William Kamm (the future Peter II) was born in 1950 in Cologne, Germany, but as a little child, he moved to Australia together with the rest of the family. Aged eighteen, he said that he had begun receiving heavenly messages and gathered a small group of followers, who believed that he was a voice-box of God. In 1970 he founded the Marian Work of Atonement, his first religious organisation. During these years, he was a bank employee for some time.
In 1979, Kamm went to Bayside, New York for the first time, convinced of the truth of the apparitions to the controversial seer Veronica Leuken, but still claimed to have apparitions of his own and wanted to form a similar apparition movement in Australia. In 1982, the Virgin announced that henceforth he should be called Little Pebble, and from that time onwards he claimed to receive continuous apparitions, particularly from Our Lady, but also from God the Father, Christ, St. Joseph and the Archangel Michael. The Virgin, most often referred to as Our Lady of the Ark, Mary Our Mother, Help of Christians, allegedly spoke to him on the 13th each month at 3 PM. Until 2015, Kamm claims to have received more than 700 such messages, most of which have been published in either printed form or digitally.
Currently, the group around him plan to publish the whole series of messages on the web page of Little Pebble. Most of the apparitions have a clearly apocalyptic content, including forthcoming catastrophes: a third world war, attacks from Communists, atomic bombs, natural disasters and comets that will destroy the earth.
Kamm claims that he had a special charism of uniting seers all around the world and discern whether their messages are true or. Thus, he did in no way regard himself as the only true voice-box of God, though he was the leader of a whole army of seers in the end-times. The goal is to return to traditional forms of Catholic devotion.
In 1983, Kamm and a group of his followers settled in Cambewarra, outside Nowra in New South Wales, Australia, a place which remains the group’s centre. It is also known as Holy Grounds. The community is located at an old trailer park and most of the members live in mobile homes or caravans. There is also a chapel, where most locutions take place. In 1985, Kamm founded the Order of Saint Charbel, named after the Lebanese nineteenth-century hermit Charbel Makhlouf, known as an efficient miracle-worker.
A couple of hundred members of the order lived at the Holy Grounds in Cambewarra in the 1980s and 1990s. Later, the number decreased. Apart from the main centre, there were several other much smaller communities in Victoria (Tyaak, Seymour, Lethbridge and Meredith), South Australia (Mallalla and Mount Gambier) and Queensland (Ormeau). Outside Australia, there are or have been small groups of followers in the United States, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Uganda, Tanzania, Zaire, Kenya, Reunion, Ireland, France, Poland and New Zealand.
Not surprisingly the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been very critical of Kamm’s movement. The first critical reactions came in the mid-1980s, but it was only at the turn of the millennium that the statements have become much more explicit and harsh. In 1999, Bishop Philip Wilson of Wollongong stated that Kamm’s movement had nothing to do with the Catholic faith. Three years later, and following a closer examination, the new bishop of Wollongong, Peter William Ingham issued a decree in which he stated that Kamm’s visions have no supernatural origin and that he spread teachings which are in no way coherent with Catholic faith and morals. Kamm was ordered to cease his mission and return to the Catholic Church. The bishop was backed up by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and in 2003, William Kamm was excommunicated.
Still, the members of the Order of St. Charbel claim that they are Catholics. In fact, they believe that they are the ones who are chosen to save the church in the end-time. The Order is basically a lay organisation. In the 1980s and 1990s, Kamm travelled around the world trying to convince Roman Catholic clerics of his mission, but the results were meagre and he mainly got some backing from small groups of priests in Uganda, Kenya and southern India.
There is no doubt that Kamm was and is the charismatic leader of the Order of St. Charbel, being the main voice-box of heaven, but he has not a high clerical position. For a long time, he remained a layman. In 2004, however, he was ordained deacon by his advisor Malcolm L. Broussard, who was a Roman Catholic priest in Texas until he was suspended in 1989. In 2003, he was consecrated bishop by Bartholomäus Schneider, a German who in his turn had been consecrated by Athanasius Mary Seiwert-Fleige. The latter was a bishop of the Palmarian Church and later consecrated sub conditione by Jean-Gerard de la Passion Antoine Laurent Charles Roux. Following the consecration, Broussard was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and remains the bishop of the Order of St. Charbel.
William Kamm has not claimed that he is the pope, but at least from 1987 onwards, he maintains that he will become pontiff. In fact, he claims that he will be Petrus Romanus, the last pope in history under the name Peter II. For many years, he declared that he would succeed John Paul II, but after the pope’s death in 2005, Kamm asserted that John Paul II “is not dead, but sleeping in God” and that he “will be resurrected in a new body at the right time.” Therefore, Kamm also regarded Benedict XVI as the true pope, but thought that he would be succeeded by an antipope. At that time Little Pebble will become the true pope. After Benedict’s retirement from the papacy, Kamm seems to claim, at least indirectly, that the Francis is an antipope. Still, there are no sources that indicate that Kamm thinks that he now is the pope.
Shortly after the turn of the millennium, the Order of St. Charbel was in deep crisis. In 2002, William Kamm was arrested, and in the following years, he was tried twice. First in 2005 and then in 2007. Both cases included accusations of sexual assault on underage girls. He was found guilty in both cases and sentenced to ten years in prison. Kamm stated that he had done nothing wrong and that Our Lady had appeared to him saying that he should elect twelve “queens” among the young female members of the community, “mystically marrying” them and have children with them to create a “new race”. He is said to have fathered some twenty children in the community. On various occasions, Kamm appealed to the High court, but the appeals were dismissed and he remained in prison until November 2014.
After the prison sentences, many members left the order, not believing in Kamm anymore. When Little Pebble was in jail, his brother-in-arms, Bishop Broussard led the reduced community in Cambewarra, which was strengthened by a group of Maori followers from New Zealand. Little Pebble is now out of prison and active again, now under the name William John Costellia. Nevertheless, in November 2015 he stated that he would not publish any messages on his web page in the near future, as he was constantly watched over by “the authorities”.
Older webpage of the Order of St. Charbel: http://shoal.net.au/~mwoa/
New webpage of Little Pebble: www.littlepebble.org
Joseph P. Laycock, The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism, Oxford University Press, 2015.
Greame Webber, A Wolf Among Sheep: How God’s Prophet the Little Pebble Became a Womanising Millionaire Cult Leader, KeyStone Press, 2008.
Shelly Wickham & Christopher Hartney, “Rockchopping with Little Pebble: Mainstream, Fringe, and Criminal”, Through a Glass Darkly, Reflections on the Sacred, RLA Press, 2006.
Bernard Doherty “‘Mourning the Death of Our Faith’: The Little Pebble and The Marian Work of Atonement 1950-1984″, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 36 (2015): 231-270.
List of links to newspaper articles on Little Pebble between 2002 and 2015: http://culteducation.com/group/1009-the-little-pebble.html