In 1906, Clara Germana Cele, an orphaned 16-year-old girl living in South Africa, had her life changed forever. According to members of the clergy at St. Michael's Mission in Natal, the girl, known as Germana, sold her soul to the devil, and he immediately possessed her body and began causing havoc. It was one of the first modern possessions that a large group of people witnessed, and it should act as a warning to anyone thinking about offering up their soul to Satan.
True stories of exorcisms are incredibly harrowing. Not only do they usually involve young people going through something awful, but those who have been possessed and make it to the other side are never the same once they're free of the demon.
This story is about just one of the many people who allegedly made a pact with the devil and lived to tell about it.
On September 10, 1906, Clara Germana Cele underwent a strenuous two-day exorcism that almost killed her and the priests who were trying to save her. According to reports, the exorcism took place in front of 170 people, with the priests starting in the morning and stopping only for brief lunch breaks before they returned to the hard work of expelling a demon from the girl's body.
At one point, as Germana allegedly struggled within the clutches of Satan, she managed to snatch a Bible away from one of the men and tried to choke him.
Clara Germana Cele didn't have a great life before she was possessed. As an orphan in South Africa, Germana was mostly raised by the church. Baptized as a child, the only life she knew was in St. Michael's Mission in Natal. There she allegedly made a deal with a demon in exchange for her soul, though it's unclear what she thought she was getting out of the bargain.
Stories about Germana's possession have taken on near-mythical proportions in retellings. One of the most horrifying things she allegedly did was slither around on the floor like a snake. One witness claimed that during the exorcism, Germana's body lost all its rigidity and became "rubbery" like a serpent.
It's not out of the ordinary for possessed people to writhe and squirm across the ground, but some versions of the story say Germana fully turned into a snake.
Many stories about Germana's possession say she was averse to all forms of religious iconography during the ordeal, but in A History of Exorcism in Catholic Christianity by Francis Young, the author claimed this might not be entirely true. Young stated that Germana not only went to confession while she was possessed, but she also received holy communion.
Either this happened early in her possession, or she was dealing with incredibly strong forces that thought they could withstand the power of the Catholic Church.