The famous horror movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on a real-life incident. It was inspired by the tragic life of Anneliese Michel who was renamed in the movie as Emily Rose. She was born in 1952 to Bavarian parents alongside her brother and sister.
Before giving birth to Anneliese, her mother had a daughter Martha who died at the age of 6. The death of Martha prompted Anneliese’s mother to put a lot of pressure on the young Anneliese, particularly when it came to prayer and religious devotion.
Anneliese was a bright student and was outstanding in language study but was under the constant watch of her parents. The Michel family attended Mass twice a week. According to doctors, the young girl met with later, she developed neuroses related to religious iconography as a result of punishments inflicted upon her as a young girl.
Anneliese Michel began to demonstrate symptoms of epilepsy and social stigma at the age of 16
One day in 1968, she woke up experiencing a heavy feeling on her body and then wet the bed. But there were no reoccurrences, and the family thought she was fine. But over a year late, in August 1969, Anneliese had a similar event and was taken to a doctor to determine the cause. Her local doctor, Dr. Vogt, referred her to a neurologist, Dr. Siegmund Luthy.
The doctor did not diagnosis her with anything but shortly afterward she was hospitalized for tuberculosis. Soon after she experienced the similar incident the third time and said she saw colors, heard sounds, and experienced feelings of euphoria while saying a rosary.
She became obsessed with the idea that the Devil was inside of her
In 1970, she returned to school but was depressed and withdrawn. She threw herself into Catholic books and practices, graduated from high school, and started college to become a teacher. Despite all these efforts, her condition worsened. By 1973, she experienced hallucinations while praying and believed she was damned.
Her behavior became erratic as once she licked her own urine off the floor
She was said to have licked her own urine, eaten bugs, eaten coal, and ripped her own clothes off. She began to avoid religious items like crucifixes and holy water and displayed the symptoms of demonic possession. These incidents urged the family to ask several priests for an exorcism but they declined and encouraged continued medical treatment.
Eventually, the Church granted Anneliese Michel an exorcism which was to be done in absolute secrecy
Fathers Arnold Renz and Ernst Alt, from the local diocese, were given the task of exorcising Anneliese. The two priests had earlier claimed that medical treatment was not enough to help Anneliese. She stopped taking her medication, and the family focused on religious intervention.
Over the 10-months period of exorcism, Anneliese Michel underwent 67 different one-hour sessions. Audio recordings of the incident were made. The recording shows how her voice was distorted, the growls and other utterances that she made in response to the religious ritual. She supported the exorcism in the beginning but as it proceeded, she became weaker and thinner.
Here is the audio recording of the exorcism:-
During the exorcism, Fathers Renz and Alt found out that there were 6 demons that possessed Anneliese
Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Nero, Cain, Hitler, and Fleischmann, a disgraced Frankish Priest from the 16th century, all made appearances. Given Anneliese’s background in school and obsession with Christian teachings, later theories claimed that Anneliese Michel chose these men willfully.
During the exorcism, she had to be held down and even chained. This abuse took a toll on her body and she finally died in 1976. Her autopsy revealed that she weighed 70 pounds at the time of her death. She had fractured teeth, bruises on arms, wrists, hands, damaged knees, black eyes, and was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.
Moments before Anneliese’s death, on July 1, 1976, Father Alt and her mother claimed to see the stigmata on her body. The stigmata are the wounds endured by Jesus Christ prior to his death, including on the hands and feet.
After the death, father Alt and Renz, as well as Anneliese’s parents, were put on trial for negligent homicide in 1978. Though the priests maintained that they finally freed Anneliese from the demons, both the parties were found guilty and sentenced to jail.