Mathias Vigan (Christopher XVIII, 2012-) was a Roman Catholic priest, ordained in 2000 in the diocese of Abomey, Benin. He served as a parish priest in Banamé, when he, in 2008, met Vicentia Tadagbé Tchranvoukinni. She was born in 1992 and according to later followers she had no parents, but was found left alone. She was brought to Mathias Vigan, who should perform an exorcism on her, as she was regarded as possessed and he was obviously impressed by her spiritual powers.
In 2009, she asserted that she was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, and should be referred to as Parfaite, the Perfect One, or Daagbo, God the Holy Spirit. At that time and through her, the Holy Spirit took residence in a special manner in Banamè. Matthias Vigan became a believer and promoter of the cult. The Roman Catholic Church reacted as soon as they heard about the development. In 2009, Vigan was condemned by the bishop of Abomey and in 2011 he was suspended a divinis.
The teachings of Daagbo about the group’s mission were summarized in three points: to destroy the Devil and all sorcery; to unite all people in the True Catholic church and destroy all other religious movements; and to cleanse the Catholic church from masons and sorcerers that were found everywhere among the Roman Catholic clerics. The church needed to be re-founded and the hierarchy replaced. According to Daagbo’s teachings, Rome was the city of death, while Banamè and especially a hill there, the Sante Colline Sovidji was the centre of the True Church, the City of the Heavenly Court. At first, the church was called l’Eglise catholique au Benin (The Catholic Church in Benin). Later, it was renamed L’Eglise de Banamè or L’Eglise catholique de Jésus Christ (The Church of Banamè or The Catholic Church of Jesus Christ).
In November 2012, Mathias Vigan was chosen pope by the Holy Spirit (i.e. Daagbo) and given the name Christopher XVIII. Daagbo and Vigan asserted that the event was predicted by the Italian mystic Anna Maria Taigi in 1818. According to hagiographies, Taigi saw future events in a sun-glove and stated that that there would come a day when wars and other calamities killed a large portion of humanity. At that time the pope would not live in Rome and a new church should be founded. She prophesized that many would convert to the true church and that new pope would be a simple priest from a faraway country.
After his election, Christopher XVII elevated twelve men to cardinals, called apostles of the Holy Spirit, and consecrated eight bishops together with a number of priests. He also instituted female religious orders. Following the election, on 25 January 2013, both Mathias Vigan and Daagbo were excommunicated latae sententiae by the local bishop. Apart from them, all other followers of the church were excommunicated. The Bishops Conference of Benin backed up the local bishop. Christopher XVII was formally crowned pope 17 February 2013, a couple of hours after Benedict XVI stepped down from the Roman See.
According to its own report The Catholic Church of Jesus Christ has been active in different fields. They claim to annihilate sorcery and evil spirits, heal all sorts of diseases and resurrect dead people. They assert that pilgrimages to Sante Colline de Banamè Sovidji give immunity against sorcery and evil spirits. They also think that the church will reduce poverty and lower the number of road accidents and provide education. In later years, several hundred thousand people have made the pilgrimage to Banamè, and there have been conflicts, including violent clashes between Roman Catholics and followers of Daagbo and Pope Christopher. Apart from Benin, the church has some presence in Gabon and France.
The new webpage of Eglise Catholique de Jésus-Christ, Sainte Colline de Banamè http://sovidji.com/wordpress/
The older webpage of Eglise Catholique de Jésus-Christ, Sainte Colline de Banamè (until 2014) http://sovidji.com/svb2v4-5/blog1.php
Movie of the consecration and coronation of Christopher XVIII, 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE_cd-KmPUY
On Youtube.com there are a great number of videos related to the church (in particular the holyspiritbenin, papyesisen and bencharbel8828 channels)
The declaration of the Bishops Conference of Benin against the church of Banamè, 28 January 2013, http://www.lanouvelletribune.info/benin/13422-declaration-de-la-conference-episcopale-du-benin-sur-la-secte-denommee-eglise-catholique-privee-de-baname?Itemid=61
Jean-Francois Mayer, “Quand le pape n’est plus à Rome: antipapes et sédévacantistes”, 2013, http://orbis.info/2013/03/quand-le-pape-nest-plus-a-rome-antipapes-et-sedevacantistes