Feature

The devils in the church

When I was ten, I became an altar boy, and not only did I find the rites of the Catholic Church fascinating, I also listened to the intriguing stories of the older priests, and I am convinced an old visiting American priest who conducted a service at my old church was the very priest Father Merrin was based on in the Exorcist film and novel, because that story of possession really did take place in the United States in the late 1940s, only the victim was a boy – and the priest knew every detail of that disturbing case.

Another priest – we shall call him Father Jones – told me how, during one of the worst snowstorms in living memory – back in the winter of 1962-63 – he expected no one to turn up for morning Mass at his church in snowbound Knowsley – but he climbed up into the pulpit all the same, just in case a handful of the faithful arrived.

Ten minutes later the heavy oak door of the church burst open, and with the whirling snowflakes and howling winter wind came a steady stream of people of all ages and classes, and soon the church was at full capacity.

Father Jones was astounded and moved by the attendance, and after everyone had settled down, he thanked the churchgoers for braving the glacial arctic weather.

Father Jones then began the Mass with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, but he was greeted with loud laughter – it sounded like the type of canned laughter you’d hear watching a sitcom on the TV, and this outburst naturally startled him.

He looked up from the Bible and saw that every single person sitting in the church had horns and the face of a devil.

For a moment the priest thought he was dreaming because the sight – although it was frightening – was also very surreal, but then he slowly realised that the snowstorms outside really had kept even the most ardent worshippers away, and these beings who had filled the church were demons.

Father Jones bravely carried on the readings from the Bible and he was met with cries of “Liar!” and “Never happened!” along with some very offensive and obscene remarks which I cannot put into print or I would surely face prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act.

The horned demons left the benches and closed in on the pulpit and encircled it, and they all began to spit up at Father Jones, who discontinued the mass and began to carry out the Rites of Exorcism.

“You don’t believe in God you damned hypocrite!” screeched one of the evil entities and gave the priest the two-fingered gesture, and another one shouted: “We know all your secrets, Father! Every one of them ha!”

During this time, Father Jones saw the statues in the church and some of the religious friezes depicting the Stations of the Cross become animated and one statue began to make rude gestures.

Some of the demonic beings grabbed candles and told the priest they were going to burn the church down, and Father Jones looked up at the arched ceiling of the House of God and shouted, “Lord! Please rid your church of these unclean spirits!”

Seconds later, the door of the church flew open, and in came an old priest who had only recently retired on the grounds of ill health, and in his out-thrust hand he held a large crucifix.

His voice sounded incredibly loud, as if he was speaking through an amplifier, and Father Jones recognised the words.

They were the old Rites of Exorcism in Latin, and they were being uttered with an incredible conviction.
The devils screamed in strange harmonies and they split into two groups and snaked along the aisles on either side of the church, some of them brushing past the old priest, who took swipes at them with the crucifix.  

Once the last demonic entity had left the church, the old priest slammed the door shut, and then he turned, and seemed exhausted as he came down the aisle towards the pulpit.

Father Jones ran to the old man’s aid, and caught him before he could fall. His face and hair were flecked with snowflakes and his clothes were damp.

“Oh Father, thank you for driving them out of here. If only I had a quarter of your faith,” he told the elderly priest, who was smiling now.

He explained how he had been at his window, looking out of his quarters in the priest’s house, when he had seen the abominations gathering near farmland some distance away.
They had all been assembled around a figure, and the old priest stopped short of stating that this had been Lucifer.
He then told Father Jones: “Be on guard – be vigilant – all the time. Not only can the Devil cite Scripture, he can even enter the House of God, as you have seen this morning. Take this, and remember the power behind it,” the old priest said, handing his crucifix to Father Jones.

He then said he would have to go back to his quarters because he was drained, and before he went he said, “This decade will see the return of Devil worship and unspeakable horrors instigated by him below, and they are even watching us now – so be ready Father Jones.”

“Let me escort you back to your room Father,” Father Jones said, full of concern, but the priest waved him away and said, “Lock this door after I have gone and prepare for the battle to come.”

Weeks after this, Father Jones was involved in one of the most terrifying exorcisms in the history of the Church, and this took place in Huyton, but that, as they say, is another story...

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