Palmarian Catholic Church

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The cathedral of Palmar de Troya, the seat of the Palmarian Pope.

The Christian Palmarian Church of the Carmelites of the Holy Face (Spanish: Iglesia Cristiana Palmariana de los Carmelitas de la Santa Faz), commonly called the Palmarian Catholic Church (Iglesia Católica Palmariana), is a small schismatic Catholic church centred on El Palmar de Troya, Spain.

The church regards Pope Paul VI, whom they revere as a martyr, and his predecessors as true popes, but hold, on the grounds of claimed apparitions, that the Pope of Rome is excommunicated and that the position of the Holy See has, since 1978, been transferred to the See of El Palmar de Troya.

The Palmarian Catholic Church has had three pontiffs since its break from the Catholic Church; Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (Pope Gregory XVII) declared himself pope in 1978 until his death in 2005, Manuel Corral (Pope Peter II) succeeded Domínguez in 2005 and led the church until his death in 2011. He was succeeded by Sergio María (Pope Gregory XVIII) who was elected by conclave in 2011.



In March 1968, four Spanish schoolgirls (only known as Ana, Josefa, Rafaela and Ana María) stated they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary by a little tree on a piece of farmland called La Alcaparrosa near Palmar de Troya. Many people came to witness the supposed apparitions, and a number of miracles similar to those alleged to have happened at Fátima, Garabandal and Međugorje were said to have occurred. The seers had many supporters, including priests. Several other people reported visions at the site, including Clemente Domínguez y Gómez, an insurance broker from Seville. He gradually became the “principal seer”.[1][2]

The original seers's visions were dismissed by the local bishop. They returned to their normal lives and allegedly said to wish to only forget the past and to have no connection with the Palmarian Church.[3] Domínguez claimed that the Virgin Mary had given him instructions to rid the Catholic Church of “heresy and progressivism”, and of Communism.

In 1975, Domínguez formed a new religious order, the Order of Carmelites of the Holy Face, which claimed to be “faithful to the holy Pope Paul VI”. It claimed that Paul VI (who is still honoured by Palmarians as a martyr-pope) was detained in the Vatican by evil conspiring cardinals. The order was initially run by laymen, but supported sacramentally by priests from Spain, Portugal and the United States.

Consecration of bishops[edit]

To be guaranteed access to the sacraments, Domínguez’s group needed its own bishops. Domínguez wrote a letter to Marcel Lefebvre and asked him to consecrate him. Lefebvre sent three of his priests. In 1976, the (now laicised) Swiss priest Maurice Revaz (who had taught Canon Law at the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) seminary in Ecône) persuaded the elderly Vietnamese Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc[4] of the authenticity of the apparitions.[5] Archbishop Thuc was chosen because he was a papal legate. Accepting the mystical message of the seer-mystics, the Archbishop believed that he was called by the Virgin Mary to raise two of the order’s members (Domínguez and a lawyer named Manuel Alonso Corral) and three of the priests associated with the group to the rank of bishop. Thuc also ordained some laymen to the priesthood.

As Thuc acted without obtaining the mandatory authorisation from the Holy See, he and the five men he consecrated as bishops were subsequently excommunicated by Paul VI. Thuc subsequently cut his ties with the group and was reconciled with the Church authorities.

Claim to the papacy[edit]

Following the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, Domínguez claimed that he had been mystically crowned pope by Jesus Christ in a vision. He took the papal name "Gregory XVII", and appointed his own cardinals. By these actions, the "Carmelites of the Holy Face" evolved into the Palmarian Catholic Church. Some Catholics previously associated with the Carmelites left the group as a result.

The popes of the Palmarian Church do not claim to be the titular Bishop of Rome. Rather, they claim that Christ transferred the position of Patriarch of the West and Supreme Pontiff to the new episcopal see of El Palmar de Troya. This is a departure from traditional Catholic doctrine, which identifies the papacy with the Bishop of Rome. Roman Catholic teaching also holds that personal revelations are not binding on the Church as a whole.

In his capacity as Pope Gregory XVII, Domínguez called the Roman Catholic Church a false church and declared Pope John Paul II excommunicated. In addition Pope Gregory XVII also canonized Francisco Franco, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer and Christopher Columbus and declared Paul VI a martyr saint.

Peter II[edit]

Domínguez died in March 2005 whilst administering the Palmarian Easter Liturgy, supposedly while experiencing a vision. His church later declared him to be Pope Saint Gregory XVII the Very Great. Manuel Alonso Corral, named in 2000 by Domínguez as his successor, succeeded him as Peter II. There was no Palmarian conclave for this election.

Peter II made no claims to visions but stated that the Antichrist was born in the year 2000. Palmarian doctrine indicates that the Antichrist will mock Christ and imitate him by making a public appearance at the age of 12 and begin his public life when he is 30 years old (source Palmarian Council).

Peter II died on July 15, 2011 after a long illness.

Gregory XVIII[edit]

Peter II was succeeded by his Secretary of State, Sergio María, who took the name Gregory XVIII. Gregory XVIII is a former member of the Spanish Military.

Present day[edit]

The Palmarian Church says that it has 60 bishops, 70 nuns and 2,000 followers.[citation needed]

Since 1983 the Palmarian Church has drastically reformed its rites and its liturgy, which previously had been styled in the Tridentine form. The Palmarian liturgy was reduced to almost solely the Eucharistic words of consecration. The See of El Palmar de Troya has also declared the Real Presence of the Virgin Mary in the sacred host and the bodily assumption into heaven of St. Joseph to be dogmas of the Catholic faith. By 2000, they had their own version of the Bible, revised by Domínguez on claimed prophetic authority. For these reasons and their strict rules allowing no communication with people outside of the faith, other Catholics consider the Palmarian Church to be heretics and cult followers.

The Archidonian Palmarian group (Archidona, Malaga, Spain) formed in 2000 was due to the expulsion of 16 cardinals and five nuns. They were expelled by Domínguez for diverse reasons. The predominant reason for the expulsions was due to Domínguez's belief that there was "a church within a church" planning to overthrow or assassinate him. One cardinal, Cyril María, was expelled due to the new edition of the Bible. The group in Archidona has since almost disbanded and there remains four or five. They presently call themselves "independent" Palmarian priests. They believe that the see of Peter is once again vacant.


Up until the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, Palmarian Catholics generally accept the conventional succession of Roman Catholic Popes.

Papal name Personal name Pontificate Notes
Gregory XVII Clemente Domínguez y Gómez 15 August 1978 – 22 March 2005
(26 years)
Peter II Manuel Alonso Corral 22 March 2005 – 15 July 2011
(6 years)
There was no Palmarian conclave to elect Corral, as Domínguez had named him as successor in 2000.
Gregory XVIII Sergio María Ginés Jesús Hernández y Martinez Since 23 July 2011
(4 years)
Elected in conclave.

In film[edit]

The events around the foundation of the church are depicted in the 1986 Spanish film Manuel y Clemente (in IMDB).


The original version of this article was adapted from "A million gather for Pope's 'last words' to Spain" by Isambard Wilkinson in Madrid.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Corrales, A Tale of Two Popes. Inexplicata, A Journal of Hispanic Ufology. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  2. ^ Scott Corrales, A Tale of Two Popes. Inexplicata, A Journal of Hispanic Ufology. Retrieved 2013-06-26 from Yahoo Groups
  3. ^ Robert Duncan, Spain's Pope Gregory XVII: A Profile Of Madness. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  4. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  5. ^ Oskar Schmitt: Ein würdiger Verwalter im Weinberg unseres Herrn Jesus Christus: Bischof Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, Norderstedt 2006.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°03′23″N 5°48′32″W / 37.05639°N 5.80889°W / 37.05639; -5.80889