Father Gabriele Amorth Says He Has 160,000 Exorcisms to His Name

Mention Pope John Paul II to people who are possessed by evil spirits, and sometimes they’ll literally froth at the mouth in fury. That’s because the late pontiff was a first-class exorcist whose God-given powers are still feared in Satan’s dark realm.

How do we know this? It comes from Italian priest Gabriele Amorth, the founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. (This site’s own Sara Lin Wilde mentioned him in a post earlier today.)

Father Amorth’s name couldn’t be better if J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown had made it up together. How much do I love it? Let me count the ways.

It has amor and mort in it (“love” and “death” in Spanish and French, respectively). How is that not awesome (and voldemortifying if you’re a demon)?

Moreover, somehow “Amorth” teases and taunts you into trying to read it backwards (a well-known satanic device).

The phoneme rth calls to mind Darth, a modern-day arch-fiend (or devil, if you will).

Father Amorth possibly inspired (I’m just guessing here) the Marvel Comics character Gabriel the Devil Hunter (pictured below, left). They have their name, their rare occupation, and their Italian heritage in common.

Impressively enough, anagrams of “Gabriel Amorth” include:

  • A grim brothel — which is where Father Amorth fights the devil’s army of sexual temptresses (OK, there’s an “a” missing, but the Lord works in mysterious ways)
  • Aroma blighter — eliminating Beelzebub’s dreadful stench
  • Aargh limb tore — what I imagine a dying demon’s last words might be
  • Tribal homager — paying tribute to the Vatican’s worldwide clan
  • Breath gloriam — fighting satanic halitosis for the glory of God

And that name, that wonderful name, is just a part of why I’m so enamored with the Catholic demon-slayer.

Consider Father Amorth’s work ethic. Would you believe that he has performed, by his own count, 160,000 exorcisms? The man is 88 years old. If he started rassling evil spirits when he was 20, and worked diligently six days a week and 50 weeks per year, that averages almost eight exorcisms per day. He’s like a Catholic Wilt Chamberlain.

Then again, according to his bio, he didn’t officially become an exorcist until 1986, and retired in 2000. That would be 14 years of righteously kicking demon butt, with 38 exorcisms on an average work day (one every 13 minutes).

Father Amorth, perhaps feeling his years after all those extractions of paranormal brutes, is now looking to expand the Vatican’s devil-hunting brigade. He told British newspaper the Sunday Times:

“I will ask the pope to give all priests the power to carry out exorcisms, and to ensure priests are properly trained for these, starting with the seminary.”

This may be a propitious time for such a request. Although (as we pointed out) the Vatican denies it, and modern Catholics may sniff at casting out demons as a throwback to a darker, dumber time, Father Amorth believes that pope Francis himself performed an impromptu exorcism only ten days ago — in public, no less.

Commented the demonologist,

“The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the devil anymore. Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ “

Two helpful tips to stay on the straight and narrow, according to Father Amorth: Skip the yoga, and for God’s sake, cut it out with the Harry Potter already!

Practising yoga brings evil as does reading Harry Potter. They may both seem innocuous but they both deal with magic and that leads to evil. Yoga is the devil’s work. You think you are doing it for stretching your mind and body but it leads to Hinduism. All these oriental religions are based on the false belief of reincarnation.”

If that is so, demonic possession may be even more widespread than pessimists assumed, considering that at least 500 million children (and some adults too) have read the Harry Potter books, and that perhaps a billion people have bought a Harry Potter movie ticket (to say nothing of DVD and videogame sales). Add to that tens of millions of yoga practitioners (15 million in the U.S. alone), 1.1 billion Hindus, and of course, hundreds of millions of atheists, and you can see why Father Amorth’s posse of devil-fighters needs more recruits.

I love that, like Catweazle or Philip J. Fry, Gabriele Amorth seems to have been catapulted into our midst from another time or a different dimension, his fundamental loopiness almost papered over by a wide-eyed innocence — a belief that the world, not he, is overcome with craziness.


Click below to see the trailer of a new Norwegian documentary called the Exorcist in the 21st Century. The film follows the travails of a woman, Constanza, who clamors for an exorcist to help her purge the demons that she claims have tormented her for fifteen years. Her intended savior is the Spanish priest Jose Antonio Fortea, who, the film’s website informs us, has “a doctorate in demonology.” Who knew?

If you’re in Canada or the U.S., you can watch the whole film on iTunes.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • ortcutt

    Whenever people claim that science is compatible with religion, I like to remind them that the Catholic Church (like most other Christian denominations, including “liberal” ones) believes in demonic possession.


    It’s the 21st Century, and we know that disease isn’t caused by demons or bad airs, but we still have faith healers casting spells on people.

    Edit: a 2012 poll asked Americans “Do you think it’s possible to be possessed by demons?” 57% answered “yes” and 35% answered “no”. 68% of Republicans answered “yes” and 63% of 18-29 year-olds answered “yes. Frightening.


  • The Other Weirdo

    modern Catholics may sniff at casting out demons as a throwback to a darker, dumber time

    Umm, isn’t Catholicism itself a throwback to… Oh, forget it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    It would be fair to alter the first sentence and say “Mention Pope John Paul II to people who WERE ABUSED BY PRIESTS, and sometimes they’ll literally froth at the mouth in fury.”

    Maybe this “exorcist” has just been meeting with abuse victims and their families!

  • busterggi

    The man is a regular Ed Warren on steroids!

  • Matthew Baker

    So if people are possessed by multiple demons does each demon count as a individual exorcism even if its done all at one time? And does he keep enough pigs around to cast them into?

  • Rain

    “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the devil anymore. Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ “

    Wow how many non-sequiturs in that one. He even threw in a classic Jesus non-sequitur. I can see why the wacky beliefs multiply in his brain so well. (Assuming he’s not a complete fraud.)

  • Sven2547

    Who ya gonna call?

  • Brian Westley

    Moreover, somehow “Amorth” teases and taunts you into trying to read it backwards (a well-known satanic device).

    H. Troma!

    Troma is the well-known ultra-low-budget movie company, best known for “The Toxic Avenger”, but also responsible for “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead”

    Satanic link confirmed!

  • Eclio

    No wonder they have abuse problems. What kind of person takes a job where touching, sweating, and screaming at the helpless is considered a way to cure them? That’s a job an abuser would relish having, and considering anybody can be “possessed”, it would appeal to a wide variety of perverts.

  • PhysicsGradStu

    Not all Chinese know Kung fu nor do all Hindus know or practise yoga (the exercise thingy). Yoga has other meanings in Sanskrit.

  • Miss_Beara

    “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the devil anymore. Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.”

    We don’t believe in the devil, therefore we are with the devil.

    Those wacky christians. It would be funnier if people didn’t actually believe in this fairy tale.

  • pagansister

    “Father Gabriele Amorth Says HE Has 160,000 Exorcisms To His name”. Big deal. He should have been concentrating on getting the molesting priests out of the Church instead of worrying about folks taken over by the devil—or perhaps he was one of those priests! What a crock—driving demons out of mentally ill folks who need doctors not priests.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    160,000 exorcisms… MY FURRY ASS!

  • Renshia

    No No, you misunderstood it wasn’t exorcisms, it was circumcisions. Or was that masturbation, it’s so hard to understand when he mumbles.

  • Sweetredtele

    Rookie. I’m up to 429,973 exorcisms.

  • Renshia

    It would be even funnier if people didn’t kill each other over it too.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    This whole exorcism thing seems like more human-centric bullshit. Just like the universe was made for us, opposing supernatural forces are battling to control us.

    “Go away from me, you damned priest!” Exactly.

  • Gus Snarp

    Honestly, among many things the Catholic Church needs to change, if they want anyone to take them seriously they should abolish the practice of exorcism and the very notion of demonic possession. It would seem an impossible task to make the Church seem sillier than it already does, but giving any sanction to priests who claim to perform exorcisms does the job.

  • Gus Snarp

    I did half a billion before breakfast.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    How many time do we have to go over this? The toaster is supposed to glow red- it’s not possessed by demons.