Friday, October 23rd 10pm ET / 9pm CT / 7pm PT
Father Walter H. Halloran, who died at 83 on March 1, 2005, was best known for having been called upon to assist Father William Bowdern (pastor of St. Francis Catholic Church in St. Louis) and Father Raymond Bishop (director of the St. Louis University Department of Education) with the exorcism of a “possessed” 13-year-old boy originally from Cottage City, Maryland.
This 1949 exorcism later became the basis for the novel and movie The Exorcist. In the years since the movie was released, Father Halloran was frequently contacted by journalists, television reporters, and documentary filmmakers for commentary about the notorious exorcism and, through time, statements attributed to him changed greatly. In some instances the media portrayed him as a zealous true-believer who professed the boy had indeed been possessed by the devil, while at other times Father Halloran provided his suitors with shaky, reluctant recollections of the exorcism experience.
The rite of exorcism was alternately performed on the boy at Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis, a neighboring rectory, and at the private home of one of the boy’s relatives in Normandy, Missouri. Father Halloran, who was then studying history on the graduate level at St. Louis University as part of his Jesuit training regimen, was summoned to the hospital by Father Bowdern on the night of March 16, 1949 and remained an unwilling assistant until the ordeal concluded on April 18, 1949. Exactly what Father Halloran saw and experienced during the four-week exorcism is still open to speculation.