Father Gabriel Amorth, Vatican Exorcist, Does Battle With the Devil
Locking Horns with the Devil
Some people may think the devil doesn't exist, and that he's just a medieval fairy tale.
Father Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, begs to differ.
At age 88, he still battles the devil every day. In his lifetime, he's performed more than 160,000 exorcisms, according to published reports. Many of these were not full-fledged possessions. A lot of Father Amorth's work has involved reciting a few quick prayers to bring relief to a suffering soul.
However, Father Amorth has encountered some notable cases of complete possession, which he has recorded in his books, An Exorcist Tells His Story and in the sequel, An Exorcist: More Stories.
Throughout his career, he has witnessed incredible examples of demonic manifestations. He's seen victims of possession screaming when he (a Roman Catholic priest) comes into their presence, as well as violent and unnatural movements of the body. He's also seen people talking fluently in languages they were never taught and physical strength that greatly exceeds one's bodily size. Both of these phenomena are signs that devil has gained control of a soul.
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Who is Father Gabriel Amorth?
Father Amorth, born in Modena, Italy, is often referred to as the Vatican's "chief exorcist."
However, he is not afraid to candidly speak to the press and he has written books about his work, including, An Exorcist Tells His Story.
He has been an outspoken critic of the new Rite of Exorcism released in 1999. A number of times, he has gone on record saying these new prayers were ineffective and little more than a "farce," as well as an "incredible obstacle" in fighting the devil and other demons.
The new rite also stipulates that an exorcism can only be performed when there are clear demonic manifestations. However, Father Amorth has argued that, sometimes, this is only known when the exorcism prayers commence.
Oftentimes, the devil will hide behind a mask of physical or psychological illness, according to Father Amorth.
The Vatican's exorcist has also made it clear that he believes that Satan is very powerful nowadays, as marked by an increase of occult practices.
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What Happens During an Exorcism?
In his book, An Exorcist, More Stories, Father Amorth relates the case of a woman named Nadia. She was a married mother of two, but suffered from an assortment of physical problems. Then she found it hard to practice her Catholic faith, despite the fact that, previously, she was very devout.
The doctors she saw were unable to diagnose, let alone treat, her mysterious ailments, which seemed to arise from many parts of her body. Finally, one physician recommended she consult a Catholic priest.
The first priest she saw prayed and encouraged her to pray. She received a little relief, but the priest encouraged her to see an exorcist.
It turns out that Nadia had some people in her life that may have wished to harm her. One was her sister-in-law, who practiced the black arts. This woman had become envious of Nadia when she became a mother to two adopted children. Also, the house she now lived in had a history that suggested it could also be a source of Nadia's problems, as the previous owners were also occultists.
Nadia's case was one of full demonic possession. This became increasingly clear as the formal exorcism commenced.
The exorcist began his work by commanding the demons to leave Nadia's body and head to the foot of the Cross, meaning the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
Later, the Litany of the Saints was recited. Hearing the names of the Apostles and martyrs caused the demons in Nadia's body to become enraged.
One of the demons even spoke to the exorcist, pleading with him for a compromise. He would depart from Nadia if were then allowed to plague six other people. However, this didn't work.
The exorcist instead prayed for these six people, causing the demon to lament that he had nothing left.
Nadia's particular case seems to have been brought on by a curse placed upon her by someone else. Father Amorth has been quoted as saying that this is the most common reason for demonic possession or obsession.
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The Case of a Possessed Religious Brother
Sometimes, noted Father Amorth, the devli can possess someone who is devout in the practice of their faith. In these instances, it may even be a sign of sanctity that God allowed such a trial to afflict an innocent person.
There was a young Italian man named Giancarlo who was a member of a religious order. However, he was plagued by a demonic presence that made him try to commit suicide by jumping out of a window. (Other members in his order prevented him from doing so.) But they didn't stop him from smashing his hands through a glass window and seriously hurting himself.
The bishop of his diocese, as well as a psychiatrist, agreed that he was possessed.
The demonic infestation seemed to suddenly strike him, changing his temperament from mild mannered to one in which he would scream blasphemies and try to harm himself. Sometimes, though, he would appear catatonic and unable to move of speak. During one of these states, someone stuck him repeatedly with the tip of a pin and he didn't flinch or even seem to notice.
Most unfortunately, especially for a religious soul, he also became unable to pray or to worship God in church.
Fortunately, this case was relatively easy to resolve, compared to others, as the victim had great motivation to overcome the devil. This was achieved through weekly exorcisms, as well as monthly exorcisms by Father Amorth.
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The Strange and Sad Case Sonia
In his book An Exorcist: More Stories, Father Amorth relates the case of Sonia, who, unfortunately was not helped by exorcism, despite the fact all signs pointed to a demonic influence.
She was a teen who had partaken in seances and other types of occult practices.
Sonia could not stand the light of day. In fact, she was averse to sunshine and wore dark sunglasses all the time.
If she was caught outdoors without these glasses, she would scream and do everything within her power to get out of the sun.
She didn't far much better in the dark. Her sleep was disrupted by dark spirits she described as "ghosts." Her health also took a turn for the worse, as she was plagued with sudden and unexplained fainting.
Sonia also fell frequently, as if she were pushed by an unseen and malevolent force. Sadly, Sonia's parents tried to find an exorcist, but were told by some members of the clergy that this wouldn't help her.
Father Amorth, however, believed that exorcism prayers might have liberated her.
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Skepticism Regarding Exorcisms
Father Amorth is well aware that many people don't believe in the power of exorcism, even, including some Catholic priests. People who seek help are often dismissed or told not to worry, or referred to a psychiatrist.
In his book, An Exorcist: More Stories, he writes of the hideous struggles of one family in their efforts to seek help from an apparent curse placed upon them by an envious relative.
This started shortly after they had purchased a new home, an event that apparently prompted the malicious behavior. The home was the scene of unexplained and frightening noises, such as loud bangs coming from the windows.
Although the family repeatedly called the police, no natural explanation was found. They also went from priest to priest, trying to find one to bless their home. This type of disbelief in the evil caused by the devil is typical in our modern society, according to Father Amorth.
Eventually, the family did find help, from a priest who recommended exorcism.
The family, however, first invited lay people to pray in their home. But this only seemed to stir up the demons.
Even after an exorcism commended, the manifestations increased. Sometimes the family would find frightening and threatening written messages, left by an unseen hand. This was coupled with the physical torment of their teenage daughter, who complained of abdominal pains, fevers and a host of other maladies.
Although at the time his book went into print, no relief was found, Father Amorth was confident, though, this case will be successfully resolved because of the victims' strong prayer life and devotion to God.
But it exemplifies the trouble many encounter when seeking help with the demonic.
Father Amorth in other media reports has stated that one of the devil's greatest ploys in this modern era is to convince people he doesn't exist.
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