Directed by Julius Avery, ‘The Pope’s Exorcist‘ is a horror thriller film that revolves around the Vatican and demonic exorcism. Starring Russell Crowe in the lead, the film follows Father Gabriele Amorth, Vatican’s Chief Exorcist, who undertakes a menacing case after a young boy, Henry Vasquez, gets possessed by an unnerving spirit of the damned. Investigating the case alongside the local priest Father Tomás Esquibel, Gabriele tries to help the young boy and his family. In the process, he uncovers a decades-old conspiracy with the Vatican Church at its center. If you’re curious to see how this terrifying assignment ends for Gabriele and where it takes the Vasquez family, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Pope’s Exorcist.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Pope’s Exorcist Plot Synopsis
In 1987 Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth, known for his infamous exorcisms, takes heat from Cardinal Sullivan and his committee after performing unsanctioned exorcisms. Gabriele defends his position, seeing as the exorcisms were performed on mentally ill people pretending to be possessed. The exorcisms played into their delusions and ultimately helped them overcome them. Nevertheless, the committee remains sour with the exorcist.
Meanwhile, a recent widow, Julia Vasquez, moved from America to Spain with her kids to flip her late husband’s family house, San Sebastian Abbey. Although her teenage daughter, Amy, is displeased at the ordeal, her selectively mute son, Henry, seems unbothered with the change and goes around exploring the house. After finding a hidden crack in the wall, Henry unwittingly unleashes a sinister spirit that possesses him. Soon, Henry’s condition worsens, leading to Julia bringing in the local priest, Esquibel, after her son demands for the same.
Eventually, the Pope assigns Henry’s case to his trusted exorcist, Gabriele, sending him to Spain. The pope also warns Gabriele about the church’s past history with the troublesome Abbey. Upon Gabriele’s arrival, Julia is reluctant to involve the Church, but the former assures her he’s only here to help. After his first meeting with Henry, in which the possessed kid brings up Gabriele’s taut past, the exorcist realizes a strong spirit has taken over Henry’s body.
Employing Esquibel’s help, Gabriele sets out to torment the demon with prayers that might agonize it enough to spill its name, something essential for actual exorcism. Although the prayers clearly affect Henry, the demon pulls out its own tricks in retaliation. The demon uses his evil powers to make Gabriele hallucinate Rosaria, a girl from the past whom the exorcist failed to save. Likewise, it taunts Esquibel by bringing up Adella, his past lover.
Gabriele realizes he’s up against a more powerful adversary than he had thought and tries to look for an alternate solution. Realizing the Church’s past connection with demonic activity must have something to do with this possession, Gabriele investigates the grounds while Esquibel keeps watch on Henry. In the yard, Gabriele finds a well covered with a Vatican seal that reveals the Chruch’s dark history from the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
Gabriele and Esquibel venture inside the house’s broken wall and discover a secret room with the dead body of a Cardinal Protector. Likewise, deeper inside the catacomb, Gabriele discovers Friar de Ojeda’s dead body alongside his journal. Friar de Ojeda was one of the most influential exorcists in history and initiated the Spanish Inquisition, which led to numerous innocent deaths and tortures in the name of religion. However, his journal reveals that a demon was possessing Friar de Ojeda at the time, and Gabriele realizes the same demon has come for him this time.
The Pope’s Exorcist Ending: Who is The Demon Posessing Henry?
A demon’s name informs the most crucial aspect of exorcising the entity. Therefore, as soon as Gabriele realizes the gravity of the situation, he starts looking for a name to use in his exorcism prayers. Inside the catacombs, Friar de Ojeda’s journal provides a detailed account of his adventures and speaks of his possession at the hands of a demon known as Asmodeus, the king of hell.
When the rogue angels fell from the heavens to Earth, burying in its soil and turning into demons, Asmodeus fell at San Sebastian Abbey’s location. As such, underground, a vast temple exists dedicated to Asmodeus, where Gabriele finds his previous host Friar de Ojeda. Asmodeus possessed the old exorcist and infiltrated the Church setting the Spanish Inquisition in motion. Although he was defeated and banished then, the Church covered up the entire debacle to save face. Hence, neither the Pope nor Gabriele knows anything about it.
Now Asmodeus has returned now to take over Gabriele’s body and use the current chief exorcist to destroy the Vatican from within. Due to the same, Asmodeus possesses Henry, a vulnerable child traumatized by his father’s death, and demands for Julia to bring him the priest. Since demons work in a hierarchical fashion, the ones at the top possess the most power. Being a king of hell, Asmodeus presents one of the biggest threats to the Vatican. Moreover, due to his immense power, the longer he possesses Henry’s fragile body, the sooner Henry will die.
Does Gabriele Save Henry?
Throughout the film, Gabriele’s primary focus is always on saving Henry. In general, saving people forms Gabriele’s most significant drive as a character. Henry first joined the Church after surviving the war against Spanish fascists in which all his friends perished. Since Henry escaped with his life, he struggles with survivor’s guilt and believes it is his duty to ensure he saves as many people as possible.
Moreover, during his early career, Gabriele encountered Rosaria, a mentally ill girl who believed Satan had possessed her. However, Gabriele didn’t work such cases back then, believing them to be outside his duty as an exorcist. Following his neglect, Rosaria committed suicide by jumping from a building in front of the exorcist. As such, Gabriele now lives with the guilt of failing to save Rosaria and strives to make up for it every day.
Before confronting Asmodeus, Gabriele makes a confession about the same to Esquibel to be free of his sin since the demon consistently uses it against him. Julia and Amy have tied a sedated Henry to his bed after a vicious attack at the house. The mother-daughter duo joins the priests as the group prays to banish Asmodeus. Nonetheless, the demon is far too powerful and takes hold of Amy’s body as well.
As the demon continues to wreak havoc over everyone, he tells Gabriele that he can put a stop to it all by surrendering. Asmodeus’ entire plan has been to possess Gabriele to infiltrate the Vatican. Therefore, by appealing to Gabriele’s martyr complex, Asmodeus convinces him to give himself up as a vessel. Once Gabriele allows Asmodeus access to his body, the effects are felt all the way over to the Vatican. Still, the Vasquez family is able to flee the scene with Henry alive and safe.
Does Gabriele Die?
Even after Gabriele loses his body to Asmodeus, he still tries to fight the demon over autonomy. Before the effects can settle in, Gabriele fashions a noose for himself and tries to hang himself from the second floor. Nevertheless, Asmodeus prevents him from doing so and takes control of his body. Meanwhile, Esquibel returns for Gabriele after ensuring the Vasquezs’ safe escape.
Asmodeus takes Gabriele into the catacombs to his temple, where the demon is the strongest. Esquibel finds the exorcist inside, sitting atop Friar de Ojeda’s throne, holding his scepter. The same symbolizes Asmodeus’ control over Grabriele, reminiscent of his possession of the previous Vatican exorcist. Asmodeus’ preference for possessing exorcists further cements his superior strength since he intentionally goes after the people who have the power to defeat him.
Esquibel equips the same power and starts praying, urging Gabriele to fight through the demonic haze and repeat the prayer back to him because if Gabriele, the host himself, joins in Esquibel’s praying, it will have a more adverse effect on Asmodeus. Consequently, Gabriele is able to expel Asmodeus from his body, but the demon takes on a partially corporeal form since his strength multiplies inside the temple.
Although Asmodeus takes the forms of Rosaria and Adella to manipulate the priests, both fight back against him. Esquibel utilizes the medal Gabriele gives him to eradicate Adella/Asmodeus. The pair banishes the demon to hell with their exorcism prayers said in Latin to have the most damage. Afterward, the Vatican buys the San Sebastian Abbey from Julia to gain access to the catacombs and Asmodeus’ temple.
Through Friar de Ojeda’s journals, the Pope discovers the threat proposed by sites such as San Sebastian Abbey, where rogue angels fell and became demons. As a result, the Vatican dedicates a group to research and learn about the new information. The Pope also assigns Gabriele the task of investigating the other locations, knowing he can undertake such a big mission.
In turn, Gabriele asks Esquibel to join him in the endeavor. Although Asmodeus is gone for now, the story ends with a promise of more thrilling trouble for Gabriele and his new demon-hunting partner, Esquibel.