By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
On September 16, 2016 in Rome, the internationally known exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, died at the age of 91. From 1986, until his death he was head of the diocese of Rome.
Amorth, together with other exorcists, founded the International Exorcist Association (AIE) in 1994, whose president he had been until 2000 and has been honorary president since then.
Father Vincenzo Taraborelli, a Carmelite has been exorcist of the Diocese of Rome for 27 years along with Father Amorth. He stumbled into the job when a fellow priest needed help. "I didn't know what it was, I hadn't studied it," the father says. "He told me what to do. I was totally ignorant."
Once a protégé of Amorth he stepped into his shoes, and is one of Rome's busiest exorcists. Working three days a week from a windowless room at the back of his church near the Vatican, he often sees up to 30 people every day.
He said, "Before doing exorcisms I urge people to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I ask them to bring me their prognosis. I'm in touch with many psychologists who send their patients here."
The room is filled with statues of angels, and he keeps candy in a drawer which he hands to visitors. His desk is filled with papers, photos and a copy of the Catholic Church's exorcism rites. It's taped together to stop it from falling apart. He also has a cross he uses during the ritual to expel evil spirits.
"First of all, I get the room ready," he says. "Then if the person is not doing well, I try to calm them down reassure them. I invite them to join me in prayer. But many of them when they come here are already disturbed."
His most notable case involved a married woman he treated for 13 years. He recalls, Another man, who was a satanist, wanted her. She refused. So this man told her: 'You'll pay for this.' He cast so-called spells to attract her to him, twice a week. Then they came to me, in this room. I started to pray, and she went into a trance. She would blurt out insults, blasphemies. I quickly understood she was possessed. As the rite continued, she started feeling worse and worse. So when I told the devil: 'In the name of Jesus, I order you to go away’; she started to vomit little metal pins, five at a time. Aside from pins she would also vomit hair braids, little stones, pieces of wood. It sounds like something from another world right? Instead, it's something from this world.
Exorcism has been recognized within the Catholic Church for 2,000 years. However non-believers claim that stories of possessions are only superstition, or experienced by those suffering from psychiatric problems.
Father Taraborelli said, "Well, someone who isn't a believer doesn't believe in the devil either. But someone who believes knows that the devil exists, you can read it in the gospel. Then you only need to see how the world is nowadays. It has never been this bad. These violent acts are not human".
He was referring to the death of Father Jacques Hamel, 84, who had his throat slit by two Islamic State (IS) terrorists in 2016 as he was saying Mass. They recorded themselves as they committed the murder. The attackers targeted a church in the cathedral city of Rouen, France and took four hostages. Police special forces killed both criminals, and only one of the hostages was hurt.
Aside from the father of lies, the main obstacle Father Tarborelli encounters is the resistance of young priests to become exorcists. He said, "I told the bishop that I can't find anyone willing to do this. Many of them are scared. Even priests can be scared. It's a difficult life."
Father Taraborelli works in a windowless room at the back of Santa Maria in Traspontina, a church built in 1474, on the Via della Conciliazione, that was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This church became prominent in October, 2019, when a statue of Pachamama, a pagan fertility goddess from South America was kept there during the Amazon Synod. The idols were stolen and thrown into the Tiber River, and later recovered. Was it a coincidence that images of a deity that is offered animal and human sacrifices, were kept at the "center of Rome's exorcism and deliverance ministry?"
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer