Anthony Hopkins portrays Father Lucas Trevant, a veteran exorcist, in the new film The Rite, which opens Friday. The story follows Trevant as he teaches a younger priest how to tell if a person is possessed by a demon, and what to do if that is indeed the case.
Many religions claim that humans can be possessed by demonic spirits, and offer remedies to address this inconvenience. The Bible recounts six instances of Jesus casting out demons, while voodoo and Catholicism proscribe elaborate rituals and cleansings to remove spiritual stains.
The Vatican (which, as the film accurately notes, offers courses on exorcisms) accepts only a small percentage of demonic possessions as "authentic," which of course suggests that there are a lot of unauthentic cases of possession out there. The Vatican issued official guidelines on exorcism in 1614, and revised them in 1999.
How do you know if you or a loved one is possessed?
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, if you have an aversion to holy water or crosses, you might be possessed. If you get or a rash when you enter a church, you just might need an exorcist (if you just get bored in church, you're normal). If you exhibit superhuman strength, you may be drawing your powers from the demonic dark realms.