The History of Leith

May 6, 2008

Exorcisms in Leith in the 15th century

From the Temptation of St Anthony by Bosch
This detail from the Temptation of St Anthony by Bosch is full of symbolism, the womans mermaid tail means evil. While the mounted group represents an evil parody of the Adoration of the Magi.

We can discover from the Rental Book of St Anthony that the members of the fraternity are enjoined to induce dying persons to bequeath their property to the institution; for by that means they shall have the benefit of a requiem.
In the age’s of-credulity, those unfortunate individuals subject to mental alienation, were believed to be the victims of demoniac possession. But their calamity was not void of a remedy; for ecclesiastics, according to the received opinions of the times, were enabled, by a certain process, to expel the invaders. Though considerably enlarged and diversified, according to the supposed efficacy of various ingredients, their practice in its more simple form, was restricted, principally, to prayers, salt, and water. From the suitable combination of all these, an irresistible spell was compounded. But exorcisms were of two kinds; one for the benefit of beasts, the other for that of mankind. The church, however, always arrogant in its pretensions and privileges, committed the expulsion of Satan and his imps to ecclesiastics of a certain rank only: some cases, on which none other might trench were even reserved for prelates. Are we to conclude that the inmates of the preceptory of Newhaven, or their superior, were of such a humble order as to be entitled to apply their exorcisms to none but the brute creation?
This is part of the exorcism in Latin “Ad faciendam aquam benedictam pro animalibus.
Adiutorium nostrum in nomine domini qui fecit celum et terram.
Exorziso te creature sails per deum viuum per deum verum per deum sanctum per deum tocius creature vt efficiaris Sal exorzisatum in salutem animalium ad euacuandum et expellendum inimicum omnem, virtutem putredinis et morbum animalium siue pecorum que necessitatibus humanis donare digirntus es, vt possint salua ad usus nostros perficere [ in nomine] domini nostri Jhesu Chiristi per quem creata stunt et perilciuntur vniversa secula per ignem. Amen
From Analysis of chartularies, Dalyell 1828

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