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Jesuit Priest Walter Halloran

Associated Press
Wednesday, March 9, 2005; Page B06

The Rev. Walter H. Halloran, 83, a priest who took part in an exorcism that spawned the book and movie "The Exorcist," died March 1 at a Jesuit retirement home in suburban Milwaukee. No cause of death was reported.

Father Halloran was the last living Jesuit who assisted in the exorcism in 1949 at a psychiatric unit in St. Louis.

The Rev. Walter H. Halloran participated in an exorcism in 1949.

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Father Halloran was a 27-year-old Jesuit scholastic at St. Louis University when a priest called him to the psychiatric wing at Alexian Brothers hospital.

The Rev. William S. Bowdern was trying to help a 14-year-old boy from Mount Rainier who he believed was possessed by a demon, and he needed a strong man to help control the boy. A third Jesuit, the Rev. William Van Roo, also was there.

"The little boy would go into a seizure and get quite violent," Father Halloran told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1988. "So Father Bowdern asked me to hold him. Yes, he did break my nose."

Father Halloran said he saw streaks and arrows and such words as "hell" on the boy's skin.

Father Halloran told a reporter that the boy went on to lead "a rather ordinary life."

A news account of the incident inspired William Peter Blatty to write his 1971 bestseller, "The Exorcist," which led to the movie in 1973. Blatty's story featured a 12-year-old girl played by Linda Blair.

Father Halloran received two Bronze Stars for serving as a paratrooper chaplain during the Vietnam War, the oldest airborne chaplain at the time at 48. He later taught at St. Louis University and was named its director of national alumni relations in 1972.

He was born in Jackson, Minn., in 1921, the oldest of nine children.

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