The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel: The Terrifying True Story That Inspired A Famous Horror Movie

Updated: Aug 6

The story of Anneliese Michel is a tragic true case that inspired the movie "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and resulted in two priests and her parents being charged with homicide.

Anneliese Michel exorcism photos
The horrifying transformation of Anneliese Michel

Many people do not know this, however, the terrifying events that took place in the 2005 movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose were not your usual fiction horror flick, they were actually based on true experiences that happened to a German girl by the name of Annelies Michel.

Anneliese Michel was born September 21, 1952, in Leiblfing, Bavaria, West Germany to a devout Catholic family where she would attend Mass twice a week.

At sixteen years old, Anneliese suddenly blacked out while at school and proceeded to walk around in a daze, although Anneliese had no recollection of the event, her family and friends said that she went into a trance-like state.

The following year a similar event happened to Annelies when she woke up in a trance and wet her bed while her body shook uncontrollably during a series of convulsions.

Anneliese Michel as a child
Anneliese Michel as a child prior before her medical issues started to have an impact

After the second of Anneliese's episodes, she went to see a neurologist who diagnosed her with temporal lobe epilepsy, a disorder that causes loss of memory, visual and auditory hallucinations, and seizures.

in 1973, Not long after Anneliese began taking medication for her newly diagnosed epilepsy, she enrolled in the University of Würzburg.

Unfortunately, the medication she had been prescribed was failing to help her, and as the year went on her condition began to deteriorate. Anneliese continued to take her medication, however, she began to think that she was possessed by a demon and that she needed to look for help outside of the medical professionals.

Anneliese claimed that wherever she went that she could see the face of the devil and that she had demons constantly whispering to her. During her prayers, she said that the demons told her that she was "damned" and would "rot in hell", this brought her to the conclusion that she was being possessed by the devil.

Anneliese requested help from various priests in ridding her of her demonic possession, the priests that she approached rejected her pleas for assistance stating that they would require permission from the bishop and suggested she should seek out further medical advice.

At this point in her life, Anneliese was convinced without a doubt that she was possessed and not medically ill, this was when things started to become extreme.

During the height of believing she was possessed, Anneliese would rip off her clothes, perform up to 400 squats a day, and crawled under a table, barking like a dog for two full days. She would also eat coal and spiders, and lick her own urine from the floor, she also bit the head off a dead bird.

Anneliese Michel during an exorcism
Anneliese being restrained by her mother during one of the exorcisms

Eventually, Anneliese and her mother found a priest who believed in her possession and said that he would help, his name was Ernst Alt. He said that "she didn't look like an epileptic" in court documents that were later released.

In a letter from Anneliese, she wrote to Alt, "I am nothing, everything about me is vanity, what should I do, I have to improve, you pray for me" and also once told him, "I want to suffer for other people…but this is so cruel".

Ernst Alt put in a petition to the local bishop, Bishop Josef Stangl, for an exorcism to be performed on Anneliese, after some time Stangl granted the request and instructed a priest, Arnold Renz to conduct the exorcism but to ensure that the procedure be carried out in complete secrecy.

Over the following ten-month period, Alt and Renz conducted a total of 67 exorcisms on Anneliese, some of which lasted up to four hours.

During the exorcism sessions, Anneliese said that she believed she was possessed by six different demons: Nero, Adolf Hitler, Judas Iscariot, Cain, Lucifer, and Fleischmann (a disgraced priest).

The spirits were said to fight over control of Anneliese's body and would communicate using her mouth with a deep growl.

The demons argued with each other, with Hitler saying, "People are stupid as pigs. They think it’s all over after death. It goes on" and Judas saying Hitler was nothing but a "big mouth" who had "no real say" in Hell.

Throughout these exorcism sessions, Anneliese would often talk about "dying to atone for the wayward youth of the day and the apostate priests of the modern church."

Anneliese even ripped the tendons and broke the bones in her knees with her constantly kneeling to pray.

Over the 10 months of exorcisms, Anneliese was often restrained so the priests could conduct the religious rites.

Anneliese slowly started to stop eating, which took a terrible toll on the young woman's body, eventually leading to her death from malnutrition and dehydration on July 1, 1976, at just 23 years old.

Listen to the audio recording of one of the actual exorcisms performed on Anneliese Michel.

After the death of Anneliese, her story spread like wildfire through various different media outlets across the world after her parents and the two priests who carried out the exorcisms were charged with negligent homicide. They were brought before a court and attempted to defend their actions by using a recording of one of the exorcisms.

Both of the priests, Ernst Alt and Arnold Renz, were found guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to six months in prison (which was later suspended). The parents were exempted from any form of punishment as it was ruled that they had "suffered enough".

Anneliese Michel priests and parents
In court, from the left, Ernst Alt, Arnold Benz, Anneliese's mother Anna,, her father Josef

The story of Anneliese is a truly tragic one, was she medically unwell and received poor care? or was she genuinely possessed by demons? We don't know, however, this was a horrifying story about a young woman who lost her life well before her time. Let us know your thoughts and comments on the story of Anneliese Michel below.


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