Vatican-recognized university sets new course to combat Satanism

Rome, Italy - To help combat youths' interest in Satanism, a Vatican-recognized university in Rome is offering a follow-up course to an introductory one on exorcism given earlier this year.

Pontifical Academy Regina Apostolorum's new course, which begins in October, will explore biblical, theological, historical and legal aspects of Satanism.

The university said fascination with Satanism was on the upswing and priests needed "solid preparation" on it. Exorcists will give the last lesson in February.

"Some recent crime episodes must represent the alarm bell to take seriously a problem that's still too underestimated," said the university, run by the conservative Legionaries of Christ.

When the first course began, Italy was gripped by a gruesome investigation of ritual Satanic deaths of three people near Milan, including a 19-year-old allegedly stabbed to death because her killers believed she personified the Virgin Mary. Two rock band members were later convicted of murder.

In recent years, police have discovered sites in the hill towns outside Rome where they say Satanic cult followers hold Black Masses.