If you see the word exorcism, the music of the famous film that comes to your mind, you are a good one, on the other hand if you start screaming “witch, at the stake” then calm down, put down this bible and come back to the 21st century among us. To stay on this topic, we are going to talk today about certain historical cases of exorcisms which are a little freaking out, either because you believe in demons, or because you realize the poor fate that these people suffered who especially needed of medical services.
1. L’exorcisme by Clara Germana Cele
At the age of sixteen, Clara Germana Cele admitted to having tried to make a pact with the devil before developing signs of possession. The story happened in 1906 in South Africa and it is said that the young girl had developed strange skills, such as speaking languages she did not know, knowing details of the lives of people she did not frequent and that she could not bear to be in contact with healthy objects.
The girl was eventually successfully exorcised but died at the age of 22. The problem with this story is that the only real traces of this story were reported by nuns who also said that she had levitated several times a few meters in the air, so it is difficult to have scientific proof of all that.
2. The Exorcism of George Lukins
In 1788, George Lukins, an uneventful tailor, began to behave strangely by making irrational movements (Sydenham’s chorea syndrome), to speak strangely and exhibited many symptoms of epileptic seizures. He also said that he was possessed by seven demons and that only seven priests could free him from them, which was done in a ceremony that would have freed Lukins. But already at the time the story had been criticized, if some thought that Lukins had really been cured, others advanced that he had simply made up this whole story while waiting for seven priests to be brought in to pretend to heal.
3. The exorcism of Anneliese Michel
This German student born in 1952 had a tragic fate since she died of malnutrition after eight years of illness or possession (choose your version) at the age of 23. Suffering from epilepsy, episodes of delirium and hallucinations, the medical treatment given to the young girl was not effective and her parents decided to call in exorcists to try to save her otherwise.
The process was extremely long, Anneliese was exorcised more than sixty times and no longer fed, while contracting pneumonia. When she finally died of malnutrition, her parents and the two priests were sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended, because they somewhat prevented her from eating.
4. The exorcism of Martha Brossier
In 1556, this 22-year-old girl suffered from several disorders that had led her family and loved ones to think that she was possessed. She gritted her teeth, could stick her tongue “astonishingly far” out of her mouth, had convulsions, spasms, and could contort her body during strange fits.
We therefore sent several people, including Bishop Charles Miron, who immediately interpreted the signs of possession as those of epileptic seizures and above all he put forward the serious hypothesis that Martha Brossier was completely simulating: he made her drink holy water pretending it was normal water and she didn’t react, then he wrapped a simple key in a red cloth telling her it was a holy cross and the girl started to over-react to this banal object. Hard to believe it was serious.
5. The exorcism of Elizabeth Knapp
The first signs of Elizabeth Knapp’s possession were noted by the family of this 16-year-old girl from Massachusetts in 1971. She grabbed parts of her body when she was in bed, writhed, had hallucinations (she saw two people around his bed) and suffered from various pains and fits of hysteria. Symptoms that can be compared to several disorders (epilepsy, sleep paralysis) but that the local religious have translated into possession of the devil. The young girl was exorcised by Samuel Willard but we have no certainty or written record of what happened to Elizabeth Knapp. We just know that Samuel Willard played an important role in the many Salem witch trials a few years later where women were literally burned alive without any basis.
6. Tanacu’s exorcisms
The 2006 exorcism of Maricica Irina Cornici in the city of Tanacu (Romania) made headlines in Romanian newspapers. Cornici was a mentally ill nun believed by the priests of her town to be possessed by a demon, tying her to a wooden cross for three days while depriving her of water and food in order to exorcise her.
Except it didn’t really work and the woman was rushed to medical teams who gave her six doses of adrenaline that may have caused the cardiac arrest that killed Cornici. A high-profile trial took place and the medical team were left out of judgment, unlike priest Peter Corogeanu and the four nuns who helped him during the exorcism who all received prison sentences for killing the poor sick woman. .
7. L’exorcisme de Roland Doe
In the 1940s in the United States took place the exorcism of an anonymous child nicknamed Roland Doe (whose identity is thought to be Ronald Edwin Hunkeler) by the priest Walter Halloran. After the death of a family member, strange things happened around the child according to his own mother: things started moving on their own or levitating in the air.
Apparently the child was talking in a guttural voice while rocking his bed and moving things in the air around him, which is why we sent Halloran to take care of the matter and exorcise the child. But years later many studies showed that there was finally nothing abnormal and many things of exaggerated or invented, the priest Halloran himself had expressed a lot of doubt on the possession of the child and had remained skeptical about this affair despite the exorcism he had performed.
8. The trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson
This trial, which took place in 1981 in the United States, is the first trial in the history of the country where the defense tried to prove that the culprit had been possessed by a demon, hence his nickname “the devil forced me” ( the devil made me do it case). The story began when young David Glatzel showed signs of possession, which caused his family to bring in the couple of investigators from the strangely famous Warrens (who we know from the Conjuring films).
Shortly after the demon who inhabited the child would have decided to take possession of the father and to go and kill the owner of his house, which gave the famous lawsuit where Arne Cheyenne Johnson pleaded not guilty because of his supposed possession and only received five years in prison instead of 10 to 20 years. The case is the subject of the film Conjuring: in the grip of the devil but assume it’s not a documentary.