The exorcism of Clara Germana Cele – A forgotten story from 1906

In 1906, a 16-year-old from South Africa, Clara Cele, was heard making a pact with the devil and soon began behaving erratically, tearing at her clothes, growling, speaking in tongues, and demonstrating super-human strength.

The Exorcism Of Clara Germana Cele
© Flickr/Porsche Brosseau

Later two priests performed exorcisms on Clara, during which her skin “burned” when touched by holy water and her body levitated before 150 witnesses. But after a “noxious smell” was observed leaving her body, Clara was deemed free of evil.

Clara Germana Cele

Clara Germana Cele was a South African Christian girl, who in 1906, was said to be possessed by one or more demons. The girl was an orphan of African origin and was baptised as an infant.

Clara Got Possessed By The Evil Spirits

The Exorcism Of Clara Cele
© Flickr/Porsche Brosseau

It was 1906, and Clara was a sixteen-year-old Christian student at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, South Africa. Although the reason is unknown, some say that through prayers and prayers and others that as a result of strange rituals, they say that the young woman ended up making a pact with Satan. A few days later, Clara was suffering from a series of strange impulses.

In an account written by a nun, Clara rejected any blessed holy object such as crucifixes, she could speak and understand various languages of which she had no prior knowledge. This fact was also witnessed by others, who recorded that she “understood Polish, German, French, Norwegian and all other languages.”

She had knowledge about the thoughts and stories of the people around her, for example, she demonstrated clairvoyance by revealing the most intimate secrets and transgressions of people with whom she had no contact. A number of clear signs confirmed Clara’s demonic possession, as in the cases of Anneliese Michel and Roland Doe. She later revealed her possession to her confessor, Father Hörner Erasmus.

Gradually, Clara Became Like A Wild Beast

Clara’s behaviour changed as well, as she became more aggressive and showed an extraordinary physical strength. The nuns who attended Clara reported that Clara’s cries had a savage “bestiality” that astonished those around her. In regards to the her voice, an attending nun even wrote:

“No animal had ever made such sounds. Neither the lions of East Africa nor the angry bulls. At times, it sounded like a veritable herd of wild beasts orchestrated by Satan had formed a hellish choir. Attending nun of St. Michael’s Mission, Natal, South Africa”

Moreover, Clara’s body also levitated up to five feet in the air, sometimes vertically and sometimes horizontally; and more than 150 people claimed to have been present during the levitations. When sprinkled with holy water, the girl is reported to have come out of this state of her satanic possession.

The Exorcism Of Clara Cele

The Exorcism Of Clara Germana Cele
The movie scene of an exorcism © Il Demonio (1963)

Finally, two Roman Catholic priests, Rev. Mansueti, the Director of the St. Michael’s Mission, and Rev. Erasmus, her confessor, were called in to perform an exorcism on her, which lasted for two days. It is reported that Clara tried to strangle one of the priests with the stole, while the priests performed the ritual and the levitations were continuous. But at the end of the exorcism, it was said that the spirits were expelled from Clara’s body and she was healed.

Clara Cele’s Later Life & Death

For the next six years, Clara lived a demonic possession free life until she died in 1912 from heart failure at age 22. However, history had lost track of and forgotten Clara in some versions of her story.