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TITLE: The Exorcisms of Anneliese Michel  


WARNING: The recordings at the end of this article are disturbing. Listen at your own discretion. 

Today at half past one I had a telephone call from Father Alt. He did not give his address. He described a case of exorcism (driving out of devils) to me, which he said that he had carried out on a young girl, Anneliese Michel, of Klingenberg. He described previous treatments that the girl had undergone, all without success, by psychiatrists and neurologists in Aschaffenburg, specifically Dr. Luthy in Wurzburg. He described the symptoms that she had been suffering from the successes and failures of the exorcism. He mentioned that during periods of arousal she was at times unable to eat or drink, and that this had also happened recently. Everyone had hoped, however, that she would soon start taking nourishment again. Finally he mentioned that the girl had died this morning. When I called the courthouse in Klingenberg at about three, the clerk told me that Josef Michel, the dead girl’s father, had come to the office there at about one o’clock and had applied for a death certificate for his daughter. He said that she had suddenly developed a very high fever and had quite unexpectedly died this morning. When he was informed that only a physician could issue such a certificate after properly having viewed the body, he said that there was a physician at his house right now. The clerk called his home and spoke to a Dr. Roth. Whether this person was indeed a physician is not known.  Dr. Roth said that he did not have the requisite forms. He did not carry out any postmortem examination. Burial is to be Saturday morning. Upon calling the general practitioner in Klingenberg, Dr. Martin Kehler, I was informed that the latter had found at his postmortem that the corpse was totally emaciated and still warm. It exhibited a number of skin abrasions. He did not issue a death certificate because he could not attest to a natural cause of death.  He suggested that an autopsy be carried out. He also told me that he had last seen the girl in a good nutritional state in October 1975. Two months ago her father had called him and asked him to come and make a house call. A little later, however, he called and cancelled it. I have asked the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Wurzburg to make preparations for the autopsy. 

Signed at Aschaffenburg, July 1, 1976 
District Attorney 
From the book The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel by Felicitas D. Goodman 

A Little Background 

Born on September 21, 1952, Anneliese Michel was raised in a small Bavarian town to Anna and Josef Michel. She had 3 younger sisters, and was, by all accounts a sweet, kind girl. As a child though, she was very sick and had the Measles, the Mumps, AND Scarlet Fever (jeez). 

I grew up a devout Catholic. I had to go to church every Sunday, went to Catholic school, completed the sacraments, the whole shebang.  I remember when my grandfather would get a cold, he would not take medication. He would suffer and “offer it up” for the souls in purgatory. In other words, he would suffer through his ailment in order to help a suffering soul get to heaven a little faster. But if I was a 4 on the Catholic school girl scale, this girl was a 40. It’s been reported that she would spend winter nights sleeping on the cold floor so that God would use her sacrifice as contrition for sinners. Now that’s devotion. 

Anneliese wanted to be a teacher, and her high school friend Maria Burdich described her as being a “jolly girl, participating in the usual school girl pranks and jokes.” (Goodman). However, one day at school when she was 16 she blacked out. Later that same night, she woke up and could not move. She tried to scream out for help, but nothing escaped her lips. Anneliese later reported that she felt as though a “giant force” was pinning her down. She urinated on the bed.  One year later, the exact same thing happened. She reported the incident to her mother who worriedly took her to a neurologist, Dr. Luthy. He performed an EEG and concluded that all neurological and psychological tests were normal. Because she had only had 2 “incidents” within a year’s time, he did not prescribe medication. 

As if things could not get worse medically (believe me, they get much, much worse medically-and otherwise), this poor girl has to have her tonsils removed. This leads to pleurisy, (an inflammation of the lining of the lungs) pneumonia, and complications related to Tuberculosis. She’s sent to a special hospital for lung diseases. While there she becomes despondent but says her rosary every day and prays to the Virgin Mother. Some of the other girls enter her room one night as she is praying and she hears one of them say, “What’s wrong with her? What’s wrong with her eyes?” She asked them what they were talking about, and they told her that they thought her eyes were blue, but when they walked in and saw her praying that they were black. Anneliese told them that they were daft and went back to praying. It was about this time that she began seeing demonic faces outside of her hospital room window. 

While still at the lung hospital, in June of 1970, she suffered another episode of blacking out during the day and sleep paralysis at night. She was taken to another neurologist and this time put on anti-seizure medications. She was finally able to go home in August of 1970. She was a changed person when she came home. According to family and friends, she only wanted to talk about religious topics and became withdrawn and apathetic. She continues to have “seizures” and her mother takes her back to Dr. Luthy who treats her with Zentropil. Her last EEG was performed on June 4, 1973 and was “free of abnormalities”. 

So…our poor, sweet Anneliese is being treated for seizures even though there is no brain activity noting epilepsy. She is most definitely suffering from depression, which is not being addressed, and everything is about to (quite possibly literally) go to hell in a handbasket. 

The Torment Begins 

Josef sees his daughter falling deeper into the depression and suggests that just he and Anneliese take a trip to San Damiano. This 12th Century monastery and shrine is near Assisi, Italy which is known for the place where St. Francis (my favorite Saint by the way) received his calling.  Anneliese was excited and liked the woman, Frau Hein, who was organizing the bus trip. Once there, Anneliese was unable to enter the shrine stating that “the soil burned her feet”. She walked around and tried to enter from the back but could not. She looked at the people inside kneeling at the shrine, praying, and she reported that it seemed to her as though that they were gnashing their teeth. She could not look upon the image of Christ nor any religious medals. 

On the bus ride home, Anneliese “spoke with a man’s voice” (Goodman), ripped a medal off Frau Hein’s neck, and reeked of something so foul that it filled the entire bus. Anna was beside herself with worry (as any mother would be) and took her back to Dr. Luthy. Anneliese explained to the doctor that she was seeing ghastly faces…”the devil is inside me” she told him. Dr. Luthy advised Anna to find a Jesuit priest. The family sought out priests who in turn suggested the family consult with neurologists and they ping ponged back and forth for about almost 2 years. 

Finally, the family was directed to Father Ernst Alt. Both Anna and Anneliese wrote letters to him asking for help. In a letter to the bishop, Fr. Alt stated the following, 

Father Herrmann…handed me (the letters). I was unable to read them, because all of the sudden, I became so nauseated that I thought that at any moment I was going to faint. That evening I celebrated mass…something hit me in the back, the air turned cold, and, at the same time, there was an intense stench as though something was burning. The subsequent night was the most restless I have ever spent. I had taken a very effective sleeping pill, one that had previously always helped, but I could find no rest. My apartment filled with a variety of stenches, as though something were burning of dung, of an open sewer, of fecal matter, and these kept alternating. In addition, there was a loud thumping in my wardrobe. I lay in bed, feeling sorely pressed. I tried to pray. In my own words I spoke an exorcism, thinking of my priestly power. I felt easier, but I was simultaneously ice cold and bathed in my own perspiration. I called to Father Pio for help…and suddenly my room filled with such an intense fragrance of violets. When, the following evening I told my fellow priests about all of this, they were suddenly able to smell the same strange stench. 

From the Book Anneliese Michel A true story of a case of demonic possession Germany-1976 by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea and Lawrence E.U. LeBlanc 

Bishop Josef Stangl approved Fr. Alt’s request for an exorcism and sent Fr. Arnold Renz along for help. September 25, 1975 began the first of 67 exorcisms performed on Anneliese Michel. 

Father Alt and Father Renz 

The Exorcisms 

Anneliese claimed to be possessed by many demons, including Satan himself. Some of the others included Judas Iscariot, Nero, Cain, a 16th century Frankish priest and Hitler (I mean, if you’re gonna go big…). At one point Judas stated through Anneliese that the other demons didn’t like Hitler because he bragged (can you blame them?…I mean NO ONE likes Hitler). It was reported that during the course of the exorcisms, Anneliese did some pretty disturbing things including, eating spiders and flies, urinating on the floor and licking it up, biting the head off of a dead bird, barking like a dog for days at a time, and biting and scratching her family. 

She would fall to her knees and quickly rise up again, genuflecting, doing this hundreds of times each day until she broke her kneecaps. She refused food and water claiming that the demons would not let her eat. Still the priests persisted. At one point during the exorcisms, the demon stated, “I can speak any language but speak to me in German”. The priests tested this and asked questions in Latin, Dutch and Chinese and were answered back in those languages. (Father Renz had been a missionary in China). (source: Mystics of the Church). 

She did have moments of lucidity in which she stated that it was her decision to refuse food to atone for the wayward youth of the world (she was “offering it up” like my Grandpop, but like a zilliontimes more). She refused to go to the hospital or let a physician come to the house. 

The progression of Anneliese’s physical state 

Help From Above 

During one of the exorcisms in October of 1975, the demons became extremely agitated stating that there were several “heavenly visitors” present. Some of those “visitors” included the Virgin Mother, Padre Pio, St. Michael the Archangel and several of Anneliese’s deceased loved ones. They were reportedly there to encourage her and assist in the exorcism. (note: this is not the first time St. Michael the Archangel has been reported to have been known to help in an exorcism. The true case behind the movie The Exorcist has reports of help from St. Michael). 

Her Death 

On July 1st, 1976 Anneliese Michel died. The official coroner’s report lists her cause of death as dehydration and malnutrition. She weighed 68 pounds. Anneliese’s parents, Anna and Josef, and Father Alt and Father Renz were charged with negligent homicide and sentenced to 6 months in prison. She is buried now in a cemetery within view of the home in which she suffered her horrible fate.  

There are many things I could say about this story as a mental health professional. There are a lot of things I could say about this as a Catholic. 

42 hours worth of recordings were preserved from the exorcisms. After listening, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this girl was possessed or mentally ill. 


These recordings are extremely disturbing. I’m not just saying that to be dramatic…they are really, really creepy. Regardless of your view on this case, this poor girl suffered. 

Part 1:


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