Pilgrims of Arès
|Pilgrims of Arès|
France and other countries
|Members||2,500 – 5,000|
The Pilgrims of Arès is the name of a new religious movement founded in 1974 and whose founder was Michel Potay. It was named after the town of Arès, Gironde, where Michel Potay would have received revelations. Beliefs and practices are based on the Revelation of Arès, written by Potay.
Structure and practices 
Members and geographical area 
The Pilgrims of Arès are organized in a decentralized manner. According to a critic of the group, the movement has about "500 to 2,000 followers" or 5,000 members. According to another critic of the movement, "The Pilgrims of Arès live sometimes isolated, sometimes in groups or missions. Legally, they form regional assemblies as the "Workers of the Harvest" ("Les Ouvriers de la Moisson"), "The Eye Opens" ("L'Œil s'Ouvre," created in Bordeaux on 4 March 1987, dissolved in 2001), "The Brothers of the Dawn" ("Frères de l'Aube"), "The Torrents" (created in Paris in 1989), or larger associations, such as "The Work of the Pilgrimage of Arès." Also according to the same association, the Pilgrims of Arès would develop missions in Germany, Belgium (Liège), France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Russia and Switzerland (Geneva, Neuchâtel, Zurich). The movement begins to expand outside Europe, with members in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and America (U.S. and Canada).
Organization and meetings 
The believer has a spiritual and individual freedom. The Pilgrims may be defined as any person who accepts the word of the Revelation of Arès. Two essential elements provide yet cohesive movement, otherwise very disparate and that reject any idea of centralized organization: The Revelation of Arès and their prophet, Michel Potay. Publishing and disseminating the message of this book is one of the main purpose of the movement. The House of Revelation, in Arès, publishes The Revelation of Arès, and provides bookstores and libraries. Periodicals The Pilgrim of Arès, Brothers of the Dawn (Frères de l'Aube), The Egala'h, The Bul'fda and pamphlets are also published. The associative structure then responds to these needs.
As a prophet who claims that God spoke to him directly, Potay is the founder of the movement, and is the coordinator between the various associations. Sociologist Jean-François Mayer thinks there is a tendency in sanctifying Michel Potay, but after having invested heavily in conferences and meetings, he is more discreet now. The continuation of the movement is mainly done by believers themselves.
The Pilgrims of Arès believers are free but they are grouped into associations of local mission, called "Assemblies of God." Legally and for practical purposes, they are formed as voluntary associations. The first assembly was founded in Bordeaux in 1976, followed by a second in Paris in 1978. It was created sixty associations linked to the faith in France, in twenty French cities. These associations publish periodicals, pamphlets, organize conferences and meetings. However, no association represents Pilgrims of Arès in full. One of them, named The Work of the Pilgrimage of Arès, organizes the pilgrimage to the House of the Holy Word.
A pilgrimage in Arès was founded in 1974. Followers go to the House of the Holy Word (Maison de la Sainte Parole), the place of supposed theophanies received by Potay, to pray and receive the Fire, a strengthening of his faith. The pilgrims practice "free" prayer, which is to chant softly extracts of sacred books: Bible, Quran and Revelation of Arès. To access the House of the Holy Word, each pilgrim must answer three questions:
- "Do you believe that the Bible, the Quran and the Revelation of Arès are from God?"
- "Do you love all humans?"
- "Do you forgive the sins?"
However, what is important is mainly the pilgrim's motives. The Pilgrim is then allowed to enter the House of the Holy Word, but he must remove his shoes and wear a white tunic. He then puts his hand down the front, and prostrates himself to kiss the ground.
The House of Revelation (Maison de la Révélation) is the place where Jesus would be appeared in 1974. During the pilgrimage, seminars, public missions and film screenings are organized.
The movement is financed by donations from pilgrims of Arès who pay a tithe of 5% of their income. As there is no structure or central treasury, they pay their donations to Potay himself, as recommended in The Revelation of Arès (34 / 6).
Cult allegations 
One of the group's organization, The Eye Opens, founded in 1987 in Bordeaux, was listed as cult in the 1995 French parliamentary report established by the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France, in the category "Cultic movements with 500 to 2,000 followers." The report considered the association as an "apocalyptic" and "healer" cult.
In 2005, the report of the Miviludes cited the example of the Pilgrims of Arès in his chapter on healing through prayer.
- "Rapport fait au nom de la Commission d'enquête sur les sectes — Les sectes en France" (in French). Assemblée Nationale. 1995. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
- "Les Pèlerins d'Arès" (in French). Vigi-sectes. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
- UNADFI (2000). "Que sait-on de... Arès". BULLES (in French). Prevensectes. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
- Chantin, Jean-Pierre (2004). Des sectes dans la France contemporaine : 1905–2000, contestations ou innovations religieuses. Toulouse. pp. 94–98. ISBN 2-7089-6855-6. Unknown parameter
- "Religions > Mouvements divers > Mouvements divers – 1" (in French). Quid. 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
- Mayer, Jean-François (1990). Michel Potay et la Révélation d'Arès (in French). Fribourg: Les Trois Nornes. p. 12. ISBN 2-88210-004-3.
- Mayer, Jean-François (1990). Michel Potay et la Révélation d'Arès (in French). Fribourg: Les Trois Nornes. pp. 19–21. ISBN 2-88210-004-3.
- Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin; Barrett, David B.; Wiebe, Donald; Eck, Diana (September 2002). Religions of the world : a comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices. 1 / 4. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 71–72. ISBN 1-57607-223-1.
- Vernette, Jean; Moncelon, Claire (1995). Dictionnaire des groupes religieux aujourd'hui (religions – églises – sectes – nouveaux mouvements religieux – mouvements spiritualistes) (in French). SOS Dérives sectaires. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2009-12-26 of the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia.