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My Writing Journey

My Christmas Prayer – a Poem

by Dawn Pisturino

May I never lose the Joy of Christmas,

Though my Tree of Life grows withered and rots,

Standing stark and gaunt in the cold winter light:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Joy of Christmas.


May I never lose the Love of Christmas,

Though my heart grows feeble and weak,

Beating like a broken drum in my chest:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Love of Christmas.


May I never lose the Meaning of Christmas,

Though the shadow of Death hovers over me,

Drawing farther away from the Circle of Life:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Meaning of Christmas.

Dawn Pisturino
December 4, 1986; December 24, 2021


MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Copyright 1986-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

St. Thomas the Apostle and the Three Wise Men

The Gospel of Matthew recounts how the Three Wise Men followed the Star of Bethlehem to the Christ Child in the manger, worshiped Him, and brought Him gifts. Then they left, feeling it wiser to bypass King Herod and his murderous intentions. 

Matthew 2:1-12:

 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

~

Later stories in the apocrypha elaborate on this account. The Three Wise Men meet St. Thomas the Apostle, who baptizes them as Christians, gives them the Eucharist, and sends them out into the world to spread the message of Christ as his disciples.

During the baptismal ceremony, St. Thomas recites this prayer:

“We praise you, O mystery of salvation,

which was given to us in oil by grace for anointing. 

Glory to you, O hidden mystery,

which was given to us in oil by grace for salvation,

for anointing. 

Glory to you, O hidden mystery,

which was given to us in oil for salvation and

and absolution.

 And by it (you) enlighten us and drive away

 darkness and error from us.

And again, by its mystery the athletes of the contest 

defeat their enemies.

Glory to you, O mystery of the oil,

since you became worthy to be in fellowship with

Christ.

With you the victorious are crowned in the contest, 

and you are twinned with the Spirit.

And you fly over the water like your (twin,) 

the Holy Spirit,

you mix the soul with mind,

and you renew the body with the birth of salvation.

Come, O partner of the firstborn;

Come, O renewer of humanity by the birth to eternal 

life;

and rest upon these believers, the beloved ones of our 

Lord Jesus Christ, and purify them and sanctify them

from all the stains of their bodies,

and may they become for you temples for your

dwelling

and rest for the Son of perfect mercy. 

And may you perfectly sanctify them with the birth of

salvation.”

(Translated from the Syriac by Brent Landau)

May we all become wiser, closer to God, and better disciples of the Christ Child in the year ahead.

Amen!

Dawn Pisturino, RN

December 23, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Winter Solstice

(Stonehenge)

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means “sun stands still.” “At the winter solstice, the apparent position of the Sun reaches its most southerly point against the background stars” (Royal Museum Greenwich). This year, the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. That means today will be the shortest day of the year, with the longest and darkest night. Tomorrow, the days will gradually become longer, leading up to Spring and the Spring Equinox.

The Julian calendar designated December 25th as the winter solstice. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, December 21st became the winter solstice and December 25th remained as the traditional date for Christmas.

The winter solstice is also known as the Feast of Juul (Yule). In Scandinavia, fires were lit, including the Yule log, in honor of the Norse God, Thor. In Germany, the Yule boar (sonargoltr) was sacrificed after a ceremony called heitstrenging was performed, in which celebrants made solemn vows on the boar’s bristles. Celebrating Yule included feasting, drinking, and singing. The Yule log tradition was adopted by the Celts in Europe and the British Isles. Burning the Yule log at the winter solstice brought good luck for the new year. Modern day Yule celebrations are still popular.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia from December 17th to December 24th in honor of the “father of the gods,” Saturn. Celebrants made sacrifices in the Temple of Saturn, held banquets, exchanged gifts, and offered forgiveness to each other for past wrongs.

In Asia, the Dongzhi Festival celebrates longer days, increased positive energy, and the yin-yang of balance and harmony in the community.

Iranians honor the longest, darkest night of the year with feasting and reciting poetry. Eating pomegranates and watermelons is considered particularly auspicious. The festival is called Yalda (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh).

At Stonehenge, people visit to watch the sun’s rays shine through the stones, which are aligned with the path of the sun. The winter solstice was especially important to ancient people because it was an opportunity to pray for fertility and good harvests in the new year.

Happy Solstice! Happy Yule!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Reprise: Saint Nikolaus’s Companion, Knecht Ruprecht

From out the forest I now appear,

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

For at the top of every tree

Are golden lights for all to see;

And there from heaven’s gate on high

I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees,

A loud voice it was that called to me:

“Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow,” it cried,

“Hurry now, make haste. Don’t hide!

All the candles have now been lit —

Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both young and old should now have rest

Away from cares and daily stress;

And when tomorrow to earth I fly

‘It’s Christmas again!’ will be the cry.”

And then I said: “O Lord so dear.

My journey’s end is now quite near;

But to the town I’ve still to go,

Where the children are good, I know.”

“But have you then that great sack?”

“I have,” I said, “It’s on my back,

For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts

For God-fearing children are a must.”

“And is that cane there by your side?”

“The cane’s there too,” I did reply;

“But only for those, those naughty ones,

Who have it applied to their backsides.”

The Christ-child spoke: “Then that’s all right!

My loyal servant, go with God this night!”

From out the forest I now appear;

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

Now speak, what is there here to be had?

Are there good children, are there bad?

Theodor Storm

Translated from the German by Denis Jackson, Isle of Wight.

BIO: Theodor Storm (1817-1888) was a German poet, novelist, and lawyer known for the lyrical quality of his work. He died of cancer in 1888. Knecht Ruprecht (Krampus) is still a popular figure seen in Germany (and other countries) at Christmas. While St. Nikolaus rewards the good children, Krampus punishes the bad.

Dawn Pisturino

11 Comments »

The Power of Prayer

Photo by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash

“Prayer is the only means of bringing about orderliness and peace and repose in our daily acts.”

This simple statement by Mahatma Gandhi reflects the experience of a man whose faith, values, and dedication to a cause transformed an entire nation.

After the horrific events of 9/11, the people of the United States turned to prayer to find comfort, unity, and meaning in the midst of tragedy.

Since the dawn of civilization, people have prayed to a higher power for health, guidance, forgiveness, gratitude, and transformation.

Prayer fulfills a natural human longing for communion with God. During times of stress, when we are feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed, prayer offers us release, reminds us of our priorities, and restores balance to our lives.

Prayer is an act of love. We pray because we care about our loved ones, our nation, and our world.

It is an act of hope. When we pray, we know we are not alone. We can face our difficulties with renewed strength and courage.

Praying confirms our faith and belief in a higher power. It reinforces our conviction that a spiritual world exists. It helps us to transcend our daily struggles and to find peace inside ourselves.

Many scientific studies have been done on the effects of prayer, but prayer cannot be quantified by science. No conclusive evidence exists to either prove or disprove the effectiveness of prayer. And this is to be expected, for prayer is a very private and individual act of worship.

Researchers have shown, however, that people who consider spiritual activities an important part of their lives tend to live longer, recover from illness more quickly, and deal more effectively with grief.

David B. Larson, MD, of the International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality, summed it up nicely when he reported, “Statistically, God is good for you.”

Amen.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
May 12, 2007; December 4, 2021

Copyright 2007-2021 DawnPisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Happy Hanukkah and Advent

(University of Colorado graphic)

November 28, 2021 is the first day of Hanukkah and the first day of Advent.

Want to learn more?

The Story of Hanukkah (Chanukah):

(ISL Collective graphic)
(Advent wreath, cstar55/Getty Images)

The Story of Advent

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means arrival. In the Christian tradition, the four Sundays before Christmas represent the Season of Advent. These four weeks are spent waiting for and preparing for the arrival of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, through prayer, penance, fasting, study, and good works. Children use special Advent calendars to mark each day, discovering a chocolate surprise behind each little door.

In the 16th century, German Lutherans began creating special Advent wreaths to commemorate the four Sundays before Christmas. It wasn’t long before Catholics adopted this tradition. The wreath contains four candles: three purple and one pink. Sometimes, a white candle is placed in the center of the wreath.

Each Sunday, a candle is lit as follows:

First Sunday: one purple candle, called the Prophets’ candle, in memory of all the prophets, but particularly, the Prophet Isaiah, who foretold the coming of the Messiah. This candle symbolizes HOPE.

Second Sunday: the next purple candle, called the Bethlehem candle, which symbolizes LOVE.

Third Sunday: the pink candle, called the Shepherds’ candle, which symbolizes Joy. This candle reminds us that our waiting is nearly over. Our faith is strengthened through prayer and fasting.

Fourth Sunday: The last purple candle is lit, completing the circle. This is the Angels’ candle and symbolizes PEACE.

Christmas: When the white candle is included, it is lit on Christmas Day and symbolizes CHRIST – the light of the World.

From Christmas Day (December 25th) to Epiphany (January 6th) is called the Twelve Days of Christmas, just like the old carol.

Peace Be With You All!

Dawn Pisturino

November 28, 2021

15 Comments »

Dia de los Muertos Celebration (Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos Festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

ALL PHOTOS BY DAWN PISTURINO.

Although “Day of the Dead” sounds like a George Romero movie, — ominous and dark, — this holiday is spent from October 31st through November 2nd reaffirming the beauty and joy of LIFE.

Throughout Mexico and the rest of Latin America, revelers sing, dance, march in parades, dress up in costumes, and honor the memory of dead family members. Prayers are offered for the souls of the dearly departed.

Midnight, October 31st – The gates of Heaven open. The veil thins between life and death.

November 1st – All Saints’ Day and the Day of the Children. The spirits of dead children may visit their families for 24 hours.

November 2nd – All Souls’ Day and the Day of the Dead, when the spirits of dead adults may visit their families for 24 hours.

Cemeteries and churches are decorated with flowers and candles. Special alters are set up to honor the dead. Families share picnics at the graves of their loved ones, leaving plates of the dead person’s favorite foods on the grave.

Skeletons and skulls are important symbols representing death. Revelers don skull masks and eat decorated sugar skulls. Sweet pastries are served. Costumes and decorations burst forth with bright, fiery colors, reminding everybody of the motion, fluidity, creativity, celebration, energy, and liveliness of LIFE. Music is joyous and uplifting. These days are days of Happiness where people fully recognize that Death is a natural part of the cycle of LIFE.

The roots of this festival are 3,000 years old, dating back to the Aztecs and other indigenous tribes.

Aztec dancers, Dia de los Muertos festival, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

Celebrate your life! Celebrate your creativity! Celebrate LIVING!

Dawn Pisturino

October 31, 2021

Copyright 2012 – 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration by Richard Cunningbot

Poem by Dawn Pisturino

MY GRAVE

I think that I shall never crave

A home as lovely as a grave.

A restful place deep in the ground

Without a trace of light or sound.

A grassy mound high on a hill,

Host to yellow daffodil.

And when the snow begins to fall,

I will not be disturbed at all.

A pleasant park is all I need

And visitors who stop to read

The granite marker at my head:

“Rest in Peace to All the Dead!”

October 5, 2011


Published in the November 2011 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Copyright 2011-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Triduum of All Hallows’ Eve

In the Celtic world, the end of October and beginning of November were set aside for a great feast every year to celebrate the end of the summer (or Samhain) and the beginning of winter. People played games and told stories about great Celtic heroes and the gods and goddesses of Celtic lore.

The festival also marked the thinning of the veil between this world and the Other World. The spirits of the dead could visit this world, and the living could visit the land of the dead.

Samhain was so special, in fact, the normal laws of the universe did not apply. Fairies left their underground homes, and ordinary humans were subjected to fantastic dreams and adventures (often involving fairies). Families called on the spirits of dead ancestors to visit them. And the spirits who responded to their calls were often granted special powers. Celtic monsters prowled the earth with such ferocity that even the gods and goddesses were no match for them. In Ireland, Aillen mac Midna re-enacted his annual ritual and burned the court of Tara to ashes.

Bonfires blazed on the hilltops, lighting up the shortening nights. These bonfires were so significant that their ashes were used in magical charms to ward off illness and disease.

Today, Samhain is celebrated as Halloween on October 31st. The word “Halloween” actually means All Hallows’ Eve, or the eve of All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated in the Christian community on November 1st. This special day is set aside to honor the souls and memories of martyrs and saints. November 2nd is known as All Souls’ Day (or Dia de Los Muertos),when Christians pray for the souls of their dearly departed. These three days are known collectively as the Triduum of All Hallows’ Eve (or Hallowtide).

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Roke, Sweden, celebrating All Saints’ Day. Photo by David Castor.

Remember: the custom of carving and lighting turnips, pumpkins, and other gourds was meant to ward off the evil spirits that might visit on Halloween. Halloween is also a time to dress up and make merry! In the United States, it marks the beginning of the holiday season that runs through New Year’s Day. So eat, drink, and be merry!

Dawn Pisturino

October 26, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Remembering Kim Lee: A Short Story

Qilin (K’i-lin) Metropolitan Museum of Art

J.J. Washington threw down his backpack in disgust. His mother lay snoring on the living-room sofa, an empty whisky bottle cradled in her arms.

She loves that bottle more than me, he thought bitterly.

Staring down at her, he realized how old and ugly she looked. Her velvety, chocolate-brown skin had grown flaky and pale, and strands of gray threaded through her matted black hair. She had been pretty and gentle once, showering him with smiles and kisses when he came home from school. But that was before his father, a policeman, was gunned down and killed during a routine traffic stop. Since then, nothing had been the same.

It’s unfair, he thought angrily. My father was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die.

He ran out of the house into the bright afternoon sunlight, slamming the front door behind him. He wanted to lash out at somebody – anybody. Instead, he kicked an empty soda can down the sidewalk, drawing disapproving stares from a woman wearing a black head scarf and carrying a bag of groceries in her arms.

J.J. shrugged his shoulders and shoved his hands into the pockets of his faded blue jeans. His green Black Pride T-shirt was ripped under the arms, and his white sneakers were scuffed and dirty. He searched the littered gutter for loose change to pocket and lost objects to sell to Mr. Levitson, the junk dealer on the corner. But found nothing of value.

He wandered into the alley behind Big Al’s Soul Food Haven and knocked on the back door. Robbie, the grizzled old cook, sometimes offered him a plateful of barbecued pork and cornbread if he agreed to wash a few dishes. But nobody answered so he rummaged through the garbage for half-eaten cheeseburgers and soggy fries. Suddenly, someone grabbed him roughly from behind and shoved him down hard onto the grimy pavement.

A gigantic black man with bulging arms and rolls of blubber straining under a white T-shirt stained with grease, glared down at him. “Kid, I told ya never to come around here again!”

J.J.’s heart pounded with fear. He picked himself up from the ground and tried to run away, but the fat man caught him with one humongous foot, spilling him onto the pavement again. Tears filled his eyes as a burning pain traveled down his left arm.

“Leave the boy alone!”

J.J. looked up in astonishment as a short Asian woman with ivory skin and close-cropped white hair stepped out from the shadows, waving a long wooden stick. She was dressed in a gray jogging suit, and in spite of the pain in his arm, J.J. broke into a wide grin. On her tiny feet, she wore lime green running shoes.

“Aw, Kim Lee, I was just giving the kid a good scare.”

“You’ve done enough. He’s under my care now.” Kim Lee stood her ground, twirling the wooden stick in her hands like a master baton twirler.

Big Al slunk sheepishly away. Kim Lee helped J.J. up from the ground and examined his injured arm. He winced with pain as she prodded and poked, feeling for broken bones.

“Just a sprain,” she announced. “You come home with me. I’ll put ice on it. Give you some hot food, too.”

J.J. pulled away. “I can take care of myself.”

The old woman smiled. “It won’t take long. Then you’re free to go your own way. I make a mean chop suey. Got fortune cookies, too.”

J.J. grimaced with pain and the emptiness in his stomach. The old lady seemed harmless enough. What did he have to lose?

“Okay,” he said reluctantly. He followed her out of the alley, past a row of rickety wooden houses with iron bars on the windows, up a flight of narrow stairs to a small apartment located above Mama Rosa’s bustling burrito shop. The smell of spicy hot chili drifted with them up the stairs. J.J.’s stomach growled loudly.

Kim Lee’s apartment was neat and sparsely furnished. But the furniture was tattered and old, and J.J. could see that she was just as poor as everybody else who lived in this part of the city. He sat down at the kitchen table, and she placed an ice bag on his left arm. Delicious smells wafted from the stove. Kim Lee placed a steaming plate of chop suey and sticky white rice in front of him, and he ate greedily. She offered him seconds, and he ate some more. He drank hot oolong tea out of a small, white cup with no handles. Finally, she brought him a single golden fortune cookie on a fragile blue plate decorated with fierce yellow dragons.

“Break it open and read your fortune,” Kim Lee told him.

J.J. broke the hard, crescent-shaped cookie into two pieces and pulled out a small slip of white paper. “A unicorn will bring you luck,” he read out loud.

Kim Lee laughed and clapped her hands. “Yes!”

J.J. snorted in disbelief. “What are you talking about? Unicorns! Nobody believes in that stuff anymore!”

Kim Lee’s dark eyes grew misty and far away. “In China, when I was a girl, villagers told stories about K’i-lin, the many-colored unicorn with a single horn twelve feet long. He possessed great wisdom and power. When he appeared, it was considered good luck. Great leaders sought him out, but he was difficult to find. He moved as swiftly as the wind, his voice ringing out like a thousand wind chimes. He only lived for a thousand years, and when he finally disappeared, there was much sadness in the land.”

“But you can’t believe he was real!” J.J. protested.

“Here, let me show you something.” Kim Lee left the room and then returned, carrying a small, black lacquer box. She opened the lid. “Take it,” she said.

J.J. pulled out a round jade pendant hanging from a red silk cord and held it in his right hand.

K’i-lin,” Kim Lee said softly.

The boy traced the intricately-carved image with the fingers of his left hand. But this wasn’t like any unicorn he had ever seen. This one had the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, and the hooves of a horse. Instead of the horn protruding straight from the forehead, it made a large curlicue over the animal’s head. It was the strangest creature he had ever seen.

“That was given to me by my grandfather before he died,” Kim Lee said. “It’s very old and valuable. I’ve treasured it my whole life. It has brought me luck.” J.J. handed it to her, and she placed it carefully into the black box. “May K’i-lin bring you luck, too, J.J. Washington.”

* * *

“Crazy old lady,” J.J. muttered as he found his way back home.

“Hey, J.J., where you been? We’ve been looking for ya!”

J.J. turned to see his friends, Tyrone and Emerson, on the sidewalk behind him. “Aw, I’ve been around.”

“My brother’s taking us to Disneyland on Saturday,” Tyrone said, bouncing a basketball up and down on the sidewalk. “Wanna come?”

“You guys are dreaming. Where would I get money for that?” J.J. said.

“Anywhere you can,” Emerson cut in. “I took twenty dollars out of my mom’s purse.”

“I can’t even get enough to eat,” J.J. said. “My mom drinks up every cent she gets. I’ve already checked her purse. There’s nothing in it.”

“Then you’re out of luck,” Tyrone said. “See you later.”

The two boys walked away. J.J. looked after them with envy. Disneyland! His father had promised to take him on his eleventh birthday, but a terrible accident happened on 79th Avenue, and he had been obligated to help. The family had gone out for pizza instead. A few months later, his father was dead. J.J. picked up a rock and hurled it at a pigeon sitting on a concrete wall. Not fair, not fair, not fair . . .

* * *

J.J. moved quietly through the darkness. It was ten o’clock, and the old lady would probably be asleep. He climbed the staircase cautiously, afraid of making too much noise. Under the doormat he found a key and fitted it into the lock. He pushed the door open slowly and slipped inside. Everything was quiet and still except for a clock ticking. He pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket and turned on the beam. Somewhere in the apartment he would find the jade pendant inside the little black box.

The light flashed on a large wooden cabinet with two glass doors. As he crossed the carpeted floor on tip-toe, a soft moan startled him, and he nearly dropped the flashlight in his hand.

The moan came again, and then someone cried out as if in pain.

I’ve got to get out of here, J.J. thought frantically; but not without the jade pendant. He pulled open the glass doors and there, on a low shelf, was the black lacquer box. He quickly grabbed it and hurried to the front door.

“Help me!” The cry was louder now, and J.J. stopped in his tracks. The old woman must be hurt, he thought. He remembered her kindness, and suddenly, he felt ashamed. He placed the black lacquer box back in the cabinet and opened the door to Kim Lee’s bedroom.

J.J. found the light switch and turned on the overhead light. Kim Lee lay sprawled on the carpet, her right leg turned out at a funny angle.

She saw him, and a wave of relief washed over her face. “J.J., I think my hip is broken. Call the paramedics!”

* * *

When J.J. opened the front door, his mother called out to him. “Is that you, J.J.?”

“Yes, mama.”

His mother sat on the living-room sofa, holding his father’s framed photograph in her hands. When she looked up at him, tears trickled down her cheeks. “Where’ve you been, baby? I woke up, and you were gone. It scared me. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you, too.

“I called Pastor Harris down at the church, and it’s all arranged. I need help, baby, more help than I’ve ever needed in my life. He’s going to help us. I’m going to go to rehab, and your Aunt Jenny’s going to take care of you until I get back on my feet. I’m going to get a job, and we’ll be a real family again.”

J.J. remembered Kim Lee waving good-bye to him as the paramedics loaded her into the back of the ambulance. He thought about the jade pendant and the wonderful story of the brightly-colored unicorn named K’i-lin. The old lady isn’t crazy after all, he thought with a smile. A unicorn really did bring me luck.

J.J. gave his mother a big hug. “That’ll be fine, mama, just fine.”

Dawn Pisturino

October 13, 2021

Copyright 2009-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights reserved.

2 Comments »

Haunted Boy – The True Story Behind “The Exorcist”

In the summer of 1948, a young boy in Mount Rainier, Maryland began using an Ouija board with his aunt, who believed in spiritualism.  After she died, the boy and his family experienced disturbing sounds which woke them during the night: knocking, scratching, and marching feet.  The family witnessed the boy’s mattress furiously shaking, furniture moving on its own, and visitors thrown from a chair. Scratches and strange marks mysteriously appeared on the boy’s body.

Physicians and mental health experts could find no rational explanation for these events.  Finally, the family – which was not Catholic – consulted a local priest.

Father E. Albert Hughes interviewed the boy and later described his “dark, empty stare.”  He determined that the boy was possessed by multiple demons (Legions) and arranged to perform an exorcist at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The exorcism lasted for three nights, with no positive results.  The boy was sent home.  Not long after, the words “Louis” appeared on his chest.  The boy’s mother interpreted this as a sign to take him to St. Louis, Missouri, where she had relatives.

Father William Bowdern, a Jesuit priest, agreed to undertake a rigorous exorcism of the boy, who had suffered through months of violent behavior followed by periods of calm.

The boy was admitted to the Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis and baptized Catholic.  During Easter week, while closely guarded and under restraint, the boy received confession and Holy Communion. Brother Rector Cornelius placed a statue of St. Michael the Archangel – Satan’s arch enemy – by the boy’s bed.  On the night of April 18, 1949, after hours of violent struggle and intense emotional resistance, the boy cried out, “He’s gone!”  By the next morning, Father Bowdern became convinced that the boy was indeed free from demonic possession.

The boy and his family returned to Maryland and spent the summer of 1949 as a normal, happy family.  The boy, whose identity has never been revealed, became known as “The Haunted Boy.”  With no memory of the dreadful events which had threatened to ruin his life, he grew up to become a scientist for NASA.

The fifth floor room at the Alexian Brothers Hospital, where the final exorcism had taken place, was permanently sealed.

Author William Peter Blatty, a devout Catholic, heard about “The Haunted Boy” while a student at Georgetown University.  He used the story of the boy’s ordeal for the basis of his best-selling novel, The Exorcist, one of the most terrifying and thought-provoking novels ever written.  It was later turned into a major motion picture.  Blatty wrote the screenplay.

Dawn Pisturino

Published in the Spring 2016 issue of Psychic-Magic Ezine.

Copyright 2016-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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