Religion: Exorcist & Energumen

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In St. Anthony's Monastery of the Capuchin Friars at Marathon, Wis. last week, a wise and white-haired monk named Rev. Theophilus Riesinger went about his daily orisons and meditations, indifferent to the fact that he was being widely publicized among U. S. Catholics as a potent and mystic exorcist of demons. Publicizers were the Religious Bulletin of the University of Notre Dame, and the Catholic Register of Denver, whose 300,000 subscribers last fortnight read the following story condensed from a pamphlet called Begone Satan!

In 1928, a certain 40-year-old woman was taken first to a church, then to a Franciscan convent in Earling, Iowa. Apparently an energumen, she had exhibited symptoms of diabolical possession for a dozen years: she could not pray, take communion or even pronounce the name of Christ. Doctors had examined her, found her neither mentally nor physically abnormal. With the approval of the Bishop of Des Moines, the woman was made ready for exorcism by learned Father Theophilus, who upon 19 prior occasions had successfully made use of the Church's ancient rite, canonically available to all priests, for casting out devils.

Strong-armed nuns bound her, placed her upon a bed. But soon as Father Theophilus began the long series of prayers and commands to the devils to depart, "with lightning speed the possessed dislodged herself from the bed and the hands of protectors, and her body, carried through the air, landed high above the door of the room and clung to the wall with catlike grips." It was necessary to pull her down by force.

The demons in the energumen readily identified themselves. One was Judas. Another was the woman's dead father, named Jacob, who said he was damned for attempting unsuccessfully to induce her to commit incest with him. A third was Mina, the dead man's concubine, who said she had "murdered four little ones." Finally there were Beelzebub and hordes of imps who seemed to leave and reenter the energumen's body. The voices of all the demons issued from her mouth, with varying intonation, in English, German and Latin.

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