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The Exorcisms of Emma

Emma H. Schmid was a devout Catholic woman living in Iowa when she was referred to Father Theophilus Riesinger for exorcism in 1928. He observed Emma exhibiting strange physical symptoms such a lumps moving under her skin, and her ability to converse in several languages, some she knew and some she had never learned. He decided to lodge her at a Franciscan convent at St. Joseph Parish in Earling, Iowa.

At St. Joseph’s convent, she wouldn’t touch food that had been secretly blessed; when the sisters brought her an otherwise identical serving without the blessing, she ate. The woman who grew up dreaming of becoming a nun was now living in a convent, but in a state of semi-captivity under the grimmest circumstances.

Only a small circle of trusted people were told what was happening, but keeping Emma’s secret proved difficult. Theo’s notes indicated that “she intermittently roared and bellowed and barked and mauled and moaned and shrieked.” Screams echoed through the neighborhood and into windows. People rushed to the convent asking if someone was being murdered, or a pig slaughtered. Michael Schwarte, then a schoolboy, years later recalled that word got out what was happening. “In a small town like this, everyone knew what was going on.”

Exorcisms were held in a bedroom in the convent. Emma’s teeth gnashed as her arms were bound to the bed frame. Theo would begin with the Litany of All Saints, evoking the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the name of Jesus Christ. When Theo recited the words “Lord, save your people from the persecution of the devil,” an agitated voice from Emma moaned and yelped.

Father Theo was convinced that Emma was possessed by multiple demons, and as they were cast out one by one, he also became convinced that she was possessed by benevolent spirits as well, including that of the Virgin Mary. The messages these spirits relayed led Father Theo on a hunt for the Antichrist. Read the story of Emma Schmid's exorcism at Medium. -via Strange Company

(Image credit: Sailko)

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I looked up other accounts of the same story, and there are some differences. The others put Emma's (or Anna's) first exorcism in 1912 at age 26, and her second at age 41 in 1928. None I found tell of the search for the Antichrist.

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