Exorcism (Greek: Εξορκισμος) is the rite of prayer which expels demons from a person or physical object. The most common use of exorcism in the Church is at the reception of a catechumen, which is most often included at the beginning of the baptismal rite, and during the Great Blessing of Water which is done on the baptismal waters and at Theophany. An exorcism may also be performed if it is believed that a person is suffering from demonic influence.
- Exorcism is the practice of expelling evil spirits by means of prayer or set formulas adopted by the Christian Church from pre-Christian practices. Christ Himself and his Apostles practiced exorcism for the people possessed. (See Matthew 10:1 and foll; Luke 11:14 and foll; Acts 16:18, 19:13 and foll.). Exorcism has been practiced on persons possessed by an evil spirit all through the development of the Christian Church beginning with New Testament times. The most well-known exorcisms are those applied to Catechumens about to be baptized. Since infant Baptism was introduced in the Church, the statements denouncing Satan and accepting Christ are given by the Godfather/mother in the place of the candidate to be baptized. The Orthodox exorcisms before Baptism are four in number. Following them, and after the candidate or sponsor gives the affirmations in Christ, he is required to recite the Nicene Creed as the final seal of a successful candidacy.
- It should be noted here at this point that the Orthodox exorcisms are in essence prayers for averting the influence of evil spirits rather than for expelling the devil, especially in ceremonies such as sanctifying the waters (Hagiasmos), blessing the ceremonial oil, or blessing sacred vessels. It should also be noted that the importance of exorcism in Orthodox ecclesiastical life is not as great as it is in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. In recent years certain semi-pagan exorcistic rituals have been practiced by a number of people uncertain as to their religious belonging, including clergymen of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. Assuming the role of an exorcist is a serious offense against the Church's conception of evil and of the sacramental means by which it should be warded off. Needless to say, evil in man, whether personified or not, naturally requires the help of the Church for its expulsion but, above all, requires the spiritual strength of the individual concerned.
In the prayer book
- O God of gods and Lord of lords, Creator of the fiery ranks, and Fashioner of the fleshless powers, the Artisan of heavenly things and those under the heavens, Whom no man has seen, nor is able to see, Whom all creation fears: Into the dark depths of Hell You hurled the commander who had become proud, and who, because of his disobedient service, was cast down from the height to earth, as well as the angels that fell away with him, all having become evil demons. Grant that this my exorcism being performed in Your awesome name, be terrible to the Master of evil and to all his minions who had fallen with him from the height of brightness. Drive him into banishment, commanding him to depart hence, so that no harm might be worked against Your sealed Image. And, as You have commanded, let those who are sealed receive the strength to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all power of the Enemy. For manifested, hymned, and glorified with fear, by everything that has breath is Your most holy Name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and into ages of ages. Amen.
In the prayers for entrance into the Catechumenate
Prayers of St. Basil the Great
Holy water. Theophany
Blessing of objects. Censings. The Sign of the Cross
Other Orthodox Prayers
This is a text of a manuscript, no. 98 (ff.133-39) according to the catalogue compiled by S.P. Lambros (1895), held in the library of Xiropotamou Monastery on Mt. Athos. Although Lambros dates the manuscript to the sixteenth century, this particular part appears to have been written in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century…The transcription was made from a microfilm of the original provided by the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, Moni Vlatadon, Thessaloniki. This is a text that would have been consulted by priests before performing exorcisms.
- " 'I exorcise you, evil Devil, enemy of truth, by the awful and holy name of All-Powerful God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to tell me immediately how your name is called. I adjure you by the holy angels, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and authorities; by the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim to tell me immediately how your name is called. I adjure you by the supremely pure Maria, Mother of God, by the twelve and seventy holy apostles; by the terrible and unimpeachable judgement and by the holy blood that flowed from the side of our Lord, Jesus Christ; by the twenty-four presbyters, forever presiding at the invisible throne of God and singing the unhalting song and by all the wondrous works of All-Powerful God that have occurred in heaven and on earth, by the holy patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the saints [who lived] before the Law; by the holy fourteen thousand infants, those slaughtered under Herod; by all holy men and women, those who pleased holy God in their lifetime. I adjure all you evil spirits, by all the saints, that you tell me your names' - then show the holy cross, holding it in your hand and say, - 'Behold the holy cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Depart evil Devil! Jesus Christ conquers. The lion; he of Judah's race; he of the root of David; the Emmanuel [the Saviour]. Christ reigns, Christ holds power, Christ slays, Christ grants life; holy, holy, holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with his glory, Hosannah in the highest, and who is blessed through the ages. Amen. Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered and let them flee from his countenance. As smoke vanishes so may they disappear; as wax melts away from the face of fire, and snow from the burning heat of the sun. Cursed Devil, why do you delay and not speak your name? Give glory to holy God; take fright at these varied and many oaths [exorcisms]. I adjure you by our Lord Jesus Christ. Speak your name. I adjure you by him for whom every knee bends in heaven and on earth and in the underworld, that you tell your name. I adjure you by him who made himself of no reputation and assumed the form of a servant. Tell what your name is. I adjure you by that blood, the same as that which poured out upon the cross. Speak your name; say it plainly. I, the servant of God, ask you what is your name. Tell whether you have other accomplices with you as well, and how you are and from what class, or what your leader is called. In what power and authority or where and in which place are you dwelling? Before coming out of this person you must tell me to whom you are subordinate. Tell me when you emerge and what sign you make when you emerge. I adjure you by the Holy Spirit that revealed you through Peter, supreme among the apostles, in Simon Magus, and in Kynops Angkhistos, by the Apostle John the Theologian on the island Patmos. Answer what I have asked you, wily Devil. Humble yourself. Hades has been appointed as your seat of power; therein is your dwelling. So, there is no time to wait. The Lord will soon arrive and [ . . . ] in judging the earth and He will punish you and your accomplice force, in hell-fire, giving you over to the outer darkness where there is the unsleeping worm and the unquenchable fire. Speak your name, for great is the fear of God and great the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and to [the ages. . .]' " .
Exorcist as a minor order. History and significance
List of Saints
The following is a general list of Orthodox Saints whose intercession may be enlisted in prayer for healing, and against unclean spirits and mental disorders (listed in chronological order).
- Archangel Michael
- Anthony the Great
- Marina of Antioch
- Gerasimus of Kefalonia
- Nectarios of Aegina
- Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) of Simferopol and Crimea.
There are many books about exorcism and demonology that go to one extreme or another. These resources are some of the better ones we have found. As always, read with discretion.
- Archimandrite Vassilios Bakoyannis. Confronting the Devil, Magic & the Occult. Orthodox Book Centre, Athens 2003. 172 pp.
- Rev. George C. Papademetriou, Ph.D. Exorcism in the Orthodox Church. Goarch.org.
- Rev. George Mastrantonis. Exorcism. Goarch.org.
- Richard P H Greenfield. Traditions of Belief in Late Byzantine Demonology. Published by Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1988. (369 pp.) (ISBN 9025609627) (ISBN 9789025609627)
- (Comprehensive scholarly study; Greek text in several places; includes list of sources of the standard Orthodox tradition. Compares the standard Orthodox tradition to alternative traditions).
- Jean-Claude Larchet. Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing: Teachings from the Early Christian East. 1st Ed. Transl. by G. John Champoux and Rama P. Coomaraswamy. Published by Sophia Perennis, July 2005. (ISBN 1597310611) (ISBN 9781597310611)
- (Full text of rite included; from the Rituale Romanum).
- (Fr. Amorth is an official exorcist of the diocese of Rome. His commentary and experience is certainly worth engaging).
- Fr. Gabriele Amorth. An Exorcist: More Stories. ISBN 0898709172
- Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea. Interview With an Exorcist: An Insider's Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (s. 1673) has this to say about exorcism:
- When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing. [Cf. Mk 1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17.] In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called "a major exorcism," can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.
Protestant & Other
- Dr. Kurt Koch (ThD) and Dr. Alfred Lechler. Occult Bondage and Deliverance: Advice for Counselling the Sick, the Troubled and the Occultly Oppressed. Transl. from the German and published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1971. (198 pp.) ISBN 0825430062
- (By noted Lutheran German theologian, minister and evangelist Kurt E. Koch (1913-1987), along with psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Lechler, both well acquainted with the other's field; Dr Koch pastored in the state Lutheran Church as well as studied the occult and ministered to those suffering from demon afflication and the occult. His ministry took him to more than sixty-five countries on five continents).
- (A classic Protestant/Pentecostal work).
- Gerald Brittle. The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren.
- (Please read with caution. Note that the subjects (Ed and Lorraine Warren) are in the tradition of 'paranormal investigators').
- Michael Streich. Demon Possession and Psychological Disorders: Differentiating Between Medieval Doctrine and Rational Science. Suite101.com. April 8, 2009.
- Stefano Ferracuti, Roberto Sacco, and Renato Lazzari. "Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical and Rorschach Findings in Ten Persons Reporting Demon Possession and Treated by Exorcism." In Journal of Personality Assessment, 1996, Vol 66, No. 3, pp.525-539.
- O. H. Karahodina. Phenomenon of Religious Experience in the Structure of Feelings of Individuals with Mental Disturbances. In Lik Sprava. January 2002, Issue 7, pp.32-36. [in Ukrainian].
- (Eastern Orthodoxy; Emotions; Humans; Mental Disorders; Mental Healing; Psychometrics; Religion and Psychology; Ukraine)
- Daniel Ogden. Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Oxford University Press, 2002.
- H. C. Erik Midelfort. “Johann Weyer and the Transformation of the Insanity Defense.” In: The German People and the Reformation. Ed. R. Po-Chia Hsia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.
- Prof. Charles Stewart. Demons and the Devil: Moral Imagination in Modern Greek Culture. Princeton University Press (Modern Greek Studies), NJ, 1991.
- (See chapters on Exorcism and Baptism).
- Exorcism at Wikipedia.
- Exorcism at CopperWiki.
- BBC News Online: World. Vatican issues new exorcism rules. January 27, 1999.
- Video of Russian Orthodox Exorcism
- News stories about the exorcism and death of a Romanian nun (see June 19 & 24, 2005).
- A Coptic Exorcist - An Exorcism preformed by a Coptic Orthodox priest, notice that some of those possesed are Muslims.
- A Coptic Exorcist part 2 - Another clips of a Coptic Orthodox priest performing an exorcism, many of the people present are Muslims. The young man confesses, "Jesus is Allah."
Roman Catholic Cases
- The Exorcism of Nicola Aubrey, (1565-1566), written by Fr Michael Müller.
- Anneliese Michel (+1976) at Wikipedia.
- ↑ Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984. pp.168-169.
- ↑ Professor Charles Stewart. Demons and the Devil: Moral Imagination in Modern Greek Culture. Princeton University Press (Modern Greek Studies), NJ, 1991. pp.292.
- ↑ Professor Charles Stewart. "Appendix 2 - Xiropotamou 98", in Demons and the Devil: Moral Imagination in Modern Greek Culture. Princeton University Press (Modern Greek Studies), NJ, 1991.pp.255-258.
- Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984.
- (Rev. Patrinacos was pastor at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, Missouri, serving from 1950-53, in 1953 becoming Dean of Holy Cross Theological Seminary, Brookline, MA. (+1990).