By Mark McConville
A MASS exorcism ritual involving hundreds of people has been captured in a series of shocking images where the exorcist would charge desperate local people up to one-month’s wages to “banish demons”.
The disturbing pictures show up to 150 people queuing to be exorcised and people being held in place as they scream when holy water is sprayed on them or a cross is placed on their forehead.
Other striking shots show a woman’s face being held as she lets out a loud shout, a priest touch a young man’s head during the ritual and hundreds of people being sprayed with holy water at once.
Czech photographer, David Tesinsky (28), from Prague, ventured to Ethiopia in search of exorcism rituals that still take place in the Ethiopian Orthodox church.
In Yerer Selassie church, not far from Addis Ababa, Tesinsky found more than 150 people waiting in line to have an an exorcism ritual performed on them by Ethiopian Orthodox Priest and Exorcist, Memehir Girma Wedimu.
“People were crying, screaming and Memehir was punching them,” said Tesinsky.
“Memehir was rejected all other churches because he earned more money than the church itself.
“He kept asking for money – I saw one very old woman give him $100 to ‘expel’ her of demons and he still wanted more, even though $100 was most likely all she could earn in one month.
“These exorcism rituals are usually performed if someone is not responding to modern medicine or if they are misbehaving, as it is thought they are possessed by a ‘demon spirit’ or ‘buda’. They must be performed by a local priest.”
Ethiopian Orthodox was considered the state church until the fall of Haile Selassie in 1974. In many villages, the people have lived in fear of certain curses and demonic powers that have kept them in bondage and terror for generations.
According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, 74 per cent of Christians in Ethiopia claim to have experienced or witnessed an exorcism.
Demon-possessed persons are brought to a church or prayer meeting. Often, when an ill person has not responded to modern medical treatment, the affliction is attributed to demons.
Unusual or especially perverse deeds, particularly when performed in public, are symptomatic of a demoniac. Superhuman strength – such as breaking one’s bindings, as described in the New Testament accounts – along with glossolalia are observed in the afflicted.
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