In April 2023, Sony Pictures will release The Pope’s Exorcist to cinemas in the United States. The film stars Russell Crowe as Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the exorcist of the Vatican, fighting evil spirits and demons.
But who was the real Fr. Gabriele Amorth?
Gabriele Amorth was born in Modena (Italy) on May 1, 1925, and grew up in a devout Catholic family.
In a letter sent to journalist Paolo Rodari, and collected in the book "Father Amorth Continues: The Official Biography", he confessed that as a child he would go to Mass with his parents but would fall asleep under the pews of the church.
"When I slept and remained silent without running back and forth in the aisles of the church, my mother would give me a prize, usually a sweet," he recounted in his letter to the Italian journalist.
During his childhood, his parents taught him the importance of the sacrament of Confession, which he attended weekly.
In 1937, when he was only 12 years old, he discovered his vocation to the priesthood thanks to his active participation in the parish Catholic Action and in the San Vincenzo Association, which had given him the opportunity to travel to Rome a year before.
Following the discovery of his vocation, he studied at the secondary school of letters Muratori, in Modena, excelling in sports such as fencing and cycling.
In 1942 he traveled again to Rome to meet with the Passionist order which he felt called to join because of their communal life.
However, the Passionists did not have a room reserved for him, so he was lodged in a house of the Society of St. Paul, the Congregation in which he would finally receive priestly ordination.
After his ordination to the priesthood in 1954, he worked in the Office of Spiritual Assistance of the Vicariate of Rome and as a chaplain in the Regina Coeli prison.
He was also in charge of the formation of young aspirants and religious of the Society of St. Paul.
In 1986 he was appointed chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome by Cardinal Ugo Poletti.
In 1990 he founded the International Association of Exorcists, of which he was president until his retirement at the age of 75.
Father Amorth claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms. He was known for his practical approach and for his reaffirmation of the existence of the devil and demons. As such, he warned several times about the consequences of Ouija boards, astrology, and other occult practices.
In addition to his work as an exorcist, Fr. Amorth was the author of several books such as "An Exorcist Tells His Story", "An Exorcist: More Stories", and "Exorcism and Psychiatry".
He was also a frequent contributor to television and radio programs, and was consulted by the Vatican on matters related to exorcism.
Fr. Amorth passed away on September 16, 2016 in Rome at the age of 91. In the last interview he gave to the media, Fr. Amorth left one phrase as his spiritual testament: "With Christ or with Satan."
"Be with Jesus, and remember that it is not otherwise: when one is not with Jesus, one is with Satan," the Italian exorcist assured TV2000.
Following the release of the trailer for the "The Pope's Exorcist", which is based on the life of Fr. Amorth, the author Fr. José Antonio Fortea explained that this production is an exaggeration of reality and that it shows a disfigurement of the power of the devil.