Alarmed over the growth of local Satanic cults, a Catholic priest from Salerno has performed an aerial exorcism of the entire southern Italian town of Castellammare di Stabia from a helicopter.
According to reports, profanations, sacrilegious thefts from churches, and destruction of crosses have multiplied in the last months, which moved a prayer group of concerned citizens to request the exorcism. The ritual, which involved prayers and sprinkling holy water over the town from a rented helicopter, took place on July 9 but has only come to light more recently.
The seaside town has been mired in problems for some time. Its historic thermal baths are closed due to bankruptcy; the cable car to its local mountain, Mount Faito, has been shut down; crime is at an all-time high; and the local harbor has become unswimmable because of pollution.
Some would attribute Castellammare’s woes to demonic influence, a theory reinforced by the many recent episodes of desecrated crosses turned upside down, sacrilegious thefts of holy objects from churches, and statues of the Madonna thrown off cliffs.
“If Satan exists, he has taken control of Castellammare di Stabia and its people,” said the group of local faithful in a statement. “All we have left is the exorcist to try for a recovery.”
While uncommon, such mass exorcisms are not unheard of. Earlier this summer, several bishops and exorcist priests performed a “Magno Exorcismo” (great exorcism) on the entire country of Mexico following a series of events that the bishops saw as linked to demonic activity.
The former Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez and the Archbishop of San Luis Potosi, Carlos Cabrero, as well as other priests from various Mexican dioceses held a closed-door exorcism at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Luis Potosí.
The well-known Spanish exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea acted as master of ceremonies for the exorcism rite, which has been called “unprecedented in the history of Mexico.” Father Fortea is known for his books on exorcism, including “Memoirs of an Exorcist,” and “Summa Daemoniaca.”
The Emeritus Archbishop of Guadalajara said that people need to become aware “of the seriousness of the situation that we live in Mexico, which has very deep roots, beyond human evil, which is the devil, who is closely connected with death and has been a murderer from the very beginning.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome