Although the religious situation in Palmar de Troya was very weak before the first apparitions in 1968, it was not extreme (For a study of the early apparitions). In many rural parts of southern Spain, the share of Catholics who practiced their faith by going to church regularly was low. Only a small minority fulfilled the church’s precepts: confessing and taking communion at least once a year. Priests were rare guests and, due to their working conditions, day laborers had few possibilities to attend religious services.
Holy Week in 2005 was a crucial time in the history of the Palmarian Church, as Gregory XVII died on March 21. In later years, he had become increasingly invisible in the life of the church and only appeared in Palmar de Troya on very special religious festivities, being carried in his gestatorial chair, tiara, miter or white biretta on his head. At his death, there was no conclave as he had already named Father Isidoro María his successor. The latter was crowned on March 24, taking Peter II as his papal name (ABC March 23, 24, 27, 2005). It is not known whether he regarded himself as Petrus Romanus, the last pope in the history, according to the prophecies of St. Malachy.
The late 1990s and early 2000s was a very turbulent time in the Palmarian church, filled with secessions and expulsions. The crisis had to do not only with the new teachings of the church, but also with the behavior of the pope and other leaders. In a 1998 sermon, Pope Gregory XVII commented on the situation, claiming that the group of true believers would be even smaller in the near future
Since news about the 22 of April escape of Pope Gregory XVII from Palmar de Troya was made public by me and others, there have been many articles about the matter in the Spanish press. The combination of a hermetically closed religious group and a pope leaving to live with his girlfriend, claiming that he does not believe in the church teachings anymore is of course thrilling to many, including me.
Below you will find links to some articles from late April and early May that are quite interesting and not too speculative, including several interviews with the ex-pope, who now wants to “turn the page”and leave everything behind him, presenting the Palmarian church as a “set up” (montaje). One month after the departure of Gregory XVII, several Spanish TV channels have broadcast longer documentaries about the history of the Palmarians and the current events.
Early news on the escape of Pope Gregory XVII, ABC Sevilla 25 April 2016: El «papa» de El Palmar de Troya pierde su fe y deja su «orden» sin despedirse de sus seguidores
A history of the Palmarian history and the recent events, including the coronation of the new pope, Peter III, ABC Sevilla 26 April: Los cuatro «papas» del Palmar de Troya
Here is a list of important events in the history of the Palmarian movement that became the Palmarian Catholic Church.
1968 (March 30): Four girls reported having seen a ”very beautiful lady” at the Alcaparrosa field, just outside Palmar de Troya, a town in Spanish Andalusia. The apparition took place by a mastic tree (lentisco), and the woman was identified as the Virgin Mary.
1968 (April onwards): Several other people, most of them women, claimed to have received apparitions at the site. The stories attracted large groups of people from the region, other parts of Spain, and from abroad.
1968 (October 15): Clemente Domínguez Gómez and his friend Manuel Alonso Corral from Seville visited Palmar de Troya for the first time.
1969 (July onwards) Clemente and Manuel began to travel frequently to Palmar de Troya.
1969 (August 15): Clemente fell in ecstasy by the mastic tree.
1969 (September 30): Clemente had his first vision (of Christ and Padre Pio).
1969 (December 15): Clemente had his first vision of the Virgin Mary.
In the last days, the Palmarian church has been in the center of attention. The news about pope Gregory XVIII leaving the church and the coronation of this sucessor Peter III have received ample coverage, at least in Spanish media. See my contributions Unexpected Changes in the Palmarian Church and The Palmarian Pope Has Resigned and is Succeeded by Peter III
The question is what is going to happen to the church now. Will there be a large exodus of members? Will the church even attract new ones? Will there be splinter groups, who claim that they are the true followers of the messages of Palmar de Troya. It is very hard to know. What can be studied, however, are the official Palmarian teachings about the future and the end of the world, i.e. the world of Palmarian apocalyptics
Reparation: A Spiritual Journey
Haven Pablishing, 2015
Maria Hall is from Auckland, New Zealand. After some time in a Roman Catholic order in the late 1970s, she spent eight years as a nun in the Palmarian Church, a religious group which by that time had its hadquarters in Seville and Palmar de Troya in Spanish Andalusia. It is a very closed group with roots in the Roman Catholic Church, which has its own pope and has developed increasingly different teachings. Maria Hall left the Palmarians in 1990. She tells her life story in her new book Reparation: A Spritual Journey, which is the first longer text, written by a former Palmarian nun.
Having read the book, I wrote a message to her, parts of which I publish here:
“I was deeply moved when reading your book: Reparation, a spiritual journey. It is very interesting to see how life can turn out with or without our active choices.
Reading about your time in the Roman Catholic convent, I, of course, recognize the Catholic culture of silence and secrecy, and how relatively little women religious are valued by church authorities.
The life in Palmar, as you describe it, feels so claustrophobic. There seemed to be very little charity within the order and a lot of focus on suffering and reparation. Sleep-deprivation, too much or too little food, very hard work, and the enormous amount of prayers and other pious practices make for a very tough life. I also note the almost total invisibility of Pope Gregory, and that Father Isidoro María really was the puppet master Continue reading “Testimony by a former Palmarian nun”