WHO SAW DEMONS
Many of the Saints were blessed by God with visions. The visions would concern God, or seeing some event from the past, present or future. And then there were visions of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. There were also visions of the demons that are in this world tempting men and women. In the written works of St. Teresa of Avila, there are numerous accounts of visions of Satan and many of the demons that fell with him from Heaven. St. Teresa of Avila(1515-1582), a highly intelligent human being, personally witnessed visions of many demons and has left her account as a warning to those who would come after her that many, many demons are in our world wreaking havoc wherever they go and that we need to pray and guard our souls feverishly. Most of us do not have the kind of visions she had and when we are tempted we are not able to see the demons that tempt us, but by studying the works of St. Teresa of Avila, we can gain great understanding on how best to deal with the devil and the temptations he sends to hurt us. To see the works on Saint Teresa of Avila on the Internet go to: http://history.hanover.edu/early/teresa.htm
Saint Teresa of Avila
Saint Faustina Kowalska
Saint Joseph of Copertino
SAINT TERESA OF AVILA (1515-1582)
The following are some of her accounts taken from her Collected Works
published by The Institute of Carmelite Studies:
Volume 1 of The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Chapter 38, parts 23 & 24 & 25:
23. "Once, while approaching to receive Communion, I saw with my soul's eyes more clearly than with my bodily eyes two devils whose appearance was abominable. It seems to me their horns were wrapped around the poor priests's throat, and in the host that was going to be given to me I saw my Lord with the majesty I mentioned placed in the priest's hands, which were clearly seen to be His offender's; and I understood that that soul was in mortal sin. What would it be my Lord, to see Your beauty in the midst of such abominable figures? They were as though frightened and terrified in Your presence, for it seems they would have very eagerly fled had You allowed them. This vision caused me such great disturbance I don't know how I was able to receive Communion, and I was left with a great fear, thinking that if the vision had been from God, His Majesty would not have permitted me to see the evil that was in that soul. The Lord Himself told me to pray for him and that He had permitted it so that I might understand the power of the words of consecration and how God does not fail to be present, however evil the priest who recites them, and that I might see His great goodness since He places Himself in those hands of His enemy, and all out of love for me and for everyone. I understood well how much more priests are obliged to be good than are others, how deplorable a thing it is to receive this most Blessed Sacrament unworthily, and how much the devil is lord over the soul in mortal sin. It did me a great deal of good and brought me deep understanding of what I owed God. May He be blessed forever and ever.
24. At another time something else happened to me that frightened me very much. I was at a place where a certain person died who for many years had lived a wicked life, from what I knew. But he had been sick for two years, and in some things it seems he had made amends. He died without confession, but nevertheless it didn't seem to me he would be condemned. While the body was being wrapped in its shroud, I saw many devils take that body; and it seemed they were playing with it and punishing it. This terrified me, for with large hooks they were dragging it from one devil to the other. Since I saw it buried with the honor and ceremonies accorded to all, I reflected on the goodness of God, how He did not want that soul to be defamed, but wanted the fact that it was His enemy to be concealed.
25. I was half stupefied from what I had seen. During the whole ceremony I didn't see another devil. Afterward when they put the body in the grave, there was such a multitude of them inside ready to take it that I was frantic at the sight of it, and there was need for no small amount of courage to conceal this. I reflected on what they would do to the soul when they had such dominion over the unfortunate body. May it please the Lord that what I have seen -a thing so frightful!-will be seen by all those who are in such an evil state; I think it would prove a powerful help toward their living a good life. All of this gives me greater knowledge of what I owe God and of what He freed me from. I was very frightened until I spoke about it to my confessor, wondering if it was an illusion caused by the devil to defame that soul. Although it wasn't considered to be the soul of someone with a very deep Christian spirit. Truly since the vision was not an illusion, it frightens me every time I think of it."
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 1, Chapter 31, parts: 1-11 :
Deals with some exterior temptations and representations of the devil and the torments he inflicted on her. Treats also of some matters very beneficial for advising persons who journey on the path of perfection.
1. Now that I've mentioned some interior, secret temptations and disturbances the devil caused me, I want to tell about others he caused almost publicly and in which one could not be mistaken that he was the source.
2. I was once in an oratory, and he appeared to me in an abominable form at my left side. Because he spoke to me, I looked particularly at his mouth-which was frightening. It seemed that a great flame, all bright without shadow, came forth from his body. He told me in a terrifying way that I had really freed myself from his hands but that he would catch me with them again. I was struck with great fear and blessed myself as best I could; he disappeared, but returned right away. This happened to me twice. I didn't know what to do. There was some holy water there, and I threw it in that direction; he never returned again.
3. Another time I was tormented for five hours with such terrible interior and exterior pains and disturbance that it didn't seem to me I could suffer them any longer. The sisters who were with me were frightened and didn't know what to do, nor did I know how to help myself. When bodily pains and sickness become intolerable I have the custom of making interior acts of supplication to the Lord as best I can, that if His Majesty be served by my doing so He might give me patience and I might remain in this state until the end of the world. Well, since I was suffering so severely this time, I was helping myself through these acts and resolutions so as to be able to bear it. The Lord wanted me to understand it was the devil because I saw beside me a black, very abominable little creature, snarling like one in despair that where he had tried to gain he had lost. When I saw him I laughed to myself and was not afraid. There were some sisters there with me who were unable to help nor did they know of any remedy for so much torment; without being able to resist, I was striking myself hard on the body, head, and arms. What was worse was the interior disturbance, for I wasn't able to feel calm of any sort. I didn't dare ask for holy water lest I frighten them and they come to understand what the trouble was.
4. I often experience that there is nothing the devils flee from more-without returning-than holy water. They also flee from the cross, but they return. The power of holy water must be great. For me there is a particular and very noticeable consolation my soul experiences upon taking it. Without a doubt my soul feels ordinarily a refreshment I wouldn't know how to explain, like an interior delight that comforts it entirely. This isn't some fancy or something that has happened to me only once, but something that has happened often and that I've observed carefully. Let us say the relief is like that coming to a person, very hot and thirsty, when he drinks a jar of cold water; it would seem that he felt the refreshment all over. I consider everything ordained by the Church to be important, and I rejoice to see the power of those words recited over the water so that its difference from unblessed water becomes so great.
5. Well, since the torment didn't stop, I said: "If you wouldn't laugh, I'd ask for holy water." They brought it to me and sprinkled some on me, but it didn't help. I threw some toward where the devil was, and instantly he went away and all the illness left me as if it were taken away by hand, except that I remained weary as though I had been badly beaten with a stick. It did me a lot of good to reflect upon what he will do to the soul he possesses as his own if even when the soul and body don't belong to him, he causes so much harm-when the Lord permits. It made me again eager to be freed from such dreadful company.
6. Another time, not long ago, the same thing happened to me; although it didn't last as long, and I was alone. I called for holy water, and those who entered after the devil had already gone (for they were two nuns well worthy of belief, who would by no means tell a lie) smelled a foul stench like that of brimstone. I didn't smell it. It so lingered that one could notice it.
Another time I was in the choir, and there came upon me a strong impulse toward recollection. I left the choir so that the others wouldn't notice, although all of them heard the striking of loud blows near the place where I was; I heard some coarse words next to me as though the devils were plotting something, although I didn't understand anything nor did I have any fear. It happened, almost every time, when the Lord granted me the favor of persuading some soul to advance in perfection.
7. It is certain that what I shall now tell happened to me. (And there are many witnesses to this, especially the one who is now my confessor since he saw it written in a letter; without my telling him who the person was to whom the letter belonged, he knew very well who it was.)
A person came to me who had been in mortal sin for two and a half years. It was one of the most abominable I've heard of, and in all this time he hadn't confessed or made amends; and he was saying Mass. Although he was confessing other sins, of this one he asked how he could confess something so ugly. He had a great desire to give it up, but he wasn't able to help himself. He made me feel great pity, and my seeing that he offended God in such a way caused me deep sorrow. I promised him I would beg God very much to liberate him and that I would beg God very much to liberate him and that I would get others better than myself to do the same, and I wrote to him through a certain person he told me I could give the letters to. And so it happened that after receiving the first letter he went to confession. For God desired (through the many very holy persons to whose prayers I recommended him) to grant this soul that mercy; and I, although miserable, did what I could with great care. He wrote to me that he was so much better that for days he had not fallen into the sin, but that the torment the temptation gave him was so intense it seemed from what he suffered he was in hell; he asked me to commend him to God. I in turn recommended him to my sisters through whose prayers the Lord must have granted me this favor, for they took the matter very much to heart. No one could guess who the person was. I begged His Majesty to mitigate those torments and temptations and that those devils would come to afflict me, provided that I would not offend the Lord in anything. As a result, for a month I suffered severe torments; it was during this time that these two things I mentioned happened.
8. The Lord was pleased that they leave him; this he wrote to me, for I told hm what I was going through during that month. His soul was fortified, and he was left completely free. He didn't have enough of thanking God and me as though I had done anything. But the reputation I had from the fact that the Lord granted me favors benefitted him. He said that when he found himself very distressed he read my letters, and the temptation left him. He was very impressed by what I had suffered and how he had been freed. Even I was amazed, and I would have suffered many more years to see that soul free. May the Lord be praised for everything, for the prayer of those who serve Him (as I believe do these sisters in this house) can do much. But since I sought these prayers, the devils must have been more angry with me; and the Lord on account of my sins permitted this.
9. Also one night during this time I thought they were choking me; after much holy water had been sprinkled around, I saw a great multitude of them go by, as though they were being thrown down a precipice. There are so many times that these cursed creatures torment me, and so little is the fear I now have of them, seeing that they cannot stir unless the Lord allows them, that I would tire your Reverence and tire myself if I told about all these instances.
10. May what was said be of help that the true servant of God might pay no attention to the scarecrows the devils set up in order to cause fear. We should know that each time we pay no attention to them they are weakened and the soul gains much more mastery. Some great benefit always remains, which I won't go into so as not to enlarge. I shall only mention what happened to me on the night of All Souls: while I was in the oratory after having recited a nocturn and while saying some very devotional prayers that come at the end, a devil appeared on the book so that I couldn't finish the prayer. I blessed myself, and he went away. When I began again to recite the prayers, he returned. I believe it was three times I began, and until I threw holy water at him I couldn't finish. I saw that some souls left purgatory at that instant; little must have been lacking to their freedom, and I wondered if he had aimed at preventing this.
A few times I've seen him in physical form, but many times with no physical form-as for instance in the vision mentioned above in which without seeing any form one knows he is there.
11. I also want to tell the following because it frightened me a lot: one day on the feast of the Trinity, being in the choir of a certain monastery and in rapture, I saw a great battle of devils against angels. I couldn't understand what that vision meant. In less than fifteen days it became easily understandable on account of a certain conflict that arose between people of prayer and many who were not, and a lot of harm was done in the house in which it took place. It was a battle that lasted a long time and caused much disquiet.
At other times I saw a large multitude of devils around me, and it seemed that a great brightness encircled me, and this prevented them from reaching me. I understood that God was watching over me so that they could not get to me in order to make me offend Him. From what I sometimes saw in myself, I understood that it was a true vision. The fact is that now I have understood so well the little bit of power he has provided I'm not against God, that I have almost no fear . The powers of devils are nothing if these devils do not find souls cowardly and surrendered to them: it is with such souls that they show their power. Sometime, in the temptations I already mentioned, it seemed to me that all the vanities and weaknesses of the past were again awakening within me; I had really to commend myself to God. At once the torment came of thinking that since those thoughts arose in me the favors I experienced must all be from the devil. It seemed to me that there shouldn't have been even the first stirrings of a bad thought in one who was receiving so many favors from the Lord. But then my confessor put me at peace.
SAINT FAUSTINA KOWALSKA (1905-1938)
Sister Faustina Kowalska, who Jesus gave to her the responsibility of spreading Devotion to the Divine Mercy, received numerous attacks from the devil. When ever a individual becomes a threat to the devil, the devil will go out of his way to frighten, annoy and disturb that individual as he tried to do with Sister Faustina. She was spreading the Devotion of Divine Mercy which teaches that any sinner can be saved if they would only turn from their sins and accept God's Mercy as bought for them by the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This mercy is the greatest threat to Satan, because he loses many, many souls because of this Mercy offered by God to sinners. The following excerpts were taken from the book: The Life of FAUSTINA KOWALSKA, THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, by Sister sophia Michalenko, C.M.G.T., published by Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1999.
"After the adoration, however, when she was halfway to her cell, Sister Faustina found herself surrounded by what she thought to be a pack of huge black dogs who were jumping and howling and trying to tear her to pieces. Instantly she realized they were not dogs but demons. One of them spoke up in a rage, "Because you have snatched so many souls away from us this night, we will tear you to pieces."
Sister Faustina answered, "If that is the will of the most merciful God, tear me to pieces, for I have justly deserved it, because I am the most miserable of all sinners, and God is ever holy, just and infinitely merciful."
To these words all the demons answered as one, "Let us flee, for she is not alone; the Almighty is with her!" And they vanished like dust, like the noise of the road, while Sister continued to walk to her cell undisturbed (320)."(Page 79)
"On Friday, April 26, Sister Faustina attended the
ceremonies and heard a sermon on The Divine Mercy preached by her confessor. It was the
fulfillment of the first request that Jesus had made a long time before. When Father
Sopocko began to speak about the great mercy of the Lord, to her the Image came alive and
the rays pierced the hearts of those present, but
not all the people in the same degree: some more, some less. Great joy filled her heart and she heard the words: You are a witness to My mercy. You shall stand before My throne forever as a living witness to My mercy (417).
She did not wait for the end of the service, but hurried back to the convent as soon as the sermon was over. She had walked only a few steps when a whole multitude of demons blocked her way. They threatened her with terrible tortures and she heard voices saying, "She has snatched away everything we have worked for over so many years!"
She asked them, "Where have you come from in such great numbers?" The wicked forms answered, "Out of human hearts; stop tormenting us!"
Sensing their great hatred toward her, Sister Faustina immediately invoked the help of her Guardian Angel. At once the bright and radiant figure appeared and he said to her, "Do not fear, spouse of my Lord; without His permission these spirits will do you no harm." Immediately the evil spirits vanished, and the faithful Guardian Angel accompanied her, in a visible manner, right to the doorstep. His look was modest and peaceful, and a flame of fire sparkled from his forehead.
Faustina wrote, "O Jesus, I would like to toil and labor and suffer all my life for that one moment in which I saw Your glory, O Lord, and profit for souls" (419). (Page 98)
ST. JOSEPH OF COPERTINO (1603-1663)
[The following is from the book Saint Joseph of Copertino, by Fr. Angelo Pastrovicchi, O.M.C., published by TAN Books and Publishers.]
Another Saint who saw the demons was St. Joseph of Copertino, a Franciscan Priest. He was born in a stable and was so poor in school that he passed his exam for the priesthood only because the bishop asked the one question he was prepared for. Nonetheless, he developed great wisdom and knowledge of holy things. He performed severe penances, such as wearing a heavy chain around his waist and fasting seven times a year for forty days each! But he was most famous for his ecstatic flights or levitations, of which seventy are recorded in the acts of his beatification. He levitated almost daily at Mass-sometimes for two hours. People flocked to him because of his kindness, and so many attended his Masses that the church could not contain them. St. Joseph worked numerous miracles and, like St. Francis of Assisi, even spoke with animals. On one occasion he raised to life a flock of sheep that had been killed by enormous hailstones. Although he could smell the stench of sin in wrongdoers, he himself exuded a lovely bodily perfume. He performed exorcisms by reciting the Litany of Loreto. And the devil even said of him: "Friar Joseph is the worst foe we have."
The following is an account of his confrontation with the devil: "The infernal spirits treated Joseph as their enemy. One night the servant of God was standing before the altar of St. Francis, in the Basilica at Assisi, when he heard the door opened violently and saw a man enter, who advanced so noisily that his feet seemed cased in iron. The saint regarded him closely and saw that, as he approached, the lamps went out, one by one, till finally all were extinguished and the intruder stood at his side in utter darkness. Thereupon the devil, for he it was, furiously attacked Joseph, threw him on the floor, and attempted to strangle him. Joseph, however, invoked St. Francis, and saw him come forth from his tomb and relight with a small candle all the lamps, at the gleam of which the fiend suddenly vanished. By reason of this occurrence Joseph gave St. Francis the name "Lamplighter of the Church."
The devil made other attempts on the life of Joseph, by throwing him into a rapid stream in order to drown him, by taking hold of him to tear him to pieces, and by endeavoring to run him through with a sword, but all to no purpose. Though the evil one did succeed in striking him so terribly that his fellow-religious were horrified by the noise of the many blows and the rattling of chains, he did not succeed in tiring the patience of the saint. When asked by his fellow-religious as to the cause of the strange noises in his cell at night, Joseph laughingly replied, "It was only fun." All the devil accomplished by his implacable hatred was to give unmistakable proof of Joseph's sanctity."
SAINT DOMINIC (1170-1221)
The following is from the book The Life of Saint Dominic by August Theodosia Drane, published by TAN Books and Publishers :
"On the second Sunday in Lent, being the first after the settlement of the nuns at St. Sixtus, Dominic preached in their church, standing, as it is said, "at the grating"-that is, so as his discourse should be heard both by them and by the congregation assembled in the public part of the church. As he did so, a possessed woman who was in the midst of the crowd interrupted the sermon: "Ah, villain!" cried the demon, speaking through her voice, "these nuns were once all mine own, and thou hast robbed me of them all. This soul at least is mine, and thou shalt not take her from me, for we are seven in number that have her in our keeping". Then Dominic commanded her to hold her peace, and making the Sign of the Cross he delivered her from her tormentors in the presence of all the spectators.
A few days after this she came to him and throwing herself at his feet, implored to be allowed to take his habit. He consented to her request and placed her in the convent of St. Sixtus, where he gave her the name of Amata, or, as we are used to call her, Amy, to signify the love of God displayed in her regard. She afterwards removed to Bologna, where she died in the odor of sanctity, and lies buried in the same tomb with Dominic's two other holy daughters, Cecilia and Diana, the latter of whom was foundress of the convent of women in that place.
In speaking of this and other examples of the malice of the demon which are narrated in the history of St. Dominic, we cannot but observe something perhaps a little distinctive about them. Never do we find one instance in which Satan was permitted the least power to vex or trouble him. Never, as with so many other saints, was he suffered to do him bodily harm or to assault him with grievous temptations. The evil one appears to us always baffled and contemptible, as in the power of one who is his master, the very Michael among the Saints. Yet, though always petty, and as it were ridiculous, he ceased not in his efforts to thwart and disturb him, and chiefly directed his malice against the friars and the sisters of St. Sixtus, grievously trying them by perpetual distractions, as though he hoped thereby at least to diminish something of the fervor of their devotions. Once indeed he made a more serious attempt against Dominic's life.
One night, as Dominic prayed in the church of Santa Sabina, a huge stone was hurled at him by an invisible hand from the upper part of the roof which all but grazed his head and even tore his hood, but falling without further injury to the saint was buried deep in the ground beside him. The noise was so loud that it awoke several of the friars, who came in haste to the spot to inquire the cause; they found the fragments of the broken pavement and the stone lying where it fell; but Dominic was kneeling quietly in prayer, and seemed as if unconscious of what had happened.
Another story of a similar character is told as follows: "The servant of God, who had neither bed nor cell of his own, had publicly commanded his children in chapter that in order that they might wake the more promptly to rise to matins, they should retire to bed at a certain hour, in which he was strictly obeyed.. Now, as he himself abode before the Lord in the church, the devil appeared before him in the form of one of the brethren, and though it was past the prohibited time, yet did he remain in the church with an air of particular devotion and modesty. Wherefore the Saint, judging it to be one of the friars, went softly up to him, and desired him to go to his cell, and sleep with the others.
"And the pretended friar inclined his head, in sign of humble obedience, and went as he was bid; but on each of the two following nights, he returned at the same hour and in the same manner. The second time, the man of God rose very gently (although, indeed, he had reason to be somewhat angry, seeing he had at table during the day reminded all of the observance of that which had been enjoined), and again desired him to go away. He went; but, as we have said, returned yet a third time. Then it seemed to the Saint that the disobedience and pertinacity of this brother was too great, and he reproved him for the same with some severity; whereat, the devil (who desired nothing else save to disturb his prayer and stir him unto wrath, and move him to break the silence) gave a loud laugh, and, leaping high into the air, he said, 'At least I have made you break the silence, and moved you to wrath!' But Dominic calmly replied, 'Not so, for I have power to dispense; neither is it blameworthy wrath when I utter reproofs unto the evil-doers.' And the demon, being so answered, was obliged to fly."
On another occasion, as he was by night walking about the convent of St. Sabina, guarding his flock with the vigilance of a good shepherd, he met the enemy in the dormitory, going like a lion seeking whom he might devour; and recognizing him, he said, "Thou evil beast, what doest thou here?" "I do my office," replied the demon, "and attend to my gains." "And what gains dost thou make in the dormitory?" asked the Saint. "Gain enough," returned the demon. "I disquiet the friars in many ways; for first, I take the sleep away from those who desire to sleep in order that they may rise promptly for matins; and then I give an excessive heaviness to others, so that when the bell sounds, either from weariness or idleness they do not rise; or, if they rise and go to choir, it is unwillingly, and they say their office without devotion."
Then the Saint took him to the church, and said, "And what dost thou gain here?" "Much," answered the devil; "I make them come late and leave soon. I fill them with disgusts and distractions, so that they do ill whatsoever they have to do." "And here?" asked Dominic, leading him to the refectory. "Who does not eat too much or too little?" was the reply; "and so they either offend God or injure their health." Then the Saint took him to the parlor, where the brethren were allowed to speak with seculars and to take their recreation. And the devil began maliciously to laugh, and to leap and jump about, as if with enjoyment, and he said, "This place is all my own; here they laugh and joke, and hear a thousand vain stories; here they utter idle words, and grumble often at their rule and their superiors; and whatsoever they gain elsewhere they lose here."
And lastly they came to the door of the chapter-room, but there the devil would not enter. He attempted to fly, saying, "This place is a hell to me: here the friars accuse themselves of their faults, and receive reproof and correction, and absolution. What they have lost in every other place they regain here." And so saying, he disappeared, and Dominic was left greatly wondering at the snares and nets of the tempter; wherof he afterwards made a long discourse to his brethren, declaring the same unto them, that they should be on their guard."