Erio Castellucci has witnessed plenty of supposed supernatural possessions as Archbishop of Modena-Nonantola, but apparently none of them could prepare him for his first experience of an exorcism.
It was then that Castellucci realised, beyond all doubt, that the devil exists.
“All you have to do is witness an exorcism to understand that evil is a specific entity, as well as a reality,” he told the Italian daily Il Resto del Carlino in an account translated by the Catholic News Agency.
He remembers the day well, July 3, 2015, when he received a call from one of the two priest exorcists in his archdiocese, concerning a ‘difficult case’.
The colleague needed Castellucci to come down to a parish church in Modena to witness the rite of a man seemingly possessed.
“Come,” his colleague pleaded with him over the phone, “because this man has been possessed for a long time, he comes to me once a week and your presence, as a bishop, may have an influence.”
Understanding the urgency of the situation, he headed over to the city on the south side of the Po Valley to see the exorcism performed.
Entering the quiet church, Castellucci recalls seeing a middle-aged man who almost immediately started to shout at him, urging him to leave.
“Get out, get out of here, you will have a bad death,” the man said, before falling into a sleep-like trance that prefaced a terrifying attack.
“It seemed as if he had woken up and in an instant drove his fingernails into the back of my hands,” Castellucci recalled. “He had a diabolical look on his face and he uttered unrepeatable insults and curses.”
According to the account, the seemingly possessed man then warned Castellucci that he ‘would die in a traffic accident, and while he was saying it he looked pleased’.
Yet for all of the terror unfolding around him, Castellucci kept the faith.
“My life is in the hands of the Lord Jesus and certainly not in that demon’s. I wasn’t worried at all. The word of God teaches that the curses are ineffective,” he told Il Resto del Carlino.
The account comes just a few months after figures revealed a spike in the number of exorcisms recorded over the past decade.
According to the data, the number reported by the Catholic Church has risen from 12 to 50 in the past decade, with some priests pointing to drugs and porn as the chief reasons behind the rise.
Well let’s bloody hope not.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.