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).
In 2009 Mathias Vigan was a Roman Catholic parish priest in the village of Banamè in south-eastern Benin. In January that year, he met a young woman named Vicentia Tadagbé Tchranvoukinni, whom he exorcised. As she went through the deliverance process, she assumed a new name, Parfaite, claiming increasing charismatic powers and wisdom. Soon, she asserted that she God the Holy Spirit–Dieu Saint-Esprit–also referring to herself as Daagbo.
Daagbo’s End Time mission to extirpate “witchcraft” and crush the Devil’s power; to purify and renew the Catholic Church; and to create peace and prosperity, saving humanity from eternal damnation. By her side was another young woman, Nicole Soglo, whom Daagbo asserted to be the representative of the Virgin Mary on earth: Nanyé Nicole. Mathias Vigan believed in Daagbo’s claims and took an active part in the mission.
In 2011, Daagbo founded a separate church, currently know as La Très Sainte Église de Jésus-Christ, Mission de Banamè–The Most Holy Church of Jesus Christ, Banamè Mission. But in her view, it was nothing new, but the One True Catholic Church, founded by her son Jesus Christ. Eventually, in late 2012 she made Mathias Vigan pope with the name Christophe XVII, and with time the pope, too, received an increasingly divine status as another Jesus.
My research report on La Très Sainte Église de Jésus-Christ, Mission de Banamè is found here.
Giuseppe Maria Abbate (1886‒1963) was one of the many Italians who immigrated to the United States in the early twentieth century. However, his career in the new country would become quite unusual. Not only did he found a new religious group, the New Jerusalem Catholic Church in Chicago (1917), but he also claimed that he was a divinely elected Celestial Messenger and even the Celestial Father, God incarnate. Though a few authors have mentioned Abbate in passing, this is the first detailed investigation about him and his religious movement.
In the book Giuseppe Maria Abbate: The Italian-American Celestial Messenger (2018), Professor Magnus Lundberg (Uppsala) and Fr. James W. Craig (Chicago) present aspects of Giuseppe Maria Abbate’s biography, his religious claims, and mission as well as the history of the New Jerusalem Catholic Church, which he founded. The outline is chronological mainly, following Abbate from his birth in 1886 until his death in 1963, but with a clear focus on the period from the late-1910s onwards, when he appeared as a religious leader. It also includes an investigation of the congregation’s development after the founder’s death and the legacy of the Celestial Messenger.
The book is part of the Uppsala Studies in Church History e-book series that is published in the Department of Theology, Uppsala University. The full-text is available here
For a photo reportage on the Celestial Messenger in La Settimana INCOM Illustrata from 1950.