WHO WE ARE:
The Universal Gnostic Church was founded late in the nineteenth
century by Jules-Benoit Doinel du Val Michel, as Eglise Gnostique,
or French Gnostic Church to carry on a kernel of the Cathar faith
and many elements of Johannine tradition. Ours is a Mystical,
Apostolic and Sacramental Christian Church, an independent member
of the "Secret and Invisible Church". We are a modern institution
with ancient roots. We are highly respectful of all Nag Hammadi
scriptures, with a special reverence for the Gospel of Thomas.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHURCH:
In the late 1800s Jules Doinel gathered a following and established the Eglise
Gnostique, which was organised along sacramental lines. The teachings of the
new Church were strictly Gnostic, and in homage to Valentinus, Doinel assumed
the ecclesiastical title of Patriarch Tau Valentin II. In a most progressive
step he ordained women to priestly and episcopal offices; he also established
once again the sacrament of the Consolamentum reminiscent of the Cathars.
Given Jules Doinel's connections to France's leading mystics and occultists
the Gnostic Church soon became known as the Church of the Initiates.
Doinel consecrated the remarkable esoteric writer Papus (Dr. Gerard Encausse)
as a Gnostic bishop, and also joined Papus' Martinist Order. Among Doinel's
acquaintances was the parish priest of Rennes-le-Chateau,
Abbe Berenger Sauniere, .
At this time a number of gifted esotericists joined the French Gnostic
Church, among them Fabré des Essarts, Albert de Pouvourville, Paul Sedir,
Lucien Mauchel, Victor Blanchard and René Guénon.
In 1908, Joanny Bricaud (1881-1934), held at Lyon the Holy Synod of Gnostic
Bishops, which elevated him as Patriarch of the Gnostic Church under the
name Tau Jean II. Bricaud had studied the Johannite teachings and greatly
admired Eugene Vintras and the Church of Carmel.
He was committed to fully restoring the ancient Gnostic wisdom,
faithful to the sacred tradition of Saint John.
In The Esoteric Christian Doctrine, published in 1907,a year
before he became patriarch of the Gnostic Church,
Bricard wrote as follows:
"The main aim of the Universal Gnostic Church is to restore
the original religious unity, that is to establish and spread
a Christian Religion true to the universal religious tradition.
It is not hostile towards any Church.
It respects the customs and laws of all peoples.
It is essentially large and tolerant,
which permits it to admit all men
without distinction of nationality, language or race."
THE WAR YEARS:
Sadly, the ecumenical brotherhood and openness of spirit
cultivated by Bricaud could not prevent persecution and strife
befalling the Gnostic Church in France.Bricaud's successor,
the saintly Monsignor Constant Chevillon, Tau Harmonious
(1880-1944),was cruelly executed by Nazi collaborators
after the Vichy government suppressed the Gnostic Church.
Nevertheless it was from France that the Gnostic Church
spread to Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and South America.
The Gnostic tradition, which originally had its home in France,
also came to be established in England and later in the U.S.A.
THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN ERA:
One exiled remnant of the French Gnostic Church fled the Nazi
and Vichy persecutions, and sought sanctuary in Italy.
Through the good offices of Papus' Martinist Order,
which had established itself in Italy, that sanctuary was provided.
The Church was thereby able to survive, as a secret and hidden Church,
until at long last, it was safe to come out into The Light.
We are forever indebted to L'Ordine Martinista Antico e Tradizionale, (L'O.M.A.T.)
(the Italian Martinist Order), for our very survival.
At the end of the war years, many of the French nationals, who had
found Sanctuary with the Martinists in Italy, returned to France
and attempted to re-establish the Church on French soil.
Some of the Church hierarchy remained behind in Italy, as several
members had married there, or had otherwise "put down roots".
It is from this "Italian Remnant", from those bishops who remained
behind,and continued the work of the Church on Italian soil,
that our lines of ecclesiastic transmission derive.
Today, of course, the Church is a very different institution.
Many elements of the faith and beliefs of our "ancestors in faith"
have evolved in response to our changing understanding of the world,
and in light of the discoveries of Gnostic Scripture that occurred
in 1945 and thereafter. We have preserved many elements of Gnostic,
Cathar, and Johannine traditions that are judged to be compatible
with the world view that has evolved within the Church.
Some elements of our tradition have been modified or eliminated,
whenever it was found either prudent or necessary to do so.
Today we fully acknowledge and proclaim the Gospels of Thomas,
Philip and Mary Magdalene to be Sacred Scripture on equal footing
with the canonical gospels. These scriptures were unavailable to our
nineteenth century Church Fathers due to early purges of all Gnostic
scripture by forces within Orthodox Christianity .
Yet, despite the efforts of the powerful to suppress these scriptures,
to eliminate any trace of them, today we are able to repeat,
with great joy, those words of wisdom which Thomas shared with us:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed"