“Nobody in that quiet neighbourhood had a clue about the battle of good and evil that was about to take place in that quaint brick house.”
– Steve LaChance, Author of Confrontation with Evil: An In-Depth Review of the 1949 Possession That Inspired The Exorcist, Llewellyn, 2017
CAUTION! PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN RISK…
The following post contains language and situations that some readers may find offensive or troubling. Reader discretion is advised.
A Message from the Editor…
Some believe that, when we share words such as those shared here, other…things…travel along with those shared words—whether it be through a discussion, a letter, a phone call, a text message, or the Internet—things of a less beneficent nature than the sharer would have originally intended. This is most likely the very reason why a devoutly religious man, such as Father William Bowdern, chose not to comment very often, if at all, on the events that transpired during the Spring of 1949.
We find the story of young Ronald Hunkeler to be of interest from both a religious and socio-cultural perspective. We mean no disrespect toward any party, affiliation, or organization involved then and now in the case. We stand on the side of the faithful, the believer in goodness and the power of it to win. And win it did in this case. We extend good vibes, positive energies, and earnest prayers to Ronald Hunkeler, wherever he may be, for only he can possibly know or truly understand the dark nightmare of the soul through which he had to pass.
– Haint-Blue Shudders
The 26-page transcription of the the diary of events surrounding the demonic possession of Ronald “Ronnie” Hunkeler in St. Louis, Missouri in 1949, have been mis-read, mis-interpreted, fictionalized, filmed; as well as mocked, laughed at, and mostly disbelieved. But we do know that a journal was kept by Father Raymond Bishop. And we know that Father Bishop attended the exorcism of Ronald Hunkeler, conducted by the exorcist himself, Father William Bowdern*. Father Bishop kept the record of these events on behalf of Father Bowdern, and subsequently submitted it to a higher authority within the Church.
(*It is said that Bowdern was one of six exorcists involved in the case.)
When the ordeal took place, in 1949, William Peter Blatty—author of both the novel The Exorcist and the script for the 1973 film by the same name—was a junior in college; he read the newspaper article detailing the Hunkeler exorcism (at the time, the boy was not referred to by his actual name, but by “Ronnie”, John Doe, Roland Doe, and other names meant to disguise his identity), and was so moved by the article, that he reached out to Father Bowdern for information that Blatty later used in writing both the book and script we are so familiar with today.
Only the original and five hard copies of the diary were thought to exist; that is until a digitally scanned copy surfaced on the Internet a few years ago.
This, then, is the real story.
As a testament to its authenticity, here is the letter, sent by Father Raymond Bishop, when he “submitted” the diary. The letter, dated 1949, is unique in that it accidentally reveals the true name of the Hunkeler family…
ST LOUIS UNIVERSITY
221 North Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri
April 29, 1949.
Rev. Brother Rector, C.F.A.
3933 South Broadway,
St. Louis, Missouri
Dear Brother Cornelius:
The enclosed report is a summary of the case which you have known for the past several weeks. The Brothers’ part in this case has been so very important that I thought you should have the case history for your permanent file.
We have been informed by the Chancery Office on two different occasions, March 16 and April 27 that the case is not to be publicized. I fear that the news has already broken in various parts of the city through individuals asking for prayers and perhaps through some who took part in the case. The difficulty of keeping some of the facts secret is practically beyond our control right now, but insofar as we are able we should not make this case public until we have a definite statement from the Chancery Office.
One of the finest benefits that has come to me as a result of this case is a high appreciation of the work and religious devotion of the Alexian Brothers. The prayerful assistance of your Community was certainly a strong factor in winning the battle against Satan. Your own cooperation to the extent of establishing public devotion to Our Lady of Fatima will always be associated with the inspirational aspects of the case.
The Hunkeler family has been won over completely by the wholehearted charity of your Brothers. There is little doubt that the intention of becoming a Catholic has been deeply influenced by the Christlike attitude of the Brothers who worked with Ronald.
It will always be a distinct privilege for me to remember you and your Community at the Holy Sacrifice.
Gratefully in the Sacred Heart,
RAYMOND J. BISHOP, S.J.
What follows is the full text of the priest’s diary from 1949.
[Following the diary transcription, we include the original newspaper article from 1949 that inspired Blatty’s story.]
The Exorcist Diary of Father William Bowdern
(as kept by Father Raymond Bishop, attending Exorcist)
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran; baptized 6 mo. after birth by a Lutheran Minister
Maternal Grandmother – practicing Catholic until the age of 14 yrs. Paternal Grandfather – Baptized Catholic but no practice
Father – Baptized Catholic but no instruction or practice Mother – Baptized Lutheran
Ronald and his mother visited in St. Louis XXXXXXXX at the home of Mr. and Mrs. XXXXXX.
Background of the Case
On January 15, 1949, at the home of XXXXXXXX in Cottage City, Maryland a dripping noise was heard by XXXXXXX and his grandmother in the grandmother’s bedroom. This noise was continued for a short time and then the picture of Christ on the wall shook as if the wall back of it had been bumped. By the time the parents of R returned home there was a very definite scratching sound under the floor boards near the grandmother’s bed. From this night on, the scratching was heard every night about seven o’clock and would continue until midnight. The family thought that the scratching was caused by a rodent of some kind. An exterminator was called in who placed chemicals under the floor boards, but the scratching sound continued and became more distinct when people stamped on the floor.
This scratching continued for ten days and then stopped. The family finally believed that the rodent had died. The boy, R, seemed to think he still heard the noise but the family did not hear anything for a period of three days. When the sound became audible again, it was no longer in the upstairs bedroom but had moved downstairs in the boy’s bedroom. It was heard as the sound of squeaking shoes along the bed and was heard at night only when the boy went to bed. The squeaking sound continued for six nights, and on the sixth night scratching again was audible. The mother, grandmother and boy while lying on the bed on this night heard something coming toward them similar to the rhythm of marching feat and the beat of drums. The sound would travel the length of the mattress and then back again and repeat this action until the mother asked, “Is this you, Aunt XXXXXXXX (who died in St.).
The mother continued asking questions but had no verbal reply. She asked this question, “If you are XXXXXXXX, knock three times.” There were waves of air striking the grandmother, mother and the boy, and three distinct knocks were heard on the floor. The mother asked again, “If you are XXXXXXXX, tell me positively by knocking four times.” Four distinct knocks were heard. Then there followed claw scratchings on the mattress.
When the mother or the grandmother paid no attention to the mattress scratching, the entire mattress would begin to shake. The action at times was very violent On one occasion the coverlet of the bed was pulled out from under the mattress and the edges stood up above the surface of the bed in a curled form as though held up with starch. When the bystanders touched the bedspread, the sides fell back into normal position. The scratching on the mattress has been continuous since the first night it was heard.
On [Sat] February 26, 1949, there appeared scratches on the boy’s body for about four successive nights. After the fourth night words were written in printed form. These letters were clear but seemed to have been scratched on the body by claws.
Since Mrs. XXXXXXXX is a native St Louisian she thought of leaving her home and taking the boy to St Louis in order to avoid some of these strange manifestations. It seems that whatever force was writing the words was in favor of making the trip to St. Louis. On one evening the word “Louis” was written on the boy’s ribs in deep red. Next when there was some question of the time of departure, the word “Saturday” was written plainly on the boy’s hip. As to the length of time the mother and boy should stay in St. Louis, another message was printed on the boy’s chest, “3 1/ 2 weeks.” The printing always appeared without any motion on the part of the boy’s hands. The mother was keeping him under close supervision. There seemed to be a sharp pain when the marks occurred so that the boy doubled up and uttered a rather terrifying sound. The markings could not have been done by the boy for the added reason that on one occasion there was writing on his back Even in St Louis the writing continued. There was some question of sending R to school during his visit here, but the message, “No,” appeared on his wrists; also a large “N” on both legs. The mother feared disobeying this order.
An orange and a pear flew across the entire room where R was standing. The kitchen table was upset without any movement on the part of R Milk and food were thrown off the table and stove. The breadboard was thrown on to the floor. Outside the kitchen a coat on its hanger flew across the room; a comb flew violently through the air and extinguished blessed candles; a Bible was thrown directly at the feet of R, but did not injure him in any way. While the family was visiting a friend in Boonesborough, Maryland, the rocker in which R was seated spun completely around through no effort on the part of the boy. R’s desk at school moved about on the floor similar to the plate on a Ouija board. R did not continue his attendance out of embarrassment.
Since the beginning of the above-enumerated incidents there have been fourteen different witnesses to testify and verify different phenomena. Two Lutheran Ministers were called in on the case. One of the Ministers invited the boy to his home and slept in the same bed with him. During the night the clawing sound were heard as they were in R’s home. The Minister prayed but the action became stronger. R. was tied to a chair, and the chair tipped over. A Psychiatrist was consulted but declared that he did not believe the phenomena. His report was that the boy was quite normal. R. was irritated with the questions and procedure. A physician gave R. a complete physical check-up and found him to be a normal boy, but somewhat high-strung. A Spiritualist was called in to use his formulae for ridding people of spirits, but he had no success. (It should be remarked here that Aunt XXXXXXXX believed very much in Spiritualism and often consulted Spiritualists.)
Father Hughes, Catholic Priest of St. James Parish at Mt. Rainier, Maryland, was asked for his advice and he suggested blessed candles, holy water and definite prayers. He did not meet the boy in person. The mother took the bottle of holy water home, sprinkled all the rooms, and when she placed the bottle on a shelf, the bottle flew across the room, but did not break. When she held the lighted candle alongside of R. at night, the whole bed, mother and son moved back and forth with the swaying of the mattress. Prayers ordinarily aggravate the phenomena. Father Hughes was seeking permission from the Bishop for an exorcism about the same time when the XXXXXXXX were going to St. Louis. Consequently, he was unable to proceed with his plan.
Different displays were witnessed by two aunts of the boy, four uncles and four cousins in St. Louis. The printing “No School,” was seen by four different people. The swaying of the mattress, the upsetting of the bedroom furniture and the scratching on the mattress were observed by the entire group.
March 9, 1949, the violent moving of the mattress and the scratching on the boy’s body was observed by the mother, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin of college age, a friend of the family, and by Father Bishop.
Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis were some of the exorcisms took placeOne of R’s cousins who is in Father Bishop’s class asked Father Bishop whether he could give any assistance to the case. Father Bishop consulted Father Kenny and with Father Reinert, the President of the University, and decided that it might be well to have the boy say some prayers and that we could give him the priestly blessing.
Furthermore, Father Bishop agreed to go to the home of the XXXXXXXX in XXXXXXXX so that he might bless the house and room where R. slept. A second class relic of St. Margaret Mary was pinned to the bed of R.
Even after the blessing of the house and tin spite of the relic, the swaying was evident and the scratching appeared. The relatives of the boy said, however, that Wednesday night was the most peaceful they had since R. arrived in St. Louis.
Day by Day Events in St Louis
Monday, March 7, 1949
Home of R’s non-Catholic aunt and uncle. Five or six relatives present. Spirit questioned through an alphabetical medium, on porcelain kitchen table.
Letters of alphabet written on paper were underlined whenever the table moved. A code of messages became evident. Phenomena indicated that the spirit was not the devil but the soul of deceased XXXXXXXX. Spirit confirmed to all present that she was XXXXXXXX by moving a heavy bed two or three feet with no one of the bystanders near the bed. All the group saw this action.
Furthermore, writing appeared on R’s body while he was reading a comic book. There was a sharp pain. The writing was done through his clothes.
When retired, there was violent shaking of the bed and scratching on the mattress. Hardly any relief through the night.
Tuesday, March 8, 1949
At the home of R’s Catholic aunt, two cousins and non-Catholic uncle. Shaking of mattress, scratching, stool upset several feet away from the bed. Phenomena observed by cousin who spent the night with R. Mattress continued to move in the direction of the uprights of the bed, even when cousins lay along-side of R. All other members of the family observed the violent shaking of the mattress and heard the scratching sound.
Wednesday, March 9
At home as of Tuesday, Father Bishop blessed the entire house and used a special blessing in R’s room and on his bed. A second class relic of St. Margaret Mary was safety-pinned to the extreme corner of R’s pillow. Shortly after R. retired the mattress on his bed began to move back and fortl1in the direction of the bed uprights. The boy lay perfectly still, and did not exert any physical effort. The movement in one direction din not exceed more than three inches, the action was intermittent and completely subsided after a period of approximately fifteen minutes. When Father Bishop sprinkled St, Ignatius Holy Water on the bed in the form of a Cross, the movement ceased quite abruptly, but began again when Father stepped out of the room. During the course of the fifteen minutes of activity a sharp pain seemed to have struck R. on his stomach and he cried out. The mother quickly pulled back the bed covers and lif ted the boy’s pajama top enough to show zig-zag scratches in bold red lines on the boy’s abdomen. It should be remarked that during the fifteen minutes the boy was not out of view of six observers. When the mattress shaking subsided, there was peace for the remainder of the night, ie. after 11:15 PM.
Thursday March 10
Same place as Tuesday and Wednesday. Same people present in the home as of Wednesday with the exception of Father Bishop. Shaking of mattress, and scratching which beat out a rhythm as of marching soldiers. Second class relic of St. Margaret Mary was thrown on the floor. The safety pin was opened but no human hand had touched the relic. R. started up in fright when the relic was thrown down.
Friday, March 11
Same here as above. Same observers as of Thursday with addition of Fathers ************ and Bishop. Father Dowdern had concluded the ***** service in the ****** ***** at 9:00PM. It was arranged that relatives of the boy would take the two above-mentioned Priests to the home of R. Since the ****** ***** **** In honor of St. ******* Xavier, Father Bowden, the Pastor, thought it proper to take the first class relic of Xavier along for a Novena Blessing. He likewise carried a crucifix containing first class relics of several of the North American Martyrs and of St. Peter Canisius.
Shortly after R. had retired at 11:00 PM, he called downstairs that he had been frightened by a strong force that had thrown some object against the mirror in his bedroom. With safety pin opened, tl1e relic of St. Margaret Mary had been thrown against the mirror and the sound was like a pallet striking tl1e glass.
Another occurrence was a cross mark scratched on R’s left, outer forearm. The pain was similar to that produced by a scratch of a thorn. The cross remained evident for approximately forty-five minutes.
Father Bowdern read the Novena prayer of St. Francis Xavier and then blessed R. with the relic (a piece of bone from the forearm of St. Francis Xavier). Then ***crucifix reliquary was safety-pinned under R’s pillow. There was no shaking of the mattress or scratching at this time.
After the above blessing the group if observers went downstairs to review some of the history of the case, when a loud crash was heard in R’s bedroom. The boy was dosing when the bottle of St. Ignatius Holy water was thrown from a table two feet from R’s room. A bookcase was moved from alongside the bed and turned completely around facing the entrance to the room. The stool at the dressing table moved from the table to the bed, about two feet. The stool was moved back to its position and in a few moments, it was turned over. Mother and R. were in bed when crucifix with relics was moved from under the pillow to the foot of the bed. The relic of St. Margaret Mary was lost in the room.
Then followed violent scratching and shaking in rhythm. The five people in the home then decided to ask questions of the spirit. There is some question about an amount of money which was concealed by Aunt xxxxxxxx before she died. Through many different questions it seemed that the map which would locate the money hidden in the metal strong box would be found in the attic of xxxxxxx’ s home, but only xxxxx the father of R who lives in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx could find it. When xxxxx’s name was suggested the bed shook violently.
Further questioning revealed that the money was for xxxxxxxxxx, the daughter of xxxxxxxxxx. Whenever the ****** wanted the bed shaking to stop they called, “xxxxx, stop” and the bed stopped as tl1ough xxxxxxxxx listening for a question.
On the night that xxxxxxxx died she told everyone in the house to go to bed at 10:00pm and she died between 2:00 and 2:30 the following morning. The ****** parallel indicated is that the bed shaking and noise always ceases by ****AM.
Saturday, March 12, 1949
Father Bowdern and Bishop arrived at the home of R at 11:45 PM. Before the arrival of the Priests that evening the bookcase in R’s room was moved away from the wall quickly and with precision. (The bookcase with books would weigh more than filly pounds). Then again just before the Fathers went upstairs to R’s room, a quick, scraping noise was heard. The bookcase had swung around from the wall to the side of R’s bed in an arc of five or six feet. Father Bishop replaced the bookcase, and then Father Bowdern blessed R. with the relic of St. Francis Xavier and Holy Water. The Fathers prayed the Rosary aloud and then prayed silently from 12:00 to 3:00AM. R. had a very normal sleep and there were no manifestations of an evil spirit.
Sunday, March 13
The family was alone. There was shaking of the mattress and scratching on the under surface. The phenomena did not persist more than one and one-half hours.
Monday, March 14
The Priests were not present. A stool was thrown over R’s bed and landed with a loud crash, but nothing was injured. The mattress shook, as on many previous occasions. The shaking continued for about two hours.
Tuesday, March 15
There was the usual mattress shaking. The relic of St. Margaret Mary was thrown from the pillow. The mattress movement continued for two hours.
Wednesday, March 16
Permission was granted by the Most Reverend Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter that Father William S. Bowdern, S.J., Pastor of the College Church in St. Louis might read the prayers of exorcism according to the Roman Ritual. Father Bowdern, Bishop, and Mr. W. Halloran, S.J., arrived at the xxxxxxxx home between 10:15 and 10:30 PM. Shortly after 10:30 R. was sent to bed and Father Bowdern helped him examine his conscience and make an act of contrition. Then Father Bishop, Mr. Halloren, R’s mother and the uncle and aunt of R were called into the bedroom in order to prepare for the exorcism. All those present knelt down besides R’s bed and acts of Faith, Hope, Love and Contrition were recited together (R said the prayers too).
Next Father Bowdern in surplice and stole began the prayers of exorcism. R was awake and the overhead light in the bedroom was kept burning. R kept his hands outside the bed covers. On the first “Praecipio” there was immediate action. Three large parallel bars were scratched on the boy’s stomach. From then on ** *** **** of Our Lord and His Blessed mother, and St. Michael scratches parallel on the boy’s legs, thighs, stomach, back, chest, face and throat. Those scratches were sharply painful, and caused red marks on the body, and the marks raised up above the surface of the skin, similar to a very slight laceration and caused a small amount of blood to flow. This scratch appeared on his left leg. R. recoiled **** evident, pain as *** mark was made. R. ***** *** that some of the marks felt like thorn scratches, others like brands. The brand marks were the more painful.
The most distinct markings on the body were the picture of the devil on R’s right leg and the word “HELL” imprinted on R’s chest in such a way that R. could look down upon his chest and read the letters plainly. The imprint of the devil and “HELL” appeared at the repetition of the “Praecipio” demanding the evil spirit to identify himself. The devil was portrayed in red. This arms were held above his head and seemed to be webbed, giving the hideous appearance of a bat. All the room observers agreed that the above two signs could not be mistaken for other designs. In further answer to the prayer “Praecipio” two letters “GO” and a third pointed away from the crotch, and indication which might have meant that the devil would leave by way of urination or excrement.
To the question how many demons? a single line was scratched on R’s right leg. There were at least four heavy brand marks in the form of an “X”. This impression may have indicated that the exorcism would take ten days, or that the devil would depart at 10:00 o’clock. At least during the first days of the exorcism the “X” had no significance. The markings on the legs seemed to be long scratches with no special meaning. Marks were mad on the boy’s body more than twenty-five different times during the course of the evening, each mark causing the boy to double up with pain.
The next phase of the reaction took the appearance of quiet sleep. R seemed to relax and there were no painful scratches. The prayers were continued by Fathers Bowdern and Bishop alternating. When the prayers to St. Michael was begun, R began sparring. He struck the board back of his bed strong blows with his fist, and then began punching, the pillow with more than ordinary force. As he swung his arms in violence he spoke of the conflict which appeared to him in all the manifestations since the beginning in January there were no words spoken by R. when he seemed to be under the influence of the devil. The family had not seen such violent reaction as was shown on this night and the following. Evidently the exorcism prayers had stirred up the devil.
Holy Water was sprinkled on R and he came out of his apparent sleep. R was asked what he was doing and what he saw. He said he was fighting a huge red devil who felt slimy and was very powerful. The devil was trying to prevent him from getting through the iron gates at the top of a pit that was about two hundred feet deep and was very hot. R wanted to fight that devil and felt that he was strong enough to overpower his enemy. R. mentioned that there were other smaller devils.
When the exorcism prayers were continued, R. fell back into the tantrum stage, and after some deep breathing, he would go into strong combat with the devil who was trying to keep him down in the pit There was hand wrestling.
From 12:00 midnight on, it was necessary to hold R during his fights with the spirit Two men were necessary to pin him down to the bed. R. shouted threats of violence at them, but vulgar language was not used. R. spit at his opponents many times. He used a strong arm whenever he could free himself, and his blows were beyond the ordinary strength of the boy.
He could be brought back to a waking condition for brief periods by dousing him with Holy Water. As the night wore on, it became almost impossible to keep R. from falling into the fitful and apparent slumber during which he went through violent gyrations. It was about 5:00 AM of the 17th before the tantrums began to moderate themselves. When R. was awakened from this more moderate state, he was so limp and weak that he could not sit up or hold his eyes open. He could not stay awake long enough to drink a glass of water.
(The need for water throughout the night was always the first request of R upon awakening). He complained of the intense heat from which he had suffered in his combats. The last phase of the night’s demonstrations consisted in an apparent sleep in which R. began to sing. He sang with a high-pitched voice and with tremendous volume such songs as “Swanee” and “Old Man River.” The tunes were not completed and were garbled versions, together with full arm gestures and wild attempt at interpretation. In the song stage, R was more amenable and did not have to be subdued physically except in a few instances. His muscles became relaxed and his whole bodily attitude was one of composure. During the singing phase R. awakened several times on his own, i.e. without slappings and Holy Water.
About 7:30 AM, R began a natural sleep and continued quite peacefully until 1:00 PM of tl.ie 17th. Then he ate an ordinary meal and participated in a game of monopoly.
Thursday, March 17
Fathers Bowdern, Bishop and Mr. Halloran arrived at R’s home between 9:00 and 9:30 PM. R’s father had flown in from Maryland because of the extraordinary events of the preceding evening. R declared that he was very sleepy about 9:00 PM. His parents helped him to get ready for bed, but had difficulty in keeping him awake long enough to remove his clothes. R. fell into the deep tantrum sleep as on the previous night. It was necessary for the father and uncle to hold him with considerable force because of his gyrating. By means of Holy Water and several sharp slaps on the boy’s face Father Bishop who was blessing him frequently with Holy Water. R spit directly in the faces of his father and motl1er and his uncle. His eyes were shut tight, but he was able to aim well in that he was spitting during the tantrums, nor did he know that he was fighting with those who held him. He felt exhausted after each ordeal, but yet his pulse did not vary from normal.
Linda Blair floating above the bed in the move The ExorcistThere were no scratches clawed upon the boy’s body in tl1e course of the evening, but the thrashing action was every bit as severe as it was on the preceding night. She threats to those who were holding R. were not vulgar, yet were loud and eerie. Occasionally R. hummed a little tune or sang phrases from “Swanee River”. His melody was false and the pitch was extremely high.
**** ***** sleep came to R. at 1:30 am. Then the Fathers departed.
Friday, March 18
R. had a spell about 1:00PM. His father held him tight in his arms while the mother and aunt prayed the Rosary. The struggling ceased in about one hour Fathers Bowdern, Bishop and Mr. Halloran, SJ, arrived at R’s home at 7:00 PM, chatted and played a game with R. He retired at 8:15 PM. R prayed the Rosary with the clergy at his bedside. The novena prayers to Our Lady of Fatima were recited in common. Next the Fathers began the Litany of the Saints, as indicated in the exorcism ritual. In the course of the Litany, the mattress began to shake. R. was awake. The shaking ceased when Father Bowdern blessed the bed with Holy Water. The prayers of the exorcism were continued and R. was seized violently so that he began to struggle with his pillow and the bed clothing. The arms, legs, and head of R. had to be held by three men. The contortions revealed physical strength beyond the natural power of R. R. spit at the relics and at the Priests’ hands. He writhed under the sprinkling of Holy Water. He fought and screamed in a diabolical, high-pitched voice. During one of his quieter reactions he was moving his feet in rhythmical l fashion. Father Bowdern held the Blessed Sacrament three or four inches from the sole of the moving foot. The movement stopped on the foot which was nearer the Blessed Sacrament. This manifestation of the power of the Blessed Sacrament showed up time after time without fail.
For short intervals R became conscious, but knew very little of what had happened. He felt the pain in his arms from the strong arm tactics that he used, and which were used on him.
When the exorcism was taken up again, R went back into his tantrum even when he was trying to repeat some short prayers with Father Bowden. R stood up in bed and fought all those around him. He shouted, jumped, and swung his fists. His face was devilish, and he snapped his teeth in fury. He snapped at the Priest’s hand in the blessings. He bit those who held him.
By 12:00 midnight there were signs of change. R stood up in bed; then he dropped to his knees and quietly went through salaams. The salaams were repeated four or five times. On several occasions in the process of bowing R. said “Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us,” and also repeated the words of the “Hail Mary.” The next stage was beating out a rhythm on the pillow, something similar to the rhythm of trotting horses. Then R rose again and began his strong fight for the eviction of the devil. His gyrations were in all directions. He pulled off the upper part of his underwear, and held his arms high above himself in supplication. Then he made as though he were trying to vomit from his stomach. His gestures moved upwards, close to his body. He seemed to try to lif t the devil from his stomach to his throat. He asked that the window be opened, and then in a happy, victorious mood he said sweetly, “He’s going, going,…” and finally, “There he goes.” His body fell limp upon (unintelligible) bed in a perfectly relaxed condition. Everything seemed to indicate (unintelligible). In a moment he was normal and seemed relieved. The whole family knelt beside the bed and said prayers of thanksgiving. The mother was beside herself (unintelligible). R was asked what his experiences were during the latter part of (unintelligible). He said that he saw a huge, dark cloud of black vapor in front of him (unintelligible) out from his vision. A figure in black robes, cowl, and white (unintelligible) walked away in the cloud.
R got out of bed, put on his bathrobe and saw the Fathers off. He was very happy. R seemed to have made a complete recovery at 1:00 AM, and it was about 1:30, when the clergymen departed. About 2 p.m. or a little after R felt strange sensations in his stomach and in a few moments he began to call out fearfully, “He’s coming back! He’s coming back!” Father Bowdern was called at 3:15 a.m., and the three exorcists went back for more of the formula. No evident progress was made, and about 7:30 a.m. the boy dropped off into a natural sleep.
Saturday, March 19
The exorcists arrived at R’s home at 7 p.m.. R retired at 8 p.m. and the routine of the exorcism was begun again. Violent shouting with fiendish laughter were a part of the phenomena. The shouting resembled the barking of a dog, and the snapping of R’s teeth was truly diabolical. It should be stated again that the violent reactions always followed upon the prayers of the exorcism. There had been no violence from the boy before the exorcism was begun on the night of March 16.
When the exorcist asked for a sign through the prayer “Praecipio” on three or four different occasions R urinated, seemingly without control. He complained upon awaking that the urine burned him. Previous to the urination R doubled up with pain in his stomach and he woke up crying. He complained too that his throat hurt him.
Songs were sung very beautifully in a dear voice and with real finesse. The best rendition was the “la la” of the “Blue Danube” with excellent and flowing gestures of interpretation. Another song was the hymn the “Old Rugged Cross.” The striking thing about the singing on this night was the professional ability shown. R cannot sing well in normal life, nor does he like to sing.
Father Bishop hummed the tune of the “Blue Danube” after R was awake, but R was unable to carry the melody. He said he did not know the song. He made this same affirmation several days later.
Another performance of the evening was a playful call for one of the Fathers present. R repeated the call over and over again in a very pleasant voice but when no response was given, R’s voice turned hard and the expression became, “Father you stink.”
Then followed violence and demoniacal fighting until R was wholly exhausted at 3 a.m., and he fell into a deep slumber. The exorcists waited a half hour and then departed.
It is worthy of mention that God seemed to have pity on the boy when he became (unintelligible). The devil was not permitted to disturb R after he had fallen into (unintelligible) …the violence followed on the prayers of the exorcism. The high (unintelligible) evening were urination’s which really burned R, breaking wind (unintelligible) rectum three different times, and the cursing of the exorcists.
Some of the vulgarity follows: Get away from me –
Go to hell, you dirty sons of bitches
God damn you, God damn you, You dirty assholes
And occasionally R would use prayers to Mary and Our Lady of Fatima. Action cease at 2 a.m.
Monday, March 21
The family of R was losing sleep, and the mother had to be taken to a physician, so it was thought best to take R to a hospital so that the other members of the family might relax. Since R was so boisterous in his tantrums, it was decided that the Alexian Brothers would have a room away from the regular patients where R could scream without harm to the rest of the hospital. Then too the Alexian Brothers have equipment for holding patients in bed when there is violence. R was put to bed at 10 p.m., but he feared the surroundings of the hospital: the barred window, the bare room, the straps on the bed, and the knobless door. His whole reaction was one of intense fear. Father Bowdern began the Litany of the exorcism was completed, all knelt for the Rosary. R did not fall asleep nor was there any discernible reaction on the part of the devil.
The exorcist group left the room while R’s father read prayers for his boy during the space of a half hour. One of the most edifying scenes since the begiru1ing of the case was to see the father using prayers to get his son to peacefully through the night. His father slept on a divan in the same room. R awakened at 6:30 a.m. and was taken home for the day.
Tuesday, March 22
R went to bed at his uncles’ home about 9:30 p.m. Shortly after he retired the bed began to shake and it seemed that operations were in progress again. R’s mother called Father Bishop, and he with two other Priests drove out to the home and arrived there with the Blessed Sacrament at 11p.m. The three Priests knelt at tl1e bedside of r and began the prayers of the exorcism. The bed shook during short intervals on three different occasions. When the exorcism was completed, the Rosary was recited and R went off into a natural sleep. The Fathers departed at midnight, and no further action took place.
Wednesday, March 23
Father Bowdern arranged that R might have a room at the College Church Rectory. Two beds were provided so that R’s father might sleep in the same room with his son. R took a brief instruction on the Catholic religion and then went to bed at 9:30 p.m. Short acts of Faith, Hope, Love and Contrition were received by all the group,’ including R Immediately upon the first innovations of the Litany R went into his tantrum. He fought and kicked, and spit so that three men could scarcely hold him. In the course of the evening R broke Mr.
Halloran’s nose and caused Father Roo’s nose to bleed. The first blows were accurate, quick, and deadly, although R’s eyes were shut. At the “Praecipio” R urinated rather copiously and on coming to himself complained of the burning sensation. There were four or five such urination’s during the evening. Several times there was passing of wind through the rectum.
The language of R became abusive and dirty. He met one of the Fathers in hell and stated the year as 1957. He indicated surprise at finding the Father in hell. The vile and filthy talk. which followed makes anyone shudder. R spoke of his ———– so round, so firm with a red ——-. He pulled the towel from his loins and shook his body in a suggestive and shimmy fashion. His expressions were lowly and smacked of the abuse of sex. When R came to normal from time to time he would say that the men down there were using filthy language. R was never accustomed to filthy expressions in his regular life.
With more contortions, barking and singing R finally went off into natural sleep at 2:30 AM. His body was limp and completely fagged out.
Thursday, March 24
St. Rrancis Xavier College Church, St. Louis, MissouriAt the Rectory. Reactions began at 9:45 PM, and continued until 2:30 AM. Father Bishop thought that this would be the last night since it was the feast of St. Gabriel, and the next day was the feast of the Annunciation. Father Bowdern believed that the “X” mark on R from the first night of the exorcism should be interpreted as the 10th day, so he did not expect the devil to leave until the following night.
R had great physical strength. Four men were holding him. R ran the gamut of shouting, screaming, barking, singing, kindly expressions, urinating, and passing foul air. One of the assisting Fathers was met in hell in 1956. He was called a big fat ass and an ox. Michael, the workman who helped R was constantly in R’s bitter imprecations, or in silly rhymes, “Michael, pickle, like!, sikle . . . . Michael, you look so dirty.”
The filthiest talk was given out after midnight on the Feast of the Annunciation.
R spoke of —. Then he would say, “——————-“. He turned upon the priests at his bedside, “You have big ———–“ down. You have ———-“. Then followed a sucking sound. He called to the exorcist to … cut out the damned Latin… Get away from me, you———————.
About 2:00 AM, R noted from his tantrum that the bystanders were going to stay to the end. In a coy tone he remarked, “You like to stay with me. Well, I like it too.”
The blessed sacrament had no noticeable effect in the course of the night. He slept from 2:30 to 11:30 AM
Friday, March 25
At the rectory. R was very restless and could not sleep. The group of Priests prayed outside his door. For brief periods R fell into fitful tossing which was not real sleep. On one occasion R fell out of bed, but was not hurt. Next he walked awkwardly into the arms of Father Bowdern and Van Roo. Shortly before midnight, he lay prone on his back with his arms stiff at his side. He began a leg and arm movement as a gymnastic exercise. His arms mewed out straight from his body and then moved back in straight lines to the side of his body. There was no noise.
After midnight there was some pitching about, but not for long intervals. R cursed his father and spit at him, and then he kicked at the priests at his bedside. He pushed the nearby chair with his foot several times and finally fell into a deep sleep at 1:00 AM. This was Friday night, the 10th night since the exorcism was begun. Perhaps the “X” given on the first night was to mean 10 days. On Monday night the XXXXXXXX home was blessed by Father Bowdern. No disturbances occurred Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday nights, and R was getting back to normal life.
Thursday, March 31
At 11:30 PM R went downstairs and complained that he was feeling ill and that his feet felt cold, then hot. When the family went up to the bedroom with him the disturbances began. First the shaking of the bed. He began to write on the sheet with his finger, explaining between spells that he seemed to be reading from a blackboard. They were unable to make out what he was writing on the sheet. Then he began to talk, telling what he saw on the blackboard. Notes taken by his cousin are as follows:
I will stay 10 days, but will return in 4 days
If XXXXXXXX stays (gone to lunch)
If you stay and become a Catholic i t will stay away.
God will take it away 4 days after it has gone 10 days. God is getting powerful.
The last day when it quits it will leave a sign on my front.
Fr. Bishop–all people that mangle (sic) with me will die a terrible death.
Family called Rectory about midnight. Fathers Bowdern and VanRoo arrived at the house a t about 1:00 AM. and Father Bowdern began the rite of exorcism.
At the “Praecipio” R (in a spell) called for a pencil. At this point and frequently at the beginning of subsequent spells he addressed one or both of the two persons: “Pete” (most frequently) and “Joe.” Taking the pencil, he began to write with it on the head of the bed, which was covered with a white cloth.
This type of spell and writing was repeated perhaps eight or ten times. What he wrote was recorded for the most part. The family washed away the writing a few times, making room for more, and XXXXXXXX fastened large sheets of wrapping paper to the bed. The following is a record of most of the writings, though it is not complete. Some of the things written were repeated:
1). In answer to the first set of questions he wrote the Roman Numeral X. (It was clearly the numeral, with crossbars at the top and bottom). This was written four times on this first occasion and was repeated several times during the exorcism, usually in answer to the question, “diem.”
2). I will stay 10 days and then return after the 4 days are up.
3). I am the devil himself. You will have to pray for a month in the Catholic Church.
4). (In answer to the command to give “nomen lingua Latina.”)
I speak the language of the persons. (word language was misspelled). I will put in XXXXXXXX’ s mind when he makes up his mind that the Priests (sic) are wrong about writing English.
I will, that is the devil will try to get his mother and dad to hate the Catholic Church. I will answer in the name of Spite.
5). In 10 days I will give a sign on his chest he will have to have it covered to show my power.
6). He drew a strange thing that looked somewhat like a map, witl1 “2,000 ft” written on it (apparently connected with early dreams about hidden treasure and a map to find it). I believe that it was in this connection that he spoke also, saying “Yeah, this is what I got on the Ouija board.” He drew a face also, and wrote the words: “Dead bishop.”
7). You may not believe me. Then R will suffer forever.
8). When commanded to give a sign in Latin, he wrote meaningless marks on the paper, not even letters of the Roman alphabet.
Friday, April 1
R had been taking instructions on Catholic doctrine since Wednesday, Mar.23 under the direction of Father McMahon. R’s father and mother leaving R’s choice of religion to himself. They had agreed that R would not be confirmed in the Lutheran Church as had been planned previously.
With the relapse into five days of respite the mother, father and R agreed that the proper thing to do was to have R baptized a Catholic.
Sponsors were picked and the baptismal party was to arrive at the College Church between 8:00 and 8:30 PM. As the party of five relatives drove from R’s home, R felt a strange sensation in his feet. There were alternations of hot and cold feelings, and the R went into one of his spells. He began by saying, “So you are going to baptize me! Ha ! Ha!– And you think you will drive me out with Holy Communion! Ha! Ha!” R grabbed the steering wheel of the automobile and his uncle was forced to pull up to the curb in order to subdue the violence. R stiffened and fought. It was a major task to remove him from the front seat and force him into the back of the car. R’s father and uncle held R in the back seat while the aunt drove. Even with careful supervision R leaped up to seize his aunt as she drove. An interesting sidelight is that the radio in the car would not operate while R was in a spell, although it worked before and after.
In the College Church Rectory another hard struggle almost made it impossible for three men to carry R from the car to the Rectory. Inside the door of the Rectory R shouted and spit. He was thrown on the floor of one of the parlors ???????? his physical violence. Even ice cold water had little effect upon him. TI1e father and uncle were completely exhausted from the battle.
R was carried to the third floor of the Rectory and placed on the bed. There was little hope that the Baptism could be administered at the baptismal font in the presence of the chosen sponsors. Michael, the workman, was chosen as proxy.
R was in and out of his seizures for short periods but there was not enough time for the long profession of Faith and abjuration of heresy. Father Bowdern had R repeat the words of a briefer form. Then the regular procedure for the Baptism of infants followed. However, when R was asked, “Dost thou renounce Satan?” he went off into a spell. The action was repeated three or four times, but R went off before he could answer the question with the words, “I do renounce him.”
Finally, R was normal long enough to give the answers. When Father Bowdern came to the Baptism proper the physical resistance exceeded any violence of the evening. R remained conscious for the words, “Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris” and then there was a violent upheaval. None-the-less, the Baptism was completed with a generous amount of baptismal water. It seemed from the reactions that the Lutheran Baptism had not been administered properly, or that it had not taken effect.
After the Baptism the prayers of the exorcism were continued. The usual spitting, gyrating, cursing and physical violence continued until 11:30 PM.
Saturday, April 2
R awakened at 9:30 AM, but was not calm. He threw a pillow at the light and broke the shade and the bulb. The crockery basin in his room was likewise shattered. This was the morning when R was to receive his first Holy Communion. Fathers Bishop and O’Flaherty were called in to assist Father Bowdern in the preparation for Holy Communion. It was evident that the struggle was at hand. There was no difficulty in going through the conditional confession. Perhaps this quietness indicated again that the Baptism of the preceding night had taken effect.
When Father Bowdern began the prayers for the Holy Communion, R went into his spell, kept his eyes shut and his mouth closed, but he was not hard to hold at this time. R rallied for brief moments yet whenever Father Bowdern brought the Eucharistic particle near R, the boy went into his spell. On five different occasions when the particle was placed in R’s mouth, he spit it out onto the corporal or purification which was always held in front of his mouth for caution.
Inside cover of Rituale Romanum – the official exorcism book for the Roman Catholic ChurchAfter nearly two hours of vain attempts Father O’Flaherty suggested that we pray the Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, especially since this was the first Saturday of the month. When the Fathers had completed the Rosary, another attempt was 1nade with the Holy Communion. This time R was able to swallow and he made his first Holy Communion under extraordinary opposition.
R finished dressing himself and prepared to leave for home. Father Bowdern asked Father O’Flaherty to drive the car while he himself, R’s father and R sat in the back seat. It was about 11:45 AM. Only a few minutes after the car was in motion R jumped up off the seat and grabbed Father O’Flaherty and had to be pulled off with force. R was not normal on the road for more than a few minutes at a time.
At home he came to long enough to eat a fairly good-sized breakfast. During the remainder of the day there was only brief intervals of consciousness. The Sacraments had stirred up Satan more than any other priestly administration. The family was nervously worn from the long day of fighting. Fathers Bowdern, Bishop, O’Flaherty, and Michael arrived at R’s home at 7:40 PM. Spells continued. There was no response to the “Praecipio” before 8:40 PM.
One short spell of less than a minute occurred between 8:40 and 11:15 PM. During this period R ate a dish of ice cream.
At 11:15 R ran downstairs and sat on the arm of a parlor chair. He was becoming so nervous that he could scarcely stay in the bedroom. Father Bowdern feared that R would become violent downstairs so he asked R to go back to the bedroom. R trotted up the stairs in a boyish fashion, turned into his bedroom and ran straight for the reliquary of the Holy Cross. Father O’Flaherty caught his hand in time, but R reached for the open ritual and tore four pages out of the Exorcism formula. He grasped with lightning speed.
Then followed a spell in which Father Bowdern commanded that R should respond in Latin to the “Praecipio,” – “Dicas rnihi nomen tuum, et horam exitus tui finalis.” The only responses were a repetition of the La tin words followed by a remark, “———–“ or by “No!”, or by a laugh of ridicule.
At 12:15 spells continued with the same type of responses to the Praecipio.” There was jumbled mockery of the Latin questions. However, at this stage writing appeared on the boy. The Letters “GO” were printed in red as they were on the first night of the exorcism. At the command, “dicas mihi tiem,” three parallel scratches appeared on R’s thigh. At “horam” an X was branded. Three ??S? were branded on different parts of R’s body.
At 1:15 AM, R was so nervous that he begged to get out of bed and sit on a chair. His hands trembled in a nervous frenzy. He begged his father to take him back to Washington on Sunday; he could not stand the ordeal any longer; he feared going crazy. Relief came a t 1:40 in a natural sleep.
Sunday, April 3
At 7:00 AM, R threw a pillow against the ceiling light, but then went back to sleep. There was another short seizure at 8:30, but R went back to sleep until 11:30, then took breakfast.
About 12:00 noon, R walked downstairs but went into spells several times, but there was nothing of a serious note until 4:00 PM. R engaged in a ball game with his father, two uncles, and a cousin. At one point he tried to throw the ball to his father, but began to stagger as a drunken man. His father rushed to his assistance when the boy began to run in a straight line across the lawns of two of the neighbors. He ran with his eyes shut and with high speed. Three men closed in on him and carried him back home. In the kitchen R lifted the heavy kitchen table with one of his legs.
R ate very little supper and seemed abnormal. On one occasion he wrapped his ??? around a leg of the table and was pulled away by means of strong ???? force.
Fathers Bowdern, Van Room, Bishop and O’Flaherty arrived at the home at 7:00 PM. Within a few minutes R had a spell in which he grabbed at his aunt and would have torn her dress if several men had not come to her assistance.
R was carried upstairs fighting but came to himself shortly after he was thrown onto the bed. This was Passion Sunday, so the Fathers thought that God would put an end to R’s suffering on this night. The exorcism was begun in full but there was no response at the “Praecipio.”
One new feature of this evening was a kind of devilish prophecy concerning R’s little cousin XXXXXXXX. Shouting and singing in rhythm, R repeated over and over for about ten minutes, “You will die tonight. You will die tonight.” It was hard to quiet R by any means but a pillow in his face.
From 9:30 to 12:00 there was no disturbance except snoring and restless sleep. The Fathers departed at midnight, but more trouble began at 12:30. It became necessary to bind the arms of R with tape and to place gloves on his hands.
Then he complained of the pain from the adhesive tape and the heat of the gloves. However, when the tape and gloves were removed, R went about his violence again. It was 3:30 before quiet came.
Monday, April 4
Arrangements were made that the family was to go back to Washington, D.C. by train at 9:30 AM. R’s father had lost a lot of time from his work, and the strain upon the St. Louis XXXXXXXX was beginning to toll. Fathers Bowdern and Van Roo were to accompany R and his parents on the trip.
It was difficult to rouse R from his sleep, but cold water dashed in his face brought him out sufficiently so that he could be dressed. He was taken to the railroad station accompanied by his father, mother, uncle and friend of the family. There was no difficulty boarding the train. R walked and chatted normally. What happened on the trip and thereafter will form another report.
Jesuits who saw R under possession:
Rev. George Bischofberger, SJ Raymond J. Bishop, SJ
Joseph Boland, SJ William S. Bowdern, SJ Edmund Burke, SJ
John O’Flaherty, SJ William Van Rob, SJ
Mr. Walter Halloran, SJ Pro. Albert Schell, SJ
Monday, April 4
On route to Washington there was no trouble on the train all day. One short spell of violence occurred when R retired at 11:30 PM.
Wednesday, April 5
R awoke normally on the train and was taken to his home in Maryland without a mishap. In the course of the morning Fr.Bowdern met Fr.Hughes, the assistant pastor at St. James Church at Mt. Rainier and found that he had made arrangements with the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington that Father Bowdern would have full permission to continue with the exorcism.
Neither the Pastor nor the assistant at St. James, in whose parish R lives was able to assume the full responsibility of the case because of lack of room for the boy. It was thought advisable by all concerned that R should not be kept at home. Fathers Bowdern and Hughes tried several hospitals in Washington, but because of the nature of the case no one was willing to accept the burden.
Wednesday, April 6
Fathers Bowdern and Hughes drove to Baltimore to inquire about a room at the
????? Institute. The Daughters of Charity were willing to take the boy but the Doctors objected since the case was not psychiatric, and furthermore, since the hospital was dependent upon the State of Maryland for aid, each???client had to be accounted for on the records. It would have been strikingly ???? to include the treatment of exorcism.
With disappointment in Washington and Baltimore Father Bowdern decided to call again on his devoted friends, the Alexian Brothers in St. Louis. He called long distance and was assured a place for R through the kindness of Brother Rector (Cornelius).
R was normal during the entire day. He took some exercise in the afternoon. Upon retiring he had one very slight spell which lasted only seconds and may have been a nightmare.
Thursday, April 7
At XXXXXXXX, R was normal all day. He worked in the afternoon, spaded a little and cut the lawn. But the evening spell lasted for five hours, from 9:15 PM to 2:15 AM.
1) Branding: R was awake. During the exorcism at the “Praecipio” at least twenty brands appeared on R’s body. Many occurred at the name of Jesus as he recited the Hail Mary. The first mark was clearly a number “4”. Some other marks may have been the number “4” also, but were obscure. Mother marks: single stroke, double stroke, seemingly a pitch fork, several times four strokes or claw marks of various lengths on belly or legs. One set of such claw marks from thigh to ankle tearing off a scab near the ankle. When these marks occurred, the boy’s hands were kept away from his body. One branding occurred on his leg just as he started to lie down after the preceding mark had been observed. Most of the branding occurred under his clothing or at least under the sheet covering him.
2) Spitting, violence.
3) Singing: humming the “Ave Maria.”
4) Filthy talk.
5) Writing on his own body with fingernail the words “Hell” and “Christ” in large capital letters.
6) Through R the devil said he would keep the Priests until 6 a.m. He made this statement at 2 a.m. when everyone was fagged out. He said he would prove his threat by having 4 awaken immediately. R awoke with a start, but the Fathers were (unintelligible) when sound sleep came fifteen minutes after 2 a.m. It (??) throughout the possession that whenever R was completely (??) god permitted him to go off to sleep and…(???)
Friday, April (8)
R was normal all day. There was a five-hour session in the night from 8:15 p.m. to (??) a.m.
1) Began when R was alone in the bathroom, a few minutes after the Priests (??). Two and one-quarter hours of great physical violence. Half hour of crying. This continued with shorter spells until 1:20 a.m.: violence, spitting, nonsense jumbling of Latin questions, singing Blue Danube, Ave Maria, and so forth. There was filthy talk and movements and filthy attacks on those at the bedside concerning masturbation and contraceptives, sexual relations of Priests and Nuns.
2) Irritated and impatient after the long struggle. Fathers Hughes and Canning arrived with the Blessed Sacrament about 11 p.m. the house was blessed by Father Hughes. R twice threw pillow in direction of the Blessed Sacrament. He took one sedative spat it out, then finally swallowed it.
Saturday, April 9
On the return trip to St. Louis R was normal all day. He underwent a short spell upon retiring in the evening.
Sunday, April 10
When R returned to St. Louis he was sent immediately to the Alexian Brothers (??) where the Brothers took him into one of their private living rooms for the day. Fathers Bowdern, O’Flaherty, Van Roo, and Bishop arrived at the Hospital shortly after 7 p.m. (???)…fifth floor where he occupied the same room which was (??)…visit. The exorcism was completed and several Rosaries (??) but no disturbances occurred.
R went into a good sleep about 11p.m., but the Fathers decided to awaken him after midnight in order to give him Holy Communion. R was so fatigued that it seemed almost hopeless to keep him awake for more than seconds at a time.
(END OF PAGE 19)
Fathers were planning to abandon the experiment, R became quite normal and was able to receive Communion without special eff ort. The Blessed Sacrament brought peace to R. He settled back on his pillow with a smile and was soon in deep sleep. Nothing disturbing happened throughout the night.
Monday, April 11
Washington Post article that tweaked William Peter Blatty’s interest in The Exorcist caseBrother Emmet kept R occupied with manual work on his hospital floor, and what was most valuable, won the friendship and confidence of R so that the psychiatric surroundings were more understandable and agreeable.
Fathers Bowdern, Van Roo, Bishop and Mr. Halloran arrived at the Hospital at 8:00 PM. Father Bishop brought some Catholic readers and stories for R so that he would have more than his catechism for study and reading. R went to bed at 9:00 PM, and the exorcism was completed. The evening gave every reason for expecting quiet. While the Fatl1ers were reciting the Rosary R felt a sting on his chest, but upon examination only a blotch of red was observable. The Rosary was continued until R was struck more sharply by a branding on his chest. The letters were in caps and read in the direction of R’s crotch. “EXIT” seemed quite clear. On another branding, a large arrow followed up the word “EXIT and pointed to R’s penis. The word “EXIT” appeared at three different times in different parts of R’s body. R felt terrible pains in his kidneys and in his penis. He cried from tl1e burning sensations. When he urinated, he complained of even more severe pain.
At midnight, the Fathers planned to give R Holy Communion, but Satan would have no part of it. Even while the institution of the Blessed Sacrament was explained to R his body was badly scratched and branded. The world “HELL” was printed on his chest and thigh. Upon the explanation of the Apostles becoming Priests and receiving Our Lord at the Last Supper, scratches appeared from R’s hips to his ankles in heavy lines, seemingly as a protest to Holy Communion.
When Father Bowdern attempted to give R a small particle of the Sacred Host, the boy was taken off by a quick seizure and the devil said that he would not allow R to receive. After four or five attempts it was thought that a spiritual Communion would have to suffice. But even the expression of the words “I want to receive You in Holy Communion” was cut off by a seizure at the word “Communion.”
From all further indications during the evening, it seemed that the attempts to administer the Sacrament of the Eucharist roused the devil more than ordinarily. He went through his usual routine of fighting, barking, cursing, swearing, spitting and *****, but kept on longer than usual. There was no quiet sleep ********* of the edifying events of the night was the devotedness of ********* to constant prayer and their professional attitude at the ******.
Tuesday, April 12
Action began after tl1e exorcism prayers were *****. During the general recitation of the Rosary by the ******* Brothers the regular performance began, but with the omission of writing on R’s body. The noise and stinging were disturbing to everyone. R gave no response to the “Praecipio” except to imitate the Latin words, then laugh, or say, “Stick it up your ass.”
One new phase was the display of the devil’s power over the senses and external personality of R. In one instance the devil said he would have R awaken and the boy would be pleasant and attractive. The devil’s promise was true. A few minutes later the devil said he would have R awaken, but this time he would be offensive. True to the promise R came out of the spell very irritable and he complained quite bitterly to those who held him.
Several attempts were made to give R Holy Communion after midnight, but each trial was unsuccessful. The devil showed definitely tl1at he was not R speaking, for he said, “I will not let R receive Holy Communion…” It was about 1:30 AM before quiet sleep followed.
Wednesday, April 13
R received Holy Communion on arising in tl1e morning without encountering difficulty. During the afternoon R was taken out to the White House (Retreat House) and shown the chapel there, as well as the ***** stations of the Cross. At the fourteenth Station, when R was farthest away from the *********, he went into a spell and had to be carried back to the car by ************. The seizure lasted about twenty minutes.
In the evening R was ready for bed at 8:45. He was bright and cheerful and **************** trick gadgets that Father McMahon had given him. As he sat on the bed, and before any prayers were begun, R went off into a quick but violent seizure. It seemed to the exorcists that this would be an important evening. R spoke almost immediately and said that God had commanded him to leave at 11:00 o’clock tonight, but that he would not leave without a struggle. He proved the latter part of his promise by showing relatively more physical power than at any previous time. He stayed in his first spell for twenty minutes while Father Bowdern worked on the exorcism and the Brothers prayed the Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.
In the “Praecipio” Father Bowdern had always been ***** in getting response in Latin, and he kept up his demands. The devil ignored the command, answered in pig Latin, playfully imitated the commands, or used the common expression “Stick it up your ass.” He began singing the words, “stick it up, stick it up.” In no instance up to this point in the case has the devil answered in Latin, although his imitation of Latin was clear and distinct.
Filthy talk and damning threats to those at the bedside continued as on other evenings. A new note of the evening was the loud nuisance shouting of “Fire!!” At 10:45 R began to imitate the sound of a large church bell sounding out the 11:00 o’clock *****. He sustained the “ng” sound at the end of the word “bong.” After 11:00 PM the same cathedral bell sounds were repeated, but it was very evident that the devil had deceived everyone by his first remark of the evening.
After midnight unsuccessful attempts were made to give R Holy Communion. Satan said again that he would not permit Holy Communion. He laughed at each of the attempts. R could not repeat the word “Communion,” before he went into the spell.
The Brothers had prayed valiantly for several hours around midnight. They completed more tl1an fifty decades of the Rosary and tl1eir prayerful assistance is worthy of the highest comment. Round-tl1e-clock adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was begun by the Brothers on Monday or Tuesday evening.
Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Holy Saturday, April 14, 15, 16
R received Holy Communion from the Hospital Chaplain, Father Widman, on Thursday morning. The Fathers arrived for prayers of exorcism in the evening. Rosary was continued by the Brothers. There were no reactions before or after midnight on Thursday. The Fathers were informed tl1is night that Brother
Rector purchased a new Statue of Our Lady of Fatima and had it placed in a conspicuous spot on the first floor corridor of the Hospital. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin with the petition that Our Lady of Fatima would intercede for R in his ordeal. The Brothers promised Community devotions to Our Lady of Fatima should R be spared from further affliction.
No disturbances of any sort occurred on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday. R listened attentively to the Ire Ore services broadcast over WEW on Good Friday.
On Holy Saturday, Brother Rector bought a small colorful statue of St. Michael the Archangel. The statue was placed in R’s room. It should be remarked here that one of the most effective prayers of exorcism was that dedicated to St. Michael.
After midnight of Saturday, arrangements were made that R should be awakened for 6:30 Communion, and that he should attend the second Mass in the Brothers’ chapel, Easter morning.
Easter Sunday, April 17
Father Widman, Hospital Chaplain, made three unsuccessful attempts to give R Holy Communion in his room. After some waiting and slapping of R the fourth attempt succeeded.
Brother Theophane, who was on nurse duty in R’s room, was reading the Office of the Blessed Virgin. It was about 6:45 AM, when he came to the “Regina Caeli” R jumped out of bed, then grabbed the Office Book from the Brother and reached for the scapular from the Brother’s habit, which was placed on a nearby chair. R fought and spit at the Brother and trampled the scapular underfoot in an Indian war dance. The devil said, “I will not let him go to Mass.
Everyone thinks it will be good for him”. It was impossible to get R to the chapel because of his frequent seizures. Father Bowdern was called to the Hospital, and shortly after his arrival the spell was broken. There was no further reaction until evening.
In the evening R was spending a little time with the Brothers at ***** *** outside the Hospital. Brother Emmet was escorting R back to the basement floor of the Hospital when R went into a fighting spell. The Brother was alone and shouted for help but it was some time before the other Brothers heard *** Brother Emmet was quite exhausted from the struggle. R was carried into the elevator and placed in his fifth floor room. The Fathers immediately began the prayers of exorcism, and the usual indications of violence continued. The ******showed his power again by saying that he would have R awaken and ask for a knife.
He had threatened to kill those who molested him while in his seizure. When R came out of the spell, he asked for a knife so that he might cut an Easter egg.
A little later the devil said that they would have R awaken and ask for a drink of water, and R carried out the plan.
There was no response to the “Praecipio” except taunting remarks to the exorcists. Everyone, including R, was becoming weary of the long performance. R did not begin to sleep until midnight. The Fathers left the Hospital at 12:45 PM.
Monday, April 18
8:00 AM – R awoke in a spell, kicking at the Brother at the bedside. He jumped out of bed, seized the Holy Water bottle, threatened to throw it at the Brothers, then sprinkled Water toward them. Finally, he threw the bottle over their heads, smashing it against the ceiling.
8:15 AM – Father Widman attempted to give R communion, It was impossible. Spitting: unable to make even spiritual Communion: Made one spiritual Communion. The devil then seized him and said that one devil was out, and that R had to make nine Communions (sacramental or spiritual apparently) and then he would leave his body. R continued for an hour unable to make spiritual communion or to receive the Sacrament.
10:00 AM – There were more spells when attempting Spiritual Communion. R was able to say: “I wish to receive you” (That is all the Priest attempted to have him say, since it was sufficient). the devil laughed and said: “That isn’t enough. He has to say one more word, one little word, I mean one BIG word. He’ll never say it say it. He has to make nine Communions. He’ll never say that word. I am always in him. I may not have much power always, but I am in him. He will never say that word” Several spells: violence, singing, urination.
11:30 AM – R said he was very hungry, and wanted a bath and food. We put him off until noon. Then gave him a tray: cake, ice cream, milk. H threw the glass against the wall, scattering broken glass all over.
Violence intermittent until about 1:30 PM. R was very discouraged and disgusted and mean.
In the afternoon the Brothers brought R a serving of chipped beef and arranged R’s tray on a little table in his room. R picked up the plate, ran over to the window, held the plate in an almost perpendicular manner in the palm of his hand and dared the Brothers to step closer. One of the Brothers crawled under the bed to catch R at his feet, the other circled the bed to restrain R’s arms, but the plate was fired mightily against the opposite wall. No one was hurt but the plate was broken to bits.
On the trip to the Hospital on this evening the Fathers had decided that in the “Praecipio” Father Bowdern would ask for the responses in English. Moreover, the medals were to be left on R in spite of this protests to the contrary. *** **** was to be placed in R’s hand when he was under his spells. These resolutions were discussed and carried out because of the information gathered from the reading concerning several other cases of possession.
Father Bowdern, O’Flaherty and Bishop arrived at the Hospital at 7:00 PM. Father Van Roo had been with R during the greater part of the day, but was relieved by the Brothers shortly before the evening meal.
R asked to telephone his mother, but on his way to the telephone he went into a spell and had to be carried back to his room, in a fighting mood.
Father Bowdern read the rite of exorcism quietly. When he came to the words *** *** *****, Tu fiscera regas, ” blessed R with signs of the Cross. **** **** *** he repeated the expressions perfectly and asked their meaning. Several times later he repeated the Latin. The signs of the Cross and the Crucifix were very effective. R fought hard when the Crucifix was forced into his hand. In one instance R threw the Crucifix out of his hand.
Next Father O”Flaherty began teaching R the first half of the Ave Maria in Latin because R had expressed a real interest in Latin. In the space of fifteen minutes R could recite a good portion of the prayer unassisted. After the memory lesson Father O”Flaherty told R the complete story of Our Lady of Fatima to which R paid strict attention. A little later he asked for a Catholic reader containing eighth grade prose and poetry, and then thumbed through several stories as he sat in bed. Finally, in a boyish way, he took to balancing the book on his knees and on his head.
R went into a spell while he held the book on his knees and immediately the book was thrown into the corner of the room. From 9:30 until 10:00 PM, R was in and out of seizures. Barring his quiet moments the most impressive prayer of the evening was R’s relevance seemed truly remarkable.
R was more co-operative this night than he had ever been before. He felt that they had to pray whenever he was out of his seizure. He asked whether he could make Spiritual Communions on his own, and he wondered whether through his prayers he himself could bring on spells at different times. Whenever he became normal he reverted to prayer. He stated several times that he saw more light each time he went into a spell. The light seemed to be at the end of a dark tunnel.
R complained several times that the medals on his neck were hot and he asked that they be removed, but tl1e medal were not taken off. Father Bowdern forced a small reliquary crucifix into R’s hand when he was in a spell. The reaction to the medals and the cross was exceptional. When Father William blessed R with his ordination crucifix and asked R to kiss the image, R went into a spell.
During all the above seizures Father Bowdern continued the “Praecipio” and asked them the response be given in English. This procedure was a change from the regular routine. In the commands up to this time, Latin had been ****** ****. The devil is one instance, March 31, had written that the Priests were*** **** *** Latin answers, and he stated that he uses the language *** *** ***** possessed. While Father Bowdern used the “Praecipio”, Father Bishop **** ****** **** *and over again the exorcism prayer ***.,,,·** ******.
T 10:45 PM, the most striking event of the evening occurred. R was in a seizure, but lay calm. In clear, commanding tones, and with dignity, a voice broke into the prayers. The following is an accurate quotation:
“Satan! Satan! I am Saint Michael, and I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave the body in the name of Dominus, immediately. — Now! NOW! N O W! ”
Then there were the most violent contortions of the entire period of exorcism, that is since March 16. Perhaps this was the fight to the finish. Father O’Flaherty and the Brothers were weary and sore physically from the exertion. After seven or eight minutes of violence R, in a tome of complete relief said, “He’s gone!” Immediately R came back to normal and said he felt fine.
R now explained what he saw. He said there was a brilliant white light and in that light stood a very beautiful man, with flowing, wavy hair that blew in the breeze. He wore a white robe that fitted close to his body. The material gave the impression of scales. Only the upper half of the body of this man was visible to R. In his right hand he held up a wavy and fiery sword in front of him. With his left hand he pointed down to a pit or cave. R said he saw the devil standing in the cave. R felt the heat from the cave and saw the flames.
First the devil fought, resisting the angel and laughing diabolically. Then the angel smiled at R and spoke, but R heard only the one word “Dominus”. As the angel spoke, the devil and about ten of his helpers ran back into the fire of the cave or pit. After the devil disappeared the letters “Spite” appeared on the bars of the cave. As the devils disappeared into the pit R felt a pulling or tugging in the region of his stomach. As the devils disappeared, he felt a snapping, and then felt relaxed completely, He said that this was the most relaxed feeling he had since the whole experience began in January.
R relate his visual experience at 11:00 PM. This time was approximate to the time that the manifestations of the devil began in Cottage City, Maryland, on the evening of January 15, 1959.
After 12:00 midnight, R ***led another Rosary and the Fathers and Brothers responded. He was composed and peaceful.
Arrangements were made that Father Van Roo, SJ, would say Mass for R in the Hospital Chapel At 9:30, Tuesday morning.
Tuesday, April 19
R was awakened from a heavy sleep and taken to the chapel where he attended the first Holy Mass since he became a Catholic. He likewise received Holy Communion at the alter rail with no difficulty. R promised to say ten Rosaries in thanks giving to Our Lady of Fatima during the course of the day. When the Fatthers **** R in his thanksgiving.
Since Monday at 11:00 PM there have been no indications of the presence of the devil.
– – Dated the Feast of St. Mark, April 25, 1949
August 19, 1951. R and his father and mother visited the Brothers. R, now 16 is a fine young man. His father and mother also became Catholic, having received their first Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1950
11/8/70 Verified residence of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX with telephone operator……xxxxxx lives inxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx now lives in xxxxxxxxx Has unlisted phone number.
[END OF DIARY TRANSCRIPTION]
Washington Post article that inspired William Blatty to write The Exorcist…
Below is a transcript of the 1949 Washington Post article that William Peter Blatty says inspired him to write The Exorcist.
Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip
By Bill Brinkley
Friday, Aug. 20, 1949
In what is perhaps one of the most remarkable experiences of its kind in recent religious history, a 14-year-old Mount Rainier boy has been freed by a Catholic priest of possession by the devil, Catholic sources reported yesterday.
Only after between 20 and 30 performances of the ancient ritual of exorcism, here and in St. Louis, was the devil finally cast out of the boy, it was said.
In all except the last of these, the boy broke into a violent tantrum of screaming, cursing and voicing of Latin phrases-a language he had never studied-whenever the priest reached the climactic point of the ritual, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I cast thee (the devil) out.”
In complete devotion to his task, the priest stayed with the boy over a period of two months, during which he said he personally witnessed such manifestations as the bed in which the boy was sleeping suddenly moving across the room.
A Washington Protestant minister had previously reported personally witnessing similar manifestations, including one in which the pallet on which the sleeping boy lay slid slowly across the floor until the boy’s head bumped against a bed, awakening him.
In another instance, reported by the Protestant minister, a heavy armchair in which the boy was sitting with his knees drawn under his chin tilted slowly to one side and fell over, throwing the boy on the floor.
The final rite of exorcism in which the devil was cast from the boy took place in May, it was reported …
A priest here voiced the belief that it was probably the first casting out of the devil through the ritual in at least a century of Catholic activities here and perhaps in the entire history of the church in this area. …
The boy was taken to Georgetown University Hospital here where his affliction was exhaustively studied, and to St. Louis University. Both are Jesuit institutions.
Finally, both Catholic hospitals, said the priest, reported they were unable to cure the boy through natural means.
Only then, said a priest here, was a supernatural cure sought.
The ritual was undertaken by a St. Louis priest-a Jesuit in his 50s-who devoted himself to the task through prayers and fasting.
The ritual began in St. Louis, continued here and finally ended in St. Louis.
For two months the priest stayed with the boy, accompanying him back and forth on the train, sleeping in the same house and sometimes in the same room with him. …
Even through the ritual of exorcism the boy was by no means cured readily.
Repeatedly, each time the ritual was performed, the final violent reaction would come from the boy when the words were spoken, “I cast thee out”-a reaction of profanity and screaming and the astounding use of Latin phrases, the priest was reported as saying.
In one manifestation the boy reported that he had seen a vision of St. Michael casting out the devil.
Finally, at the last performance of the ritual, the boy was quiet. Since then, it was reported, all manifestations have ceased.
[End of article.]
(Sources: The Sun/UK; Wikipedia/William Bowdern; http://altereddimensions.net/2016/ronald-hunkeler-exorcism-inspired-the-exorcist)
(Images/Art: Pinterest; Fineartamerica; Wikipedia)