The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist

by Matt Baglio

Hardcover, 2009



Call number

265.94 BAG



Call number

265.94 BAG




In The Rite, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.--Publisher description.


Doubleday Religion (2009), Edition: First Edition, 288 pages

Original publication date



0385522703 / 9780385522700


(67 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MarcusH
If you are looking for an objective report on the role of exorcism in the modern Catholic church, or a spine chilling horror story; you've found the wrong book. Baglio profiles a Catholic priest on a quest to learn how to become an exorcist. The book focuses strongly on the priest's faith and how he finds the strength to face evil everyday. It becomes obvious that the profile is meant to be inspirational to other Catholics. Baglio at times includes scientific backing for aspects of the ritual and experience that the reader could be most skeptical about (the possessed vomiting objects for example); the problem with this is that the resources he uses are all practicing Catholics. Not being a Catholic, I would have liked to see more objectivity and less "you should attend church on a regular basis." With that said, I'm not Catholic so some of you may find it very inspirational.… (more)
LibraryThing member hermit
Matt Baglio was a freelance journalist living in Rome when he learned about a class the Vatican was offering on exorcism that was open to the public. Mr. Baglio thought it would give him enough information to write an article if he attended the class. He was wrong, from what he learned in class and contacts made, the author was able to write this book and has a new look on life.

In this class Mr. Baglio met and an American Priest from California who was appointed by his bishop to become the diocese exorcist. The book is written mainly as a biography of this priest, Father Gary Thomas. So with the investigative eye of a journalist, the insights of the exorcist and interviews of the subjects of some exorcisms we are given a glimpse into the world where good still battles evil.

The small biography of Father Thomas is a fast read that shows the sad truth that most priest do not even believe in the devil until the come face to face with pure evil. This was where Father Thomas was until he started the class to become an exorcist and actually started attending some exorcism. Every diocese is supposed to have an official exorcist appointed but the majority live in Italy and there is only a handful in the U.S.A. Most countries have none at all.

The author also covers the teachings of the Catholic Church on demonic possession and the basis for the belief in the rite of exorcism. Through Father Thomas’ eyes we are shown different forms of possession and learn that each exorcist is a unique individual with his own strength and weaknesses. In order for the rite to be successful both the possessed and the exorcist must have faith in God. For the rite is a manifestation of God's benevolence and deliverance and the priest is only the conduit of His grace as a priest is for all the sacraments. And there is no standard situation when it comes to demonic possession or for how long the exorcism could take, which can sometimes years.

I found this a very interesting read and the author has a very short section at the end where he shares from his own personal experience from his time researching for this books. The author also provides copious notes and a bibliography. From his own words it is obvious he has many more notes from which he can pull from. So perhaps the author will write a book from his own perspective giving us a look behind the Rite and delve deeper into the subject. The book is a good introduction to a subject that most feel have been relegated to the back lots of Hollywood.
… (more)
LibraryThing member LivelyLady
I found this book fascinating, however, I could only read 75% of it. The first night I read in bed and then stayed awake until 2 AM. So I restricted reading this to daytime in the sunlight in the living room. I was feeling angst over life issues and decided maybe it was not the best time to read that book. I did research who the exorcist was for the Catholic diocese in which I live and I was shocked that the one listed is such a normal, balanced program. I was glad there is one and credence is given to Evil and it is not blown off.… (more)
LibraryThing member allthesedarnbooks
Hmmm. This book was not what I expected. The jacket copy lead me to believe it would be a balanced look on exorcism, and that Baglio would present not just the Catholic Church's views on exorcism, but also those of skeptics. However, while Baglio pays lip service to some scientific theories on exorcism, most of the psychologists, psychiatrists, and other scientists he consults are practicing Catholics, or other Christians, and believe in the devil, demons, and the power of evil. Baglio's profile of Father Gary Thomas, a modern priest learning the rituals of exorcism, is interesting. The scenes of exorcism itself are frightening and many read like a novel. Throughout the book, however, I felt like I was reading a treatise on Catholic theology, which is not what I was looking for. I'll give the book three stars, because it was a quick, engrossing read that kept my interest through the end, even though it was not what I was looking for and left me with more questions than answers.… (more)
LibraryThing member Sansom48
Over the past few weeks I have been reading a lot about the ministry of deliverance, most of the books seem to go in one direction or the other, either every minute emotion a person might have is a spirit, or there is no such thing as a spirit. I have also been in contact with another set of extremes, either the exorcisms are always chaotic or uneventful. With all this in mind, I found this book presented the information in a very down to earth way about it. Sure there are extreme times of chaos in exorcism, however, this is not the majority. Not every emotion is equated with Demon possession yet some can be.
This book follows the path of Father Gary Thomas as he attends a newly formed class in Rome on exorcism. The class is set up to fill a void in the Catholic Education system that has left Faith with few exorcist, and plenty of misgivings about the theology of demons and spirits in general. The author, Matt Baglio, does a good job of telling the story of Father Gary while at the same time giving forgotten or new information on spirit theology as well as modern thoughts on the matter. In some cases Baglio breaks from the storyline to give the opinions of those who oppose the idea of demonic possessions and how they might try to "explain away" the symptoms.
Even though this book is not formally a manual on how to do deliverance ministry or exorcism, I think it is a must read for anyone who is even vaguly interested in the topic, it is not extreme or outlandish in its details and give in my opinion a fair account.
The book is 304 pages however, the last 70 pages are mostly notes which are interesting to read but not necessary to understand the story. It is a very good style of writing and found that for me it almost read like a fiction novel.
… (more)
LibraryThing member mhleigh
Exorcisms are a part of the Roman Catholic Church that are rarely discussed in this modern era. Many view them as a relic – a way of explaining diseases, as demonic possession, before doctors had an understanding of mental illnesses. The Church hierarchy, however, still teaches the reality of Satan, and there are still specifically trained priests who have exorcism as a part of their job descriptions. One of these priests is Father Gary Thomas of California, who takes a series of classes on exorcisms as part of a recent Church movement to ensure that all exorcists are properly trained with some degree of uniformity.

Quote: “The Devil is present everywhere that evil things happen within the normal laws of nature . . . in many places, in all massacres, in every murder, in physical catastrophes, in every concentration camp, in all evil. Sometimes he shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession. But he’s much more dangerous where he doesn’t let himself be seen, where he can’t be done away with through exorcism.” -Father Pedro Barrajon

I found this book on an unusual topic surprisingly engaging – despite being unsure, I finished it in just a few days. It was a mixture of the personal story of Father Gary Thomas and a more scholarly consideration of the topic of exorcism. Father Thomas’ story is interesting – the right combination of faith, skepticism, and determination, while the drier portion did not last too long. Perhaps most interesting, however, was the personal tales of people who have undergone exorcisms and tales of ceremonies witnessed by Father Thomas and the author, which are quite different than Hollywood’s take on demonic possession. While I’m not sure if it engrossing enough to hold someone with no interest whatsoever in the topic, I think most who are intrigued by the possibility of unseen forces in the universe would find it a worthwhile read.
… (more)
LibraryThing member sullijo
Matt Baglio profiles Fr. Gary Thomas, a "reluctant exorcist" appointed by his bishop to study exorcism in Rome. Fr. Thomas -- and Baglio -- offer a balance of Catholic faith and prudent skepticism. From his first class on the subject to his apprenticeship to a veteran exorcist, Fr. Thomas' tale is presented in clear, crisp prose. Baglio does a commendable job of presenting the Church's position on exorcism, cutting through popular myth and misconceptions. A good read for anyone looking for a clear treatment on exorcism from a Catholic perspective.… (more)
LibraryThing member Bridgey
The true story following Father Gary Thomas as he trains to become an exorcist.

Not much to say really, was quite bored a lot of the time as the book went into all the different theologies surround the catholic faith etc.

Some nice moments but far too repetitive.
LibraryThing member bibliophile_pgh
This was a very interesting perspective. There were sections that I didn't want to put the book down. This would be a good companion to anyone who has read the exorcist. It is not necessarily a book that will scare but rather educate you regardless if you are a practicing Catholic or not.
LibraryThing member CatherineBurkeHines
Surprisingly informative and minimally sensational book about the Catholic rite of exorcism. Bears no resemblance to the excretable movie of the same name.
LibraryThing member MarionII
Fascinating read about a seldom discussed subject. The book covers the division within the Catholic church over this subject, and follows a priest through his exorcist training. Believer or not, Catholic or not, this is a thoroughly interesting read for anyone remotely spiritual.


Page: 0.3378 seconds