Have you ever heard or prayed the Apostles’ Creed? Yes, the one who affirms that you believe in God, Almighty Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth and in Jesus Christ, his only son? And have you ever thought that making that acknowledgment, believing in God and his son Jesus Christ is also, in fact, acknowledging the existence of the devil itself? And what would you do if you are forced into the dilemma of whether to believe in the existence of the devil or lose the person you love most on Planet Earth? What would you do?
The above are the questions with which the director Julius Avery ( Overlord , The Samaritan) shapes The Pope’s Exorcist, a breath of fresh into the church against demons cinema, a long-time-stuck genre with little hope to survive in the 21st Century. The Pope’s Exorcist approaches the theme of the fight against demons from a perspective much more focused on the characters, than on the twisted theological plots, mixed with disgusting and perverted images. In fact, this is a movie that even a kid could enjoy without being traumatized for the rest of his life, like those of us who had the «privilege» of seeing The Exorcist as kids.
But hey, if in the midst of the abandoned abbeys, the traumatized children, the secrets of the Vatican, the sins of the priests, and the demonic princes, you have been left with one or two doubts about this film, don’t worry, because below and without further ado we begin the Analysis and Explanation of The Pope’s Exorcist.
1 ^ Is The Pope’s Exorcist a sequel to The Exorcist?
Thank God, no. The Pope’s Exorcist is not a sequel to The Exorcist, and has a very different story, mythology, and above all, a very different tone than the 1973 film.
2 ^ Is The Pope’s Exorcist a true story?
Short answer: No, The Pope’s Exorcist is not a true story. Long answer: The Pope’s Exorcist is actually a fictional recapitulation of the notes of the Vatican’s former Chief Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth. Now, these notes are for the most part, detailed explanations of the exorcism processes, with theological justifications, not exhaustive reports of individual cases.
The film as such, like The Conjuring saga, takes pieces of reality in which Father Gabriel Amorth was involved and expands them into a fantasy universe, clearly for entertainment purposes.
3 ^ Where is the Abbey of San Sebastian? Does it exist?
The Abbey of San Sebastian is located in the region of Castilla, in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León in Spain, but this is within the universe of the film. There is a site with a similar name, called the Monastery of San Sebastián de Silos, a Benedictine abbey in the Province of Burgos, also in the region of Old Castilla, but the Monastery differs greatly from the Gothic structure of the Abbey in the film. Also it has the classic plan of a catholic cloister with an extensive central courtyard.
Now, the Abbey of San Sebastian that appears in the movie The Pope’s Exorcist, is actually Dromore Castle, located in County Limerick, in the southwest of Ireland.
4 ^ Who is the demon in the movie The Pope’s Exorcist?
The demon and main antagonist of the film The Pope’s Exorcist is named Asmodeus. Now, if you are Catholic, it is likely that you have never heard of Asmodeus, since it is a name that does not appear in the official Catholic Bible. However, it is a widely known name within Judaism, and it also appears in the book of Tobit or Tobias.
According to these theological sources, Asmodeus is a demon with enormous power within the hierarchy of rebellious angels, being considered «prince of demons», above regular demons. Asmodeus have the power not only to perceive and analyze the mistakes and sins of the people who come close to him, but also the power to possess multiple bodies at the same time.
5 ^ What happened in the Abbey of San Sebastian in the Middle Ages?
In the universe of the film, the site where the Abbey of San Sebastian would later be built, was the place where Asmodeus, one of the 200 angels expelled from the Kingdom of Heaven, fell to Earth.
Everything seems to indicate that when the area was populated, a cult of Asmodeus was organized, who was the one who built the blasphemous temple that we see at the end of the film. When the Catholic Church received reports from the Crown of Castile of the strange events that occurred at that site, they sent a group of exorcist priests who managed to ward off the evil power of Asmodeus by sealing his temple, consecrating the land and building the abbey on top of it.
However, some time later, abbey staff reported a multiple possession, so Friar Alonso de Ojeda, a powerful exorcist of the time, took charge of the process. However, the evidence later found by Father Amorth (Russell Crowe) and Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), indicates that Fray de Ojeda’s exorcism failed and that Asmodeus managed to possess him.
The consequences Friar of Ojeda’s possession were disastrous, since it was he who convinced Isabel of Castilla, around 1478, to start the Spanish Inquisition, murdering thousands of people accused of witchcraft, and pacts with the devil. When the Pope and the cardinals of Rome realized what was happening, they sent a new exorcist, this time on a suicide mission. The new exorcist locked the Friar in a cell and conducted his exorcism locked in a cage, unable to get out, having swallowed the key. After that, the abbey was quickly abandoned and its property turned over to civilians, which is how it ended up in the possession of the Vasquez family.
The exorcism worked, until the Vasquezes, Julia (Alex Essoe), Amy (Laurel Marsden) and Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) arrived on the scene, and began to disturb the integrity of the abbey, with the purpose of remodeling it.
6 ^ Who is Rosaria? What sins are Asmodeus using against Father Amorth?
One of the rules of exorcism is that the exorcist and all his assistants must be confessed, since the devil can use non-absolved sins to distract them. Asmodeus uses two specific moments of Father Amorth to attack him: the first, the moment in which he pretended to be dead to evade the fascist army that murdered his platoon, and second, the episode with Rosaria (Bianca Bardoe), a woman with a serious mental illness.
Father Amorth had attended Rosaria’s case, as suspected of demonic possession, but he soon realized that what she needed was a psychiatrist, not a priest, and the father ignored the case, until it was reported that the woman had committed suicide. Father Amorth’s guilt followed him, even after he had confessed. That is why Asmodeus was able to use the image of him to distract him from the exorcism.
7 ^ What are the sins of Father Esquibel?
Now, Asmodeo not only attacked Father Amorth, but also launched serious accusations against his assistant, Father Esquibel, stating that from his position of power he had sexually abused his parishioners.
Later, in confession, Esquibel affirms that he did indeed fall in love with one of his parishioners named Adella (Carrie Munro), and that he was about to leave the priesthood to start a relationship with her, however he reaffirmed his priestly work, and allowed Adella to get on with her life. According to what is understood, Esquibel, despite having lustful thoughts with Adella, never had sexual intercourse with her.
8 ^ Why did Asmodeus possess Henry Vasquez?
Henry had seen his father Roberto (Santi Bayón) die in a car accident, in which he ended up impaled by a tree. The trauma of the event left Henry speechless, and his weak relationship with his mother and his sister made him the perfect victim for possession. It should be remembered that Asmodeus was only able to possess someone, after some of the walls of the abbey were broken, for the purpose of remodeling, and even so he was relatively weak after centuries of confinement, that is why he chose the kid.
9 ^ What was Asmodeus’ plan?
Let us remember that Asmodeus, even after being exiled from the earthly realm, was still active in the spiritual realm and therefore had first-hand information about his former executioners, in the Vatican. His plan, at this time, was to infiltrate the very Catholic Church and destroy it from its origin in Rome, which is why he demonstrated his power with Henry, but he did not assassinate him, nor did he transfer his power to another body, to wait for the Vatican to send someone mighty to destroy it.
Asmodeus intended to possess the body of the exorcist, return to Rome and from there use his power to destroy the Pope and the Church.
10 ^ Why did the Pope vomit blood and Cardinal Sullivan saw the vision of the Bloody Christ?
Once Asmodeus managed to possess Father Amorth, he had achieved his purpose of infiltrating the Vatican. Being the Pope (Franco Nero), and Cardinal Sullivan (Ryan O’Grady) an integral part of the Vatican, they were now exposed to the influence of the devil, even from a distance, so the Pope vomited blood and his illness worsened, and Cardinal Sullivan saw the vision of the Bloody Christ. It is likely that other members of the Vatican, with physical problems (like the Pope) and faith problems (like Sullivan) have experienced similar symptoms.
11 ^ Could the demon take physical form?
In the final confrontation, in which – with the help of Esquibel- Amorth manages to expel Asmodeus from his body, he appears in two physical forms: as Adella and as Rosaria. Now, if the demon could take physical form, why bother taking human beings?
The truth is that the physical forms of Adella and Rosaria are only possible there in the temple of Asmodeus, which is where he has his greatest strength, being the place of his fall. However, outside of the temple, he would not have any power to acquire those forms, which were in fact removed with some ease by the two priests.
12 ^ What does the end of The Pope’s Exorcist mean?
At the end of the film it is understood that the Vasquezes returned to the United States, after the Vatican bought the abbey, consecrated it, and sealed it again. What the Pope asks Father Amorth is to look for the other blasphemous and cursed places where the other 199 demonic angels fell, and with the resources of the church to finish that work.
This only indicates that Sony intends to make The Pope’s Exorcist a franchise just as lucrative as The Conjuring. So to the question of whether there will be a sequel to The Exorcist of the Pope, the answer is, you bet.
Questions? Annotations? More doubts? The comments section is open just below this post so feel free to use it. See you in the next installment of Ending Explained here at El Sabanero X.