A new book describes how the Pontiff unwittingly drove the devil out of two men in St Peter's Square in 2009
The church's self-proclaimed expert on exorcisms says Pope Benedict performed one in Rome's St Peter's Square in 2009.
In The Last Exorcist -- My Fight against Satan, Father Gabriele Amorth claims that Benedict cured two men of their afflictions.
Healing hands: According to Father Amorth, Pope Benedict raised his hands out to bless the so-called possessed men and suddenly they received a furious bolt throwing them backwards and were healed. File pic/ Getty Images
A spokesman for the Vatican rejects Amorth's account, saying Benedict was not aware of the men's afflictions and did not perform an exorcism.
According to Amorth's tome, his two female assistants escorted the two men, identified only as Marco and Giovanni, into St Peter's Square as the Pope was driven between crowds. The two men were given seats in an area normally reserved for the disabled.
The men began to act strangely as the Pope approached, according to the book.
"They banged their heads on the ground. The Swiss Guards watched them but did nothing," Amorth wrote. "They were trembling, slobbering, working themselves into a frenzy."
And even when one of the assistants asked the man called Giovanni to contain himself, the man said, "I am not Giovanni" in a voice that was not his own, Father Amorth writes in the book.
Then the Pope supposedly went to work.
"The Pope watched from a distance," wrote Amorth, who claims to have performed thousands of exorcisms. "He raised an arm and blessed the four of them. For the possessed it was like a furious jolt -- a blow to their whole bodies -- to the extent that they were thrown three metres backwards. They stopped howling but they cried uncontrollably."
Father Amorth, the 86-year-old exorcist for the diocese of Rome, has squared off with the Vatican before. He has said the Harry Potter books encourage children to believe in black magic, and reportedly believes yoga is "evil."
He once said his favourite film is, you guessed it, The Exorcist.