But that was not the only exorcism Pius XII attempted to carry out from the Vatican. Ragona told CNA that when researching his book, he uncovered documents showing the pope had also attempted an exorcism of sorts on the Italian Communist Party on the eve of the 1958 election.
Pius XII hoped to prevent the anti-Catholic communist party from winning the election. Almost a decade earlier, he had approved a decree from the Vatican's doctrinal office declaring membership or support of the Italian Communist Party illicit for Catholics.
In a 1969 report, Pius XII's nephew wrote that his uncle had been very anxious and had difficulty sleeping in the days leading up to the election. "In the three preceding days he also performed exorcisms," Carlo Pacelli stated. He also noted that Pius XII had been praying and offering sacrifices and suffering for a good outcome to the election for three months before the vote.
In this case, the pope's prayers were answered. The communist party lost the election to the Christian Democratic Party.
Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II
Ragona said he spoke to several exorcists who said "the devil was terrified of" St. John Paul II and of Benedict XVI.
Though there are personal accounts that the prayers of Benedict XVI may have helped liberate some people from possession, there is no evidence that he, as pope or before, ever carried out the Rite of Exorcism, Ragona said.
However, during Benedict's pontificate, an elderly Indian cardinal did perform an exorcism in the guardhouse of the Swiss Guards, the book recounts.
A young Italian woman and her friends had attended a Mass offered by Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square, "and the devil immediately revealed himself." As her friends looked for help for the woman together with some young guards, Cardinal Ivan Dias approached. He asked, in a severe tone, for a place to "pray for a soul," and he was offered the guardhouse, which sits just outside the columns of the square.
According to an eyewitness, after an intense 20 minutes of prayers, the young woman appeared to have been freed, and left.
Benedict XVI, "despite never having received requests for exorcisms ... fought against the devil on other planes," Ragona said. "He fought and prayed for the souls in pain, he wrote and said very strong words, which opened eyes, which unleashed the fury of Satan."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
There is also testimony that St. John Paul II performed at least three exorcisms while pope: in 1982, 1984, and 2000. The book shares details of these moments as witnessed by the pope's longtime photographer, Arturo Mari, and as testified to by Fr. Amorth.
According to reports, those of 1982 and 1984 were effective in permanently liberating the young women. But a third, which took place outside St. Peter's Square after one of John Paul II's general audiences in 2000, had some good effect, but did not succeed in liberating the girl, wrote Amorth.
"When he was still alive, John Paul II, in addition to practicing exorcisms, represented with his prayer a great disturbance for the father of lies," Ragona wrote, "the devil, in practice, has always hated him and continues to hate him, first as Pope, now as a saint."
Ragona told CNA Pope Francis has never performed the Rite of Exorcism while pope, but he has prayed for the liberation of a possessed Mexican man, Angel V., who asked for his prayers.
Pope Francis' first encounter with Angel was in May 2013. After offering a Mass in St. Peter's Square, the pope went to greet the sick, including Angel. The man was accompanied by a priest, who explained to Francis that Angel was possessed by demons and in Rome for an exorcism. Pope Francis put his hand upon the man and prayed for him.