Malachi Martin

Who is Malachi Martin?

Malachi Martin (1921 – 1999) was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and exorcist as well as a writer on the Catholic Church. Originally ordained as a Jesuit priest, he became Professor of Palaeontology at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Institute, and from 1958 Martin also served as a theological adviser to Cardinal Augustin Bea during preparations for the Second Vatican Council.

Disillusioned by reforms he was released from certain of his Jesuit vows in 1964 and moved to New York. His 17 novels and non-fiction books were frequently critical of the Catholic Church, which he believed had failed to act on the third prophecy supposedly revealed by the Virgin Mary at Fatima. Among his most significant works were The Scribal Character Of The Dead Sea Scrolls (1958) and Hostage To The Devil (1976) which dealt with satanism, demonic possession, and exorcism. The Final Conclave (1978) was a warning against alleged Soviet spies in the Vatican.

Martin was born prematurely in the village of Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland to a middle-class family in which the children were raised speaking Gaelic at the dinner table and Catholic belief and practice were central—his three brothers also became priests, two of them academics. He received his secondary education at Belvedere College in Dublin, and became a Jesuit novice on September 6, 1939, at the age of eighteen. Due to the Second World War and the inherent risks involved with travel during this time, Martin remained in Ireland and studied at the National University of Ireland where he received a bachelor's degree in Semitic languages and oriental studies while carrying out concurrent study in Assyriology at Trinity College, Dublin.


Upon completion of his degree in Dublin, Martin was sent to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium to continue his education. During his four year stay in Leuven, he completed masters degrees in philosophy and theology, and three doctorates (in Semitic languages, archeology, and Oriental history). On August 15, 1954, the Feast of the Assumption, Martin was ordained a Jesuit priest at the age of thirty-three.

Martin started postgraduate studies at both the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Oxford University, specializing in intertestamentary studies and knowledge of Jesus Christ and of Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts. He undertook additional study in rational psychology, experimental psychology, physics and anthropology.

Work and ordination of Malachi Martin

Martin took part in the research of the Dead Sea Scrolls and published twenty four articles on Semitic paleography in various journals. He did archeological research and worked extensively on the Byblos syllabary in Byblos, in Tyre, both in Lebanon, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Martin assisted in his first exorcism while staying in Egypt for archeological research. It was upon a Muslim. He published a work in two volumes, The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in 1958.

He was summoned to Rome to work at the Holy See as a private secretary for Cardinal Augustin Bea S.J. from 1958 until 1964. This brought him into contact with Pope John XXIII. His years in Rome coincided with the start of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), all of which sessions he attended and which was to transform the Catholic Church in a way that the initially-liberal Martin began to find distressing. He became friends with Msgr. George Higgins and Fr. John Courtney Murray S.J.

While in Rome, he became a professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of the Vatican, where he taught Aramaic, paleography, Hebrew and Sacred Scripture. He also taught theology, part-time, at Loyola University of Chicago's John Felice Rome Center. During this period, his living quarters were in the Vatican, outside the papal quarters of John XXIII.

He worked for the Orthodox Churches and ancient Oriental Churches division of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity under Cardinal Bea, as a translator. As a result of this, Martin became well acquainted with prominent Jewish leaders, such as Rabbi Abraham Heschel, during 1961 and 1962. Martin also accompanied Paul VI in his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January 1964. Martin resigned his position at the Pontifical Institute in June 1964. Disillusioned by the reforms taking place among the Jesuits, the Church's largest male religious order,[citation needed] Martin requested a special dispensation in February 1965. He received a provisional release in May 1965 and a definite release from his vows of poverty and obedience on June 30, 1965. After 25 years as a religious Jesuit, he left Rome suddenly in July.

He was not released from his vow of chastity and remained an ordained but secular priest. Paul VI gave him a general commission for exercising an apostolate in the media and communications. He moved permanently to New York City in 1966, where he first had to work as a dishwasher, a waiter and taxi driver before he was able to start making his living by writing. He co-founded an antiques firm and was active in communications and media for the rest of his life. After his arrival in New York, Cardinal Terence Cooke gave him written permission to exercise his secular priestly faculties.

Communications and media

In 1964, Martin, under the pseudonym Michael Serafian, wrote The Pilgrim: Pope Paul VI, The Council and The Church in a time of decision, an apologia for the Jews, which, among other things, told the story of the Jewish question and the Second Vatican Council. In 1967, Martin received his first Guggenheim fellowship. In 1969 he got his first breakthrough with his book The Encounter: Religion in Crisis as a result of his expertise in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and with which he won the Choice Book Award of the American Library Association. Afterwards came other liberally oriented books like Three Popes and the Cardinal: The Church of Pius, John and Paul in its Encounter with Human History (1972) and Jesus Now (1973). Martin became an American citizen in 1970.

He received a second Guggenheim fellowship in 1969, which enabled him to write his first of four bestsellers, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans. With this book, published in 1975, Martin references his experience as an exorcist. According to the book he assisted in several exorcisms. In 1996, he spoke of having performed thousands of minor exorcisms, and participated in a few hundred major exorcisms during his lifetime. During that decade, Martin also served as religious editor for National Review from 1972 to 1978, when he was succeeded by Michael Novak. He was interviewed twice by William F. Buckley, Jr. for Firing Line on PBS. He also was an editor for the Encyclopædia Britannica. His literary agent was Lila Karpf.

Martin published several books in quick succession the following years: The Final Conclave (1978), King of Kings: a Novel of the Life of David (1980) and Vatican: A Novel (1986) were factional novels. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church (1981), The New Castle: Reaching for the Ultimate (1982), Rich Church, Poor Church: The Catholic Church and its Money (1984) and There is Still Love: Five Parables of God's Love That Will Change Your Life (1984) were non-fiction works. His bestselling 1987 non-fiction book The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church was very critical of his previous ecclesiastical order. The book accused them of systematically undermining church teachings and replacing them with Communist doctrines.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled and People of the Lie, developed a friendship with Martin and was strongly influenced by him in the development of his theories of evil and exorcism.

Later life

His book The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West was published in 1990 and was followed in 1996 by Windswept House: A Vatican Novel. Martin worked closely with the paranormal researchers Dave Considine and John Zaffis on several of their independent cases. Martin continued to offer daily the traditional Latin mass privately, and vigorously exercised his priestly ministry all the way up until his death. He was strongly supported by some traditional Catholic sources and severely criticized by other, less traditional sources, such as the National Catholic Reporter.

Martin served as a guest commentator for CNN during the live coverage of the pastoral visit of John Paul II to the United States October 4–8, 1995. He was a periodic guest on Art Bell's radio program, Coast to Coast AM, between 1995 and 1998 and a guest of Michael Corbin's radio program on Paranet Continuum radio. In the last three years of his life, Martin had forged a close friendship with the traditional Catholic philosopher, Fr. Rama Coomaraswamy.

In the final years before his death, Martin was received in a private audience by Pope John Paul II. Afterwards, he started working on a book with the working title Primacy: How the Institutional Roman Catholic Church became a Creature of the New World Order. This book which promised to be his most controversial and detailed work ever was never completed. Martin suffered a minor stroke in the summer of 1998.


Martin died of brain hemorrhage after a fall in his apartment in Manhattan, New York, in 1999. His funeral wake took place in St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Chapel of West Orange, New Jersey, before the burial within the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, in Hawthorne, New York.


Martin produced numerous best-selling fictional and non-fictional literary works, which became widely read throughout the world. His fictional works gave detailed insider accounts of Church history during the reigns of Popes Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI (The Pilgrim, Three Popes and the Cardinal, Vatican: A Novel[16]), John Paul I (The Final Conclave[16]) and John Paul II (The Keys of This Blood, Windswept House).

His non-fictional writings cover a range of Catholic topics, such as demonic exorcisms (Hostage to the Devil), satanism, Liberation Theology, the Second Vatican Council (The Pilgrim), the Tridentine liturgy, Catholic dogma, modernism (Three Popes and the Cardinal; The Jesuits), the financial history of the Church (Rich Church, Poor Church; The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church), the New World Order and the geopolitical importance of the Pope (The Keys of This Blood).

His books, both fictional and non-fictional, frequently present a dark view of the present state of the world, exposing dark spirits, conspiracy, betrayal, heresy, widespread sexual perversion, self-advancement, and demonic possession, each being asserted as rife throughout the Catholic Church, from its lowest levels up to its highest.


"Malachi Martin" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.