The movie The Exorcist by William Friedkin, released in 1973, is still one of the most terrifying and cult horror films of all time. But also, without a doubt, one of the best movies of possession ever made so far. But did you know, that the origin of the film was a book written by William Petter Blatty in 1971 of the same title, itself inspired by a real story of possession in 1949 in Mount Rainier, Maryland (USA).
Image from William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973)
In 1949, the young Roland Doe, whose real name was Robbie Mannheim, lived with his parents in the quiet little town of Mount Rainier. Robbie was a young 14-year-old, quite introverted but studious. He was also an average student at school.
Robbie was very close to his Aunt Harriett, a spiritist medium who regularly used the ouija for his spiritism games, to which she trained the young Robbie. But Harriett died of a long illness leaving Robbie alone and depressed. He then decided to use the board he inherited, and locked himself in his room for long hours to communicate with the cursed board. His parents, convinced that it would be good for his mourning, let him do it. But unfortunately for the young man and his parents, he managed to get in touch with someone who was not his aunt and even less a “beneficial” entity.
Shortly after Aunt Harriett’s death, small noises began to be heard in the house, the most heard was in the young teen’s room. Gradually, the noises became more and more violent, and spread throughout the house. Then the small scratches became brutal blows against the wall, the objects that changed places were thrown violently against the inhabitants or visitors of the house. At the same time, Robbie changed his character, he became more and more withdrawn, and at night, strange noises and cries came from his room, in which it could be determined whether it was from him or someone from ‘other…
One day a close friend of the family was able to observe Robbie, who was sitting on a chair, being thrown several meters away, without any rational explanation being made known. As at school, her desk began to shake and her belongings were expelled before the stunned eyes of the other students and her teacher. Same thing, when he was in bed, he was shaking.
Helped by neighbors and relatives of Robbie, his parents then resolve to contact the Anglican Church of their city, who then agreed to contact Fathers Raymond Bishop, Hughes, Halloran and William S. Bowdern, famous exorcist priest Catholic.
After investigation, Father Bowdern asked permission to exorcise the son of the Mannheim family. The church agreed, provided the father had to keep a factual record during the cleansing process. It is precisely this diary that William Petter Blatty will have access to for the book The Exorcist, but also, written by Father Bowdern, who was never questioned about his statements and experiences about the beings of the astral bottom, thus, no one could ever question the veracity of the facts.
It took several months and daily prayer sessions to remove the demon, the particularly fierce astral body of the young teenager’s body. The more the priests made sessions to drive out the demon, the more aggressive, violent, mocking and insulting he was. Father Hughes had stitches on his arm when he was hospitalized, Robbie demolished his bed to grab a spring to open the priest’s arm. There were also bites, spits, sexual propositions of the possessed against his exorcists.
According to Father Bowdern’s diary, the young Mainnhem was not baptized, and his aversion to churches and sacred texts made exorcism difficult and difficult because the priests wanted to convert the child to Catholicism to deliver him from the devil.
Subsequently, bruises appeared mystically on the body of Robbie, bite marks, and inscriptions, including “help me” (help me) that is also found in the film. Likewise, when the priests ordered the devil to make himself known, he replied to them while he was legion. After several weeks of spiritual battles, Father Bowdern saw his health decline, and worried that he would not be able to complete his exorcise. Nevertheless, when all seemed lost and the priests began to lose the child more and more anchored in his possession and his aversion to the sacred texts, it suddenly changed and began to say, in an astonishing way:
“Satan! Satan! I am Saint Michael and I order you, Satan, and the other evil spirits, to leave this body now! “
New marks appeared on his body, which was the words “hell” “evil”. Some time after uttering these words, it seemed that the demon, or at least the demons, had left the body of the young boy, who went quietly to Mass without the phenomena of hauntings and possessions ever returning.
Robbie Mannheim also lost his memory of terrifying events, he is now married and grandfather and gives no interview on his story, to remain as anonymous as possible.
Image credit in the spotlight: The Exorcist (Movie) / Unknown