The Real Exorcism of Emily Rose
by Allan Hall
A polished film version of happenings in a small Bavarian town nearly 30 years ago has re-opened barely healed wounds.
Jennifer Carpenter plays the role of Emily Rose
Citizens of the beautiful wine-growing community of Klingenberg go about their business, ignoring as best they can the pilgrims who turn up by the coachload at the churchyard where Anneliese Michel's grave is marked by a white cross. The inscription reads that she "sleeps with God" - but there has been little rest for the townspeople since her death in July 1976.
The film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, is based on her fate and has drawn a new generation of visitors - spiritual, religious and curious - to her grave.
Every month up to five bucketfuls of soil have to be replaced as handfuls are taken as souvenirs.
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Looking down over the graveyard is an old woman who rarely leaves her window spot during daylight. It is Ms Michel's mother, Anna, now 85, who, along with her late husband, was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for her part in the exorcism and ultimate death of her daughter.
"Are you Catholic?" are the first words that Mrs Michel asks visitors who knock on her door.
"Go and look at her grave if you want answers. I have none. She was a lovely child and the devil took her."
Christina Metzer, of the local tourist office, does not welcome the influx of visitors. She said: "Everyone is aware of what took place but it was pushed to the back of our consciousness. Now it is all bubbling up again,"
Anneliese, who was born in 1952, was brought up drinking holy water and being woken in the night to pray.
In 1968 she began shaking and could not control her body.
A neurologist diagnosed her with "grand mal" epilepsy and she was treated in hospital.
Soon after, Anneliese started seeing devilish grimaces as she prayed.
She then began to hear voices saying she would "stew in hell" and told doctors "demons" were giving her orders.
In summer 1973, her parents asked for an exorcism. Their requests were rejected, but Anneliese's condition deteriorated and she could be heard screaming for hours, breaking crucifixes, destroying paintings of Jesus and pulling apart rosaries. She also mutilated herself. In September 1975, the Bishop of Wurzburg, Josef Stangl, ordered two priests to perform "The Great Exorcism" on Anneliese to save her from possession by demons.
From September 1975 until July 1976, one or two exorcism sessions were held each week. Her attacks were so strong she had to be held down by three men, or chained up.
For several weeks she refused all food.
On the last day of the exorcism, 30 June, 1976, she was suffering from a high fever and was emaciated. She was exhausted and unable to genuflect, so her parents stood in and helped her through the motions.
"Beg for absolution" was the last thing she said to the exorcists. To her mother, she said: "Mother, I'm afraid".
Forensic evidence showed Anneliese had starved to death.
Purchase the Emily Rose DVD. Click here.
Story source scotsman.com.
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