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What is an Exorcism? Part I

Exorcism deals with the religious removal of demons or other spirits thought responsible of a possession of a person or place. The kind of spiritual beliefs of the exorcist will determine the approach. The kind of exorcisms that make headlines have involves an elaborate ritual, while others may aim at getting the entity to swear an oath. An exorcist may also command the demon or spirit to leave in the name of a higher power.

The term, exorcism, dates back before early Christian days and was highly used starting in the beginning of the 2nd century, where they embraced the concept of casting out demons. The practice is ancient and has found a place in many different cultures and religions.

For example, Islam refers to exorcism as ruqya, which is used to “to repair the damage caused by witchcraft (also known as sihr). The process uses the recitation of specific verses from the Quran that glorify God, and also involves invoking the help of God. Sometimes, daily prayers are read in an attempt to repel the unseen beings that are not positive.

Real Life Examples of Exorcism

The movie industry has touched upon the subject of exorcism , many times using real life accounts as a basis for their plot. One of the most infamous films centered on exorcism (called The Exorcist) was based upon a horror novel and film written by William Peter Blatty that was inspired by the 1949 case of a boy nicknamed Robbie Mannheim (to protect his real identity).

The boy was placed in the care of the boy’s Lutheran pastor. Mannheim had been suffering disturbing events that psychiatric and medical doctors were unable to diagnose. The child was experiencing some sort of paranormal or unexplainable acts and contact that nearly 50 people would admit to.

The pastor referred the boy to another Reverend, who would perform an exorcism , the first of two. The Reverend arranged for the boy to spend the night at his home so that he could observe him. In the middle of the night, while the boy slept, the minister reported that he detected “vibrating sounds from the bed and scratching sounds on the wall.” He alleged that strange events took place, including heavy objects that seem to move in the room. Following the observations, the Reverend believed evil was at work in Robbie and that a Lutheran rite exorcism should be performed on the boy.

Traditional documentation of the story states that the boy underwent an exorcism with the support of the Anglican (Episcopal) Church. His case was then assigned to Reverend Edward Hughes (a Roman Catholic priest) conducted an exorcism after examining him at St. James Church. The exorcism took place at Georgetown University Hospital, which was a Jesuit institution.
 
To learn what happened to the child, continue reading the article titled, “What is an Exorcism? Part II.”