Just as the Roman Catholic church, the Palmarians hold that Christ instituted seven sacraments. Nevertheless, they also teach that in this end-time the election to the papacy is an eighth, invisible sacrament, directly conferred by Christ (TM, chapter 34, volume 78-80).
The Palmarians have an exclusive soteriology; it is only possible to reach salvation within the visible Palmarian Church in union with the pope, where all divine graces are distributed since the end of the Roman era of the church. At present, the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Palmarian church is the mystical body of Christ and the Virgin. Therefore, the sacraments of other churches, including the Roman Catholic have no value whatsoever, as the Holy Spirit does not work through them. Thus, they are empty rituals and, in fact, sacrileges that bring damnation on those who administer and receive them.
Already from its foundation, the Palmarian Church has held this view, but it is stated particularly clearly in a series of papal decrees from 1982, which has been re-published on a number of occasions (DP 9, 25; TM, chapter 34, volumes 169-206; PKO 22-28; Gregory XVII, Apostolic decrees, 30, 31 July 1982).
The documents from 1982 had a context. They were issued shortly after Pope Gregory’s visit to Alba de Tormes outside Salamanca, where the relics of St. Teresa of Avila rest in the Carmelite church. During the visit, there were rumors that the Palmarians planned to steal the remains of the saint and bring them to their cathedral. Moreover, when walking through the convent church, Palmarian bishops shouted that John Paul II was an anti-pope, that Gregory XVII was the true pontiff and that women wearing pants, who were present were whores. The events led to a popular uprising, where at least several thousand people attacked the bishops; several were beaten, and at least one of their cars was thrown in the river. They had to hide in the Carmelite convent and later the National Guard had to intervene and protect the prelates, who were brought away from the site (El País May 18, 1982).
Two months after the events in Alba de Tormes, Pope Gregory thus made a number of declarations about sacraments, relics and images. He stated that the sacraments administered in Roman Catholic churches were valueless and that the relics and miraculous images kept at such places had no power for Roman Catholics; they were veiled for them. The Palmarians, however, could receive graces and indulgences from relics and images at a distance, but they were under no conditions allowed to visit any Roman Catholic church buildings (Gregory XVII, Apostolic decrees July 30, 31 1982. For an analysis of the Palmarian self-understanding, see Steinhauer 2014:108-09).
There are great differences between Roman Catholic and Palmarian sacramental theology. One original aspect of that Palmarian theology, as explained in the Catechism, is that the Virgin “enthrones” a drop of her blood into the faithful at baptism or conversion. This drop can be strengthened, diminished or disappear altogether according to the moral status of the individual, and its presence contribute to her sanctification. The sacraments also “enthrone” and strengthen a piece of Christ’s heart in the faithful (PKO 22, 27, 37).
Baptism is the door to the church and the other sacraments. Children should preferably be baptized within eight days of their birth and not later than fifteen days. Through baptism, the child (or adult) receives Mary’s blood drop, which takes away original sin. The Palmarian baptism has an undeletable character, but the strength of the drop can be weakened. The sacrament of confirmation should ideally be administered very shortly after baptism. It strengthens the blood drop and makes the individual stronger in his or her fight against Satan. Only a bishop can confirm (PKO 38-39). If a person commits a cardinal sin, the blood drop of Mary disappears. Confession of mortal sins to a Palmarian priest is the way to re-enter into the state of grace, so that the drop is strengthened (PKO 40)
The Eucharist is arguably the most important sacrament for the Palmarians, and Mass should be read as many times as possible. In his first papal decrees in 1978, Pope Gregory XVII declared that the only rite that should be used was the Tridentine Mass of Pius V, promulgated in 1570 (DP 1). Shortly thereafter, however, he introduced several new elements, and, in 1980, he referred to the rite as Latin-Tridentine-Palmarian. On October 9, 1983, the pope instituted a new, much briefer Mass order, which is concentrated to offertory, consecration and sacrificial communion taken by the priest. Making it very brief, every cleric could and should read several masses a day; in fact, they read turns of masses, not individual masses. Likewise, concelebration was banned, as it would lessen the number of masses that could be read per day (DP 4-5, 8; TM, chapter 34, volumes 105-168. For the changes in the rite, see Steinhauer 2014:110-11, referring to several of Gregory XVII’s sermons in the early 1980s).
According to Palmarian doctrine the body, soul and blood of Christ and Mary are present in the consecrated bread and wine. To communicate a person must be in a state of grace; otherwise, it constitutes a sacrilege. Communion should only be taken on the tongue and the recipient must be kneeling when receiving the sacrament. The communion of the faithful is only received in one species; they only receive the Eucharistic bread. If, due to long distances to the nearest Palmarian priest, it is not possible to attend mass, the faithful should pray a penitential rosary instead. According to the precepts of the church, Palmarians should take communion at least every third month, but almost all masses are celebrated without lay people taking communion. Still, if in a state of grace, a layperson is allowed to communicate several times a day (Gregory XVII, Apostolic decree 27 Feb 1981; TM, ch. 34, 155; PKO 32-36, 41 and 53).
The fifth sacrament of the church, the last unction strengthens the faithful’s relationship with Christ and Mary, and increases the Virgin’s blood drop. When receiving the sacrament, a person must be in a state of grace, and it should therefore ideally be preceded by confession. It should be received in cases of serious illness or before undergoing surgery (PKO 42).
In the Palmarian church, there are three degrees of clerical ordination: deacon, priest and bishop. All clerics are members of the Carmelites of the Holy Face, and to be ordained, a man should be in state of grace. At ordination, the priest becomes inhabited by the soul of Christ, seen in the form of a radiant cross, and he becomes a representative of the savior on earth (PKO 43). The seventh sacrament is marriage. Its main reason is to give children, new members, to the church. Still, virginity is the preferred state. At the wedding, the spouses must be state of grace, and according to church law, marriage is only permitted when both parts are Palmarians (PKO 44).
There are many prayers, hymns and other devotions in the Palmarian Devotionary, but four of them have an especially central place in the life of the church. The first of them is the Holy Penitential Rosary, also known as the Holy Palmarian Rosary. It should be read each day and consists of altogether fifty Our Fathers, fifty Hail Mary, fifty Glory and fifty Hail Mary Most Pure (PD 8). Each rosary is divided into five mysteries with ten of each prayer, to the Palmarians every series of the ten prayers is known as “a complete Our Father.” The reflection on each mystery is preceded by an act of contrition and followed by a hymn and the entire penitential rosary concludes with the Litany of Loreto and act of consecration to Our Crowned Mother of El Palmar. Every week, beginning on Sunday, the faithful should reflect over altogether thirty-five mysteries, which follow the life of Christ and the Virgin according to Palmarian teaching, that is, from the creation of the soul of Christ to the coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven (DPA).
The second of the main devotions is the Holy Way of the Cross to the Holy Face of Christ. Just as in the Roman Catholic church, the Palmarian Viacrucis includes fifteen stations, starting with Christ being sentenced to death and ending with his burial. It starts with an act of contrition and preparatory prayers. In the Palmarian version, the initial prayers at each station are followed by one complete Our Father and an invocation of the Holy Face and Our Crowned Mother of Palmar. The Viacrucis ends with a complete Our Father and Act of Consecration to the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ followed by a hymn (DPA).
The third of the most important devotions is the Holy Trisagion to the Most Holy Trinity. It begins with an Act of Contrition and hymn. Thereafter, it includes prayers to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, followed by Praises to the Most Holy Trinity, a prayer and praises to the Divine Mary, Temple and Tabernacle of the Most Holy Trinity. The Trisagion is concluded by a Litany to St. Joseph and a Consecration to the Most Holy Crowned Joseph of El Palmar (DPA).
The fourth and last of the most central devotions is the Holy Josephine Rosary, divided into five mysteries. For each mystery the faith read one Our Father, ten Josephine Aves, one Glory be to the Father, one Hail Mary Most pure and invocations to the Holy Face and Our Lady of Palmar.
Important feast days for the Palmarians of course include Christmas and Easter. Shortly after becoming the third pope, Gregory XVIII decreed that from 2012 onwards, the Holy week should always take place between March 20 and 27. The death of Christ should thus always be remembered on March 25, even if not a Friday, as he according to Palmarian doctrine died on March 25 in the year 34. Holy week is a very solemn occasion at the Cathedral-Basilica in Palmar de Troya. Altogether, fourteen big, richly decorated floats features different holy images are that are carried around outside the church.
Other important Palmarian feast days are: The Circumcision of Christ (January 1), the Crowned St. Joseph of Palmar (March 19), the Our Crowned Mother of Palmar (July 16), Holy Anne, Mother of Our Lady (July 26), the Assumption of Our Lady (August 15), the Birth of Our Lady (September 8), the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady (December 8) (Gregory XVII, Apostolic Decree, July 25, 1989).
Through the years, the Palmarian church has canonized a very large number of people. Just in the period between 1978 and 1980, some 1,400 named individuals were declared saints by Gregory XVII. In fact, the lion’s share of the papal documents during these years is made up by brief hagiographies and decrees of canonization. These early canonizations have been followed by many others. The saints are of many kinds. They came from many different parts of the world and died between the eleventh century and the mid-1970s.
Still, the large majority were Spanish. One important category of Palmarian saints is bishops, priests and nuns killed during the Spanish Civil War. Apart from the saints explicitly named, Gregory XVII canonized an “innumerable” group of people, who fought on the nationalist side in the war. Still, he explained that though the war was a crusade, not everybody killed in the war was a saintly crusader, as they had not joined the army for the right reasons (DP).
English martyrs, killed during the sixteenth and seventeenth-century persecutions of Catholics constitutes another numerous group as do missionaries who died as martyrs in China and Indochina. Gregory XVII also canonized an “innumerable” group of Irish martyrs, killed because of their Catholic faith. Founders of religious orders and congregations, kings and queens, mystics, many earlier popes and virtuous male and female religious also appear among the canonized. The first person canonized in August 1978 was the Italian Capuchin Padre Pio, who died in 1968 (DP).
Among the saints canonized in 1978 was the recently deceased Spanish leader Francisco Franco, but other twentieth-century right-winged politicians such as the Fascist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Francoist minister Luis Carrero Blanco were elevated to the altars, too. General Franco is looked upon as a very prominent saint as he is considered the savior of Spain through his victory in the Civil War. In 1980, Gregory XVII even made him a co-patron saint of Spain, together with St. James and Teresa of Avila (DP).
In 1987, Gregory XVII issued a document where he stated that he had by then made 2,164 canonizations. As the years have passed, recently dead Palmarians have been canonized and just after their deaths, the first two Palmarian popes were made saints: Pope Gregory the Very Great and Pope Peter the Great (SHP).