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The real-life exorcist played by Russell Crowe in a terrifying new film conducted his work in a Vatican chamber set away from Rome’s streets – so nobody could “hear the screams”.
Father Gabriele Amorth led tens of thousands of exorcisms before his death in 2016 aged 91.
His nightmarish career has now made it to the big screen in The Pope's Exorcist, with Oscar winner Crowe saying of his work: “It's a very dark pursuit – you're dealing a lot with people who are suffering deeply.”
READ MORE: The Exorcist fans 'disturbed' after discovering film featured real-life murderer
But while the film is sure to terrify audiences once it is released on Friday (April 7) in the UK, the real experiences Father Amorth claimed to have witnessed are even scarier.
From a "demon-possessed" man who “hovered in the air” to a little boy who found supernatural strength to fight off three huge cops, here are some of Amorth's most spine-chiling encounters with evil.
Italian Catholic priest Amorth was the Chief Exorcist in the Vatican and he co-founded the International Association of Exorcists.
He had a mischievous sense of humour and joked before sessions: “You know why the devil flees when he sees me? Because I'm uglier than he is.”
But one petrifying exorcism in 1997 was no laughing matter.
A young man was led into his exorcism room which was nine by 15ft – and Amorth immediately sensed evil.
The alarming meeting was told by Marcello Stanzione in the book, The Devil is Afraid Of Me: The Life and Work of the World’s Most Famous Exorcist.
He wrote how the “slim peasant” began cursing in English after Amorth asked for Jesus’ help, despite his native tongue being Italian.
Stanzione added: “His curses and threats were aimed solely at the exorcist; then he began spitting at him and preparing to attack him physically.
“Screaming and howling, the demon burst forth and looked straight at him, drooling saliva from the young man’s mouth.”
Trying to remain cool, Amorth shouted back: “Unclean spirit. Whoever you are and all your companions who possess this servant of God … I command you: Tell me your name, the day and the hour of your damnation.”
“I am Lucier,” came the disturbing reply.
Stanzione said an unnerved Amorth “did not expect such a terrifying response” but carried on regardless.
He described the room becoming “ice cold” with “ice crystals forming” on the windows and walls.
Amorth did everything in his power to rid the demon and Stanzione wrote: “The young man’s body stiffened so much that he became hard and began to levitate. For several minutes, he remained hovering three feet in the air.”
He eventually slumped back to the chair and Amorth kept visiting him for prayers over the coming days.
A conclusion came after the man “began to howl like never before. Then, at the end of this, he felt new and light”.
He tackled the devil with a crucifix, prayer book, holy water, consecrated oil and a purple scarf he tied around the neck of people who were possessed.
Remembering his creepiest experiences, he said: “During one exorcism I saw a child of 11 held down by four strong men.
“The child threw the men aside with ease. I was there when a boy of ten lifted a huge, heavy table.
“He could not have done it on his own. He had the strength of the devil inside him.”
Another memorable exorcism happened when Amorth supported fellow exorcist Fr Negrini in his attempts to help a possessed 14-year-old girl.
Her name was Agnese Salomon and it took some 12 years before she was supposedly cleansed.
Amorth joined some of the sessions near Brescia, northern Italy, via the phone or skype and one time the demon was asked why he chose the girl.
“Because she is the best of the parish,” came the reply.
Amorth, who defied convention by speaking openly to the media, also claimed he saw a little boy fight off policemen who were desperately trying to hold him down.
Recalling another bonkers event, he added: “I have seen many strange things. The devil told a woman that he would make her spit out a transistor radio, and lo and behold she started spitting out bits and pieces of a radio.”
Amorth told Stanzione that people who were possessed loved to spit and how one man spat out “three nails” which he kept.
He said: “There are very many who spit, and they try to guess the exact moment to get you.
“An exorcist with a little experience learns to defend himself from the spitting, so he tries to put a handkerchief or tissue in front of his face. I recall one who always spit, and I would see it coming in time, so I would put a hand in front of my mouth.”
Amorth was eventually regarded as the world’s best known exorcist and over the years he said Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and ISIS were all Satan possessed.
But perhaps his most unusual claim was when he said “practising yoga is satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter”.
People travelled all over Europe, including the UK, for an exorcism by Amorth in sessions that were on average 30 minutes.
He took his last breath seven years ago after dying from pulmonary-related illness but his character is now being portrayed in cinemas by Russell Crowe.
His extraordinary life included fighting the Nazis in World War II, studying law before eventually becoming a priest.
And speaking of the movie, the Gladiator star said: “The thing that got me interested is the fact that it is a real job and this particular man had not only done it for so long, but documented the things that he’d experienced.”
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