Christoph Haizmann (1647 - 1700) was a Bavarian painter active in Austria. He is remembered for signing a diabolical pact with Satan and the subsequent exorcism to free him from the pact.
Christoph Haizmann was born around 1647 in Bavaria, near the Austrian border. He was a painter, but in his youth, he never gained any particular notoriety or fame. At age 19, his father died, leaving him the sole surviving member of his family. Christoph suffered a nervous breakdown and fell into a prolonged state of melancholy. His mental state was so fragile that he was unable to work or provide a means of supporting himself.
Deal with the Devil
In 1666, Christoph performed a ritual invocation to summon the Devil in an effort to find relief from his depression. The Devil first appeared to him as a noble gentleman with a light beard and fair complexion. He was dressed in fine attire, with a red cape, a black hat, and a black walking stick. A black dog followed alongside him. During this meeting, Christoph and the Devil began the process of negotiating what would be offered and what would be given in their pact. However, Christoph decided against working with the Devil and rejected his offer.
For two years, the Devil continued appearing to Christoph in different forms, each one more grotesque than the last. In total, he tempted Christoph nine times and the painter rejected each one.
On September 24th, 1668, the Devil drew near and asked Christoph why he was so upset and sad. Christoph answered that he missed his father, and there was no one else in this world to care for him. The Devil promised “to help in every way and to lend a hand.” He then transformed into his true form, that of a ferocious scaled dragon with the face of a human.
Showing Christoph his true form and swearing to assume the role of his deceased father was enough to finally convince the despondent man to sign a diabolical pact. Christoph wrote the pact in black ink in his native German language. It was short and simple: “I Christoph Haizmann, am writing to this Gentleman (the Devil) to be his son for the next nine years.”
Christoph was able to resume his work for approximately one year, with the Devil acting as his father, and he as the Devil's son. In 1669, the Devil demanded Christoph sign a second pact, this one written in blood, with more specific details about their arrangement. The pact stated: “Christoph Haizmann. I pledge myself to Satan, to be his bondage son, and in nine years to give him my body and soul.”
He found work as a painter in the Austrian city of Pottenbrunn and lived there for many years.
Nine years after the signing of his first pact, Christoph again fell into a deep depression. He was remorseful for having turned to the Devil for assistance and wanted to find a way to break the pact before it came to term. On August 29th, 1677, he entered the church in Pottenbrunn and had a complete nervous breakdown. His entire body was wracked with spasms and seizures, and he was inconsolable.
The parish priest, Leopold Braun, examined him and described him as “a wretched man, destitute of all help.” Three days later, Father Braun arranged for Christoph to travel to the nearby city of Mariazell, where there was a prominent shrine to the Virgin Mary. He arrived at the Basilica of the Mariä Geburt on September 5th, and showed the letter explaining his condition to the church fathers. They immediately brought him to the shrine of the Saint Mary, featuring a miraculous wooden relic of the Mother of God, located at the church altar.
The exorcism lasted three days, but was deemed successful when Christoph confronted the Devil in the church and retrieved his second pact, the one signed in blood.
He moved to Vienna and resumed work as a painter, creating a series of illustrations depicting his exorcism experience and the various forms the Devil had taken when appearing to him. However, he was still plagued by demonic attacks and visions from holy figures such as Jesus Christ, who were telling him to join a monastery and lead an humble life.
Christoph returned to Mariazell in May 1678 and requested another exorcism to retrieve the original pact, the one written in black ink, from the Devil. As before, the church fathers led him in prayer at the altar, and he successfully retrieved his pact on May 9th.
After this, the parish priests encouraged him to follow the request of Christ and join a holy order. Christoph joined the Brothers Hospitallers and then went to a monastery, likely one of the Benedictine Order located on the Vltava River in modern-day Czech Republic.
For the rest of his life, he was tormented by occasional demonic attacks, but these only came when he indulged in too much wine. Otherwise, he was regarded as "gentle and comforting."
He died in the monastery in 1700 at the age of 53.
Fourteen years later, a church historian gathered the items related to the exorcism and put them into a single file in the church archives. Copies were made of the original pacts and placed in the file. The historian also arranged for a painter to produce exact copies of Christoph's paintings of the exorcism and the forms of the devil. The originals have since disappeared, and were possibly too damaged to save, hence the reason they were copied.
In 1923, Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud used the 1714 file to craft a detailed analytical profile of Christoph Hazimann. He concluded that fraud was unlikely, and that Christoph was legitimately afflicted with severe depression resulting from the loss of his father and an inability to take responsibility for his own wellbeing by holding a job and being a productive member of society. The Devil, Freud reasoned, was a twisted substitute figure for Christoph's own deceased father.