Popularity of Satanic exorcisms rising

The Vatican's top exorcist says there's been an explosion in the number of people needing evil demons cast out of their bodies.

The Rev. Gabriele Amorth told the Los Angeles Times he performs the ancient ritual dozens of times a week, calling exorcism "God's true miracle."

In Italy, the number of exorcists has increased more than tenfold in the last decade to about 300. This year, one of the country's largest archdioceses established a special task force to handle the growing demand for devil-ridding, the newspaper reported.

In an exorcism the priest drapes a purple vestment around the "patient's" shoulders. The action is followed by prayers, anointment with the holy water and oil, then a demand to the devil that he state his name and be gone.

If the person is possessed -- and that's a rarity, Amorth said -- he or she will often turn violent and fight the intervention.

Amorth said the success of "The Exorcist," the 1973 horror classic starring Max Von Sydow in the title role, which was re-released in 2000, helped stir interest.

The 80-year-old Amorth said he loves the movie.