Lucian Pulvermacher (Pius XIII, 1998-2009) was born in 1918 in Bakeville, Wisconsin as Earl Pulvermacher. He joined the Capuchin order, as did his three brothers. Pulvermacher studied at different monasteries in Indiana, New York state and Wisconsin, before being ordained a priest in 1946. Two years later, he became a missionary to Japan, where he served on the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa, until 1970. Thereafter, the order sent him to Australia to work in Queensland. He stayed there until 1976, when he left the Capuchins without any prior notice, and returned to the United States, stating that he was unwilling to accept the post-Vatican II changes.

In the United States, Pulvermacher first went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For a brief period he was close to the Society of St. Pius X, but having developed a sedevacantist position, he was unhappy with their official view on the papacy. Later, being criticised for staying so long in the Novus Ordo church, Pulvermacher claimed that “I was in the Novus Ordo shell, but I never was an organic part of the worm inside the shell.”

From August 1976 onwards, Pulvermacher was on his own, not being part of any bigger traditionalist group. He lived with his parents in Pittsville, Wisconsin, and in the following two decades, he travelled around reading the traditional mass in private chapels. Not being subject to any traditionalist bishop, Pulvermacher claimed that he still administered the sacraments with the permit of the bishop of Okinawa. As that bishop accepted the Novus Ordo, some traditionalists questioned the Pulvermacher’s authority. In 1992, he moved from Pittsville to Arpigo, Wisconsin, where he continued his ministry for six years until he relocated to Kalispell, Montana, where he was invited to say Mass in a private chapel.

By 1995, Pulvermacher had turned conclavist after meeting a German priest who had the vision to call a conclave, as there was no hope that there would ever be an orthodox pontiff in Rome. Fellow traditionalists Robert Lyons from Texas and Gordon Bateman from Australia also thought that a conclave was necessary to safeguard the Catholic tradition. In this exceptional situation, when the Holy See had been vacant for four decades, non-cardinals and even laypeople could elect a pope, they argued. Therefore, they tried to convince other traditionalists to attend.

The conclave was held in Kalispell, and Lucian Pulvermacher was elected pope on 24 October 1998, taking Pius XIII as his papal name. After becoming the pope, in 1999, he was consecrated bishop by Gordon Cardinal Bateman. Bateman was a layman, but one of seven cardinals appointed by Pius XIII in 1998. He was later ordained a priest and consecrated bishop by the pope, and Robert Lyons was ordained a priest in 2000. Another priest was Charles Bateman, who died already in 1999. The church was called the true Catholic Church (tCC) and its Holy See was located in Springdale, Washington. Still, there is no doubt that Pulvermacher claimed to be the legal successor of the latest Roman pope, Pius XII. It is not known how many people recognised Pulvermacher’s papal claim. One of his faithful, however, was his mother, Cecelia Pulvermacher, who died at 104 in 1999.

During his pontificate, Pius XIII issued a number of encyclicals and papal letters, closely following pre-conciliar teachings. During the last years of his life, the pope suffered from dementia and did not make any public statements after 2005. Around that time, his old brother-in-arms, Gordon Bateman, was excommunicated as was Robert Lyons. The reason was that they criticised the pope for practising divination by the help of a pendulum. Pius XIII died in 2009. According to his followers, there is currently a sedevacancy and the group is planning for a new conclave in 2017 or 2018.


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