Tag: Exorcisms

How Saint Dominic Forced Demons To Speak The Truth During An Exorcism 

How Saint Dominic Forced Demons To Speak The Truth During An Exorcism 

 

SAINT DOMINIC DURING AN EXORCISM FORCES THE DEMONS TO SPEAK TRUTH.
When Saint Dominic, who spread the devotion of praying the rosary, was preaching the Rosary near Carcassone an Albigensian was brought to him who was possessed by the devil.

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Saint Dominic exorcised him in the presence of a great crowd of people; it appears that over twelve thousand had come to hear him preach.

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The devils who were in possession of this wretched man were forced to answer Saint Dominic’s questions in spite of themselves. They said that: There were fifteen thousand of them in the body of this poor man, because he had attacked the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary; They went on to testify that by preaching the Rosary he put horror into the very depths of hell and that he was the man they hated most throughout the whole world, because of the souls which he snatched from them through devotion to the Holy Rosary.

They then revealed several other things.

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Saint Dominic put his rosary around the Albigensian’s neck and asked the devils to tell him who, of all the saints in heaven, was the one they feared the most, and who should therefore be the most loved and revered by men.

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At this they let out such unearthly screams that most of the people fell to the ground, faint from fear. Then, using all their cunning, so as not to answer, the devils wept and wailed in such a pitiful way that many of the people wept also, out of purely natural pity. 

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The devils spoke through the mouth of the Albigenisian, pleading in a heartrending voice:

“Dominic, Dominic, have mercy on us – we promise you that we will never hurt you. You have always had compassion for sinners and those in distress; have pity on us, for we are in grievous straits. We are suffering so very much already, so why do you delight in heightening our pains? Can’t you be satisfied with our suffering without adding to it? Have pity on us! Have pity on us!”

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Saint Dominic was not one whit moved by the pathos of these wretched spirits and told them that he would not let them alone until they had answered his question. Then they said they would whisper the answer in such a way that only Saint Dominic would be able to hear. The latter firmly insisted upon their answering clearly and out loud. Then the devils kept quiet and refused to say another word, completely disregarding Saint Dominic’s orders – so he knelt down and prayed thus to Our Lady: 

“Oh, all powerful and wonderful Virgin Mary, I implore you by the power of the Most Holy Rosary, order these enemies of the human race to answer me.” 

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No sooner had he made this prayer than a glowing flame leaped out of the ears, nostrils and mouth of the Albigensian. Everyone shook with fear, but the fire did not hurt anyone. Then the devils cried:

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“Dominic, we beseech you, by the passion of Jesus Christ and by the merits of His Holy Mother and of all the saints, let us leave the body of this man without speaking – for the angels will answer your question whenever you wish. After all, are we not liars? So why should you want to believe us? Please don’t torture us any more; have pity on us.” 

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“Woe unto you wretched spirits, who do not deserve to be heard.” Saint Dominic said, and kneeling down he prayed to Our Lady:

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“Oh most worthy Mother of Wisdom, I am praying for the people assembled here who have already learned how to say the Angelic Salutation properly. Please, I beg of you, force your enemies to proclaim the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this, here and now, before the multitude.” 

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Saint Dominic had hardly finished this prayer when he saw the Blessed Virgin near at hand, surrounded by a multitude of angels. She struck the possessed man with a golden rod that she held and said: 

“Answer my servant Dominic at once.” 

(Remember, the people neither saw nor heard Our Lady, but only Saint Dominic.) 

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“Then listen well you Christians; the Mother of Jesus Christ is all powerful and she can save her servants from falling into hell. She is the Sun which destroys the darkness of our wiles and subtlety. It is she who uncovers our hidden plots, breaks our snares and makes our temptations useless and ineffectual. 

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“We have to say, however reluctantly, that not a single soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned with us; one single sigh that she offers to the Blessed Trinity is worth far more than all the prayers, desires and aspirations of all the saints. 

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“We fear her more than all the other saints in heaven together and we have no success with her faithful servants. Many Christians who call upon her when they are at the hour of death and who really ought to be damned according to our ordinary standards are saved by her intercession.

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“Oh if only that Mary (it is thus in their fury that they called her) had not pitted her strength against ours and had not upset our plans, we should have conquered the Church and should have destroyed it long before this; and we would have seen to it that all the Orders in the Church fell into error and disorder. 

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“Now that we are forced to speak we must also tell you this: nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins and by means of this they obtain God’s forgiveness and mercy.” 

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Then Saint Dominic had them all say the Rosary very slowly and with great devotion, and a wonderful thing happened: at each Hail Mary that he and the people said together a large group of devils issued forth from the wretched man’s body under the guise of red-hot coals. 

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When the devils had all been expelled and the heretic was at last entirely free of them, Our Lady (who was still invisible gave her blessing to the assembled company, and they were filled with joy because of this. 

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A large number of heretics were converted because of this miracle and joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.

Swiss Exorcist – ‘The Devil Exists, But He Is Not Everywhere’, Don’t Go Looking For Him!   

Swiss Exorcist – ‘The Devil Exists, But He Is Not Everywhere’, Don’t Go Looking For Him!   

Why Do Exorcists Ask Demons To Reveal Their Names?

In this Mind blowing interview with an exorcist from Switzerland, we’re told the devil isn’t everywhere—but don’t go looking for him either, just in case.

With our modern mentality, the subjects of exorcism and demonic possession generally inspire a reaction somewhere between fascination and open incredulity. This is the stuff of movies, but it also makes you think.

For the Catholic Church, though, exorcism is something governed with a book of ritual, De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam (Rite of exorcism and prayers for particular circumstances, adopted in 1998 to replace the previous, older version, which may still be used), and it is subject to certain conditions and prescriptions.


The motivations for these strict rules are rooted in Holy Scripture and in theology. It’s a delicate subject that must be handled prudently by priests who are suitably prepared and well balanced (“pious, knowledgeable, prudent, and with personal integrity”), with the express authorization of their bishop.

Aleteia spoke with Padre César Truqui, who is an exorcist of the Diocese of Chur, Switzerland, and who was a speaker at the 11th course on “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome (the course which inspired the Anthony Hopkins movie The Rite).


Chiara Santomiero: What kind of evil is confronted in an exorcism?

Fr Truqui: Evil personified. Paul VI spoke of “the smoke of Satan.” Not a simpleprivatio bonis,” the privation of good as described by philosophy, but rather an evil that is effective and operative. We are talking here about the presence of an evil being. Only faith, not science, can tell us what this evil being is. The Christian faith tells us of the existence of spiritual beings: the good ones are angels, and the bad ones are demons.

Isn’t it a bit hard to accept the existence of evil as a being that physically possesses a person?

Yes, that’s true, because normally in our daily lives we don’t have any experiences of this kind. But because of the ministry that I’ve been carrying out for so many years, I’ve had the opportunity of meeting these people, and for me it is easier to believe that certain phenomena exist.

How did you start?

It was divine providence. When I was ordained to the priesthood 12 years ago, I participated in a course with priests who were exorcists, such as Fathers Bamonte and Amorth. As it happened, the case of a 40-year-old French man was presented. He was possessed by Satan and needed an exorcist, but Bamonte spoke neither English nor French. So, they asked me to help with the preliminary dialogue.

How does it feel to find yourself facing the manifestation of evil?

Your feelings change over time. During the first exorcism sessions in which I participated, what struck me most was the tangible confirmation that the Gospel which I had read and meditated on was true. In the Gospel, Jesus fought against demons that called themselves by various names: “My name is Legion,” “My name is Satan.” In the Old Testament, in the Book of Tobit, there is a demon named Asmodeus. I’ve heard demons pronounce these names in various exorcism sessions.

On a spiritual level, it has been a very rich experience, because it has allowed me to experience in my own flesh, through my senses, the reality that Jesus spoke of.

Tangibly?

In the case of the French man in the first exorcism I participated in, I remember that, when the demon manifested itself, I had the impression of being surrounded by pride, as if it were smoke or fog. It’s hard to explain, but pride seemed like something you could touch; it filled the room. The exorcist asked him for his name, and he responded, “I am rex.” There is no demon named rex, king. The exorcist insisted, “Tell me your name,” and finally he responded, “I am Satan, the prince of this world”.

Why do you ask for the demon’s name?

The Ritual requires it, for a specific purpose. Naming something, or knowing its name, means having power over that thing. In fact, God gives Adam the power to name things. At the instant that the demon reveals his name, it shows that he has been weakened; if he doesn’t say it, he is still strong.

Are there typical signs of possession?

Those listed in the Ritual. There are four: aversion towards sacred things; speaking in unknown or dead languages; having extraordinary strength that goes beyond the person’s nature; knowledge of concealed or hidden things.

Can people put themselves in danger?

Yes. By getting involved with anything that has to do with magic, the occult, witchcraft, or cartomancy. If it helps us to grow in sanctity when we go to Mass, pray, go to confession, or draw near to God, in the same way, black masses, satanic rites, movies and music of that kind have the effect of bringing us closer to the devil.

I dealt with the case of a woman who began reading Tarot cards, as many do, for fun. Except that in her case, she truly divined people’s past and present, and in some cases, their future. And naturally, she was a great success. At a certain moment, she understood on whom her success depended, and she stopped doing it, but it was too late: she was possessed.

How is it possible to curse someone?

Just as I could give someone the task of killing someone, I could ask a demon to do harm. But keep in mind: the great majority of rites realized by supposed witches or warlocks are fraudulent, without any effect.

Is one exorcism enough to free a possessed person?

It’s extremely difficult. Usually, many exorcisms are needed.

Does it work like therapy?

Yes. Exorcism is a sacramental, not a sacrament. A sacrament is effective in and of itself. If I give someone absolution in confession, at that moment, truly, his or her sins are forgiven. Exorcism, on the contrary, is efficient to the extent of the holiness of the priest, of the faith of the person being exorcised, and that of the whole Church.


What is the difference between exorcism and prayers of liberation?

Both have the same objective: they seek the liberation of the person from the influence of evil or from possession. Exorcism is actually a ministry within the Church which the bishop confers on some priests. It can only be exercised by priests, not by lay people, and only by those who have the explicit permission of the bishop. A prayer of liberation, on the contrary, can be done by anyone, man or woman, layman or priest, by virtue of being Christian, because Christ said, “Anyone who believes in me shall cast out demons.”

An exorcism is also a direct order given to the devil, whereas a prayer of liberation is a supplication to God or the Virgin Mary for them to intervene.

How many of the people who have turned to you were really possessed?

Very, very few.

So why are people so afraid?

Among the people who come to me, I can distinguish three kinds of cases: those truly possessed, those not possessed, and problematic cases. The first and the second are the easiest: you know that you are dealing with someone who is truly possessed because they manifest the four signs, and because when you say the prayers the person goes into a trance and reacts in a way that the exorcist recognizes. This can be faked, but it is very difficult.

In the second case, with experience as a priest and confessor, you understand when there are spiritual or psychological problems, and when you can exclude demonic influence.

The problem is when you find someone who seems truly possessed—because of deep traumas accompanied by risky behaviors, such as spiritualistic sessions or going to a tarot card reader—but isn’t actually possessed.

I met a young woman who was raped by a supposed Latin American warlock whose eye she had caught. One day he gave her a drugged cup of coffee and raped her; she was conscious, but unable to react. This terrible trauma made her think she was possessed by the devil through the drugs and the violence she had suffered.

I believed that she was truly possessed. However, when I prayed and imposed my hands on her during the exorcism, she never went into a trance, and there was no sign of other phenomena. I understood, therefore, that the cause lay elsewhere. This is why some of the medical and and psychological profiles that could be in play in these situations are explained during the course for exorcists.

How do people who are truly possessed live?

Actually, they live normal lives. The devil doesn’t act through them all the time. Allow me to use a paradoxical comparison to try to explain it: If a person buys a car, that car is at that person’s disposition to use whenever he or she wants to. They may use it to go to the office, and then have to park it. The same thing happens with a possessed person. There are moments when the demon acts: he gets in the car and drives as he likes; at other times, he doesn’t. The car has an owner, but the owner doesn’t always use it.

When is it necessary to go to an exorcist?

When what happens to you goes beyond what is normal. There was a woman I met in Rome who was an atheist: a Catholic who had only been baptized, who didn’t believe in anything. She ended up possessed, although I don’t remember the circumstances. She began to hear voices constantly, which tried to convince her to kill her husband and her son and commit suicide.

She thought she was mentally ill, and went to a psychiatrist, but the doctor found her to be a very intelligent and coherent person with very clear ideas. The psychiatrist couldn’t cure her. One day, moths ate all the woman’s clothes, without touching her husband’s things — which were in the same closet — nor those of her son. And there were no moths in the house. It was inexplicable.

One of her friends recommended that she go to Fr. Amorth, and he discovered that she was possessed. And yet, she didn’t believe in angels or in demons. Now, she has become a practicing Christian. Why does God allow things like this? For the person’s own good.


Have you been able to ask any of them what they felt during the exorcism?

I asked that French gentleman that we’ve been talking about what he felt during the exorcism, and he explained to me that he had felt as if there were a battleground inside him. On one hand, he felt the demons running around desperately and talking among themselves; on the other, when the priest prayed, he felt that God’s light cast them out, only for them to come back.

What story has impressed you the most?

The experience of a mute demon. Jesus talks about that in the Gospel, and says that they are the most difficult to cast out, and that they only leave with prayer and fasting. A mute demon is very rare. In 12 years of exorcisms, I’ve only come across it once.

Are you ever afraid?

I was at first, but then you get used to certain manifestations and it doesn’t surprise you anymore to hear someone’s voice change: a woman starts to talk with a weak voice, which then changes to a cavernous tone. You have to be attentive not to become obsessed with the evil one. An exorcist knows that the devil exists, but he’s not everywhere.

Above all, I’ve come to understand that exorcism is a ministry of mercy: an act of love for a person who is suffering. That is all.

History Of Exorcisms In Religions Other Than Catholicism 

History Of Exorcisms In Religions Other Than Catholicism 

History of exorcism in religions other than Catholicism

Demonic Foes, A Psychiatrist Investigates Demonic Possession in the Modern United States.

Dr Gallagher’s forthcoming book will be the first mainstream publication by an experienced, highly credentialed American psychiatrist presenting research and case studies on church-referred discernment. In an endorsement of Dr Gallagher’s research, Joseph English, former Psychiatry Department Chairman at New York Medical College, stated:

“Contrary to a widespread impression, such phenomena (suspected demonic possession) not only continue to be reported in today’s world, but they still defy easy explanation as simplistically conceived medical or psychiatric disorders.”  

Two of the most popular books published to date on demonic possession are Glimpses of the Devil by Scott Peck and Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. Both authors are deceased. Dr Gallagher describes his book as “a much broader treatment of the subject of possession”. He goes into the history of the concept, how to discern and which cases cause confusion, and describes people who may think they are possessed but are not.

Such people could be suffering from seizure disorders or other neurological disorders such as temporal lobe epilepsy. People hearing the devil’s voice might be psychotic and having auditory hallucinations. Others suffering from delusions that they are possessed might be bipolar, schizophrenic, or have drug-related conditions.

Dr Gallagher noted that borderline or anti-social people can have an internal battle of evil warring with a sense of decency. People who are suggestible and the histrionic may have the misconception that there is a demonic presence around them and/or that they are being manipulated by other people into believing that. Those with multiple personality disorders might have an evil alter ego that can be misinterpreted as demonic by “overly credulous or fundamentalist people”, according to Dr Gallagher. 

Demonic Foes profiles dramatic possession cases discerned by Dr Gallagher who gave their permission for their stories to be told. Julia is one. 

Discernment

The discernment process requires a broad spectrum of information. Dr Gallagher not only examines and interviews the victim but also speaks to the clergy involved and the victim’s family. A challenge of discernment is gathering enough information. If Dr Gallagher has enough history and information he says he can make a determination in one meeting with the victim. Sometimes it takes several meetings.

Dr Gallagher will want to know if the victim turned to evil, was heavily involved in the occult, or was a Satanist, which he believes is a rare phenomenon. He noted that this kind of history is typical of people who are possessed. There are other specific criteria used to evaluate for possession: the ability to speak in other languages, abnormal strength, paranormal ability, and the knowledge of secret things. What all those criteria have in common, he said, is that they are indicative of another entity being in possession of the person.

Dr Gallagher has heard demonic voices come out of possessed people when they are in trance-like states, which they go in and out of. When they come out of the trance they are more or less themselves but do not remember what happened.

The clergy of many different faiths who have sent people to me sense that something is happening that is of the world beyond

The clergy of many different faiths who have sent people to me sense that something is happening that is of the world beyond

Over time, people have offered inadequate explanations for the manifestation of possession criteria, Dr Gallagher said. For example, a theory is espoused that knowledge of hidden things really just amounts to a cold reading, which law enforcement officers can be trained to do by observing facial expressions. But the hidden knowledge of someone who is possessed is true esoteric knowledge. Julia, for example, accurately told Dr Gallagher how his mother had died. 

The Exorcism

Dr Gallagher has directly observed 100 full blown possessions over the past twenty-five years. He has attended a few hundred other exorcisms as an observer, none of whom were his patients. He only attends exorcisms where the team “knows what they’re doing”. And that includes proper restraint of the victim to prevent that person from trying to run away or attack the exorcist. In the United States, the victim must sign a legal form indicating they have agreed to the ritual. According to Dr Gallagher, when the demonic is accessed, the demon is in control and “would do all sort of things if not restrained”.

Attending an exorcism, Dr Gallagher says, is “spooky and creepy”. He draws a comparison to his experiences interviewing terrorists and criminals committed to an evil life. Describing himself as “pretty devout”, Dr Gallagher says he has people praying for him when he attends an exorcism and is not afraid because he believes he’s on the winning side.

He has heard victims speak in different languages, noting that demons know all languages. When priests are conducting the Rite in Latin, victims are clearly following along, Dr Gallagher said, and will often comment in English. An entity with a “nasty attacking personality” with one or more of the other criteria for possession is demonic. He said he had seen all those traits on one or more occasions. 

At one exorcism, the priest was reciting prayers in Latin, which Dr Gallagher knows and the priest knew, and the demon in the possessed woman was sarcastically commenting on it. According to Dr Gallagher, the woman had the equivalent of an education up to around age 14 and was not Catholic at the time. She had never been exposed to Latin. He said the following dialogue occurred: 

Priest:  “Credo in unum Deum (I believe in one God).” Victim/demon, sarcastically: “Well I don’t.”

Priest: “Tertio die resurrexit (he rose on the third day).” Victim/demon: “No he didn’t.”

Priest:  “Descendit ad infernum (on the third day Christ descended into hell).” Victim/demon: “And he’s still there.”

Priest:  “Ad vitam aeternum (life everlasting).” Victim/demon, wearily: “There is no life.” 

Dr Gallagher believes that demons have been observing human beings since the beginning of time. “They’re very, very smart. The intelligence level of a fallen angel, which is what I call them, is far superior to human beings. Which is why they denigrate human beings. They sometimes call us ‘monkeys’,” he said.

Eight people, including two nuns and two priests, told Dr Gallagher that Julia levitated during one of her exorcisms and he believes them although he was not an eyewitness. But he would not believe film or videotape showing levitation. “Demons are intelligent, malevolent, manipulative creatures. They aren’t going to perform for a camera. They know they’re being taped,” he said.

He does not believe in group exorcisms, which he says can potentially harm the merely mentally ill, preventing them from getting the medical help they need. For the truly possessed, he said, the ritual must be done privately not publicly. And he is opposed to anyone who charges for an exorcism as it goes against biblical teaching.

Dr Gallagher made it clear that he has discerned possession only in cases where it was already suspected. “The clergy of many different faiths who have sent people to me sense that something is happening that is of the world beyond.” These victims, he said, should not be left to suffer because of the scepticism of conventional medical opinion. 

‘Victims Seeking Exorcism Should Not Be Ignored, Demonic Possession Is Real’ – Prominent Psychiatrist On The Rise Of Demonic Possession 

‘Victims Seeking Exorcism Should Not Be Ignored, Demonic Possession Is Real’ – Prominent Psychiatrist On The Rise Of Demonic Possession 


Sadly, demonic possession is a phenomenon that is on the rise throughout the world: The number of cases – and demands for priests to carry out exorcisms – is, according to multiple sources, soaring.

Medical science remains sceptical. However, a Princeton-and-Yale-educated mainstream psychiatrist believes demonic possession is indeed very real – and claims that the majority of Americans agree with him. 

With 25 years experience in a private psychiatric practice and as a professor at New York Medical College and Columbia University, Dr Richard Gallagher has a rare vantage point to observe human behavior. And then there is the inhuman.  

Gallagher

He is also a sought-after psychiatrist for discernment, the initial step in determining the need for exorcism. Dr Gallagher has evaluated hundreds of cases of possible possession and, in a wide-ranging and rare interview with the Telegraph, explains why he believes the phenomenon is genuine.

In April, at a Vatican training course for exorcist priests, participants were told that demand for exorcism is booming as a result of a decline in Christian faith and the internet providing easy access to black magic, the occult and Satanism. 

They’re very, very smart. The intelligence level of a fallen angel, which is what I call them, is far superior to human beings

They’re very, very smart. The intelligence level of a fallen angel, which is what I call them, is far superior to human beings

Pope Francis has repeatedly reminded his followers that Satan is “a real being, roaming the Earth to devour souls like a lion”. In April, he wrote: “Hence, we should not think of the Devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.” He observed that life can be “a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil”.

Last year, speaking to priests attending a Vatican course on confession, the Pope said confessors “should not hesitate” to refer penitents who are suffering from “genuine spiritual disturbances” to exorcists. Describing the Rite of Exorcism as a “delicate and necessary ministry”, the Pope admonished that exorcist priests must be selected with “great care and great prudence.”

In the US, the number of priest exorcists has increased from twelve to fifty over the past decade. While demand for exorcism continues to surge, Dr Gallagher’s medical assessment of whether a person is mentally ill or possessed by demons will determine whether some exorcisms are conducted.  

<span>Pope Francis at his weekly address on April 25 2008, during which he reportedly&nbsp;praised exorcisms as a ‘way to fight against evil’ and ‘escape from the power of sin’ </span> <span>Credit: Barcroft Media </span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/q8Rz.KP4ruSuDriL6Ttqnw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTQwMA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/mhAIEzJoHaZYiboKonnsoQ–~B/aD0zMDA7dz00ODA7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_258/67c1287a06912aa5bc139c88f723c694″ style=”border: none; vertical-align: bottom; min-height: 1px; will-change: opacity; animation: fade 0.1s; position: absolute; top: 113.391px; left: 180px; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); width: 360px;”><figcaption class=Pope Francis at his weekly address on April 25 2008, during which he reportedly praised exorcisms as a ‘way to fight against evil’ and ‘escape from the power of sin’

He is not the only American psychiatrist who evaluates for possession – there are many others who consult on discernment. But Dr Gallagher is one of the few who is willing to talk about it. He has also written a forthcoming book on the subject, being published by Harper Collins, called Demonic Foes, A Psychiatrist Investigates Demonic Possession in the Modern United States.  

“There are many other psychiatrists and mental health care professionals who do what I do – perhaps not to the scope that I do – who seem hesitant to speak out,” he explained. “That’s what gives my work some singularity. That I have had so much experience and that I am willing to speak out. I feel an obligation to speak out. I think that I should.” 

<span>Dr Richard Gallagher, a Princeton-and-Yale-educated psychiatrist</span> <span>Credit: Rachel Ray </span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/guXAifhF9hVaqGWWTeDd8g–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTQwMA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/NJvxLEVts3_l8v8.hEdjNw–~B/aD0zMDA7dz00ODA7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_258/032a2b5c05c87a1831a469990b804610″ style=”border: none; vertical-align: bottom; min-height: 1px; will-change: opacity; animation: fade 0.1s; position: absolute; top: 113.391px; left: 180px; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); width: 360px;”><figcaption class=Dr Richard Gallagher, a Princeton-and-Yale-educated psychiatrist Credit: Rachel Ray

Of the cases referred to him for possible possession, he noted that they are people who “suffer tremendously”.

“There is very strict criteria for determining the person’s problem. I am not just intuiting. I’m dealing with it from a very scientific point of view,” he said. 

Speaking to the Telegraph at his office in Westchester County New York, Dr Gallagher said that while possession is very rare, in his medical opinion, it is real. “There are cases of spirit possession in pretty much every culture,” he said. He has evaluated cases referred to him by priests, rabbis, Christian ministers and representatives of other spiritual traditions.

Dr Gallagher does not view himself as being outside the American mainstream in his beliefs about the existence of demons. Noting that the United States is a more religious country “than somewhat secular countries in Europe”, he cited poll numbers indicating that about 70 to 75 per cent of Americans believe in the Devil and at least half of those believe that demons have the ability to affect human beings, possessed or otherwise. 

How does exorcism work?

Then you can go to some countries like Madagascar where about 100 per cent of the population believes in spirit possession,” he said. “So it varies a lot from country to country. Haiti is another country that believes a lot in demons and spirit possession. It depends on what subculture you’re addressing. Some secular subcultures on the east coast and the west coast of the United States are very sceptical but the majority of Americans are not only open to these ideas but believe them. So I don’t feel that I’m out of the mainstream.”

At one time, Dr Gallagher, a board certified psychiatrist with a primary focus on individual psychotherapy and psycho pharmacology, was also doubtful. Although a practicing Catholic, he had never volunteered to evaluate people for possession. But early in his medical career two prominent exorcists, one of whom helped found the International Association of Exorcists, referred cases to him that were so dramatic, he concluded that possession exists. One such flamboyant and dramatic case was that of “Julia”.

History of exorcism in the Catholic Church

Julia: ‘A once-in-a-century case of possession’


Julia gave Dr Gallagher permission to write about her on the condition that her name and other identifying information such as where she lived in the US be changed. Other than those details, he said he took no literary license in telling her story.

A direct worshipper of Satan and a self-described high priestess of a cult, Julia’s demonic possession was not in question. The core concern for the exorcism team was whether she could leave the cult so that the exorcism would succeed in liberating her from possession. 

 

<span>Jesus Christ healing a mute man by performing an exorcism, as described in Luke 11:14, in an engraving from Merian’s Illustrated Bible, published c. 1627&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: Rex </span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/zgyf40tdGNwI4cDxE0xjUw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTQwMA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/TtG_BYQNVff00xuZo5wNOA–~B/aD0zMDA7dz00ODA7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_258/cf44bc683b602583ab2e685ec44c0bb5″ style=”border: none; vertical-align: bottom; min-height: 1px; will-change: opacity; animation: fade 0.1s; position: absolute; top: 113.391px; left: 180px; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); width: 360px;”><figcaption class=Jesus Christ healing a mute man by performing an exorcism, as described in Luke 11:14, in an engraving from Merian’s Illustrated Bible, published c. 1627 Credit: Rex


Dr Gallagher was brought onto the team to talk to her about her ambivalence in leaving the cult and her fears and anxieties about the possession. The cult was like a home to Julia and she was in love with the cult leader. She told Dr Gallagher, regarding the cult’s power over her: “The sex orgies are a pretty big part of it”. But it was not just the sex. Julia had paranormal abilities that did not exist before joining the cult, according to Dr Gallagher. She directly attributed these abilities to Satan:

“I worship Satan. I don’t know about this God thing. There’s a lot of crap in the world. I don’t see how people can believe in a good God. But Satan I know. He gives me favours.” (how ignorant). 

Julia revelled in her psychic ability and demonstrated her powers for Dr Gallagher. At 3am one morning, the Gallaghers’ normally placid cats went berserk fighting in the couple’s bedroom and had to be separated. Such behaviour had never happened before and has never happened since. Later that morning, Dr Gallagher was introduced to Julia for the first time. According to the psychiatrist: “The first thing out of her mouth was ‘So Dr Gallagher, how did you like the cats last night?’. I even have a letter from her to a priest that says ‘we raised a little hell in Dr Gallagher’s house last night’.”

<span>A Haitian voodoo follower wearing white clothes is seen in trance while participate in a voodoo ceremony in Souvenance, a suburb of Gonaives, 171km north of Port-au-Prince, on April 1, 2018</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/c6KdugZBxRiRYQFgqos4GQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTQwMS4zMzMzMzMzMzMzMzMz/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/Zlh1av74xc97BiyZs17mWw–~B/aD0zMDE7dz00ODA7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_258/cffcae12230afe0782faa5c615c18f2c” style=”border: none; vertical-align: bottom; min-height: 1px; will-change: opacity; animation: fade 0.1s; position: absolute; top: 113.391px; left: 180px; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); width: 360px;”><figcaption class=A Haitian voodoo follower wearing white clothes is seen in trance while participate in a voodoo ceremony in Souvenance, a suburb of Gonaives, 171km north of Port-au-Prince, on April 1, 2018 Credit: AFP


On another occasion, Julia demonstrated her ability at remote viewing. She told Dr Gallagher “we really hate Father ——-”, referring to a priest on the exorcism team. She explained that it was her job to “keep an eye on him” although she lived in a different part of the United States. Whereupon she described the priest at that moment “walking along a beach in his blue windbreaker and khaki pants and he’s saying prayers”. Dr Gallagher promptly called the priest on his mobile phone and confirmed everything that Julia had described. The priest noted that normally he would be in his rectory at that time but on that particular day had decided to say his breviary while walking on the beach.

I worship Satan. I don’t know about this God thing. There’s a lot of crap in the world. I don’t see how people can believe in a good God. But Satan I know. He gives me favours

I worship Satan. I don’t know about this God thing. There’s a lot of crap in the world. I don’t see how people can believe in a good God. But Satan I know. He gives me favours

A sign of true possession is the victim going into a trance as the demons take over the body. The victim of full-blown possession typically will not recall what happened after coming out of the trance. In his multiple consultations with Julia, Dr Gallagher heard a demonic voice taking over. The voice would say things from Julia’s body such as “leave her alone you ‘—-ing’ priest! You monkey priest – she’s ours!’ The voice would continue for about five minutes and then she would come out of the trance. Julia would then say to him: “What just went on?” 

<span>A voodoo devotee with a skull on top of his head is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirit of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the Cementery of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2017</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/BWpyQndMSprr4rXCKcfhuQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTQwMA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/I8FktC.s.egpZ2pk8Gobng–~B/aD0zMDA7dz00ODA7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_258/d75d992722bf0808064f0eaf556cd717″ style=”border: none; vertical-align: bottom; min-height: 1px; will-change: opacity; animation: fade 0.1s; position: absolute; top: 113.391px; left: 180px; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); width: 360px;”><figcaption class=A voodoo devotee with a skull on top of his head is seen during ceremonies honoring the Haitian voodoo spirit of Baron Samdi and Gede on the Day of the Dead in the Cementery of Cite Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on November 1, 2017 Credit: AFP


Dr Gallagher heard the same voice break into a phone conversation with one of the exorcism team priests. Julia was thousands of miles from his office in New York at the time. Speaking with the priest about Julia’s next exorcism, the doctor explained that because of a scheduling conflict he would not be able to attend. The same voice that had emanated from Julia while she was in a trance now broke into the call, stating: “We told you, she’s ours, you leave her alone!” Dr Gallagher asked the priest on the call if he had heard the voice too, to which the priest replied: “Yes, it’s a dramatic case.”

Julia feared for her life in the Satanic cult and also worried that the cult leader was falling out of love with her because she was aging. And just as a “crazy” person might fear being labelled “possessed”, Julia feared being labelled “crazy” and being admitted to a mental hospital. But her exorcism, consisting of multiple attempts, ultimately failed because she could not leave the cult and continued to worship Satan.

Gallagher number 2

About a year after the last failed attempt at liberation, Julia called one of the team priests and said she wanted to resume the exorcisms because she had cancer and did not want to die demonically possessed. The priest, described by Dr Gallagher as “a very kindly man”, told her that he wanted Dr Gallagher to evaluate her again. Although he believes that Julia always told him the truth, Dr Gallagher requested permission to review medical records from her oncologist. Julia told him that she had to “think about it”. He and the priest never heard from her again and presume that she died.

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