It is the religion of superstition: Even today, the Catholic Church drives out invisible demons in the name of its invented, invisible, God. The business idea of the Catholic Church was adopted by other groups, so-called "churches".

„Now more and more Christians believe in silliness that would have been impossible even for the Gentiles, to whom God is unknown as the Creator.” — ARCHBISHOP AGOBARD OF LYON (around 769-840)

The idea of Christianity is reminiscent of the Zarathustra dualism, which was a thousand years older (approx. 1000 and 600 BC). Zarathustra also taught a religion of two powers, a good one, the god of light, and an evil one, the world of darkness. Both were of equal rank and reputation. When the Roman Catholic Church put their religion together, you wanted to rule yourself and not share power with the devil, so you invented the fall of hell.

„Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a heavy chain in hand. He grabbed the dragon - the old serpent, the devil, Satan - and chained him for a thousand years. The angel threw it into the abyss and sealed and sealed it so that Satan could no longer seduce the people until the end of the thousand years. Then he has to be released again for a short time.” — REVELATION 20, 1—3

In the Apocalypse, Satan — the devil himself — appears on earth at the last judgment himself: „and saw an animal emerge from the sea that had seven heads and ten horns and ten crowns on its horns and names of blasphemy on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a marten and its feet like bear's feet and its mouth like a lion's mouth ... and it was given power to work for forty-two months ...” — REVELATION 13: 1—5

The Dominican Johann Tetzel was declared sub-commissioner general of the Archbishop of Mainz Albrecht II in 1517 for the sermon on indulgences. Every sinner can buy freely from sins that he otherwise had to redeem in purgatory. Which is very advantageous, because after confession there is always a small remnant of the debt. The church wanted to use it to finance the construction of St. Peter's Church in Rome, but as it is, only half of the money raised came to its predetermined place. Tetzel sold: "Indulgence for one's own sin punishment, indulgence for deceased souls in purgatory, indulgence for future sins, i.e. the guarantee that the guilt will be remedied in the event of a future confession."

The devils of Loudun

In 1632 the nuns of the Ursuline convent of Loudun (France) accused the Catholic priest Urbain Grandier of being bewitched by him. The latter had directed an impetuous pamphlet against Richelieu and steadfastly resisted the destruction of the city walls that the latter demanded. At Richelieu's request, a witch trial was instituted against him, numerous exorcisms of the nuns were carried out, and on August 18, 1634 Urbain Grandier was sentenced to death, tortured and burned.

The memoirs of the nun Jeanne des Anges (Madame de Beclier), which first appeared in French in 1866 under the title Autobiographie d'une Hystérique Possédée, provide important information about the events.

Footprints of the devil

The Devil's Footprints were a phenomenon that was observed in the English county of Devon in 1855. After heavy snowfalls, traces appeared in the form of split hooves in the snow, which were supposed to be dead straight over long distances. The imprints got their name because superstitious people spread that they were caused by Satan. There is some theory on this event, also known as the Devonshire mystery. However, the truthfulness of individual facts is questioned.

On the night of February 8-9, 1855, and a few days later, it was snowing heavily in Devon. In the morning, residents found tracks in the snow that resembled split hoof prints. These tracks were 1.5 to 2.5 inches (between 3.8 and 6.3 cm) wide and repeated eight inches (20.3 cm) apart. They stretched in the landscape (added) for an estimated up to 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) and, apart from changing direction at various points, followed a straight course. The ubiquitous traces in the region led across gardens, houses in the way, walls, a haystack and other obstacles. They could be seen on snow-covered roofs. Traces are also believed to have passed through a small drain pipe approximately four inches (10.2 cm) in diameter.

The area where the tracks were found ranged from Exmouth to Topsham and across the River Exe to Dawlish and Teignmouth. In 30 villages, people puzzled over the unusual prints in the snow. Later reports also surfaced that there were fields further south at Totnes and Torquay and that hoof marks were also found at Weymouth in Dorset and even in Lincolnshire. Rumors surfaced of watching a devil-like figure in the Devon district during the horror. A group of people armed themselves and tried unsuccessfully to find the suspect in an animal.

Assumptions today assume that it was traces of spring mice or wood mice that were looking for food in the cold weather.

There are few primary sources of the incident for the reports, but many secondary sources. The only known records of an eyewitness are the papers of the Reverend H. T. Ellacombe, a vicar who lived in Clyst St. George from 1850 until his death in 1885. They were discovered in a parish crate in 1952. There are also some letters to the "Illustrated London News" about the event, which were also published by the magazine.

The first comes from a correspondent who called himself "South Devon" and shaped many elements of the traditional facts. It contains a list of all the places where the traces were sighted. It also claims that the traces were exactly the same size and stride everywhere, two statements that are incorrect. Here the clerk or his informant also spread the trace on a 14-foot wall and on roofs. The writer rejects the idea that thawing and re-freezing may have deformed the traces, and claims that animal traces have remained recognizable. He indicates the length of the track at 100 miles, that its course was straight and that it crossed the Exe at one point. After finding the Ellacombe papers, his identity could be revealed. It was a 19-year-old who later made a career as a museum curator in Exeter.

Another contemporary witness was Reverend G. M. Musgrave with his letters to the "Illustrated London News". He contributed to the discovery of the track leading over a haystack and provided the explanation of a kangaroo as the tracker responsible. Finally, there is a letter from an anonymous author who suspected that an otter had claw marks because it also led through a pipe but was not sure of itself. Only these four sources gave first-hand impressions.

The first newspaper article was printed in 1855 by the Exeter-based newspaper "Western Luminary". Articles then appeared in the "Illustrated London News" and in the "Times". It wasn't until 1890 that "Notes & Queries" corresponded with eyewitnesses who remembered. Finally, reports were published again in 1922. However, this information, which was documented decades later, should be viewed with great caution.

For Christians, the devil is real

In 1896, a pastor from Baltimore greeted parishioners who were not riding bicycles outside: „These bicycles are devilish devices of the demon of darkness. They only serve the purpose of grasping the feet of inattention and scraping the noses of the innocent. They are full of cunning and fraud. If you think you've tamed one and broken its wild satanic nature, you're on the hoof: it will throw you off again and tear a huge hole in your pants.”

Sect Leader Pope Paul VI — CEO of the Catholic Churches — declared on November 15, 1972: „The reality of evil is not just a deficiency, but an effective power, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and perverted itself: a terrible, mysterious and frightening reality ... The demon is the one Number one enemy, he's the tempter par excellence.”

Gottliebin Dittus

Gottliebin Dittus, a young woman from the municipality of Möttlingen (near Bad Liebenzell, Germany), suffered from an "inexplicable" illness: she was plagued by convulsions, foreign voices spoke from her. For two years - in 1842 and 1843 — he accompanied this woman in pastoral care by repeatedly reminding her of God's promises and praying with her. Her suffering ended at Christmas 1843, which Blumhardt later described in a medical report to the church consistory as a "ghost fight". The loud call of the healed "Jesus is victor" becomes the watchword of Johann Christoph Blumhardt. Pastor Blumhardt writes about bleeding, objects protruding from the skin, attempts to commit suicide.

The Protestant pastor Johann Christoph Blumhardt from Württemberg wrote the following report to his superior in 1855: "It started with the vomiting of sand and small pieces of glass. Gradually came all sorts of pieces of iron, especially old and bent board nails, one of which once fell into the sink in front of me after a long choke, as well as shoe buckles of various sizes and shapes, often so large that it was difficult to understand how they could come up the neck ... It often looked as if knitting needles had been pulled right through the head, from ear to ear; and once the single finger-length pieces came out to the ear. Another time I could feel it on the palm of my hand and hear the needles break in my head ... I pulled 2 pins out of my eyes, then 4 again ... I only mention the fact that there are also living animals that I but did not get the chance to see for myself, came from the mouth, once 4 of the largest grasshoppers ... at other times 6-8 bats ... I entered, but a choking haze tried to drive me out again. She was sitting in the middle of the little room, with a bucket in front of her, which was probably half filled with blood and water, and the entire length of the room in front of her and behind her was a broad pool of blood. She was covered with blood all over so that the clothes could hardly be recognized ... the blood trickled lively from both ears, from both eyes from the nose and even from the top of the head. It was the most hideous thing I've ever seen. I really can't resent anyone who becomes suspicious of the above communications." (Blumhardt) At the end of 1843, during the exorcism, "whole hordes of devils, some silent, others under protest" never left the woman's body again. Evangelist Johannes Seitz came out of the same area, Möttlingen, very much with exorcisms of the devil forth. He took action in Teichwolframsdorf.


Obsession refers to the "taking possession" of a living being, the behavior of the person concerned, the being "retracted" into the person or supernatural powers, which is shown in a pronounced state of arousal. The change in behavior and consciousness is attributed in some religious communities and beliefs to the penetration of a demon, a spirit or a deity. Obsession describes obsessed as rooted in popular belief "ruled by evil spirits, insane", or more generally "fulfilled by something completely mastered".

The belief in the devil was widespread in the Middle Ages. The incubus is said to have brutally raped sleeping women. The female counterpart is the succubus, which perpetrates on men. Today we know that this is only hypnagogy, in which the body is paralyzed in the sleep or wake-up phase, but the brain is already dreaming.

First of all, something about the definition of terms. In the Lexicon for Theology and Church (1958), the Catholic theologian Thum said: "Obsession in the broader sense consists in being seized by supernatural forces, which limits or abolishes the power to dispose of one's own psychological functions".

Sigmund Freud called the obsession: "The demons are our evil, rejected desires, descendants of rejected, repressed impulses."


In religions, exorcism is the practice of "driving out" demons or the devil, which are suspected in humans, animals, places or things. Exorcism, also called liberation service, exorcism or exorcism. If people or animals are considered affected, this is called obsession. The interpretation of this state depends on the respective culture.

The exorcist, i. H. the person carrying out the exorcism should enter into direct communication with the unwanted spirit or demon and try to bring about the liberation or reintegration of the "possessed" by removing it. The externally recognizable form of exorcism ranges from intellectual dialogue through prayer to dance in a trance state.

In the early days of Christianity, belief in demons and the need for exorcisms was widespread, partly adopted from pagan, especially shamanic, tradition and firmly rooted in popular belief.

Catholic exorcists today distinguish between obsession (or infestation or obsession) on the one hand and religious hysteria and various mental illnesses on the other. Exorcism should only apply to obsession and its gradations. It is conceded that a man possessed can also show signs of mental illness.

As a result of the liturgical reform initiated by the Council of Trent, Pope Paul V published the Roman Ritual in 1614, which, in addition to some formulas of baptism exorcism, also contained a rite for the exorcism of possessed people ("great exorcism").

The Vatican offers exorcism courses and held the first international exorcism conference in Mexico in 2004. During a general audience in St. Peter's Square on September 15, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI turned to the participants in the National Congress of Italian Exorcists and encouraged them to "continue their valuable service to the Church". Under his predecessor, John Paul II, around 200 priests were appointed exorcists in Italy in 2003. In 2005, a woman, the Catholic theologian Alexandra von Teuffenbach, took part in the exorcist training for the first time. The training is intended to lead the "prayer for liberation" in an orderly fashion and to be carried out only by psychologically and spiritually experienced people.

At the beginning of July 2014, the Roman Catholic Church officially recognized the international association of exorcists (AIE), which is represented in around 30 countries, as a private, legally competent society.

Since the revision of the so-called Roman Ritual in 1999, it has been mandatory that priests should also consult physicians and psychiatrists for the assessment. Catholic theologian and psychotherapist Jörg Müller also reports that many patients need to be "cured of demonic obsession and evil curses". The majority are "traumatized from childhood due to sexual, physical or emotional abuse. This is mostly suppressed and can later produce symptoms that can be attributed to some obsession". Today, however, it would be known that "this is a form of splitting off sensations and feelings to protect yourself". A split "later leads to the well-known symptoms such as hearing voices, seeing grimaces or feeling touched by something strange". Trance and obsession states were nevertheless recognized in the ICD-10 as mental illnesses and coded under F44.3.

Christa Roth-Sackenheim, chairwoman of the professional association of German psychiatrists, considers exorcistic rituals to be pure suggestion, because it creates the idea of obsession and may even increase the suffering of those affected. "Manifest human illnesses cannot be resolved or cured through exorcism. However, it can get worse if medical help is not done".

In principle, a major exorcism may only be carried out with the permission of the diocesan bishop from an exorcist appointed for this purpose. The doctor is obliged to first check whether there is a demonic obsession or not a mental illness, and should discuss this with doctors and psychiatrists if in doubt.

The term exorcism comes from the Latin "exorcizo", which means "to conjure up" or to "free" (from evil spirits). Closely related to Latin exorcism, which means "evocation of the evil spirits". In Greek, the term ex-orkizein means ward off demons (but originally ep-orkizein: summon demons).

In modern medicine as well as clinical psychology and psychiatry, the corresponding behavior of a "possessed" is regarded as a symptom of an organic illness or a mental disorder.

Exorcism [from the Greek ex-orkizein, ward off demons. originally derived from ep-orcizein, the calling of demons] is the ecclesiastical answer to cases of possession. Exorcism is another modern term for exorcism. A ceremony to expel the satanic powers, the forces of evil, be it from a place or an possessed person. The "Rituale Romanum" from 1614, which was kept under lock and key by the church, forms the basis for an exorcism. It contains the form and the wording of a "Great Exorcism", which may only be carried out with episcopal permission. There are several reasons for exorcism. These include the above-mentioned transfiguration, xenoglossia, speaking in a language that the possessed person did not learn, levitation, the floating of the body of the incorporated person. According to canon law, the Pope is the most powerful exorcist.

Around 300 officially appointed exorcists (exorcists) are in the service of the Catholic Church worldwide. They are men of "profound education and iron health". They include Don Gabriele Amorth, the full-time exorcist of the diocese of Rome, the top exorcist of the devil. According to Amorth, he has carried out 40,000 expulsions and still holds 12 to 15 sessions a day, always following the iron rules of the Roman Ritual from 1614. Women between 17 and 25 are particularly susceptible to obsession. An expulsion can take up to several months or even years. Amorth wrote in his book An Exorcist Telling About Exorcisms. Amorth's predecessor, the Satanologist Father Corrado Balducci, counted almost 1.8 billion devils of all kinds, including the "devil of man" Adolf Hitler.

Roman Rituals

The Roman Ritual is the liturgical book of celebrations based on the Roman rite of the Catholic Church, which is usually directed by a priest. The ritual includes liturgical forms for baptism, marriage and also exorcism.

In the Rituale Romanum the priest finds clues as to how to recognize an "obsession with the devil": "With changing expressions speak different languages or understand the people who speak them; reveal distant or hidden things; show powers that are greater than that Age or constitution of the person appropriate; other similar phenomena, which are stronger indications in larger numbers". (Paul V, Benedict XIV .: Roman Rituals, Rome 1880, page 304)

Exorcism of Anneliese Michel

The "exorcism of Klingenberg" and the associated death of the German student Anneliese Michel (actually Anna Elisabeth Michel, born September 21, 1952 in Leiblfing, † July 1, 1976 in Klingenberg am Main) caused a sensation, with which the parents refused medical advice and let two Roman Catholic priests carry out the great exorcism a total of 67 times. The trial attracted international attention. Although the parents and the actual exorcists were convicted, the cases against those responsible, such as the bishop who ordered the exorcism and the ecclesiastical "expert", were discontinued.

Anneliese Michel came from a strictly Catholic family and a similar milieu in the wine town of Klingenberg on the Bavarian-Franconian Untermain.

Her father Josef Michel came from a long-established Klingenberg family of citizens and craftsmen. At the request of his deeply religious mother, whose three sisters were nuns, he should have become a priest. But he did a three-year apprenticeship as a carpenter in his parents' company and passed the master craftsman exam in 1948 to take over the family business. The father's belief and world view were shaped by the Fátima prophecies, the Bavarian medium Alois Irlmaier, the seer Barbara Weigand and other contents of conservative tendencies within Catholicism.

Anneliese's mother Anna Michel worked in her father's office in Leiblfing when she met Josef Michel. The connection of the two was arranged by Anneliese's paternal grandmother, who used the help of the Diocese of Würzburg. Annemarie's mother brought into the relationship a daughter born in 1948, who died of a kidney tumor in 1956, but was not given a place in the family grave as an extramarital child, but was buried in a separate grave at the cemetery wall. Anna and Josef Michel married in 1950.

Anneliese was born on September 21, 1952 as the second child of her mother and the first child of the married couple Michel. Her three younger sisters were born in 1954, 1956 and 1957. She was often sickly as a toddler.

From 1959 she attended the elementary school in Klingenberg, she switched to the 6th grade at the Karl Theodor von Dalberg high school in Aschaffenburg. Even then she was strongly religious: Anneliese Michel went to mass several times a week, regularly prayed rosaries and occasionally slept on the floor to atone for others. She was described by her environment as friendly and sociable, but also serious and introverted. She also showed continued piety to the outside world and held religious talks as persuasive work.

In September 1968, Anneliese suffered her first seizure. The next attack followed in August 1969 and prompted a neurological examination. The diagnosis "cerebral seizure disorder" was made on the basis of an electroencephalogram (EEG). A short time later she developed pneumonia and tuberculosis. During her six-month stay in a lung sanatorium in Allgäu from March to August 1970, multiple epilepsy-like seizures were also documented. According to an author, she said that devilish faces appeared to her for the first time and voices were heard. After returning from the sanatorium, she had to switch to a new school class due to the lack of teaching time. As a result, she became increasingly lonely and suffered from depression; school performance decreased significantly.

Annelieses puberty was characterized by the strict parental home: Her mother prohibited Anneliese at 16 years of age from dealing with her first boyfriend, dancing and visiting friends because of strict moral standards.

In spring 1973 Anneliese is said to have complained for the first time of constant knocking in the closet, under the floor and above the ceiling; in addition, voices would have spoken to her from hell. In any case, in September 1973, she also described these impressions to a doctor who interpreted this as a beginning paranoid psychosis. In the same year, she passed her A-levels, accompanied by great fears of failure.

In the winter semester of 1973 she began her studies at the University of Education in Würzburg, which is why she moved to the Ferdinandeum, the Catholic dormitory of the University of Education, in November of the same year. In Würzburg she went to the University Nerve and Polyclinic for treatment in November 1973. During the examination, she stated that she had suffered from almost daily seizures in the form of absences since 1972. There the diagnosis of "neurotic depression with a developmental character" was made, the finding of epilepsy was also supported by a new EEG. At another EEG in spring 1974, there was still an indication of brain damage in the left temple area, which was very likely the starting point of the seizures.

In November 1975, Anneliese successfully passed her exam to obtain a church teaching license. She submitted her state examination thesis entitled The reappraisal of fear as a religious education task in May 1976; at that time, however, she was no longer able to work properly in terms of health.

From autumn 1970 until shortly before her death, Anneliese Michel was prescribed medication to prevent the nervous system from cramping. At times this went hand in hand with an improvement in her condition. However, it is unclear whether Anneliese took the medication properly and regularly over the entire period. There are considerable doubts about this, since the prescribed quantities were often too small in relation to the actual demand.

After Anneliese had suffered from epilepsy-like seizures for several years and also complained about demonic perceptions, the head of a pilgrimage in the Marian pilgrimage site San Damiano (located south of Piacenza in northern Italy), which was not recognized by the Catholic Church, believed that Anneliese recognized spiritual problems: As Anneliese took part in such a trip for the first time in the summer of 1973 under the guidance of the pilgrim leader, according to her testimony there she was said to have shown a particular aversion to all objects serving the worship of religion. At the instigation of the pilgrim leader, Anneliese introduced herself to a priest from Aschaffenburg, who, however, saw no evidence of an obsession. However, the chaplain there made contact with the priest Ernst Alt, who was pastor in Ettleben at the time. After Anneliese made contact with him, he referred her to medical help again. Since the pilgrim leader still did not believe in a medical explanation, she made contact with Father Adolf Rodewyk, who, based on the descriptions, believed that there was evidence of an obsession. As the author of two standard works in the theological subject of demonology, Jesuit Rodewyk was considered the undisputed expert in obsession and expulsion in Catholic circles. In addition, he had often prayed the great exorcism and was theological advisor to the German Bishops' Conference in the field of demonology.

From autumn 1973, Alt met Anneliese Michel first every two weeks, later once a month until November 1974. As part of the talks, Alt made the spiritual diagnosis of "obsession" in September 1974, in which demons had not yet taken possession of the person concerned, but only possessed it press, and asked Anneliese to choose a soul leader in order to lead an orderly religious life. Anneliese then decided on Alt. The diagnosis was not inconvenient for Anneliese and her parents, since there was no acceptance for a medical explanation of her suffering; rather one sought refuge in a religious interpretation of the symptoms.

On July 1, 1975, Alt spoke about her first exorcism (a so-called exorcism probativus), to which, according to the observers, she reacted by tearing the rosary. It was around this time that Anneliese retired to her parents' house for the first time because the seizures and the weight loss that had occurred in the meantime made her too weak to continue her studies. At the request of Alts, the Bishop of Würzburg, Josef Stangl, agreed for the first time to a small exorcism that was carried out on August 3, 1975. From this point on Annelieses' state of mind deteriorated rapidly: she found little sleep, suffered from a strong urge to move, screamed and raged, began to fast, but ate insects and drank urine. According to his own statements, Alt advised admission to a psychiatric clinic at this time, which was unacceptable for Anneliese and her parents. Parents in particular feared that this would prevent her career as a teacher.

At the beginning of September 1975, Rodewyk visited Anneliese and prepared an expert report for Stangl in which he recommended that the great exorcism be held. Arnold Renz, who agreed, was chosen as an exorcist. At that time he was a pastor in Schippach (Elsenfeld parish) and religious of the Salvatorians. At that time Renz had attained a certain level of awareness in church circles because he worked intensively for the beatification of the "seer" Barbara Weigand, who died in Schippach.

On September 16, 1975, Bishop Josef Stangl finally ordered the great exorcism according to the Roman Ritual. While exorcisms are generally intended to serve as protection against evil, great exorcism is intended as a rite for exorcism of the possessed. In total, from the first great exorcism on September 24, 1975 until the death of Annelieses in early July 1976, 67 exorcistic sessions were carried out according to the great rite, with Renz running a tape recorder from the second session. The tapes show that Anneliese spoke in a very different voice and kept making spontaneous screams. She used grossly filthy expressions that the exorcists attributed to demons. The exorcists claimed to have determined Anneliese's obsession with the demon Lucifer and the "human demons" Judas, Nero, Cain, Hitler and Fleischmann. Valentin Fleischmann is a priest. He worked in the municipality of Ettleben from 1572 to 1575 and was thus a predecessor of Alt. Fleischmann is said to have had four children and to have been a murderer.

As the reason for the obsession, Renz stated that Anneliese had communicated through a demon that she had an atonement obsession to save other people from hell. The reason for this is again a curse that a former neighbor of the mother Annelieses had pronounced on Anneliese Michel before she was born.

In the phases in which Anneliese continued her studies, she commuted between Würzburg and Klingenberg in order to be able to largely pursue studies and exports. She managed to do this without paying much attention because the circle of people initiated into exorcism was deliberately kept very small. This happened because Anneliese and her family understood Renz that Bishop Stangl had ordered that no information about the exorcism should be passed on to third parties. Anneliese went so far that she largely limited her seizures to times when only initiates were present, so that the circle of trust could be preserved.

At the beginning of Lent on March 3, 1976 (Ash Wednesday), Anneliese stopped eating completely. She claimed that voices forbade her to eat. From this point on, the mental and physical condition deteriorated dramatically. In addition, she tortured herself, for example by kneeling for hours or banging her head on the floor. From mid-April 1976 Anneliese could no longer leave the bed in Würzburg. In order to shield her nonetheless, her eldest sister came to the dorm. Friends from a rosary prayer group reported from that time that the sister had prevented the call of a doctor by referring to other medical care. Initiated girlfriends were also sworn to the bishop's alleged secrecy.

As of May, it was no longer viable for Anneliese to remain in Würzburg. Alt picked her up and brought her first to his parish in Ettleben and then to his parents' house in Klingenberg. From this point onwards, according to Alt and Renz, she increased her physical expenditure again: 500 to 600 squats a day, turning around, biting, scratching and self-harm were now the daily rule. Anneliese suffered serious injuries in various ways, according to the statements of those present. For example, she tried to bite holes in the wall, breaking off a tooth.

In the last weeks of her life, Anneliese was temporarily tied to the bed to prevent further injuries. In this period until her death, she believed that she recognized the stigmata of Jesus Christ. So Anneliese had sore feet because she was wearing shoes that were too small at that time when she was walking around the house. The body also had open pressure sores above the knees due to prolonged kneeling. Anneliese was convinced that "the act of grace of the stigmata" was also given to her hands, but they were not visible: the Savior did not let them open at her request so that she could complete her examination work. In all likelihood, all visible injuries were due to self-flagellation or uncontrolled actions during spontaneous seizures. The injuries are documented in many photos.

On June 30, 1976, the last time exorcism was carried out on Anneliese. She died on July 1, 1976 of complications from poor nutritional status and severe emaciation. During the autopsy carried out on the day of death, pneumonia was also found, which had further worsened her condition in the final phase. A pathological change in the temporal lobe area could not be determined, but this is not in evidence that she had no epilepsy. When she died, she weighed only 31 kg with a height of 1.66 m.

The public prosecutor's office at the district court in Aschaffenburg opened the investigation into the unknown cause of Annelieses' death on her day of death. The reason for this was a call from Alt directly to the investigative authorities. He announced that a young woman had died who had been exorcised for a few months. As a result, the body was autopsied on the same day on orders from the public prosecutor.

The criminal police entrusted with the investigation by the public prosecutor's office extended the criminal investigation to suspect negligent killing of Annelieses' parents as well as Alt, Renz and Stangl. The procedure was later extended to Rodewyk.

The prosecution closed the investigation against Stangl and Rodewyk in July 1977 on the grounds that neither of them had any real contact with the victim and could therefore have had no precise knowledge of his state of health, which excludes criminal liability.

On February 25, 1978, the deceased were exhumed in the cemetery of Klingenberg in a temporal but not factual connection with the judicial proceedings. To justify the step, Annelieses' parents stated that the body should be transferred from the wooden child's coffin used for burial to an oak coffin lined with zinc. In the background was probably also the claim of a lay nurse that Anneliese Michel had appeared to her and had announced that her body was not vestibular, thereby demonstrating the supernatural nature of the event. The mayor of Klingenberg, the head of the funeral home and his helpers, a representative of the district office and two police officers were present at the opening of the coffin in the morgue of the cemetery. None of the accused was present when the coffin was opened. Renz claimed that the police had prevented him from entering the mortuary. The other participants testified that he only walked a few steps to the morgue, but then voluntarily reversed. They also confirmed that the decay was appropriate to the time frame. Alt was in the vicinity of the cemetery, but from the beginning doubted the veracity of the visions of the Allgäu religious. The visionary lay sister was the director of a children's home in the Allgäu. After Renz had to withdraw from his former rectory, he was quartered in this children's home for a while. one can only speculate about a connection; in any case, this was not a public topic at the time.

After the indictment was received by the court in July 1977, the proceedings against the four defendants began on March 30, 1978 before the Aschaffenburg Regional Court, which became known worldwide as the Aschaffenburg exorcism trial and attracted a great deal of attention. Numerous foreign media submitted applications for filming permits. The Vatican also closely observed the proceedings: the trial fears that the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany was violating the protection of confessional secrecy guaranteed in the Imperial Concordat, since the public prosecutor's office in Renz and Alt had received the tapes of the exorcisms as well as the extensive correspondence with Bishop Stangl.

At the request of the public prosecutor, the expert appointed by the court of the University of Würzburg's mental hospital found that Anneliese had an epileptic seizure disorder. Due to the drug treatment, the disease had sought another form of expression and had become a paranoid psychosis. This is also confirmed by the tapes of the exorcism sessions. It is an experience fact that epilepsy patients can often have exaggerated or pathological religious attitudes as well as depressive and paranoid phases. The deterioration in health from April 1976 was due to auto suggestion as a result of a permanent loss of control. According to the expert, other causes of this serious, complex clinical picture were an undiagnosed, extreme form of anorexia, which had ultimately led to death from starvation.

Annelieses death, according to the expert, could have been prevented by consulting a doctor in good time, later by medical and psychotherapeutic treatment, most recently by inducing force-feeding, which was required from April 1976 at the latest. At this point, an instruction under the Bavarian Custody Act would have been possible, since Anneliese had endangered herself to the greatest extent and no longer because of her mental illness was able to make a decision so far-reaching and necessary for her survival.

At the request of the defenders of the two clergymen, the court appointed two more experts from the Ulm University psychiatry, including Eberhard Lungershausen, who came to essentially the same results. They only disagreed with the first assessor regarding the diagnosis of brain damage. In addition, the two authors of the second report suspected unrecognized, untreated severe schizophrenia as a component of the disease.

An assessment was also carried out with regard to the accused. The first assessor found that all four of the accused had a strong religiousness, which led to the subjective perception that Anneliese could only be saved by divine help. The accused priests acted on the basis of their religious beliefs; this had arisen on the ground of naive — if not primitive — religious beliefs.

The second reviewers came to the conclusion that the conclusions of the first reviewer were also correct with regard to the accused. They also diagnosed brain calcification at Renz. With regard to old, they explained that this should be described as psychologically abnormal. This was concretized in such a way that the possibility of a psychosis of the schizophrenic form was obvious to him, but without the symptom finding proving symptoms.

In her defense, Anneliese's parents claimed that they had entrusted the fate and life of their daughter to the Church and acting priests. Renz, in turn, blamed responsibility on the parents. Medical care and nutrition are not the responsibility of an exorcist. The parents should have done everything necessary. All of the defendants also pointed out that Rodewyk had assured them that no one had yet died during an exorcism.

The Michel spouses used, among other things, the lawyer Erich Schmidt-Leichner as a defense lawyer, who had gained media recognition in the 1960s through his work as an election defender in German war crimes trials.

In the end, on April 19, 1978, the public prosecutor's office requested that the accused be punished for "negligent homicide killing". The clergy should be fined 120 daily rates; no penalty was imposed on the parents, since they would have had to bear the loss of their daughter hard enough. The defendants' defense lawyers all requested their acquittal.

The court went far beyond the prosecutor's application and on April 21, 1978, both the parents and the two exorcists Renz and Alt were each sentenced to six months' imprisonment, which were suspended for three years. The court accused the defendants of providing medical help and consulting a doctor. In favor of the accused, the court saw a considerable reduction in the ability to inspect, since they "believed in the personal existence of the devil inevitably", which in the sense of Section 21 of the Criminal Code led to a reduced liability. In the oral reasoning of the judgment, the court is said to have said: "Anneliese Michel was not possessed. She had been mentally ill since May 1, 1976."

In legal circles, the verdict was largely approved. A few critical voices criticized the fact that the court had inadmissibly assessed questions of belief with the decision. For example, the magistrate and author Harald Grochtmann was offended by the fact that the decision to believe in the devil led to a reduced liability. It is difficult to assume that all Christians who fully follow the doctrine of their respective church can assume that they may therefore be less guilty.

All four defendants initially appealed against the decision, but then withdrew the requests for revision, which is why the judgment became final. In the view of those involved, the judgment on the matter was solely a matter for God, and secular courts were not competent. In fact, at least the clergymen were also guided by legal considerations in their decision: According to an assessment by the Würzburg diocese, a revision was said to have had no prospect of success.

Due to the findings in the judicial proceedings, scientific-medical interpretations predominate. According to the statements of all treating doctors, depending on the count, five to six documented large epileptic seizures between 1968 and 1972 required the diagnosis of epilepsy, which has been confirmed in a total of nine neurological examinations since 1969. Even the judicial The experts appointed, taking into account the treatment files of the attending doctors and the sound recordings of the exorcisms, also came to the conclusion that Anneliese undoubtedly suffered from epilepsy. With illnesses of this kind, however, it is not uncommon for very stressed, exaggerated and pathologically religious attitudes to arise, over which Anneliese finally lost control in summer 1975. As a result, severe psychogenic psychosis developed in Anneliese.

In summary, the medical diagnosis of the events is: "Paranoid-hallucinatory psychosis in epilepsy against the background of special psychosocial factors, whereby a psychogenic identification of pathological nature with the role of possessed was given."

The Protestant theologian and cultural scientist Uwe Wolff largely agrees with the judges. He is less interested in the scientific and medical explanation than the question: Why did Anneliese Michel get sick? In response, he offers Anneliese's strictly Catholic upbringing, which was paternal and authoritarian, but above all morally overwhelming and fearful. In contrast to the majority of her generation, she could not simply get rid of her upbringing and provocation. Only one role in the world of their hometown offered the possibility of liberation: that of the possessed. As possessed, she was able to insult Catholic, her parents and the surrounding culture without having to expect punishment. Wolff explains the extremely traditionalist statements made during exorcisms, for example against hand communion, as suggestively caused by Alt and Renz.

At the same time, Wolff gives a second explanation, which is somewhat contrary to the first. Accordingly, it was precisely her deep roots in Catholic piety that caused Anneliese's mistrust of the help of the doctors. Because none of the doctors was able to give her an interpretation of her suffering. Religion is quite different; here she could understand her suffering as a vicarious atonement that would shorten purgatory fire or even avoid hell. On the other hand, the Catholic Church had forbidden her from repeatedly contemplating suicide - this, as deadly sin, had just destroyed the meaning of atonement. As a result, the only option left was death due to the already existing suffering. Therefore, she gradually starved herself to death from Easter 1976.

Herbert Haag, the theologian and chair holder of the Catholic Faculty of the University of Freiburg, also sees Anneliese as a relationship between her as an obsessed and the exorcist, according to a psychological control cycle. With his incantations, Renz reacted to Anneliese's expectations, whereby her physical and mental stress increased so much that her inner resistance broke and she could only explain her illness, which she did not understand, in a religious delusion.

On April 28, 1978, Joseph Cardinal Höffner, then chairman of the German Bishops' Conference and thus the highest representative of the Catholic Church in Germany, claimed in the press release on the Klingenberg case that there was a basic possibility of demonic possession. To this end, he referred to the uninterrupted doctrine of the Church about the invisible beings created by God, called angels. Some had freely turned against God as the author of all good and had thereby become evil. Such evil spirits, also called demons, tried in many forms to exert an ominous influence on the world and people, with one possible manifestation being obsession.

In a 2005 Episcopal Conference statement, the Catholic Church acknowledged that Annelieses' cause of death was indirectly the result of the great exorcism itself. No position was taken on the question of their possible obsession.

Alt justified his behavior decades after the event. So he wrote ten years after Anneliese Michel's death: "I cannot say that demons are over-excited imaginations! I cannot say that there is no hell. I cannot say that Klingenberg is ticked off; Anneliese Michel was insane!" Thirty years after the events, he wrote: "The mission is: drive out the demons (Mt 10.8 EU)! If we don't, what will happen to the church and the world?"

In the revised version of the 1999 exorcism rite, the term exorcism instead of liturgy for liberation from evil is still used in the title, but the new rite cancels an exorcism if the person concerned refuses to consult a doctor. In the practice of exorcism, the Roman catholic church to this day.

In honor of Annelieses, her father had a small chapel built and consecrated on his private property in the immediate vicinity of the cemetery after her death. The parents received pilgrims there during their lifetime who worshiped Anneliese Michel like a saint. After the death of Anneliese's mother in 2012, the chapel was closed.

Imprisonment for Frankfurt exorcism

In February 2017, another court judgment was issued in a deadly exorcism. A South Korean family was charged.

In a room of the Frankfurt Intercontinental hotel (Germany), the cousin carried out an exorcism (exorcism) with fatal results with relatives on the victim.

The victim, a 41-year-old woman, was found dead in a room in December 2015.

During the exorcism, the 44-year-old cousin first put a towel in the victim's mouth and later a hanger, on which the woman suffocated painfully.

"Above all, the wipe should be used to prevent the victim's cries from getting outside," said Judge Erlbruch. "Without their crucial role, the terrible event would not have happened".

According to the juvenile penal chamber, the 44-year-old main accused was primarily responsible for the crime. "She was the adult in the group and determined what happened," said the presiding judge Ulrich Erlbruch. "In addition, after two previous exorcisms, she had the relevant experience and, as a trained nurse, also had to be aware of the danger of her trade."

The presiding judge said at the start of the trial that the media's image of the accused as a "cruel torturer" had proven to be incorrect.

In the verdict against the five Korean defendants, the Frankfurt Regional Court, with six years in prison for the 44-year-old main defendant and cousin of the victim, fell far short of the prosecutor's request. The four co-accused members of the South Korean family were sentenced to suspended terms of between one and a half and two years. The court cited the "religious, spiritual blindness" as the reason.

The accused acted out of a spiritual belief and believed that they could free their 41-year-old relative from a demon. The judge spoke of an "emotionally extraordinary dynamic event with tragic features".

The prosecutor's office had gone back from the original allegation of joint murder to death.

The prosecutor's office had ordered eight years in prison for the main suspect. The woman "presumed to decide about the life and death of others", said prosecutor Nadja Böttinger in her plea. However, she no longer assumed an intent to kill and demanded a conviction for bodily harm resulting in death.

The indictment had claimed four years in prison for the 22-year-old co-accused and three years in prison for his 19-year-old sister. In the case of the two youngest of the five accused from Korea, aged 16 at the age of 16 - including the victim's son — the public prosecutor's office had given two years' probation on probation.

The Koreans came to Germany in autumn 2015 to open a restaurant here. In their apartment building in Sulzbach in Hesse, they felt chased by the devil and demons, and finally they moved to the Frankfurt hotel. There the deadly exorcism of the devil occurred already on the first night.

The defense lawyers had given four suspended sentences and an acquittal for the victim's 16-year-old son.

Exorcism by priests instead of psychiatrists

The practice of exorcism belongs to the Middle Ages, where one had never heard of epilepsy, dissociative disorders, schizophrenia. In today's world, exorcists should stay away from "possessed" people and leave the field to a trained psychotherapist. Exorcisms do more harm than they help.


In psychiatry, hysteria is a neurotic disorder that is associated, among other things, with superficial, unstable affectivity and a high need for validity and recognition. The term is now obsolete and is now called dissociative disorder.

Hysteria is a neurosis in which the need for validity, egocentrism and a need for recognition are in the foreground, but also does not have a uniform clinical picture.

The symptoms are varied and range from physical complaints such as walking disorders, movement storm, paralysis, feeling disorder to blindness and numb skin.


Schizophrenia (dementia praecox) is a group of severe mental disorders with a similar pattern of symptoms.

Often voices that are not really available are heard, so-called hear the time. The delusion of being persecuted, spied on, or controlled can occur. It can also lead to thoughts, withdrawal or input of thoughts. Persistent hallucinations of any sensory modality are possible. Social withdrawal, lack of drive and lack of motivation, emotional flattening and joylessness can often be observed.

In Europe, about 0.5 to 1% of the population suffer from schizophrenia. The risk of illness is equally high for men and women, although men appear to get ill at an earlier age. Although diseases from the schizophrenic form have been described since antiquity, no clear cause for them has yet been determined. Today one assumes a combination of several factors.

In the population, schizophrenia is often confused with other diseases, especially with a "split personality" (dissociative identity disorder).

The layperson can recognize psychotic schizophrenia by the symptoms of a delusion: the schizophrenic then has an argumentatively unassailable belief that he is involved in events that are incomprehensible to others, that are illogical or that contradict the laws of nature. For example, the person concerned concludes that they are being watched by extraterrestrials, or he hears voices that give him instructions. In the course of a persecution frenzy, the sick person can come to the irrefutable belief that others want to harm him (e.g. the neighbor, the government, etc.).

Multiple personality disorder (MPS)

Multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder (DIS) is a dissociative disorder that affects the perception, memory and experience of one's own identity. It is considered the most difficult form of dissociation. The patients have alternating, different ideas about themselves, whereby apparently different personalities emerge, who take control of the behavior alternately. Those affected can either not remember or only vaguely remember the actions of the "other personality (s)" or experience it as the actions of a stranger. Consequences are depression, anxiety, psychosomatic physical complaints, self-harm, eating disorders, addictions and relationship problems.

A good example is the movie "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".

Canadian psychiatrist Colin Ross is one of the pioneers in MPS research: "Every normal, highly susceptible psyche has the ability to create amnestic barriers ..... MPS is a healthy, reasonable disorder that arises from the abilities of the normal psyche. .. MPS is not a fantastic curiosity where there is more than one person in the same body, there is only one person - an abuse survivor - who imagined there were other people inside to survive, this is one the adaptive use of human imagination, which at least appears to be rudimentary in a large part of the population, because sexual and physical abuse is so common in childhood and the ability to create other personality traits is so common, MPS should be anything but be rare."

Other symptoms are, for example, that you sometimes find yourself in completely different places and do not know how to get there. "There are clothes hanging in the closet, the origin of which I do not know. Often it completely contradicts my own taste. Sometimes people tell me about things that I should have done / said and I cannot remember them. My skills change a lot. Something , which I have just mastered perfectly, seems to have disappeared in the next moment. In my diary I discover different manuscripts, although only I write in them".

The exorcist

In 1973, the American horror film The Exorcist was released. The film is based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, of which the paperback copies were sold more than 11.8 million times. The bestseller was on the "New York Times" bestseller list for 55 weeks and was translated into 18 languages. Blatty received the inspiration for the novel from a newspaper report in the Washington Post in 1949, where a Catholic priest is said to have exorcised a 14-year-old boy. Blatty also wrote the screenplay for the film. The film was released in the United States on December 26, 1973.

The press overturned and called the film the "Terror Film of the Century" (Daily Express) or the "Summit of Madness and Blasphemy" (Washington Post). To make Satan acoustically present, the screeching of pigs was recorded during their slaughter.

Many waited up to four hours to watch the film. Others fought for an admission ticket. In New York, up to $50 was paid on the Scharzmarkt for an admission ticket, and cinema personnel were offered bribes of up to $100.

In Los Angeles, cars were no longer allowed to park on the street in front of the cinema so that the ambulances had free access. Cinema owner Harry Fracis from Los Angeles said: "I've been in the business for 47 years, but I've never seen anything like it": during each performance, three to four spectators fainted, others tried to escape. In New York, heart attacks, vomiting, and even miscarriage can occur in cinemas (New York Times).

In Germany, the commercial for film on West German, Hessian and Bavarian broadcasting on film was weakened. The WDR and BR managers raged: "Pastor in advertising does not work." and the despairing "mother! mother!" cries of the girl were too blatant for the German television audience.

Before the exorcist came to the cinemas in Germany, the mayor of Aachen received a bomb threat to prevent the "godless film" from being screened.

Conclusion on exorcism

The Roman Catholic Church continues to hold onto her fantasies of invisible gods and demons and exorcism (the exorcism of the devil). Even the German legislature sees no reason to end this activity.

The events, also known as the "exorcism of Klingenberg", changed little the practice of exorcism within the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. In order to be able to continue to record the practices of exorcism, exorcisms may only be carried out if medical care is also guaranteed.

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