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10 Facts About the Religious History of Exorcism

Many people are fascinated with the notion of exorcism, as seen with the flocks of theatergoers who rushed to see vomit and head spinning in the Exorcist films. With a heavy religious history, have you ever stopped to think where the practice of exorcism originated and evolved? In this article, you will learn a few facts regarding exorcism in the past , and I’m talking about thousands and thousands of years ago.

Did you know that the concept of someone becoming possessed by evil spirits (as well as the practice of exorcism) is rather ancient and more widespread than you think? It is believed to have originated in the Shamanistic beliefs dating back to prehistory.

If you have read the Christian New Testament, did you notice how exorcism is included as one of the miracles that Jesus performed? This passage set a precedent and the notion of demonic possession has become part of the Christian belief system since its start.

To this day, exorcism is still recognized as a legitimate practice within Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant sects.

Did you know that the Church of England has an actual exorcist that acts as an official, which goes on within each diocese?

When it comes to western society, the practice of exorcism has lost a bit of its appeal and use, as it has decreased after the enlightenment. For most religious groups, the practice is simply no longer important.

In the 20th century, a few exorcism cases emerged in Eastern Europe and Africa. However, the most recent and noticeable is that of Anneliese Michel , the inspiration for the movie titled  “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

A lot of cases referred to the Churches for exorcism were actually individuals suffering mental illnesses, where knowledge regarding the human brain and advancements in psychology did not exist.

Exorcism is a ritual that is not viewed as a sacrament (a rite instituted by Christ) in the Roman Catholic Church. When it comes to Catholic exorcism, it is considered one of the most organized and strictest of all the rituals associated with this sort of practice.

According to the Canon law of the church , solemn exorcisms can only become the duty of an ordained priest (or in some cases , a higher prelate). Performers of this practice require the “express permission of the local bishop.” The go-ahead is granted only when a precise medical examination has taken place and it has been concluded that no possibility of mental illness exists.

It is written that the Catholic Church believes in three different kinds of exorcisms. The first is called an “exorcism of the possessed” , laying of the hands on a subject or making the sign of the cross are some of the symbolic actions associated with this practice. Another example is referred to as “baptismal exorcism,” which has been incorporated into the baptismal ceremony.