Last year, as part of my spooky stories series, I did a post about the true story behind the movie The Exorcist. If you dare, you can read the post HERE.
The movie is based on the exorcisms of a little boy that actually took place here in St. Louis. In fact, I recently visited the hospital where many of the rituals were performed.
But that's another story... (If you're feeling brave, make sure to read my Epilogue at the bottom).
Is demonic possession real? Or is it simply attributing something spiritual where the problem is clearly psychological and mental?
In 2005, a movie about demonic possession was released, titled The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The makers of the film said that they based their movie on a true story. In reality, the girl's name was Anneliese Michel, and she lived in Germany. Anneliese believed she was possessed by six demons, and the Catholic church allowed local priests to perform the rite of Exorcism. In the end, it wasn't enough. On July 1, 1976, 23 year old Anneliese died.
Growing up, Anneliese Michel (pictured right) was part of a very devout family in Klingenberg, Germany. She was perfectly healthy until she was 16 years old. Very suddenly, Anneliese suffered from convulsions. She was diagnosed with Grand Mal epilespsy. Soon thereafter, she began to see demonic faces and hear evil voices.
She was unable to attend college, as her seizures and hallucinations began to increase in severity by age 22. Conventional medicine didn't have an answer, so the family turned to the Church. Anneliese and her parents were convinced she was possessed by several demons. Her mother reported stigmata, her speaking in tongues, and making predictions that did come true.
The Catholic Church at first refused. However, Father Arnold Renz and Pastor Ernst Alt visited the Michel family and recorded Anneliese speaking in tongues and in different voices (pictured left). After playing the tape for the Bishop, the Church finally agreed. The priest and pastor carried out 67 rites of exorcism, the official ritual known as "Rituale Romanum." Anneliese was also taking very powerful drugs at the time. These included Tegretol and Aolept.
Poor Anneliese exhibited strange and terrible behavior (pictured right). She licked her own urine off the floor, bit the head off of a dead bird, barked like a dog continuously, and she ate insects and coal. Eventually, she refused to eat alltogether. During one exorcism, the priests demanded the names of the six demons inside of her. In an evil and animalistic voice, she replied that she was possessed by: Lucifer, Cain, Nero, Judas, Fleischmann (a shamed 17th century priest), and Hitler.
Anneliese had predicted the day she would be free of the demons: July 1, 1976. At midnight, her parents and the priests reported that her violent outbursts abruptly stopped. She weighed a mere 68 pounds and was suffering from pneumonia (pictured left)During the early morning, she told the priests to "beg for absolution." And her final words were to her mother when she said, "Mother, I'm afraid."
She never woke up that morning.
A sensational trial took place immediately after, where prosecutors claimed that Anneliese's parents and the Church were responsible for her death. She should've been put in an insitution, something Anneliese refused. Doctors said she should've been force fed as well.
Her parents and the priests were all found guilty, but received only 3 years probation.
Was Anneliese a poor victim of misplaced religious beliefs? Or was she truly possessed by demons, including Lucifer himself? Is demonic possession even a possibility?
1) The movie The Exorcist is a Hollywood version of real events that took place here in St. Louis. Father Bowdern and Father Halloran performed several rites of exorcism at Alexian Brothers Hospital. Soon thereafter, the boy's room was locked up...and eventually, the whole fifth floor was abandoned as well. There were many reports of strange things coming from that room, long after the boy was gone. The wing was eventually demolished. A construction worker found Father Bowdern's journal in the room before demolition, and that diary was the basis for the film.
St. Alexius is the new hospital built, literally next door to the old Alexian Brothers building. I was speaking with a hospital executive there just this last week. He said that when they were installing a new security fence along the hospital's perimeter, they were digging and struck the old Alexian Brothers Hospital's foundation.
That day, elevators were constantly getting stuck on the fifth floor, and only on that fifth floor.
2) Christianity is far from the only religion dealing with demonic possession. From voodoo to Islam, many other religions have their own rituals and rites in dealing with such evil. Feeling brave? See video footage of an Islamic exorcism HERE.
3) FEELING SUPER BRAVE? Listen HERE to one of the 43 actual recordings of Anneliese's exorcism. (A German website released some recordings just after the Emily Rose movie was released).