The exorcism of Emily Rose

Phoebe Hughel, Editor

Anneliese Michel, also know as Emily Rose, was raised as a strict Catholic. On September 1968, when she was only 16 years old, she encountered her first experience with losing consciousness. That night she felt as though something was pressing down on her chest, pinning her to her bed with no escape. This was the only experience she had for about a year. Then, 11 months later in August of 1969, she had a second experience with similar events.

After the second occurrence, her mom took her to Dr. Vogt their family doctor, as well as a neurologist Dr. Luthy. Dr. Luthy ran an electroencephalography (EEG) which is a brain scan. The EEG revealed that nothing was wrong, but the doctors conspired that it was a possible form of a seizure.  Within the next three years, Emily had two more of these episodes.

The third episode three occurred in 1970, which led to Emily being prescribed a new medication which consisted of an anticonvulsant. Another EEG was performed but everything came back normal. Episode four occurred in 1972, which led to her being prescribed another medication; dilantin, which is an anti-seizure medication. Another EEG was performed, but the results came back irregular. Even with the EEG returning irregular, the doctors could not explain the symptoms she was experiencing.

In spring of 1973, things took a turn for the worst. Emily, along with her sisters began hearing knocking sounds in her bedroom. Her sisters heard these sounds as well. Emily also heard voices that were condemning her to hell. Her mother became even more rattled when she saw Emily staring furiously staring at a figure of the Virgin Mary in which her eyes had turned black.

In September of 1973, during a neurological visit with Dr. Luthy, Emily described having horrific visions of demon faces tormenting her. She also smelled something that had the aroma of burnt feces. Many people who were around her smelt as well.

When Emily’s mother shared with Dr. Luthy these strange occurrences that have been happening, he advised them to get a Jesuit (religious official). Later on, Dr. Luthy will deny giving Emily’s mother this advise.

In 1973, Emily met with a Freudian psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with possible epilepsy. Another neurologist also found epileptic patterns and prescribed her tegretol, a much stronger drug.

In July of 1975, Emily’s case worsened.  She rarely slept and constantly prayed. She ate spiders and flies, and even went as far as to lick her own urine from the floor. She destroyed religious symbols when they would be near her. She was also described as to have unnatural strength. She was once caught squeezing an apple with one hand so hard, that fragments scattered around the room.

Father Rodewyk who was an expert on exorcisms was convinced Emily was possessed. Once convinced, the Bishop approved of the exorcism, which was to be performed by Father Renz.

On September 24, 1975, the first exorcism was performed. Father Renz allowed some of the sessions to be recorded. The recordings involved Emily growling, screaming, and cursing. When asked to state her name, she said that she was Judas, Nero, Cain, and Hitler. She also named Fleischmann (priest in the 1500s who was kicked out of the church for bad behavior) to be one of her demons. She gave accurate details of the real Fleischmann.

By May of 1976, Emily was even worse. She began to bang her head against the wall, and was biting herself and others to the point where her family has to tie her up to keep from doing harm. She also refused to eat saying she was “not being permitted to eat.” She weighed under 80 pounds, yet she still had the physical strength that was described earlier.

By June of 1976, her entire face was sinking. She refused to see a doctor even though she had a very high fever. On Jun 30, she had another exorcism performed on her. The next morning when her family went to her room, she was found dead. The cause of death was starvation at the age of 23, and she only weighed 68 pounds. From 1968 to 1976, Emily  had a total of 67 exorcisms.

After Emily’s death, her parents, along with the two priests, were accused of negligent homicide. The case went to trial in 1978. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the prosecution, which sentenced the four defendants to six months in prison, as well as three years of suspension for the priests, and payment for all court costs.The court ruled that Emily was unable to make decisions for herself and should have been forced to receive medical care.

Certain people have different explanations for her death. Was it possession? Was it a mental health illness? Was it epilepsy? Although the real reason will not be found, The case of Emily Rose is a tragedy.