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[It is likely that there are now more books in print on the subject of Catholic exorcism than at any time in history. They range from journalistic investigations, both sympathetic and hostile, to warnings about the power of the devil and instructions on how the laity can participate in casting...
[At the beginning of the fourth century, the early Christian author Lactantius blamed the suffering of Christians in the Roman Empire on evil spirits possessing the bodies of the persecutors:]
[Far from being the ‘golden age’ of exorcisms, the Middle Ages were a period in which the practice of priestly liturgical exorcism underwent a profound crisis. In the absence of effective centralized church government at the fringes of Europe, especially before the eleventh century, the...
[In the winter of 1604, in the town of Laurac in the south of France, a twenty-one-year-old man was being exorcized to free him from an evil spirit with which he had made a pact in return for wealth. The exorcist, Béringer, assisted by the prayers of a crowd of laypeople in the room, finally...
[Exorcism fulfilled two distinct functions in the global Counter-Reformation. For clergy in the New World, struggling to impose Christianity and colonial government (often scarcely distinguished from one another) on alien cultures, exorcism of sacred sites as places of Satanic worship and the...
[In the eighteenth century, attitudes to exorcism divided the Catholic world. This division broadly followed a philosophical division within Catholic Christendom between adherence to a conservative interpretation of Neo-Scholastic Aristotelianism and openness to Enlightenment thought. Spain and...
[In the aftermath of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which saw Pope Pius VI deposed, Rome declared a Republic and Pope Pius VII imprisoned, the Papacy reinvented itself as the opponent of secular government and increasingly presented Catholicism as a political ideology in its own...
[The debate about the relationship between possession and mental illness that dominated discussion of the appropriateness of exorcism in the first half of the twentieth century has receded into the background in the twenty-first century to be replaced by new concerns. Sceptical voices speaking...
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