Mango ghosts? Exorcists called in to deal with school spirit
Residents of a mountain barangay in Cebu City, in the Philippines, claim that 35 students at their public school were possessed by evil spirits.
According to the report the mother of two of the possessed pupils believes that spirits hit the school after it cut down two mango trees to make way for a two-story building according to local paper Sun Star Cebu.
The 35 students apparently collapsed and started convulsing on Thursday, as around 3 pm.
The school's teachers sought the help of local officials, who called in priests from the Mary Help of Christians Parish in Barangay Buhisan.
Reverend Nicolas Ramos responded by conducting a Catholic rite of exorcism.
Some of the pupils appeared to respond to the priest's prayers, four more started convulsing and screaming just before the school celebrated mass.
While locals believe that this was demonic possession, Cebu's archdiocese cations it may have just been mass hysteria.
Mass hysteria generally occurs in a way that mirrors a given group's concerns. For example a lot of current outbreaks tend to be based around fears of strange smells, food poisoning or allergies.
According to a paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry, religious mass hysteria was quite common during the renaissance, "between the 15th and 19th centuries, exceedingly strict Christian religious orders appeared in some European convents.
"Coupled with a popular belief in witches and demons, this situation triggered dozens of epidemic motor hysteria outbreaks among nuns, who were widely believed to have been demonically possessed."
The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has debriefed the teachers, teaching them what to do in case of another mass hysteria outbreak.