VATICAN CITY, Sept. 11 (CNS)--Pope John Paul II performed an impromptu exorcism on a teenage girl who flew into a possessed rage at the end of an audience in St. Peter's Square, said the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.

The Rome exorcist, Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth, told Catholic News Service September 11 that the pope spent more than half an hour praying over the girl and ordering a demon to leave her, but failed to fully cure her.

The girl, identified as a 19-year-old Italian with a history of possession, was in the front row at the pope's weekly general audience September 6. As the pope prepared to leave, she began screaming incomprehensibly and speaking in a "cavernous voice," Father Amorth said.

As security personnel struggled to restrain her "superhuman" efforts to break free, Bishop Gianni Danzi, a top Vatican City official, alerted the pope.

In an area away from the square, the pope "hugged this poor little girl, tried to console her, and promised that the next day, Thursday morning, he would celebrate his Mass for her," Father Amorth said.

Father Amorth was not present at the papal exorcism, but said he had performed an exorcism on the girl the previous day. Father Amorth said that after the girl met with the pope, Bishop Danzi and he performed another exorcism that lasted for two hours.

During that exorcism, the priest said, the demon mocked the pope, saying, "Not even your [church] head can send me away."

"This is a case where the possession is very, very strong," said Father Amorth, founder and president of the International Association of Exorcists.

"From what can be foreseen by us exorcists, it will take years of exorcisms" for the girl to be fully cured, he said.

The pope did not perform a full ritual exorcism, but Father Amorth said that ritual elements make only "the slightest difference" to an exorcism's effectiveness.

"Many, many exorcists don't do the ritual exorcism but limit themselves to praying and to ordering the demon to go," he said.

Father Amorth said the girl has been possessed since she was 12 years old and was sent to him for consultation by the exorcist of the Archdiocese of Milan, who had never dealt with such a severe case.

Bishop Danzi was unavailable September 11 to comment, his secretary told CNS.

The Vatican's press office also declined comment.

Pope John Paul reportedly has carried out at least two other exorcisms in the Vatican: one in 1978 and one in 1982.

In the 1982 case, according to the late Cardinal Jacques Martin, who was head of the papal household at that time, the demon left an Italian woman, identified as Francesca F., as soon as the pope promised to celebrate Mass for her.

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