Citro: Campus Exorcism

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(HOST)  With Hallowe’en in the air, commentator Joe Citro wonders if there are really things out there to be afraid of.

(CITRO) St. Michael’s College in Colchester is named after the angel who booted Lucifer out of Heaven. But some say the eternal battle between good and evil is still being fought at the school.

For decades there’s been a persistent rumor that an exorcism was performed right there on campus.  In the early 1970s a small group of students entered one of the buildings at night, then climbed quietly to the attic. There they commenced a forbidden ritual.  They tried to summon the devil.  First they drew a pentagram on the floor and punctuated each point with a candle. Then, perhaps nervously, began their Satanic séance.  Thing is, it seemed to work! Something appeared outside the window. A green, glowing ball, like a hideous head, seemed to stare in at them.  Terrified, they ran away.

When word got around, the Edmundite priests investigated. They removed the chalk-inscribed pentagram, dowsed everything with holy water, said appropriate prayers, and locked the attic.  End of story? Well, not yet.

Over the years alumnus Brian Andersen has pieced together a more complete version of the events. He says the trouble started in 1971 or 72, when a visiting Satanist got some students interested in devil worship and the power it might bring them.  A Resident Assistant observed a group of students and outsiders sitting in a circle, a pentagram in the middle, chanting by candlelight.  He broke up the event, and sent the students on their way.  But a few weeks later, when the dorm was shut up for the Christmas holiday, they were back! The same Resident Assistant heard voices chanting. He grabbed a flashlight and headed up to investigate.  Someone had smashed the lock on the attic door.  While waiting for campus security, he peeked in. The flickering candles illuminated a cluster of crouched figures. At the center of the pentagram was a terrifying sight.  A body! A maimed sheep in a pool of blood. A sacrifice.  This time the priests came down hard. All involved were immediately expelled. The priests then went up to perform if not an actual exorcism, at least a cleansing ritual involving holy water, crosses, and as much as 24 hours of constant prayer.

That’s the story. Is it true? Brian Andersen is convinced that it is. Some people insist the pentagram is still there and the "evil" is still active.  Yet others believe the "Dark Knights", as the intruders have come to be called, were not trying to summon anything. Rather, they were trying to keep something away, to close a portal between this world and some other.

Who can say for sure? But one thing is certainly true: it’s a great addition to Vermont’s Hallowe’en scare stories.

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