My Synopsis of “Hostage to the Devil” Pt. 1

Psalms 23:4 I will fear no evil for thou art with me.

Demonology is the study of demons from a scientific and doctrinal perspective. When some people think of this rite, grotesque scenes from the infamous film, “The Exorcist,” come to mind. I can’t say I blame them, I wouldn’t want to mess with anyone whose head spins, while vomiting pea soup– it’s not exactly ideal. However, the truth of the matter is, the study of demonology is not ,in and of itself, an evil practice, but it prepares and educates the devout on the evil that resides in the world.

Hostage to the Devil, was written in 1976 by Father Malachi Martin. He was a man of many trades: a an Irish Catholic priest, exorcist, and professor. Martin moved to the United States later in his life, and began to write this book in New York.
Note: Photo courtesy of Christopher Pieretti


In order to review the entirety of the book, I will break it up into segments. In this segment I will be reviewing over the first 26 pages of the book, which entails a possessed young man’s frightening story, as well as brief information on how an exorcism is conducted. The later segments will cover the actual demonic possession cases.

The Fate of an Exorcist: Michael Strong — Part 1
This story takes place on December 11, 1937, during the bombing on Nanking, China. This village has a devastating history of brutal attacks from Japanese forces, but this account of Father Michael Strong involves something much stronger and devastating than any bomb, or massacre could provoke.

Amidst the chaos and destruction of the massacred city, Nanking’s police force tried to remain in control by continuing with their search of a missing person and murderer, Thomas Wu. This man was charged with (at least) the murder of five women and two men under the most vicious circumstance. Thomas Wu had killed his victims and literally eaten their bodies.

The police spent a week searching for Wu, but they hadn’t had any luck finding this dangerous man, until Father Michael Strong came along. Father Michael was the local missionary priest, and had ironically baptized Wu. Father Michael informed the police that he found Thomas Wu– leave it to the priest, right? He found Thomas Wu inside an isolated barn, also known as, Puh-Chi. The message that was sent to the police was not one of urgency, but Father Michael simply said:
“I am conducting an exorcism. Please give me some time.” (Martin pg. 3)

When the police arrived at the scene, the barn door was opened, and inside stood a horrific sight. A crowd of men and women gazed at the spectacle with breathless horror; Father Michael stood in the middle of the room conducting an exorcism. The possessed Thomas Wu lay naked in the far corner, grasping a bloodied knife, surrounded by rows of bodies that had been butchered beyond repair.

Father Malachi writes that Wu began screaming viciously at Father Michael, asking why he wanted to know his name. (During an exorcism, the priest will ask the name of the demon, so it can be cast out. This was the scenario that was being played out.) The police captain had known Wu for many years and was shocked to hear this unfamiliar voice coming from the mouth of Wu. During a possession, it is very common to hear growling, and multiple languages being spoken (that the victim had never learned before). The following is an excerpt of the conversation of the priest and the possessed Wu:

“In the name of Jesus,” Michael began weakly, “you are commanded . . .”
“Get outa here! Get the hell outa here, you filthy old eunuch!”
“You will release Thomas Wu, evil spirit, and . . .”
I’m taking him with me, pigmy,” came the voice from Thomas Wu. “I’m taking him and no power, anywhere, you hear, can stop us. We are as strong as death. No one stronger! And he wants to come! You hear? He wants to!”
“Tell me your name. . .”

In a sudden instant, the priest was interrupted by a loud roar from Wu. A large fire began enveloping the barn, and all its surroundings. The police captain desperately tried to pull the priest away from the fire, as Thomas Wu began speaking in a foreign tongue once more saying, ” It’s all one. Fool! We’re all the same. Always were. Always. There’s only one of us.”

The crowd, police chief, and the priest stumbled out of the fire, unharmed. The door of the barn was still ajar, as Father Michael turned around to see Thomas Wu grinning from within the flames. The heat and flames kissed Wu’s face, burning him. Wu smiled in pleasure the entire time, while keeping his gaze locked on the stunned priest. As the flames quickly danced from Wu’s feet to his temple, his facial expression was not one of agony, but one of pure joy. His smile radiated from the smokey embers. The corpses around him began melting, slowly burning. Eyes slipping from their sockets in a putrid ooze, while fingers, hands, and hair fibers burned from the victims bodies. The ghastly smell lingered in the air, as Thomas Wu smiled. The barn window was completely black at this point, as Thomas Wu screamed, ” Fool! Cain’s Father. I. The cosmic Father of Lies and the Cosmic Lord of Death. From the beginning of the beginning. I . . . I . . . I . . .”
Father Michael fell to the ground, crying in slurred speach, that he failed Thomas and must go back inside. He begged the police officer to help him inside, but it was too late. The barn was captured in a fiery embrace, and slumped to the ground.

Father Michael was taken to the hospital. He suffered from burns, smoke inhalation, and a minor heart attack. (Can you blame him?). Father Malachi writes that Michael was in a delirium (shock) from all the events, until the following evening. The devout police captain and a few parishioners successfully smuggled father Michael away from Nanking and into safety, away from Japanese forces.

On December 14, the Japanese invaded once more and were given orders to kill every living person. 50,000 soldiers infiltrated the city and killed over 42,000 people. Women were brutally raped, and murdered afterwards. The soldiers also cut open pregnant women’s womb to rip out her baby, and feed it to the military dogs. Babies were thrown into the air and caught on bayonets. The soldiers actually made this sick game into a contest– they tried to catch as many children as possible onto their bayonets, until the bodies were completely mangled. Men were tortured and beheaded, and burned alive. This disgusting massacre is known today as, The Rape of Nanking. Note: Photo courtesy of Dave Hodges.


Father Martin writes that this turn of events (the Rape of Nanking) happened right after the devastating murders and possession of Thomas Wu.

“The Cosmic Lord of Death had been let loose over all the lands. In the world-shaking events of the war years, some special viciousness had been given free reign. . . Death was the strongest weapon.”

Is it a coincidence that the possession and evils caused by Thomas Wu were in direct correlation with the turning events of the massacre of Nanking? It is debatable, but it is an ironic situation. Satan seeks to kill, steal, and destroy, and when a person in possessed anything can happen. Evil runs rampant.

In the summer of 1938, Father Michael was brought back to Hong Kong. A few years later (Christmas Day 1941), Hong Kong was seized under Japanese possession. In the later years, Micahel lived in the quiet town of Kowloon, as a teacher, and did some pastoral work. Needless to say, Father Michael was still recovering from the horrifying sight of Wu.

Food was scarce at this time, and the economy was stricken with poverty. Many people around Father Michael were terrified of the death, by the hands of the Japanese, that may (or may not) await them, while Father Michael was completely at peace with the idea. God is in control. Father Michael told his story, about the possession of Wu, and his great “mistake.”

On the day of the bombing of Hiroshima, Michael and his colleague watched as sparks flew through the air– he commented, “Why does death make the loudest noise and the brightest fire?”

That is basically the quickest summary I could manage concerning this first chapter. Malachi included this story into the book to help us (the readers) understand what destruction and chaos, evil can cause. In order to really appreciate and understand the goodness and mercy of God, we need to consider what happens when there is an absence of God. There is no such thing as darkness, scientifically speaking, there is only the absence of light. The same principle is true with God.

In the next segments, I will dive in further and explain what happens during an exorcism, and explain 3 more cases of possesion, in-depth. Remember, don’t let your heart be troubled– this is solely a study and you should not let your mind grow restless. God is always near.

Hope you enjoyed!


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