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A Polish man and woman are facing twelve years in prison after torturing their mother to death in what they claimed was an attempted exorcism. Piotr Majewski, 38, and his sister Barbara Majewski, 39, carried out a violent ritual on their 75-year-old mother Irena in the belief that she was possessed by demons.
In a statement provided to police, the siblings reported that they had attempted to banish the spirit of their late father from the house in Ostrowiec, Poland that they shared with their mother. Believing that their father's spirit was acting as a channel for the Devil who wanted their mother's soul, they proceeded to tie Irena Majewski to a bed, placed a cross on her head, forced her to drink holy water, and to renounce the Devil. Irena, who is believed to have been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, was unable to comprehend what was happening and the siblings, belieing that her symptoms were caused by possession, took the exorcism even further.
According to local prosecutor Miroslaw Cebula in a statement to the Daily Mail, ‘When she told them she had had no contact with either Satan or her dead husband, they began beating and torturing her." Based on a tradition that demons are unable to tolerate pain and will flee their human host as a result, they proceeded to beat and torture their mother to drive out the demons. According to the autopsy, the violent ritual that led to Irena's death resulted from broken ribs, a shattered jaw, and severe brain trauma.
While the Catholic Church provides exorcisms for people believing themselves possessed, including the opening of an exorcism centre in Poland, formal safeguards remain in place to prevent deaths. That includes a medical evaluation to rule out physical or mental illness as well as only allowing exorcisms to be carried out by trained priests. Despite these safeguards, exorcism-related deaths continue to be reported in countries across Europe, particularly involving cases of mental illness.
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