Chester Olszewski from the United States is one of the least known of the modern alternative popes. He was a cradle Catholic who converted to the Episcopalian Church and became a priest. From 1974, he served as a priest in Eddystone, Pennsylvania. In the following year, he became convinced that a statue of the Sacred Heart Christ, owned by a Catholic woman, Anne Poore, bled and bore the stigmata. Olszewski brought the statue to church, where he made it the central devotion.

 Shortly thereafter, Olszewski and Poore claimed to be divinely chosen to restore the traditional Catholic faith; God had converted them to Catholicism. In order to re-establish the true Catholic Church, Olszewski needed to become a bishop and he soon found an independent bishop who provided him with the much sought-after apostolic succession.

On 31 May 1977, Olszewski proclaimed himself Pope Chriszekiel Elias at a ceremony in St. Lukes’s Episcopal Church in Eddystone, alleging that God himself had elected him and provided him with his new name. Later he began to call himself Peter II, the last pope in history.

Here you can read my article on the Pope of Eddystone, Anne Poore, and their church. It’s the first more extensive study on the subject.

3 thoughts on “The Pope of Eddystone, Pennsylvania

  1. The paradox is why have the ceremony in an Episcopal church? If he was appointed to save the Roman Catholic Church he would have been better to have had the ‘ceremony’ in a field rather than a Protestant church.


    1. Dear Bryan. Sorry for keeping you waiting. Yes, it’s certainly very strange. That makes this case unique. I guess that he thought that the presence of the statue and the charismatic gifts of Anne Poore made it a/the true Catholic church and a Catholic church building. He was certainly not into ecumenism. But the whole or at least almost the whole Episcopalian congregation disappeared from St. Luke and was replaced by “the true believers”. So, de facto, it wasn’t a Episcopalian church anymore even if the church owned it. I suppose he saw some kind of internal logic in all this. Best wishes, Magnus


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s