Anneliese Michel died at the age of 23 due to starvation and her inability to eat after she was the subject of 67 exorcisms in a mere 10 months. Anneliese was home to 6 evil spirits who overcome her own spirit and ended her life.
Anneliese Michel was born a normal girl there was not much to the story from the beginning. It all started when Annelise reached the age of 16, and what follows is the true story of the exorcism of Emily Rose. It’s one of the few actual cases of demonic possession that went to court.
Early Life of Anneliese Michel
Born in 1952 in the small town of Klingenberg, in Bavaria Germany, Anneliese Michel was raised as a strict Catholic and was described as very bright and likable.
In Sept. 1968, when Anneliese was 16 years old, she experienced her first episode of losing consciousness, she felt that something was pressing down on her chest, pinning her to her bed.
A similar episode occurred 11 months later in August 1969, this time her mother took Anneliese to their family doctor. Dr. Vogt and Dr. Luthy, examined her and even ran an electroencephalogram (EEG), scanned her brain but found nothing wrong with her. They hypothesized that it could possibly be a form of seizure.
For the next three years, Anneliese Michel had two more similar episodes and was prescribed two medications, an anticonvulsant medication and an anti-seizure medication called Dilantin.
On both occasions, an EEG came back normal with some minor irregular patterns but nothing that would definitively explain her symptoms.
It was 1973 when the things took stranger turn for Anneliese, she began to hear knocking sounds in her bedroom, sounds her sister would hear as well. But even more alarming Anneliese would hear a voice damning her to hell.
Anneliese’s Eyes Turning Black
Anneliese’s mother was rattled when she witnessed her daughter furiously staring at a statue of Virgin Mary with “Eyes turned black, jet black, and her hands seemed to turn into thick paws with claws”
In September 1973, when Dr. Luthy visited her she described horrific visions of demonic faces that were tormenting her and stated that “the Devil was inside her.”
She also smelled the aroma of burnt feces, a smell that many around her would smell later, seeing this Anneliese’s mother was rattled and was advised to consult as Jesuit (religious official).
Anneliese began to see the face of the devil wherever she went and said she heard demons whispering in her ears. When she heard demons telling her she was “damned” and would “rot in hell” while she was praying, she concluded that the devil must be possessing her.
Were There Demons Involved?
In November 1973, Anneliese met with a Freudian psychiatrist who diagnosed her as neuritis with possible epilepsy. Another neurologist found that she had “Epileptic Patterns” and took her off Dilantin tablets and gave her Tegretol a much stronger drug.
Annelise sought the help of a priest as her delusions had become extreme, she began to believe that she was possessed, she ripped the clothes off her body and started performing up to 400 squats a day.
Annelise would crawl under the table and bark like a dog for days, she also began eating spiders and flies, bit the head of a dead bird and licked her own urine from the floor.
During the time she barely slept and prayed fervently all night, she also began to exhibit strength that was quoted as by her parents “close to superhuman,” as she threw her sister “as if she were a rag doll.”
Finally, Anneliese and her mother found a priest, Ernst Alt, who was convinced that she was possessed. He later stated in court documents that “she didn’t look like an epileptic”
Alt petitioned the local bishop, Bishop Josef Stangl, who approved the request and granted a local priest, Arnold Renz permission to perform an exorcism, but Bishop ordered that should be carried out in total secret.
Anneliese wrote to Alt, “I am nothing, everything about me is vanity, what should I do, I have to improve, you pray for me” and also once told him, “I want to suffer for other people…but this is so cruel”.
Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
On September 24, 1975, the first exorcism rite was performed, Father Renz allowed some of the exorcism sessions to be recorded and 42 audio recordings were made in total.
In the recordings, you can hear how Anneliese says there are six spirits inside her, named: Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, and Hitler, interestingly she named Valentin Fleischmann as one of her demons and provided accurate details of the real Fleischmann, who was a priest in the 1500s and was kicked out of the church for bad behavior.
Father Alt was shocked when he heard the name of Fleischmann as there was no way she could’ve known Fleischmann. Fleischmann was a priest in the 1500s and was kicked out of the church for bad behavior.
As time grew the situation grew even worse, banging her head against the wall and biting herself and others to the point where her family had to tie her up to prevent her from hurting herself.
Throughout these sessions, Anneliese would frequently talk about “dying to atone for the wayward youth of the day and the apostate priests of the modern church.”
Anneliese refused to eat during the time and said “not being permitted to eat,” despited weighing under 80 pounds Anneliese prevailed great strength when people tried to restrain her.
She broke the bones and ripped the tendons in her knees from continually kneeling in prayer.
Death of Anneliese Michel
By June, Anneliese’s face was sunken in, she also refused a doctor visit, even though she had a high fever. Despite seeking medical attention early on, she refused to eat and to go to doctors later on as she and her family ultimately placed all the faith of recovery in the exorcisms.
On June 30, Anneliese had her last exorcism, during the exorcism she only said: “please… absolution.” The next morning her family went into her room and found her dead.
Anneliese Michel died of starvation at the age of 23 after 67 exorcisms, weighing only 68 pounds at the time of her death.
After her death of Anneliese’s her story become a national sensation in Germany after her parents and two priests, Father Renz and Father Alt, who conducted the exorcism were charged with negligent homicide as the case went to trial in 1978.
The defense presented eyewitness testimony and audio recordings as evidence of possession, and idea that the court never seemed to take seriously.
After the defense was pointed out for not seeking any medical help, Father Alt claimed that his friend Dr. Richard Roth visited Anneliese on the claims of scientific curiosity and not as a physician.
In his visit, Dr. Roth claimed that Anneliese Michel had no external injuries, although Father Renz noticed she had several bruises, swollen cheek, and black eyes, which is the exact opposite of what Dr. Roth has said.
In spite of all the attacks against the demons and priests, an autopsy revealed Anneliese had a healthy brain with no brain damage that could cause epileptic seizures, “not even on a microscopic level”.
Many things stood out of the ordinary as the fact her pupils were being unusually dilated and the absence of ulcers on her body which are frequently found on the starvation victims.
The position of the prosecution
The prosecution argued that Anneliese had epilepsy and psychosis and that the parents and two priests were liable for failing to act to save her life. They questioned the credibility of Father Alt and with the conclusion from two experts that Father Alt exhibited signs of Schizophrenia.
The prosecution also argued that the medications suppressed epilepsy like seizures and argued that the suppression developed into “A delusional psychosis associated with epilepsy.”
It’s still unclear that why between the exorcisms she behaved normal, so the seizures were stopped by medications or if they actually stopped on their own, but Anneliese psychotic vision predates the alleged medical suppression.
In the end, the court ruled in favor of the prosecution, sentencing the four defendants(Mr. and Mrs. Michel, Father Renz and Father Alt) to six months in prison(which was later suspended), a 3-year suspension for the priests and payments for all court cost.
The parents were exempted from any punishment as they had “suffered enough,” criteria for sentencing in German law.
The court ruled that:
Anneliese was unable to make decisions for herself and should have been forced to submit to medical care.
Exorcism of Emily Rose
Since the death of Anneliese Michel, there have been a number of movies based on her story, the famous horror movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose was released in 2005 is loosely based on the real story.
The movie basically follows a lawyer who takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who allegedly performed a deadly exorcism on a young woman.
While reviews of The Exorcism of Emily Rose were decidedly mixed, the film did pick up a couple of awards, including an MTV Movie Award for “Best Frightened Performance” by Jennifer Carpenter, who played Emily Rose.