A Newly Discovered Collection of Documents from the New Jerusalem Catholic Church of the Celestial Messenger

A Newly Discovered Collection of Documents from the New Jerusalem Catholic Church of the Celestial Messenger

Almost four years ago, I wrote the book Giuseppe Maria Abbate: The Italian-American Celestial Messenger in collaboration with James W. Craig. At that time, we thought that basically all archival material related to Abbate and his New Jerusalem Catholic Church of the Celestial Messenger was destroyed in the early 1990s.

However, recently, a sizeable collection, once part of the church archive, appeared. It includes publications, documents, photos, and objects. Not even the official publications, such as the L’Araldo magazine, are found in any research library I know. Thus, the collection contains unique material and will be a basis for further studies about Abbate and his church. Currently, the archive is deposited with me, and I’m preparing an article about the foundation and the early development of the church, and hopefully, other studies will follow. In the near future, I will publish a selection of reproductions of photos and pictures of objects from the collection on this website. Below you will find a few images of the collection before I began to organize it.

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Uppsala Studies in Church History

Uppsala Studies in Church History

In 2017 we at the Department of Theology, Uppsala University launched a new open-access book series: Uppsala Studies in Church History. To date (April 2022) we have published 13 volumes: seven in English and six in Swedish. The titles focus both on Swedish and international themes. The latest volume is Micael Grenholm’s Enemy Love and Apocalyptic Genocide: Views on Military Violence and Pacifism Among Swedish Pentecostals 1967–1971.

Uppsala Studies in Church History is an e-book series that is published in the Department of Theology, Uppsala University. It includes both works in English and in Swedish. The volumes are available open-access and only published in digital form on http://www.diva-portal.org.

Uppsala Studies in Church History är en skriftserie som utges vid Teologiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet. Serien innehåller arbeten på såväl svenska som engelska. Skrifterna i serien är fritt tillgängliga och utges endast i digital form på http://www.diva-portal.org.

Click on the hyperlinks below to get access to the full-texts.

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The Pope of Eddystone, Pennsylvania

The Pope of Eddystone, Pennsylvania

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.

Eduardo Dávila – Pope Eduardo I

Eduardo Dávila – Pope Eduardo I

In 1933, Eduardo Dávila Garza (1908?–1985) was elected Eduardo I, ‘Pope and Supreme Pontiff of Mexico and the Americas.’ Still, his plans were grander than that; he would soon replace the Roman pontiff, too, not only rule over the American double continent. Dávila is not an easy person to study. Not only is the source material fragmented, but he also had a well-developed ability to reconstruct his autobiography and fill it with contradictions.

From the late 1920s, Eduardo Dávila was part of the Iglesia Católica Apostolica Mexicana (ICAM; the Mexican Catholic Apostolic Church), founded in 1925 and also called Iglesia Católica Ortodoxa Apostólica Mexicana, which was led by Patriarch José Joquín Pérez Budar. Due to the Mexican government’s enforcement of strict anti-religious laws, the Roman Catholic episcopacy decided to suspend the cult entirely. For three years, between 1926 and 1929, no public Roman Catholic services were held in the republic.

Being pro-governmental and fiercely anti-Roman, ICAM assumed a relatively strong position in indigenous villages in states like Veracruz and Puebla for a few years. However, they were present in Mexico City, too. In the first years of the 1930s, after the Patriarch’s death in 1931, the Church fell apart. At that time, young Eduardo Dávila suddenly appeared on the scene and managed to achieve as the leader of one faction, though his ecclesiastical credentials were questionable. He assumed the Patriarchal office, and in the end, he was elected the Pope.

For a prelimary research report on Eduardo Dávila/Pope Eduardo I

Recensioner i Kyrkohistorisk Årsskrift 2020

Recensioner i Kyrkohistorisk Årsskrift 2020

Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift ges sedan år 1900 ut av Svenska kyrkohistoriska föreningen. Varje årgång innehåller vetenskapliga artiklar men inte minst ett stort antal recensioner av kyrkohistoriskt relevant litteratur. Information om hur man blir medlem i föreningen och därigenom erhåller årsskriften finns här

I Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift 2020 bidrar jag med två recensioner:

Marcus Rediker
The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist
Boston: Beacon Press, 2018, 212 sid.

Stephen J.C. Andes
The Mysterious Sofía: One Woman’s Mission to Save Catholicism in Twentieth-Century Mexico
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019, xxiv + 418 sid.

Recensionerna är tillgängliga i fulltext här

Research Report on the Universal Christian Church of the New Jerusalem

Research Report on the Universal Christian Church of the New Jerusalem

La Chiesa Cristiana Universale della Nuova Gerusalemme–The Universal Christian Church of the New Jerusalem–was founded on October 4, 2015. Three days later, the Assembly of the Faithful elected Samuele Morcia (b. 1972) Supreme Pontiff Samuele. The headquarters of the Church is located in the small town of Gallinaro in the Frosinone province, about 110 kilometres east of Rome.

Of the nearly 2,500 church members most live in the neighbouring regions, but also other parts of Italy, particularly in Sicily, and to some extent abroad. The Universal Christian Church of the New Jerusalem considers itself to be the continuation of the One Holy Catholic Church. They claim that Pope Francis is no true pontiff, but a usurper who has created a new syncretic world religion that has nothing to do with Christianity.

Like many similar cases, the New Jerusalem Church has a background in private revelations. Giuseppina Norcia (1940–2008), Samuele Morcia’s mother-in-law, claimed to receive visions and heavenly messages, both as a child and as an adult. After a series of revelations in 1974, she constructed a small chapel in Gallinaro, La Piccola Culla del Bambino Gesù–the Little Cradle of Baby Jesus–which soon became a popular pilgrimage site, where many people claimed to be healed.

Here you find my research report on the Church:


New Text on the Apostles of Infinite Love

New Text on the Apostles of Infinite Love

Les Apôtres de L’Amour Infini (the Apostles of Infinite Love) have their centre at the Monastery of Magnificat of the Mother of God in St-Jovite/Mont-Tremblant in the Canadian province of Quebec. Their goal is to preserve the traditional Catholic Deposit of the Faith, supplementing the Roman Catholic Church in an era of almost total apostasy.

For five years, between 1962 and 1967, the Canadian group was part of the Renewed Church led from France by Michel Collin (1905-1974): Pope Clement XV. After that, they became independent, claiming to be the Renewed Church of Jesus Christ, led by Fr. John Gregory (Gregory XVII) until he died in 2011 and then by Fr. Mathurin (Gregory XVIII).

The World Religion and Spirituality Project has published my rather extensive overview of the Apostles’ history. You find the text here

The website of the World Religion and Spirituality Project (WRSP), coordinated by Professor David G. Bromley includes updated entries on a growing number of religious group, not least so-called New Religious Movements.

New Edition of My Book on the Palmarian Church

New Edition of My Book on the Palmarian Church

I published the first edition of A Pope of their Own: El Palmar de Troya and the Palmarian Church in May 2017. By then, Palmarian Pope Gregory XVIII–Ginés Hernández–had left the papacy and the church and married a former nun. These events made El Palmar de Troya known again. It had been four decades since the Spanish press devoted this much interest to the Palmarian Church.

Since then, the Palmarians have attracted even more attention. They became front-page news in Spain as the ex-pope and his wife were tried for the armed robbery of the Basilica in Palmar de Troya. The interest in the Palmarian Church was also sparked by best-seller writer Dan Brown’s Origin (2017) that included it in the plot. That made the existence of the church known to many outside of Spain, too. As my book was the only recent monograph on the Palmarians, it has been downloaded tens of thousands of times. To reach such a vast readership was undoubtedly an unusual experience for me.

Taken into account the rapid development during the last three years, I decided to write an enlarged version of A Pope of their Own, which follows the Palmarian Church until today. The updated parts are mainly found in chapter 9 (pp. 189–200), covering the current papacy of Peter III. However, I have also included some new sections about earlier history and about rituals (see pp. 20–22, 99–102, 112–113, 118–119, and 226–229).



I’m Magnus Lundberg, Professor of Church and Mission History in the Department of Theology, Uppsala University, Sweden. Through the years, much of my research has focused on colonial Latin American church history. Still, from 2015 onwards, I have devoted much time to the study of Catholic traditionalism, Fringe Catholicism and New Religious Movements with Catholic roots, especially modern alternative popes (“antipopes”).

On this website, I  publish research papers and drafts on topics that are of interest to me. Most of the articles are in English, but some are in Spanish or in my mother tongue, Swedish. Some have been published elsewhere (as books or articles), but here they are available open-access. Some texts are written exclusively for this site.

Contact: magnus.lundberg@teol.uu.se

For more information on my research and publications, see the “about-section”

For my series of articles on the Palmarian church, see the Palmarian page

For my series of articles on modern alternative popes, see the Pope page

For articles and monographs on Latin American church history, see the Church and Mission Studies page

For a great non-academic interest of mine, see the fountain pen pages. This part of the website is in Swedish. Om du är intresserad av äldre pennor är du välkommen att besöka den del av sidan som behandlar reservoarpennor.

New Text on Giuseppe Maria Abbate the Celestial Messenger

New Text on Giuseppe Maria Abbate the Celestial Messenger

The website of the World Religion and Spirituality Project (WRSP), coordinated by Professor David G. Bromley includes updated entries on a growing number of religious group, not least so-called New Religious Movements.

Recently, I finished a WRSP group profile about the New Jerusalem Church of the Celestial Messenger based on the my and James W. Craig’s book Giuseppe Maria Abbate: The Italian-American Celestial Messenger (2018).