Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary (cult)

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Painful and immaculate heart of Mary
Classification Christianity
Orientation Catholicism
Leader Juliano Verbard
Region Réunion

The Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cœur douloureux et immaculé de Marie) is a new religious movement with Catholic background founded in 2001 by Juliano Verbard in Piton Saint-Leu, Réunion. The group, widely referred to as a cult, was the subject of a substantial coverage in the media after several judicial cases involving the founder.


Born in 1982, founder Juliano Verbard calls himself "Little Lily of Love" ("Petit Lys d'Amour"). He claims that the Virgin Mary speaks to him every day of the 8th day of each month at 22 in a coconut tree. Followers must pay 20 euro to attend to collective prayers.[1]

On 9 July 2007, he kidnapped Alexander, a 12-year child, in Sainte-Suzanne, Réunion, in whom he saw his successor[2] and who was released on 5 August 2007.[3] In February 2008, he was accused of child abuse and fraud and was sentenced to fifteen-year imprisonment for raping two children who were respectively 8 and 13. In April 2009, he managed to escape from prison by helicopter with two of his followers, Alexis Michel and his son Jean-Fabrice.[4][5][6] He was recaptured in May of the same year,[7] and eventually sentenced to an additional 13 years for the escape.[8]

This movement was not recognized by the Catholic hierarchy. It was inspired by an Australian religious group named the Order of Saint Charbel, created by German William Kamm, known as "Little Pebble" ("Petit Caillou").[9] It was also inspired by a French community named Amour et Miséricorde, located in the Jura department in which Verbard lived in 2003.[10]

The religious group is criticized by French anti-cult associations, including CCMM[11] and ADFI[12] which considered it as a cult.


  1. ^ "La secte "Coeur douloureux et immaculé de Marie"". Nouvel Observateur (in French). 23 June 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Enlèvement d'Alexandre : quatorze personnes mises en examen, douze écrouées". Le Monde (in French). Vivre pour la vérité. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "Secte: Alexandre retrouvé sain et sauf à La Réunion". L'Express (in French). 6 August 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "Évasion spectaculaire du gourou de la secte du Cœur douloureux et immaculé de Marie". Le Monde (in French). 27 April 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Yannick Vely (2009). "Un gourou en liberté". Paris Match (in French). Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "Le gourou s'est envolé". Paris Normandie (in French). 28 April 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "La Réunion: le gourou pédophile évadé en hélicoptère a été arrêté". Libération (in French). 6 May 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  8. ^ RFI (2 June 2012). "Cult leader jailed for prison escape by helicopter". RFI. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Le groupe sectaire du Coeur douloureux et immaculé de Marie  : une dérive locale de la foi catholique". Le Figaro (in French). 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  10. ^ "Quand Petit lys d'amour s'initiait en métropole…". Le Quotidien (in French). 15 December 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  11. ^ "Petit Lys d’Amour et son amant s’évadent de Domenjod par les airs". Clicanoo (in French). CCMM. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Gourou pédophile : 15 ans de réclusion". AFP (in French). ADFI. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2009.