The Rev Gabriele Amorth, a prominent Roman Catholic exorcist, has died at a care facility in the Italian capital after a long illness.
The Santa Lucia Foundation, a Rome rehabilitation facility, said the 91-year-old priest died in another hospital in the city where he was recently transferred after his health worsened.
Exorcism in the Catholic Church received more attention after Pope John Paul II repeatedly sought to convince sceptics the devil was very much active in the world.
During the future saint's papacy, the Vatican issued guidelines for driving out devils and stressed the power of evil.
The Rev Amorth, who served as an exorcist for the Rome diocese, published several books exploring the theme of good and evil.
The Catholic Church has established an exorcist hotline in Milan, its biggest diocese, to cope with demand. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, said the curia had also appointed twice as many exorcists to cope with a doubling in the number of requests for help over 15 years.
When a group of young Italian heavy-rock musicians drove two of their friends to a lonely wood east of Milan, stabbed and beat them and threw their bodies into a pit, were they enacting a satanic rite? Were they following orders from the Devil? Or were they merely drunk, stoned, scared, confused losers, trapped into violence by the nonsense with which they had stuffed their heads?