The Palmarian Church, the religious sect that foretelling its own christianity swindles all its followers.
El Palmar de Troya is a village in the middle of nowhere, fourteen kilometres away from Utrera. This Sevillian village stands out for being home to one of the biggest sects in Spain, the Palmarian Church.
Everything began fifty years ago when the Virgin presumably appeared in front of four young girls at the Alcaparrosa, located on a small hill at the southwest of the village. From then on, many people went there and assured to have had visions. The news travelled around the world and travellers started to arrive. Those travellers were then deceived by Clemente Domínguez, who began to speak in the name of God. Many believers accepted his word and acted as he pleased, even when the stories about apparitions, visions and miracles arrived at Rome and the Pope denied their truthfulness.
When Clemente got enough money from his followers, he commanded to build a basilica at the same place where the Virgin had appeared for the first time. He ordered the basilica to be surrounded by a four-metre-tall wall to keep them isolated, because he claimed that modernity was ending Christianism. A few years later, when the Pope Paul VI died, Clemente broke with the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church and proclaimed himself Pope Gregorio XVII, creating the Palmarian Church of the Carmelites of the Holy Face.
At that moment some believers of the apparition stopped following Clemente and founded their own order, the White Cross. This order didn’t abandon the Official Church, but it had less supporters than the Palmarian Church.
The entrance to the basilica’s enclosure was forbidden for the followers of the White Cross, so they built a little chapel and a big white cross next to the wall, in order to be able to pray close to where the Virgin had appeared.
One afternoon, while some supporters were praying in front of the white cross, God presumably chose an old missionary called Félix de Arana to become the protector of the White Cross order. The chosen one wore the habits again and from that moment, he was known as Father Félix, who commanded to build the Maria’s Heart Sanctuary in the middle of the village.
Curiously enough, in 2005, the same year that Clemente died, Felix de Arana died too and left the Sanctuary without a rector, waiting for God to choose the next one. After Clemente’s death, however, another Pope was hand-picked. It turned out to be the deceased’s best friend.
Nowadays, both the Palmarian Church and the White Cross are still standing, and although both orders came from the the same belief (the apparition of the Virgin), the Palmarian Church has proven to be nothing but a business in which the believers are deceived in exchange for their money.
Unlike the White Cross, which follows the same rules as the Official Church, the Palmarian Church has different (and very strict) regulations for followers to obey:
- Palmarian Catechism: Since it was separated from the Official Church, the Palmarian Church has its own conducts. Supposedly inspired by the Holy Spirit, every single Pope has published a new catechism and has commanded to burn the ones before.
- Dressing: Men must always dress in long sleeves shirts tied up to the neck, trousers (not jeans), long socks and shoes. Women can wear shirt and skirt or dress, but in both cases, they must be covered from the neck to the wrists and ankles, so they must wear socks and shoes as well. Nowadays, for praying, both men and women must dress in brown, since it’s the colour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
- Pilgrimage: The followers must attend at least one of the four annual pilgrimages. Holy Week (always celebrated between the 20th and 27th of March), Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16th of July), Corpus Christy (always celebrated the 12th of October, the Hispanity Day) and New Year’s Eve (31st of December).
- Political Saints: The Palmarian Church has its own political point of view, so it has no consideration in worship, as Saints, Francisco Franco, Luís Carrero Blanco, José Primo de Rivera and Cristopher Columbus.
- Economic conditions: To be a palmarian and, therefore, being communicated by the Palmarian Church, one must transfer all their belongings to the Palmarian Church and pay the “diezmo” (a tax that is paid to the Church. It consists in almost a person’s entire earnings).
- Out of touch with the real world: To keep their believers deceived, the Palmarian Church tries to keep its followers from being influenced by society or media. So, they are banned from talking to people who don’t belong to the sect (the current Pope has modified this rule and now lets its followers say hello to “outsiders”). However, the use of TV and Internet are forbidden. Reading the newspaper is prohibited and followers can only listen to a few radio stations. Also, they can’t attend any church that’s not Palmarian.
The golden days of the Palmarian Church reached their end a few years ago. It still has, however, much more followers than the White Cross Order, who won’t last long without the appearance of a new Father Félix. In Ireland, the Palmarian Church is soon to be registered as Dangerous Sect, and therefore be considered illegal. Hopefully it won’t be long for the same to happen in Spain.