(ORDO NEWS) — “Then her whole body became so horribly mutilated that the regular outlines of her body disappeared. Her pale, death-like and emaciated head, often reaching the size of an overturned pitcher of water, turned red like hot coals.
Her eyes protruded from their sockets, her lips swelled to the size of her arms, and her thin, emaciated body swelled to such an enormous size that the pastor and some of the sisters recoiled in fright, thinking that the woman would be torn to pieces and torn apart.
At times her stomach and limbs became hard as iron and stone. In such cases, the weight of her body pressed against the iron stand, so that the iron bars of the bed sagged to the floor.
These words were recorded in the pamphlet “Die Satan” written by Carl Vogl, which described a lengthy exorcism performed on a young girl named Anna Eklund in 1928. At the time and later in Time magazine, it was detailed that she was possessed by several demons, including Beelzebub, Judas Iscariot, and Lucifer himself.
Anna Eklund’s story is not for the faint of heart. At the time of its publication in 1935, it would have been a rather terrible and graphic illustration of the life and practice of one of the most extreme decisions of the Catholic Church in the fight against demonic possession.
However, it is also a story that deliberately obfuscates the history of its subject matter. There are very few facts that detail Anna Eklund’s early life. In fact, even now her name cannot be given with absolute certainty, she was called Anna Eklund, Anna Schmidt, and in many modern reports she was simply called “a certain 40-year-old woman.”
As dramatic as her story was, her name was just one of the details that were kept under wraps after the 1928 incidents as a means of protection from the public.
Of the few details that concern Anna’s early life, it is generally accepted that she was born around 1882 in Wisconsin. Her father’s name was Jacob Eklund, and her mother apparently passed away when Anna was still at an early age.
There is no record of her name, where she went, or, if so, what happened to her. Anna was a practicing and devout Catholic who attended church several times a week and seemed to enjoy religious ceremonies and rituals.
For the first 14 years of her life, she lived, it seemed, like an ordinary child for that time, although her father, according to rumors, made even such a simple existence difficult for her.
Jakob Eklund was, as far as we can tell, a difficult father at best. He was a drunkard and not only was against Anna practicing religion, but also openly mocked the church and its ministers. On his deathbed, when the priest took his last communion, he mocked and insulted him, and his last words were full of hatred.
Although the family history records are not particularly detailed. Even during the life of his wife, he took a mistress named Mina, and it so happened that the woman of his passion turned out to be his blood sister or half-sister by marriage and Anna’s aunt.
Mina had a colorful history of her own and was well known in the city for her practice of witchcraft and black magic. Many directly called her a witch, and when she passed through the streets, rumors about her spread quite openly.
Erling, Iowa today. On the right is the spire of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
Between Anna’s 10th and 14th birthdays, Joseph tried several times to persuade Anna into an incestuous relationship, although Anna categorically refused to do so. This pressure from Joseph and Anna’s refusal, as one might imagine, caused quite a bit of tension in their relationship, which has now taken a turn in a very dark place.
Around this time, at the dawn of the 20th century, we first hear about Anna in detail, because it was at the age of 14 that Anna began to behave a little differently.
She began skipping church and, when questioned, spoke of her inability to attend, her disgust for religious symbolism, and the physical resistance that creates a literal barrier preventing her from entering religious buildings.
She also began to express sexualized thoughts about “unspeakable acts”. This behavior was seen as a form of possession, and in 1908 Father Theophilus Risinger was called to perform an exorcism, which he successfully performed on June 18, 1908.
Although this ordeal is rarely mentioned in the written history of the case, everything seems to have gone well, as Anna’s life has again sunk into obscurity. It can be assumed that she lived a relatively normal life, albeit somewhat hectic.
At some point, her father passed away, and it became more and more difficult for Anna to practice her religion again. This time, her actions against her faith intensified, and she began to lash out at her spirit guide, at one point trying to strangle him.
She developed obsessive desires to destroy her religious symbols, and she heard inner voices that drove her to despair. At first, she sought help from doctors, but after several qualified doctors watched over her for several years and denied her physical health,
After coming under the care of the Church, her consultants themselves spent several years trying to diagnose and alleviate her condition and failed, although during this time they noticed several oddities that they found it difficult to explain in natural terms.
First, it was noted that Anna was able to understand languages that she did not understand before and had never studied. In particular, it turned out that she now understands Latin, and when the priests spoke to her in this language, they said that she fell into a rage with foam at the mouth.
In addition, she felt when consecrated objects were in her immediate vicinity, and became furious, even ordinary objects that had no special spiritual significance, but blessed or touched with holy water, did not go unnoticed, and she appealed to the priests demanding that such objects be immediately removed.
When the priests caring for her began to suspect that supernatural forces were at work here, they asked Anna herself what she thought about this, she behaved completely ignorant and could not give any information about who or what could be behind the alleged demonic troubles that now made her life so difficult.
Finally, in 1928, after many years of such observations, the Church officially recognized Anna as possessed, and again Father Risinger, by this time well known and trusted for his work in exorcism, was asked to accept this service for the second time.
It is from this moment that a more complete picture of Anna can be formed, since the time she spent with Riesinger was fully documented. In fact, it is to this day one of the most documented cases of exorcism performed by a member of the Catholic Church.
The details of the ritual were witnessed by Father Joseph Steiger, an old friend of Reisinger’s, and both testimonies were included in a pamphlet entitled “Die Satan” written by Carl Vogl and published in German in 1935 and in English in 1973.
The pamphlet was originally intended to be distributed to church seminarians to inform and educate about demonic possession and the practice of exorcism. The brochure tells a very strange story.
Father Theophilus Risinger was born in Bavaria in 1868 and grew up on a small family farm. From a young age he was very religious, he was only 12 years old when, suffering from an illness, he decided to devote his life to God and at the age of 21 entered a monastery in Altotting, a village that is still an important place of pilgrimage today after a statue of the Virgin Mary revived a boy who drowned in a river in 1489.
During his stay in Altotting, Risinger decided that his future lay in the priesthood, but the provincial father denied him this opportunity, turning down his request.
Not satisfied, he went to study in Sasbach and upon graduation with a strong recommendation in 1892 he went to New York, where he stayed for a short time, and then settled in Detroit, where he began his life as a novice. In 1899, after completing his education and training, he was ordained a priest and returned to New York to the monastery of St. Fidelis.
His life took a more bizarre turn in 1912 when he was transferred to Wisconsin, where he performed exorcisms and fought evil spirits.
This work was not without criticism, and while he was generally well liked, it seems that some were not enthusiastic about his drawing attention to the possibly unfashionable elements of the Catholic Church. In a short biography of his life there is a phrase that reads:
“We must add that there were some, both outside the province and within it, who could not look Father Theophilus in the eye. We believe it is right to say that this opposition was not caused by the personality of this man, but by the nature of his work, in particular , his exorcisms.”
Indeed, his life and work received extensive press coverage as he became more and more involved in the practice of extracting demons.
At the time, no case received more media attention than his work on exorcising the demon Anna Eklund, which landed him on the cover of Time magazine and now loomed over his head as he prepared to fight her demons for the second time.
The drama of Anna’s second exorcism in 1928 began immediately with her trip to the monastery where the test was to take place. It was decided that everything would be organized and carried out in strict secrecy, and that Anna would be taken away from home so as not to draw attention to herself and to allow her to return to her normal life after the procedure.
No one was supposed to know about what was happening, except for those who directly communicated with Anna, or those who worked nearby and helped directly in carrying out the exorcism. Father Riesinger thought he had found a suitable location at the monastery in Erling, Iowa, although he first needed permission from both the prioress and the pastor of the local parish in order to carry out the procedure within his working boundaries.
The pastor, Father Steiger, was an old friend of Reisinger, and therefore, when approached, he, though reluctantly, agreed that if he could get permission from Mother Superior, he would be happy to perform the ritual under his supervision.
This was a rather dishonest deal on the part of Steiger, who expressed his misgivings about the practice to both Riesinger and the bishop. He entered into the deal, doubtful that the abbess would agree to it.
He then learned with dismay that Risinger had already received permission prior to his conversion, so the pastor stepped aside anxiously and allowed Anna to be taken to the convent where the exorcism could begin.
Anna traveled to the convent by train, and the priests accompanying her first felt it necessary to alert the train staff of the situation as a precaution.
When Anna arrived at Erling station, although it is documented that she herself was very ready and happy to resort to the help of the church and undergo an exorcism, she attacked the priests who came out to meet her, broke out and strangled them.
Risinger was supposed to arrive at the monastery on the same night as Anna, but by a different route, in order to separate them before the exorcism began. He arranged to be driven by Steiger, whose car was fairly new and in perfect working order.
That evening, however, the car would not start, and although no mechanical problems were found, he was unable to make any progress towards the station where he was to pick up the priest.
Arriving two hours late, he found a calm Risinger, who simply brushed off the complications, considering them the work of the devil, who, in his words: “will try his best to thwart our plans.” Finally, all parties gathered at the monastery, and preparations for the exorcism could begin in earnest.
#1: Anna Eklund’s exorcism. August 18-26.
On the night of August 17, as soon as everyone arrived and settled in their temporary new home – the monastery, Anna immediately began to behave in such a way as to scare the permanent residents. During their time at the convent, the nuns assisted Father Risinger in his duties as an exorcist, and also cared for and looked after Anna.
While cooking, one of the sisters in the kitchen took it upon herself to sprinkle holy water on Anna’s food before taking it to her room and serving it to her. However, upon entering the room, Anna manifested a trait that would be repeated over and over again over the following months.
The very presence of the blessed food infuriated her, and she “began to purr like a cat,” refusing to take even one sip until she was carried away and brought fresh, unblessed food.
This reaction to blessed objects and knowledge of them, despite the fact that she should not have known what was blessed and what was not, before entering the room, became a characteristic feature: Anna howled and screamed like an animal. According to the description, she writhed in agony on the bed, while making various unnatural sounds.
“This ugly growling and howling happened every day and sometimes lasted for hours.” Fogl wrote in his book Get Down Satan! “At other times it sounded like a horde of lions and hyenas had been set free, then again like the meowing of cats, the lowing of cattle, and the barking of dogs.
This horrified the nuns who assisted in the exorcism and forced them to create a work schedule that allowed each of them to work only a short time before they could rest and recuperate away from the screams.
This also created a second problem. The locals of Erling village, who day after day during the exorcism heard the sounds coming from inside the stone walls of the monastery, and gathered around, quietly whispering about what they thought was going on inside.
On the morning of 18 August. The exorcism has begun. Father Riesinger almost immediately concluded that this would be a lengthy case that would consist of several attempts, and this first episode lasted 8 days until August 26, opening as it was supposed to continue.
On the advice of Father Risinger, the sisters tied Anna’s hands so that she could not use her hands, intending to prevent Anna from attacking anyone present during the exorcism. In the morning, the priests, together with the pastor, attended mass, and then, armed with various holy symbols, went to Anna’s room to begin the exorcism.
As soon as Risinger began to say the names of the Holy Trinity, Anna jumped off the bed, slipped through the hands of the sisters who were assisting in the ritual, and landed, as was recorded and witnessed by three priests and several nuns, above the door, sideways against the wall, where she pressed herself, snarling and mumbling.
Everyone present took a moment to recover before knocking her down and placing her back on the bed, then calling for help to keep Anna on the bed frame so she couldn’t repeat the trick.
Although Anna did not eat normally for several weeks, and did not eat at all during the days of the exorcism, she began to foam at the mouth, spewing out a huge amount of substances. Sometimes it looked like a liquid, and sometimes it looked like real physical objects like tobacco leaves and spices.
She reportedly took only a teaspoon of water and milk during the exorcism in the morning, however, during the ritual itself, she is said to have vomited up to twenty or thirty times a day with this bizarre secretion, sometimes described as “amounts that, in human terms, language, could not fit inside a normal person.”
During all this, the room filled with stench and Anna remained in a comatose state, her eyes and mouth closed, apparently completely oblivious to any noise or physical activity. In a coma.
“The evil spirits were just speaking in an audible manner from somewhere inside her.”
Through these bursts of speech, Risinger learned all sorts of details about the demonic presence in Anna and concluded that she was possessed by not one, but five demons – the demons of her father Jacob and his mistress Mina, now apparently living in Hell, along with Beelzebub, Judas and Lucifer himself.
Along with the main five, there were dozens of other smaller demons that arrived in packs, screaming and snarling at each other until they were driven off with Risinger’s exorcism. This process of struggle continued for eight days, until the group began to fear for Anna’s life, as she became emaciated and pale.
On August 26, it was deemed necessary to interrupt the process and start it over again after Anna and all those present had time to recover and renew their convictions for further battles.
#2: Demons inside. September 13-20 (details about demons, motives, etc.)
The second exorcism began on September 13 and this time continued for another seven days. This time, the group was able to find out details about the demons that possessed Anna and drove her into a frenzy.
When addressed individually, each demon would respond to Riesinger in whatever language they were spoken to, and Risinger surmised that they could speak any language they wished.
The first to give at least some clue as to the reason for his presence was Beelzebub. He told Risinger in broken, tortuous sentences that it was he who possessed Anna at the age of 14, and that he was the object of her initial childhood obsession.
Satan instructed him to complete his task, and it was Anna’s father, James, who ordered Satan to take possession of his daughter, cursing her for her unwillingness to commit incest with him during her lifetime.
Judas was next. When Risinger asked the demon, “Are you Judas Iscariot, former apostle?” he replied in a rumbling, lengthened tone, “YES! I’m the one.” This voice startled the assistant sisters so much that they ran out of the room, trembling with fear, and for some time they could not enter the ward.
Judas went on to explain that it was his commission from Lucifer to torture Anna and drive her to suicide: “Drive her to despair, so that she commits suicide and hangs herself! She must take the rope, she must go to hell!” He replied.
Jacob will come later and enrich the group with his story, offering a motive for the property. He ridiculed the church all his life and threw away all semblance of faith, but this was not enough to doom him to damnation.
According to Risinger, it was the curse of his own child and the induction of demonic possession in the first case that caused his eternal damnation.
Now, in hell, he plotted against his daughter, who rejected his sexual advances in life, seeking to destroy her. It was a bitter and twisted obsession that had no other motive than to hurt Anna, his own child.
Mina also spoke of her presence in a similar way. She was cursed partly for having an affair with Jacob, but also for killing her own children.
She spoke of her incessant acts of infanticide with minimal remorse, even forgetting how many she had killed, first saying that three, and then correcting herself, confirmed that she had killed four of her own children during her lifetime.
Mina appeared to Risinger as a woman filled with hatred, and her incoherent speeches were documented as:
“filled with such bitter hatred and malice that they are far superior to anything that has happened so far.” Her attitude to the Holy Mystery is indescribable. She spat and vomited disgustingly, so that Father Theophilus and the pastor had to constantly use handkerchiefs to wipe spit from clothes and cassock.
Because of her unworthy communion, it became clear that the Most Holy Sacrament, the Bread of Eternal Life, which was supposed to be the source of her eternal salvation, turned out to be an eternal curse for her. For she tried to get to the Most Holy Sacrament with burning revenge and hatred.
These details were offered in broken fragments and fragmentary conversations, and all the while, hordes of lesser demons disrupted the flow of interrogations with their howls and protests of pain and suffering. While these interrogations were going on, Anna’s strange behavior continued.
At times she became so light that she seemed to be levitating over the bed, and at other times so heavy that the weight pressed her against the sheets, bending the legs of the iron-framed bed. She verbally attacked those present and talked about their sins, which they never confessed.
Those present continued to fear for her life, as her body became red and swollen beyond recognition, and everyone was afraid that she would burst, but then she became emaciated and pale, hard to the touch. Her limbs stretched and elongated, and her lips became plump, compared to the size of her hands.
The room itself became a stench-filled pit of despair, and no one could stay in it for any length of time. The exorcism again stalled and on September 20, after another seven days of the ritual, was suspended in fear for the life of Anna and the health of those present.
Around this time, the whole story began to weigh on Steiger’s father, whom Lucifer teased, trying to turn against Riesinger. By this time, he began to doubt his involvement in this case, and a feeling of anxiety fell on the priest, which, as it turned out, was not entirely groundless.
The problem with Steiger
Throughout the entire period of the exorcism, numerous demons speaking through Anna scolded and uttered agonizing ravings about those present, and no one received more of these ridicule than Father Steiger. He found it difficult to sleep at night and would talk about how rats scratched his walls night after night, or how his room vibrated and rumbled.
In both cases, as soon as he read a prayer and armed himself with religious symbols, the problems stopped, but prolonged anxiety began to affect his well-being. He expressed his concerns directly to Riesinger, who had been Steiger’s lifelong friend, but whose presence now irritated the troubled pastor. Risinger, as usual, took it all in stride, assuring him that it was just the devil’s work and that he was working to end their relationship.
Not fully relieved, Steiger reluctantly continued his assistance, and it so happened that one evening during the second period of the exorcism, Lucifer was able to carry out the threat, this time directly to his life.
It was not unusual for Steiger, as for everyone present, to listen to lengthy speeches containing threats; one day the devil told Steiger about how he would regret his participation when the parish turned against him under the puppetry of the devil,
“I will incite the whole parish against you,” said the devil, “I will slander you so that you will no longer be able to defend yourself. Then you will have to pack up and leave in shame and regret.”
However, in this case, the threats coming from the demon were of a different nature.
“I can’t hurt God directly, but I can touch you and his church. Just wait until the end of the week! When Friday comes, then…” The demon ended his sentence ominously.
On that very Friday, the pastor was called to the house of the parish to read the last sacraments to a dying woman.
The family offered to pick up the priest and take him to their home, but it turned out that their car could not start, so Steiger, with the greatest care, due to the threat of the devils lying in the back of his mind, made his preparations, prayed for a safe journey and set off on his car to the house of a dying woman.
He had driven this road hundreds of times already, and it gave him some confidence, but still he drove with the utmost care. On the way back, however, a black cloud appeared on the road ahead at the very moment when he drove onto a long bridge spanning a deep ravine.
The car crashed into the railing of the bridge, overturned and remained hanging over the edge, balancing wobbly and leaving Steiger on the edge, in a moment of life or death. Luckily, he suffered no serious physical injuries and was able to crawl out of the rubble, where he was met by a local farmer who heard about the accident and came to the scene to offer help.
The farmer took Steiger first to the doctors, who declared him healthy, and then to the monastery. When Steiger entered the room where Anna was, the devil filled the room with laughter,
“Today I showed it exactly. But what about your new car, that smart car that was smashed to smithereens? It serves you faithfully!”
Until the end of the exorcism, the devil repeated this incident to Steiger, threatening him “to be ready for even more fun.”
It was with such a burden and heavy thoughts that the third and final exorcism was to take place, this time bringing all the participants to the limit of their physical and mental condition.
#3: Depart Satan! December 15-22 (end)
On December 15, 1928, the group began their third and final exorcism. As usual, the stench, growls and insults continued as expected. From morning to evening, they fought with demonic entities. Steiger considered himself unable to attend most of the last session, as he had reached his limit.
He found other work throughout the parish and was away for long periods, but helped Riesinger whenever he could. Over the past two exorcisms, many minor demons had been expelled, and now the final battle between the exorcist and the four main perpetrators of the possession was coming up.
Riesinger, anticipating victory, undertook to continue the exorcism throughout the night, and for three days and nights he continued the rituals without stopping.
Many feared that he would collapse and take on the appearance of a “walking corpse”, he expended every ounce of his energy and, finally, On December 22, he made a significant breakthrough when Anna jumped out of bed, levitating so that only her heels barely touched the sheets.
Exhausted, Risinger ordered the demons to go to hell. Risinger later admitted that he had a vision of a room in flames, in the corner of which stood Lucifer and Beelzebub, seething with rage because they failed to attack the priest. He described Lucifer as “tall in stature, with matte black fur on the underside covered with hooves”. At the end of the vision, the room trembled and rumbled with great energy, followed by silence.
Anna collapsed back onto the bed, opened her eyes and smiled, just saying. Risinger later admitted that he had a vision of a room in flames, in the corner of which stood Lucifer and Beelzebub, seething with rage because they failed to attack the priest.
He described Lucifer as “tall in stature, with matte black fur on the underside covered with hooves”. At the end of the vision, the room trembled and rumbled with great energy, followed by silence. Anna collapsed back onto the bed, opened her eyes and smiled, just saying.
Risinger later admitted that he had a vision of a room in flames, in the corner of which stood Lucifer and Beelzebub, seething with rage because they failed to attack the priest. He described Lucifer as “tall in stature, with matte black fur on the underside covered with hooves”.
At the end of the vision, the room trembled and rumbled with great energy, followed by silence. Anna collapsed back onto the bed, opened her eyes and smiled, just saying. after which there was silence.
Anna collapsed back onto the bed, opened her eyes and smiled, just saying. after which there was silence. Anna collapsed back onto the bed, opened her eyes and smiled, just saying.
“My Jesus, mercy! Glory to Jesus Christ!”
The demons left, and that was the end of the exorcism. All that remains of the months-long struggle is the stench that has permeated the entire room.
In the months and years that followed, Anna’s life reportedly returned to normal. She continued to practice her faith with “just a few small things” and nothing she couldn’t handle on her own. She returned to the convent four months later to express her gratitude, and was in good spirits and health.
However, in the monastery itself, things were not so good: all the nuns who were present during the exorcism applied for a transfer, unable to remain with the memories of what happened during those difficult months of 1928.
As the last word in the pamphlet, Teresa Wegerer, Steiger’s father’s housekeeper, gave the following testimony:
“I witnessed almost the entire period of the exorcism in the Erling Possession Case and can truthfully say that the facts mentioned in Cast Out Satan are correct.
Some of the scenes were even more terrifying than described in the pamphlet. I have not the slightest doubt that that the devils were there and I will never forget those awful scenes, vile, dirty and filthy as long as I live.”
The descriptions and eyewitness accounts of Anna Eklund’s exorcism are sometimes whimsical and other times downright fantastic, as far as any skeptical person can understand.
Whether or not to believe them is up to each of us personally, yet they remain fascinating both in their ability to conceptualize the abstract aspect of faith and psychology and in the sheer amount of international attention and scrutiny that the case has attracted.
Even after 80 years, her exorcism remains one of the most important cases and has influenced many generations of fiction and popular media.
As for Anna Eklund, after undergoing trials, she seemed to finally be able to get rid of demonic possession and disappeared into history, leaving only a few short lines of assurance that for the rest of her life she no longer suffers from demonic influence and seems to have lived her life. days quietly, having accepted their Catholic faith.
Reisinger continued to work as a priest in the Catholic Church, performing his standard duties along with exorcism until November 9, 1941, when he died peacefully at the age of 73.
For Anna and many others whose lives have been touched by demonic incursions, Risinger’s words will linger in their memory for a long time:
“Go away, fiends of hell, go away, Satan!”
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