Is The Pope’s Exorcist based on a true story?

Russell Crowe in The Pope's ExorcistSony Pictures

Is The Pope’s Exorcist based on a true story? Russell Crowe’s new horror movie hit cinemas in April, but is it based on real events?

The Pope’s Exorcist is directed by Son of a Gun and Overlord helmer Julius Avery, while it stars Russell Crowe as Father Amorth, and Franco Nero as the Pope.

The film’s official synopsis states that: “The Pope’s Exorcist follows Amorth as he investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden.”

Article continues after ad

But is that terrifying tale rooted in fact? Read on for all the horrific details.

Is The Pope’s Exorcist based on a true story?

Yes, The Pope’s Exorcist is based on a true story. Father Amorth existed, performed exorcisms, and worked for the Vatican.

The movie even makes a tribute to Amorth during the end credits, which you can read about here.

The film’s script is written by Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos, from a story by Petroni, Chester Hastings, and R. Dean McCreary. Which in turn is based on two books by Amorth himself – An Exorcist Tells His Story, and An Exorcist: More Stories.

Article continues after ad

While when reporting on the movie, Deadline stated that Amorth – who died in 2016 – “left behind a trove of detailed accounts of his exploits pulling the devil out of people all over the world.”

Who is The Pope’s Exorcist?

Father Amorth was born Gabriele Amorth in Modena, Italy, in 1925. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and appointed an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome in 1986.

In 2000, he told The Sunday Telegraph: “I have performed over 50,000 exorcisms. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, sometimes many hours. It is hard work… There are many grades of possession. The Devil does not like to be seen, so there are people who are possessed who manage to conceal it. There are other cases where the person possessed is in acute physical pain, such agony that they cannot move.”

Article continues after ad

Amorth continued: “I have people come to me who are not possessed at all. They are suffering from epilepsy or schizophrenia or other mental problems. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only a hundred or so have been truly possessed.”

Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists in 1990 and was its president until 2000. By 2013, he stated the number of exorcisms he performed had risen to 160,000. Although critics of the priest have disputed that number, and you can find a compelling takedown of his claims here.

Article continues after ad

If you want to know more about Amorth’s work, William Friedkin – who directed The Exorcist – made a documentary in 2017 called The Devil and Father Amorth.

The Pope’s Exorcist is in cinemas now. Check out what we know about the sequel here, and for more horror coverage, head here.

Related Topics