“People say that God is dead, but how can they think that if I show them the Devil?” Emily Rose’s letter.
(SOURCE)telegraph.co.uk At the end of an ordinary road in a little town in Bavaria stands an unexceptional house, its walls a dirty white, the window frames painted a flaking green. But behind the locked front door and the lowered shutters a dark tale of extraordinary horror lurks.
Twenty-nine years ago, the house was filled with fear. The nights were punctuated by howls and screams, the mornings filled with inhuman voices. The neighbours did not know it then, but they were hearing the exorcism of a young woman who would shortly die.
At the time, it was believed that Anneliese Michel, a 23-year-old student from Klingenberg, had been possessed by six demonic spirits who would not let her go. After enduring 67 rites of exorcism over nine months, she succumbed to starvation in 1976.
She forced herself to fast, believing that it would rid her of the influence of Satan and when she died her weight was down to 68lb. “Mother,” she said, just before the end, “I’m afraid.”
Last week saw the release of a film loosely based on the life and death of Anneliese Michel. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is set, as is Hollywood’s way, in modern-day America and focuses not on the of the exorcism itself, but on the prosecution of the exorcists after the heroine’s death. Tom Wilkinson plays Fr Moore, the rural priest who believes he has acted on the side of angels, and Laura Linney stars as his hard-nosed but reluctant defence attorney.
Anneliese’s parents, Anna and Josef, were put on trial for their daughter’s murder alongside the two priests who performed the exorcisms. All were found guilty of negligent homicide by allowing her to starve and given suspended six-month prison sentences and three years’ probation.
Anneliese’s mother, who still lives in the house where her daughter died, has never quite recovered from those terrible times. Her husband died six years ago and her three surviving daughters have moved away. So Anna Michel, now in her eighties, bears the burden of memory alone. Her bedroom overlooks the graveyard where Anneliese is buried, under a wooden cross bearing her name and the inscription “Resting with God.” More…