Each year more than 500,000 people seek out the services of an exorcist.

We’re all familiar with the iconic movie The Exorcist. 

In the film a 12-year-old girl writhes around on a bed, foams at the mouth, projectile vomits and speaks in a demonic voice while a priest tries to perform an exorcism on her.

Although this scenario might seem a bit far-fetched, exorcisms like this are taking place on a daily basis around the world, with some of them even occurring in Australia.

Each year more than 500,000 people worldwide seek out the services of an exorcist, according to Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist

And that number is constantly on the rise.

The latest exorcism to make news headlines around the world was the mass exorcism of a group of schoolgirls in Argentina.

According to The Sun, the school in Santiago de Salavina called in a team of exorcists after 11 school girls were struck down with a mysterious illness. The girls complained of feeling unwell, faint, and of being left with blindness from the illness.

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Footage of one of the exorcisms shows a priest placing his hand on the forehead of one of the young girls while holding some rosary beads. Image via YouTube.

The exorcists arrived, held down the girls, and performed a ritual as they writhed and squirmed around on the floor like snakes.

Footage of one of the exorcisms shows a priest placing his hand on the forehead of one of the young girls while holding some rosary beads.

She falls to the ground and writhes around while her friend holds her down. She then becomes still for a few moments before violently throwing her limbs around again.

Julio Alis, the priest who performed the exorcism, told El Liberal that he sees evil spirits practically every day.

"I am a Catholic, and this gift that God has given me I use to help people," he said.


"In this area there is an abundance of 'demonism', many people who, to make it easy, make a pact with the devil and offer anything in return."

A doctor who carried out neurological tests on the girls found no real explanation for their behaviour. He believed they must have been suffering from "mass hysteria".

Back in Australia exorcisms are happening every week - in our inner cities, the outer suburbs and out in regional areas.

They're being performed by serving Catholic priests, retired clergyman, and non-denominational "consultants".

One of those consultants is exorcism specialist Lizzy Rose. In 2016, Rose told that she's performed at least 5000 exorcisms over her 24-year career.

Rose says the people who seek out her services are not always who you'd expect.

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Rose carried out her first exorcism in 1992 on a sex worker who believed she was possessed by a demon. Image via YouTube.

“People come from all walks of life — rich or poor, healthy and unhealthy, young or old. Quite frankly, anyone can be affected," she said.

Rose carried out her first exorcism in 1992 on a sex worker who believed she was possessed by a demon.

“A beautiful girl full of a dark energy, which she had absorbed from one of her customers. Thankfully it was relatively easy to extract. She went on to study and is now a doctor — I’m still in contact with her."

Rose explained that playing around with seances and ouija boards is more dangerous than you think. You could potentially open a door, allowing a demon to take possession of you.

“It’s like a moth to the flame,” she says.


“A doorway for demons of sorts — don’t play around with that sort of stuff, not even as a joke.”

The Catholic Church believes the rise of things like yoga, reiki and tai chi have opened a channel for evil spirits. They also warn against seeing psychics and watching the Harry Potter and Twilight movie franchises.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney's official exorcist doesn't want the public to know his name for fear of being "besieged by calls all day and all night" he told the Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Munro in 2015.

He was officially appointed to the role by Cardinal Pell under the direction of Pope Francis, who believes the Devil is a real being.

This exorcist believes many of the troubled souls who seek him out are actually mentally ill and are in need of the services of a counsellor, rather than an exorcist.

The church has an official procedure for exorcisms. Priests who believe a member of their congregation is possessed will email the archdiocese head office. The archdiocese then passes the emails onto the exorcist. He will then refer each case to a psychologist for a preliminary assessment.

Only then will the cases which remain unsolved or unexplained be given the option of an exorcism.

"I was called to a house one Sunday night and this woman was sitting in an armchair with her husband sitting on her, to keep her there, and she was making a kind of growling sound," the unidentified priest explained.

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"But it turned out to be a case of hysteria. She was under great pressure at work."

So are real-life exorcisms as dramatic as they're portrayed on screen? Kind of.

According to Rose, there's usually no projectile vomiting involved.

“Aside from the pea soup, in many ways Hollywood does deliver the truth, but on screen what we see is usually full-blown demonic possession, which is not as common as people might think," she said.

During one of Rose's most disturbing exorcisms, blood appeared on the windows and mirrors in strange shapes and words.

“During an exorcism I was conducting on a woman, the entity in possession flung her from one wall to the next, breaking her ribs, and then pinned her to the bed, during which multiple bruises appeared on the woman’s forearms as if the spirit was pinning her to the bed … I could physically see hand prints forming."

Whether it's a rise in mental health issues or demonic possession that's driving people to seek out of the services of an exorcist, it's spooky to think that an exorcism could be happening in your neighbourhood right now.

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