- History & Culture
The real history of exorcisms that you don't see in movies
Exorcisms are a frequent fascination for the film industry, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. But the idea of purging evil—whatever its form—has roots that straddle the line between A.D. and B.C.
For most people, the word "exorcism" probably conjures up images of Catholic priests—compelled by the power of Christ, wind from an unknown source blowing, candles flickering all around them—casting out demonic creatures and wicked spirits from a person or, in some cases, a place. Movies like 1973's The Exorcist highlight the use of holy water, prayer, and even reason to drive out a nefarious force, all as the epic battle between good and evil plays out in front of viewers’ eyes. But … is that accurate?
Exorcisms really happen—and what's at stake during one may not be too far off from what pop culture would have us believe. The 2023 movie The Pope's Exorcist, based on the memoirs of the real