• Msgr. Stephen Rossetti

Exorcist Diary #26: Was Peter Possessed?

A few years ago, I was listening to one of the best demonologists and exorcists in the USA privately speculate that St. Peter might initially have been possessed. I must admit that I was highly, highly skeptical. It is true that the Gospels record Jesus looking at Peter and saying, "Get behind me Satan!" (Mt 16:23) We often use this line in exorcisms: "Vade retro Satanas!"

But it would mean that Jesus intentionally picked a possessed person to be one of his closest disciples. It is hard to believe. But I remind myself that one of Jesus' closest followers was Mary of Magdala of whom Jesus cast out seven demons.

Stories of exorcists often seem exaggerated and somewhat fantastical to those outside of this ministry. No doubt many of my recollections in this diary seem so to those unfamiliar with this often bizarre world. Nevertheless, I myself was very doubtful of the speculation that Peter had been possessed.

But a short while ago, we were in the midst of an exorcism and one of the priest exorcists pulled out a relic of St. Peter and applied it to the body of the possessed. Whereupon out of the mouth of the possessed person came a mocking voice, "He used to be ours!" I spontaneously responded, "Well, not anymore. He belongs to Jesus."

We had never said anything about the speculation that Peter might have been possessed. Years later, it was just a spontaneous boast from the demons. Was Peter possessed when Jesus chose him? Who knows?! Jesus sees beyond the appearances; he saw something beautiful in Mary of Magdala and Peter the fisherman, and he called them.


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