William Blatty: I called upon numerous Jesuit friends in the hope that they might lead me to someone now living who had actually performed an exorcism. I came closest with Father Thomas Bermingham, who had taught me at Brooklyn Prep and was master of studies at St. Andrew's-on-Hudson, a Jesuit seminary.
He recalled that in his earliest years in the priesthood a Jesuit quartered at the seminary was known to have performed an exorcism. But Father Bermingham couldn't remember the original model's name. I called a Jesuit friend of mine in Los Angeles. He gave me the exorcist's name and address. I wrote to him. He answered with the following letter, from which I have deleted certain information for reasons that will be apparent:
Your letter, addressed to me at the - - - Retreat House at - - - , was forwarded to me here, where I have been stationed for the past year. We have a mutual friend in Father - - - , S. J. As you stated in your letter, it is very difficult to find any authentic literature on cases of possession; at least, I could not find any when I was involved in such a case.
Accordingly, we (a priest with me) kept a minute account each day of the happenings each preceding day and night, one reason being that our diary would be most helpful to anyone placed in a similar position as an exorcist in any future case. My hesitancy in giving you the details of the case of possession is due to two facts. First, - - - , who delegated me as the exorcist, instructed me not to publicize the case. I have been faithful to his instructions.
Secondly, it would be most embarrassing, and possibly painfully disturbing to the young man, should he be connected in any way with a book detailing events that took place in his life some years ago. Since a case of possession is a very rare occurrence, he would certainly connect his own experience with any such account. Some Jesuits living with me at - - - at the time were conversant with some of the events in the case; and, as often happens, as a story passes on, events are not correctly reported.
My own thoughts were that much good might have come if the case had been reported, and people had come to realize that the presence and the activity of the devil is something very real. And possibly never more real than at the present time. But I submitted my judgment to the instructions which I received from - - - .
I can assure you of one thing: the case in which I was involved was the real thing. I had no doubt about it then and I have no doubts about it now. Should I be of any assistance to you within the limitations I have set forth in this letter, I would be glad to accommodate you. I wish you every success in the important apostolate of the pen. You can do so much good with that gift.
To read much more detail on Blatty's reflection on The Exorcist, click here.