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The History of the Gnostic Church

The Modern Era

Stream 1 - the Johannine connection

In 1804, Ledru, de Chevillon, de Saintot and Bernard Raymond Fabré-Palaprat restored the Order of the Temple based on the "Larmenius' Charter," which detailed the chain of transmission from 1324. Additional documents used issued in the reestablishment of the Order were the Manuscript statutes of 1705, and 'a journal of proceedings of the Order of the Temple.' Ledru had purchased these documents through the sale of the properties of the deceased Duke du Cosse-Brissac, a former Grand Master of the Société d'Aloya, which was established in Paris in 1789. The society claimed to be a continuation of the medieval Templar Order.

According to these documents, the Order was reestablished in 1705 by the Duc d'Orléans using the Charter of one Jean-Marc Larmenius, the purported successor of Jacques De Molay. The whole history of the foundation of Fabré-Palaprat's "Ordre du Temple" can be found in numerous books written on the subject.  

The Evangelikon / Levitikon

The "Evangelikon" is described as a version of the Fourth Gospel, which is preceded by an introduction and a commentary that carries the name "Levitikon," said to have been written by Nicephorus, a Greek monk of Athens. Fabré-Palaprat's "Johannine Church" is grounded in this version of the Gospel of St. John. According to oral tradition, Fabré-Palaprat purchased a vellum manuscript in a secondhand bookseller in Paris, 1814. Fabré-Palaprat adopted the contents of the manuscript as the future doctrine of the Templar Order. The manuscript consisted of two parts:

1) The religious doctrines, including the rituals of ordination of the nine grades of the inner order of the Templar Order; a description of the Templar "Church of John" and an explanation of the name "Johannine."

2) The "Gospel of St. John," with the last two Chapters (20-21) missing. It also eliminated all hint of the miraculous from the stories of the turning of the water into wine, the loaves and fishes, and the raising of Lazarus, and certain references to St. Peter. In short, the "Levitikon" was a condensed version of the Book of John, which also claimed, "Our Lord was an initiate of the Egyptian Mysteries."

In 1811, the Order published the "Manuel des Chevaliers de l'Ordre du Temple, which was printed for private circulation among the members of the Templar Order. Both publications ("Manuel des Chevaliers" …and the "Levitikon") relate that the Templar Order had continued its existence since the time of Jacques de Molay. Fabré-Palaprat composed the Johannine History of the Templars from these manuscripts. According to Jean-Marie Ragon, the Templars "learned from the initiates of the East a certain Judaic doctrine which was attributed to St. John the Apostle; therefore they renounced the religion of St. Peter and became Johannines" ("Cours philosophique et interprétatif des initiations anciennes et modernes," Ragon, 1842).

Fabré-Palaprat claimed to be heir to the Apostolic Succession of Saint John the Divine, and it is on this bases that he finally founded the "Sainte Église du Christ," erroneously called "Église Johannites des Chrétiens Primitifs" by those outside her ranks, in 1828. It is this "Johannine Church" which became connected with the French Neo-Templars, and which would eventually dwindle in prominence with the Church being subsumed forever within the authority of the Eglise Gnostique of Joanny Bricaud and his successors.

[Ed. Note: la Sainte Église du Christ and l'Église Chrétienne are the two names actually used by the church of Fabré-Palaprat and Mauviel, both in the Ordination rituals, and on the certificates of teh church.]

[Ed. Note: "Evangelikon" may likely be a misnomer for the proper word 'Evangelion' - which is an Eastern Orthodox commentary on the Gospels. It should also be noted that the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches preserved more of the original mysticism of the early church than did Rome in the west. Rome had to take a more rational and political stance when it essentially took over as the Roman Empire after its "fall". Whereas the Orthodox churches continued for several hundred years in their original format only later being interrupted by the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire ... and in reverse, did not assume political control, but retreated and focused on the inner and mystical orientation of Christianity. Even to this day, the Orthodox churches are fairly unknown in western Europe, so encountering anything of the sort would certainly make the mind reel.]

l'Église Johannite des Chrétiens Primitifs

Name given to the Church by those who were never members co-founded by Fabré-Palaprat and a man named Mauviel, an ecclesiastic who had been consecrated in 1800 in Paris as Constitutional Bishop of Cayes in Haiti. Fabré-Palaprat had apparently been ordained as a Priest by the Bishop of Lot (and again later by Mauviel). The Primate of the Johannine Church was a certain Mgr. Machault. Machault then consecrated a Monsieur Chatel within the Johannine Church. In 1831, Mgr. Chatel received the title "Bishop of the Gauls."

The Johannine church faced many difficulties, not the least of which was a resistance to the introduction by Fabré-Palaprat of this new Johannine doctrine, and after Fabré-Palaprat's death in 1838, both his Order of the Temple and the Johannine church declined. It is alleged that a small circle of French and Belgian noblemen who directed the order's activities continued the "Primitive Christian Church" in small select groups, but this is speculation.

The Templar Order experienced a schism after Fabré-Palaprat's death, dividing advocates and opponents of the Johannine Church. Chatel continued to lead the Johannine Church after Fabré-Palaprat's death. There are some indications that the two branches of the Templar Order, led by Count Jules de Moreton de Chabrillan (an advocate of the Johannine Church) and Admiral William Sydney Smith of England, reconciled in 1841 under Jean-Marie Raoul; however, as for the Johannine Church, the Gnostic Bishop and Patriarch Jean Bricaud received the succession of the Johannine Church from B. Clément, who was also a member of Bricaud's Universal Gnostic Church, and was proclaimed the Patriarch of the Johannine Church in 1907.

Stream 2 - the Gnostic/Valentinian/Cathar connection

Jules Doinel and the Église Gnostique.

Jules Doinel founded, on September 21, 1890, the Gnostic Church. Doinel (Jules-Benoît Stanislaus Doinel de Val-Michel, 1842 - 1903), a Freemason (member of the 'Grand Orient de France'), was an archivist and a Spiritualist. In 1888, Doinel apparently discovered, in the library of Orléans, a Charter dated 1022, written by a forerunner of the Cathars, a certain Canon Stephan d'Orléans, a schoolmaster who, it seems, taught Gnostic doctrines. He was burned later that same year for heresy. The Cathars and their predecessors, the Bogomils, as well as the Paulicians, Manicheans, and various other Gnostic movements fascinated Doinel. [Ed. Note: In communication with the Department of Orléans, they have no current records of a Charter of this sort. It is possible that Doinel, having such access, may have appropriated this document, however its present whereabouts are unknown. We have, although, been given access to a couple brief historical accounts of the "heresy" in Orléans, and will make those available in English translation as time allows.]

One night in 1888, Doinel had a vision in which the "Aeon Jesus" appeared. Doinel alleged that Jesus Christ himself, assisted by two Bogomil Bishops in this miraculous vision, consecrated him that night as a Patriarch. Doinel also received specific instructions to establish a new church, the Church of the Paraclete, the Consoler or Reconciler.

Doinel's consecration was as "Bishop of Montségur and Primate of the Albigensians" ("Montségur" referring to the famous Cathar stronghold near the city of Foix, in southwestern France). After this miraculous vision, Doinel began attempting to contact Cathar and Gnostic spirits in séances which were held in the salon of Lady Marie Caithness and her circle, a circle which would later become known in France as the "Société Théosophique d'Orient et d'Occident." Doinel's Gnostic séances were attended by many notable occultists of the time, one of them being the Abbé Roca, a former Catholic Priest and close associate of both Stanislas de Guaïta and Oswald Wirth. These communications with Spirits were received by menas of a pendulum suspended over a board of letters by the Duchess. Doinel and Lady Caithness received the following message during one of these séances: (excerpt of a communication between Doinel and a spirit "whom Valentinus had named Sophia-Achamôth")

"I address myself to you because you are my friend, my servant and the prelate of my Albigensian Church. I am exiled from the Pleroma, and it is I whom Valentinus named Sophia-Achamôth. It is I whom Simon Magus called Helene-Ennoia; for I am the Eternal Androgyne. Jesus is the Word of God; I am the Thought of God. One day I shall return to my Father above, but I require assistance in this; to intercede for me, the supplications of my Brother Jesus are required. Only the Infinite is able to redeem the Infinite, and only God is able to redeem God. Listen well: The One has brought forth One, then One. And the Three are but One: the Father, the Word and the Thought. Establish my Gnostic Church. The Demiurge will be powerless against it. Receive the Paraclete."

At various séances, the Canon Stephan and Guilhabert de Castres, a Cathar Bishop of Toulouse in the 12th century who was martyred at Montségur, were contacted. At another séance in September of 1889, the "Very High Synod of Bishops of the Paraclete," consisting of 40 Cathar Bishops, manifested and gave their names which were later checked against records in the National Library and proved to be accurate. The head of the Synod was Guilhabert de Castres, who addressed Doinel and instructed him to reconstitute and teach the Gnostic doctrine by founding an Assembly of the Paraclete, to be called the Gnostic Church. Helene-Ennoia was to assist him, and they were to be spiritually wedded. The assembly was to be composed of Parfaits and Parfaites, and was to take for its holy book the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John. The church was to be administered by male bishops and female "Sophias" (sometimes also called "Kephra"), who were to be elected and consecrated according to the Gnostic Rite.

Doinel proclaimed the year 1890 as the beginning of the "Era of the Gnosis Restored." He assumed the office of Patriarch of the Gnostic Church under the mystic name of Valentin II, in homage to Valentinus, the 5th century founder of the Valentinian school of Gnosticism. He consecrated a number of bishops, all of whom chose a mystic name, which was prefaced by the Greek letter Tau to represent the Greek Tau Cross or the Egyptian Ankh. It should be noted that the Patriarch of the Gnostic Church was said to be the direct descendent of the beloved Aspostle John. This Johannine influence is apparent, not only with the succession of the Order of the Temple and the Eglise Johannite des Chrétiens Primitifs, but also with the importance of the Gospel of John, and the Knighthood conveyed by Doinel. In addition, Doinel proclaimed that the head of the Gnostic Church was the direct descendant and heir to John the Beloved. Thus, the head of the Eglise Gnostique occupies the throne of John - among others.

Among the first to be consecrated by Doinel were Gérard Encausse (Papus, 1865-1916), as Tau Vincent (Sept. 14, 1892), Bishop of Toulouse; Paul Sédir (Yvon Le Loup, 1871-1926), as Tau Paul, coadjutor of Toulouse ; Lucien Chamuel (Lucien Mauchel), as Tau Bardesane, Bishop of La Rochelle and Saintes. These three men would form the "Sacred Synod of the Gnostic Ecclesia." In the year 1892 Doinel consecrated other "celebrities" of Parisian society, such as Louis-Sophrone Fugairon (born 1848, Tau Sophronius), Bishop of Béziers; Albert Jounet (1863-1929, Tau Théodotus), Bishop of Avignon; Marie Chauvel de Chauvignie (1842-1927, Esclarmonde), as Sophia of Varsovie, the first "Sophia" to be consecrated; Léonce-Eugène Joseph Fabre des Essarts (Tau Synésius), Bishop of Bordeaux.

The Church consisted of three levels of membership: the high clergy, the low clergy, and the faithful. The high clergy consisted of male/female pairs of Bishops and Sophia, who were responsible for church administration. They were elected by their congregations and later confirmed in office by formal consecration by the patriarch. The low clergy consisted of pairs of deacons and deaconesses, who acted under the direction of the Bishops and Sophias, and were responsible for conducting the day-to-day church activities. The Faithful, or lay members of the Church, were referred to as Parfaits (male) and Parfaites (female), designations which translate as "Perfect," and which derive from Catharism. However, in Doinel's church, the term "Perfect" was not understood in the Cathar sense as someone who had taken strict vows of asceticism, but was interpreted as including the two higher divisions of the Valentinian threefold classification of the human race: the Pneumatics and the Psychics; but excluding the lower division, the materialistic Hylics. Only individuals judged to be of high intelligence, refinement and open mind were admitted to Doinel's Gnostic Church.

Doinel's Gnostic Church combined the theological doctrines of Simon Magus, Valentinus and Marcus (a later Valentinian noted for his development of the mysteries of numbers and letters and of the "mystic marriage") with sacraments derived from the Cathar Church and conferred in rituals that were heavily influenced by those of the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, the Gnostic Church was intended to present a system of mystical Masonry.

A Gnostic Eucharist, called the Fraction du Pain or "Breaking of the Bread" was composed. The sacramental liturgy of the Church was completed by the inclusion of two Cathar sacraments, the Consolamentum and the Appareillamentum.

In April 1890, Doinel published "La Gnose de Valentin" in which he praised and thanked Papus for the attention given to the Gnostic Church in the monthly review "l'Initiation." The 'Gnosis of Valentinus' contained Valentinus' doctrine of the threefold classification of humanity:

"The Human race is divided into three classes: 1) The Pneumatics or Gnostics, higher and initiated spirits, which follow the Light of Achamôth; 2) The Psychics, which hover between Light and Darkness, between Achamôth and the Demiurge; 3) The Hylics, subjects of Satan, whose hearts are materialistic and who will be destroyed. These three categories are represented by SETH, ABEL, and CAIN." ("Traité Méthodique de Science Occulte,' by Papus)

The decrees of the "Holy Gnostic Synod" appeared in the review "L'Initiation," dated September 1893:

The Holy Gnostic Synod decrees:

Article One
The re-establishment of the hierarchy permits the Restoration of Gnostic symbolism.

Article Two
The Consolamentum, the Breaking of the Bread and the Appareillamentum of the Albigensian Assembly are reestablished.

Article Three
Bishops and their coadjutors alone can confer the Consolamentum

Article Four
Every pneumatic, Parfait or Sup.: Inc.: can perform the Breaking of the Bread.

Article Five
The Appareillamentum is the exclusive privilege of the Patriarchal seat.

Article Six
"L'Initiation" will repeatedly publish the three rituals.

Article Seven
The Martinist Order is declared to be of Gnostic essence. Every Sup.: Inc.: takes their place at the level of the Parfaits.

Article Eight
The Gospel of John is the only Gnostic Gospel.

Given at Paris under the seal of the Very High Gnostic Synod, the 28th day of the seventh month of the year IV of the Restoration of the Gnosis.

+ The Gnostic Patriarch, Primate of the Albigensians, Bishop of Montségur.
+ The Bishop of Toulouse
+ The Bishop of Béziers
+ The Sophia of Warsaw
+ The coadjutor of His Grace, the Patriarch, Bishop of Milan.
+ The coadjutor of Toulouse, Bishop of Concorezzo.
+ The Bishop elect of Avignon.

By mandate of his grace and of the Very Holy Synod, the referendiary Deacon Enforceable, the Very Holy Pleroma being invoked, we ordain that the aforementioned decrees of the Very Holy Gnostic Synod will be put into action in the assemblies.

T. Valentin,
Gnostic Patriarch
Primate of the Albigensians,
Bishop of Montségur, 1893.

Other texts published by Doinel for use within the Gnostic congregation: "Première Homélie" (on "the Sacred Gnosis") September 1890, "Restauration de la Gnose," September 1893, "La fraction du Pain" (Gnostic Eucharist, "Breaking of the Bread"), May 1894, and the Cathar Sacrament "l'Appareilamentum," June 1894. 

Lucifer Démasqué

In 1895, Doinel left the Church he had created, resigned from his Masonic Lodge, and started to write articles in which he denounced the organizations that were once so dear to him, referring to their being 'too pagan'. Doinel collaborated briefly with Leo Taxil (G. A. Jogand-Pages), who had started the notorious offensive against Freemasonry and "other similar organizations" in the 1880's. According to Taxil, a former mason (he had been expelled from the order); these organizations were satanic in nature and were secretly controlled by the "Order of the Palladium," allegedly headed by Albert Pike. Jules Doinel published in 1895 his denunciation of Freemasonry in a book titled "Lucifer Démasqué" (Lucifer Unmasked), using the pseudonym Jean Kostka. Doinel supposedly wrote this book with a co-author, again, Leo Taxil. In 1897, Taxil admitted that the story, in fact all his stories, were nothing more than a hoax at the expense of the Church of Rome.

In his book Doinel apparently also revealed a ritual which belonged to the 'Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte', from the inner order of Willermoz' Rectified Scottish Rite, the C.B.C.S. This ritual is known within the rite as the "rituel d'armement." Doinel's pseudonym 'Jean Kostka' was derived from the name of a 16th century hero of the Polish Jesuits, Stanislaus Kostka. The Polish Jesuit is mentioned in a private correspondence between the French novelist J.K. Huysmans and Jules Doinel. These correspondences are preserved at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, filed under "Lettres de Jules Doinel" and "Lettres de J-K H." Both men returned to Roman Catholicism, and in 1895 Huysmans describes Doinel in a private correspondence as "a very educated and intelligent man" who had finally devoted his life to God. Doinel had maintained, throughout all of this, a very close relationship with the Bishop of Carcassonne at that time, Mgr. Félix Arsène Billard. Carcassonne is a restored 12th century walled town near Montségur. Doinel wrote a book on one of the monasteries in the area with his cooperation. This Bishop of Carcassonne, it is believed, protected Doinel from persecution due to his 'Gnostic' dealings. Interestingly, is this same bishop to whom the Abbé Saunière confided at least part of the secret of what he discovered at Rennes-le-Château. Perhaps all three knew one another? Also interestingly enough, shortly after th edeath of Doinel, Mgr. Billard also died, and the new bishop of Carcasonne was elected, a certain Mgr. Paul-Félix Beurain de Beauséjour, who was the individual who then began to persecute Abbé Saunière. Concidence?

Some view Doinel in a more negative light and take for example the following. In 1901, Huysmans describes Doinel (in a private correspondence addressed to Adolphe Berthet AKA Jules Esquirol, dated 2 January 1901) as a man whose pride could not support the life of a simple Christian. And so Doinel requested his readmission as a Bishop in the Gnostic Church in 1899 (Lettres inédites de Jules Doinel à J-K. Huysmans). It is stated that Doinel 'collaborated' with Taxil to expose all the lies and superstition that were circulating at the time with regard to the movement of initiatory organizations, including the Gnostic Church.

Tau Synésius; Léonce Eugène Fabre des Essarts

Doinel's defection was a devastating blow to the Gnostic Church, but it managed to survive. Interim control of the Church was assumed by the Synod of Bishops, and at a High Synod, in 1896, they elected one of their Bishops, Léonce-Eugène Fabre des Essarts, known as Tau Synésius, to succeed Doinel as patriarch.

Fabre des Essarts was a Parisian esotericist, a Symbolist poet and a scholar of Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity. He and another Gnostic Bishop, Louis-Sophrone Fugairon (Tau Sophronius), a physician who was also a scholar, of the Cathars and the Knights Templar, entered into a collaborative relationship to continue the development of the Gnostic Church. Together, they began to shift the emphasis of the teachings of the Gnostic Church away from Gnostic theology and toward a more general view of "esoteric sciences ."

It is also stated that another lineage was included in the Gnostic Synod of 1896 - none other than the lineage of Palaprat's "Eglise Johannite des Chrétiens Primitifs," which came via the participation and inclusion of Mgr. Mauviel and Mgr. Chatel.

The Gnostic Church was apparently known under various titles and changed its name several times. The list is as follows:

"L'Église Gnostique" in 1892. Also "lÉglise du Paraclet."

"L'Église Albigeoise et Provençale." (unattested in documents currently available)

"L'Église Chrétienne Moderne (néognostique)" as of 1902 under Tau Synesius.

"L'Église Gnostique de France" after 1906.

"L'Église Catholique Gnostique" in 1907 when Joanny Bricaud was named Patriarch of the Vintras and Johannine Churches.

"L'Eglise Gnostique Universelle" in 1908 under Jean Bricaud at the international congress in Lyon.

"L'Église Gnostique Apostolique" as founded by Robert Ambelain in 1953 and also later with the legitimate Patriarch of the church from Bricaud and Chevillon, René Chambellant.

"L'Église Gnostique Apostolique Catholique (ou Universelle)" under Pedro Freire. Also called "L'Église Gnostique Catholique Apostolique" particularly under Herard, Primate of North America under Freire.

[Ed. Note: Although no longer part of the ecclesia, André Mauer and later Edmund Fieschi (see below), both with valid successions from the church founded by Ambelain, continued to claim authorities as independent branches founded by them and which suited their own purposes. Both seem to have settled upon the name of L'Église Gnostique Apostolique d'Antioche." Today, the branch once headed by Mauer is considered to be headed by Joel Duez. Additionally, there is a branch of the EGA which is headed by Tryantaphyllos Kotzamanis, purported successor to Armand Toussaint. This is in addition to the EGCAL (Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Latina) which is headed by Emanuele Coltro Guidi of Itay, and also the Gnostic Catholic (Univeral) Ecclesia of North America (the official incorporation name of the EGCA of Herard in North America, although it's current bishop has recently preferred to revert to using EGA exclusively); hence a multitutde of "EGA"'s. But, for our purposes, the Church referred to is specifically that with unquestionable succession from Bricaud which was headed by René Chambellant, the duly elected successor to Chevillon as Patriarch, and which we consider to be the only legitimate, continuous Gnostic Church, whose filiation resides with us, and whose mission we continue as authorized by the Patriarch. We, therefore, recognize no other claims to the heritage of the Gnostic Church from Bricaud and Chevillon, as there are none that could be legitimate. Most other "gnostic" churches are derived from Ambelain but have been greatly altered, or are recent establishments by other individuals.]

In 1899, Fugairon (Tau Sophronius) published a Gnostic Catechism called "Catéchisme Expliqué de l'Eglise Gnostique." In 1895 the first French translation of the "Pistis Sophia" had been published (by E. Amelineau), a book which the Église Gnostique ascribed to Valentinus. At the time, the protagonists of the Gnostic Church advocated a church-doctrine whose contents seemed to be a hodgepodge of various ancient teachings. The advocated "doctrine" was also constantly changing and therefore it was decided that it was necessary to reestablish order into the apparent "chaos" of teachings, hence the Catechism of Sophronius.

Also in 1899, two years after Leo Taxil had exposed his hoax, Doinel began to correspond again with Fabre des Essarts. In 1900, he requested reconciliation with the Gnostic Church and re-admission as a Bishop. As his first consecration as Patriarch of the new Gnostic Church, Fabre des Essarts re-consecrated his former patriarch as Tau Jules, Bishop of Alêt and Mirepoix. Doinel, in fact, had had a conversion experience which drew him away from the more occult societies and toward Christianity. Upon his departure from the Eglise Gnostique which he founded, the organization was to begin its transformation from a predominantly Gnostic organization into the more appropriate Church of Christian Gnosis. Tau Synésius began re-writing the rituals and symbols of the Gnostic Church shortly after his ascension to the patriarchal throne, and collaborated with Doinel during several trips to Toulouse. The Eglise Gnostique of Doinel ceased to exist altogether, and Tau Synésius proclaimed himself the First Patriarch of the Eglise Chrétienne Moderne (néognostique). It was to this new Christian Gnostic Church that Doinel submitted his petition for re-affiliation, and whose liturgy and ordinations are still a part of our church tradition. As some evidence to this side, we note that in 1901 Doinel published his 'Gnostic Hymns' - a series of Latin hymns including:

    • Gnosis
    • The Triumphal Song (to be sung on the first day of the year)
    • Prose to the Holy Aeons
    • Love Song to Sophia
    • Hymn of the Morning
    • Hymn of the Evening
    • Prose in honor of the Apostle John, Patron of Gnosis
    • The Guardian Angel
The notice in this short work lists him as "Gnostic Bishop of Alêt & Mirepoix". Doinel died in Carcassonne in March of 1902, one year after the publication of his Hymns. When his body was found, he was clenching in his hands the Tau cross signifying his Gnostic episcopacy.

In 1901, Fabre des Essarts consecrated twenty-year old Joanny Bricaud (1881-1934) as Tau Johannès, Bishop of Lyon. Between 1903 and 1910, he consecrated twelve more Gnostic Bishops, including Leon Champrenaud (1870-1925) as Tau Théophane, Bishop of Versailles; René Guenon (1886-1951) as Tau Palingénius, Bishop of Alexandria; and Patrice Genty (1883-1964) as Tau Basilide.

The doctrine of the "Sacred Gnosis," as formulated by Doinel in his "Première Homélie" of 1890 was further developed and "completed" by Fabre des Essarts and Bricaud. Both men worked on the completion of the rituals and ideological patrimony of the renewed Christian Gnosis.

In the document "Gnostic Reconciliation" ("Conciliation Gnostique"), Fabre des Essarts presented a connection to the Gnosis that preceded the period of the Cathars, namely to the period of the Alexandrian Gnostics of the 2nd - 4th century A.D. It is this oriental proto-orthodoxy that would become the clear indicator of the real Gnostic Church in staunch opposition to the occultist variations who would later try to lay claim to the Tradition.

Fabre des Essarts, like many other French esotericists at the time, extended the Gnostic umbrella toward all religions and rites of the ancient world, even while positioning the Gnostic Church itself specifically within the framework of Gnostic Christianity.

In 1906 (December 7th, to be precise) a Constitutional Synod was convoked by Tau Synésius I at the "Sanctuary of the Gnosis," the Prefecture of la Seine in Paris, for a public declaration of the doctrine of the "Eglise Gnostique Universelle" ( Universal Gnostic Ecclesia ). A constitution of Synésius' Église Gnostique was drafted which represented the 'The Constitutions and the Accepted Bylaws of 1906", with regard to the leadership of the Gnostic Church. The 1906 Constitution stated:

"The Gnostic Catholic (Universal) Church of France is established under the direction of its Patriarch whose seat is Paris, France and whose title is "l'Evêque de Montségur" and who is Primus inter Pares (first among equals) and therefore democratically makes important decisions with the approbation of the Holy Synod."

Apparently, the promulgation of December 7th, 1906 attracted "an array of dignitaries" to the new Sanctuary of the Gnosis including the Grand Masters and Hierophants of the Ancient and Primitive Rites of Memphis and Misraïm, as well several Rose-Croix orders.

Stream 3 - the Vintrasian Carmelite connection and the unification of the 3 Streams

Joanny (Jean) Bricaud (1881-1934)

Jean Bricaud had studied for the priesthood at a Roman Catholic seminary at the desire of his parents. At the age of 16 he left the seminary and started to work as an employee of the banking establishment, Crédit Lyonnais. In Lyon, he began to visit the spiritualist Elie Alta (author of "Le Tarot Égyptien, ses symboles, ses nombres, son alphabet, 1863), and therapeutist Bouvier, pupil of Eliphas Jacques Charrot, who instructed Bricaud in Kabbalah and Occult philosophy. He also studied Magnetism and healing with the famous Maître Philippe de Lyon. In 1889, Bricaud corresponded with Brahme Kopp-Robur, who dissuaded Bricaud from embracing a religion incomprehensible to the western mind, advice which has remained as part of the tradition - not mixing religions, but still being able to appreciate other traditions. This is also part of the rationale behind the distance between the Gnostic Church and the Theosophical Society, which began to be more and more influenced by eastern religions and practices. That same year, Bricaud met Papus. In 1901, Synésius consecrated Jean Bricaud as a Bishop of the "Église Gnostique," Tau Johannès, receiving the "Episcopate of the Diocese of Grenoble-Lyon."

Before his involvement with the Église Gnostique Bricaud had been involved with the "Oeuvre de la Miséricorde" ("Work of Mercy"), the 'Church' which Eugène Vintras (1807-1875) had founded in (or around) 1839, and the "Church of Carmel" ("Interior Sactuary of Elija's Carmel") , also established by Vintras after he had returned to Lyon around 1851.

Bricaud was also involved with the Johannine Church of Fabré-Palaprat, receiving consecration into that line of succession. When the organization of Fabré-Palaprat was breaking-up, the Johannine Church was subsumed under Bricaud's umbrella Patriarchate, since most of the self-styled Templar Orders claiming succession from the Carta Transmissionis of Larmemius became more and more secular or dropped the church component altogether.
1907 L'Église Catholique Gnostique

Papus supported Bricaud in 1907 when he decided to work separately with the Gnostic Church as the continuation of Gnostic streams with traceable lines of succession, if on the margin. Louis-Sophrone Fugairon (Tau Sophronius), once a close associate of Fabre des Essarts, also decided to join Bricaud. These three changed the name of the church to l'Église Catholique Gnostique," the "Catholic (Universal) Gnostic Church". Bricaud also published a "Gnostic Catechism" in 1907, called the "Esoteric Christian Doctrine." This catechism is based upon the revised rituals of Synesius and company from the period of 1901-1902 while working with Dionel for the Eglise Chrétienne Moderne.

"L'Eglise Catholique Gnostique" was a fusion of the three existing 'Gnostic' churches of France: l'Église du Paraclet" or "l'Église Gnostique" (founded by Jules Doinel) as well as Synesius' "Eglise Chrétienne Moderne/Eglise Gnostique de France;" the "Church of Carmel" (founded by Eugène Vintras); and the "Église Johannites des Chretiens Primitifs" (the Johannine Church founded by Fabré-Palaprat). Sometimes a 4th Gnostic "school" is mentioned, which is referred as the (new) Valentinian 'school' or 'college'.

Bricaud's succession from Doinel was received from both Fabré-des Essarts (1901) and Papus (1910). The succession of the Johannine Templar Gnostic Church was received from Bernard Clément (member of the EGU's 'High Synod' as Bishop of the Americas). The succession of Eugène Vintras' "Carmelite Church" was received from the last Pontiffs named by Vintras himself: Marius Breton, who died in 1908, and Edouard Souleillon, who died in 1918. The representatives of these traditions (Papus, Fabre des Essarts, Bricaud, Clément, Breton, Souleillon) officially accepted the union of these churches in order to form one unique Catholic (as in: "Universal") Gnostic Church. [Ed. Note: the above information is acknowledged and attested to by scholars Robert Amadou and Serge Caillet.]

In February 1908, the Episcopal synod of the ECG elected Bricaud as its first Patriarch, l'"Eveque Primat de France" (Primary Bishop of France) in the Gnostic Church under the name of Tau Jean II.

From this point on, the Eglise of Bricaud and his direct successors were recognized as the authentic repository of the recognized churches mentioned: the Gnostic Church of Doinel (and arguably of Synésius since Sophronius had been so influential all along), the Carmelite Church of Vintras and the Johannine Church. Thus, the church of Bricaud became the sole active church with direct succession and authority for all the branches listed above. 

June 1908, Congrès Maçonnique et Spiritualiste

In June of 1908, the "Congrés Maçonnique et Spiritualiste" ('Masonic and Spiritualist Congress') was held in Paris at the co-Masonic temple of "Le Droit Humain." Papus, Victor Blanchard, and Téder organized the congress, and many of the attendants belonged to the (French-speaking) "esoteric and occult elite." It was organized as a Spiritual Congress combined with a convent on "Spiritual Masonry," which represented Masonic "Higher Degrees" and rites of a spiritual nature. Accordingly, the main themes of the congress were Spiritism, Magnetism, Spiritual Masonry, and Esoteric Christianity. Many prominent speakers delivered lectures on these themes. Among the speakers were Papus, Victor Blanchard, Albert Jounet, Phanég (lecture on "L'Occultisme Chrétien"), Joseph Heibling ("l'Initiation Hébraïque et les Sciences Occultes"), Téder, etc. Fabre des Essarts, at the time of the congress still the Patriarch of the "Eglise Gnostique de France," declined the invitation.

Synésius was not pleased with the international and influential gathering of support for Bricaud, Papus and Fugairon's effort, and writing about the events in a journal, we see reflected Synésius' thoughts.

"Dear Sisters and Brothers, I am not unaware of the controversial program of this Congress. I will only have a few words to say. Above all, it is important clearly to establish in which quality I am among all of you. It was Jules Doinel, whose mystical name was Valentin, appointed by the Most-High to restore the Holy Gnosis, who consecrated me in accordance with the rites of the ancient Albigensians, and among the most eminent members of this assembly I see those who assisted my departed consecrator in this pious ceremony. I was later appointed by the Very High Synod to succeed Jules Doinel, with the title of Patriarch of the Gnostic Church of France and Bishop of Montségur, in which we remember the place where our Cathar brothers accepted the crown of martyrdom. It is thus by direct, regular, and authentic transmission that I was invested with Episcopal capacities and a right to confer Gnostic initiation and the sacraments of our majestic religion. Any reformation connected with this church without our approval is considered a schism and a heresy."

Synésius continued his assault trying to prove the pre-eminence of the Oratory of the "Église Gnostique de France" in Paris, where "Initiations are taking place in a regular way. [But] ...our meetings are absolutely private." Synésius continued to explain that the original intention of the Cathar church was "to have a temple open to all" but in time, the Church was forced to reconsider its original intention. "Just like the Abbé Vilatte we have closed our Threshold to the profane."

Fabre des Essarts continued by providing some information on the developments of the "Église Gnostique de France" abroad. He briefly mentioned a branch of the Gnostic Church that apparently existed around the time in Prague. This branch was led by a certain 'frère Jérôme', who was the Patriarch of the Bohemian branch. The Gnostics of Prague most likely were not associated with the French movement. Synésius also mentioned a Belgian branch, small, but according to Synésius, very active.

Patrice Genty (Tau Basilide), L'Eglise Gnostique de France

After the death of Fabre des Essarts in 1917, Léon Champrenaud (Tau Théophane) assumed the Patriarchate for the dwindling Paris group. Patrice Genty (Tau Basilide) succeeded Champrenaud in 1921, and is said to have put L'Eglise Gnostique de France to rest in 1926 in favor of Jean Bricaud's Église Gnostique Universelle. Further research, however, and contrary to most versions of the history of the Gnostic Church, has indicated that in December of 1926 Tau Basilide asserted his election by the Holy Aeons as the Patriarch of the Eglise Gnostique de France. Furthermore, in a publication dated 1931, Tau Basilide (Patrice Genty) presented the Doctrine of the First Gnostics, which was followed by a notice on the Eglise Gnostique de France, indicating its survival, but that it was a completely closed ecclesia, not seeking requests for membership, not proselyting, not advertising, etc. We have translated for you this rare text by Patriarch Tau Basilide on the 'Doctrine of the First Gnostics' which also includes his brief notice on the 'Gnostic Church'.

Not agreeing with the decision of T Basilide to close the ecclesia, certain members of the Eglise Gnostique de France formed a Holy Synod and elected a president in order to continue the activities of the ecclesia. They elected Lucien Chamuel (T Bardesane). In 1937, following the death of T Bardesane, the Holy Synod gathered again to elect a successor to T Bardesane - and there was even talk of a unification between the supporters of T Basilide as the Patriarch and the friends and supporters of T Bardesane. Although history leaves us with few details after this point, in our further researches in France we are assured that there are, at present, none who continue this tradition from Tau Basilide.

The Église Gnostique Universelle

After assuming the Patriarchate of the Universal Gnostic Church (read the text of Bricaud's Homily upon ascending to the Patriarchal throne in 1908), Bricaud became friendly with Bishop Louis-Marie-François Giraud (d. 1951), an ex-Trappist Monk who traced his Episcopal succession to Joseph René Vilatte (Mar Timotheos, 1854-1929). Vilatte was a Parisian who had immigrated to America early in life. He was a lifelong religious enthusiast, but he was unable to find fulfillment within the strictures of the Roman Catholic Church; so, in America, he began a quest for a religious environment more congenial to his personality and ambitions. He wandered from sect to sect, serving for a time as a Congregationalist minister, later being ordained to the priesthood within the schismatic "Old Catholic" sect. He ultimately obtained Episcopal consecration in 1892 at the hands of Bishop Antonio Francisco-Xavier Alvarez (Mar Julius I), Bishop of the Syrian Jacobite Orthodox Church and Metropolitan of the Independent Catholic Church of Ceylon, Goa and India, who had in turn received consecration from Ignatius Peter III, "Peter the Humble," Jacobite Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. Vilatte consecrated Paolo Miraglia-Gulotti in 1900; Gulotti consecrated Jules Houssaye (or Hussay, 1844-1912) in 1904, Houssaye consecrated Louis-Marie-François Giraud in 1911; and Giraud consecrated Jean Bricaud on 21 July 1913.

This consecration was of great import for Bricaud's church because it provided a valid and documented apostolic episcopal succession, which was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as valid but "illicit" (i.e., spiritually efficacious, but un-sanctioned and contrary to Church policy). The apostolic succession was perceived as reflecting a transmission of true spiritual authority in the Christian current extending as far back as the Apostles; and even further to Melchizedek, the semi-mythical priest-king of Salem who served as priest to the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. The apostolic succession was also very important because the Church headed by Bricaud is solidly based in Christian Gnosis, and is not afraid of saying so - which has been challenged over the years by groups wishing a more ecclectic and occult orientation (although it is doubtful that any of them have a succession from Bricaud). Bricaud maintained a very close relationship with Vilatte during the time immediately prior to Vilatte's death, and it was Bricaud who assisted Vilatte by publishing his apostolic succession to counter claims against his validity. Read some of their letters during this time here. As a result of this close association with the Gallican Church, a distinctly more "Catholic" flavor entered into the church, as a condition of Giraud for receiving the apostolic succession in the line of Peter.

Bricaud gathered in Lyon, France a very strong following of Gnostic clergy and laity, essentially a gathering of all those "outside of Rome", and on May 5, 1918, consecrated Victor Blanchard under the name Tau Targelius to assist him. Bricaud fell ill in 1933 and on February 21, 1934, left the material world for the eternal Pleroma.

Blanchard is said to have consecrated at least five other Gnostic Bishops under his own authority, including Charles Arthur Horwath, who later re-consecrated, sub conditione, Patrice Genty (Tau Basilide), the last patriarch of L'Eglise Gnostique de France, who had previously been consecrated in Doinel's spiritual succession by Fabre des Essarts; and Roger Ménard (Tau Eon II), who then consecrated Robert Ambelain (Tau Robert) in 1946. There is much debate, however, over the reality of a consecration of Menard and the subsequent claims of Menard having consecrated Ambelain, we are searching for documentation to resolve this issue, however what we have discovered has only raised more questions. Menard was present at Ambelain's consecration as a bishop in 1943 by Henri Meslin, as witnessed by Jean Chaboseau and Robert Amadou, although Menard was only there as a Deacon. Some have cast doubt on a consecration from Menard to Ambelain! Some have suggested that it was an individual named delaRue who consecrated Ameblain, not Menard, which is attested to in personal letters of René Chambellant. [Ed. Note: There is a document we have found that appears to attest to the fact that Blanchard consecrated Menard on 7 January 1945; There is also a document which is purportedly the consecration by Menard of Ambelain on 10 June 1946 (the document is dated 15 June 1946) - however, on the right side of the document, it indicates "Enregistré le 3 - 10 - 1943" or "registered on 3 October 1943" - so the document was apparently entered into the archives three years prior to its execution.] There are other elements to this mystery, but that is another story. Blanchard is known, however, to have definitely consecrated one individual: Dr. Edouard Gesta. No others can be definitely attested. Indeed, if Menard had already been consecrated, then why was it necessary to find a consecrator for the duly elected successor to Chevillon?

Bricaud's elected successor to the Patriarchate was Constant Martin Chevillon, who was consecrated by Mgr. Giraud on January 5, 1936 with the name of Tau Harmonius. Chevillon was a very well admired individual, being both wise and experienced in the Church, as well as holding the highest offices of all her affiliated initiatory bodies. His writings are thought-provoking and important to our Tradition. He (Harmonius) was gunned down on March 22, 1944 by the Nazis and French militia under the Gestapo subservience of Klaus Barbie, also known as "the Butcher of Lyon." [Ed. Note: Chevillon was ordained to the priesthood on 3 November 1935, then to the episcopate on 5 January 1936 - both by Mgr. Guiraud. Chevillon never ordained anyone to the priesthood, nor did he consecrate anyone to the episcopacy. Indeed, Chevillon did not have the spiritual succession of Doinel at all! It was only upon the consecration of Chambellant in 1945 that the Gnostic Church continued with both the spiritual and apostolic successions - and René Chambellant, when he reorganized the legal entity of the church in 1982 under the name of l'Eglise Gnostique Apostolique, was the only person alive with both the spiritual succession of Doinel AND the apostolic succession of Vilatte which had come from Jean Bricaud. This is according to his testimony and documents submitted to the French Government].

René Chambellant & Robert Ambelain

Chevillon had raised only four men to the order of Deacon within the church before his murder. Although many claims have been made that Chevillon consecrated certain individuals, no documents have surfaced to substantiate these claims; and, indeed, the surviving members in France have no knowledge of such alleged action. The direct succession from Chevillon, therefore, ended with those four Deacons. One of these four was René Chambellant. Chambellant had been a key individual in the whole Gnostic movement, and was elected by the majority of the Church (including Robert Ambelain and Robert Amadou) to succeed the martyred Chevillon as Patriarch. Since Chambellant was only a Deacon, it was necessary to consecrate him a Bishop. Chambellant was consecrated to the episcopacy, on the same day as Robert Amadou, by a man often referred to only as Dr. X. His name was Dr. Edouard Gesta, but since his family did not approve of his involvement with the Gnostic Church, his name was often suppressed. Dr. Gesta had been consecrated on 28 January 1945 by Victor Blanchard. Chambellant's importance also comes to play in our initiatory tradition. Chambellant had already attained the highest degrees of the Ancient and Primitive Rite by the time Robert Ambelain had even received his 'Entered Apprentice' degree. Chambellant was also a major player with Ambelain, Amadou and LaGrèze in reviving the Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons, Elus Cohen de l'Univers. In fact, Chambellant was the reason the Order continued non-stop during an apparent period of dormancy in the later years of Ambelain, in part due to communication with Gordon Stewart of Canada, who never received notification by Ivan Mosca, Ambelain's successor for the Elus Cohen, that the Order was to cease activities.

Chambellant saw that at the time of his consecration, there was no interest in the Gnostic Church, with the aftermath of World War II leaving things very unsettled. It was the decision of the Synod that the Gnostic Church be put in a temporary state of dormancy. He then left Europe for a period of time to reside in Africa and to attend to business there. Contrary to popular accounts, he never renounced the Patriarchate of the Eglise Gnostique, nor are there any documents to support his ever doing so. This branch of the Church, as well as the filiations of Martinism, Memphis-Misraïm and the Elus Cohens, etc. would often be referred to as the Chevillon-Chambellant filiation. This filiation is perhaps the most unsullied filiation still in existence and, consequently, not easily received. Many associates of Ambelain felt that the spiritual way of Chevillon, and subsequently that of Chambellant, was not occult enough. Also, while not quite as liberal as some today in permitting women to participate in the church and in masonry, Chevillon did allow this. Chevillon even went so far as to write a feminine version of the Blue Lodge rituals for Memphis-Misraïm. At present, there is only one female alive who has received all the initiations, and is the current holder of authority for the feminine Blue Lodge rite of Chevillon, and whose rituals are in our archives.

Robert Ambelain founded his own church in 1953, which he called the Eglise Gnostique Apostolique, having been consecrated in the Doinel line by Henri Meslin de Champigny, with Jean Chaboseau, Robert Amadou and the Deacon Roger Menard witnessing. Owing to his popularity, and his position with the various initiatory orders, not to mention his prolific writing, his church spread quickly. This branch of the church, for it is, indeed, a separate church founded by Ambelain of his own accord, saw great success.

Two of the other Deacons ordained by Chevillon were upset at not being elected patriarch, and so went about hunting for someone to consecrated them. Antoine Fayolle found a man named Marcel Cotte, a bishop in the Doinel line - although no information could be found substantiating this or indicating in what succession. Fayolle promptly turned around and "consecrated" his brother Deacon, Henri DuPont. Following this consecration, DuPont proclaimed himself the Patriarch of the Gnostic Church (with no authority to do so.) [Ed. Note: The self-proclamation and illegitimacy of Dupont's claim are attested to by both Robert Amadou and Serge Caillet]. [It is interesting to note that many of these individuals had earlier entered into the conglomeration of H.S. Lewis as part of the FUDOSI, including their own versions of the church, Martinism and various other rites. Another individual, Georges Lagrèze, had obtained a charter for Memphis-Misraïm from Yarker in 1909. Lagrèze considered participating in Lewis' monstrosity. Constant Chevillon, as Patriarch of the Eglise Gnostique Universelle, was also the International Grand Master of Memphis-Misraïm and the head of the Lyon Martinist Order (including Elus Cohen activities); the principal initiatory streams always affiliated with the Gnostic Church. Obviously, this activity of Lewis and those working with him was not well received, and on the 1st of march 1936, Chevillon composed a document to declare that the activity of the Belgians, the Rite of Rambauts and the Memphis-Misraïm of Lagrèze were all considered "irregular", even calling Lagrèze a 'plagiarist' of the Rite's rituals.]

Ambelain and company had a long association with the Grand Orient of France, and were very interested in forming even closer ties. With the deadly shroud of the second world war having been drawn back, the Church of Ambelain began to spread from France to Portugal, Italy, Belgium, North Africa, and South America, especially Brazil, where eventually it merged its succession with that of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasiliera).

Mgr. Carlos Duarte Costa (1888-1961) established the National Brazilian Catholic Church some time after June of 1945. Costa had been Archbishop of Botacatu, but was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Curia in response to his attacks against Pope Pius XII for having given benediction to Nazi and fascist troops in St. Peters Square in 1943. At the end of the Second World War, Archbishop Costa's papal interdiction was lifted, though the Archbishop declined an invitation to return to his post in the Roman Church and founded the Brazilian National Catholic Church.

During the period of the 1950's, Ambelain (Tau Jean III) authored and translated many Gnostic and Masonic works and recovered some Gnostic Archives. Unfortunately, one of his most notable works, "Jesus and The Mortal Secret of the Templars," was greeted in Europe with such controversy that it ultimately led to his untimely departure from active leadership of his own Church! Ambelain, however, is to be credited for his recognition of the growing Gnostic spirit in the Americas. In 1956, he consecrated Pedro Freire (Tau Petrus) of Puerto Allegre, Brazil, as Bishop Primate of Latin America, who consecrated Fermin Vale-Amesti (Tau Valentinus III), Primate of Venezuela, and Central America.

In 1960, DuPont retired from his various activities and appointed Ambelain the Patriarch of his self-proclaimed branch of the church with the specific charge to "re-unite the two," further attesting to the fact that Ambelain's EGA was founded as a separate, independent church. It is from this branch under the direction of Ambelain that virtually all other churches are descended.

E.G.C.A. - The Gnostic Apostolate in the Americas

The latter part of the decade of the 1960's presented the Gnostic Church of Ambelain with great advances as well as tremendous challenges. In 1967, its Patriarch, Mgr. Roger Pommery (Tau Jean), learned that certain French Bishops had ordained a woman to the episcopate, and called a World Wide Synod of the Bishops of this Church to deal with this practice. This synod failed to resolve the issue, and when certain French Bishops continued the practice, the Belgian Bishops deserted and gave way to the formation of an opposition church known as the "New Covenant" - L'Eglise de la Nouvelle Alliance. Meanwhile, Mauer (Tau Andreas,) who only briefly retained the Patriarchate of Ambelain's EGA due to poor health eventually passed the chair to Dr. Pedro Freire. Before he had done so, he invested Bishop Willer Vital-Herne (consecrated the year before by Roger Pommery,) with the primacy of the Church for Haiti, Antilles, and the Caribbean Islands. He also appointed Mgr. Roger St. Victor-Herard as Apostolic Prefect of North America.

When Tau Andreas resigned on August 1, 1969, the High Synod elected as Patriarch the Primate of Latin America, Pedro Freire, who was consecrated originally in 1956 by Robert Ambelain. This was the first time in history that a Patriarchate of any Gnostic Church as part of the larger movement was moved not only out of France itself, but also out of the hemisphere and to the Americas.

Dr. Freire was a much loved and respected man, not only in the Eglise Gnostique Apostolique, but also among many other clergy of Apostolic Rites around the world. Mgr. Dom Antidio Vargas, (Titular Patriarch of Theoupolis, and Dean of the Cathedral of The Brazilian Holy Roman Catholic church in the City of Lajes in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil) gave him a very grand coronation and installation to the Patriarchate on December 17, 1970. Mgr. Vargas, who was assisted by Bishops of the Armenian Church, was famous for his own resignation from The Church of Rome after his criticism of Pope Pius XII for political collaboration with the Axis troops in World War II, as previously noted. Mgr. Vargas was now the Patriarch of the Old Roman Catholic church of Brazil. He named Dr. Freire Mar Petrus-Johannes XIII following eastern catholic style rather than Gnostic. At this time, Freire also added back the 'Catholique' to the name of the church - effectively becoming the Eglise Gnostique Apostolique Catholique (or Ecclesia Gnostica Apostolica Catholica). The great seal of the church was also changed during the Patriarchate of Freire. It is worth noting that the reign of Petrus-Johannes XIII seemed to begin a trend of ecumenism that continued into the career of Roger Saint Victor Herard, whom he had appointed Primate of North America on December 31, 1970. Unfortunately, Petrus-Johannes was unable to heal, in his seven year Patriarchate, the deep division amongst the Bishops concerning the feminine ordinand.

Soon after Roger St. Victor Herard took his chair under the name Tau Charles I, he instituted churches in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. These churches were predominantly of Haitian membership and in 1972 he named an ex-Haitian military man, Clément Lucien Papillon (Tau Paul) to be his assistant in Chicago, where Mgr. Herard had made his home after moving from New York. In 1973, Herard made Gaspard Mervilus (Tau Louis) Archbishop of New York and, later, named his as "coadjutor cum jure succcessiones," i.e. the exclusive right to Herard's succession. Mgr. Mervilus was also an ex-Haitian military man and both commanded respect within their community. Roger Herard, on the other hand, was a refugee from the government of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and, as a lawyer and schoolteacher in Haiti, he fought forces of oppression from the government, which were seeking to trample the peasant population.

In as much as he held national and international respect, difficulties in the ranks of the Haitian clergy became apparent and Mgr. Herard described, in a journal of the Athenea Theologica, power plays between his two Bishops, much to his consternation.

[Ed. Note - see the document on the History of the Gnostic Church in Haiti for a more detailed account of who, when and how the Church came to be, and for a brief account of the move of the Haitian community to the United States.]

This situation came to a head when Mgr. Herard learned of Mgr. Papillon's attempt to found a branch of the Church of the Nouvelle Alliance in North America and in Haiti.

A final blow was yet to come, however, as on April 23, 1977, Mar Petrus-Johannes XIII passed away.

On September 22, 1977, the Holy Gnostic Synod elected as Patriarch Edmond Fieschi (Tau Siabul). Tau Siabul, however, resigned in December of 1977, abdicating in favor of his coadjutor Mgr. Fermin Vale-Amesti, Tau Valentinus III, Primate of Central America, having his Apostolic See in Caracas, Venezuela. Mgr. Vale-Amesti refused to accept this nomination and "proclaimed the independence of the ecclesiastical provinces on April 7, 1978" (Athenea Theological No. 3, pg. 22), even though he had no authority to do so, having never been approved or enthroned as Patriarch. Even more aware of the mounting personal and political agendas, particularly among the Haitian clergy, the College of Primates did, indeed, defer to an autocephalous status. Herard, himself, agreed. Herard also notes that Papillon, for reasons unknown, attempted to influence the College of Primates to reverse this abolition of an international Patriarchate for Ambelain's church, but without success.

Cultural Separation & Rivalries Erupt

By the end of the 1970's, Roger Herard had consecrated two more bishops in Chicago: Mgr. Carl St. Cyr (Tau Patrick) in 1978, and Mgr. Alphonse Douyon for Washington D.C.; both men were clergy of Haitian descent. During this time, Mgr. Herard also began to broaden his relations to those clergy belonging to other churches of Gnostic acclaim, though not necessarily of the E.G.C.A. He recognized the Patriarchate of Mgr. George Boyer in England (Tau Georgius de Londres, Pre-Nicene Ecclesia) whose Gnostic lineage descended from Richard Powell, Duc de Palatine, and also Mgr. George Brister (Tau Georgius,) the Archbishop of Oklahoma City for the Old Catholic Church, and the Ecclesia Gnostica in Hollywood, California, under the Regionary Bishop, +Stephen A. Hoeller, also of the de Palatine lineage.

At the beginning of the 1980's Mgr. Herard turned his focus toward other communities within the American culture, especially with a view toward "opening" the Church to all Americans whose primary language was English, and who were natural born citizens of the United States. In August of 1984 Robert Michael Cokinis (Tau Charles Harmonius II) was elected Bishop of Wisconsin and Auxiliary to the Metropolitan of Chicago, with the mandate to develop Churches for the American people, and after his consecration in November of the same year, was authorized to incorporate the Church in the United States and to select American clergy for its Board of Trustees/Rectors, which he did on November 29, 1984 under the name of the 'Gnostic Catholic (Universal) Ecclesia of North America. Later, Mgr. Cokinis would also register a servicemark for the seal of the Church along with the name 'Ecclesia Gnostica Apostolica Catholica'.

Mgr. Herard approved the administrative title of Diocese of the Midwest for the registered offices at that time, since the main mission to American congregants focused on the Midwestern states. Mgr. Herard did not wish to include the Haitian clergy in this corporate structure, stating that it was his plan to have a separate corporation for Haitian congregations. Mgr. Herard had the same policy in mind for other cultures immigrating into the U.S., and early in 1985 Mgr. Herard ordained and consecrated Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Villa as an Archbishop of Bogotá, Columbia and Miami, Florida, in order to oversee a ministry for Spanish speaking constituents of the church. While this may have seemed strange to some, this apparent division of cultures within the same church, Mgr. Herard realized that these cultures were very different, indeed, and as such, needed leadership within their own culture, while still being overseen by his Primacy. In effect, three Churches would replace the one in North America. Rodriguez headed the Spanish church, Cokinis headed the church for Anglos, and the Haitians would maintain their own.

Late in 1985 or early 1986, Mgr. Rodriguez founded the Iglesia Catholica Orthodoxa Apostolica and incorporated it in the State of Illinois, assuming the title of Patriarch for this Church, which functioned on Old Catholic lines and was non-Gnostic, effectively breaking all ties and authority within the Gnostic Church or as a representative. Mgr. Herard's attention at this period was focused on his Haitian congregations on the east coast, where again there emerged certain rivalries and difficulties.

This time the difficulty was between Bishops Alphonse Douyon and Gaspard Mervilus, who were in dispute over geographical jurisdiction - the contention being that Mgr. Douyon was allegedly recruiting priests in New York, an area under the authority of Mervilus. Mgr. Douyon was warned by Mgr. Herard to discontinue this activity; however, Mgr. Douyon failed to heed this warning and allegedly ordained two men in New York without the Primate's permission, at the cost of being deposed from the Church by Mgr. Herard. The problems were not over, however, as Mgr. Mervilus, who already had a reputation for asserting his interests over others within the Church, sought to limit correspondence from members of the clergy, who were also members of the Supreme Council of l'Ordre Martiniste, to the Grand Master in Paris, suggesting that such correspondence should only go through him, as he was the Grand National Delegate for the Order to the United States. Mgr. Herard, who had appointed Mgr. Mervilus to that position, was greatly angered at this, citing that such a restriction was a violation of a right accorded to initiators of the Order by virtue of the "sacred chain of initiation." This controversy eventually ended with Mgr. Mervilus' resignation from both L'Ordre Martiniste and the E.G.C.A. leaving the Primate (Herard) with neither coadjutor, nor clear successor.

Following the departure of Mgr. Mervilus, Mgr. Herard abolished the Archdiocese of New York and made two new Bishops preside over the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Queens. They were Mgr. Louis Etienne (Tau Franciscus) and Mgr. Luxy Achille Claude (Tau Jean), although neither of these were coadjutors with rights of succession.

Mgr. Herard continued to keep his sights on ecumenical relations with other Gnostic churches in the U.S. and began to work toward his long intended goal of ordaining and consecrating a woman within the church in the near future. At about this same time, with enthusiastic endorsement from Mgr. Herard, Cokinis began a series of correspondence and telephone conversations with Rosamonde Miller (Tau Rosa) in Palo Alto, California. Also, the Church gained association with Mgr. Stephan Hoeller (Tau Stephanus,) Regionary Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica, whose apostolic residence was Hollywood, California. He was the Bishop to convey the successions of late Richard Duc de Palatine to Bishop Rosamonde Miller, and Mgr. Herard was quite eager to see unification with those two important figures of Gnosticism in America.

In November of 1988, Cokinis had an opportunity to meet Mgr. Hoeller (Tau Stephanus I) who was to lecture at the headquarters of The Theosophical Society in America, located in Wheaton, Illinois. They spoke much concerning the feminine episcopate in general, and other important inter-ecclesiastical affairs, including the already firm relationship between Tau Georgius and Tau Charles (Mgr. Herard.) Mgr. Herard was extremely pleased to know of the exchange of information (much of which was new to him) and he hoped very much for a more personal contact with Tau Stephanus.

In February of 1989, Cokinis and Mgr. Karl St. Cyr met at Herard's home. They were there advised of Mgr. Herard's intention to elect Rev. Yanick Morin, a woman of Haitian descent, as the first female bishop of the church in the United States. Mgr. Roger Herard himself presided at her consecration as Tau Magdalen, Bishop of New Jersey, and imposed upon her the special mandate to protect subsequent successions of feminine ordinands in the U.S. so that it would neither be ignored, nor overlooked by masculine Bishops in the future. It was also Herard's intent that Yanick should preside over the Haitian church.

Upon returning from New York to Chicago at the end of July 1989, Mgr. Herard was noticeably fatigued and in the early hours of an August morning, Mgr. Herard collapsed at his home and was brought to the University of Chicago Hospital in a coma. On August 16th, his physical body ceased to contain his soul.

In 1990, the synod of Bishops in North America for the EGCA met in New Jersey in order to begin discussion on the future of the Church without its Primate. No significant changes were made in the operational activities of the Dioceses, though as the strength of the Church appeared to be gaining, there were still difficulties in reconciling cultural differences as well as governing issues in the absence of the Primate. Unfortunately, those difficulties were never resolved and bitter rivalries erupted amongst the three churches, with the same power-plays, personal and political agendas. There were excommunications thrown about left-and-right, even though they were effectively different churches striving to maintain some cohesion where they were once united. As a result, Mgr. Cokinis, as the senior Auxiliary, severed all ties with the Haitian clergy and their petty rivalries.

A further clarification should be made here. Some have made mention that Cokinis was the Auxiliary bishop of Herard, but "without right of succession". This shows a clear lack of knowledge of ecclesiastical protocol. In fact, an auxiliary bishop is, unless special circumstances require, always "without right of succession" (Canon 403). A coadjutor does have right of succession, but Herard had withdrawn the position of coadjutor bishop from the Haitians and never named another. According to Canon Law, when a Metropolitan leaves a church "impeded" (i.e. by disability, departure or death), the coadjutor assumes the role as successor in administration, since there was no coadjutor, the responsibility falls to the auxiliary (Canons 409 & 419). Also, it is the responsibility of the successor to contact the Patriarch, or presiding bishop, to inform him of the change in administration. Thus Cokinis did as was totally proper and in accordance with accepted church law. It should be noted that none of the other bishops maintained any contact and continued to argue among themselves.

Herard had told Cokinis that should anything happen, he was to contact France. Being aware of Chambellant's position, Cokinis entered into correspondence with René Chambellant (Tau Renatus), who, as noted earlier, was the legitimate and "constitutional" Patriarch according to the Synesius constitution of 1906. Tau Renatus offered informed and comforting advice and was supportive of the efforts toward ecumenism of the associated Gnostic rites, which had been the focus at that time. Sadly, however, Tau Renatus passed away, in 1993.

René's passage left the Church of Bricaud-Chevillon and Chambellant in charge of an Episcopal college, led by Tau Gilbertus, Tau Johannès, and Tau Christianus. Continue on to the current history of the Gnostic Church either via the link below, or the menus to the left.

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