Welcome back to the second part of Possessed, my new mini-series highlighting infamous demonic possession in history. Please keep in mind that I have narrowed this down to possessions that have ended in exorcism only! So sit back, grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy.
This week we are going to be discussing the story of Anneliese Michel. If you have never heard of this young woman, she was the inspiration for the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and is one of the most well known cases of demonic possession of all time.
Anneliese Michel was born on September 21st, 1952 in Bavaria, West Germany. She was known in her community for being a well-adjusted, generous, kind and devoutly religious young woman. At the age of sixteen, she experienced a severe seizure and was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy. Throughout the next couple of years she developed chronic depression and was being treated at a psychiatric care centre in her hometown. At this point, she seemed to simply be a troubled young woman, but nothing seemed specifically out of the ordinary, until her condition worsened and she became suicidal. Around this time, at about twenty years old, she also became seemingly intolerant of religious objects and started hearing voices.
To many people nowadays, her condition would have seemed like a severe mental illness along the lines of paranoid schizophrenia, but back in the 1960s, these things were not as common or spoken about publicly. Her family grew increasingly concerned and started to believe that she was being possessed by a spirit or demon and that she was no longer their child. At this time, the family decided to seek out the assistance of the Catholic Church and asked to see their local priest. Upon their first attempt, they were denied an exorcism on their daughter as there was not enough evidence to prove that she was being possessed, she was simply hallucinating and needed stronger medication, in the priest’s opinion.
Once the word got out about Anneliese and her family, priests from all over the world started referring the family to two priests, Father Ernst Alt and Father Arnold Renz. These two men decided to take on the case initially based on the fact that Anneliese did not supposedly look like the kind of girl who has epilepsy. Believing she was incorrectly diagnosed, the men chose to try to “save” the girl with blessings from her family. In total, Alt and Renz were referred to Anneliese numerous times by over 60 authorized exorcists who felt that the case was out of their league.
Just a few short months after the priests met the Michel family, Bishop Josef Stangl approved the pair to perform an exorcism on the young woman, provided that they keep everything hidden in total secrecy. The first rite was performed on September 24th, 1975. Throughout the last year of her life, Anneliese endured one to two exorcism rites per week. She started speaking about wanting to suffer for all of the wayward youth in the world and wanting to take their burden away from them. Throughout the entirety of her possession, she was focused on helping others. Towards the end of the exorcisms Anneliese stopped eating and drinking all together.
Below I have inserted some clips of the actual exorcism audio that was recorded of Anneliese from 1975 to 1976. In the clips you can hear her screaming in pain and at times, she possesses a voice that is not only not her own, but almost seems inhuman. Some of the names that were revealed during the exorcism that were identified as the demons possessing Anneliese included: Judas Iscariot, Lucifer, Hitler, Fallen Priest Fleischmann, Nero and Cain. If you know anything about demons or the history of demonic possessions, you know that at the very least Lucifer and Cain are some very extreme names to be thrown out there. But I would like you to take a listen for yourselves and let me know in the comments below what you think.
Now, after less than one year of these exorcism rites, the priests were unable to cure Anneliese of the demons possessing her body and she died on July 1st, 1976 at the age of twenty-three. Her official cause of death was dehydration and malnutrition.
Surprisingly enough, the controversy behind this case didn’t begin until after Anneliese’s death, when the government took the family and the two priests involved to court and charged them with negligent homicide. Upon the young woman’s death, she weighed only 68 pounds, had contracted pneumonia for which she was not being treated as the family refused medical assistance, and also suffered from two broken knees which left her unable to move independently. Bishop Josef Stangl said that he was not aware of the girl’s medical condition when he approved the exorcism and did not testify in court. In the end, all parties accused were convicted of manslaughter. The priests were required to pay a fine and the parents of Anneliese Michel were simply let go because they had “suffered enough”.
Now personally, I have no idea what to think about this case. Based on some accounts it definitely seems that the girl was possessed or at the very least was being contacted spiritually by some unholy entities. But on the other hand, it is hard to tell what was causing all of this considering the family did not accept any medical treatments for their daughter throughout the exorcisms. I believe that her illness most likely aggravated whatever spiritual problem she was encountering, but that it did not cause all of the symptoms involved. The audio clips make some compelling evidence in this case and I urge you all to listen to them again to come up with your own conclusions.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to start opening up a conversation with all of you about your thoughts on these cases, positive or negative in nature.
That’s it for this week gals and ghouls. If you have any stories that you would like me to cover, please tweet me @kelsimarie1330.
Until next time… Keep it spooky!