We're sorry, but the page you are looking for doesn't exist.
Originally seen on: http://catholictothemax.com/blog/the-pius-hipster/interview-with-rev-michael-maginot-exorcist/
An Extended Two and half-hour interview with Rev. Michael Maginot
Rev Maginot at his nephew’s ordination to the priesthood that occurred ironically a week before the final exorcism.
This past week Catholic to the Max was granted an extended one-on-one two-and- half-hour interview with Rev. Michael Maginot from the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. Recently, Maginot has gained a lot of attention from the media for his work as the exorcist in a case of demonic possession that took hold of a family and made news across the world. Rev. Maginot has been a priest for ten years and served as Judicial Vicar back in 2001. A down-to-earth man with a simple heart, he seeks to bring glory to God through his experiences with this case. In a world where atheism is growing in numbers among youth, Fr. Maginot wishes to point the way to the Truth, the power of God, and the very real existence of the devil. In our interview, we were able to focus on the more unique perspective of Fr. Maginot’s work, not just as exorcist, but as a priest. He kindly submitted to and answered our questions concerning his faith life, prayer, and various other theological topics. We are indeed grateful for Rev. Maginot for taking the time to let us interview him. We hope you enjoy the interview.
First off, we would like to thank you Father Maginot for doing this interview with us.
No problem. You’re welcome.
Studying in Rome
What was your experience like studying at the famous Pontifical North American College in Rome?
The Pontifical North American College is an educational institution
It was great. I had a very good experience studying at the university. It was a good experience as well being close to the Holy Father. The cultural experience of being in Rome and Europe was great. I also enjoyed the traveling that I was able to do while I was there. Overall, it was quite the experience of a lifetime.
attended by seminarians around the world.
The Roman Rite is a literary work from the Catholic Church containing various rites and prayers including the rite of exorcism. The rite of exorcism spans roughly 20 pages in the 1964 edition of the Rite. The book has been around for over a hundred years.
During your attendance at the college, did you receive training in the rite of Exorcisms in a specialized class? What was that like?
Not at that time, no. I received my education there from 1979 till 1984, so there was no class that specialized in that in Rome at the time. When I performed the Rite of exorcism in this case, I used the Rite from the Roman Ritual.
Did you personally study any cases of possession while in Rome or in your lifetime?
No. I had never really studied that kind of thing in the course of my studies at Rome or during my life.
The Role of Being an Exorcist
Graham Twelftree, a notable biblical scholar, recently came out with a work entitled Jesus the Exorcist. What does the role of Jesus as exorcist mean to you?
While the Old Testament scarcely mentions demons, Jesus Christ in the New
For me, exorcism was a very integral part of the ministry of Jesus in the gospels, even, I would say, as much as healing the sick. This is where the Church finds its scriptural roots for the rite of exorcism that we priests use today. So, for myself, it is definitely an important part of the ministry work of the Church.
Testament focuses on spiritual warfare and demons in 14 distinct cases and talks about demons, evil, and satan 68 times in the four gospels.
The Rite of Exorcism has been revised multiple times. The two most recently noted are during Vatican II (with the 1964 edition of the Roman Ritual) and in 1999.
How have you assumed the role of exorcist in your own parish?
At different points I’ve gotten phone calls from parishioners and others. In those situations, I often would work to correct whatever spiritual problem they were dealing with. Most of the time I would do this by putting them in the right mindset about whatever it was that was bothering them spiritually. Possession is not always the problem. Most of the time, I would utilize the different spiritual tools the Church offers for spiritual warfare rather than performing the rite. The tools were great because they often solved whatever spiritual problem they were targeted at. Whenever I get a call about some type of spiritual or demonic affliction, I always tend to try and look for and close in on the source of the problem. Usually, if you can figure out what instigated the spiritual attack or problem the person is having, you can fix it or correct the person’s mentality about it. Not everyone needs an exorcism.
In the code of canon law 1172, it is stated that permission to perform an exorcism should be only given to a priest who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life. The Church also recommends prayer, fasting and preparation beforehand. What kind of spiritual preparation did you undergo before and between the exorcisms?
The most important thing to do before performing an exorcism is to attend the sacrament of confession. So, before the rite, I did go. However, I did not fast, with the exception of missing meals when the exorcisms were around dinner time.
In the Scriptures, Jesus exorcizes a demon that the apostles could not and tells them that the demon could only come out with prayer and fasting. Have you experienced the spiritual benefit of fasting in your spiritual life?
I’ll be honest that I haven’t been too big on fasting except for what the church requires. However, with all the phone calls I’ve been getting the past two weeks, it was hard fit in eating (laughs).
What events led to you becoming the exorcist for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana?
Really, it was matter of being the priest on the scene more than anything else. I got called in, I ended up doing the investigation. While I was the judicial vicar of the northwest Indiana diocese back in 2001, I received a few phone calls concerning spiritual warfare. The first two I managed to call, but never got an answer. With the third call things seemed to be more involved. In that particular case, I contacted the bishop and he told me to take of care of the case on my own. It was crazy because I was getting a sense that this sword the woman owned had to do with her troubles. I literally had to convince that her to get rid of the sword and she was quite reluctant about it since she didn’t think there was any curse or anything around the sword. Eventually, the woman went to an Orthodox church which granted her an exorcism, and I never heard from her again. It became clear to me at the point that the bishop didn’t really want me to get involved in that kind of thing. That was why it was hard to present the Ammons case to him when I did because I didn’t want to bring anything more to him. I basically got into the mentality of trying to handle these kind of things on my own as much as I could. So, initially I thought I would do the same thing with the Ammons. Everything I tried spiritually wasn’t working, so I felt forced in a sense to bring the case to the attention of the bishop and get permission to perform an exorcism.
When the police had finished their investigation of the Ammons basement, I had finished writing up an investigational report on the case. I had contacted the judicial vicar of Indianapolis, as that was who my bishop referred me to, and told him about the case. Since Latoya Ammons was living in Indianapolis, and the bishop was known for forwarding cases of that nature to him, I tried to put the case in his hands. I said to him, “Look, I have this report, and if you want, I could hand that all off to you. Then you could take it over and since Latoya lives in Indianapolis, I could give you her contact information.” But he replied saying, “No, I do all my own investigations, and if I got involved I’d start from scratch.” Then I told him, “But she’s been waiting a month and she wants it done yesterday. Every day she is without her kids and as long as this demon is with her, she’s not going to get them back.” Then he said to me, “Well, with the way it is, if you started it [the investigation], and she is willing to come 150 miles from Indianapolis to you for the exorcism, then you have to finish it.” So I called Latoya and she agreed to come to Gary, Indiana and have me perform the exorcism and that is how I “became an exorcist.”
In the Roman Catholic Church, a judicial vicar (or officialis) is an officer of the diocese who has ordinary power to judge cases in the diocesan ecclesiastical court.1
A view of the city of Gary, Indiana
At what point did you become involved with the case of the Ammons?
At the time Latoya’s boys were at the hospital, I was the on-call replacement for the chaplain who works regularly at the Methodist hospital in Gary and Merriville, Indiana. Fridays and Saturdays, I was that hospital’s emergency contact in place of the regular priest. When I got the call, I was at my parish conducting my regular bible study class. The Methodist minister for the hospital who was on the line told me they needed me to come over and perform an exorcism. I explained to him that I needed to get permission from the bishop before I could do anything like that. And before even doing that, an investigation would have to be undertaken. At that point, the minister mentioned the incident with the boy walking up the wall and said there was something in him. So, I gave him my contact information and told the minister that I would be willing to look into it for him and do an investigation.
Do you know why the Methodist minister didn’t perform the exorcism himself?
He basically told me that they did not usually deal with those types of things and that he knew us Catholics tended to do that kind of thing. He also had no experience with that himself. So that’s why he contacted me.
The Methodist Church of Great Britain holds that the ritual of exorcism involves “the casting out of an objective power of evil which has gained possession of a person.” Moreover, the Methodist Church teaches that “the authority to exorcise has been given to the Church as one of the ways in which Christ’s Ministry is continued in the world.” A minister must first consult the District Chair in order to perform an exorcism. The Methodist Church holds that it is of great importance to ensure that the presence and love of Christ is assured to the individual(s) seeking help. In addition, the ministry of the “Bible, prayer and sacraments” should be extended to these individuals as well. A combination of these things has been proven to be effective.2
What was the faith background of the Ammons family and did they seek help from their own church before you were contacted?
Well, first, the Ammons were Baptists. Before I became involved, they had gone to their church about the problems they were having with the demonic. Surprisingly, their Baptist church refused to help them at all. Now, their great grandmother, who was for the most part a shut-in, had a neighbor who belonged to a church that had spiritual deliverance services. It was at this point, when things got worse with the possession and demonic affliction, that they showed some willingness to go to that church for help. The great grandmother put them in contact with that church, and they attempted to help the family for couple weeks but they were unable to deliver the women and her family completely.
Some news sources mentioned your initial doubt over there being demonic forces at work with the Ammons family, can you tell us about that?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a doubt. I had more of what you would call a “professional skepticism” about the case. The rite of exorcism presupposes that. So you try to figure out what else could be causing the situation to occur besides possession. If you aren’t able to reach any logical conclusion or answer, then you can make the judgment that it’s possibly demonic. From the very beginning, when I heard the story of the Ammons, the first phenomenon that was reported to me through a phone call was that one of the boys was walking up a wall backwards at the hospital and some professional staff had seen this. So, I thought, “If what they’re telling me is true, there must be something demonic going on there.” At the time, I couldn’t really come up with an explanation to falsify what the people saw, outside of it being some phony type of thing.
The 1964 Roman Rite of Exorcism states:
…[A priest] should not believe too readily that a person is possessed by an evil spirit; but he ought to ascertain the signs by which a person possessed can be distinguished from one who is suffering from some illness, especially one of a psychological nature.3
It seems that people in this current age have forgotten the power of Christ, and rather have fallen prey to superstition and the power of the devil. Was it very clear from a psychological and medical standpoint that the Ammons family was not dealing with illness or irrational fear of any sort?
I think that any evidence of fear or illness was cleared away by the medical professionals and psychologists. The best they could really come up with was that it was a case of demonic obssession stemming from the mother who decided to involve her kids, causing them to act out that way. It was as if they were coming up with an illness to explain all of it that didn’t even exist. Even so, it didn’t really explain how this boy managed to walk up the wall backwards. Once the exorcisms were done, things were fine for the family. They were able to get back together, probationary periods were done, so things ended well.
What do you believe was the cause of the demonic possession?
It looked liked a perfect storm, to be honest. That following Sunday evening, after the incident at the hospital, I started my investigation, which started around 6pm and ended at 11pm. The first thing I did was bless the home of the Ammons. After that, I went about trying to find the source of the problem in the case for the next two hours, asking Latoya and the family questions as they discussed the phenomena they were experiencing. When we were talking, Latoya mentioned that a couple days before the interview, her ex-boyfriend had come to the house when she was not there. At that point, she said, the family didn’t want him to come in the house at all, so he stood on the porch. The grandmother said he had wanted to give money to the children, and so she called Latoya to ask if that was okay, and Latoya said it was fine. So the ex-boyfriend gave the two boys five dollars each, but oddly enough, he didn’t give anything to the girl. I asked the grandmother why he didn’t give money to girl. She simply said that the ex-boyfriend didn’t give money to her because he said she didn’t need incentive to be good like the boys did. That kind of raised a red flag in my mind during the interview.
So, after hearing the entire story of all the phenomenon the family was experiencing, I wanted to make a point to focus on the ex-boyfriend and get more details about him. It was dark outside at that point, probably 8:30 or so, and I started to focus more on the ex-boyfriend in my questions. I said to Latoya, “One thing that strikes me as strange is that former boyfriend.” And as soon as I said that, the bathroom light flickered with this electronic noise. I got up to take a closer look at it, and by the time I got to the doorway of the bathroom, it stopped. So, I returned to the room Latoya was in and sat down to continue the interview and made a note about it. Then I asked again, “So, tell me about the boyfriend…”, and immediately again the bathroom light flickered and buzzed. I got up again and went to the doorway of the bathroom again and the flickering and buzzing stopped a second time. As I walked away I joked and said, “I guess it’s scared of me”, and right then the light started to buzz and flicker again. Then, I went and got my crucifix and put it on top of the light, but it still continued to flicker and buzz. So, I wrote all of this down in my notes and felt I was heading in the right direction in terms of the source.
The next day, I interviewed her again about the boyfriend. This time, I noticed that the rods to the venetian blinds in the house were swinging back and forth about a quarter of an inch in the kitchen or so in synchronization. However, the cords that draw up the blinds vertically were perfectly still. Below the cords, there were also some tags, and these tags were still as well. So, there wasn’t really any current of air coming through the house. This became even more clear by the fact that when the furnace in the house turned on, the cords, tags, and rods all moved and flapped around like crazy from the air in the vents. Now, the window in the kitchen was the only one with a vent below it. So, it was very strange that this swinging movement occurred as well with the windows in the main floor of the house as I walked by them as there were no vents below them. They also swung in sequence, one window and then the next, as I walked by them. And that was very odd.
I also noticed, when I walked in Latoya’s bedroom, that oil was dripping vertically from the blinds. I inquired about it, and she said that the church with the deliverance ministry suggested she make crosses with vegetable oil all over the house. What was strange was that she had done this a month before, and in the rest of the house the oil had dried up, but not in her bedroom or the basement.
When I had finished making note of the oil dripping, I came back into the room with Latoya, and all of the sudden, we noticed there were wet footprints all around her. The footprints were literally so wet you would have had to step into a puddle of water to make a footprint like that. I remember I could smear the carpet with them when I touched them.
My first guess was that they were mine, since I had used their bathroom but since I checked the bathroom floor, it became very clear that the floor there was dry and the footsteps did not go to the bathroom. In fact, I realized, these footsteps didn’t really go anywhere at all.
So, I continued questioning Latoya about the boyfriend and as I was talking about him, she mentioned she was getting a headache, felt nausea, and had chills. So she went and got a blanket, but very shortly after wrapping herself in it, she threw it off. She said she felt like she was burning up. At this point, I pulled out my crucifix and put it on her forehead. Now mind you, there was no mention of Latoya being possessed at all, and originally the focus was on the problem with the boys. In fact, during the whole first two hours of the interview, Latoya mentioned almost nothing about herself. And when had placed the crucifix on her head, she started convulsing and the moment I took it off, she stopped . I said to Latoya, “You know, you have an aversion to holy things. You’re possessed. It’s not just your children, it’s you as well!”
Latoya was getting very sick at this point, and I felt I had enough information to continue the investigation, so I left that night around 10:30pm. I told Latoya that we did need to get to the bottom of the whole boyfriend thing and to give me a call when she felt better so we could discuss it further. That night the Ammons family left the house and spent the night at Latoya’s brother’s house with his family.
The next day, Rosa, the grandmother, called me and said, “Latoya’s very sick, but last night something very strange happened and I would like to tell you about it. Around the middle of the night, Latoya was awakened when she noticed her feet were uncovered by the blanket she was sleeping with. So she kicked them back over her feet again to cover them. I was sleeping in another bed in the same room at the time. What happened next was the blankets, without anyone touching them, moved up and flipped off of her feet so violently that it awakened Latoya.”
When Latoya felt better, I saw her and she mentioned that when she first met her ex-boyfriend, she had bought a pair of Air Jordan shoes, and they went missing. She asked her children about it and started getting upset, asking “who’s taking my things?” She also remembered that, around the same time, she wanted to enlarge a family photo, and when she went to look for it, she noticed that it was missing. As she was going through her stack of photos, she realized other pictures of her family were missing as well. So she asked her children again if they knew where they were or if they had taken them, but they all denied taking anything or knowing anything about it. Simultaneously, Latoya started catching her boyfriend in a bunch of lies and eventually, she received a threatening call from a woman who claimed to be the man’s wife. Latoya told the woman she could have the guy because she didn’t want anything to do with him. The wife threatened her saying “you will regret ever messing with my husband.” Despite Latoya breaking up with him, the ex-boyfriend continued to stalk her and show up at her house. Latoya decided it would be a good idea to move. So her brother found a good deal on a rental house (the one where the phenomenon occurred) and the Ammons family moved there. However, the ex-boyfriend was able to track her down and started showing up at that house as well. When the family moved to Indianapolis the phenomenon had stopped occuring, but I did get a call from Latoya, who despite not being bothered by her ex-boyfriend, was having horrific nightmares of being tormented, raped, and cursed at by him, and that these dreams kept on re-occurring for a while. Eventually, they stopped. So it was very clear from the beginning, to when they moved and everything stopped, that there was a tie-in between the boyfriend and the demonic possession.
In an interview with Fr. Gabriel Amorth, The Sunday Telegraph asked him how people get possessed. He answered, “I believe God sometimes singles out certain souls for a special test of spiritual endurance, but more often people, lay themselves open to possession by dabbling with black magic. Some are entrapped by a satanic cult. Others are the victims of a curse.” It is likely that there was some form of curse placed upon the Ammons.4
Can you explain why the police were digging in the basement of their house in Gary, IN where all the phenomenon occurred and what happened with all of that?
I remember going down into the basement to bless it before the interview and to sprinkle holy water in the various rooms down there. What I realized later was that the basement had a peculiar cut-out portion under the stairs full of dirt. The funny thing was there was no mention of it when I interviewed the family. I knew the police and social workers were going to gain access to the home for investigation on Wednesday, so I mentioned that to them. They took note of it as being possibly a crucial lead in the case.* When the police came, they dug up that portion to see if the Ammons family would have any reaction, that is, if the case was of their own doing because they were hiding something. But they didn’t seem to have any problem with that so they weren’t considered suspect in that. When the police dug under the basement stairs, they found some items oddly buried about two feet deep into the dirt.
When the police were digging in the basement, the crosses made of oil there started to drip noticeably again, along with the ones in the bedroom. The police were skeptical about all of this, so they sealed off the bedroom to make sure no one could get in an fabricate the phenomenon after they wiped everything down to rid of the oil. A half hour later, they broke the seal, and when they came in the room, the phenomenon manifested itself and the dripping started again.
*Police became involved at the hospital when there was concern that either the family was being attacked or that their was domestic abuse going on. The investigation at the house was merely to check on the living conditions.5
The Rite of Exorcism
You mentioned to me that you contacted a bishop in Chicago during the time that you were involved with this case. Why?
I was mainly calling him because I was looking for the ritual that I had to use to perform the exorcism. He told me he would check with the USCCB to see if they had any rituals.
Having been revised twice, once after Vatican II and a second time in 1999, can you tell us what the status is of the rite of Exorcism?
What’s interesting is when I talked to all three bishops, they basically said that the whole exorcism ritual is in a state of flux. All the exorcists are complaining to the Pope that the established English version of the rite of exorcism is not as effective as the Latin rite and they want the old one back. So, the Pope is re-working the rite and has given permission to use the old or new rite, in Latin or English, till he is finished revising it. So there is nothing printed out there for priests because of that because it’s in the works.**
**Currently there is nothing else to substantiate this claim
So what rite did you end up using?
Well I printed all the rites pretty much off of the internet and used them all. When I began, I decided to go with the new one in English from 1999 first.
You mentioned to me that the Eucharist played a role in you getting permission to perform the exorcism. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, actually it did, at least in my case. A couple of the rites recommended having the Eucharist with, hidden from the person whom I was exorcising because that can also be a telltale sign someone is possessed. On that occasion, when I was performing a minor exorcism, I decided to put the Eucharist on Latoya’s forehead like I did with the cross, and she yelled, “Ooo! That’s burning!! What’s that?!! It hurts so bad! What is that?” I told her, “It’s the Blessed Sacrament.” Now mind you, she was Baptist, and in this case she had no idea what it was. Afterward I took the host off of her and gave Holy Communion to one of the Catholics who was assisting me. When I reported this all to the bishop, this time, he gave me permission to perform an exorcism.
The Roman Ritual of 1964 adjures the priest to avoid holding the holy Eucharist over the head of the person as this can endanger the Host.6
What role do Saint Michael and the Virgin Mary play, if any, in the rite of exorcism? Did you invoke the help of either in this case?
There is a part of the rite that invokes the help of Saint Michael, and we have mention of both of them in the litany of saints there as well. There is also an option I believe to say the Magnificat at the end of the rite.
A Miracle and A Dark Night of the Soul
What role does the Virgin Mary play in your personal life?
It’s kind of an interesting story. In 1992, my brother unfortunately had an incident where he attempted to take his life. He had actually put a gun to his mouth and when he did this he said he heard the Blessed Virgin Mary say to him, “Don’t do that!” gently. So, he removed the gun from his mouth, and that moment in the corner of the room, he saw an image of her. In thanksgiving for Mary’s intervention, he made a grotto in his bedroom to that image of her, with candles and roses. Soon after, we actually had people coming to the house to pray to rosary in front of that grotto. My mother also had different prayer groups coming to pray the rosary there. I also came on thursdays to do a prayer group there as well. At that point in my life I really had an increased devotion and interest in the rosary and Mary.
I remember shortly after that, we had a full-size replica of the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe come to our parish and I had the opportunity to take it around to the six abortion clinics in the area, doing a “Jericho” walk around them with it. Also, I put blessed salt at the entrances of these clinics. We also had the banners set up in the different churches in the area and had people praying with it as well.
You mentioned to me as well that you went through “a dark night of the soul” so to speak with your faith life after this. Can you tell me about it and what started to lift it in your life?
Well, when the basement, where my brother’s bedroom was, became flooded, it was decided that I would take the grotto there and put it in an empty room in my rectory as a place for prayer. At that time my mother had Alzheimers, and the prayer groups she had going dissolved, so my group was the only one left. So, we continued to meet once a week on thursdays, and I really loved it. I recall praying the rosary then every day. In June of 2009, around midnight, I came into the rectory to realize that the grotto had caught fire. Now I had prayed around 4pm that day and was gone for the entire evening. When I came back, I had gotten ready for bed and was watching some television and fell asleep. Around midnight, I heard glass break and thought someone was breaking into the rectory. So I went over to the room with the grotto and saw it was on fire and got a fire extinguisher. The whole bottom of the grotto which was about four feet long was engulfed in flames. I tried to extinguish it with the fire extinguisher but the heat from the fire burned me when I sprayed it and I inhaled a great deal of black smoke. All this smoke and heat started pouring out of the room and I tried to find the front door to the rectory and I was panicking. I eventually found the back door and made my way over my neighbor who called the fire department and the ambulance. The ambulance took me and they treated me at the hospital for smoke inhalation. The fire pretty much destroyed everything without burning down the place. I remember literally wearing just sweats at that point. It looked like everything was lost pretty much. People told me I was lucky to survive this and that I could have been killed. Luckily, the rectory was redone rather quickly over the course of two months but that whole experience really put me into a “dark night of the soul.”
I remember we had a prayer group that prayed the 54 day novena, and it always seemed that our intentions or prayers were answered. But then we had this one 54 day novena that we prayed, in which nothing happened and it seemed that everything was not being answered or going well. So the group went into hiatus, that is, until recently.
I remember this “dark night” started being lifted around the time that the Indianapolis Star reporter called me. But before I called her back, I researched and looked into what rules, regulations, and precautions there were and what I was allowed to tell and not tell in terms of the exorcism. (Often, exorcisms tend to be a very private matter) But this case was very odd, and God seemed to have a plan to witness to his glory in it that involved me. I was surprised because most of the things that usually applied to the seal of confidentiality in exorcisms didn’t apply in the case I was working with. The main point of exorcisms being kept confidential is too keep the subjects of the case safe. But in this case, the persons involved came out to the public about it, so that seal was broken. I also didn’t have to worry about the kids and the exorcism since I only had to perform on Latoya to get rid of the demon since it was jumping from one person to another. I even called Latoya to gain permission from her to talk about these things and she was okay with it. The only two stipulations were that I couldn’t reveal the names of the demons and also the names of the children so as to protect them.
It really seemed like God wanted this story to go viral because He wanted the light to be shined on it. It was miraculous. It just amazed me how things kept falling into place with news, movie deals, and the such. I felt like it was what God wanted and that all of the sudden I was part of His big plan. It was funny because the devil ended up showing off and all of the sudden God didn’t allow it to be kept in secrecy in this case. The opposition that it faced and conquered in being brough to the light of truth, reminded me of how God worked in a sleepy little town in southern France with a girl named Bernadette. All of that, in and of itself, started to lift that dark night I was having before.
According to Leon Cristiani, author of Evidence of Satan in the Modern World
, after Saint Bernadette’s apparitions there were many diabolical apparitions that were done by the evil one to create more confusion about the authenticity of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions to Bernadette.7
The Film Deal with the Producer of the Conjuring
In the Roman ritual of 1964, Chapter one of the section on exorcisms states that the priest “should fulfill this devout undertaking in all constancy and humility, being utterly immune to any striving for human aggrandizement, and relying, not on his own, but on the divine power.” Do you believe your involvement with the public media has been roadblock at all to maintaining humility in this case and not sensationalizing?
No, I do feel that the revealing of this case in the public light is part of God’s plan. I really feel like His hand is in this one in removing “bushel basket” off the truth of this case. It’s definitely part something bigger than me and if anything I am overwhelmed (laughs). I have a part in that, but it’s God’s doing and not mine. I don’t want to get in the way of that, so I’m willing to do whatever God’s wants to do. There were definitely things that could have stopped it from coming to the light. One thing is that I offered the bishop all my findings and reports to put in the archives of the diocese but he said, “No, you can keep that.” He also never asked me to do a report. Usually those kinds of reports get archived and becomes diocesan property which becomes ecclesiastical property and they can seal that all off as confidential. And I was willing to let that happen. As well if the demon speaks, that usually has to stay in confidentiality, because demons like to lie. But in my case, the demon never spoke.
Can you tell us about the movie deal? Did you have any concerns that the case would sensationalized?
Yes. I was definitely worried that Hollywood would take the story and do what they want with it and that I wouldn’t have any control over it. And then the guy who worked with the Warrens for the last thirty years, starting with the Amityville Horror story, worked with them again to get the most true and accurate story of what happened for the film The Conjuring. He told Hollywood that he wanted to tell the true story and he was running up against all sorts of roadblocks with it. Everyone kept telling him, “you have to do it our way or else no one is going to want to watch it” but he wanted to tell the truth with it. Just like The Conjuring, he wanted to tell the truth again, and said that whoever would take his script and make the film would have to do so on the condition of being 100% true to the script. In other words, whoever makes it has to tell the true story or else the deal with his script will not go through with them. So, the main focus is trying to bring the truth out about it and not necessarily sensationalize it.
Tony DeRosa-Grund is the Evergreen Media Holdings Executive Chairman. In an interview with Collider about his film The Conjuring he expressed that he chose James Wan to do the film because “has really the absolute correct sensibilities to handle this and be true to the story.” He also emphasized that “You have to be true to the story, you have to have integrity for your characters built into the script and if you don’t, then why bother doing it? Because then you’re not telling a true story. This is true as can be. Yeah, there’s small things for artistic license but the big picture and the big story, this is what happened.”8
What steps have you taken in your parish to remind people of the power of Christ?
The readings for these past weeks have really given me the opportunity to speak. On the weekend closest to the World Day of the Sick, instituted by Blessed John Paul II, we have the communal anointing of the sick duringmass. I was able to say what has happened these past two weeks and use it as an example that God brings us healing in all sorts of ways that we may give glory to Him.
What saints have particularly influenced you in your vocational life as a priest?
I would say definitely saint michael, my patron saint, saint john the evangelist, and saint mark.
How has the Eucharist and Mass personally empowered you and affected you as a servant of Christ for your parish?
One of my four assistants was involved in a group called Children of the Rosary, which later became “Let the Children Come.” That assistant brought to my attention that they were trying to have mass on first saturdays. They would try to have mass on first saturdays,and people would show up but there was no one they were always having trouble getting priests. So I told them they could have a mass in the church I resided at. The attendance grew enough to the point where we could do a holy hour too. The intention of those first saturday masses was an effort made to battle abortion, since there was a planned parenthood building near the church where the mass was supposed to be said. So we had a holy hour with the rosary for life in addition to people praying outside the abortion clinic.
In my own experience, whenever the mass gets to the consecration of the host, I always have this experience at some point where it feels like some kind of force is working through me when I do it. It’s hard to describe, it’s almost like a burp. And that has always been a powerful reminder to me of the power of the Sacrament.
Children of the Rosary is a pro-life group in Gary, Indiana started by Rev. Theodore J. Mens, the Director of Pro-Life Activities since 1973 and pastor of St. Mary Church in Griffith since 1993.9
Can you briefly tell us about what led you to become a priest?
The idea first hit me, the founding pastor of my parish visited my grade school. In the seventh grade, he invited any boy interested in priesthood to camp Lawrence for a couple days. And since it meant time off of school, practically every boy went. I’d have to admit I was one of them! (laughs). What really surprised me was that this priest was a real outdoors type of guy and enjoyed fishing and stuff. That kind of took me back because I thoughtpriesthood was all about people praying constantly all day and it was interesting that a priest could have fun. For me, it took a roadblock away in my journey to the priesthood. But yeah, I would say after that my interest in the priesthood continued to grow more and more as I attended retreats and prayed the rosary.
Feature photo (original) by John Richardson License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Ordination photo provided by Father Maginot.
Gary, Indiana photo by Marc Tarlock License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Pontifical College photo by Gabe Knezek License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
What is listed below is a long read to say the least. It is 44 pages long. =) Grab a cup of coffee and get in a good spot, because what you are about to read is going to blow your mind. The story behind the 1973 movie ‘The Exorcist’ is nothing compared to this exorcism that occurred in 1928. If you want to download the PDF, please click this link: Begone Satan – Exorcism in Earling Iowa 1928.
A Sensational Expulsion of the Devil which occurred in Iowa in 1928*
By CelestineKapsner, O.S.B.
Originally published in English by Rev. Celestine Kapsner, O.S.B. , 1935. This etext
includes appendices on the Devil from The Catholic Catechism by Fr John Hardon, S.J.
and "The Diabolical Spirit" from Spiritual Theology, by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P. (1982).
Edited by Br. Sean, a choir monk, 2008 from html files at ewtn.com and domcentral.org,
and harmonymedia. corn's OSV Catholic Encyclopedia.
* The film The Exorcist (1973; Director's Cut, 2000), and the book which inspired it were
in part based on this actual case of diabolical possession and exorcism, as well as another
exorcism which took place in Silver Spring, Maryland and St Louis, Missouri in 1949
involving a 14 year old boy.
Letter from a doctor
1. The Case of Possession and Expulsion in Earling, Iowa
2. The Lady in Question
3. The Decisive Moment Had Arrived
4. One or More Devils
5. The Demons Jacob and Mina
6. Acute Cause of the Devil's Pain
7. Holy Water
8. St. Therese of the Child Jesus
9. St. Michael the Archangel
10. Crucifix and Relic of the Cross
11. The Pastor's Antipathy Against the Whole Procedure
12. The Experience of His Life
13. Satan's Speeches
14. Satan's Knowledge Can Be Embarrassing
15. Dumb Devils
16. Avenging Spirits
17. Night Prowlers
18. How the Possessed Woman Fared
19. Exorcism Lasted Twenty-three Days
20. High Commander
22. More Atonement
23. Battle Between Good and Evil Spirits
24. The Little Flower of the Child Jesus
25. The Devils Depart
26. Theresa Neumann
Testimony of Theresa Wegerer, Father Steiger's Housekeeper
Appendix I. The Devil, by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.
Appendix II. The Diabolical Spirit, by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P.
In regard to Begone Satan, some persons have asked the question: "Why pubhsh a story of
this kind in our age and civilization?" One could answer this by replying that our age and
civilization needs to learn anew a lesson that was vainly laughed to scorn in past
During His sojourn here on earth Christ cast out devils at various times. The powers of
Christ were transmitted to the Apostles and their successors; and the Church's ordinary rite
of ordination to the Priesthood includes the order of exorcist [now in the "extraordinary
rite", sometimes called the Tridentine rite - ED.] , in which Christ's power to cast out devils
is transmitted. The Church, moreover, has a special rite for such exorcisms, and throughout
the ages she has witnessed the effective use of it. Her long experience also explains her
extreme caution, her extensive investigation of a case, before permitting any exorcism. For
a time it was fashionable to scoff at demoniacal possession as part and parcel of an
outmoded superstition of bygone ages of ignorance— like the attitude of a lifetime ago in
regard to the miracles of Lourdes [where the Blessed Virgin appeared in France in 1858].
But facts are stubborn, also against the scoffing of so-called enlightened criticism.
Stubborn facts cannot be denied even when they baffle all natural explanation. The absurd
thing about such a position is that the critics "just know" that supernatural or preternatural
phenomena simply "cannot be."
We have become much more sober in our day. And it is a healthy sign that the man of
education no longer scoffs so readily at that which he cannot explain. So much has been
gained for perennial common sense.
To a great extent the essential matters of Christian faith are beyond the field of natural
knowledge. However, any viewpoint that is flatly contradicted by true natural knowledge
cannot be a matter of Christian faith. In regard to sin and the Kingdom of Satan, Christian
faith teaches Christ's conquest of Satan and Satan's dominion by His death and
resurrection. Now this conquest is shared by individual souls in the sacrament of Baptism,
the rite of which contains several solemn exorcisms as well as renunciation of Satan and
his pomps. In the light of this Christian faith, it is not at all surprising that Satan should be
regaining something of his hold on men in our day. For we have in several past centuries
witnessed the increased abandonment by men of the Church of Christ, and among non-
Catholic denominations the increased abandonment of the sacrament of Baptism. What is
this but a great surrender to the powers of evil ?
For a succinct statement of the Catholic position on possession by the devil, the reader is
referred to the Catholic Encyclopedia article "Possession, Demoniacal."*
Virgil Michel, OS. B, Ph.D.
* Fr. Michel is referring to the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia. See Appendix I for the 1998
Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Encyclopedia articles on both the Devil and Demonic
Letter from a doctor
Dr. John Dundon,
Physician and Surgeon
1228 E. Brady St.
Rev. Celestine Kapsner, O.S.B.
St. John's Abbey
Dear Father Kapsner:
We wish to endorse your pamphlet "Vade Satana" [Latin for "Begone Satan"] as a potent
aid to faith in the value of sacramental s, relics of the saints, and prayer. No more vivid
picture has been presented to us of the losing battle against the "camp of Christ." Nothing
has made our insistent floundering from the "camp of Christ" to the "camp of the devil"
appear so absurd. The memory it has instilled of the hatred of Satan and the eternal misery
of his permanent army, evokes a continuous inventory of one's life, savoring of the
minuteness of the final judgment. That it will save many souls we have no doubt. That
some will borrow fruitless fright is also possible, but for them one must say that if the
picture is terrible the real thing must be worse. Agony is the lot of all at least once.
Satan has seemed too unreal. It would be a pity if this pamphlet were to be suppressed
because some weak souls have been made to sense him more vividly than the author
intends. We were granted an interview with the exorcist, Father Theophilus, after reading
your account of the diabolical possession. We treasure the experience as an intimate
glimpse into the life of a pious priest very gifted in a specialty which should command the
patronage of the medical profession, rather than to be allotted to the realm of superstition or
necromancy. We anxiously await his complete report of the Earling [case].
Yours very truly,
J. D. Dundon, M.D.
Nineteen hundred years ago, Christ, the Son of God, came upon this earth. He gained the
victory over Satan, the Prince of this World, and founded His own Kingdom, the Church.
He vested His Church with the same powers that He had received from the Father. "As the
Father sent Me, so I send you."
When preparing her candidates for the ministry. Holy Mother Church hands these powers
over to them that they may continue the mission of Christ's Kingdom on earth. Preparatory
to Holy Priesthood [in the "extraordinary rite"] the candidate receives the so-called minor
and major orders. Among the minor orders is one called the Order of Exorcist. When the
Bishop confers this order he pronounces the following significant words: "You receive the
power to place your hand upon those possessed and through the imposition of your hands,
the grace of the Holy Ghost and the words of exorcism you shall drive evil spirits out of the
bodies of those so possessed."
The Solemn and powerful meaning attached to this ceremony, not conferred in any of the
other orders, can be gleaned from the words: "Receive and impress upon your mind that
you receive the right to place your hand upon those possessed."
Later on the Bishop invites the faithful to join him in asking that he who is to receive this
order may be an effective agent in expelhng the evil spirit from those possessed. He
continues to pray that the candidate may become an approved physician of the Church
through the gift of healing conferred upon her by the Almighty Himself
The Church bases her action on the example of Christ Himself, Who frequently drove out
evil spirits and endowed His disciples with full authority to do likewise. The superficial
faith of our age regards such an order as superfluous. The reality of hell, devils, and cases
of possession have been denied as myths of the dark ages. Even if Christ and the Apostles
repeatedly emphasized the powers of the evil spirit, these are looked upon as purely
superstitious. That Satan has succeeded in making man so indifferent regarding his actions
of misleading men is one of his greatest and most advantageous accomplishments. People
rarely listen to anything of a supernatural nature. Actual happenings of the supernatural
order in our times are all the more striking therefore and cannot so readily be dismissed by
a mere shrug of the shoulders - facts such as the numerous and indisputable miracles at
Lourdes, the extraordinary visions, stigmata, abstention from food, and gift of languages of
Theresa Neumann, the life of the Cure of Ars [St John Vianney] who was recently
proclaimed a saint of the church, to whom for 35 years the sight of hell was constantly and
really an ordinary experience. No less worthy of note are the facts in the cases of
possession occurring in our times: the case of a possessed boy in Wemding, Suabia,
Bavaria, 1891; the case in St. Michael's Mission in Africa in 1906 of two girls possessed;
the noted case of the Chinese woman Lautien in Honan, China, in 1926 and 1929, which
was under the direction of Father Peter Heier, S.V.D., of Hague, ND, now a Missionary in
China, and several cases in Rockford, IL since 1940.
The priest has frequent opportunities for using his power of exorcism. The blessings of
holy water, its various uses in the blessing of houses and in the many other blessings and
benedictions of the church in her sacramentals, are dependent upon this power. Pope Leo
XIII in our own time composed a powerful and solemn prayer of exorcism for priests
against the fallen angels and evil spirits. It is said that this pope, after God permitted him to
see in a vision the great devastation Satan is carrying on in our times, composed the prayer
of exorcism in honor of St. Michael that is now recited in the vernacular as one of the
prayers after Mass [in the "extraordinary rite"; see chap. 9 below for the St Michael
1. The Case of Possession and Expulsion in Earling, Iowa
The following soul-stirring case of actual possession and successful expulsion, through the
powers given to the Church over the evil one, is all the more striking in view of the above
explanations. The facts herein narrated were testified to by the late Rev. Joseph Steiger,
who was a personal witness of the scenes herein narrated. While conducting a mission in
the parish of Earling in 1928, Father Theophilus Riesinger, O.F.M.Cap., asked the Rev.
Pastor for permission to have a certain person, whom he believed possessed by the devil,
brought into his parish, and to use the solemn formula of exorcism over her while she
would be detained in the convent of the Franciscan Sisters who were active in the parish.
Father Steiger happened to be a personal friend of Father Theophilus for many years past.
"What, another case of possession?" replied the pastor. "Are these cases still on the
increase? You have already dispossessed the devil in a number of such cases!"
"That is indeed true. However, the Bishop has again entrusted this case into my hands. The
lady in question lives at some distance from Earling. I should like to have her brought here,
since it would create too much excitement in her home and perhaps would be the cause of
many disturbances to the person herself"
"But why just here in my own parish?"
"It is just here in an outlying country district that the case may be disposed of in a quiet
manner. Two places are available, either the Sisters' convent or in the sacristy here. So it is
quite possible to relieve the unfortunate person of her burden without anybody out in the
world becoming aware of it."
"My dear Father, do you really think that the Mother Superior would permit anything like
that to take place under her convent roof? I don't believe it. And it would be altogether out
of the question to bring the person into my own house."
"My dear friend," smilingly replied the Father, "tell me this one thing. Will you give me
your approval, should the Mother Superior be willing?"
"Well, all right, but only under this condition. I do not believe that you will have any
success at the convent."
"Thanks for your permission. The case is therefore settled, as the Mother Superior did give
her consent from the very beginning. I have already made all arrangements with her for this
case, provided you give your full approval."
Thus it was agreed to have the exorcism performed at the convent. The place was situated
in the country, and as it was summer time, the people were actively occupied with their
work in the open fields. No one would be any the wiser. Much less would anyone bother
himself about what was going on. As a matter of precaution the case was again submitted
to the bishop, who called the pastor to himself to acquaint him with what he might expect
"So, my Father, you have given your consent to allow this to take place in your parish.
Have you thought the matter over sufficiently?"
"Your Exellency, to be honest, I must confess that I was not very anxious to have it. I have
a rather strong aversion for such unusual affairs. But Father Theophilus explained that my
country parish together with the easy access to the convent would be just suitable for such
an undertaking, and so I disliked to refuse."
"As Bishop I will caution you most emphatically that there may be some very serious
consequences resulting to you in person. Should the Reverend Father not have enlightened
you regarding the matter, then I wish to give you information based upon sound facts and
similar experiences. The devil will certainly try his utmost to seek revenge on you, should
you be willing that this unfortunate woman be relieved of this terrible oppression."
"Well, I hardly think that it will be as bad as all that. God's protecting hand will not fail me.
The devil has no more influence than God permits. And if God will not permit it, the devil
will not be able to harm me in the least. So I have no misgivings. I shall keep my word. I
have given my consent, and for that very reason I would not care to withdraw it again. And
should it entail some sacrifices, I shall be only too glad to bear them, if only an immortal
soul shall benefit by it and be freed from the terrible stranglehold of that infernal being."
2. The Lady in Question
The unfortunate woman was unknown to the pastor. She lived far from Earling, and up to
then he had heard nothing about her. The Capuchin Father had explained to him what her
actual condition was, that she was a very pious and respectable person. Throughout her
youth she led a religious, fervent and blameless life. In fact she approached the sacraments
frequently. After her fourteenth year some unusual experiences manifested themselves. She
wanted to pray, wanted to go to church and as usual receive Holy Communion. But some
interior hidden power was interfering with her plans. The situation became worse instead of
improving. Words cannot express what she had to suffer. She was actually barred from the
consolations of the Church, torn away from them by force. She could not help herself in
any way and seemed to be in the clutches of some mysterious power. She was conscious of
some sinister inner voices that kept on suggesting most disagreeable things to her. These
voices tried their utmost to arouse thoughts of the most shameful type within her, and tried
to induce her to do things unmentionable and even to bring her to despair. The poor
creature was helpless and secretly was of the opinion that she would become insane. There
were times when she felt impelled to shatter her holy water font, when she could have
attacked her spiritual adviser and could have suffocated him. Yes, there were suggestions
urging her to tear down the very house of God.
"Hallucination, a pure hysterical case, nervous spells." Such easy explanation one will hear
to account for the experiences. True, similar happenings do occur in nervous and hysterical
cases. However, many doctors had this case in charge for years, and the woman was finally
examined by the best specialists in the profession. But their thorough examinations resulted
in the unanimous conclusion that the woman in question did not betray the least sign of
nervousness, that she was normal in the fullest sense. There was not the slightest indication
suggesting physical illness. Her undeniable and unusual experiences could not be
accounted for. As the doctors could not help her, it was thought to see results in another
Many years passed. Finally, recourse was had to the Church and the supernatural powers of
the priesthood. But a reserved and skeptical attitude was maintained for some years
towards proceeding with exorcism. Examinations and observations were constantly made.
It gradually became evident that strange preternatural powers were at play. The
woman understood languages which she had never heard nor read. When the priest
spoke the language of the Church and blessed her in the Latin tongue, she sensed and
understood it at once, and at the same time foamed at the mouth and became enraged
about it. When he continued in classical Latin, she regained her former ease. She was
conscious at once when some one gave her articles sprinkled with holy water or
presented her with things secretly blessed, whereas ordinary secular objects would
leave her perfectly indifferent.
In short, when after years of trial and observation she had reached her fortieth year, the
ecclesiastical authorities were finally convinced that here was a clear case of demoniacal
possession. The Church must step in and deliver the poor creature from the powers of the
evil one. The cause of the possession could not be ascertained. The woman herself could
not give any information about this matter. Only later during the process of solemn
exorcism was the cause made known.
Father Theophilus had spent many years giving missions in the United States and was
familiar with cases of possession. Since he had already dispossessed the evil one in many
instances, the Bishop entrusted this case to him. His stainless career, as well as his
successful encounter in numerous possessions, singled him out as the one best suited to
take hold of this case. He had little suspicion that he would meet with the severest
experience as yet encountered by him and that matters of such a nature would confront him
as would tax to the limit his physical endurance. Though this Capuchin Father is the very
picture of health in his sixtieth year, yet he needed all available resources in order to carry
the affair to a successful finish.
The day agreed upon and approved by the bishop for the exorcism at Earling, Iowa, was at
hand. Besides the pastor and his sister, who was his housekeeper, and the venerable sisters,
not a soul was aware of what was being undertaken. This secrecy had been strictly agreed
upon beforehand. The main purpose of such procedure was chiefly to protect the name of
the woman, lest anything of the affair might get out among the people and they might point
to her and say: "This is the one who was once possessed by the devil." As she was to travel
by train, it was found necessary to inform the personnel of the train. For should anything
happen on the way, their help would have to be available in case the demoniacal influence
should create any disturbance. This caution was not in vain, for the men had their hands
full. They, however, did not know what the nature of the disturbance really was. The poor
creature herself was only too willing to submit to the ecclesiastical procedure, so that she
might be delivered from these terrible molestations. Yet she did not always have the
necessary control over herself She made this known after her delivery. Thus, the very
night on which she arrived at the Earling station, she was so enraged over those who were
there to meet her that she felt like taking hold of them and choking them.
Previous arrangements had been made for Father Theophilus to arrive that same night but
by another route. The pastor took his own auto and went to meet him at the depot. Though
the new car was always running in tip-top order it lacked the usual speed on this trip.
Everything possible was tried, yet the car would not make any headway towards the station
though no flaw could be found with it. The distance was not even worth mentioning, yet it
took two hours for the pastor to arrive at the depot. He excused himself to his guest for
causing such a delay and disappointment.
To which the latter replied very calmly: "My dear friend, I was not wrought up about it at
all. I would have been much more surprised if everything had gone smoothly. Difficulties
will arise; they must be expected to arise. The devil will try his utmost to foil our plans.
While waiting I prayed constantly that the evil spirit would not be able to harm you, as I
suspected that he would try to interfere with your coming, even that he would try to injure
you personally." Now the pastor understood why his auto had balked. This was to be the
first of many other unpleasant happenings. After such forebodings the reader can imagine
that the missionary entered the car with some misgivings. But he took his precautions. He
first blessed the auto with the sign of the cross and then seated himself in the rear of the
car. During the short ride to the rectory he quietly recited the rosary by himself lest
something happen on the way to foil the attempt at exorcism.
The two priests arrived without the slightest trouble. Thank God, the woman also had
arrived safely at the Sisters' convent. With this reassurance the difficult task could begin
quietly the nrext day. However, that very night the enemy displayed his true colors. News
was soon dispatched from the convent to the rectory next door that the woman caused
difficulties from the very start. The well-meaning Sister in the kitchen had sprinkled holy
water over the food on the tray before she carried the supper to the woman. The devil,
however, would not be tricked. The possessed woman was aware at once of the presence of
the blessed food and became terribly enraged about it. She purred like a cat, and it was
absolutely impossible to make her eat. The blessed food was taken back to the kitchen to be
exchanged for unblessed food; otherwise the soup bowls and the plates might have been
crashed through the window. It was not possible to trick her with any blessed or
consecrated article; the very presence of it would bring about such intense sufferings
in her as though her very body were encased in burning coals.
3. The Decisive Moment Had Arrived
All was quiet. Both the pastor and missionary, having offered up Holy Mass in the parish
church that morning, went over to the convent where everything in a large room was in
readiness for the exorcism. Fortified with the Church's spiritual weapons, they would
dislodge Satan from his stronghold in the person of the possessed woman. How long would
this process last? It was not to be expected that the devil would leave his victim without a
fight. Certainly a few days would pass by before the powers of darkness would give in to
the powers of Light, before the devils would let loose the soul redeemed by Christ, and
return back to hell. It was well that neither the pastor nor the missionary knew with what
kind of horde of evil spirits they would have to do battle.
The woman was placed firmly upon the mattress of an iron bed. Upon the advice of Father
Theophilus, her arm-sleeves and her dress were tightly bound so as to prevent any devilish
tricks. The strongest nuns were selected to assist her in case anything might happen. There
was a suspicion that the devil might attempt attacking the exorcist during the ceremony.
Should anything unusual happen, the nuns were to hold the woman quiet upon her bed.
Soon after the prescribed prayers of the Church were begun, the woman sank into
unconsciousness and remained in that state throughout the period of exorcism. Her eyes
were closed up so tightly that no force could open them.
Father Theophilus had hardly begun the formula of exorcism in the name of the
Blessed Trinity, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the name
of the Crucified Savior, when a hair-raising scene occurred. With lightning speed the
possessed dislodged herself from her bed and from the hands of her guards; and her
body, carried through the air, landed high above the door of the room and clung to
the wall with a tenacious grip. All present were struck with a trembling fear. Father
Theophilus alone kept his peace.
"Pull her down. She must be brought back to her place upon the bed!"
Real force had to be applied to her feet to bring her down from her high position on
the wall. The mystery was that she could cling to the wall at all! It was through the
powers of the evil spirit, who had taken possession of her body.
Again she was resting upon the mattress. To avoid another such feat, precautions were
taken and she was held down tightly by stronger hands.
The exorcism was resumed. The prayers of the Church were continued. Suddenly a loud
shrill voice rent the air. The noise in the room sounded as though it were far off,
somewhere in a desert. Satan howled as though he had been struck over the head with
a club. Like a pack of wild beasts suddenly let loose, the terrifying noises sounded
aloud as they came out of the mouth of the possessed woman. Those present were
struck with a terrible fear that penetrated the very marrow of their bones.
"Silence, Satan. Keep quiet, you infamous reprobate! "
But he continued to yell and howl as one clubbed and tortured, so that despite the
closed windows the noises reverberated throughout the neighborhood.
Awe-struck people came running from here and there: "What is the matter? What is
up? Is there someone in the convent being murdered? Not even a pig stabbed with a
butcher knife yells with such shrieking howls as these."
The news travelled through the entire parish like a prairie fire: "At the convent they are
trying to drive out the devil from one possessed." Larger and smaller groups were filled
with terror as they approached the scene of action and heard with their own ears the
unearthly noises and howlings of the evil spirits. The weaker members of the crowd were
unable to endure the continued rage coming from the underworld. It was even more tense
for those actually present at the scene, who with their own eyes and ears were witnesses to
what was going on before them. The physical condition of the possessed presented such
a gruesome sight, because of the distorted members of her body, that it was
unbearable. The Sisters, even the pastor, could not endure it long. Occasionally they had
to leave the room to recuperate in the fresh air, to gain new strength for further attendance
at the horrible ordeal. The most valiant and self-composed was Father Theophilus. He had
been accustomed to Satan's howling displays and blusterings from experiences with him in
previous exorcisms. God seems to have favored him with special gifts and qualities for
facing such ordeals. On such occasions, with the permission of the Bishop, he carried a
consecrated host in a pyx upon his breast in order to safeguard himself against injuries and
direct attacks by the evil one. Several times it happened that he was twisted about,
trembling like a fluttering leaf in a whirl -wind.
One may ask: Does Satan dare at all to remain in the presence of the All Holy? How can he
endure it? Does he not run off like a whipped dog? All we need to remember is that Satan
dared to approach our Lord fasting in the desert. He even dared to take the Savior upon a
high pinnacle at Jerusalem; and again he carried Him up on a high mountain top. If he
showed himself so powerful then, he has not changed since. On the contrary, the devils
living in the possessed displayed various abilities and reactions. Those that hailed
from the realm of the fallen angels gave evidence of a greater reserve. They twisted
about and howled mournfully in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, acting like
whipped dogs who growl and snarl under the pain of the biting lash. Those who were
once the active souls of men upon earth and were condemned to hell because of their
sinful lives acted differently. They showed themselves bold and fearless, as if they
wanted every moment to assail the consecrated Species only to discover that they were
powerless. Frothing and spitting and vomiting forth unmentionable excrements from
the mouth of the poor creature, they would try to ward off the influence of the
exorcist. Apparently they were trying to befoul the consecrated Host in the pyx, but
failed in their purpose. It was evidently not granted them to spit upon the All Holy
directly. At times they would spout forth torrents of spittal and filth out of the entrails
of the helpless woman in order to give vent to their bitter spleen and hatred toward
the All Holy One. You say torrents? Actually those present had to live through some
terrible experiences. It was heartrending to see all that came forth from the pitiable
creature and often the ordeal was almost unbearable. Outpourings that would fill a
pitcher, yes, even a pail, full of the most obnoxious stench were most unnatural. These
came in quantities that were, humanly speaking, impossible to lodge in a normal
being. At that the poor creature had eaten scarcely anything for weeks, so that there
had been reason to fear she would not survive. At one time the emission was a bowl
full of matter resembling vomited macaroni. At another time an even greater
measure, having the appearance of sliced and chewed tobacco leaves, was emitted.
From ten to twenty times a day this wretched creature was forced to vomit though she
had taken at the most only a teaspoonful of water or milk by way of food.
4. One or More Devils
During this exorcism it was necessary to find out definitely whether the exorcist had to deal
with one or more devils. It was also important for the exorcist to insist upon getting control
over the person and of dispossessing the devil. On various occasions there were different
voices coming out of the woman which indicated that un-numbered spirits were here
involved. There were voices that sounded bestial and most unnatural, uttering an
inexpressible grief and hatred that no human could reproduce. Again voices were
heard that were quite human, breathing an atmosphere of keen suffering and
indicating bitter feeling of disappointment. As is common in such experiences, Satan
can, through the solemn exorcism of the Church, be forced to speak and to give answer.
And, finally he can also be forced to speak the truth even though he is the father of lies
from the very beginning. Naturally, he will try to mislead and to sidetrack the exorcist. It is
also common experience that Satan at first does his utmost to side-step the questions with
clever, witty evasions, direct lies, shrewd simulations.
When Satan was asked in the Name of Jesus, the crucified Savior, whether there were
more spirits involved in the possession of the woman, he did not feign in the least, but
boastfully admitted that there were a number of them present. As soon as the name of
Jesus was mentioned, he began through the woman to foam and howl like a wild
This ugly bellowing and howling took place every day and at times it lasted for hours.
At other times it sounded as though a horde of lions and hyenas were let loose, then
again as the mewing of cats, the bellowing of cattle and the barking of dogs. A
complete uproar of different animal noises would also resound. This was at first so
taxing on the nerves of those present that the twelve nuns were forced to take turns at
assisting in order to save themselves and to have the necessary strength to continue facing
The exorcist: "In the name of Jesus and His most Blessed Mother, Mary the
Immaculate, who crushed the head of the serpent, tell me the truth. Who is the leader
or prince among you? What is your name?"
Devil, barking like the hound of hell. "Beelzebub."
Exorcist: "You call yourself Beelzebub. Are you not Lucifer, the prince of the
Devil: "No, not the prince, the chieftain, but one of the leaders."
Exorcist: "You were therefore not a human being, but you are one of the fallen
angels, who with selfish pride wanted to be like unto God?"
Devil with grinning teeth. "Yes, that is so. Ha, how we hate Him!"
Exorcist: "Why do you call yourself Beelzebub if you are not the prince of the
Devil: "Enough, my name is Beelzebub."
Exorcist: "From the point of influence and dignity you must rank near Lucifer, or do
you hail from the lower choir of angels?"
Devil: "I once belonged to the seraphic choir."
Exorcist: "What would you do, if God made it possible for you to atone for your
injustice to Him?"
Demoniacal sneering: "Are you a competent theologian?"
Exorcist: "How long have you been torturing this poor woman?"
Devil: "Since her fourteenth year."
Exorcist: "How dared you enter into that innocent girl and torture her like that?"
Sneeringly: "Ha, did not her own father curse us into her?"
Exorcist: "But why did you, Beelzebub, alone take possession of her? Who gave you
Devil: "Don't talk so foolishly. Don't I have to render obedience to Satan?"
Exorcist: "Then you are here at the direction and command of Lucifer?"
Devil: "Well, how could it be otherwise?"
Let it be noted, too, that Father Theophilus addressed the devil in English, German,
and again in Latin. And the devil, Beelzebub, and all the other devils, replied
correctly in the very same tongues in which they were addressed. Apparently they
would have understood any language spoken today and would have answered in it.
Sometimes it happened that Father Theophilus, while in an exhausted state of mind, would
make slight mispronunciations in his Latin prayers and words of exorcism. At once
Beelzebub would intrude and shriek out. "So and so is right! Dumbbell, you don't know
Once it happened that Father Theophilus did not catch the words the devil spoke in an
articulate mumbling voice. So he asked the pastor: "What did he say?" Neither had the
pastor understood the devil. Then the nuns were interrogated: "What did he say?" One
answered: "So and so, I think."
Then the devil bellowed and yelped at them: "You, I did not say that. Stick to the truth! "
Father Theophilus indeed was anxious to know why the father had cursed his own
daughter. But he only received a curt uncivil reply: "You can ask him. Leave me in
peace for once."
Exorcist: "Is then the father of the woman also present as one of the devils? Since
Devil: "What a foolish question. He has been with us ever since he was damned." A
terrible, sneering laughter followed, full of malicious joy.
Exorcist: "Then I solemnly command in the name of the Crucified Savior of Nazareth
that you present the father of this woman and that he give me answer!" A deep rough
voice announced itself, which had already been noticed alongside the voice of
Exorcist: "Are you the unfortunate father who has cursed his own child?"
With a defiant roar: "No."
"Who are you then?"
"I am Judas."
"What, Judas! Are you Judas Iscariot, the former Apostle?"
Thereupon followed a horrible, woefully prolonged: "Y-e-s, I am the one." This was
howled in the deepest bass voice. It set the whole room quivering so that out of pure
fright and horror the pastor and some of the nuns ran out. Then followed a disgusting
exhibition of spitting and vomiting as if Judas were intending to spit at his Lord and
Master with all his might, or as if he had in mind to unloose his inner waste and filth
Finally Judas was asked: "What business have you here?"
"To bring her to despair, so that she will commit suicide and hang herself. She must
get the rope, she must go to hell!"
"Is it then a fact that everyone that commits suicide goes to hell?"
"Ha, we devils are the ones that urge them to commit suicide, to hang themselves, just
as I did myself."
"Do you not regret that you have committed such a despicable deed?"
A terrible curse followed: "Let me alone. Don't bother me with your fake god. It was
my own fault." Then he kept on raving in a terrible manner.
5. The Demons Jacob and Mina
When the prayer of exorcism was renewed, the demon Jacob [not a fallen angel but a
human damned to hell] made his appearance with a healthy manly voice. As in the case of
Judas, one could detect at once that he had been a human being.
"Which Jacob are you?" asked the exorcist.
"The father of the possessed girl."
Later developments disclosed the fact that he had led a frightfully coarse and brutal
life, a passionately unchaste and debased life. He now admitted that he had repeatedly
tried to force his own daughter to commit incest with him. But she had firmly resisted
him. Therefore he had cursed her and wished inhumanly that the devils would enter
into her and entice her to commit every possible sin against chastity, thereby ruining
her, body and soul. He also admitted that he did not die suddenly but that he was
permitted to receive the sacrament of Extreme Unction. But this was of no avail
because he scoffed at and ridiculed the priest ministering the sacrament to him. Later
in the exorcism he made the following explanation: Whatever sins he had committed
in this life might still have been forgiven him before death, so that he could have been
saved; but the crime of giving his own child to the devils was the thing that finally
determined his eternal damnation. Even in hell he was still scheming how to torture
and molest his child. Lucifer gladly permitted him to do this. And since he was in his
own daughter, he was not, despite all the solemn prayers of the Church, in the least
disposed to give her up or leave her.
"But you will obey! The power of Christ and the Blessed Trinity will force you back
into the pit of hell where you belong!"
Then followed a load roar and protest: "No, no, only spare me that!"
As the prayers of exorcism were continued, Jacob's mistress, who was in hell with
him, also had to face the ordeal and give answer. Her high pitched voice, almost a
falsetto, had already been noticed among the many other voices. She now confessed
that she was Mina.
Mina admitted that the cause of her damnation was her prolonged immoral life with
Jacob while his wife was still living. But a more specific cause for her eternal woes in
hell was her unrepented acts of child murder.
Exorcist: "You committed murder while you were still alive? Whom did you kill?"
Mina, bitterly: "Little ones." Evidently she meant her own children [by abortion].
Exorcist: "How many did you actually kill?"
Mina, most unwillingly, curtly: "Three— no, actually four!"
Mina showed herself especially hateful. Her replies were filled with such bitter hatred
and spite that they far surpassed all that had happened so far. Her demeanor towards
the Blessed Sacrament is beyond description. She would spit and vomit in a most
hideous manner so that both Father Theophilus and the pastor had to use
handkerchiefs constantly to wipe off the spittle from habit and cassock. Because of
her unworthy communions, it was clear that the Blessed Sacrament, the Bread of
Eternal Life, which should have been the source of her eternal salvation, turned out to
be unto her eternal damnation. For she tried to get at the Blessed Sacrament with a
burning vengeance and hatred. Out of this group of devils, Mina and Judas were the
worst offenders against the Blessed Sacrament.
The reader would undoubtedly be misled if he were of the opinion that these questions and
answers followed in regular order. It must be remembered that these battles and encounters
with the devils extended over a number of days. At times the answers were interrupted by
hours and hours of howling and yelling which could be brought into submission only by
prolonged prayer and persistent exorcism. Often no further answers could be forced from
the devils in any other way. Countless brats of devils also interrupted the process of
exorcism by their disagreeable and almost unbearable interferences. As a result of
these disturbances, the woman's face became so distorted that no one could recognize
her features. Then, too, her whole body became so horribly disfigured that the regular
contour of her body vanished. Her pale, deathlike and emaciated head, often
assuming the size of an inverted water pitcher, became as red as glowing embers. Her
eyes protruded out of their sockets, her lips swelled up to proportions equalling the
size of hands, and her thin emaciated body was bloated to such enormous size that the
pastor and some of the Sisters drew back out of fright, thinking that the woman
would be torn to pieces and burst asunder. At times her abdominal region and
extremities became as hard as iron and stone. In such instances the weight of her body
pressed into the iron bedstead so that the iron rods of the bed bent to the floor.
According to the prescribed formula of the Church, the solemn exorcism began with the
recitation of the Litany of All Saints. All those present knelt and answered the prayers. At
first the evil spirits remained peaceful, but when the petition, "God the Father of heaven,"
"God the Son Redeemer of the World," "God the Holy Ghost," "Holy Trinity one God,"
were said, the regular turmoil and gnashing of teeth began. At the petition, "Holy Mary,"
"St. Michael," the devils subsided as if struck by a bolt of lightning. A murmuring and
muffled groaning arose at the mention of the choir of Angels and the Holy Apostles. At the
words: "From the persecution of the devil," the evil spirit jumped up as if a scourge had hit
him. At the words: "From the spirit of uncleanness," how he moaned and yelped like a
6. Acute Cause of the Devil's Pain
As the exorcism progressed, one could see that the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
pained the devil most acutely. That was always something unbearable for him. How he spat
and vomited! He twisted and raved at the blessing with the relic of the Cross. Whenever the
priest approached him with the cross and the prescribed words, "Look at the wood of the
cross ! Begone ye powers of hell! The lion of the tribe of Juda shall conquer," he acted
"Stop it, stop it, I cannot bear it, I cannot listen to it! " he seemed to say.
And when the exorcist approached him with the relic of the Cross hidden under his
cassock, Satan became a raving maniac. "Begone, begone," he howled, "I cannot bear
it. Oh, this is torture! It is unbearable!"
The intercession, "Mary, the Immaculate Conception," caused him fearful agony.
When he was addressed, "I command you in the name of the Immaculate Conception,
in the name of her who crushed the head of the serpent," he wilted and languished.
Then he bloated up the woman's body, and suddenly relaxed as one stunned.
7. Holy Water
Holy Water was also something hateful to Satan. Whenever he was approached with
holy water he screamed: "Away, away with it, away with that abominable dirt! Oh,
that burns, that scorches!" On one occasion a piece of paper bearing the inscription of a
fake Latin prayer was placed on the woman's head. Even the good nuns believed that the
prayer was genuine. In reality, the prayer consisted of words taken out of a pagan classic.
The nuns were very much surprised that Satan remained so quiet under the experiment. The
exorcist, however, knew the cause of the devil's tranquility. Immediately afterwards, a
second prepared paper was placed on the head of the woman, which had been blessed
beforehand with the sign of the Cross and holy water without anybody noticing it. In an
instant the piece of paper was torn into a thousand shreds.
8. St. Therese of the Child Jesus
The pastor had kept a small relic of the Little Flower of the Child Jesus [St Therese] in his
sacristy in a small pyx without the knowledge of Father Theophilus. For protection's sake,
he placed this in a side-pocket of his cassock one day and entered the convent where the
exorcism was taking place. Just as the pastor entered the room, the devil began to rave:
"Away, away with that! Away with the relic of the Little Flower, away with that
"We have no relic of the Little Flower," the exorcist exclaimed.
"Certainly, he who just entered has one," said the devil, indicating the pastor. At the same
time the pastor approached with the relic. How the devil began to spit and to resist!
At other times the Little Flower played a more important part. One could also notice what a
terrific battle Satan had with St. Michael.
9. St. Michael the Archangel
At the very mention of St. Michael Satan began to recoil. He was tortured by that part of
the prayer which refers to the solemn petition addressed to St. Michael. He absolutely
refused to listen to the statement that St. Michael, as leader of the faithful angels, cast
Lucifer together with his legions into the very abyss of hell. It was astounding how much
he dreaded the prayer in honor of St. Michael commonly recited at the end of the
Mass. The prayer is as follows:
"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the
wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and
do Thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell
Satan, and all the other evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin
of souls. Amen. "
Would that we as Christians recited this prayer in honor of St. Michael with greater fervor
A rather peculiar circumstance induced Pope Leo XIII to compose this powerful prayer.
After celebrating Mass one day he was in conference with the Cardinals. Suddenly he sank
to the floor. A doctor was summoned and several came at once. There was no sign of any
pulse beating, the very life seemed to have ebbed away from the already weakened and
aged body. Suddenly he recovered and said: "What a horrible picture I was permitted to
see! " He saw what was going to happen in the future, the misleading powers and the
ravings of the devils against the Church in all countries. But St. Michael had appeared in
the nick of time and cast Satan and his cohorts back into the abyss of hell. Such was the
occasion that caused Pope Leo XIII to have this prayer recited over the entire world at the
end of the Mass.
10. Crucifix and Relic of the Cross
As indicated before, Satan dreaded the sign of the Cross, a crucifix, or a relic of the true
Cross. On one occasion a crucifix not made of wood was handed to Father Theophilus.
This time Satan broke out in a sneering and ridiculing laughter: "Ha, so you arrived with a
pasteboard cross! Since when did 'He' die on a paper cross? If my knowledge doesn't fail
me. He was nailed to a wooden cross."
The crucifix was examined more closely and was indeed found to be made not of wood but
of papier mache. On another occasion Satan made fun of the manner in which Christ was
nailed to the cross. "Were not the feet of Jesus nailed one on top of the other, and not aside
of each other?" [Blessed Anne] Catherine Emmerich gives the same information. She says
that the left foot was nailed first with a shorter nail. Then a longer and stronger nail, at the
sight of which our Saviour is said to have shuddered, was driven first through the right foot
and then through the left. Those standing nearby at the crucifixion saw very plainly how
the nail penetrated both feet.
This does not mean that we are now sure how the feet of our Saviour were placed upon the
cross, even if Beelzebub's statement tends to confirm the description given by Catherine
Emmerich. We do not give the father of lies credit for being a reliable witness in such
matters as the crucifixion, even if there is no doubt that many devils were personal
witnesses to the crucifixion of Christ. In like manner I would have no one believe that we
know for certain that Judas is in hell, just because he claimed that he was one of the
damned in the case of possession at Earling. Holy Mother Church has never yet given a
decision regarding this matter even though the words of our Savior about Judas are
thought- provoking: "It would have been better if that man had never been bom."
As the days passed by, a rather odd change manifested itself in the disposition of the pastor,
who began to experience a rather strong antipathy against the whole procedure of driving
out of the devil.
11. The Pastor's Antipathy Against the Whole Procedure
The pastor could no longer bear the presence of Father Theophilus who had been a dear
friend of his all along, and whom he had known intimately for years. If he would only be
out of the way, out of sight! He now wished that he had refused to allow this exorcism to
be performed in his parish, and that he had sent him directly out of his house. He became
so worked up about it that he finally informed the exorcist of his ill feeling toward him and
the whole affair. Father Theopholus did not show the least surprise. The case was still in
the developing stages and it was only natural to suppose that the devil would have recourse
to some source of temptation and annoyance in order to foil all attempts at dislodging him
from the one possessed.
Furthermore, the devil used every occasion to display hatred for the pastor. "You are the
cause of the whole affair, you are the one who tortures us so painfully," he burst out. The
exorcist commanded Satan on one occasion as follows: "Be quiet, you hellish serpent. Let
the pastor in peace once for all. He is not harming you in the least. I am doing this with the
powers of exorcism."
This riled the devil all the more. He said "It is the pastor! He is at fault. Had he not given
you permission to use his church and convent, you wouldn't be able to do a thing. And even
today you would be helpless against us, if he would retract his assent."
This is an interesting proof of how the devil feels about and recognizes authority. He made
this evident to every superior, while he acted rather civilly towards the subordinates. For
that reason he never attacked the nuns nor the pastor's cook. All that the pastor or the
mother superior had to do was to appear on the scene and the disturbance and raving was
on. The mother superior once received such a blow across the face that she was thrust into
the comer of the room. Satan repeatedly threatened Father Steiger, the pastor:
"You will have to suffer for this."
"You can't harm me anyway. I am standing under the protection of Almighty God,
and against His power you are absolutely helpless, you detestable hellhound."
"Just wait! I'll make you repent that. I'll incite the whole parish against you and I will
calumniate you in such a way that you will no longer be able to defend yourself. Then
you will have to pack up and leave in shame and regret."
"If that be the will of God, then God be praised! But you are powerless against Him,
you vile serpent, you man-killer!"
"Just wait! I will fix both you and your Lord and Master."
"Ha, how dare you speak that away against the Almighty, you despicable worm
crawling in the very dust of the earth!"
"No, I cannot harm God directly. But I can touch you and His Church." And he
continued with scorn and sarcasm: "Is it not true? Do you not know the history of
Mexico? We have prepared a nice mess for Him there."
"Who? You devils?"
"Who else did it? The whole credit is ours for bringing that situation about. He will
learn to know us better. Lucifer is on His tracks and will make the kettle hot and
heavy for Him. Ha, ha, ha!"
A week later the devil advanced a little closer with his plans of revenge upon the
"Just wait," he threatened, "until the end of the week! When Friday comes, then . . ."
The pastor did not take this threat to heart. He was getting sick of listening to the howhngs
and yelpings of the devil day after day. Yet the pastor did indeed have a narrow escape on a
12. The Experience of His Life
Friday morning after Mass the telephone rang in the parish house. It was a call from a
farmer, whose mother was critically ill. Would the pastor kindly come and administer the
last sacraments to the dying? He wanted to call for the pastor with his own car, but
somehow it was out of order and he couldn't locate the trouble. He had been trying to start
it for over an hour, but in vain. It simply would not start. So he asked the pastor to come
with his own auto, or to hire a taxi at the farmer's expense.
Within a quarter of an hour the pastor was on his way to help the sick woman, carrying the
Blessed Sacrament with him. After dispensing the last sacraments. Father Steiger was again
on the road towards Earllng. The road was familiar to him, for he had gone that way
hundreds of times, by night and by day, and he knew every bump and stone along the way.
He drove very carefully not only because the auto was new, but also because he was
mindful of the devil's threats to trick him whenever the opportunity was ripe.
He prayed to his Guardian Angel and to St. Joseph, his Patron Saint, for a safe journey
home. Suddenly as he was driving along, a dark black cloud appeared before him. It
came just as he was about to pass a bridge over a deep ravine. Great God, it seemed
as if his eyes were blindfolded! The next moment there was a crash, a smash-up which
dumbfounded him. He found himself in a mess of ruins. The auto had crashed into the
railing of the bridge with an indescribable force although he had jerked the car into
low gear. The auto, now a complete wreck, was hanging on the iron trellis threatening
every moment to drop into the deep abyss below. The noise of the crash was so loud that
a farmer ploughing a field some distance away heard the noise and became greatly alarmed.
Full of anxiety he hastened to the scene of the accident, "Good God, it's the pastor's car!
Father, Father, what has happened? Are you hurt?" The pastor, scared to death, slowly
crawled out from underneath the debris. Even the steering wheel was crushed to pieces. His
legs would hardly hold him up. The wonder of it was that the rod of the steering wheel had
not pierced his breast as frequently happens in such accidents. The farmer hastened home
at once and soon reappeared with his own car. Leaving the wrecked car behind, he took the
pastor, still shaking and in a deathlike pallor, into his own car and hurried directly to the
nearest doctor to ascertain if there were any internal injuries. No, he was not seriously
injured. The doctor discovered some external scars and a state of nervous excitement, but
there was no sign of any internal injury. Thank God for that!
Leaving the doctor's office, they drove straight to the parish house at Earling. There was no
one at home, for they had all gone over to the covent to witness the exorcism. So the pastor
also went there. He had hardly entered the room when he was greeted with a roaring
laughter full of vengeance and bitter spleen: "hahaha-hahaha!" as if the devil were
about to burst into a fit of malicious joy at besting him. "Today he pulled in his proud
neck and was outpointed! I certainly showed him up today. What about your new
auto, that dandy car which was smashed to smithereens? It served you right! "
The others looked wonderingly at the pastor. He was still pale but nothing ailed him
"Reverend Pastor, is the devil speaking the truth?" they asked.
"Yes, what he says is true. My auto is a complete wreck. But he was not able to harm me
personally." A quick reply came from the devil: "Our aim was to get you, but somehow
our plans were thwarted. It was your powerful Patron Saint who prevented us from
News of this accident soon spread abroad and the people in deep sympathy with their
beloved pastor, collected enough money to buy him a new car, so that the devil would
receive no satisfaction from his pranks. Again and again the devil gleefully reminded the
pastor of this incident and warned him to "be ready for a whole lot more of fun."
The devil also betrayed himself by saying that he is often the cause of similar accidents in
order to bring people to quicker ruin. In this way he can get his revenge and give vent to his
anger because lawsuits frequently result as a consequence, which, in turn, are responsible
for much hatred and misunderstanding among people. The reader may make his own
conclusions and resolutions regarding this. It cannot be so readily denied that the enemy of
mankind actually plays a great part in such accidents. Is he not a "man-killer from the very
beginning?" Hence a timely warning to those who use the auto for evil purposes, who
decorate it with all sorts of nonsense and who even display figures alluringly immoral. The
Church has provided a special blessing under the protection of St. Christopher against evil
and disastrous influences. Therefore, it is customary to put one of these blessed medals or
medallions in cars for safety's sake. St. Paul calls attention to the fact that the very air is
filled with evil spirits.
13. Satan's Speeches
It should be noted that Satan did not use the tongue of the poor possessed woman to make
himself understood. The helpless creature had been unconscious during the greater part of
the trial. Her mouth was closed tight. Even when it was open there was not the slightest
movement of the lips, nor were there any changes in the position of the mouth. The evil
spirits simply spoke in an audible manner from somewhere within her. Possibly they used
some inner organ of the body.
We know from the early Christian writers of the Roman period that the heathens frequently
heard voices coming out of the idols. Catherine Emmerich also states that the evil spirits
took up their abode in these idols and could clearly be heard to speak from within them in
order to confirm the heathens in their delusion of idolatry. So it is conceivable how even
some of the highly educated heathens worshipped these statues made by the hands of man,
and why they offered sacrifices to them as if they were gods. They rendered to these idols
the honor that belongs to God alone.
14. Satan's Knowledge Can Be Embarrassing
The knowledge Satan had about the sins and the condition of the souls of those present was
rather embarrassing to them. But in this case there were no disturbing revelations made
along that line as there were only nuns and priests present. But even here he made
insinuating remarks: "Is it not true that you did so and so in your past life, in your
childhood days?" He made reference here to acts which were hardly remembered. The evil
spirit, however, would not be quiet and tried to make a scene of things. So the answer was
given. "If before God I am not guilty of greater faults in my later years than the sins of my
childhood days, then I am not afraid."
Thereupon followed a most astonishing confession from the devil:
"What you have already confessed, I do not know. "
What follows from this? Apparently Satan knows only the sins that have not been
confessed or repented. What has been submitted to the keys of the confessional seems to be
out of his reach. It would seem that the sacrament of penance blots out or obliterates sins
from the soul so as not to leave the slightest possibility for Satan to discover them. Through
the sacrament of penance everything is, so to say, drowned in the abyss of God's mercy.
The rubrics in the Roman Ritual for exorcism, so wisely and so well established, demand
that not only the exorcist, but also all witnesses and all those called upon to aid in subduing
the possessed person, should make a thorough general confession, or at least a sincere act
of perfect contrition before the process of exorcism begins. Once cleansed from sin they
are more at ease in facing Satan and will not be subject to annoying remarks on the part of
Satan for the sins committed in the past.
It happened about forty years ago, in a case of possession at Wemding, Germany, that
during the process of exorcism the mistake was made of calling in the strongest men
of the parish, men of good repute, to subdue a raving young boy. These good men did
not realize with whom they had to deal. The horrible beastlike howling and yelping
was far less disconcerting than the hair-raising reproofs of the devil for the secret sins
and other mistakes of one or the other of these men. He described them in minutest
detail. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that few people care to be present at
such exorcism, even if they could make themselves useful in many ways. Furthermore, it
must be remembered that Satan, the father of lies, often twists small acts into unusually and
seemingly grievous ones, making mountains out of molehills, so to speak, and at times
purposely distorting them, mixing up truth with falsehood with the intention of creating the
greatest disorder and most lasting enmity.
In order to avoid such inconvenient consequences. Father Theophilus, richer by mature
experiences, undertakes his exorcism in consecrated or religious houses with only the
assistance of priests and nuns. Even then things have happened. Satan shrewdly and
sagaciously disclosed hidden things which made certain persons blush for shame; yes, he
made them quiver with fear by threatening to expose them still more. All the more
fortunate, then, that such experience that will henceforth take place under the seal of
secrecy will not be broadcast to the whole world. Thank God for that!
The meanness of the devil and the many odd happenings at Earling became common
knowledge among the people in the bordering communities. The pastor of Earling, Father
Steiger, had asked his people to unite in prayer and penance, and to make visits to the
Blessed Sacrament so that the evil spirit might soon be mastered. Despite common
knowledge of the unusual proceedings going on at the convent, not a single person asked
out of curiosity to be permitted to witness the scene. Even if any one had asked, permission
would not have been granted, except to priests from the neighborhood.
It has been intimated above that out of the voices coming from the possessed woman, four
different ones could be very clearly distinguished. They announced themselves as
Beelzebub, Judas Iscariot, Jacob, the father of the possessed woman, and Mina, Jacob's
The possessed woman had a clear memory of when her godless father cursed her and
handed her over to the devil. She did not mention any further details about her unfortunate
father, but it was learned from other sources that he was one of the worst persecutors of
priests and of the Church. In sensual lust and excesses he was a monster of the worst type.
He kept his distance from the Church and her sacramental ministration, and used every
opportunity to ridicule spiritual things. Occasionally, he attended divine services on solemn
feast days, but only to acquire new material from the sermons of the solemn functions to
feed his ridicule and so bolster up his criticisms among friends and companions. Hence we
can understand how he persisted in ridiculing the priest and his actions when, even in his
last moments, a merciful God granted him the grace of receiving the last sacrament of
Extreme Unction. As you live, so you die. And his concubine, Mina, was fully his equal in
this respect. Birds of a feather flock together. What was most surprising was that such a
wicked and blasphemous father was blessed with such a virtuous child. Her sincere piety,
her pure and innocent disposition, her diligent application, all were very apparent. Even
during the period of possession the devil could not disturb her inner basic disposition
because the devil has no power over the free will of a human being.
It was evident that, in addition to the above mentioned devils, there were also a great
number of other unclean spirits in her. Among these the so-called dumb devils and
avenging spirits made themselves especially prominent.
15. Dumb Devils
The number of silent devils was countless. Apparently they were from the lower classes,
for they displayed no marks of strength or power. Their voices were rather a confusion of
sounds from which no definite answers could be distinguished. There was no articulate
speech, rather a pitiful moaning and subdued howling. They could put up little resistance
against the powerful effects of exorcism. It seemed as though they came and left in hordes,
one crowd being relieved by others of the same type. They reminded one of a traveller who
is suddenly overtaken by a swarm of mosquitoes. A few puffs of tobacco drive them away,
but in short order they return and pester him again.
16. Avenging Spirits
The avenging spirits were wild and violent, of rough and ill-mannered character. They
were filled with hatred and anger against all human beings. Their very presence suggested
an ugly and disgusting attitude - a mixture of hatred and envy, meanness and revenge,
deception and trickery. These were precisely the ones that threatened to make the pastor
regret his consent to this exorcism. They had in mind to stir up the whole parish against
him by their misrepresentations, so that he would have to pack up and leave in disgust. One
might presume from this that the devils are much to blame for bringing about
misunderstandings between the pastor and the people [of a parish]. Not infrequently pastors
tell of how they sacrificed themselves, even ruined their health, for the good of the people,
but despite all their untiring efforts, some of the most inconceivable misinterpretations and
misrepresentations had taken place in their parishes. Some people seem to find it their
business to make the life of their shepherd so miserable that he is brought almost to the
point of despair. All his good intentions bring him nothing but persecution of the worst
sort. Hence it would not be amiss for pastors to use the small formula of exorcism
periodically in order to protect their flocks from such meddlings of the devil, or to use the
prayers composed by Pope Leo XIII for just such an emergency.
The scheming and plotting of these avenging spirits almost succeeded in inciting the pastor
of Earling to white heat against Father Theophilus, his friend of long standing, doubtless
with the intention of preventing the success of the exorcism. He was so wrought up over
the procedure at times that he thought of bringing the whole affair to an abrupt close by
driving Father Theophilus from his church and convent with the sharpest words of reproof
17. Night Prowlers
During the process of exorcism, the evil spirits repeatedly made statements to the effect
that they would tire and exhaust the pastor. One time in the middle of the night he was
suddenly awakened by a disturbance in the room. Were rats gnawing somewhere? It
seemed to be between the walls near his bed. Was there so much room there that the rats
could run about so freely? During his fourteen years in this same house he had never
experienced anything of the kind. Was he to be bothered with such miserable pests at last?
He pounded the wall with his fist to scare away the rodents. But to no avail. He first used
his cane, then his shoe, to pound on the wall. Instead of letting up, the noise became worse.
Perhaps the night prowlers would disappear of their own accord. He waited and waited.
They continued up and down between the walls, and even threatened to ruin them.
Father Steiger was in need of a good night's rest after all the disturbances during the day.
An idea came that seemed altogether too foolish. Could there be some relation between
these night prowlers and the evil spirits of the exorcism? Had not the devils threatened to
tire him out? Perhaps this is what they meant after all. If so, then there is only one thing to
do, and that is to use spiritual weapons against these intruders. Fortifying himself with his
stole, the pastor again tried to sleep. At last the noise let up, but not altogether. "Wait, you
cursed hellrats, I'll get rid of you yet! " Getting up again, he lit two candles before a crucifix
and recited the small formula of exorcism against evil spirits. Aha! That was the language
these hellrats understand. They took to flight and all was quiet. They seemed to have been
spirited, blown off now, although all previous thumping and pounding on the walls had
brought no results.
A few nights thereafter the pastor again spent a restless night. Are the doors rattling? Is the
house quaking? Oh, it's only a heavy express train going through the village, and these
noises are only the after rumblings of the jarred earth. The railroad track was only a short
distance away. He waited for the train to start from the depot, but he heard no move.
Perhaps it's the rattling of machinery in the nearby electric shop!
Finally, the noise ceased. But suddenly it was heard again, this time right above the door.
Maybe the door is ajar so that draft is swaying it back and forth. There was no door-stop to
catch it, and so he had to get up again. But lo, the door was closed firmly. He took hold of
the knob with a firm grip and pulled hard; it did not yield. What, is the devil again at his
pranks to tire him out, to rob him of his night's rest? The pastor took the holy water,
sprinkled the door, windows, and room, and recited the short formula of exorcism. Again
all was quiet. There was not a stir after that. "O you miserable Satan, now I know your
stealthy cunning. Just wait, I'll soon teach you good manners."
It was learned later that other priests, who had attended the process of expelling the devil,
experienced similar inconveniences and annoyances. Even worse things had happened to
them. They would not retire after that without having holy water and the stole with them.
The noises were often so persistent that one or the other of the priests was obligated to get
up at night and seek the place and cause of the disturbances, and only after praying was he
able to find peace again. Night prowlers of this kind have been met with in other cases of
exorcism even long after the evil spirits had been driven out of the possessed person.
18. How the Possessed Woman Fared
Every day the woman lost consciousness and became utterly helpless shortly after the
formula of exorcism had begun. When the exercises ceased, she woke up and was herself
again. She declared that she was unaware of what transpired during the exercises. Quite
exhausted, she had to be carried to and from the place where the exorcism was performed.
During all this time she could not eat solid foods, but nourishment in liquid form was
injected into her. It was surprising to note how such a weak creature could vomit forth such
quantities of material as indicated above. It was not unusual for her to vomit twenty to
thirty times a day.
The fact that, in her weakened condition, she could bear up under the daily strain of
exorcism for three weeks seems incredible, especially when the terrible abuses upon her
body inflicted by the devil are taken into consideration. She suffered so intensely on one
occasion that she assumed a death-like color, and seemed ready to pass away at any
moment. "Great God, she is dying. I will hasten to get the holy oils! " broke out the pastor,
who realized the terrible consequences for all concerned if she died under these conditions.
The charge that the priest had caused her death through the strain of exorcism would
certainly have been launched against them. Father Theophilus calmly replied on the basis
of his long experience: "Just remain here, my friend; the woman will not die. Absolutely
not. This manifestation is only one of Satan's cunning tricks. He cannot and will not be
permitted to kill her. Absolutely not."
19. Exorcism Lasted Twenty-three Days
The period of exorcism extended over an unusually long period of time. Never before did it
take so long, as far as we know. It lasted just twenty-three days, however, in three different
stages. And remember, the exorcism went on from early morning until late night. The devil
tried his utmost to weaken the priests and nuns and to induce them to let up in their untiring
efforts. The pastor could not always be present. His care of souls in the parish kept him
away at times. Neither was he physically able to sacrifice so many hours of the night for
this purpose. Thus it happened that many interesting and also terrible things took place in
his absence to which, however, the others were trustworthy witnesses.
The solemn formula of exorcism was in progress for more than two weeks before there
were any indications that the devil could be forced to depart from the poor helpless
possessed woman. Even though Father Theophilus had succeeded in delivering her from a
large number of devils through the great powers of the prayers and exorcisms, the four
meanest and most persistent ones could not be dislodged for a long time. Satan seemed to
have gathered up all the forces of hell to gain a final victory in this case.
20. High Commander
It was very evident that the forces of hell were under the direction of a high
commander who, like a general and field marshal, sent forth new recruits for battle
whenever the veterans, in their exhausted condition, were forced to retire. What
pitiful sighs and pleadings they sent forth. One could hear voices to this effect: "Oh,
what we have to put up with here; it is just terrible, all that we have suffered." There
were other voices that kept on urging their fellow-devils not to let up: "And how we
will again have to suffer and cringe under him, how he will torture us again if we
return without having accomplished our task." They clearly referred to Lucifer as the
In order not to give Satan and his hordes any peace whatever, Father Theophilus finally
decided to continue the exorcisms himself throughout the night, expecting thereby to
achieve his victory. He was blessed with a muscular body and with nerves of steel. He had
tested these out by a rigorous and abstemious life of self-denial, which had given him great
powers of endurance. And indeed it was something almost superhuman that was demanded
of him. For three days and three nights he kept on without any intermission. Even the
Sisters who alternated were on the verge of a breakdown. Yet the desired effect did not
come. It was only with the summoning of his last strength that the exorcist dared to
continue. And at the close of the twenty-third day he was completely spent. He had the
appearance of a walking corpse, a figure which at any moment might collapse. His own
countenance seemed to have aged twenty years during those three weeks.
The reader may at this time be inclined to ask if the devil disclosed things that would be of
general interest. For instance, the question of the Antichrist. What did Satan have to say
It must be clearly borne in mind that the questions directed to the devil and the answers
given by him were by no means an entertaining dialogue between the evil spirits and the
exorcist. On occasions a long time intervened before an answer could be forced out of
Satan. For the greater part, only a ghastly bellowing, groaning and howling was the result,
whenever he was urged to answer under the powers of exorcism. It was often such a
terrible drudgery, so exhaustingly tiresome and irritating, that on some days the exorcist
was completely covered with perspiration. He had to make a complete change of attire as
often as three to four times a day. Towards the end of those terrible days he became so
weak that he felt he could continue only with the special help of God. Yes, he even pleaded
for the grace to be spared his own life. Curious questions not related to the present
exorcism were never purposely asked. At times, however, it happened that some of the
answers given by the devil himself suggested other questions not strictly pertinent to
the case. On such occasions Father Theophilus was snubbed by the devil with coarse
and harsh replies: "Shut up, that is none of your business!" Satan often used the crisp
Latin expression: "Non ad rem!" Which means, "not to the point," "that has nothing
to do with this affair."
At one time Satan became rather talkative about the Antichrist. Remember the time he had
so triumphantly referred to the Mexican situation, when he said that he would stir up a fine
mess for Him (Jesus) and His Church, far more detrimental than hitherto. When asked
whether he meant that the furious rage of the Antichrist would be directed against the
Church of God, he asserted that that was self-evident and insolently continued: "Yes, Satan
is already abroad, and the Antichrist is already born in Palestine. (On another occasion he
also mentioned America.) But he is still young. He must first grow up incognito before his
power can become known."
It is strange that Catherine Emmerich mentioned a similar period, when she gave a
description of Christ's descent into hell after His death upon the cross. She related that
"when the portals of hell were opened by the angels, there was a terrible uproar, cursing,
scolding, howling and moaning. Individual angels were hurling hordes of evil spirits aside.
All were commanded to adore Jesus. This caused them the greatest pain. In the center of it
all there was a bottomless abyss as black as night. Lucifer was bound in chains and cast
into this depth of darkness. All this happened in accordance with set laws. I heard that
Lucifer, if I am not mistaken, would again be freed for a time about fifty or sixty years
before the year 2000 A. D.
A number of other devils would be released somewhat earlier as a punishment and source
of temptation to sinful human beings."
On one occasion, when Father Theopholus insisted that the devil should depart and return
to hell, the devil replied in a growling tone: "How can you banish me to hell? I must
be free to prepare the way for the Antichrist." And again he spoke out of the possessed
woman: "We know a lot. We read the signs of the times. This is the last century. When
people will write the year 2000 the end will be at hand."
Whether the "father of lies," as our Lord Himself styles Satan, spoke the truth, it is
impossible to judge. At all events, we shall do well if according to our Lord's suggestion,
we try to understand the signs of the times. That the powers of hell are putting up a
desperate attempt to ruin the Church of Christ in our own times cannot be denied.
At one time the evil spirits howled and yelped fearfully when the prayers of exorcism
were solemnly pronounced and when the blessings with the relic of the cross and the
consecrated Host were given: "Oh, we cannot bear it any longer. We suffer intensely.
Do stop it, do stop it! This is many times worse than hell!" These groans, indicating the
attendant pain and suffering, cut to the quick.
"Therefore, depart at once, ye cursed! It is entirely within your power to free yourself
from these sufferings. Let this poor woman in peace! I conjure you in the name of the
Almighty God, in the name of the Crucified Jesus of Nazareth, in the name of His purest
Mother, the Virgin Mary, in the name of the Archangel Michael! "
"Oh, yes," they groaned, "we are willing. But Lucifer does not let us."
"Tell the truth. Is Lucifer alone the cause of it?"
"No, he alone could not be. God's justice does not permit it as yet, because sufficient
atonement has not yet been made for her."
This admission was valuable. It offered a greater inducement to arouse the members
of the parish to increase their acts of expiation for the woman.
22. More Atonement
In accordance with the request of their pastor, the parishioners gladly went to church to
keep regular hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. They prayed fervently for
the destruction of the powers of Satan, and for the victory of the Church in delivering the
victim from the tenacious grip of the devil. Following the directions of the ritual, the pastor
kept on encouraging his people to private fasting and penance in order that their petitions
would be more effective in strengthening the prayers of the exorcism. Our Lord Himself,
when putting the devil to flight, and after beseeching all to pray, had told the Apostles that
this kind of devils can only be driven away by prayers and fasting. The devil's own
statement, that sufficient penance had not been done, helped to bring about more fervent
prayers and more rigorous penances. The faithful flocked to church in large numbers from
early morn until late in the evening in order that, by their prayers, they might add their mite
to the work of the Church in this her mission. The exorcism could not continue much
longer as the reserve strength of those actually assisting was being vitally sapped.
23. Battle Between Good and Evil Spirits
It was during this time that the poor woman admitted during her periods of rest that she had
visions of horrible battles between the good and evil spirits. Countless numbers of evil
spirits continually arrived. Satan tried his utmost not to be outdone this time. The good
angels came to assist at the exorcism. Many approached seated on white horses (Revelation
19:15) and under the leadership of St. Michael, completely routed the infernal serpents and
drove the demons back to the abyss of hell.
24. The Little Flower of the Child Jesus
The Little Flower of Jesus [St Therese] also appeared to the woman during these crucial
days and spoke these consoling words to her: "Do not lose courage! The pastor especially
should not give up hope. The end is soon at hand."
This occurred on a certain evening when, to their surprise, the nuns and the pastor's sister
suddenly noticed a cluster of white roses on the ceiling. After a while the vision gradually
disappeared. The pastor noticed the anxious gaze of these ladies directed towards the
ceiling, but he himself did not see the flowers.
The words of encouragement from the Little Flower gave a new impetus to the priests.
Now they knew that victory was not far off During the latter days the devils betrayed
great fear lest they be forced to return to hell. Father Theophilus insisted upon their
departure again and again. They pleaded pitifully: "Anything but that, anything but
that!" To be banished to another place, or into another creature would have been
more bearable. They did not want to be driven back to hell.
"But you are already in hell."
"True, true," they groaned, "we drag hell along with us. Yet it is a relief to be
permitted to roam about the earth until (at the last judgment) we shall be cast off and
damned to hell for eternity."
25. The Devils Depart
Gradually the resistance of the devils began to wane. They seemed to become more docile.
Their bold, bitter demeanor gave way to more moaning and despairing tones. They could
not bear the tortures of exorcism any longer. With great uneasiness they explained that they
would finally return to hell. But how often they are deceptive and unreliable! Experience
teaches us that at times they pretend to leave the possessed entirely at ease for a while, in
order to sidetrack the unwary observer and thus outwit him. For this reason Father
Theophilus, almost completely exhausted, demanded in the name of the Most Blessed
Trinity that at their departure the devils should give a sign by giving their respective names.
"Yes," they promised emphatically.
It was on the twenty-third day of December, 1928, in the evening about nine o'clock that,
with a sudden jerk of lightning speed the possessed woman broke from the grip of her
protectors and stood erect before them. Only her heels were touching the bed. At first
sight it appeared as if she were to be hurled up to the ceiling. "Pull her down ! Pull
her down" called the pastor while Father Theophilus blessed her with the relic of the
Cross, saying: "Depart, ye fiends of hell! Begone, Satan, the Lion of Juda reigns!"
At that very moment the stiffness of the woman's body gave way and she fell upon the
bed. Then a piercing sound filled the room causing all to tremble vehemently. Voices
saying, "Beelzebub, Judas, Jacob, Mina," could be heard. And this was repeated over
and over until they faded far away into the distance.
"Beelzebub, — Judas, — Jacob, — Mina." To these words were added: "Hell — hell —
Everyone present was terrified by this gruesome scene. It was the long awaited sign
indicating that Satan was forced to leave his victim at last and to return to hell with
What a happy sight it was that followed! The woman opened her eyes and mouth for the
first time, something that had never taken place while the exorcism itself was going on. She
displayed a kindly smile as if she wanted to say: "From what a terrible burden have I been
freed at last!"
For the first time in twelve years she uttered the most holy name of Jesus with child-like
piety: "My Jesus, Mercy! Praised be Jesus Christ!"
Tears of joy filled her eyes and those of all in attendance.
Amid the first rejoicings, the witnesses were not aware of the terrible odor that filled
the room. All the windows had to be opened. The stench was unearthly, simply
unbearable. It was the last souvenir of the infernal devils who had to abandon their
What a day of joy it was for the whole parish! Te Deiim laudamus! Holy God, we praise
Thy name! Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but to Thy name be glory and praise!
From that time on the woman, always sincerely good, pious and religious, frequently
visited the Blessed Sacrament and assisted at Holy Mass. She received Communion in a
most edifying manner. That which was so terrible for her while she was under the torturing
powers of Satan is now the peaceful j oy of her heart and soul.
26. Theresa Neumann
Theresa Neumann of Konnersreuth [a stigmatist who miraculously suffered the wounds of
Christ] was also concerned in this affair.
A Bishop of Switzerland, who had been well informed about the above case, paid a visit to
Theresa Neumann. And since it was Friday, he asked her while she was in one of her
ecstatic visions whether she was aware of the terrible case of demoniacal possession in
America. She immediately answered:
"Is it not so? You mean the case in Earling, Iowa, at which some priests scoffed, and about
which others were indifferent?"
Then followed an astounding announcement: "The good woman will later be possessed.
This will be for her own personal benefit, for her own purification and complete
Furthermore, the stigmatic woman of Konnersreuth had a terrible vision on the Feast of St.
Michael, pertaining to the exorcism that had taken place in Earling. She witnessed the
frightful battle between the angels of heaven under the leadership of St. Michael and the
infernal demons under the command of Lucifer. She was so shocked and confused by it
that she said:
"If it be not against the will of God, I will ask Him never again to permit me to witness
anything so terrible."
It was by far the worst vision she had ever experienced.
Father Theophilus, basing his opinion on his numerous experiences with cases of
possession, believes that the hour of the Antichrist is not far distant. Lucifer himself was
present for about fourteen days in the Earling case. With all the forces of hell at his
disposal he tried his utmost to make this a test case. Once Father Theophilus saw
Lucifer standing visibly before him for half an hour - a fiery being in his
characteristically demoniac reality. He had a crown on his head and carried a fiery
sword in his hand. Beelzebub stood alongside of him. During this time the whole room
was filled with flames. Lucifer was cursing and blaspheming in a terrible rage:
"If I could, I would have choked you long ago. If I only had my former powers, you
would soon experience what I could do to you."
Through the powers of Christ he had been deprived of his original might as even now
through exorcism his influence was further diminished. Father Theopholus asked him one
time: "What can you accomplish, you helpless Lucifer?"
To which he replied: "What could you do, if you were bound as I am?"
Father Theophilus, who has had nineteen cases of possession under his care within recent
years, seems convinced that present indications point to the beginning of a great battle
between Christ and Antichrist. He also seems to have learned that Judas will appear as
Antichrist in this manner, that a human person, soon after birth, will be controlled and
completely ruled by him. Besides the Antichrist, there will be the false prophet, in reality
Lucifer, who will perform wonderful deeds and false miracles. He will not be bom of a
woman, but will construct a body for himself out of earthly matter in order to plot as a man
among men. But the faithful need not fear, for all the powers of heaven with its countless
angels will be fighting on their side.
The above account gives only the exorcisms that took place at Earling, Iowa. She was
possessed the first time in 1908 through her aunt, Mina, known among the people as a
witch. The latter had placed a spell on some herbs which she placed among the woman's
food. Father Theophilus freed her from this possession June 18, 1912. She became
possessed again due to the curses hurled against her by her wicked father. The Earling
exorcism was in three stages: Aug. 18-26, 1928; Sept. 13-20, 1928; Dec. 15-22, 1928.
There were still later possessions but of a milder nature.
This woman was born in 1882, is of small stature and had but an elementary education. She
preserved her virginity though she had been exposed to severe trials. She is still among the
living [i.e., in 1935], and recently through private revelations from Christ has been
advocating the spread of perpetual adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament as a
remedy for a lasting peace.
The purpose of this pamphlet is not to frighten timid souls but rather to encourage those of
strong faith to continue to give battle to the evil one. It is also a timely warning to sinners
to amend their lives from sin to virtue. It is precisely through the cooperation of sinners
that the devil has such power on earth. It also gives all of us the assurance that the prayers
of the Church and the penance of the faithful in cooperation with her today have still the
same effect over our enemies as did Christ's personal dealings with the evil spirits during
His early sojourn.
Holy Mother Church has not made any official decision regarding the Earling case and
hence the statements made in this pamphlet are only of a private nature and are to be
accepted merely on their face.
Testimony of Theresa Wegerer, Father Steiger's Housekeeper
"I was a witness to almost the whole period of the exorcism of the Earling possession case
and I can truthfully say, that the facts mentioned in Begone Satan are correct. Some of the
scenes were even more frightful than described in the booklet. There is not the slightest
doubt in my mind, that the devils were present and I will never forget the horrible scenes,
vile, filthy, and dirty, as long as I live. All the nuns asked for a change and were transferred
the next year.
"The woman came back to Earling over a distance of a thousand miles four months after
the exorcism to make a novena of Thanksgiving. This was at the bidding of Christ Himself
During her stay she boarded with the Schimorowsky family. She told me how our Blessed
Lord appears to her frequently and encourages her to be faithful."
Appendix I. The Devil, by Fr. John Hardon, S.J., from The
All the living religions of the world, including Islam and Mahayana Buddhism, believe in
the existence of what Christianity calls the devil. But only in the Christian religion is the
evil spirit clearly identified as an integral part of revelation.
Somewhat remarkably, the first and last books of the Bible are most eloquent in describing
the devil and his activity. In Genesis, he tempts Eve, who in turn tempts her husband to
disobey a command of the Lord. Characteristically, the devil disarms Eve's protestations by
assuring her that if she, and Adam, disobey God they will become God. Since then the
pattern has not changed; it has only become more sophisticated: Manifest your autonomy,
even of God, and thus prove to yourself that in your own way you are a god!
In the Book of Revelation, St. John depicts the evil spirit in the role permitted by God,
essentially the same work of envy, only now not on the first progenitors of the human race
but on all the followers of Christ. As John saw the sequence, there were four stages in the
fallen angels' resistance to God: their primordial disobedience, which drove them into hell;
their successful seduction of the first ancestors of man; their assaults on the people of
Israel; and their continued opposition to the followers of Christ, typified as offspring of the
woman who is the Church or bride of Christ. In this present stage, "the dragon was enraged
with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who
obey God's commandments and bear witness for Jesus" ( Rev. 12.17 1
The Gospels are filled with descriptive narratives about the activity and strategy of the
devil. Time and again Christ drove out demons from persons who were possessed. St.
Mark's Gospel is especially detailed in the number of exorcisms performed by the Master,
and the effortless ease with which he delivered those who were under the influence of the
evil one. Already in the first chapter' of Mark, after the Savior cured a demoniac in the
synagogue, the;, people were amazed at Christ's power. "Here is a teaching that is new,"
they said, "and with authority behind it. He gives orders even to unclean spirits and they
obey him" (Mk. 1.27).
Not only are the Gospels explicit about the existence and machinations of the evil spirits,
but they also state that their number is "legion," which is a biblical synonym for an
immense multitude. Some of the Fathers of the Church go so far as to speak of a "Mystical
Body of Satan," animated by Satan and his minions and composed of such human beings as
are willfully co-operating in the work of the devil on earth. Their success then takes on
superhuman, in the sense of preternatural, proportions.
In the mysterious plan of providence, evil spirits are meant to: serve a distinctive function
toward mankind. Yet immediately we must distinguish between the purpose that the devil
has, and the purpose of God. 29
The devil's purpose is to seduce. He consciously and deliberately wants to lead people
astray from their faithful service of the divine majesty. Consequently his intention is
always malicious. Everything he does with respect to man is wantonly evil. His purpose is
to harm man, spiritually and supernaturally, and, if possible, eternally.
God's purpose, on the other hand, is always good. He permits the devil to tempt us but not
to harm us; rather the divine intention is that, by resisting the evil spirit, we might draw
closer to God. God allows us to be tempted in order to try our loyalty by giving us the
opportunity to show our faith and trust in God; to test our virtue by giving us the chance to
grow because of the struggle that this costs; and to prove our fidelity by resisting the devil's
blandishments and thus more generously serving God.
Against this common teaching of the faith, we are in a better position to assess some of the
ascetical implications for the spiritual life. In each case, we shall briefly state a principle
and then make an appropriate comment.
1 . "The devil is never permitted to tempt us beyond our strength." This means that we
always have enough grace to overcome the devil which, at root, means that we have the
grace to pray for light to recognize the evil spirit and strength to resist his advances.
2. "The devil is a consummate deceiver." Three names for the evil spirit are regularly used
in the Bible, and each has a profound revealed meaning. He is Satan (Hebrew, satan)
because he is an "adversary," especially one who plots against another. He is a demon
(Greek, daimon) because he is a spiritual being possessed of extraordinary powers. He is a
devil (Greek, diabolos) because he is a calumniator who then accuses those he had
deceived by charging them with the sins they committed. Given his deceptive character, we
should expect him to hide his real designs; hence the cardinal importance of shrewdness in
identifying what may seem to be a divine inspiration but is actually a demonic instigation.
The best protection here, on the witness of such masters as Augustine, is humility of mind,
because the devil always poses intelligent reasons for what he urges people to do. Proud
persons are no match for the devil.
3. "The devil's strategy is eminently logical." He first approaches us with a suggestion in
the imagination; this can grow into a specious reason in the mind; if dwelled on, it
influences the will by motivating us to do something that is actually bad but apparently
good. Thus deceit, hiding the real evil, falsehood, and cunning are basic to the devil's
technique. He never reveals his true intentions, but masks his purpose under various
disguises. He adapts himself to people's temperaments and character, even to their tastes. If
they are meek and submissive, he tries to seduce them along self-effective lines. If they are
bold and headstrong, he urges them to evil under an aggressive guise. If they are worldly
and pleasure-seeking, he will enter their door with temptations of the flesh. If t hey are
prayerful and spiritual -minded, he will appear "as an angel of light." If they tend to be
emotional, he adjusts his tactics to where his intended victims give least resistance to their
passions. If they are intellectual, he will accommodate himself and tempt them t o pride
and sins of the mind.
4. "The devil uses human beings and human institutions as agents." Here we must be
careful to distinguish different ways in which the evil spirit can operate in or through
people on earth.
There are such things as possession, when the devil exerts his influence over a person by an
inner control of his body; and obsession, when he attacks their bodies from the outside. The
victim's liberty of soul always remains intact. Although the Church's ritual for exorcism
mentions as probable (not certain) signs of possession certain phenomena like speaking or
understanding an unknown language or showing strength above one's natural capacity, it
warns against concluding hastily that a person is possessed by the devil. Many so-called
possessions (or obsessions) are no doubt to be attributed to illusion, hysteria, or fraud.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that these experiences occur.
Completely different from possession or obsession is the devil's capacity to so use people
or human institutions that they become, in effect, instruments of a demonic will. Masters of
the spiritual life intimate this when they describe how Satan "summons innumerable
demons and scatters them, some to one city and some to another, throughout the whole
world, so that no province, no state of life, no individual is overlooked. Consider the
address he makes to them, how he goads them on to lay snares for men, to seek to chain
them. First they are to tempt them to covet aches (as Satan is accustomed to do in most
cases) that they may the more easily attain the empty honors of this world, and then come
to overweening pride." The devil's strategy by which he can "chain" people to his will is to
incite them to aches (whether material or otherwise) in order to obtain honor and human
recognition, and thus to induce pride. "From these three steps the evil one leads to all other
This "enchainment" is a form of virtual slavery. Held in the devil's shackles, a person
(whether individually or corporately) becomes the unwitting tool of the powers of
Satanism and demonology have suddenly become popular issues, as mounting literature on
the subject testifies. They indicate, in a dramatic way, what Christians have always been
told: "Be calm, but v vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a
roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the
knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things" (1 Pet.
The devil is very active in the world today, warns the Church, when she sadly admits that
for many people it borders on superstition even to talk about the evil spirit as though he
were anything else than a symbol. Yet, in our day as in the apostolic age, the devil is "the
treacherous and cunning enchanter, who finds his way into us by way of the senses, the
imagination, lust, and Utopian logic." Those who take him lightly or smile at his existence
are the easiest prey of what the apostle called "the mystery of iniquity." (Pope Paul VI,
Address to General Audience, Nov. 15, 1972)
Copyright 1975 by John A. Hardon
Appendix II. The Diabolical Spirit, by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P., from
Chapter 14 oi Spiritual Theology (1982)*
Normally diabolical influence on the individual Christian is restricted to simple temptation,
although it is not hkely that the majority of temptations proceed from the immediate and
direct intervention of the devil. At other times, with God's permission, the devil may
concentrate his power on an individual by means of diabolical obsession or diabolical
Diabolical Obsession. Obsession occurs whenever the devil torments a person from
without and in a manner that is so intense that there can be no doubt about his presence and
his action. In simple temptation the diabolical action is not so evident; absolutely speaking,
it could be due to other causes. But in true and authentic obsession, the presence and
activity of Satan are so clear and unequivocal that neither the soul nor the director can have
the least doubt of it. The soul is aware of its own vital activity and government of its
faculties, but it is at the same time clearly aware of the external activity of Satan, who tries
to exert violence on the individual.
Obsession can affect the interior faculties, especially the imagination, or the external senses
in various manners and degrees. The attack on the imagination differs from ordinary
temptation only by reason of its violence and duration. Although it is difficult to determine
exactly where simple temptation ends and true obsession begins, we can say that when the
disturbance of the soul is so profound and the tendency to evil is so violent that the only
possible explanation lies in some external force (even when there is nothing evident
externally), it is certainly a case of diabolical obsession. It can take many different forms.
Sometimes it is manifested as a fixed idea that absorbs all the energies of the soul; at other
times the images and representations are so vivid that the subject feel's that he or she is
dealing with concrete reality. Again, it may refer to one's duties and obligations, toward
which one feels an almost insuperable repugnance, or it may be manifested by a vehement
desire for something one is obliged to avoid.
This seizure has repercussions in the emotional life because of the intimate relation
between the emotions and the cognitive faculties. The soul, even in spite of itself, finds
itself filled with obsessive images that arouse doubt, resentment, anger, antipathy, hatred,
despair, or dangerous tenderness and an inclination to sensuality. The best remedy against
such assaults is prayer, accompanied by true humility, self-disdain, confidence in God, the
protection of Mary, the use of the sacramentals, and obedience to one's director, from
whom none of these things should be hidden.
Bodily obsession is usually more spectacular, but in reality it is less dangerous than internal
obsession, although the two normally occur together. External obsession can affect any of
the external senses, and there are numerous examples of this in the lives of the saints. The
eye is filled with diabolical apparitions. Sometimes they are very pleasant, as when Satan
transforms himself into an angel of light to deceive the soul and fill it with sentiments of
vanity, selfcomplacence, etc. By these and similar effects the soul will recognize the
presence of the enemy. At other times Satan may appear in horrible and frightening forms
in order to terrify the servants of God and to withdraw them from the practice of virtue, as
one can discover in the lives of numerous saints. Or the devil may present himself in a
voluptuous, form in order to tempt souls to evil.
Other senses besides sight are also affected. The ear is tormented with frightful sounds and
shouts, with blasphemy and obscenities, or with voluptuous songs and music to arouse
sensuality. The sense of smell sometimes perceives the most pleasant odors or an
unbearable stench. The sense of taste is affected in various ways. Sometimes the devil
arouses feelings of gluttony by producing a sensation of the most delicious food or most
exquisite liquors the individual has never actually tasted. But usually he arouses a most
bitter taste in the food that is taken, or he mixes repulsive objects with the food so that it
would be dangerous or impossible to swallow or to digest.
Finally, the sense of touch, which is diffused throughout the whole body, can be subjected
in countless ways to the influence of the devil. Sometimes there are terrible blows upon the
body; at other times there are sensations of voluptuous embraces or caresses; or God may
permit that his servant be tested by extreme experiences of sensuality, without any consent
on the part of the one who suffers these things. Obsession may be due to any one of the
1. The permission of God, who wishes thereby to test the virtue of a soul and to
increase its merits. In this sense it is equivalent to a passive trial or a mystical night
of the soul.
2. The envy and pride of the devil, who cannot bear the sight of a soul that is trying
to sanctify itself and to glorify God to the best of its ability, thereby leading a great
number of other souls to salvation or perfection.
3. The natural predisposition of the person obsessed, which gives the devil an
occasion to attack the individual at his weakest point. This reason is of no value in
regard to external obsession, which has; nothing to do with the temperament or
natural predispositions of the obsessed, but it is valid for internal obsession, which
finds a fertile soil in a melancholy temperament or in one inclined to scruples,
anxiety, or sadness. Nevertheless, however violent the obsession, it never deprives
the subject of liberty, and with the grace of God he or she can always overcome it
and even derive benefit from it. It is only for this reason that God permits it.
One needs much discretion and perspicacity to distinguish true obsession from the various
kinds of nervous illnesses and mental unbalances that are very similar to it. It would be
foolish to deny the reality of diabolical action in the world, especially sine it is expressly
mentioned in the sources of revelation and has been proved countless times by the
experiences of many saints. In modem times there has been a tendency to exaggerate the
purely natural causes of all phenomena, and perhaps the greatest victory of the devil is that
he has succeeded in destroying the belief in his terrible power. On the other hand, many
apparently diabolical phenomena are due to natural causes, and it is a fundamental
principle advocated by the Church that one may not attribute to the preternatural order
anything that can probably be explained by purely natural causes.
The director will proceed prudently by bearing in mind the following observations and
1 . Obsession usually occurs only in souls that are far advanced in virtue. As regards
ordinary souls, the devil is content to persecute them with simple temptations.
Therefore, the director should first investigate the type of soul with which he is
dealing, and in this way he will be able to conjecture as to the diabolical or purely
natural origin of the apparent obsession.
2. It is important to investigate carefully whether one is dealing with a soul that is
normal, balanced, of sound judgment, and an enemy of any kind of exaggeration or
sentimentality; or whether, on the contrary, one is dealing with a disquieted,
unbalanced, weak spirit, with a history of hysteria, tormented by scruples, or
depressed by reason of an inferiority complex. This rule is of exceptional
importance, and very often it is the decisive rule for making a judgment. It will be
very difficult to differentiate between the manifestations of diabolical influence and
those that follow from a nervous disorder, but-it is possible to do so. The director
should not yield to the temptation of oversimplifying the matter by attributing
everything to one cause or the other. He should give to the patient the moral
counsels and rules that pertain to his office as a director of souls and then refer the
individual to a trustworthy psychiatrist, who can treat the other manifestations that
proceed from a mental disorder.
3. The authentic manifestations of true diabolical obsession will be sufficiently
clear if they are revealed by visible signs such as the moving of an object by an
invisible hand, the marks of bruises or wounds that proceed from an invisible
attack. These effects cannot be attributed to any purely natural cause, and when the
person who suffers them gives all the signs of equanimity, self-possession,
sincerity, and true virtue, the director can be certain that he is dealing with a case of
obsession. We have already said that the devil does not usually obsess the ordinary
soul; nevertheless, God sometimes permits diabolical obsession in these souls or
even in hardened sinners, as a salutary expiation for their sins or to give them a
vivid idea of the horrors of hell and the necessity of abandoning sin to be freed
from the slavery of the devil. But ordinarily only souls of advanced virtue suffer the
obsessive attacks of the devil.
4. Once it has been proved that one is dealing with a case of diabolical obsession,
the director should proceed with the greatest possible patience and tenderness. The
tormented soul needs the assistance and advice of someone to whom it can give its
complete confidence and one who will in turn speak to the soul in the name of God.
The director's principal concern should be to encourage the soul and make it
understand that the attacks of hell are futile so long as the soul places all its
confidence in God and does not lose its interior serenity. He will remind the soul
that God is with it and will help it conquer: "If God is for us, who can be against
us?" (Rom. 8:31).
Also, at the side of the suffering soul is Mary, our tender Mother, as well as the
guardian angel, whose power is greater than that of the devil. The director will
advise the soul never to lose its tranquillity, to hold the devil in utter disdain, to
fortify himself or herself with the sign of the cross and with other sacramental s,
especially holy water, which has great efficacy against the attacks of the devil.
Above all, he will warn the soul never to do anything that the devil suggests, even if
it appears good and reasonable. He will demand a detailed account of everything
that happens and will never permit the soul to conceal anything, however difficult
and painful it may be to reveal it. Finally, he will try to make the soul understand
that God can use the devil as an instrument for purifying the soul and that the best
way of cooperating with the divine plan is to abandon oneself entirely to God's holy
will, ready to accept anything that God may decree, and asking' the grace of never
yielding to the violence of the temptations.
5. In more serious and persistent cases, the exorcisms prescribed in the Roman
Ritual are used, or other formulas approved by the Church are put into effect. But
the director will always do this in private and even without advising the penitent
that he is going to exorcise him or her, especially if he fears that this knowledge
would cause a great disturbance to the soul. For a solemn exorcism it is necessary
to obtain express permission from the local ordinary and to follow the prescribed
Diabolical Possession. Diabolical possession is a phenomenon in which the devil invades
the body of a living person and moves the faculties and organs as if he were manipulating a
body of his own. The devil truly resides within the body of the unfortunate victim, and he
operates in it and treats it as his own property. Those who suffer this despotic invasion are
said to be possessed.
However it may be manifested, the presence of the devil is restricted exclusively to the
body. The soul remains free, even if the exercise of conscious life is suspended. Only God
has the privilege of penetrating into the essence of the soul. Nevertheless, the primary
purpose of the violence of the devil is to disturb the soul and to draw it to sin. But the soul
always remains master of itself, and if it is faithful to the grace of God, it will find an
inviolable sanctuary in its free will.
Two periods can be distinguished in diabolical possession: the period of crisis and the
period of calm. The periods of crisis are manifested by the violent onslaught of evil, and its
very violence prevents it from being continual or even very prolonged. It is the moment in
which the devil openly reveals himself by acts, words, convulsions, seizures of anger or
impiety, obscenity, or blasphemy. In the majority of cases, the victims lose consciousness
of what is happening to them during this seizure, as happens in the great crises of certain
mental disorders. When they regain consciousness they have no recollection of what they
have said or done or, rather, of what the devil has said or done in them. Sometimes they
perceive something of the diabolical spirit at the beginning of the seizure when he begins to
use their faculties or organs. In certain cases the spirit of the possessed remains free and
conscious during the crisis and witnesses with astonishment and horror the despotic
usurpation of its body by the devil.
In the periods of calm there is nothing to manifest the presence of the devil in the body of
the possessed. One would think that the devil had gone. Nevertheless, his presence is often
manifested by some strange chronic illness that exceeds the categories of pathological
disorders known to medical science and resists every form of therapeutic remedy.
Moreover, diabolical possession is not always continuous, and the devil may leave for a
time and then return later to continue his possession. The devil can come and go as he
pleases, so long as he has God's permission to take possession of the person.
Lest we expose ourselves to derision, it is necessary to be extremely cautious and prudent
in making pronouncements concerning diabolical possession. There are countless nervous
disorders presenting external symptoms very similar to those of possession, and there are
also some poor unbalanced souls or perverse spirits that have a remarkable facility for
simulating the horrors of possession. Fortunately, the Church has given us wise rules for
discerning fraud and for making judgments that are certain. The first thing to be recognized
is that authentic cases of pbssession are very rare, and it is much better to make a mistake
on the side of incredulity than to be too anxious to admit diabolical possession. The
extreme agitation of the victim, the blasphemies that are uttered, the horror manifested for
holy things-none of these are of themselves sufficient proof These symptoms give nothing
more than a conjecture of the possibility of diabolical possession, but they are never
infallible signs because they could proceed from malice or from some natural cause.
Remedies for Possession. The Roman Ritual, after recommending prudence and discretion
before making a judgment, indicates certain signs that allow for a diagnosis to ascertain the
authenticity of diabolical possession: speaking in a, strange and unknown language or
understanding perfectly one who speaks in an unknown language; perceiving hidden or
distant things; manifesting strength beyond one's age and condition. There are other similar
symptoms, and the more numerous they are the greater proof they offer of a true diabolical
Ordinarily, possession occurs only in sinners and precisely as a punishment for sin. There
are exceptions, however, when diabolical possession is used by God as a means of
Whatever will weaken the power of the devil over a person can be utilized as a remedy
against diabolical possession, but the Roman Ritual specifies certain principal remedies:
Sacramental confession. Since the usual purpose of diabolical possession is
punishment for sin, it is necessary above all to remove the cause of possession by a
humble and sincere confession. It will have a special efficacy if it is a general
confession of one's whole life, because of the humiliation and renewal of soul it
Holy Communion. The Roman Ritual recommends frequent Communion under the
direction and advice of a priest. Holy Communion, however, should not be given to
a possessed person except in moments of calm, and one must also take great care to
avoid any danger of irreverence or profanation, as the Ritual prescribes.
Fasting and prayer. A certain type of devil cannot be cast out except through
fasting and prayer (Matt. 17:20). Humble, and persevering prayer, accompanied by
fasting and mortification,, obtains from heaven the grace of a cure. This particular
remedy should, never be omitted, even when all the others are used.
The sacramentals. Objects blessed by the prayers of the , Church have a special
power against the devil. Holy water has particular efficacy, as has been verified on
The cross. The Ritual prescribes that the exorcist should have a crucifix in his hand
or before his eyes. It has been verified many times that the devil will flee merely at
the sight of a crucifix. The sign of the cross has always been used by Christians as a
safeguard against the devil, and the Church makes special use of it in the rite of
ReUcs of the saints. The Roman Ritual also recommends the use of relics in the rite
of exorcism. The most precious and venerated of all relics, and those that inspire
the greatest horror in the demons, are the particles of the true Cross because they
remind the demons of the definitive victory that Christ won over them on Calvary.
The holy names of Jesus and Mary. The name of Jesus has a sovereign power to put
the devil to flight. He himself promised in the Gospel: "They will use my name to
expel demons" (Mark 16:17). The apostles used the Holy Name in this respect: " 'In
the name of Jesus Christ I command you, come out of her!" Then and there the
spirit left her" (Acts 16:18).
The name of Mary is also terrifying to the devils. The examples of its salutary
efficacy are innumerable and fully justify the practice of Christian piety that sees in
the invocation of the name of Mary a powerful remedy against the attacks of the
In addition to these remedies, which any Christian can use against the power of the devil,
the Church has instituted other official means whose use is reserved to her ministers. These
are the various exorcisms.
In private any priest may use the rite of exorcism, but for solemn exorcism it is necessary
to verify with certainty the reality of diabolical possession and then obtain the express
permission of the bishop for the exorcism. In addition, the exorcist should prepare himself
carefully by means of sacramental confession, fasting, and prayer, and then perform the rite
in a church or chapel (and only in exceptional circumstances in a private home), in the
company of serious and pious witnesses (but only a few), and with sufficient assistants who
will be able to control the patient in moments of crisis. The interrogations should be made
with authority, but they should be few in number, as is indicated in the Roman Ritual. The
witnesses will observe silence and remain in prayer but should never interrogate the devil.
The sessions should be repeated as often as is necessary until the devil is cast out. Once this
has taken place and the liberation of the patient is verified, the exorcist should petition God
to command the devil never again to enter the body he has just left. The exorcist should
give thanks to God and exhort the liberated patient to bless God and carefully to avoid sin
lest he or she fall again under the domination of the devil.
A person may also come under the power of the devil by reason of the habitual practice of
evil or the uncontrolled desire to experience extraordinary mystical phenomena or receive
charismatic graces. In the first case a confessor may, unknown to the.penitent, apply an
abbreviated form of exorcism when giving absolution to habitual sinners. In the second
case it is necessary to exercise discernment of spirits when the person claims to have
received some special grace or favor from God.
Signs of the Diabolical Spirit. ...Since the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and
even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention
briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.
1 . Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit
by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.
2. Morbid curiosity . This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric
aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascination for the occult or preternatural.
3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.
4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.
5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes,
as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity; or neglect their primary obligations
to do some personally chosen work.
6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and
7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.
8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that
alternates with presumption, vain security, and un- founded optimism.
9. Disobedience and hardness of heart.
10. Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment.
1 1 . Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the
guise of mystical union.
12. Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity .
13. Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of
14. Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary.
15. Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a
cause. This characteristic readily opens the door to diabolical influence in reformers
Once the spiritual director is certain that a person is acting under the influence of a
diabolical spirit, he should: (1) make the individual realize that he or she is a toy of the
devil and must resist his influence; (2) encourage the individual to pray to God for the
grace to overcome the devil; (3) advise the person to act quickly and with disdain for the
devil as soon as the influence is perceived, performing the opposite from what is suggested
or felt. (....)
Diabolical Causes of Extraordinary Phenomena
The study of the preternatural is so vast and complicated that a thorough treatment of the
subject would take us far beyond the scope of the present work. We shall content ourselves
with an enumeration of the main points of theological doctrine concerning diabolical
1. It is defide ["of the faith", i.e., part of God's revealed truth] that devils exist, that
is, a number of angels who were created good by God became evil through their
2. With God's permission the devils can exercise an evil influence over us, even to
the extent of invading and tormenting us in a bodily manner.
3. In the midst of the assaults of the devil, the human will always remains free
because the will can be moved only in two ways: by the individual or by God. The
most that any other extrinsic power can do is to persuade, and this is what the devils
4. The angels and devils can act upon the imagination and other internal and
external senses because these are all organic powers, and the devil has power to
exercise his influence on anything material.
5. The devils cannot work true miracles because by definition a miracle surpasses
the power of all created nature. But since the angelic powers far surpass human
powers, the devils can perform prodigious feats that arouse our admiration.
By reason of some contradiction involved or because they surpass the power of an angelic
being, the devils cannot do the following:
1. Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon because the supernatural by
definition exceeds all natural created powers.
2. Create a substance because creation requires an infinite power, and no creature of
any kind can be used even as an instrument of creation.
3. Raise a dead person to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so.
4. Instantaneously cure wounds, fractures, lesions, etc., because this is something
only the Creator can do.
5. Make truly prophetic predictions, since the devil does not by his own powers of
intelligence know future contingencies, although he knows so many things in their
causes that it may appear to human beings that what was predicted was a true
6. Know the secrets of a person's mind and heart, since the devil does not by his
own power have access to the human intellect and will. Because of his superior
intelligence, however, he can conjecture much more easily and can know the
temperament and character of individuals as well as the numerous circumstances of
7. Produce in human beings extraordinary phenomena of the purely intellectual or
volitional type because he does not have free access to the human intellect and will.
These are the principal things the devils are unable to do, and they should be kept in mind
when evaluating mystical phenomena involving the miraculous, or the activity of the
human intellect and will. The following mystical phenomena, however, can be falsified by
With God's permission the devil can do any of the following:
1. Produce corporeal or imaginative visions (but not intellectual visions).
2. Falsify ecstasy.
3. Produce rays of light in the body and sensible heat. (There have been examples
of "diabolical incandescence.")
4. Cause sensible consolations and tenderness.
5. Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence.
6. Produce the stigmata and all other kinds of bodily extraordinary phenomena, and
any phenomena dealing with physical objects, such as crowns, rings, etc.
7. Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation, bilocation, and
compenetration of bodies.
8. Cause persons or objects to disappear from sight by placing an obstacle in the
line of vision or acting directly on the sense of sight; simulate locutions by means
of sound waves or immediate action on the sense of hearing; cause a person to
speak in tongues.
9. Produce bodily incombustibility by interposing some medium between the fire
and the body of the individual.
To summarize: all phenomena resulting from the activity of any natural power or physical
law, even if the human being is unable to produce them, can be produced by diabolical
power, with God's permission. Whatever the activity of diabolical powers, however, it can
never be essentially supernatural.
* Spiritual Theology is a complete and definitive work on Christian spirituality available
online in separate chapters at www.domcentral.org/study/aumann/ and as one complete pdf
or text file at archive.org. It was first published in 1982 by University of Santo Tomas
Faculty of Theology, Manila, while some sections are taken substantially from The
Theology of Christian Perfection by Antonio Royo and Jordan Aumann, published in 1962
by Priory Press.
For further reading: DuaneF. Watson, ''Dev'ilJ' Anchor Bible Dictionary, 2:183-184;
"Christian Faith and Demonology", Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, July
10, 1975, etext at www.vatican.va; "Spiritual Warfare: The Occult has Demonic
Influence," a Pastoral Letter by Most Rev. Donald W. Montrose, Bishop of Stockton, CA,
etext at www.ewtn.com