Demonic possession is the most serious matter within the paranormal realm. When an individual is possessed, complete control of one’s own body and mind are manipulated by demons or the Devil himself. While in this phase, the victim will start speaking in tongues, shout blasphemy, be introduced to unknown secrets and in some cases, divulge hidden knowledge. They will suffer from bruises, scratches and bite marks that appear unexpectedly. Before reaching full on possession, there is an obsession stage where the demon begins to torment the victim externally by appearing as an apparition and begins displaying signs of its presence.
In order to evict the demon from the body, a formal exorcism must be performed. Before receiving approval to go forth and perform the exorcism, a priest has to evaluate the circumstances and make sure that the individual isn’t suffering from any physical or psychological illness. In the Catholic faith, an ordained priest performs a series of prayers and uses icons and sacraments. The goal, clearly, is to remove the demon from the body, so the priest specifically uses the names, Jesus, Archangel Michael, as well as the names of Saints.
In today’s society, exorcisms aren’t as mainstream, but they are still necessary. The details of one exorcism performed some 40 years ago are quite unsettling.
Anneliese Michel was born to devout, Catholic parents, Anna and Josef Michel, in Germany on September 21, 1952. Anneliese had an older sister who was born illegitimately. Her mother always felt guilty about how her first born was brought into the world. Unfortunately, her sister passed away at the young age of eight. Supposedly, Anneliese felt as though she needed to pray and repent for her mother’s sin – and so she did.
From those who knew Anneliese, she was very kind and friendly; always singing and dancing, and was a typical high school student. However, that all changed when she turned 16 and experienced her first unexplainable spell. She lost consciousness and complained of a pressure on top of her – like something was holding her down. After a few more episodes, her parents took her to a neurologist who diagnosed her with having epilepsy. She tried to continue with her everyday routine while being on her prescribed medication, but it didn’t seem to be working. However, Anneliese graduated high school and proceeded to college to study education and become a teacher.
In 1973, things took a turn for the worse. Anneliese and her other sisters reported hearing knocking on their bedroom door when no one was there. She also began complaining of hearing voices damning her to hell and giving her commands while she said her prayers. Her parents ceased taking her to the doctor after all her brain scans came back as normal. She had even made a point to tell her doctors that she felt as though the devil was inside of her. It was evident it was something more serious than epilepsy.
Poor Anneliese’s condition deteriorated. She would be found on the floor eating spiders (the demons would “not permit” her to eat regular food), flies and drinking her own urine. Despite barely sleeping, she effortlessly displayed superhuman strength. It was then that her mother called the Catholic priests, Pastor Alt and Father Renz for assistance.
Father Renz performed the first exorcism on September 24, 1975. They allowed their sessions to be recorded for further study. Below, is a link to the audio footage. Anneliese’s voice is unrecognizable, as she speaks in several different languages. It is absolutely terrifying to hear the voice of a demon speak through this innocent young woman.
Anneliese told the priests and her parents that Judas, Nero, Hitler, Cain, Lucifer and others were inside her, tormenting her. Within ten months, Renz and Alt performed 67 exorcisms on her. During the prayers, she had to do a series of genuflects, but at 80 pounds, she eventually became too weak and frail to perform them. It is rumored that her parents stood on either side of her and helped her do them.
Sadly, at the young age of 23 and only weighting 68lbs, Anneliese Michel passed away on July 1, 1976, from malnutrition and dehydration. Anna and Josef Michel as well as the two exorcists, Father Alt and Renz, were charged with negligent homicide. The recording of the exorcism worked for and against them when proving that she was possessed. It was clear that yes, she wasn’t well and not eating – and no one was forcing her to starve, but she also was not provided with intravenous feeding.
The two priests who were trying to save her life were accused of ending it and were sentenced to six months in prison, which was soon reduced to three months along with a fine.
I feel as though during that time, people were in denial and afraid to accept that the devil could possess anyone to that extent. It makes me wonder if the court were to revisit this trial today, if the outcome would have ended differently.
Researching Anneliese and her story saddened me. The only life she ever knew was one of a living hell. It makes you wonder, why her? Why does anyone become possessed? And where is her spirit now? The truth of her story will forever remain a mystery. Although, the next time you watch, “Exorcism of Emily Rose,” think of Anneliese—the movie is loosely based on her story. I pray that she was saved and is in the safety of a higher power.
Contributed by Rachel Pierce