John Paul the Exorcist

(photo: Pacific Yooper)

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A woman was wildly shaking, shrieking, shuddering in the Pope’s presence. It wasn’t her. Somebody else had taken possession of her body. 

“The few people in the room were afraid,” said Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. “The Holy Father [John Paul II] was calmly reciting the rite of exorcism, but it did not work. The woman kept quivering and yelling, out of control. The Pope took a few steps back and said to the woman, ‘Tomorrow I will offer the Mass for you.’ She stopped moving and turned to normal. The devil was gone.”

This is one of the little-known stories about John Paul II that is told in Testimony, a 90-minute long film based on Cardinal Dziwisz’s recently published book A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Relationship with the Man Who Became Pope (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

I had the grace to watch it with the Holy Father in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 16, the 30th anniversary of John Paul’s election to the See of Peter.

With his characteristic German punctuality, Pope Benedict arrived at the hall at 5:30 p.m. ...

— Tom Hoopes