Father Gabriele Amorth: The Pope’s Chief Exorcist

Father Gabriele Amorth: The Pope’s Chief Exorcist

Written by Mark Williams, In Celeb, Published On
February 13, 2024

In Short:

  • Father Gabriele Amorth was born on May 1, 1925, in Modena, Italy; he attained international recognition for presiding over more than 160,000 exorcisms in his career.
  • In spite of his fame, Father Amorth had to deal with criticism; some people could not believe Father Amorth could perform so many exorcisms. Skeptics, including a canon law professor, questioned the level of scrutiny undertaken for each case.
  • Father Amorth has written several books, including memoirs such as “An Exorcist Tells His Story,” that offer insights into his encounters with demonic forces. His life and work have been eternalized in documentaries and films. Thus, his place within Catholicism is eternal.
  • Father Amorth held controversial beliefs regarding practices like yoga, considering them satanic, and got the media attention over the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi. These opinions thus compounded on the intriguing air about his character and work.

Gabriele Amorth was a Catholic priest and a prolific writer. He was ordained in 1954 and appointed as chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome in 1986. He further left the Catholic Church behind with an indelible legacy through his extensive ministry of performing exorcisms and educating on demonology. Throughout his long career, he was uncompromising in his fight against evil, but he also attracted criticism for his unorthodox ideas. This article offers a complete picture of the life and achievements of the famous exorcist.

Bio of Father Gabriele Amorth

Attribute Information
Full Name Gabriele Amorth
Birth Date May 1, 1925
Birthplace Modena, Italy
Death Date September 16, 2016
Nationality Italian
Denomination Catholic
Ordination Year 1954
Exorcist Appointment June 1986
IAE Founding 1990
IAE Presidency 1990-2000

Early Life and Entry into Priesthood

Born in 1925 to a family of lawyers hailing from Modena in northern Italy, Amorth’s childhood coincided with the rise of Fascism. His staunch opposition to the authoritarian ideology was shaped by his devout Catholic upbringing as well as the influence of his uncle, a priest who actively criticized the regime. During World War II, the young Amorth played a valiant role in the Italian resistance movement against the Nazi occupation.

After the war, Amorth embarked on legal studies, aspiring to follow the family vocation. However, he soon experienced a calling towards spiritual service, deciding to leave law and enter the priesthood instead. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1954, marking the beginning of his long clerical career.

Rise to Prominence as Leading Exorcist

Father Gabriele Amorth

Though Amorth initially served as a parish priest for over three decades post his ordination, it was his appointment as the exorcist of the Diocese of Rome by Cardinal Ugo Poletti in 1986 that would eventually define his life’s purpose and legacy.

He studied under the tutelage of Father Candido Amantini, the chief exorcist at the time, meticulously learning the intricacies of diagnosing demonic possession as well as the elaborate rituals of exorcism. After Amantini’s retirement in 1990, Father Amorth took over as the chief exorcist, a position he would serve in for the next 30 years until his demise.

During this period, his reputation as a skillful, discerning, and incredibly active exorcist grew exponentially. Amorth claimed to have performed over 100,000 exorcisms during this time, attributing the staggering numbers to a sharp decline in faith and a rise in occult activities across the world. As part of the training program for exorcists, he emphasized the need for deciphering genuine cases of possession amid a growing trend of people misleadingly claiming affliction. His prudent, non-alarmist approach earned him the implicit trust of the Vatican authorities.

However, his detractors questioned the feasibility of such prolific exorcism numbers performed almost single-handedly. But Amorth explained that many cases involved curses or oppression – which took shorter periods – rather than full possession. He also pointed to the other exorcists operating under him in supporting capacities.

Advancing Education & Global Collaboration Among Exorcists

During the early years of his high-profile exorcism ministry in Rome, Father Amorth realized the lack of structured training resources and fragmented networks among exorcists across the Catholic world.

In 1990, he founded the International Association of Exorcists (IAE) – a global platform for education, communication, and collaboration between official diocesan exorcists. As founding President of IAE until 2000, he oversaw the establishment of formation workshops, regular publications, and a fellowship program to mentor junior clergymen entering the ministry. The association, which swelled to over 200 priests from 30 countries, helped standardize exorcism protocols worldwide.

Prolific Writer on Demonology and Exorcism

Besides making his mark as an exceedingly active exorcism practitioner, Father Amorth also produced over 30 written works spanning memoirs, reference guides and theoretical reflections on the subject.

His two autobiographical memoirs – “An Exorcist Tells His Story” (1999) and “An Exorcist: More Stories” (2002) – offered a revelatory, no-holds-barred look into his daily confrontations with profane forces. Brimming with vivid anecdotes from actual exorcism rituals, these works crisscross the grain between sacred and profane, explaining complex theological concepts in accessible language for lay readers.

His reference guide, “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic – The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels,” sought to catalog the history and hierarchies among demonic entities. It also contained a rare compendium of actual prayers, invocations, and bindings used in exorcism rites. Additionally, Father Amorth was a periodic columnist for the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, through which he voiced his opinions on various aspects of faith.

Views, Beliefs and Controversies

Father Gabriele Amorth

While admired among Catholic traditionalists as a crusader against the forces of evil, Father Amorth also attracted notoriety for his ultraconservative religious perspectives on matters like politics, culture and social issues.

As a staunch anti-communist who saw Marxism as intrinsically atheistic and demonic, Amorth believed that Soviet communism was explicitly the work of Satan – a view endorsed by Pope Pius XI and John Paul II as well. He saw yoga and Eastern mysticism as pathways that could enable demonic infiltration by promoting what he considered doctrinally incorrect beliefs like reincarnation.

However, his views linking popular culture trends like Harry Potter novels and fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons to promotion of occult practices and potential damnation provoked skepticism even among Catholic conservatives.

The theory proposed in his later years about the 1983 disappearance of a Vatican employee’s daughter, Emanuela Orlandi, also sparked major controversy. Amorth alleged the 15-year-old was kidnapped for an illicit sex party by Vatican police officials and foreign diplomats, later killed and buried secretly – a claim dismissed by her brother and lacking corroborative evidence.

Cementing Legacy, Training Next Generation Before Death

Father Gabriele Amorth
credit-The Telegraph

Towards the twilight of his career, as advancing age limited his mobility, Father Amorth focused on mentoring younger priests in the rites and discernment of exorcism. He served as honorary president of the association after his retirement in 2000, providing guidance and encouragement till the very end.

Father Amorth passed away in September 2016 at the age of 91 after battling pulmonary complications. The thousands of priests he trained, books he wrote, and global associations he founded continue advancing his spiritual warfare against demonic forces. Despite polarizing opinions regarding his views, his legacy as the Pope’s chief exorcist remains cemented in the public imagination and the annals of Catholic history.


Through his daring exorcism ministry spanning 3 decades and over 30 books, Father Gabriele Amorth cemented himself as an intriguing and influential figure in the modern Catholic church. He contributed immensely to furthering education on the demonic realm through his writings. And despite controversies about his opinions and the astonishing number of exorcisms he claimed to have conducted, the legacy Father Amorth left on the field of spiritual warfare remains unmatched to this day.


How many exorcisms did Father Amorth claim to have performed in his career spanning over three decades?

Father Amorth claimed to have performed over 100,000 recorded exorcisms during his prolific career as chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome from 1986 to 2000.

What personal qualities did he emphasize as vital for Catholic exorcists?

Father Amorth stressed attributes like strong faith, humility, detachment from materialism, mental acuity and discernment as crucial for exorcists in order to withstand demonic deceit.

Which 1991 Hollywood film boosted Amorth’s fame and exposed exorcism rituals to the public?

The film “The Exorcist” (1973), directed by William Friedkin, created a renewed global intrigue around exorcism. Its dramatic portrayals were, however, criticized by Father Amorth for technical inaccuracies.

What global association of Catholic exorcists did Father Amorth establish?

In 1990, Father Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists (IAE), headquartered in Rome, a platform for communication and training of Catholic exorcists globally.

Which mystery from 1983 did Amorth controversially link to sex crimes and murder at the Vatican?

Father Amorth courted controversy by linking the high-profile disappearance of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi in 1983 to an alleged sex crime and murder cover-up inside Vatican City.

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