Are Exorcisms Real? These True Stories Might Make You Believe

There are many strange things that happen in this world that are beyond our understanding. One of those things, may (or may not) be demonic possession.

For centuries, God-fearing folks (and the churches they attend) across the world have believed in the idea that a human being may become evil through the acquisition of their body and soul by a demon.

Is Demonic Possession Real?

Once a demon is in command of a person in this manner, there is only one solution to drive it from them – exorcism. If you thought exorcism was a myth, think again. Here are the craziest exorcisms ever conducted around the world. Many of them have been immortalized in major Hollywood films, too!

The Relationship Between Catholicism and Exorcism

If there’s a religion that really embraces the idea of exorcism, it’s Catholicism. If you’ve seen the movie The Exorcist, you’ll remember that it is Catholic priests who are dispatched to deal with the demon in the little girl.

You may have thought that this was an exaggeration and that the Holy Church wouldn’t get involved in these sorts of shenanigans in the modern era. You would, of course, be very wrong. Not only does the Catholic Church still perform exorcisms, it still does it in public and from the highest authorities within the faith. In fact, it was recently revealed that Mother Teresa was the recipient of an exorcism before her death in 1997.

Pope Francis Gets His Hands Dirty

Pope Francis is the current and 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholics believe he offers a direct conduit to God and his word is what directs the faith of hundreds of millions worldwide.

He was elected to the office of Pope in 2013, and he didn’t waste any time in getting his exorcism on. In fact, he exorcised a boy in a wheelchair in front of multiple cameras during his first walk around Vatican City. This, apparently, sparked a worldwide exorcism craze in 2013 and had several branches of the Catholic Church defending exorcism as best practice.

Next, one of the most terrifying films about exorcism and the true story it was based on.

The Horrifying Exorcism Of Emily Rose

In 2005, if there was nothing much on TV one night, you might have found yourself heading to the cinema to watch the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose.This legal drama starred Tom Wilkinson and Laura Linney and as you might expect, it does involve an exorcism.

In fact, it does the whole exorcism routine so well that the movie now regularly makes lists of the 100 scariest films of all time. So what? Fiction is fiction, right? Well, not exactly. The thing is that The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on a true story, and it’s not a happy one.

Anneliese Michel’s Miserable Death

Emily Rose’s real-life counterpart was the unfortunate Anneliese Michel, who was born in West Germany after the end of World War II in 1952. Her severe epilepsy triggered hallucinations that had serious religious overtones and her parents turned to a priest rather than a doctor because they were sure she was possessed.

Her priest would perform 70 exorcisms in a single year between 1975 and 1976. The exorcisms stopped because Anneliese died. She died because her parents and the priest hadn’t been feeding her or giving her enough to drink. They were sentenced to a paltry six months in jail for her manslaughter.

The Conjuring Petrifies Its Audience

One of 2013’s more successful movies and one of the most successful horror movies of all time was The Conjuring. Audiences loved it, though the critics felt that it wasn’t as good as all time greats such as The Amityville Horror or The Exorcist.

It’s a strange comparison to make because all three films are based on real life events and in fact, The Amityville Horror was inspired by exactly the same events as those that inspired The Conjuring many years later. The Conjuring goes further than a tale of possession and dwells on the Salem Witch Trials for a little too long, but it’s the central family and their demons which make our list which the film is based on. Continue to learn about the actual family behind The Conjuring.

The Family Behind the Movie

The Perron family were quite ordinary people until they bought themselves a “dream place” in Rhode Island. As soon as they’d unpacked, they began to report horrible sounds during the night and said there was the ghost of a suicide haunting the place. Carolyn Perron was told by the ghosts that they had to leave.

They didn’t and she was possessed. Exorcisms were performed. They failed, and the family finally fled Rhode Island to move to the southern state of Georgia. It is said that the evil followed them there too, though apparently it didn’t manifest as violently or with such strength as it had in Rhode Island.

An Understanding Of Demonic Possession

Richard E. Gallagher, MD, penned A Case of Demonic Possession for the New Oxford Review. In his writing, he states, “Possession is only one and not the most common type of demonic attack. Possession is very rare, though not as exceedingly so as many imagine. So-called ‘oppression,’ or ‘infestation,’ is less rare, though hardly frequent either, and sometimes more difficult to discern accurately.”

He continued:

“For our purposes here, a truly ‘possessed’ individual exhibits so massive and unequivocal an assault that we will use it as the paradigmatic example of a genuine demonic attack. This case will be contrasted not to the many lesser degrees of demonic assault, but rather to the varied kinds of purported demonic involvement — often psychotic conditions — that turn out to have a purely natural explanation.”

Read on for a modern case of an “exorcism.”

The Case of Just “Julia”

Richard Gallagher might be dismissed as a harmless quack if it wasn’t for the case of “Julia,” a patient at the New York Medical College whom he diagnosed with possession in the year 2008. He brought a delegation from the International Association of Exorcists to help treat her for entering “trance-like states” in which she performed “prayers and invocations.”

She was also said to speak in other languages and growl in funny voices. She once said, “Leave, you imbecile priest!” Which apparently, to Dr. Gallagher, was conclusive evidence of exorcism rather than possibly the manifestation of a mental illness.

Next: possession or teenage rebellion?

Anna Ecklund’s First Exorcism

Anna Ecklund’s case is so unusual that it makes the list twice. In 1912, at the tender age of just 14, Anna appears to have lost her marbles and her Catholicism on the same day. Her relatives alleged that she was practicing witchcraft and possessed.

She sounds, however, more like a rebellious teenager with her symptoms being “sexual depravity, refusing to go to church, and a dislike of religious artifacts.” Her relatives, bucking the trend, apparently decided to pray to Satan to make this worse. Anna sought help and an exorcism from the church on her own and was “cured” immediately.

It Came Back For Her…

Yet, in 1928, it appeared that Anna missed being the center of exorcist attention and checked into a convent, feeling unwell. While she was there, she stopped being able to eat food that had been blessed. She attacked nuns and threw food at them and spoke other languages. Credible witnesses claim to have seen her levitating and climbing sheer walls.

Her next exorcism lasted an incredible 23 straight days before she was given a demon-free bill of health. The priests say the experience was so traumatic that she nearly broke an iron bed during the exorcism through the weight of her own body.

Exorcisms happen all around the globe, as we’ll see next.

Kindoki: A Disturbing Form of Witchcraft

If you think it’s just Christian religions that believe in possession and the subsequent exorcism of demons, think again. Kindoki is an African religion somewhat similar in nature to Voodoo. It has been widely practiced within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is a pretty freaky religion.

The DRC, however, is one of the most brutal and primitive places on earth and has been at near-constant war for the last 50 years. Many Kindoki practitioners have fled the country and it was two such people that would cause a serious commotion in London in 2012 with a very unpleasant exorcism shortly thereafter.

Keep reading to learn a story about the horrors a young boy endured after being accused of practicing Kindoki.

Boy Is Tortured And Murdered By Sister And Boyfriend Under False Pretenses of Kindoki

Christmas time in the United Kingdom is generally a happy time for children as the nation unites under an umbrella of peace and gratitude. Sadly, for Kristy Bamu, Christmas of 2012 would be his last Christmas on earth. Kristy was just 15 years old when his relatives decided that he was possessed.

To drive the devil out from him, his sister Magalie and her partner Eric Bikuni would spend more than three days perpetuating the worst torture on Kristy until his heart gave out and he died. Magalie and Eric were found guilty of his murder and are due to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Daniel Petre Corogeanu’s Nun Community

DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/GettyImages

The Catholic faith has its strongest following in developing nations, and even within the wealthy European Union, some of its member states are more developed than others. One of the poorest and least developed countries in the EU is Romania.

Daniel Petre Corogeanu found his faith after his career as a potential professional footballer faltered and disappeared. He was recruited to the church by a local bishop and was soon a member of the clergy. However, he wasn’t happy and soon fell out with the bishop and broke away to form an independent community of nuns, which would lead to his fall from grace.

An Exorcism Gone Wrong

In January 2005, a young girl Maricica Irina Cornici moved to join the community formed by Daniel Petre Corogeanu and his nuns. She was highly vulnerable following her father’s suicide, and also because she was schizophrenic. Sadly, Daniel wasn’t the healer she’d been seeking. He pronounced her possessed and prescribed exorcism as the cure.

He and the nuns bound Maricica hand and foot and forced her to remain in her bed for more than three days with a towel shoved in her mouth to act as a gag. She died of dehydration, exhaustion, and suffocation. Daniel was given 14 years for her murder. The four nuns involved were sentenced to eight years each.

The Public Conviction of Michael Taylor

In 1974, in a small town in England called Ossett, there lived a man and wife, Michael and Christine Taylor. The neighbors say that they were nice people and that apart from their religious bent, they appeared very normal.

Later that year, Christine Taylor became convinced that her husband had been sleeping with other women. She denounced him at church instead of seeking marriage counseling, and there it was decided that Michael was in fact possessed by the devil. Michael helped confirm this diagnosis by “spewing obscenities” when his infidelity was brought into question by a large group of people he wasn’t married to.

You won’t believe what happened next.

Loving Husband Turned Deranged Murderer

In what should be a cautionary tale for all snubbed wives everywhere, Christine insisted that Michael go through an exorcism that very same day. She went home and Michael spent the next 24+ hours with his priest, who claimed to have driven over 40 demons from his soul.

He must have missed one because when Michael returned home, he slaughtered his wife and the family dog in cold blood. He would later be released in court because he was found “not guilty” of their murder by reasons of insanity. Many suspect the priest’s warning that “murder lay on his soul” before sending him home is what caused Michael to snap.

Next, we’ll meet some of the most famous exorcists in modern history.

Ed And Lorraine Warren – Demonologists

The Warrens were a controversial couple. They were strong Roman Catholic believers who, after a fairly ordinary start in life, woke up one day to devote the rest of their lives to battling the paranormal.

In particular, Ed and Lorraine Warren believed themselves to be demon hunters and master exorcists. Their work has featured in many of the 17 Amityville Horror movies made over the years.They were often called into “consult” on major alleged possession cases, too. It was such a case that led them to try and cast out the devil from Arne Cheyenne Johnson and later to try and defend him in court.

Arne Cheyenne Johnson’ Demonic Defense

Arne Cheyenne Johnson’s consultations with various exorcists, demonologists, etc. might have been time better spent with a psychiatrist. In 1981, Arne came home and murdered the man from whom he rented his home – Alan Bono.

For the first time in history, Arne’s defense decided to opt for the “not guilty, I was possessed” defense in court. They argued that Arne had been let down by exorcists and was not liable for his actions. Fortunately for sanity, the court dismissed the defense and stated that demonic possession was not an adequate defense for first-degree murder. Arne was sentenced to 20 years, though he only served five of it.

The Exorcist Changes How the World Views Posession

There may not be a more famous horror movie in history than The Exorcist. While its production values may make it look a little “hokey” by today’s standards, when it came out, it was truly terrifying. People fainted and wept in cinemas. Many who watched the film claimed that it haunted them for weeks or months afterward.

The Exorcist was based, once again, on a real life exorcism. In this case, the exorcism of an anonymous young man who is often given the pseudonym of “Roland Doe” in the literature relating to the terrifying and confusing events shown in The Exorcist.

The Roland Doe Incident

Roland Doe was subject to many exorcisms over a prolonged period of time. The priests involved in the case claim he was the victim of many demonic attacks. Mark Opsasnick, who studied that case, disagrees. He says Roland Doe “was simply a spoiled, disturbed bully who threw deliberate tantrums to get attention or to get out of school.”

Opsanick notes that many of the claims made by the priests and in the literature are simply false and can easily be debunked by examining the accounts in detail. He concludes, as many others should have concluded in regards to demonic possession, this was a simple case of mental illness.