The rustic Italian town of Castellamare di Stabia has been going through some hard times lately.
Located just thirty kilometers from Naples, the town relies on tourism and its location on the scenic route between Naples and Sorrento for much of its revenue. Despite this however, the recent economic recession has left the town of 65,000 in desperate straits. Its historic thermal baths and the mountain cable car have been closed due to poor finances and the once beautiful harbour has been closed to swimmers due to pollution. With high unemployment and a rising crime rate, acts of vandalism and thefts are all too common in the picturesque town.
But is this due to Satanic influences?
Recent incidents of a sacrilegious nature, including thefts from many of the local churches, statues of the Madonna being thrown off cliffs, and crosses being desecrated and turned upside down have caused local faithful to suspect that satanist groups are operating in the area. According to a recent statement issued by concerned townspeople, “If Satan exists, he has taken control of Castellammare di Stabia and its people. All we have left is the exorcist to try for a recovery.”
To drive out these evil influences, a Catholic priest carried out an exorcism on the entire town last July 9. Though there was little publicity at the time, reports indicate that the priest used a rented helicopter to fly over the town while he sprinkled holy water and said prayers as part of the ritual. The ritual was arranged by the townspeople with the help of some entrepreneurs who provided financial assistance.
Though mass exorcisms aren't common, this is the second one of its kind to be performed this year alone. Last June, a ceremony was conducted aimed at purging Mexico of its problems with violence, abortion, and other crises of faith affecting the predominantly Catholic country. According to Cardinal Sandoval Iniguez who presided over the "Exorcismo Magno", the exorcism was intended to drive out the Satanic forces afflicting Mexico.
For Castellamare di Stabia, and then entire country of Mexico, the hope that mass exorcisms can drive out evil influences remains slim. With little change in the economic forces that are fostering the violence and the sacrilegious crimes that have the faithful so worried, very little is expected to change in the foreseeable future.