The Exorcism of Emily Rose by Scott Derrickson is a horror film released in theaters in 2005 inspired by the true story of Anneliese Michel.
Anneliese Michel was born in Leiblfing on September 21 1952. Her family was of Catholic origins, very devoted to the church.
The girl lived a peaceful childhood: she loved spending her days with friends or playing musical instruments.
At 16, in 1968, she began to suffer from seizures and severe convulsions followed by severe moments of depression diagnosed by the Psychiatric Clinic Würzburg in Würzburg.
She spent a period at the hospital before finishing her studies and enrolling at the University of Würzburg in 1973.
The constant and incessant convulsions and the negative effects of drug treatment led the relatives to believe that the girl was possessed by the devil.
Anneliese began to have visual and auditory hallucinations, seeing demonic faces everywhere, despite her constant daily prayers.
She was diagnosed with several cases of epilepsy and schizophrenia and she was administered various psychotropic drugs.
A family friend, who went on a pilgrimage with Annaliese, noticed that the girl could not walk in front of a crucifix.
She would speak with a male voice while remaining paralyzed on the bed at night.
Annaliese “diagnosis” became demonic possession, leading the family itself to request exorcisms which, was refused from the Vatican due to the lack of evidence.
In the meantime, the girl’s physical and psychological conditions worsened.
She assumed aggressive behaviors towards herself and others: she scratched herself, began to eat insects, slept on the floor, drank her own urine and began to pull out her nails.
The ‘Fake’ Exorcism
In the autumn of 1975, after a careful examination of Anneliese’s psychopathological conditions, the priests Ernst Alt and Arnold Renz granted the exorcism.
The first session of exorcism took place on September 24, 1975, followed by another 66 that ended in July 1976.
The rituals took place every two weeks and completely replaced the medical treatment previously administered.
During the exorcisms several photos were taken and numerous recordings made.
In those recordings the girl was heard cursing with a diabolical voice in various ancient languages.
Several demons also manifested, including Lucifer, Cain, Judas and Belial, manifestations followed by moments of lucidity and return to self during which the girl prayed desperately.
During the various sessions, the continuous bending on her knees caused them to break.
The young woman also lost a lot of weight because “demons prevented her to feed herself”.
On July 1, 1976, at nearly 24, Anneliese died of malnutrition (she weighed only 30 kilos), dehydration and pneumonia.
According to those in charge of the investigations and the doctors who were commissioned to the case, force-feeding via an IV could have saved her life.
Lawsuits & Jailtime
For this reason, on April 19, 1978, both her parents and both priests were convicted of manslaughter and wrongful death and sentenced 6 months in jail (too short).
In the following years the girl was judged not possessed by the devil and the hallucinations she had were determined to have been caused by the religious environment in which she grew up.
Anneliese’s tomb, in her hometown, is still a constant destination for pilgrimages.
Another film inspired by this story is ‘Requiem’ by Hans-Christian Schmid.