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.
There is a small religious group, which by November 2017 had about twenty members, which is called the Faithful Remnant and believe that they constitute the true Roman Catholic Church. The leader of the group is the Canadian Douglas (Doug) Kuzell who claims that he is the Last Pope, Petrus Romanus. Moreover, Kuzell and his wife, Teresa Jackson (Mary Romanus) claim that they are the Two Witnesses, referred to in the Book of Revelation 11:1-14. My research report on the Two Witnesses was originally written in February 2017, but due to the quite dramatic development, it was updated in February 2018.
The research report is found here: The Faithful Remnant and the Last Canadian Pope
Segundo Ubaldo Rolón (Pedro Segundo, 2007-2016). In some respects, this Argentinean papal claimant is a rather typical representative for the mystically elected alternative popes. Marian apparitions played an important role for his claim as well as the assertion that humanity lives in the End Time. He had a clear focus on the events described in the Book of Revelation and their application to the present era. Still, the symbiosis between religion and politics–in this case, a form of “Transcendent Peronism”–makes it quite unique.
Continue reading “Modern Alternative Popes 24: Argentinean Pedro Segundo”
Antonio José Hurtado (Pedro II, 1939-1955) was a Colombian, self-trained dentist. After the death of Pope Pius XI in 1939, he proclaimed himself Pope Peter II, stating that he was elected by God. Hurtado’s claim to the papacy only ended with his death in 1955. Thus, his papal claim had nothing to do with the reforms in the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. The following text is not built on a detailed study of primary sources, but mostly relies on secondary material, including some fine articles about this intriguing man (see list of references).
The future pope was born in 1892 in the small town of Barbosa, some 40 kilometers north of Medellín. As a young man he studied at the Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Santa Rosa de Osos, but left when his father died. Hurtado seems to have had great entrepreneurial skills and he was a quick learner. He moved to Bogotá, where he worked in many different areas without having formal training in any of them. Among other things, he became a carpenter, a tailor, a goldsmith and an ambulating photographer.
Continue reading “Modern Alternative Popes 23: Colombian Pedro II”
An updated version of this article is found here
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.
Chriszekal Elias a.k.a. Peter II: The Pope of Eddystone, Pennsylvania
Bryan Richard Clayton (Athanasius I, 2011-?) was born in 1975 in Chicago. He briefly attended CMRI’s seminary in Omaha Nebraska. According to some sources, he thereafter received training from a traditionalist Franciscan in Mexico. Clayton was ordained a priest around 2005, and in 2007, he was consecrated a bishop by Bishop Patrick Taylor of the Society of the Virgin Mary, who resides in Buckley, West Virginia.
Continue reading “Modern Alternative Popes 21: Athanasius I”