The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

Categories: Europe | Society

Despite the fact that Anneliese Michel died back in 1976, the circumstances of her death still cause shock. A 24-year-old girl died under horrific circumstances, being tortured and bullied. But the most terrible thing is that she was killed not by maniacs and sadists, but by her own family and priests. Before she died, Anneliese underwent 67 excruciating rites of exorcism.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

Anneliese Michel's body was found in bed one day in June. The experts who examined the girl's body were horrified. It was severely emaciated and almost completely covered with traces of beatings and obvious torture. The girl's death caused a loud resonance in society and raised questions about the limits of religious freedom.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

Anna-Elisabeth Michael was born on September 21, 1952 in West Germany in a very religious family. Her parents, Josef and Anna Michael were zealous Catholics, and attended church twice a week. Fun and pleasure, including the most innocent ones, were condemned in their house. Anneliese, which is how the girl was called in the family circle, grew up an obedient and inquisitive child. She studied well, studied music and planned to become a teacher.

The child's life was overshadowed by excessive strictness of parents and poor health. Those who knew the family well believed that these two factors were interrelated. Anneliese spent too much time studying and praying. She did not go to school events, hardly communicated with her peers, and slept all year round on a cold floor, with only a thin blanket under her.

In 1968, the condition of a 16-year-old girl deteriorated sharply. She began to suffer from night attacks. They were accompanied by respiratory disorders, convulsions and tongue biting. At this time, Anneliese could not speak and looked as if she was dying. After several seizures, her parents were very scared and sent their daughter to the hospital. The examination revealed epilepsy in young Michele, and doctors prescribed her strong drugs.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

But the medications did not help, and soon the attacks began to occur even during the day. Additionally, the girl had hallucinations and developed depression. In 1973, after another loss of consciousness, Michele told her parents that she had seen the face of the Devil. She also admitted that a certain voice tempts her during prayers and says that she is "cursed and will go to hell."

It is worth saying here that not only Anneliese's parents were religious fanatics, but also she herself. Therefore, when it was decided at the family council to refuse treatment and rely on God, the patient supported this idea. A little later, one of the girl's parents first voiced the idea that she was not sick, but possessed by evil spirits. This assumption required verification, and it was immediately carried out.

Anneliese was sent with a family friend, a certain Thea Hain, on a pilgrimage to Italy. There it turned out that the girl could not touch some shrines and refused to drink holy water. After returning, Hain finally convinced the girl's parents of her possession by the Devil.

Josef and Anna Mikhel immediately began to look for a priest who would perform the rite of exorcism. But they were all refused after learning that the patient was suffering from epilepsy. The Holy fathers insisted that the girl needed a doctor, not special rituals. In their opinion, obsession should be indicated by more weighty evidence than delusions, visions and the opinion of a family friend.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

Anneliese herself, when there were no seizures, was the most ordinary girl. She successfully graduated from the University of Würzburg and planned to continue her studies. But the state of her health did not allow the plans to come true. Due to the refusal of medications, Michael was getting worse. She started hearing voices, injuring herself and speaking in unknown languages. Sometimes she called herself Judas, Lucifer or Hitler. After the girl started eating charcoal, both she and her parents were sure of her obsession.

At the beginning of 1975, the family had hope. They managed to find a priest who will be engaged in the exorcism of the Devil from Anneliese. It was Father Ernst Alt, who received a blessing for his work from the Roman Catholic bishop. After the first session, the girl felt better, so she decided to completely abandon the services of doctors. The last pills were thrown away, and the family began to wait for a miraculous healing.

For the next few months, the Reverend Ernst Alt and his assistant Arnold Renz worked tirelessly. They performed 67 exorcisms, approximately 2 per week. The longest sessions lasted up to 4 hours. All the time free from the "treatment", the girl was tightly tied to her bed. The exorcists and her parents feared that she might harm herself. Anneliese herself was happy to accept all manipulations, sincerely believing in fairy tales with obsession.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

To speed up the exorcism, she even refused to eat and drink. Michael insisted that her sacrifice would help atone for the sins of unbelieving peers and negligent clergy. On July 1, 1976, during a break between exorcism sessions, Anneliese died. Her weight was only 30 kg, and her body was covered with bruises, abrasions and cuts.

The circumstances of Anneliese Michel's death were so strange and confusing that the investigation lasted for two years. It was only in 1978 that the materials were finally handed over to the court. In March, the first meeting was held, after which journalists called the case the most resonant in the history of Germany. A crowd of thousands of citizens, divided into two camps, gathered daily near the courthouse.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

Some demanded to punish the girl's parents and fanatical priests as harshly as possible. Others insisted on acquittal, since all manipulations took place with the consent of the adult Michele. The sentence was incredibly lenient. The prosecution demanded to impose fines on the perpetrators, but the court sentenced all those involved to a suspended sentence of 6 months for causing death by negligence.

The verdict was quite satisfactory to the defendants and those who supported them. But the most progressive part of society — doctors, scientists and journalists were genuinely outraged. The fact that such a medieval case occurred in one of the most advanced European countries did not fit into my head. The verdict of the murderers shocked everyone in general — a brutal murder with torture was equated to an industrial accident.

Although many years have passed since the death of Anneliese Michel, this case is well remembered in the girl's hometown of Klingenberg. Her countrymen prefer not to talk about this story, calling it "dark and scary." However, it was not without oddities. A group of Catholics unexpectedly proclaimed Michael a saint, and began to hold church rites in her honor. On Anneliese's birthday and death day, they go to her grave with a procession.

The story of Anneliese Michel — the most famous victim of exorcism

The story of Anneliese Michel has left its mark on world culture. Based on her motives, such films as "Six Demons of Emily Rose", "Diary of an Exorcist" and "Requiem" were shot.

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