A divinely inspired mission with celestial origins and miraculous healings.
The New Jerusalem Church of the Celestial Messenger was founded by Giuseppe Maria Abbate in 1917, marking a unique chapter in the history of religious movements. Abbate, an Italian immigrant to the United States, claimed to have received divine messages around 1910, focusing his studies on the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. A turning point came in 1912 or 1913 when, after praying for recovery from rheumatism at St. Mary’s Church, he experienced a miraculous healing and a vision confirming his divine authority and mission on Earth.
Abbate’s revelations included claims of an extraterrestrial origin; he believed he was born on Mars, a sin-free planet, and was sent to Earth by God to save humanity from increasing sinfulness. His teachings incorporated visions, such as seeing a blue cross over Lake Michigan and receiving messages from God, which were integral to his mission and the foundation of the New Jerusalem Church.
The church itself was established with headquarters in a small building in Chicago, housing a school, a kitchen, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, reflecting its role as a community and spiritual center for its followers, predominantly Italian immigrants. Abbate’s claim to healing powers and his role as a divine messenger attracted a significant following, with membership reaching up to 500 individuals at its peak.
Legal troubles marred Abbate’s leadership in the 1920s and 1930s, with accusations of sexual assault leading to his confinement in a state hospital. Despite these challenges, the New Jerusalem Church of the Celestial Messenger persisted, with Abbate continuing to lead the group until his death in 1963. The church’s history is marked by its founder’s charismatic leadership, claims of divine and extraterrestrial origin, and a lasting impact on its members and the broader religious landscape.