The Italian Almanac


Italian News - September 16

At the end of his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope Benedict greeted Italian exorcists who, he disclosed, are currently having their national convention, presumably in Rome. The pope encouraged them to "carry on their important work in the service of the Church."

Problem was, until the pope spoke, few people outside the inner circle knew that a convention of Beelzebub busters was going on, presumably in Rome. "They try to keep these things quiet," said a Catholic professor who has dealings with exorcists.

The Roman Catholic Church has shown growing interest in exorcism in Italy. In 1999, the Vatican issued its first updated ritual for exorcism since 1614 and warned that the devil is still at work.

The official Roman Catholic exorcism starts with prayers, a blessing and sprinkling of holy water, the laying on of hands on the possessed, and the making of the sign of the cross. It ends with an 'imperative formula' in which the devil is ordered to leave the possessed. The formula begins: "I order you, Satan..." It goes on to denounce Satan as "prince of the world" and "enemy of human salvation". It ends: "Go back, Satan."