Palmarian Christian Church

An enigmatic religious movement with claims to be the legitimate successor of the Catholic Church, marked by its own popes and unique doctrines.

The Palmarian Christian Church, also known as the Palmarian Catholic Church, is a small, independent religious sect based in El Palmar de Troya, Spain, and emerged from a series of alleged Marian apparitions in 1968. These apparitions reportedly revealed messages from the Virgin Mary, warning of great chastisement and the end times, themes consistent with earlier Catholic Marian apparitions. Clemente Domínguez y Gómez, who later adopted the name Pope Gregory XVII, founded the church in the late 1970s following the death of Pope Paul VI.

Domínguez claimed to have been mystically crowned by Jesus Christ as the true pope, rejecting the legitimacy of subsequent Vatican popes beginning with Pope John Paul I. This led to a schism with the Roman Catholic Church, and Domínguez and his followers were excommunicated. Despite this, the Palmarian Christian Church regards its leaders as the legitimate continuation of the papal line, believing that the Holy See was relocated to El Palmar de Troya.

The church’s doctrines are heavily apocalyptic, focusing on the imminent arrival of the Antichrist and a final battle between good and evil. It has also controversially canonized figures like Francisco Franco and Christopher Columbus, alongside implementing its own set of liturgical reforms, which include a significantly shorter Mass that deviates from traditional Catholic rites.

The church has been described as secretive and cult-like, exercising strict control over its members, including restrictions on interacting with non-members and engaging in modern cultural activities like music and television. This control has extended to social isolation, particularly noted in incidents in Ireland where the church actively recruited members who eventually cut off contact with their families and lived reclusively.

Following Domínguez’s death in 2005, the leadership has passed through several self-declared popes, each perpetuating the church’s traditionalist and apocalyptic teachings. Its contemporary status, under Pope Peter III since 2016, continues with a small following and operates largely from its Cathedral-Basilica of Our Crowned Mother of Palmar in El Palmar de Troya, maintaining strict regulations for its members on aspects such as clothing, media consumption, and social interactions.