A famous Catholic priest who was formally trained as an exorcist is recounting how he came face to face with the devil.
Though he is now deceased, the story of Father Gabriel Amorth has been captured in a new memoir penned by author Marcello Stanzione. In The Devil Is Afraid of Me: The Life and Work of the World's Most Famous Exorcist, Stanzione describes the life of this priest in Rome, who is said to have performed over 60,000 exorcisms over the course of his 30 years as an exorcist priest.
During one such exorcism in 1997, Amorth reportedly encountered not just a demon but Satan.
The afflicted young man came into a small room where Amorth ministered to people and the priest felt confronted by evil.
“His curses and threats were aimed solely at the exorcist; then he began spitting at him and preparing to attack him physically,” Stanzione recounted in the book. "Screaming and howling, the demon burst forth and looked straight at him, drooling saliva from the young man’s mouth.”
Amorth then rebuked the foul spirit and demanded that it tell him its name.
The man glared at the priest and replied, snarling: “I am Lucifer.”
The priest continued to pray and recited verses of the Roman Rite of Exorcism but the demon "resumed his shrieks, making the possessed turn his head back and his eyes roll" and the demonized man "remained like this with his back arched for a quarter of an hour.”
As the exorcism session went on, “the room became extremely cold and ice crystals formed on the windows and the walls.”
The young man's body became so stiff that he became hard and started levitating, hovering three feet in the air, as the priest continued to command that the demonic spirit leave the man.
According to the book's online description, Amorth also explains how the actions of the Evil One can be recognized, how demonic spirits enter human beings, the methods by which humans can become demonized, and why no possibility for salvation exists for fallen angels, among other questions and spiritual considerations.
A typical exorcism he conducted lasted an average of 30 minutes, and Amorth would do five per morning, with breaks in between. He reportedly considered it as effective to perform the rite via Skype or telephone.
The Italian-born Amorth, who is said to have known he was destined for the priesthood when he was 10 years old, died in September 2016 at the age of 91.
Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists, headquartered in Rome, in 1990.
The new book comes as demand for exorcisms has increased worldwide, necessitating an effort to train more priests and pastors to conduct them.
In May of last year, for the first time in 14 years, the Roman Catholic Church opened up its annual exorcism class in Rome to every major Christian denomination.
“I'm here to understand the Catholic perspective. We are fighting the same enemy in the name of the Lord, even if there are some parts of the Anglican Church that have lost belief in Satan,” course participant Benjamin McEntire, a Protestant priest from Alaska, said at the time.
Amid a proliferating secularization, satanic groups have grown significantly, particularly among the young and on social media, attendees at the course concurred.