An exorcist with the Catholic Church has opened up about his experiences across 16 years of taking on demonic possession.
Father Vincent Lampert is a priest at St. Michael Church in Brookville, Indianapolis, but alongside the usual priestly duties, he’s also an appointed exorcist called upon to deal with demons and the forces of evil.
Father Vincent, 58, was appointed in the unenviable role by Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, and was sent off to Rome to carry out his exorcism training.
It was in Rome when he got his first glimpse at exactly what happens during ‘demonic possession’ – and it’s not a million miles away from what you may have seen in the movies.
Father Vincent told LADbible: “I was able to work with a priest in Rome who trained me on how to do them, because it’s easy to do the book reading and the studying – that’s the easy part – but doing an internship is what is best.
“I sat in on 40 exorcisms over those three months in Rome. At one exorcism I sat in on, the demon laughed hysterically and began to levitate. The priest put his hand on the person’s head who was possessed and pushed him back down into the chair, all the while never pausing with the exorcism prayer.”
Over the years, Father Vincent has performed 12 exorcisms and he’s seen some pretty hair-raising stuff.
“Demons want to instil fear,” Father Vincent explained. “They really want everyone to say, ‘wow, look at what the devil is capable of doing’.
“So in exorcisms I’ve sat in on and once I’ve performed, people’s eyes roll into the back of their head, they foam at the mouth, they begin to growl and snarl and act like an animal. The voice can become very deep and authoritative, almost like a barking dog that is trying to scare you.
“The temperature in the room will change, it will become much colder when a demon manifests. I’ve seen people levitate; I have witnessed a change in the face – one time the person’s jaw dropped down and moved to the side, a really hideous type of look.
“I’ve seen people drop to the floor and begin to slither like a snake. There’s uncontrollable laughter or screaming, hysteria. Again all these things are to instil fear and to get the person to focus on the devil, instead of what God wants to do.
“There are many different types of manifestation, but the overriding goal by the devil is to scare people because when people are scared they are easy to control.”
Now, after reading that you’ll be pleased to know that Father Vincent says demonic possession is fairly rare – although he still receives around 2,000 messages from people claiming to be possessed each year.
Before the Catholic Church in the US carries out an exorcism, there’s strict rules that must be met: the person must undergo a psychiatric evaluation to rule out mental illness and they must also see their GP to see if there is a physical explanation for what they’re experiencing.
“The Church will always rely on experts in the mental health and medical fields,” he explained. “Because I have to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person sat in front of me is truly dealing with the extraordinary activity of the devil.
“Exorcists are trained to be sceptics, so I should be the last person to believe that somebody is truly possessed – I need to exhaust every other explanation.”
The Catholic Church looks for four main criteria to confirm that someone has been possessed by the devil.
Father Vincent explains: “The Church is very clear on what I should look for. Firstly they need to be able to speak and understand languages otherwise unknown to the individual.
“Two would be superhuman strength beyond the normal capacity of the individual.
“Three would be elevated perception – that the person seems to know information that they should not otherwise know.
“And finally there’s a negative reaction to anything of a sacred nature, such as being prayed over, being blessed with holy water, being shown a cross, that might elicit a negative reaction and cause a demonic manifestation.”
Unlike in the movies, when Father Vincent exorcises a demon from a poor unfortunate person, they don’t go straight to Hell. Instead, it roams the Earth, presumably looking for another ‘entry point’, which sounds less than ideal.
So how does Father Vincent recommend we avoid demonic possession?
He said: “I will always look for the ‘entry point’ of when the demonic entered that person’s life, because most of us don’t have to worry about that. If we’re just living our lives the way God wants us to, the devil and evil is nothing to fear whatsoever.”
Well, that’s good to know.