AFP - Vampires, the devil's deceit and mental illness are among the hot topics for some 300 exorcists who flocked to Poland this week from as far away as Africa and India for a week-long congress. Held at Poland's Roman Catholic Jasna Gora monastery, home to the venerated Black Madonna icon, this year's congress "examines the current fashion for vampirism in Europe and the world-over, schizophrenia and other mental disorders as well as the devil's deceit during exorcism," according to the monastery's radio station.
Also attending are "priests and lay people who work with exorcists or who are themselves practitioners in cases which do not involve possession but rather other forms of harassment by evil spirits," Polish exorcist, Father Andrzej Grefkowicz was quoted as saying.
Hailing from India, world-renowned exorcist Father Rufus Pereira as well as chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Vienna Larry Hogan are among the participants, the radio reported. The unusual meeting is held once every two years.
The Jasna Gora monastery's venerated Black Madonna icon is believed by many Poles to work miracles.
Legend has it that it was painted by the apostle Saint Luke on a table top from the home of the Holy Family, according to the Jasna Gora website. Records suggest the icon arrived in Poland during the 14th century.
With around 90 percent of the population declaring themselves Roman Catholic, Poland remains one of Europe's most devout countries.