Everyone knows what is an exorcism. We all saw it in some movies, documentaries etc. Not everyone knows that there is an official book that Catholic church uses for such procedures, and some non-Catholic exorcists like using it too.
Since this is not something you can just buy in your local bookstore, here is a little introduction to this book along with a few pictures of a copy from my collection; Rituale Romanum from 1776.
De exorcizandis obsessis a daemonio
The title “Rituale Romanum” is latin for “Roman Ritual”. The book is not only about exorcisms. It contains many official rituals of Catholic church such as wedding, anointing of the sick etc.
However, chapter 13 (in the latest revision from 1964) is labeled “De exorcizandis obsessis a daemonio” which is Latin for “About exorcism of those possessed by a demon”. The chapter beings with a warning / reminder that a only priest with expressed permission from the Ordinary should perform an exorcism. It also suggests that the priest should be of a mature age and pious. Leave behind all earthly affairs and desires and rely upon divine for the ritual he is about to begin.
The book contains not only the text to be pronounced but also instructions in quite some detail. The paragraph above in Latin reads:
“Exorcismos vero faciat ac legat cum imperio, et autoritate, magna fide, et humilitate, atque fervore; et cum viderit spiritum valde torqueri, tunc magis instet et urgeat. Et quoties viderit obsessum in aliqua corporis parte commoveri, aut pugni, aut tumorem alicubi apparere, ibi faciat signum crucis, et aqua benedicta aspergat, quam tunc in promptu habeat.”
Roughly translated and tweaked for easier understanding this would read:
“[The exorcist] performs the exorcism and reads it with commanding voice, authority, great faith, humility and fervor. And when he sees that the spirit is being tortured, then he insists and urges him more. And if he notices that the possessed moves a particular part of the body more or fights with it more, or swellings appear on it, then he [the exorcist] makes a sign of cross upon it and sprinkles it with holy water which exorcist must have readily available.”
The book itself is about 8 ” / 20 cm high. Just right for holding it in one hand. It’s a great conversation piece. Especially when the friends come around for a horror movie evening.
On a closing note, Catholic church (where this book originated) is probably the church with the least amount of exorcisms performed these days. The amount of paperwork needed to perform the exorcism is impressive. A bishop has to authorize the ritual. I remember reading about Catholic priest Father Enrique Maldonado who stated that out of 10,000 cases of alleged possession only 1 is credible, while all the others he believes to be simply mental illnesses.
This illustrates that despite various churches and pastors in America who have turned the religious services into spectacles and perform exorcisms every Sunday or whenever TV cameras are around, the reality is different. This book is a vestige of a bygone era when everything and anything unusual was ascribed to the Devil himself.
I’m the editor of a site called Occult Center. I am not the one who will tell you that there is no such thing as spirits or that there aren’t some of them who may not be friendly. However, history tells us (and Catholic church agrees as we can see from the example of Father Enrique Maldonado) that whatever spiritual entities might be out there they usually mind their own business. For most people Rituale Romanum will never be anything more than just a great conversation piece after a horror movie.