The Rite Ending Explained


The Rite Ending Explained

The Rite chronicles Father Michael Kovak’s struggle with his faith, and the ending of the 2011 horror movie sees him coming to terms with it.


  • Michael’s struggle with faith throughout The Rite is rooted in his traumatic past, causing him to question the existence of God and the devil.
  • Father Lucas’ guilt over Rosaria’s death opens the door for the devil to possess him, as the devil resents him for attempting the exorcism.
  • The bent cross symbolizes Michael’s lack of faith, and it is only when he declares his belief in the devil and God that he is able to defeat BA’AL.



The Rite chronicles Father Michael Kovak’s journey to finding faith, a feat he accomplishes by the film’s ending. The 2011 horror movie is based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, and Michael’s character was inspired by real-life exorcist Father Gary Thomas. Throughout the film, Michael struggles with his faith and doesn’t believe in the power of God or the devil. However, he travels to Italy to train with Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who is determined to make a believer out of him.

While in Italy, Michael sees a pregnant teen named Rosaria exhibit possessed behavior, and she later dies in the hospital along with her baby. When Father Lucas becomes possessed, it is up to Michael to save him — but he has to face his past in order to do so. Michael also forms a bond with an Italian journalist named Angeline, who helps him exorcise the demon BA’AL from Father Lucas. However, there are some parts of The Rite‘s ending that warrant more in-depth explanation.

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Michael’s Struggle With His Faith In The Rite Explained

From the start of The Rite, Michael has a hard time having faith. Throughout his trainings, he debates with other priests about the likelihood of possession and the existence of the devil. His lack of faith is tied to his childhood, which the film shows in flashbacks. When Michael was young, his mother died, and his father was persistent in teaching him about religion. His father was a mortician and made him go into the room with his mother’s lifeless body to say a prayer over it. Michael was hesitant and has clearly had a cynical view of religion ever since.

Even when Michael is met with several characters claiming to be possessed, he struggles to believe them. He thinks that they have a mental illness. When Rosaria coughs up nails, he even assumes she must have eaten them herself in order to kill her baby. Michael begins to believe after talking to his father on the phone, only to discover that his father died hours before their conversation.

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When he has to perform an exorcism on Father Lucas, Michael is reminded of a card his mother gave him, which tells him he will always be watched over. The memory of his mother — and what he witnesses with Father Lucas — is enough to make him believe. By the ending of The Rite, Michael is working as a priest and sits in a confession booth while a young girl confesses her sins to him.

How Rosaria’s Death Leads To Father Lucas’ Possession

Anthoyn Hopkins as Father Lucas in The Rite

Father Lucas is determined to perform a successful exorcism on Rosaria. When she dies in the hospital, Father Lucas is devastated that he couldn’t help her. He’s riddled with guilt, even though he does the best he can — and for the right reasons. Father Lucas’ guilt opens the door for the devil to possess his body, along with the fact that the devil resents him for attempting to exorcise Rosaria. The devil acts on that resentment, and because Father Lucas is so disappointed in himself, he becomes vulnerable enough to find himself a victim.

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Did BA’AL Kill Michael’s Father?

The Rite's Michael

When Michael is told that his father passed away, he doesn’t understand how this can be possible. After all, he speaks to his father just moments before. However, during the phone call, Michael’s father says something disturbing that suggests it’s someone else on the other end. Michael starts to question if the devil is the one he was talking to on the phone.

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He later meets with Angeline and another young boy Father Lucas was helping. The boy’s mother claims he’s doing much better since seeking Father Lucas’ help, but he tells Michael that he knows something bad will happen to his father. Michael confesses to Angeline that his father, indeed, did pass away. This suggests the devil was responsible and had told the young boy his plan.

Michael’s Bent Cross In The Rite Explained

Michael in The Rite

In a flashback scene of Michael’s mother’s funeral, he stands next to his father with a cross in hand. Michael holds his hand behind his back and squeezes the cross so hard that it bends. In the scene where Michael is performing an exorcism on Father Lucas, he holds his cross up to the priest. The devil uses its power to bend the cross without Father Lucas having to touch it. The bent cross represents Michael’s inability to believe, and the devil is using his lack of faith against him. It isn’t until Michael declares that he does believe in the devil and God that he’s able to defeat BA’AL.

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What Happens To Michael & Angelina In The Rite

Michael and Angeline in The Rite

Michael and Angeline form a close bond during The Rite, as Angeline is a journalist whose brother was also possessed by the devil. Angeline is accepting of Michael’s lack of faith, but she’s also able to guide him. While it seems like they could have feelings for each other, nothing romantic ever comes of their friendship. After Angeline helps Michael perform an exorcism on Father Lucas, Michael returns to the United States, and Angeline stays in Italy.

The last time The Rite shows Angeline, the movie reveals that she has written an article about the exorcism Michael performed on Father Lucas, which he happily reads. There’s no suggestion that the two end up together or that they’ll ever see each other again. However, Angeline is a big part of Michael’s journey, helping him overcome his cynicism at the ending of The Rite.

Where Are The Real Father Michael & Father Lucas Today?

Michael and Father Lucas in The Rite

While much of The Rite is fictional, as with horror most movies that are based on true stories, Michael Kovak and Father Lucas are real exorcists. However, their names were changed for the film, and their real names are Gary Thomas and Carmine de Filippis. There isn’t much information about Thomas online, but he still seems to be practicing as an exorcist. In 2016, he did an interview with Cosmopolitan, where he admitted to getting several calls a week to perform exorcisms. Thomas explained that he only performs a formal exorcism as a last resort. He typically works with a team of doctors and psychiatrists to evaluate the person first.

Meanwhile, de Filippis seems to be mentoring aspiring exorcists. One of his trainees, Father Vincent Lampert, did an interview with The Georgetowner in 2022. The article states that de Filippis mentors exorcists in the Diocese of Rome, just like Father Lucas in The Rite.

Sources: Cosmopolitan, The Georgetowner

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