By the end of 1969, Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (1946-2005) had become one of the most influential seers at Palmar de Troya. Later many would look upon him as the seer par excellence, while others would consider him a fake, or something in between. After failing to enter the priest seminary and not being accepted into the Dominican order, he became an office clerk, working for a Catholic company in Seville, from where he was fired. Clemente was not one of the pioneer seers at Palmar de Troya, but had visited the site in October 1968 without being convinced. However, reading texts and listening to lectures about the apparitions, from the summer of 1969, and on an almost daily basis, he went to Palmar de Troya together with his friend, the lawyer Manuel Alonso Corral (1934-2011), who also lost his job in the period (DH; PR; cf. Molina 1996: 31-40).
According to official Palmarian hagiography, Clemente had an ecstatic experience at the Alcaparrosa field on 15 August 1969 and one and a half month later, on September 30, he received his first vision, of Christ and the recently deceased Italian Capuchin Padre Pio, a favorite among Catholic traditionalists. It was one and a half years after the initiating apparition to the four girls. On 8 December, he began receiving visions of Virgin Mary (DH; PR; cf. Vidal 1976:45-54). Thus, the messages to Clemente were not only from the Virgin, but also from Christ, often in the form of the Holy Face (as in the Shroud of Turin), and a growing number of saints. In fact, an image of the Holy Face was soon placed at the apparition site. Later images of the Virgin as the Divine Shepherdess and as Our Lady of Palmar were put there, too (CESC).
At the site, loudspeakers were set up so that the crowds would be able to hear the messages that the seers conveyed. Even if Clemente was the recipient of the heavenly communications, it was his friend Manuel Alonso, who recorded them on tape, transcribed them and distributed them to pilgrims. He would continue to do so during their entire life together (Gómez Burón and Martín Alonso 1976). It is clear that Clemente was the charismatic figure and the recipient of the heavenly messages, while Manuel was the organizer and distributor.
Modern Marian seers are often lay people troubled by personal problems. Most of the original seers at Palmar de Troya were poor, some were illiterate, and Clemente and Manuel had recently become unemployed. Marian apparitions usually take place in an underprivileged and devoted environment (Bromley and Bobbitt 2011). Palmar de Troya was indeed a marginalized town, but, as has been shown, it was not a deeply Catholic setting. Yet most of the seers were devote Catholics even before the supernatural events, and the majority of them, and especially those who claimed to receive messages after 1969, were not natives (Cadoret-Abeles 1981).
In a number of visions to Clemente, the Virgin blessed Spain and all those who believed in the messages from Palmar. She had a universal mission to save humanity. In this mission, she was seconded by Christ, who also appeared frequently at the site. These messages concurred with the other seers’ testimonies. Soon, however, the communications received by Clemente began to include a more outspoken and detailed criticism of the post-Vatican II church.
In various apparitions, the Virgin and Christ let him know that there was only one true mass: the Tridentine Latin rite must be reinstated, and the novus ordo mass promulgated in 1969 was nothing less than blasphemy, as was hand communion. Other salient themes were that freemasons and communists infiltrated the church at all levels, including the Vatican, and that a general schism was near. Nevertheless, according to Clemente, Pope Paul VI (1897-1978; r. 1963-1978) was free of guilt as he was drugged and held hostage by the masonic and communist curia. They forced him into making modernist statements, for example, by establishing ecumenical contacts with heretics and speaking before the United Nations, understood as the masonic world organization (MC, messages March 15, September 5, and November 23, 1970; February 8 and 24, April 25, July 30 and September 27, 1971; January 26, March 9, April 2, and May 9, 1972).
In a few messages, even as early as 1971 and 1972, Clemente claimed that an antipope would succeed Paul VI, when he died. At that same time, a true pope would appear and govern the remnant, the small group that held fast to the traditional teachings of the magisterium and wholeheartedly practiced traditional forms of piety (MT, messages March 23, April 25, September 15, 1971; August 16, 1972). In a 1971 message from the Virgin to Clemente, it is stated:
“The Vatican is in the hands of Freemasons and Marxists. Freemasons and Pharisees have infiltrated the curia. They are the ones who obstruct the way of the Vicar of Christ. It is necessary to realize what will happen: there will be floods of blood on St. Peter’s Square. In this very moment, Communism and Freemasonry are preparing to make a decisive thrust and Marxism will usurp the church and sit on the throne (MT, message September 27, 1971).”
Apart from the apparitions, in 1970 Clemente claimed to have received the stigmata. On his forehead could be seen a bleeding cross, his hands and feet were wounded, and on his side appeared another wound from which blood poured out. Allegedly, he would experience the stigmata on three more occasions until 1973 and offered his pain for the good of the church and the pope. On the last occasion, witnesses testified that Clemente had bled no less than sixteen liters (CESC; Vidal 1976).
The large number of detailed messages and testimonies about the stigmata strengthened Clemente’s authority as the main mouthpiece of Christ and the Virgin, and a conduit for their harsh and unequivocal criticisms of the post-Vatican II Catholic Church. Still, other seers, too, reported to have received the stigmata and continued to receive heavenly communications. At the site, the seers, including Clemente, also had an important role blessing religious objects, and at a given time, they could carry several kilos of rosaries in their hands, asserting that the Virgin loaded them with heavenly power (CESC).