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.

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

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 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).

New Study on Pope Christophe XVIII and La Très Sainte Église de Jésus-Christ, Mission de Banamè in Benin

New Study on Pope Christophe XVIII and La Très Sainte Église de Jésus-Christ, Mission de Banamè in Benin

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.

The Slavic Pope? Jan Maria Michał Kowalski and the Mariavites

The Slavic Pope?  Jan Maria Michał Kowalski and the Mariavites

As far as we know, Archbishop Ján Maria Michał Kowalski (1871–1942), the longtime leader of the Polish (Old) Catholic Mariavite Church claimed much spiritual power, even a kind of Messiah-status, but that he never explicitly claim the papacy. Still, bishops in the Mariavite core group, at least from the mid-1920s, asserted that the Roman pontiff was not the true pope anymore, that the Holy See had moved from Rome to the Mariavite centre in Plock, and that Kowalski was the long-awaited ‘Slavic Pope’, that Polish nationalist authors wrote about: a liberator and a benevolent religious leader.

The founder of the Mariavites was Sister Feliksa Maria Franciszka Kozlowska (1862–1921), often called Little Mother (Mateczka). She claimed to receive divine revelations–‘understandings’–from 1893 onwards, and the interpretation of them played a significant role in the development of the Mariavite doctrine, both before and after her death. Posthumously many followers believed Little Mother to be divine, and Archbishop Kowalski had an almost sacred status, even during his life. Claiming ‘understandings’, too, he introduced drastic doctrinal changes throughout the 1920s. Still, Kowalski’s autocratic rule and the unorthodox doctrinal development led to a schism in 1935, when only a small minority of the faithful remained with him.

A preliminary version of my text on Kowalski and the Mariavite papacy is found here

“Julius Tischler”: The Future Peter II

“Julius Tischler”: The Future Peter II

Some of the available lists of twentieth-century papal claimants include a Julius Tischler, who asserted that he was Pope Peter II. Most lists do not include any details on him, while some note that he was born in 1908. To my knowledge, the only researcher who provides some information about the case is Joachim Bouflet, who briefly mentioned Tischler in his well-researched Faussaires de Dieu. Though he does not refer to any primary sources, Bouflet underlined that Julius Tischler was not a real name, but a pseudonym, and that he was not strictly a papal claimant, but a claimant to a future papacy; he would become the last pope.

The main source of Julius Tischler’s claims is his 336-page-book published in 1972: Der Handwerksgeselle: Der Vierte Seher von Fatima [The Journeyman: The Fourth Seer of Fatima.] It is a peculiar book. On the one hand, it is a very detailed­ autobiography about the author’s first fifteen years in life, following a strictly chronological outline. On the other, the author included many accounts of amazing spiritual experiences, which he seamlessly intertwined with the much more down-to-earth autobiographical narrative. Among other things, the author claimed that he was mystically present at Fatima when the Virgin appeared in 1917. In short, he was the fourth seer of Fatima. Moreover, he was the only of the children who received the second, most important part of the Virgin’s message in 1923. The author’s real name was Franz Engelhardt (or Ferenc Egerszegi) who was a Roman Catholic priest of Hungarian origin who was a parish priest in the diocese of Trier.

A preliminary version of my text on Tischler/Engelhardt is found here

Adam Oraczewski ‒ Pope Adam II

Adam Oraczewski ‒ Pope Adam II

Towards the end of 1927, a suspended Roman Catholic priest, Adam Anthony Oraczewski (1883‒1973) published a 60-page pamphlet in Kansas City, Missouri. It has a bold title, All in One True Faith and the front page features the author dressed in the papal white, declaring that since August 7, he was Adam II, Pope of the Holy Catholic Church.

Among the modern alternative popes, Polish-American Adam II is certainly among the least known and one of the earliest.  He lived until he was 90, but we have relatively few sources to his life and even less on his papacy. However, thanks to the two booklets, a few newspaper articles, and some official records, it is possible to write a brief biography. Still, many lacunae and uncertainties remain. Therefore, any further information on Adam Anthony Oraczewski is most welcome.

The preliminary version of the biography is found here