The Story Behind the Exorcist

In 1971, William Peter Blatty's novel The Exorcist became a world-wide sensation. Two years later, the movie based on the novel became one of the most influential horror movies of all times. It was banned by the Catholic and Anglican Church, and caused controversy in many cities where it played. What many people failed to realize is that the book is based on the diary kept by a priest who had participated in a real exorcism in 1949.


The child in the story was a 13 year old boy who has been variously identified as Roland Doe, John Hoffman and Robbie. The story is often known as "The St. Louis Exorcism", and has been called 'the only documented exorcism in modern history'. The truth is that the boy actually lived in Maryland - though even in that there is some ambiguity. The newspaper reports of the time state that he had lived in Mount Rainier, MD. A widely publicized investigation later stated that he'd actually lived in Cotton City, MD, some miles away from Mount Rainier. No matter where he lived, however, the reports go on to state the following:


Robbie (for the sake of easier reading, we'll stick with one name here - the name that the Catholic Church uses in referring to the boy) lived with his parents and grandmother in a small, suburban Maryland town. His aunt was a frequent visitor who often stayed overnight with the family. She was also a medium according to some reports - or simply had an interest in the occult. She introduced Robbie to the Ouija board. Many believe that his playing with the Ouija board opened Robbie to possession by a demon. There were no manifestations of anything until after his aunt's death, though. Perhaps, the boy was attempting to contact the spirit of his aunt - but without her protection there, he was defenseless when a demon invaded his body instead.


The first manifestations of possession were odd sounds in the walls. Suspecting it was rodents, his parents called an exterminator - who found no signs at all of rodent infestation. Soon the manifestations escalated. Objects moved without anyone near them. Tables were overturned. A vase reportedly sailed through the air to crash against a wall, and a picture of Christ on the wall would shake and rattle.


The family, alarmed not only by those incidents but by the change in Robbie's demeanor, contacted their family pastor, a man with an interest in the paranormal. The Reverend Schulze, a Lutheran minister, suspected that the boy might be manifesting a poltergeist. He invited Robbie to move stay with him for a few days. While Robbie was living with him, the minister observed chairs gliding around the room of their own volition, and at night, the boy's bed would shake violently. Suspecting a poltergeist still, Reverend Schulze recommended to the family that they take Robbie to the mental health clinic at the University of Maryland. He was examined there twice for a full round of tests, but the doctors found nothing wrong.

Growing more desperate, Robbie's parents took him to a Catholic priest in Mount Rainier. During the interview with the priest, the telephone levitated, chairs glided around the room and Robbie began cursing the priest in a loud, eerie voice. The priest was convinced that Robbie was possessed, and obtained permission from the Church to conduct an exorcism.

The first attempt at exorcism was conducted at Georgetown Hospital. During the exorcism, Robbie swore, contorted himself, shook the bed and became violent with spitting and projectile vomiting. It ended abruptly when Robbie managed to tear one of the bedsprings free and slashed the priest's arm with it. After the priest was removed from the room, Robbie calmed, and was released to his parents.


Not long after that, Robbie's parents noticed the word 'Louis' scratched into Robbie's body. They interpreted this to mean that they should go to St. Louis, where they met two priests who would conduct another exorcist.


During the ritual, the priests noted bloody scratches and markings on Robbie's body that spelled words, swears and even formed the face of the devil on his chest. The bed in which he was lying rocked and lifted off the floor. Eventually, the boy was transferred to the psychiatric ward at the Jesuit hospital. The attempts at exorcism continued until April 16, the day after Easter. At that time, in the midst of more prayers and adjurations for the demon to come out of Robbie, a deep voice spoke from the boy's body, claiming to be the Archangel Michael. The voice ordered the demon to depart from his body. There was a sound like an explosion throughout the entire hospital and Robbie fainted. When he came to, he remembered nothing of his ordeal.

What's Related  on eMystica.com:

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  2. The Facts and the Fiction - Exorcism
  3. Exorcism Information, Case Histories, Articles and Facts
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  5. The Story Behind the Exorcist - Exorcism

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