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.
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.
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.
On February 19, 2020, the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial published a long interview with Ginés Jesús Hernández. Between 2011 and 2016 he was Gregory XVIII, the pope of the Palmarian Catholic Church. In April 2016, he left the papacy and the church and moved to his girlfriend Nieves Triviño, whom he later married. Shortly after leaving El Palmar, he publicly claimed that the church was a hoax (see my summary of the events).
In June 2018, once again the couple made front-page news when the Spanish press reported that they had climbed over the high wall of the church compound in an attempt to rob the very centre of the Palmarian Church: the Basilica in El Palmar de Troya. In a subsequent fight, both two Palmarian bishops and the couple were wounded. Ginés Hernández was very severely injured, being stabbed in the chest. Still, he recovered and both he and his wife were prosecuted for armed robbery. In May 2019, they were sentenced to prison for six and five years respectively, but directly released on probation (see my summary of the events).
Continue reading “New Interview with the Palmarian ex-Pope” →
There are several TV-documentaries about El Palmar de Troya and the Palmarian Church, but by far the most ambitious and well-researched is the new series, “El Palmar de Troya” that is broadcasted in February 2020 on the Spanish Moviestar+ Cero Channel. The series is produced by Movistar+ in collaboration with 100 Balas (The Mediapro Studio) and 93 Metros directed by Israel del Santo and with Daniel Boluda in charge of the research.
“El Palmar de Troya” includes four 55-minute episodes following the Palmarian phenomenon from the beginning in 1968 until today. It includes testimonies by former church members including ex-Pope Gregory XVIII (Ginés Hernández) and his wife Nieves Triviño, who used to be a Palmarian nun. But there are also testimonies by other ex-bishops and ex-nuns as well as former lay members. Apart from them, some outsiders, including me, talk about El Palmar and the Palmarian Church.
Continue reading “New Documentary on El Palmar de Troya” →
Until very recently the Palmarian Catholic Church had no official internet presence at all. Even for those actively searching, it has been difficult if not impossible to find a phone number or an email address. This was highly unusual even in the world of Catholic traditionalism. Still, in the 1990s, the church maintained a very rudimentary internet site, but it was not updated and eventually disappeared.
In December 2018, however, the Palmarians suddenly launched a professionally looking multilingual website: www.palmarianchurch.org. The site includes basic information about the Palmarian Church, the Order of the Carmelites of the Holy Face and pope Peter III. On the site, one finds a lot of images and films, mainly documenting important religious feast and the basilica in El Palmar de Troya. There is also a growing number of texts: general overviews of the church’s history and teachings, apparition messages, extracts from official documents (including the catechism and the Palmarian Bible) and hagiographies as well as diatribes against the media and people considered enemies of the church.
Continue reading “Palmarian Internet Presence” →
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 hur man blir medlem i föreningen och därigenom erhåller årsboken finns här.
I Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift 2019 bidrar jag med tre recensioner:
CONFESSIONAL MOBILITY AND ENGLISH CATHOLICS IN COUNTER-REFORMATION EUROPE.
Oxford: Oxford University Press 2019, xiii + 240 sid.
JESUITS AND MATRIARCHS. Domestic Worship in Early Modern China.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, xii + 258 sid
CATHOLICS AND EVERYDAY LIFE IN MACAU. Changing Meanings of Religiosity, Morality and Civility. (Routledge Religion in Contemporary Asia Series 6)
London & New York: Routledge 2017, ix + 196 sid.
Recensionerna är tillgängliga i fulltext här
Provföreläsning för professuren i kyrkohistoria, 7 november 2019.
Det förflutna är inte vad det en gång var. Det är titeln på en metodbok av den norske historikern Knut Kjelstadli. Titeln syftar bland annat på att betydelsen av händelser i det förgångna kan förändras med tiden men också på att historieforskningen förändras med tiden.
En annan populär metodbok heter: Fråga det förflutna. Det är vad historieforskning ytterst handlar om. Att vi aktivt förhåller oss till det som skett, eller rättare sagt vad som har blivit kvar av det: det vi benämner källor. Det rör: Vilka frågor vi ställer, vilka källor vi använder och hur vi arbetar med dem, vilka analytiska begrepp vi brukar, hur vi för samman enskildheter till berättelser och teman, och hur vi förklarar orsaker, samband och effekter.
Min föreläsning handlar om nuet och framtiden. Men det är ingen allmän lägesrapport eller någon blick in i en spåkula. Jag ska tala om kyrkohistorisk forskning idag och i den nära framtiden. Och det krävs en ordentlig avgränsning för att kunna säga något vettigt i en kort föreläsning. Därför kommer det att handla om kyrkohistorisk forskning vid Uppsala universitet, där jag sedan fyra år är tillförordnad ämnesföreträdare. Det betyder också att jag är en aktör i skeendet.
Continue reading “Kyrkohistorisk forskning i dag och i morgon” →
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
On June 10, 2018, began a new, bizarre chapter in the history of the Palmarian Catholic Church. The Palmarian ex-pope Ginés Jesús Hernández (earlier known as Gregory XVIII) and his wife, Nieves Triviño climbed over the high walls of the church compound at Palmar de Troya.
They were masked and armed, apparently planning to rob the cathedral, but were discovered by a Palmarian bishop who was outside the basilica. According to testimonies, they beat Bishop S with a hammer and threatened him and another bishop, J, with a knife. However, in the subsequent fight, Hernández was severely injured, while the others escaped with less serious physical injuries.
It was on April 22, 2016, Gregory XVIII (sed. 2011-2016) resigned the Palmarian papacy. He later claimed that he had lost the faith and that the whole church was a hoax. He left to live with Nieves Triviño, whom he later married. For details, see my book A Pope of Their Own.
Here is a brief description of the events from June 10, 2018 to May 17, 2019.
Continue reading “A Robber Ex-Pope and his Wife: From the Beginning to the End” →