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The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,351 ratings  ·  319 reviews
In "The Rite," journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishingstory of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.
Father Gary Thomas was working as a parish priest in California when he was a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 16th 2009 by Doubleday Books (first published March 10th 2009)
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T.D. Whittle
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them."― C.S. Lewis
Before reading this book, I read Father Malachi Martin's book about exorcism, Hostage To The Devil. If you are interested, you can see my review for that here.

I liked some things about this book quite a lot. It was interesting to follow the American priest, Father Gary, a
This book is SOOOOO Catholic. Not a bad thing if you're reading, for example, something heavy like Pope Benedict's Introduction to Christianity. But with The Rite, what you're getting is something along the lines of an EWTN production. I'm somewhat surprised that this book is gathering so many positive reviews, since its focus is so narrow, pretty much excluding non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians (demonic possession is a phenomena that goes beyond Christianity). From the get-go the book ...more
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Demonic possession is the most stigmatized and stereotyped of all border phenomena. And I say border as I refer to the line between what we consider normal and experiences we can't explain. Perhaps the movies are to blame for our idea of what an exorcism consists of, a little girl screams when splashed with holy water, or a deep evil voice manifests. Neuroscience and psychology associate demonic possession with a call for attention or a misinterpretation of a modern disease like schizophrenia. T ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
The most unusual feature about this book, given its subject matter, is that it is absolutely devoid of any of the dramatic excess one usually finds in a book on this topic. It could have been subtitled "Exorcism 101," because the author traces the progress of an American priest in Rome on his journey to becoming an exorcist. Along the way, the book examines the history of exorcism, the importance of doing a psychiatric examination and how symptoms of various psych disorders may resemble demonic ...more
Kat Montemayor
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my third non-fiction book on exorcisms I've read this year, and this one is by far the best. I liked how this book followed a priest from San Jose to Italy so that he could receive the training to become an exorcist. He was ignorant and skeptical to begin with, but once he witnessed real life exorcisms, his views changed dramatically.

I learned lots of interesting facts and not surprisingly, demon possession is nothing like the Hollywood portrayal of it. Yes, there are some extreme episod
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
A mildly interesting read, but predominantly very dry. One major downfall for me was that, whilst it's obviously a religious book/practice, it felt entirely too 'pro-Catholic' as opposed to simply stating facts, reciting examples and remaining neutral throughout ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A solid work and reasonable presentation of actual information regarding a Christian perspective on Satan, demons, and exorcism (from the Roman Catholic angle).

There is so much trash written and practiced concerning this subject; it is extremely difficult to find real information presented in a rational, theologically sound manner. I read this book in its entirety as an open-minded skeptic, fully expecting to be disappointed but willing to give it a shot. I don't regret it. It is a subject that
I honestly can't make heads or tails of this book. Yes, it was an incredibly interesting read, but a lot of it was very hard to swallow, even for someone like me who unreservedly believes in the existence of demonic spirits. I have no idea how much of the book was factual, and how much was blatant exaggeration. Baglio's no-frills journalistic writing style certainly lends the book an air of credibility, and the exorcists he writes about seem to take great care in ferreting out more naturalistic ...more
Jun 30, 2017 marked it as to-read
one of my oldest ideas about this is to fill a squirtgun with holy water. another idea is if they have a demon in their head maybe you can make them sleep with their head inside a bag of potatoes and the demon will get lost in one of the potatoes.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio is a fascinating, thorough, and thought-provoking look at exorcism through the perspective of a Catholic priest, Father Gary, reluctantly sent to the Vatican to learn how to become an exorcist. He goes to actual classes and witnesses exorcisms performed by a grizzled Italian priest, Father Carmine.

"...[W]hen a demon 'possesses' a person, he is merely acting on that person...'During a possession the demon is not present; it is connected li
Al Bità
Oct 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is a strange book in that on the one hand it unquestioningly endorses the need for exorcism within the Roman Catholic religion, and on the other hand, is written as if to appeal to the wow-factor for modern-day 'possession' by demons. In the latter sense the book follows the 'making' of a modern exorcist priest as he gradually becomes inducted into a fellowship of exorcists. The individual stories met along the way range from the mere puzzling to more hair-raising narratives. Overall, howev ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book follows a Catholic priest from California on his sabbatical in Rome, where he attends a course about exorcism and apprentices with an experienced Italian exorcist. Starting this journey with little more than a Hollywood understanding of demons and exorcism, Fr. Gary experiences just how mundane and boring, as well as frightening and supernatural exorcisms can be as he witnesses over 80 of them.

The reader gets to learn about the history, theology, and practicalities of exorcism, curses
Steve Wiggins
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book before I had a Goodreads account, and I reread it for research purposes. When the movie came out I decided I'd read the book before seeing it. My first impression was that possession described here is mostly very subtle. The book is about how Fr. Gary Thomas became an official American exorcist. You can read the book and come away thinking that there is little that can't be explained scientifically here.

In the movie the protagonist is much younger and not a priest. He's not sur
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
While this book has moments of true creep factor, it is not a sensationalist view of exorcism. If you are looking for screaming material go pick up a copy of The Exorcist. The book does contain some interesting facts such as more women than men seek exorcism, and Italy has more exorcism than just about anywhere else. Make what you want out of that, but for my part I do believe that demons exist. I just think the less said about them, the better.

That said, I can say the book is written with a jou
Wayward Child
Oct 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
The book was awful and extremely boring. I regret wasting so much time on it. I only started reading it, because it seemed interesting, but it is true that you can`t judge a book by its covers. A waste of time and money, if you ask me. ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked this one up mostly out of curiosity, and I think it's actually dulled that curiosity, rather than quenching it (or leaving it in place). Start with some life history of a modern-day Californian Catholic parish priest, Father Gary, who goes to Rome to learn to become an exorcist. Run through lots of examples of possessions in their myriad forms, mostly of folks who line up outside the door of an Italian exorcist who helps train Father Gary. Add various details which seem to prove the ver ...more
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exorcisms are not a thing of the past. The Catholic clergy of today are studying and applying how to rid someone of demonic possession. The Rite walks us through Father Gary’s training on how to identify a possessed person and perform exorcisms where necessary.

The author is clearly passionate about the topic and this comes through in his writing, which he does well. Baglio does spend some time on scientific reasoning and possible explanations, which I greatly appreciated. If you are looking for
Thom Willis
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Very good book written on demonology and exorcism for the average reader. Does a good job of explaining Catholic beliefs and practices for people who may not be familiar with them. Quite objective too, so that I think even a 'skeptic' would be able to get something out of reading it. I randomly found this at a thrift store, glad I got it.

Nota Bene: the movie starring Anthony Hopkins is only very very vaguely based on the biographical material covered in this book.
Jennifer Hallock
Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

While the organization was a bit confusing (not linear at all, but not wholly thematic either?), and while I had to suspend some disbelief while reading it, there is no better peek into the modern rite of exorcism in the Catholic Church.
Jun 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the rite of exorcism and it's place in the modern church. Baglio does an excellent job of keeping the book interesting without resorting to sensationalism. The calm and matter-of-fact Fr. Gary Thomas is the perfect companion as the reader follows his quest to learn the Rite before taking the position of official exorcist for his diocese. I recommend it for anyone interested in the topic. ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It had a great perspective from a priest learning about exorcism, being trained in it, and deciding if he really believes in demonic possession. Also has citations at the end of the book and a bibliography with additional reading to look into which I appreciate!
Adri G.M.
Aug 27, 2021 rated it liked it
It creeped me out, that alone has earned the stars 😵
Anne Marie
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone interested in faith and the workings of evil. The book is written with compassion and objectivity.
Kevin de Ataíde
An excellent documentary book on the science of exorcism. It is so unlike what is common knowledge of the subject as presented by sensationalist Hollywood movies that it is certainly worth a read.
The movie that was inspired by this book was another Hollywood distortion, whose story was purposely modified to make it attractive to more viewers. Quite understandable, perhaps.
The most enjoyable part of the book is the encounter with straightforward plain-speaking Roman priests for whom exorcism is a
Karen L.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be a real surprise. I had preconceived ideas that though based on true stories, the book might still get sensational and it did not. The author had a style that was genuine and humble. The story followed the journey of , Father Gary, an American Priest,who was in Rome to become an Exorcist for his diocese in the U.S. He introduced us to the culture of the Vatican campus, the kindly priests and the sad victims who suffer from possession. Some of these stories broke my heart. ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing and enlightening.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book follows an American priest who goes to Rome to learn to be an exorcist. He is skeptical at first, but as he learns and witnesses some real exorcisms, he comes to believe. It's an interesting book in the sense that all of the information about demons and possession and all is accurate to the official stance of the Catholic Church, and that there are many people who genuinely believe this stuff, even today.

The author pretends to be unbiased, but this is clearly told from a Catholic persp
Kelly S.
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
OMG!!! I could not put this book down. It is by far THE BEST book I have ever read on exorcisms. The book is true life, modern day and follows a priest named Father Gary as he is called to attend exorcism school in Rome, Italy. He receives both classroom and hands-on training in how to exorcise demons that have possessed people. It is amazing how hush-hush the whole topic of possession is, and that most people do not believe in it. However, it is very real and very scary. I rented this book from ...more
Anne Schroeder
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was an eye-opener about the seriousness with which the Catholic Church takes the rite of exorcism in the world today. The author, Matt Baglio follows a reluctant exorcism candidate, nominated by his American bishop, to Rome, where he enrolls in exorcism school. The training and mindset required to become an exorcist was low-key and pragmatic. I was impressed with the respect that people suffering from demonic influences are treated. There was no inclusion of Stephen King-type "Carrie" ...more
This book did nothing to dissuade me from believing that organised religion is a bad thing, created by a patriarchal society in order to control the masses. However, this is a review of the book and my personal beliefs should not really be a factor. The book was fine, it followed a US Catholic priest through 'exorcism school' in Rome. It gives some background to exorcism in general, there's obviously some theology and a small amount of biographical information on the US priest. There are some ex ...more
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Matt Baglio was born and raised in San Diego, California. In 1996, he graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. in English Literature. After a stint working as an intern and editorial assistant for TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine, Baglio moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a freelancer.

In 2000, in an effort to expand his horizons, Baglio took a trip to Europe

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