I just finished watching a testimony from a mature Pentecostal woman sharing her personal 'spiritual warfare' experiences, and she recounted a time when the demons would get physical with her and literally leave scratch marks on her skin. She then explained that the demons could do this to her because she had some 'open doors' (spiritually speaking) that she had to close.

This is not the first time I come across a testimony where experiences of this sort are reported. For example, with a simple search I found this Quora question Can a ghost or entity leave marks or scratches on your skin? with more anecdotes along these lines.

Question: which denominations believe that demons can physically harm Christians (provided that certain 'doors' are kept 'open')? I'm assuming that Pentecostals probably do (judging by the testimony I just watched). Are there any others?


1 Answer 1


Which denominations believe that demons can cause physical harm to Christians?

The Catholic Church does for sure. I would imagine that any other denomination that administers deliverance of the demon from a possessed persons through major exorcisms of one sort or another, would also hold to this possibility. That would include the Orthodox Churches. The Devils and his Minions are not to be taken likely.

We should always be mindful of what St. Luke recounts in the Book of Acts about the Jewish exorcists. Exorcism is not to be taken lightly, no matter which Christian denomination is involved.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took it upon themselves to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew and chief of the priests, who did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?”

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. - Acts 19:13-16

Historically, the Devil has injured and even killed individuals, either through pure malice, diabolical possession or to exorcists during their combats against the wickedness of the Demon.

I can not share full details here, but I do know of a Catholic exorcist who had his tendons in one hand severed by a piece of glass during an exorcism. The Devil has a nastily accurate shot when he throws glass!

Another exorcist, I know, had a whole window taken out of its frame and thrown at him. Happily it missed. Oh, but he tried!

St. Benedict, known as the , Patron Saint of Exorcists, dwelt with the antics of the demon throughout his lifetime. He even raised a young monk from the dead, who had been killed by the Devil.

Chapter Eleven: How venerable Benedict revived a boy, crushed to death with the ruin of a wall.

Again, as the monks were making of a certain wall somewhat higher, because that was requisite, the man of God in the meantime was in his cell at his prayers. To whom the old enemy appeared in an insulting manner, telling him, that he was now going to his monks, that were a-working: whereof the man of God, in all haste, gave them warning, wishing them to look unto themselves, because the devil was at that time coming amongst them. The message was scarce delivered, when as the wicked spirit overthrew the new wall which they were a building, and with the fall slew a little young child, a monk, who was the son of a certain courtier.18 At which pitiful chance all were passing sorry and exceedingly grieved, not so much for the loss of the wall, as for the death of their brother: and in all haste they sent this heavy news to the venerable man Benedict; who commanded them to bring unto him the young boy, mangled and maimed as he was, which they did, but yet they could not carry him any otherwise than in a sack: for the stones of the wall had not only broken his limbs, but also his very bones. Being in that manner brought unto the man of God, he bad them to lay him in his cell, and in that place upon which he used to pray; and then, putting them all forth, he shut the door, and fell more instantly to his prayers than he used at other times. And O strange miracle! for the very same hour he made him sound, and as lively as ever he was before; and sent him again to his former work, that he also might help the monks to make an end of that wall, of whose death the old serpent thought he should have insulted over Benedict, and greatly triumphed.

The diabolically possessed have been know to starve to death though malnutrition over time. Obviously the Evil One has more than one way to kill or injure his victims than simply through a single act of violence.

Anneliese Michel is now the most famous case of a possessed dieting of malnutrition, but not the only one. The exorcists were eventually put on trial and convicted of negligent homicide.

Anna Elisabeth "Anneliese" Michel (21 September 1952 – 1 July 1976) was a German woman who underwent 67 Catholic exorcism rites during the year before her death. She died of malnutrition, for which her parents and priest were convicted of negligent homicide. She was diagnosed with epileptic psychosis (temporal lobe epilepsy) and had a history of psychiatric treatment, which was overall not effective.

On 1 July 1976, Michel died in her home. The autopsy report states the cause of death as malnutrition and dehydration resulting from nearly a year in a semi-starved state while the rites of exorcism were performed. She weighed 30 kilograms (66 lb), suffering broken knees due to continuous genuflections. She was unable to move without assistance, and was reported to have contracted pneumonia.


The trial started on 30 March 1978 in the district court and drew intense interest. Before the court, doctors testified that Michel was not possessed, stating that this was a psychological effect because of her strict religious upbringing and her epilepsy, but the doctor Richard Roth, who was asked for medical help by Alt, allegedly told her during the exorcism, that "there is no injection against the devil, Anneliese". Schmidt-Leichner said that the exorcism was legal and that the German constitution protected citizens in the unrestricted exercise of their religious beliefs. The defense played tapes recorded at the exorcism sessions, sometimes featuring what was claimed to be "demons arguing", to assert their claim that Michel was possessed. Both priests said the demons identified themselves as Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Belial, Legion, Hitler and Nero among others; they further said that she was finally freed because of the exorcism just before her death.

The bishop said that he was not aware of her alarming health condition when he approved of the exorcism and did not testify. The accused were convicted of "negligent homicide" and were given suspended prison sentences in April 1978, and were "ordered to share the costs of the proceedings". The sentences have been described as "stiffer" than requested by the prosecutor, who had asked that the priests only be fined and that the parents be found guilty but not punished. The Church approving such an old fashioned exorcism rite drew public and media attention. According to John M. Duffey, the case was a misidentification of mental illness.

Exhumation and aftermath

After the trial, the parents asked the authorities for permission to exhume the remains of their daughter. The official reason presented by the parents to authorities was that Michel had been buried in undue hurry in a cheap coffin. Almost two years after the burial, on 25 February 1978, her remains were replaced in a new oak coffin lined with tin. The official reports state that the body bore the signs of consistent deterioration. The accused exorcists were discouraged from seeing the remains of Michel. Arnold Renz later stated that he had been prevented from entering the mortuary. Her grave became and remains a pilgrimage site.

The number of officially sanctioned exorcisms decreased in Germany due to this case, in spite of Pope Benedict XVI's support for wider use of it compared to Pope John Paul II, who in 1999 made the rules stricter, involving only rare cases.

On 6 June 2013, a fire broke out in the house where Anneliese Michel lived, and, although the local police said it was a case of arson, some locals attributed it to the exorcism case.

Whether or not souls in from Hell or Purgatory can appear to us ghosts, I have not opinion here, but I do enjoy a Jacob Marley ghost around Christmas Time.

Ebenezer Scrooge encounters the ghost of Jacob Marley in Dickens's novella, A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge encounters the ghost of Jacob Marley in Dickens's novella, A Christmas Carol

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