Be Gone Satan
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Spiritual Warfare Library
Begone Satan!A Soul-Stirring Account of Diabolical Possession
Woman Cursed by Her Own Father,Possessed from 16th Year til 40th Year
Written in German byRev. Carl Vogl
Translated byRev. Celestine Kapsner
NIHIL OBSTAT: Rev. Alexius Hoffmann, O.S.B.
IMPRIMATUR:Joseph F. BuschBishop of St. Cloud, MinnesotaJuly 23, 1935
In regard to Begone Satan, some persons have asked the question: Why publish a story of this kind in our age and civilization? One could answer this by replying that our age and civilization needs to learn anew a lesson that was vainly laughed to scorn in past generations.
During His sojourn here on earth Christ cast out devils at various times. The powers of Christ were transmitted to the Apostles and their successors; and the Church's ordinary rite of ordination to the Priesthood includes the order of exorcist, in which Christ's power to cast out devils is transmitted. The Church, moreover, has a special rite for such exorcisms, and throughout the ages she has witnessed the effective use of it. Her long experience also explains her extreme caution, her extensive investigation of a case, before permitting any exorcism. For a time it was fashionable to scoff at demoniacal possession as part and parcel of an outmoded superstition of bygone ages of ignorance like the attitude of a lifetime ago in regard to the miracles of Lourdes. But facts are stubborn, also against the scoffing of so-called enlightened criticism. Stubborn facts cannot be denied even when they baffle all natural explanation. The absurd thing about such a position is that the critics just know that supernatural or preternatural phenomena simply cannot be.
We have become much more sober in our day. And it is a healthy sign that the man of education no longer scoffs so readily at that which he cannot explain. So much has been gained for perennial common sense.
To a great extent the essential matters of Christian faith are beyond the field of natural knowledge. However, any viewpoint that is flatly contradicted by true natural knowledge cannot be a matter of Christian faith. In regard to sin and the Kingdom of Satan, Christian faith teaches Christ's conquest of Satan and Satan's dominion by His death and resurrection. Now this conquest is shared by individual souls in the sacrament of Baptism, the rite of which contains several solemn exorcisms as well as renunciation of Satan and his pomps. In the light of this Christian faith, it is not at all surprising that Satan should be regaining something of his hold on men in our day. For we have in several past centuries witnessed the increased abandonment by men of the Church of Christ, and among non-Catholic denominations the increased abandonment of the sacrament of Baptism. What is this but a great surrender to the powers of evil ?
Virgil Michel, O.S.B., Ph.D.
Letter from a doctor
Dr. John Dundon, Physician and Surgeon1228 E. Brady St., Milwaukee, Wis
Rev. Celestine Kapsner, O.S.B.St. John's AbbeyCollegeville, Minn.
Dear Father Kapsner:
We wish to endorse your pamphlet Vade Satana; as a potent aid to faith in the value of sacramentals, relics of the saints, and prayer. No more vivid picture has been presented to us of the losing battle against the camp of Christ. Nothing has made our insistent floundering from the camp of Christ to the camp of the devil appear so absurd. The memory it has instilled of the hatred of Satan and the eternal misery of his permanent army, evokes a continuous inventory of one's life, savoring of the minuteness of the final judgment. That it will save many souls we have no doubt. That some will borrow fruitless fright is also possible, but for them one must say that if the picture is terrible the real thing must be worse. Agony is the lot of all at least once.
Satan has seemed too unreal. It would be a pity if this pamphlet were to be suppressed because some weak souls have been made to sense him more vividly than the author intends. We were granted an interview with the exorcist, Father Theophilus, after reading your account of the diabolical possession. We treasure the experience as an intimate glimpse into the life of a pious priest very gifted in a specialty which should command the patronage of the medical profession, rather than to be allotted to the realm of superstition or necromancy. We anxiously await his complete report of the Earling
Yours very truly,
J. D. Dundon, M.D.
A Sensational Expulsion of the Devil which occurred in Iowa in 1928.
Nineteen hundred years ago, Christ, the Son of God, came upon this earth. He gained the victory over Satan, the Prince of this World, and founded His own Kingdom, the Church. He vested His Church with the same powers that He had received from the Father. As the Father sent Me, so I send you.
When preparing her candidates for the ministry, Holy Mother Church hands these powers over to them that they may continue the mission of Christ's Kingdom on earth. Preparatory to Holy Priesthood the candidate receives the so-called minor and major orders. Among the minor orders is one called the Order of Exorcist. When the Bishop confers this order he pronounces the following significant words: You receive the power to place your hand upon those possessed and through the imposition of your hands, the grace of the Holy Ghost and the words of exorcism you shall drive evil spirits out of the bodies of those so possessed.
The Solemn and powerful meaning attached to this ceremony, not conferred in any of the other orders, can be gleaned from the words: Receive and impress upon your mind that you receive the right to place your hand upon those possessed.
Later on the Bishop invites the faithful to join him in asking that he who is to receive this order may be an effective agent in expelling the evil spirit from those possessed. He continues to pray that the candidate may become an approved physician of the Church through the gift of healing conferred upon her by the Almighty Himself.
The Church bases her action on the example of Christ Himself, Who frequently drove out evil spirits and endowed His disciples with full authority to do likewise. The superficial faith of our age regards such an order as superfluous. The reality of hell, devils, and cases of possession have been denied as myths of the dark ages. Even if Christ and the Apostles repeatedly emphasized the powers of the evil spirit, these are looked upon as purely superstitious. That Satan has succeeded in making man so indifferent regarding his actions of misleading men is one of his greatest and most advantageous accomplishments. People rarely listen to anything of a supernatural nature. Actual happenings of the I supernatural order in our times are all the more striking therefore and cannot so readily be dismissed by a mere shrug of the shoulders -- facts such as the numerous and indisputable miracles at Lourdes, the extraordinary visions, stigmata, abstention from food, and gift of languages of Theresa Neumann, the life of the Cure of Ars who was recently proclaimed a saint of the church, to whom for 35 years the sight of hell was constantly and really an ordinary experience. No less worthy of note are the facts in the cases of possession occurring in our times: the case of a possessed boy in Wemding, Suabia, Bavaria, 1891; the case in St. Michael's Mission in Africa in 1906 of two girls possessed; the noted case of the Chinese woman Lautien in Honan, China, in 1926 and 1929, which was under the direction of Father Peter Heier, S.V.D., of Hague, N. D., now a Missioner in China, and several cases in Rockford, Ill since 1940.
The priest has frequent opportunities for using his power of exorcism. The blessings of holy water, its various uses in the blessing of houses and in the many other blessings and benedictions of the church in her sacramentals, are dependent upon this power. Pope Leo XIII in our own time composed a powerful and solemn prayer of exorcism for priests against the fallen angels and evil spirits. It is said that this Pope, after God permitted him to see in a vision the great devastation Satan is carrying on in our times, composed the prayer of exorcism in honor of St. Michael that is now recited in the vernacular as one of the prayers after Mass.
Recent case of possession and expulsion in Earling, Iowa
The following soul-stirring case of actual possession and successful expulsion, through the powers given to the Church over the evil one, is all the more striking in view of the above explanations. The facts herein narrated were testified to by the late Rev. Joseph Steiger, who was a personal witness of the scenes herein narrated. While conducting a mission in the parish of Earling in 1928, Father Theophilus Riesinger, O.M.Cap., asked the Rev. Pastor for permission to have a certain person, whom he believed possessed by the devil, brought into his parish, and to use the solemn formula of exorcism over her while she would be detained in the convent of the Franciscan Sisters who were active in the parish. Father Steiger happened to be a personal friend of Father Theophilus for many years past.
What, another case of possession? replied the pastor. Are these cases still on the increase? You have already dispossessed the devil in a number of such cases!
That is indeed true. However, the Bishop has again entrusted this case into my hands. The lady in question lives at some distance from Earling. I should like to have her brought here, since it would create too much excitement in her home and perhaps would be the cause of many disturbances to the person herself.
But why just here in my own parish?
It is just here in an outlying country district that the case may be disposed of in a quiet manner. Two places are available, either the Sisters' convent or in the sacristy here. So it is quite possible to relieve the unfortunate person of her burden without anybody out in the world becoming aware of it.
My dear Father, do you really think that the Mother Superior would permit anything like that to take place under her convent roof? I don't believe it. And it would be altogether out of the question to bring the person into my own house.
My dear friend, smilingly replied the Father, tell me this one thing. Will you give me your approval, should the Mother Superior be willing?
Well, all right, but only under this condition. I do not believe that you will have any success at the convent.
Thanks for your permission. The case is therefore settled, as the Mother Superior did give her consent from the very beginning. I have already made all arrangements with her for this case, provided you give your full approval.
Thus it was agreed to have the exorcism performed at the convent. The place was situated in the country, and as it was summer time, the people were actively occupied with their work in the open fields. No one would be any the wiser. Much less would anyone bother himself about what was going on. As a matter of precaution the case was again submitted to the Bishop, who called the pastor to himself to acquaint him with what he might expect to happen.
So, my Father, you have given your consent to allow this to take place in your parish. Have you thought the matter over sufficiently?
Your Lordship, to be honest, I must confess that I was not very anxious to have it. I have a rather strong aversion for such unusual affairs. But Father Theophilus explained that my country parish together with the easy access to the convent would be just suitable for such an undertaking, and so I disliked to refuse.
As Bishop I will caution you most emphatically that there may be some very serious consequences resulting to you in person. Should the Reverend Father not have enlightened you regarding the matter, then I wish to give you information based upon sound facts and similar experiences. The devil will certainly try his utmost to seek revenge on you, should you be willing that this unfortunate woman be relieved of this terrible oppression.
Well, I hardly think that it will be as bad as all that. God's protecting hand will not fail me. The devil has no more influence than God permits. And if God will not permit it, the devil will not be able to harm me in the least. So I have no misgivings. I shall keep my word. I have given my consent, and for that very reason I would not care to withdraw it again. And should it entail some sacrifices, I shall be only too glad to bear them, if only an immortal soul shall benefit by it and be freed from the terrible stranglehold of that infernal being.
The lady in question
The unfortunate woman was unknown to the pastor. She lived far from Earling, and up to then he had heard nothing about her. The Capuchin Father had explained to him what her actual condition was, that she was a very pious and respectable person. Throughout her youth she led a religious, fervent and blameless life. In fact she approached the sacraments frequently. After her fourteenth year some unusual experiences manifested themselves. She wanted to pray, wanted to go to church and as usual receive Holy Communion. But some interior hidden power was interfering with her plans. The situation became worse instead of improving. Words cannot express what she had to suffer. She was actually barred from the consolations of the Church, torn away from them by force. She could not help herself in any way and seemed to be in the clutches of some mysterious power. She was conscious of some sinister inner voices that kept on suggesting most disagreeable things to her. These voices tried their utmost to arouse thoughts of the most shameful type within her, and tried to induce her to do things unmentionable and even to bring her to despair. The poor creature was helpless and secretly was of the opinion that she would become insane. There were times when she felt impelled to shatter her holy water font, when she could have attacked her spiritual adviser and could have suffocated him. Yes, there were suggestions urging her to tear down the very house of God.
Hallucination, a pure hysterical case, nervous spells. Such easy explanation one will hear to account for the experiences. True, similar happenings do occur in nervous and hysterical cases. However, many doctors had this case in charge for years, and the woman was finally examined by the best specialists in the profession. But their thorough examinations resulted in the unanimous conclusion that the woman in question did not betray the least sign of nervousness, that she was normal in the fullest sense. There was not the slightest indication suggesting physical illness. Her undeniable and unusual experiences could not be accounted for. As the doctors could not help her, it was thought to see results in another field.
Many years passed. Finally, recourse was had to the Church and the supernatural powers of the priesthood. But a reserved and skeptical attitude was maintained for some years towards proceeding with exorcism. Examinations and observations were constantly made. It gradually became evident that strange preternatural powers were at play. The woman understood languages which she had never heard nor read. When the priest spoke the language of the Church and blessed her in the Latin tongue, she sensed and understood it at once, and at the same time foamed at the mouth and became enraged about it. When he continued in classical Latin, she regained her former ease. She was conscious at once when some one gave her articles sprinkled with holy water or presented her with things secretly blessed, whereas ordinary secular objects would leave her perfectly indifferent.
In short, when after years of trial and observation she had reached her fortieth year, the ecclesiastical authorities were finally convinced that here was a clear case of demoniacal possession. The Church must step in and deliver the poor creature from the powers of the evil one. The cause of the possession could not be ascertained. The woman herself could not give any information about this matter. Only later during the process of solemn exorcism was the cause made known.
Father Theophilus had spent many years giving missions in the United States and was familiar with cases of possession. Since he had already dispossessed the evil one in many instances, the Bishop entrusted this case to him. His stainless career, as well as his successful encounter in numerous possessions, singled him out as the one best suited to take hold of this case. He had little suspicion that he would meet with the severest experience as yet encountered by him and that matters of such a nature would confront him as would tax to the limit his physical endurance. Though this Capuchin Father is the very picture of health in his sixtieth year, yet he needed all available resources in order to carry the affair to a successful finish.
The day agreed upon and approved by the Bishop for the exorcism at Earling, Iowa, was at hand. Besides the pastor and his sister, who was his housekeeper, and the Venerable Sisters, not a soul was aware of what was being undertaken. This secrecy had been strictly agreed upon beforehand. The main purpose of such procedure was chiefly to protect the name of the woman, lest anything of the affair might get out among the people and they might point to her and say: This is the one who was once possessed by the devil. As she was to travel by train, it was found necessary to inform the personnel of the train. For should anything happen on the way, their help would have to be available in case the demoniacal influence should create any disturbance. This caution was not in vain, for the men had their hands full. They, however, did not know what the nature of the disturbance really was. The poor creature herself was only too willing to submit to the ecclesiastical procedure, so that she might be delivered from these terrible molestations. Yet she did not always have the necessary control over herself. She made this known after her delivery. Thus, the very night on which she arrived at the Earling station, she was so enraged over those who were there to meet her that she felt like taking hold of them and choking them.
Previous arrangements had been made for Father Theophilus to arrive that same night but by another route. The pastor took his own auto and went to meet him at the depot. Though the new car was always running in tip-top order it lacked the usual speed on this trip. Everything possible was tried, yet the car would not make any headway towards the station though no flaw could be found with it. The distance was not even worth mentioning, yet it took two hours for the pastor to arrive at the depot. He excused himself to his guest for causing such a delay and disappointment.
To which the latter replied very calmly: My dear friend, I was not wrought up about it at all. I would have been much more surprised if everything had gone smoothly. Difficulties will arise; they must be expected to arise. The devil will try his utmost to foil our plans. While waiting I prayed constantly that the evil spirit would not be able to harm you, as I suspected that he would try to interfere with your coming, yea, that he would try to injure you personally. Now the pastor understood why his auto had balked. This was to be the first of many other unpleasant happenings. After such forebodings the reader can imagine that the missionary entered the car with some misgivings. But he took his precautions. He first blessed the auto with the sign of the Cross and then seated himself in the rear of the car. During the short ride to the rectory he quietly recited the rosary by himself lest something happen on the way to foil the attempt at exorcism.
The two priests arrived without the slightest trouble Thank God, the woman also had arrived safely at the Sisters' convent. With this reassurance the difficult task could begin quietly on the morrow. However, that very night the enemy displayed his true colors. News was soon dispatched from the convent to the rectory next door that the woman caused difficulties from the very start. The well-meaning Sister in the kitchen had sprinkled holy water over the food on the tray before she carried the supper to the woman. The devil, however, would not be tricked. The possessed woman was aware at once of the presence of the blessed food and became terribly enraged about it. She purred like a cat, and it was absolutely impossible to make her eat. The blessed food was taken back to the kitchen to be exchanged for unblessed food; otherwise the soup bowls and the plates might have been crashed through the window. It was not possible to trick her with any blessed or consecrated article; the very presence of it would bring about such intense sufferings in her as though her very body were encased in glowing coal.
The decisive moment had arrived
All was quiet. Both the pastor and missionary, having offered up Holy Mass in the parish church that morning, went over to the convent where everything in a large room was in readiness for the exorcism. Fortified with the Church's spiritual weapons, they would dislodge Satan from his stronghold in the person of the possessed woman. How long would this process last? It was not to be expected that the devil would leave his victim without a fight. Certainly a few days would pass by before the powers of darkness would give in to the powers of Light, before the devils would let loose the soul redeemed by Christ, and return back to hell. It was well that neither the pastor nor the missionary knew with what kind of horde of evil spirits they would have to do battle.
The woman was placed firmly upon the mattress of an iron bed. Upon the advice of Father Theophilus, her arm-sleeves and her dress were tightly bound so as to prevent any devilish tricks. The strongest nuns were selected to assist her in case anything might happen. There was a suspicion that the devil might attempt attacking the exorcist during the ceremony. Should anything unusual happen, the nuns were to hold the woman quiet upon her bed. Soon after the prescribed prayers of the Church were begun, the woman sank into unconsciousness and remained in that state throughout the period of exorcism. Her eyes were closed up so tightly that no force could open them.
Father Theophilus had hardly begun the formula of exorcism in the name of the Blessed Trinity, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the name of the Crucified Savior, when a hair-raising scene occurred. With lightning speed the possessed dislodged herself from her bed and from the hands of her guards; and her body, carried through the air, landed high above the door of the room and clung to the wall with a tenacious grip. All present were struck with a trembling fear. Father Theophilus alone kept his peace.
Pull her down. She must be brought back to her place upon the bed!
Real force had to be applied to her feet to bring her down from her high position on the wall. The mystery was that she could cling to the wall at all! It was through the powers of the evil spirit, who had taken possession of her body.
Again she was resting upon the mattress. To avoid another such feat, precautions were taken and she was held down tightly by stronger hands.
The exorcism was resumed. The prayers of the Church were continued. Suddenly a loud shrill voice rent the air. The noise in the room sounded as though it were far off, somewhere in a desert. Satan howled as though he had been struck over the head with a club. Like a pack of wild beasts suddenly let loose, the terrifying noises sounded aloud as they came out of the mouth of the possessed woman. Those present were struck with a terrible fear that penetrated the very marrow of their bones.
Silence, Satan. Keep quiet, you infamous reprobate!
But he continued to yell and howl as one clubbed and tortured, so that despite the closed windows the noises reverberated throughout the neighborhood.
Awe-struck people came running from here and there: What is the matter? What is up? Is there someone in the convent being murdered? Not even a pig stabbed with a butcher knife yells with such shrieking howls as these.
The news travelled through the entire parish like a prairie fire: At the convent they are trying to drive out the devil from one possessed. Larger and smaller groups were filled with terror as they approached the scene of action and heard with their own ears the unearthly noises and howlings of the evil spirits. The weaker members of the crowd were unable to endure the continued rage coming from the underworld. It was even more tense for those actually present at the scene, who with their own eyes and ears were witnesses to what was going on before them. The physical condition of the possessed presented such a gruesome sight, because of the distorted members of her body, that it was unbearable. The Sisters, even the pastor, could not endure it long. Occasionally they had to leave the room to recuperate in the fresh air, to gain new strength for further attendance at the horrible ordeal. The most valiant and self-composed was Father Theophilus. He had been accustomed to Satan's howling displays and blusterings from experiences with him in previous exorcisms. God seems to have favored him with special gifts and qualities for facing such ordeals. On such occasions, with the permission of the Bishop, he carried a consecrated host in a pyx upon his breast in order to safeguard himself against injuries and direct attacks by the evil one. Several times it happened that he was twisted about, trembling like a fluttering leaf in a whirl-wind.
One may ask: Does Satan dare at all to remain in the presence of the All Holy? How can he endure it? Does he not run off like a whipped cur? All we need to remember is that Satan dared to approach our Lord fasting in the desert. He even dared to take the Saviour upon a high pinnacle at Jerusalem; and again he carried Him up on a high mountain-top. If he showed himself so powerful then, he has not changed since. On the contrary, the devils living in the possessed displayed various abilities and reactions. Those that hailed from the realm of the fallen angels gave evidence of a greater reserve. They twisted about and howled mournfully in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, acting like whipped curs who growl and snarl under the pain of the biting lash. Those who were once the active souls of men upon earth and were condemned to hell because of their sinful lives acted differently. They showed themselves bold and fearless, as if they wanted every moment to assail the consecrated Species only to discover that they were powerless. Frothing and spitting and vomiting forth unmentionable excrements from the mouth of the poor creature, they would try to ward off the influence of the exorcist. Apparently they were trying to befoul the consecrated Host in the pyx, but failed in their purpose. It was evidently not granted them to spit upon the All Holy directly. At times they would spout forth torrents of spittal and filth out of the entrails of the helpless woman in order to give vent to their bitter spleen and hatred toward the All Holy One. You say torrents? Actually those present had to live through some terrible experiences. It was heartrending to see all that came forth from the pitiable creature and often the ordeal was almost unbearable. Outpourings that would fill a pitcher, yes, even a pail, full of the most obnoxious stench were most unnatural. These came in quantities that were, humanly speaking, impossible to lodge in a normal being. At that the poor creature had eaten scarcely anything for weeks, so that there had been reason to fear she would not survive. At one time the emission was a bowl full of matter resembling vomited macaroni. At another time an even greater measure, having the appearance of sliced and chewed tobacco leaves, was emitted. From ten to twenty times a day this wretched creature was forced to vomit though she had taken at the most only a teaspoonful of water or milk by way of food.
One or more devils
During this exorcism it was necessary to find out definitely whether the exorcist had to deal with one or more devils. It was also important for the exorcist to insist upon getting control over the person and of dispossessing the devil. On various occasions there were different voices coming out of the woman which indicated that un-numbered spirits were here involved. There were voices that sounded bestial and most unnatural, uttering an inexpressible grief and hatred that no human could reproduce. Again voices were heard that were quite human, breathing an atmosphere of keen suffering and indicating bitter feeling of disappointment. As is common in such experiences, Satan can, through the solemn exorcism of the Church, be forced to speak and to give answer. And, finally he can also be forced to speak the truth even though he is the father of lies from the very beginning. Naturally, he will try to mislead and to sidetrack the exorcist. It is also common experience that Satan at first does his utmost to side-step the questions with clever, witty evasions, direct lies, shrewd simulations.
When Satan was asked in the Name of Jesus, the crucified Savior, whether there were more spirits involved in the possession of the woman, he did not feign in the least, but boastfully admitted that there were a number of them present. As soon as the name of Jesus was mentioned, he began through the woman to foam and howl like a wild raving animal.
This ugly bellowing and howling took place every day and at times it lasted for hours. At other times it sounded as though a horde of lions and hyenas were let loose, then again as the mewing of cats, the bellowing of cattle and the barking of dogs. A complete uproar of different animal noises would also resound. This was at first so taxing on the nerves of those present that the twelve nuns were forced to take turns at assisting in order to save themselves and to have the necessary strength to continue facing the siege.
The exorcist: In the name of Jesus and His most Blessed Mother, Mary the Immaculate, who crushed the head of the serpent, tell me the truth. Who is the leader or prince among you? What is your name?
Devil, barking like the hound of hell. Beelzebub.
Exorcist: You call yourself Beelzebub. Are you not Lucifer, the prince of the devils?
Devil: No, not the prince, the chieftain, but one of the leaders.
Exorcist: You were therefore not a human being, but you are one of the fallen angels, who with selfish pride wanted to be like unto God?
Devil with grinning teeth. Yes, that is so. Ha, how we hate Him!
Exorcist: Why do you call yourself Beelzebub if you are not the prince of the devils?
Devil: Enough, my name is Beelzebub.
Exorcist: From the point of influence and dignity you must rank near Lucifer, or do you hail from the lower choir of angels?
Devil: I once belonged to the seraphic choir.
Exorcist: What would you do, if God made it possible for you to atone for your injustice to Him?
Demoniacal sneering: Are you a competent theologian?
Exorcist: How long have you been torturing this poor woman?
Devil: Since her fourteenth year.
Exorcist: How dared you enter into that innocent girl an