Review: (3.75 / 5) The Rite: The Making of a Modern Day Exorcist is a 2009 nonfiction book written by Matt Baglio. I write—No Pun Intended—this review with mixed feelings on how to score it. I stumbled across The Rite last week after reading The Exorcist. I knew there was a film a few years back starring Anthony Hopkins, so I thought this was a thriller novel. Had I taken time to read the reviews, it probably would’ve not fell short of my expectations. So let’s dive into the book.
The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist is a journalist account of the training a Catholic priest takes to become an exorcist. At the turn of the millennium, the Catholic church saw a rise in requests for exorcisms, and became concerned they could not meet the demand. In 2004, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith sent a letter to various Catholic dioceses around the world asking each bishop to appoint an official exorcist, and that they would be trained in Rome. In the San Jose Diocese of California, Father Gary Thomas was selected for the task.
Baglio meets Father Gray in Rome, and shared with him that he planned to write an article on exorcisms, and asked permission to document Fr. Gary’s journey through the training—Fr. Gary agreed. Eventually the story would transition to a full-length novel. Baglio attends the courses with Fr. Gary, and in some cases gains permission to attend exorcisms being performed throughout Italy.
The book lacks various elements of creative writing, and instead comes across as matter of fact, and in many cases, reads like a text book. The book has a lot of scripture on satan, Catholic dogma, and a witness accounts of the exorcisms Baglio attended.
The Rite is entertaining, and very informative. So as long as you’re looking to learn about the church’s view on demons, and how they possess a body, you’ll enjoy the book. If you’re looking for a creative perspective on Fr. Gary’s journey, watch the film. Note that some of the film has been changed for entertainment purposes. For example, Baglio is played by Alice Braga and is a female journalist.