Italy is no stranger to exorcisms, with half a million Italians reportedly requesting them each year. The Independent in 2015 reported on an exorcism of an entire town, performed via helicopter. Three years prior, the Catholic diocese of Milan instituted an exorcism hotline, reported the BBC. But in the wake of last month's death of Rome's most famous exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, who was 91, demand has outpaced available priests. Amorth's protege, 79-year-old Father Vincenzo Taraborelli, says he performs as many as 30 exorcisms in his windowless room on any given day (he generally does it three days per week). But he's having trouble finding successors to help take over because they are "scared" and feel unprepared for a workload like Taraborelli's, reports the BBC.
Back in 2004, Amorth told the Los Angeles Times that "exorcism is God's true miracle," and that not only was he never afraid of the devil but that, in fact, "I can say he is often scared of me." But the ritual that's basically unchanged since medieval times, which involves driving out evil spirits through prayer and denunciations, is supposed to be a last resort, performed after a psychologist or psychiatrist has ruled out medical issues, the Times reports. Taraborelli confirms that he "urges" such a visit and asks those seeking exorcisms to "bring me their prognosis." When warranted and performed, people have vomited anything from metal pins and braids to wood and stones, he claims. "We need other priests like me to meet the needs of so many families," he says. (The Exorcist director says he saw a real exorcism in Rome.)