© 2016

A History of Exorcism in Catholic Christianity


Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Francis Young
    Pages 1-26
  3. Francis Young
    Pages 99-130
  4. Francis Young
    Pages 131-154
  5. Francis Young
    Pages 155-179
  6. Francis Young
    Pages 209-241
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 243-275

About this book


This book traces the development of exorcism in Catholic Christianity from the fourth century to the present day, and seeks to explain why exorcism is still so much in demand.  This is the first work in English to trace the development of the liturgy, practice and authorisation of exorcisms in Latin Christianity. The rite of exorcism, and the claim by Roman Catholic priests to be able to drive demons from the possessed, remains an enduring source of popular fascination, but the origins and history of this controversial rite have been little explored. Arguing that belief in the need for exorcism typically re-emerges at periods of crisis for the church, Francis Young explores the shifting boundaries between authorised exorcisms and unauthorised magic throughout Christian history, from Augustine of Hippo to Pope Francis. This book offers the historical background to – and suggests reasons for – the current resurgence of exorcism in the global Catholic Church.


Religion Cultural History Catholicism Social History Exorcism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.The King's SchoolElyUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Francis Young is Volumes Editor for the Catholic Record Society. He is the author of several books, including English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553–1829 (2013) and The Gages of Hengrave and Suffolk Catholicism (2015).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title A History of Exorcism in Catholic Christianity
  • Authors Francis Young
  • Series Title Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-29111-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-80491-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-29112-3
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 275
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Cultural History
    History of Early Modern Europe
    History of Britain and Ireland
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“A history of exorcism in Catholic Christianity is a valuable contribution to Catholic theological and liturgical history. Because it includes relatively few exorcism narratives, it has less to contribute to the social history of religion. Also, the narratives that do appear do little to capture the drama of these exorcisms, which were theatrical productions in every sense of the word.” (Brian P. Levack, Journal of Ecclesiastical History , Vol. 70 (1), January, 2019)