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While exorcism is seen as a form of salvation among believers, the tragic tale of Anneliese Michel exposed the dangers of unfaltering faith.

Anneliese Michel

The case that inspired a few different movies and shows — most famously, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the case of Anneliese Michel is one of the most important exorcism cases in history.

For eleven months and over the course of around 70 visits, two Catholic priests — with the support of the girl’s parents — tried to drive away the demons they were convinced were possessing 23-year-old Anneliese Michel.

Not only was this exorcism controversial within the Church, but also within the justice system, given that poor Anneliese died as a result of the ordeal. The subsequent trial, the first of its kind in modern German history, raised troubling questions about the jurisdiction of religion and the nature of faith.

The rites of exorcism were carried out secretly at her home.

As a teen, Anneliese had occasional psychiatric care and later developed a history of epilepsy. After four years of medical treatment, her condition and mental depression worsened. This led her parents to become convinced that their daughter was possessed by demons… or the devil Himself. In desperation, they turned to the local church for help.

During the grueling, nearly year-long exorcism, all medical treatment for Anneliese Michel was halted.

At the time of her death, the girl weighed just 68 pounds.

The autopsy report attributed the cause of her death to malnutrition and dehydration, resulting from semi-starvation during the rites. All four defendants in the case, including two priests and Anneliese’s parents, were charged with negligent homicide.

The deeply religious Anneliese Michel was from Bavaria, the largest state in Germany, with a population of almost 11 million residents, of whom 70% are Catholic.

The trial became a worldwide spectacle, with the priests receiving a defense paid for by the church and the parents receiving top representation from one of Germany’s most respected lawyers.

ABOUT THIS PODCAST:

Ominous Origins

Welcome to the Ominous Origins Podcast, a Horror Shots production. If you were previously a fan of the Horror Shots Podcast, this is the same great show with the same compelling content focused on myth, mysterious creatures, unexplained events, spooky stories — and even some of the strangest and most disturbing true crime stories. As always, our goal is to entertain but also to enlighten with short, well-researched episodes on a variety of fascinating topics.

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