Born in Wimbledon, he was the son of Idris Davies, a senior RAF officer based at Fighter Command during the Second World War, and Elizabeth Ponsonby.
Jeremy’s father was a brutal man, who beat his children and eventually walked out of the family home to set up his own garage business.
Jeremy was educated at the King’s School in Canterbury and then studied English at Oxford University. He excelled at both rugby and tennis.
His mother Elizabeth was tragically killed in a plane crash when Jeremy was just 18. She was flying home from Rhodesia having visited her oldest son Rhodri, who lived there.
When Jeremy left university, he had no job plans and no direction, so took a number of small jobs. He worked for two miserable years in an advertising agency and then for another year as an air steward.
It was then that he discovered the Catholic church, becoming a worshiper. He said that the day he was baptised, the 21st October 1966, was, “the happiest day of my life.”
He decided to study medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and became a qualified doctor. In 1967, after a short spell in Guyana, he went to Africa (Nigeria and Ghana) to help poverty-stricken communities there. He worked in mission hospitals.
After this, there was a short spell (6 months) as House Surgeon at Redhill Hospital in Surrey.
It was then that he decided to abandon medicine. “I felt I was being called by God.”
He was a deep reader of theological tracts, but it wasn’t that that led to his conversion. “I did something very wrong”. He wanted to atone for his sin, although he never revealed what he had done.
Jeremy trained as a Roman Catholic priest at Pontifica Beda College in Rome. There, his rector wrote of him, “He is an outstanding person and excellent in all respects. He is of the highest integrity and takes a strict line in all things.”
In 1974, Jeremy became Chaplain at Westminster College followed by becoming assistant priest at St Mary’s Church in Chelsea.
He was also very active in the Pro-Life movement.
Then he went back to Rome where he trained as an exorcist.
When he eventually returned to England, Cardinal Basil Hume appointed him as the Chief Exorcist for the Catholic church in England and Wales. He was based at St. James’ Church, Spanish Place, London.
Jeremy would exorcise from both buildings and people. He was a thin, almost skeletal man with deep, haunting eyes, who lived in a most austere manner. He claimed he loved, “Grappling with evil spirits.”
He had very strong beliefs, which would offend some people. He said, “Homosexuality is the work of the Devil”, and more bizarrely, “Yoga is evil.”
He said his only weapon against Satan was his crucifix which he carried everywhere with him. Church rituals were essential to his everyday existence.
Jeremy was strongly against any other form of religion but his particular wrath was saved for Islam and Mormonism. He believed Europe was slipping into Satanism – saying Atheism was just another word for Satanism.
He called horoscopes, “The work of the Devil.”
He created the ‘International Association of Exorcists’ with his friend Father Gabriele Amorth, an Italian priest who was Chief Exorcist of the Vatican.
He despised the 1973 film ‘The Exorcist’, claiming it made a mockery of the Catholic religion and the role of being a genuine exorcist.
Even his own family were alienated from him. A nephew said a visit to him was like being in the presence of the medieval Spanish Inquisition.
Nevertheless, Jeremy fell in love with Walsingham in Norfolk, a place of Catholic worship. He created the ‘Pilgrimage of Reparation and Prayer for the Sanctity of Life’, which takes place annually there.
When he stepped down from being the national exorcist, he had a short sabbatical working in the Scilly Isles and then became parish priest for Puckeridge and Old Hall Green in Hertfordshire, before moving to Luton to be an assistant priest once again.
He travelled widely around the world, advising on exorcism, and was a regular correspondent with many people he had met and helped. He wrote all his letters by hand (refusing to learn to use a computer) and always in blue ink.
He finally retired in 2021, aged 86, and moved permanently to Walsingham Priory. Just before his death he was moved to a care home in Fakenham.
He was returned to Walsingham just before the end, and it was there he died, in the priory he loved so much.. Jeremy is survived by his sister Miranda.
RIP – Ritual + Inquisition + Papacy