I Was Exorcised

by Bubby/Auntie Bessie

It was summertime, and I was going for a ride to the country.   I was seven years old and the year was 1915.   I was not well. I had Saint Vitus Dance*, and the symptoms were twitching of the limbs and dragging of a leg.   This didn't disturb me, but the grownups were very concerned.

Our family doctor at that time was a young man, who came to visit his patients on a bicycle.   His name was Norman Viner.   He later became a very well known neurologist.   He was treating me.   What the treatment was I don't remember.

My maternal grandmother ("Little Bubba") heard of a woman who could exorcise the evil eye ("git oig") as grandma had diagnosed my illness to be.   So one fine day, we set out for the country (Papineau) - my mother, my grandmother, the woman who knew the way, and I.   It was a lovely long ride on a street car, I think, and we finally arrived.   It was a farm house and we were ushered into the kitchen.

I was sat down in a chair and a sheet covered my head and shoulders.   In a short while I heard a loud hissing sound above me.   I was terrified and jumped out of the chair screaming.   It seems that some substance (like lead) had been heated and poured into cold water.

A shape took form which the exorcist examined for a long time.   She then came to the conclusion that I had been frightened by a man, who had climbed a ladder and looked into the window where I slept.   I didn't remember that.   I never forgot the hissing sound over my head.

Editor's Note:
* St. Vitus Dance, or Sydenham's Chorea as it is now known, is a temporary nervous disorder most often appearing after rheumatic fever. According to legend, and the Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, 1995 Edition as quoted in this WebMD article, St. Vitus was an Italian martyr who cured the Roman Emporer's daughter of an "evil spirit". He was later unsuccessfully tortured for his religion in a cauldron of molten lead - hence the "cure" described in the story above?

Painting by Bessie Sager
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