Pilgrims of Arès

A spiritual movement focused on love, forgiveness, and freedom, revealed through Michel Potay’s encounters with the divine.

The Pilgrims of Arès represents a new religious movement that emerged in the mid-1970s, founded by Michel Potay following his claimed divine revelations in the town of Arès, France. This movement, devoid of a centralized organizational structure, is grounded in the principles laid out in the “Revelation of Arès,” a text that Potay authored based on these supernatural experiences. The movement espouses a set of core beliefs that emphasize spiritual freedom, love, forgiveness, creativity, and intelligence, advocating for a world free from the constraints of traditional religion and politics.

Organization and Meetings

At the heart of the Pilgrims of Arès is the concept of spiritual and individual freedom, with followers, or Pilgrims, defined by their acceptance of the word of the Revelation of Arès. Despite its lack of centralized organization, the movement is cohesive, bound by their prophet, Michel Potay, and the foundational text. Pilgrims are organized into local associations known as “Assemblies of God,” which serve legal and practical purposes and are involved in publishing periodicals, organizing conferences, and facilitating the pilgrimage to the House of the Holy Word in Arès​​​​​​.

The Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage, central to the movement, is a journey to the House of the Holy Word, where Potay received his theophanies. Pilgrims engage in “free” prayer, using excerpts from sacred texts, including the Bible, the Quran, and the Revelation of Arès. Entry to the House of the Holy Word requires pilgrims to affirm their belief in these texts, their love for all humans, and their forgiveness of sins. The House of Revelation, another significant site, is purportedly where Jesus appeared to Potay in 1974​​​​​​.

The Revelation of Arès

The Revelation of Arès is composed of two parts: The Gospel Given at Arès, received from Jesus over several nights in 1974, and The Book, received from God in 1977. This text is considered an extension of the Bible and the Quran, with its teachings focusing on fostering love, forgiveness, and freedom, while also presenting a critique of traditional religious and political structures. The movement encourages the spread of these teachings to liberate humanity from spiritual and societal constraints​​​​​​.

Finances and Cult Allegations

The Pilgrims of Arès is funded through donations, with pilgrims encouraged to contribute a tithe of their income to support the movement. Despite this, donations are described as discretionary. The movement has faced scrutiny and was listed as a cult in a 1995 French parliamentary report, categorized under “Cultic movements with 500 to 2,000 followers,” and was described as “apocalyptic” and “healer”​​​​​​.

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