Father Malachi Martin was a spooky regular on Art Bell’s late night radio show. An author and former Jesuit priest, he shared (according to him) true stories of demon possession and redemption that commanded rapt, breathless attention – and later, nightmares.
Listeners were terrified, locking their doors and clutching rosaries or a crucifix. Many were convinced that they, too, were possessed and called in for help.
One of Father Malachi’s books about exorcism has haunted me for years: “Hostage to the Devil.” In honor of Halloween, I decided to pick it up again.
Hostage to the Devil shares several accounts of possession and exorcism in America. Martin’s extremely graphic and suspenseful storytelling builds up to reveal how each victim had their own flavor of demon(s).
The ritual and meaning of exorcism as understood by Catholics is explained. We hear from the victims, but we also hear how exhausting and draining the process is for the priests.
Martin is a gripping author – I read “Hostage” in one day both times. I won’t spoil your experience by giving away the plot lines. I will tell you that I said a prayer for protection before bed each time.
“Father Malachi” is how Art’s callers knew their favorite guest. Although he was a highly educated and worldly man, he didn’t talk over people’s heads. Instead, he channeled his Jesuit training to teach deep theological concepts in plain English.
Callers vied to get a moment with the man who would never mock their fears of demonic oppression and possession. He cared about the audience and would always take the time to offer encouragement and help.
Still, listeners were left agitated and strangely unsettled.
Several episodes of Art Bell’s shows featuring Father Malachi Martin are available online for free. Here’s one playlist:
You really do need to meet Father Malachi (and if you’re an old school Art Bell fan like me – welcome back!).
Your blood will run as cold as the first time you saw “The Exorcist” – but this time, it’s not a movie.
Written by: maia