Mary & Grace
“In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”
Mary’s prophecy at Fátima reassures us that—besides the corporeal struggle with the demon in exorcism—the earthly anticipation of the eschatological struggle between the Mother of God and the ancient dragon (cf. Rev. 12) also has her attention. Despite rampant sin, the tribulations of the Church will have an end. And the finale will be good: God will have the last word on history.
For this reason, Mary is always invoked during the exorcism. During the prayer, the priest repeatedly invokes her intercession and her powerful action. Without her, little is accomplished in the struggle against Satan. It is always God who liberates one from his influence — it is good to keep repeating it — but His ear is especially attuned to the mediation of Mary, the Mother of His Son.
What role does the Virgin have in the liberation of the obsessed? Mary, as the Hail Mary says, is “full of grace.” She is the mediatrix of God’s every grace for all men, particularly for those who suffer much, including those who suffer from spiritual evils. The enmity between Mary and Satan — proclaimed solemnly by God in the first book of Genesis (Gen. 1:3–15) and manifest in the eschatological struggle with the dragon — makes her the number-one enemy of the demon. She will be the one to crush his head at the end of time.
Mary’s Power in Our Lives
The help of the Virgin, however, goes beyond the exceptional situations of the demoniacs. In man’s every struggle against Satan and sin, it is always she who represents the extraordinary and the irreplaceable. The demon is terrified of her. In order to be very clear, I wish to cite an episode at which I personally assisted many years ago.
During an exorcism, Father Candido* asked the devil a question: “Why are you more afraid when I invoke Mary than when I implore God Himself?”
The demon responded: “I feel more humiliated being conquered by a simple creature than by God Himself.”
Mary is a creature like us, but, having been elevated to be the Mother of God, she has extraordinary power. For this reason, I ask the persons who assist me to pray the Rosary. I would add that the Rosary, being the prayer most appreciated by our Lady, is an extremely powerful arm against the devil, and I warmly recommend it to anyone suffering from spiritual evils. This prayer has, in fact, a strong power of protection and liberation from evil. One day Sister Lucia, a seer of Fátima, revealed that God has conferred a power so great on the Rosary that there is no evil — personal, family, or social — that cannot be defeated by its recitation with faith.
The Intercession of the Saints
The saints in heaven intercede for us with great power and efficacy. We must pray to them often. As we profess in the Creed, with them and with the suffering souls in purgatory we are building up what we call the community of saints. It is worth the trouble to read what Vatican II has declared regarding this subject: “Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him [cf. Matt. 25:31] and death being destroyed, all things are subject to Him [cf. 1 Cor. 15:26–27], . . . all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him [cf. Eph. 4:16].”
Here is an important motive for hoping to win the struggle against the devil but also to overcome the anguish and suffering that entangles us at times. With those who already enjoy the vision of God in paradise, an intense exchange of spiritual benefits takes place. Because of their more intimate union with Christ, the inhabitants of heaven do not cease to intercede for us with the Father, offering Him the merits that they acquired on earth through Jesus Christ. Thus, our weakness is greatly helped by their fraternal solicitude.
For the one who is troubled by a demon, the invocation of the saints during the rite of exorcism manifests this trust of the Church in their presence. But apart from this, I counsel, in personal prayer, the frequent recitation of the litanies of the saints, choosing one’s own patron or those to whom one is particularly devoted. Their presence is also mediated through devotion and through the use of their relics, which disturb many demonic actions. As I outlined not long ago, it is necessary to remember that the souls in purgatory can also intercede for us and are also called upon for liberation from the influences of the demon. To offer one’s spiritual sufferings in order to shorten their purification is another meritorious work.
Which particular saints should those who suffer from spiritual evils call upon? I advise invoking those saints who have experienced the same disturbances; for example, Blessed Eustace (Lucrezia Bellini), a Benedictine nun from Padua who lived in the fifteenth century. She died at the age of twenty-five after having been possessed by a demon from the age of four. Her religious life, begun at eighteen, was also heavily conditioned by that grave possession, which she tolerated, offering her sufferings to expiate the sins of those who caused her tribulations. Even her own consecrated sisters mistreated her, annoyed by the disturbances her possession caused the communal life of their convent. Only shortly before her death did they understand that they had been living with a saint. Even today many pray before her tomb in the church of St. Peter, imploring the grace of liberation.
As for me, when I practice exorcisms, I feel the very powerful presence of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Catherine of Bologna, and St. John Paul II. Of this last, I know for certain that he personally practiced at least three exorcisms in his private chapel in the Vatican. When I pronounce his name, the demons are literally infuriated.
I have been asked if, during the exorcism, the demon will pronounce the name of the saint. Normally he does not. It can happen that demons will make a reference to God, to the Virgin, and to some saints, although they have an authentic terror of them, but it never happens that they are able to use their names directly; if they must mention them, they use substitutions. Jesus is referred to in reference to the priest who is performing the exorcism, such as, “your leader” or “your superior”; our Lady is “that one there” or “the thief of souls”; the saints are “assassins.” They oppose the saints because, by their prayers, the saints steal souls from the claws of demons.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in Fr. Amorth’s book, An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels. It is available from your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
*Fr. Candido Amantini (1914–1992) was a Passionist priest, spiritual director, and exorcist in Rome. Stationed at the Sanctuary of the Scala Sancta, he saw dozens of people a day for confession and spiritual guidance and later taught moral theology while administering the rites of exorcism. He was the mentor and teacher of Fr. Amorth.