The story of Anneliese Michel always sends chills down the spines of its readers, many of whom still find it difficult to fathom. She was a German girl who went through a series of exorcism aimed at cleansing her of evil spirits said to have possessed her. Although Michel was diagnosed with epileptic psychosis, it seemed that more attention was given to her spiritual treatment rather than the medical. Anneliese was subjected to intense physical and mental suffering until her dying day. The debate on whether she was mentally ill or indeed possessed by evil spirits is no longer something new in the contemporary world.
Anneliese Michel Biography
She was born Anna Elisabeth Michel on September 21, 1952, in Leiblfing, Bavaria, West Germany to her parents, Josef and Anna. Michel grew up alongside her three sisters in a staunch Roman Catholic family. She was very religious and quite reserved at school according to her classmates.
But all the modesty and quiet, faded away when she was sixteen. Anneliese first suffered convulsion at the age of sixteen. She was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, a psychiatric condition which caused her to experience changes in mood, intense hallucinations, and lots of mental maladjustments. She was moved to a psychiatric hospital where she continued to suffer more seizures and soon began to see what she described as demonic faces hunting her and telling her of a prepared place for her in hell. The doctors would prescribe anti-psychotic drugs for her but it didn’t stop.
Very troubled, and wallowing in depression, Anneliese considered suicide tons of times but didn’t succumb due to her strong religious beliefs. For so many years the family tried psychiatric methods to revive their daughter. Annaliese who continued to suffer intense convulsions later attributed her suffering to demonic possession. Seeing that the medications weren’t effective, her family turned to the church for help. They sought an exorcist from the church, but it was initially declined by the priests who maintained they should continue with the medical treatments. But after a permission was gotten by the Bishop they proceeded with the Exorcism, according to the Rituale Romanum of 1614.
Anneliese Michel – The Story Behind Her Exorcism
Anna at the time inflicted injuries on herself, was very aggressive, drank her own urine and kept confessing to seeing demonic faces. More so, she developed an aversion to sacred objects like the crucifix and avoided holy grounds.
Whilst still under psychairtric treatment, Michel attended a Christian pilgrimage with a family friend in San Damiano. Her escort who led her revealed that she was reluctant to walk past a crucifix and also avoided drinking holy water. Earnest Alt, a pastor also confirmed that Annelise admitted to him of her sudden intolerance of sacred places. According to him, Michel could not come close to the crucifix and could no longer stare at images of saints and other sacramental.
Alt came to a conclusion that she was indeed possessed and sought for permission to carry out an exorcism on her. Taking all pieces of evidence to Bishop Stangl, Alt’s request was granted and Father Arnold Renz was also sent by the bishop to work with him throughout the exorcism.
The first exorcism session was performed on September 25, 1975. At the time, the family had completley halted all medical treatment to rely solely on the exorcism. Father Renz and Pastor Alt held a total of 61 exorcism sessions which lasted about 10 months, on Anneliese.
During this period Anneliese Michel was barely fed as she was constantly made ready for exorcism sessions which they said required one to be in a semi-starvation state. They tie her to a bed and perform the exorcism and recorded each session which was once or twice in a week. The recordings showed a disturbed Michel who directly acknowledged several demons from hell including Lucifer, Hitler, Judas and many others. Anneliese never got better, she rather grew worse and started attacking family members, biting her sisters and inflicting injury on people.
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Michel died on July 1, 1976. Autopsy reports revealed that she died of malnutrition and dehydration and this was attributed to her semi-starvation requirements for exorcism. At the time of her death, she weighed only 30kg (68 pounds) and had her knees broken from constant genuflections.
After Her Death
Doctors during a court trial confirmed that Anneliese Michel was not possessed but was intensly affected by the psychological ailment due to her strong religious upbringing. Bishop Stangl also admitted he was oblivious of her medical condition when he gave a go ahead on the exorcism.
Anneliese’s parents were charged with negligent homicide but were pardoned after prosecution admitted that they had suffered enough. The priests were found guilty of manslaughter and were issued a six months jail sentence with three years probation.