I took the video to a group of some of the leading psychiatrists in the country, all in residence at Columbia University: Jeffrey Lieberman, director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute; Michael B. After showing the Columbia psychiatrists the video on a inch screen, they had an open discussion about it for an hour and a half. Here are some of the highlights synthesized from that discussion:. I would say she fits into the pattern that we call Dissociative Trance and Possession Disorder. There is no obvious known psychopathology.
Exorcism as a therapeutic technique could work. She speaks in a bizarre voice. She has a history of trauma. She gets better. But there was no response. We started to do family therapy. All of a sudden, some strange things started happening, accidents, hearing things. One night, I went to see her and then conferred with a colleague, and afterwards I went home, and there was a kind of a blue light in the house, and all of a sudden I had this piercing pain in my head, and I called my colleague, and she had the same thing, and this was really weird.
This was basically a battle between the doctors and whatever it was that afflicted the individual. There was no way I could explain what happened. I went to these doctors to try to get a rational, scientific explanation for what I had experienced. I was determined to record it and follow this story to its end, however long it might take and to whatever conclusion. I arrived in Rome on the third only to learn that Rosa had canceled her appointment with Father Amorth. She would reschedule when she felt better. Francesco asked her if, since I had come to Rome, we could film some background footage with her, to show what appeared to be her otherwise normal life with her family, friends, and her boyfriend, Giuliano.
She agreed, and we set a time to meet in Rome on July 5. The day before, I visited Father Amorth again at his residence. He emphasized that he believed Rosa was one of those rare victims of demonic possession, that her infestation was made worse by the curse from her brother and his girlfriend. Father Amorth told me that even when Rosa appears normal she experiences mental suffering. And Jesus reminds us it is He who sets people free, not the exorcists.
After two hours he seemed to tire.
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We hugged, he gave me his blessing, and I left. I turned back once to see him smiling and waving. Rosa canceled our meeting, only to call back and reschedule. Then late in the evening she called to apologize. She claimed she had forgotten the date of our meeting, but told Francesco she was looking forward to seeing me again. She asked if we could meet her in Alatri, a small town close to where she lived, 90 miles southeast of Rome.
We set out for Alatri around in the morning.
The drive took two hours on the A24 and A1 motorways. We passed flat fields dotted with bundles of rolled hay. Alatri is a historic village, perched on a hill, overlooking red-tiled rooftops and distant mountains. The village dates from the second millennium B. The narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets are lined with small houses, many of them adorned with oil paintings of the saints, under glass.
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This is a religious town in an old-world way. We had to walk to the top of the hill to the acropolis. Within it is the cathedral, considered a sacred place. We were to meet her in the park in front of the 12th-century basilica. The heat was infernal and there was no shade. The temperature was over degrees, with no humidity.
We went into the basilica. The wood-paneled interior was in the shape of a cross with three aisles and a raised transept across the nave. It was dark, cavernous, and empty. We went back outside. A half-dozen young boys lazily kicked a soccer ball around. There was no other movement. Francesco called Rosa on her cell phone. She answered quickly, sounding angry.
Drenched in sweat, we walked back down the steep road a quarter of a mile. The limestone church of Santa Maria Maggiore dominates the public square. Completed in the fifth century, it was built over the ruins of a temple to Venus. Two smaller arched doorways flank a large center door under a rose window.
We entered the door on the right, at the base of the bell tower. For the next 15 minutes we were trapped in a living nightmare. Just within the entrance, Rosa, her mother, and Giuliano were sitting on dirty, plastic thrift-shop chairs. Her mother was crying. Giuliano stood over Rosa, holding her tightly to her chair, one hand around her neck and shoulders, the other around her waist.
She was growling and screaming, struggling to break free. But this was not Rosa. It was a monstrous, ugly, despairing creature with a gravelly voice filled with anger and anguish. It was the voice of the damned. She was far worse than during the exorcism, but there was no priest to control her behavior. The church was otherwise empty but for this tableau of horror.
Francesco and I watched in stunned silence as Rosa slid around the floor, pulling Giuliano and the chair with her. For a moment, she stared at me with a malevolent grin I will never forget. Then came a sad, painful moan as she collapsed into a trance. Then a terrifying roar that burst from her whole body. The color drained from her face.
Her disheveled hair flew wildly in all directions. Foamy spittle formed on her pale lips. It struck me as odd that she was concerned more about her son than about her daughter, who was under his curse. Rosa shouted furiously again. Her leaps and thrusts became more violent.
I told Francesco to tell them there was no film.
It was a video, on a little card. You must bring it here and we will burn it. Satan will kill you! We will find your family, and we will kill you all! It was the first time anyone had threatened my life. Retrieved February 7, British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Recording Industry Association of America. Slipknot Iowa Vol.
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