teresa slept fine afterwards.
What? No projectile vomit?! Now you know that some rituals are quite mild.
10 George Lukins
In 1788, George Lunkins, a British tailor, first mistook his possession for witchcraft, but he became famous when the cause of his problem was found to be demons.
His possession began after he went out drinking with a friend. Upon waking up, Lukins found that he was not able to endure religious items and was subject to fits. In these fits he would leap around while shouting in odd voices, both male and female. Lunkins eventually decided that he was possessed by seven devils, not witchcraft.
It was somehow decided that Lunkins would need seven exorcists to cast out his seven demons, but the clergymen of the Church of England would not agree. So he ended up with seven Wesleyan Methodists instead. The protestant ministers are not allowed to carry out the rites of exorcism, but they were able to pray and call on the demons to depart, which they did after two long hours.
George Lukins was fine afterwards and was able to lead a productive life.
9 Maricica Irina Cornici
Here is another tale of an exorcism gone horribly wrong. Apparently even Romanian exorcisms can be quite deadly. In 2005 a nun was crucified in an attempt to rid her soul of the demons, which were thought to torment her.
Cornici, who was received as a guest at the Holy Trinity Convent in Romania found herself plagued with hearing the devil's voice in her head. She claimed the voices were telling her that she was sinful and visited the local hospital where she was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Cornici was given medication and sent back to Holy Trinity.
Cased closed, right? Nope. Unfortunately, it was decided that Cornici was not schizophrenic, but actually possessed by Father Daniel and the other nuns upon her return to the convent. They claimed that she became intolerable following her return. She was violent and refused to drink holy water, so she had to be possessed and it was the good father and nuns' job to cast the demons from her.
They bound the nun to a cross, gagged her with sheets, and left her to die of dehydration and asphyxiation. It's not likely that this possession will go down in history as creepy, but the exorcism was chilling enough. All five went to trial and were found guilty in causing Cornici's death.
8 Maurice Theriault
Maurice “Frenchy” Theriault was a tomato farmer whose exorcism was recorded on video. For years his family endured erratic changes in his behavior, he possessed inhuman strength, and crosses would appear on his skin. He would also get angry and abusive, while threatening to kill his wife and children. His family was also plagued by unexplained paranormal events like furniture moving on its own and unexplained sounds.
Maurice tried to get help from numerous sources. He turned in his guns to the local police, he was exorcised several times, and his case was eventually referred to Ed and Lorraine Warren, who assisted with some of his exorcisms carried out by a bishop. In the video of the exorcism Maurice would bleed from his eyes and break out in boils.
Apparently, they even claimed to catch his head splitting “wide open” on tape and it does appear that a cut opened up across his temple. It was claimed that Theriault was cured as a result of the taped exorcism.
Years later, Maurice nearly shot his wife. He somehow fought the urge of his demons just long enough to fire the gun into his own head instead.
7 Clara Germana Cele
Another spooky case is that of 16-year-old Clara Germana Cele. Clara was born in Africa and had been baptized as a baby, despite being orphaned at an early age. She was attending school at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, South Africa, when she made a pact with the devil.
Her symptoms consisted of speaking several languages, having clairvoyant capabilities and levitation. One nun said that her voice “sounded like a veritable herd of wild beasts orchestrated by Satan had formed a hellish choir".
Her exorcism ended badly when Clara strangled one of the priests with their own stole, after flinging the bible from his hands. Clara was cured of her demons following her exorcism.
6 Nuzo Enoh
In some cases exorcisms are performed and the person being exorcised was never really possessed at all. Such was the case of Nuzo Enoh, a British writer, who was born in Nigeria. She came out with her own real-life inspired tale of exorcism while working on a book. The purpose of the book was to make others aware of the dangerous rituals of exorcism that still go on in Africa. Her book was meant to raise awareness of what she believed should be considered child abuse.
Onoh was deemed possessed by her local church as a teenager, although she believes it to have been a simple case of rebellion. She was taken to a river in the middle of the night and smeared with coconut oil and raw eggs. Afterwards she was dunked under the water to rid her of the alleged “water demon”. Onoh believes herself to be lucky as a childhood friend was once flogged to death in a similar ritual.
5 David Glatzel & Arne Johnson
David Glatzel was eleven in 1981 when he was possessed and exorcised. The Gletzel family had recently moved into their new rental home in Brookfield, Connecticut. Gletzel began to complain about being choked, thrown, and pushed by forces unseen by his family. He also gained over 60lbs over just a few month's time and had episodes that were relayed to night terrors, leaving the boy with cuts, scratches, and bruises all over his body.
The family contacted a local priest from St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church, who performed a ritual cleaning of the house. The cleansing did not work so the family contacted The Warrens, who are well-known for their ghost hunting, especially from the series of movies based on their cases called The Conjuring.
The Warrens claim to have recorded a series of three exorcisms conducted by no less than four priests. All parties involved at the time agreed that during the exorcisms he growled, cursed, scratched and snarled.
4 Latoya Ammons
Latoya Ammons and her three children began experiencing what they felt were paranormal activities after moving into their home in Gary, Indiana, in November of 2011. Soon after moving into the home the family began experiencing unexplained phenomena. Latoya and the children also showed signs of demonic possession.
They would get bulged eyes, crack evil grins, and their voices would deepen. One of the boys became violent and talked about how it felt to be killed, another began talking to an unseen boy in the closet, while the daughter was seen levitating. All of the children would move as if being slung or thrown, while nobody was touching them.
Latoya and her children were exorcised by Father Maginot, but only Latoya's process was revealed to the Indianapolis Star, as she didn't want her children to be named. Latoya underwent three exorcisms, two in English and one in Latin. In each one her body would convulse and she would pass out. Latoya's family returned to normal following her third exorcism and after moving back to Indianapolis.
Latoya's possession and exorcism was documented by the courts, hospital staff, police and DHS workers, who were all involved. This case changed the opinions of many nonbelievers, and the Gary house was demolished.
3 Anneliese Michel
You might remember the 2005 movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In the movie a priest is being tried for the neglect of Emily, who died during her exorcism. Well the real-life story is that of Anneliese Michel.
Anneliese requested the exorcisms herself after being diagnosed in 1969 with epilepsy and later with depression, but to no effect. She claimed to see people's faces around her distort into those of demons. The exorcisms went on for months, from early 1976 until her death later on that year. Michel underwent a total of 67 rituals based on the rites from 1614.
While Anneliese was being exorcised she would lick her own urine up off of the floor, eat spiders, and once bit a bird's head off. In the recordings you could hear her voice change with demonic, inhuman sounds that were not her own. The cause of her death was dehydration and malnourishment from refusing to eat. A doctor was never brought in during the exorcisms. Both parents and the two priests were found guilty of negligent manslaughter.
2 Pope Francis' Exorcism of A Young Man
Pope Francis has been responsible for a renewed interest in exorcisms in the last couple of years. Mostly because he has had no problem bringing up that the devil does exist. He's also very vocal in making points to avoid having dialogue with Satan.
It is also believed that Pope Francis himself performed an exorcism in Vatican City in 2013. The Pope approached a man in a wheelchair following a mass at St. Peter's Square. He pressed his hands on the young man's head with enough force to push him down into the wheelchair as he prayed. The young man exhaled deeply and his mouth dropped with a guttural sound. Then the man slumped back down into the wheelchair. Pope Francis' smile resumed as he walked away, but the young man's face was etched with anger.
The Vatican has taken a silent stand in recent years when it comes to matters of the devil, so it makes sense that they claimed that the Pope "didn't intend to perform an exorcism”. However, exorcists were surveyed about the matter and the majority agreed that it looked like and exorcism.
1 Roland Doe
Roland Doe's exorcism was so haunting that it made headline news and he was given a pseudonym to protect his true identity. William Peter Blatty, who saw the headline article in the Washington Post later went on to write a book about the ordeal, which became the 1974 movie, The Exorcist.
At 13-years-old, Rowland spent time with his aunt, who introduced him to the Ouija board. His aunt died, leaving the boy devastated. It has been said that he even attempted to contact her in the afterlife using the board. It was later discovered that Roland was possessed and he was admitted to a catholic healthcare center called Alexian Brother's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. His symptoms were abdominal pain, hearing odd sounds, and fluctuating body temperature.
At the hospital an exorcism was performed by Father Bowdern and a group of priests. Father Bishop, who was present, kept a diary of the events. He claimed that there were periods where the bed shook, the boy would scream and mimic the priests, and one of the priests was injured by a bedspring. After several rites of exorcism were carried out on the boy he was cured. Just before the demons released him the boy finally cried out: “Satan, I am St. Michael! I command you to leave this boy's body now!”. Rowland Doe lived a healthy life following the exorcism, but has never spoken of the events since.