This article provides a study of the organizational development and self-understanding of the Spanish Palmarian movement that emerged from a series of Marian apparitions in the Andalusian town of Palmar de Troya beginning in 1968. Within a year the leading visionary was Clemente Domínguez, whose received messages leveled severe criticism against the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church. In the mid-1970s, the Palmarians ordained their own priests and consecrated their own bishops; in 1978, Domínguez declared himself divinely elected pope and founded the Palmarian Church. At the beginning, Palmar de Troya was a typical apparition case, but development of apparition contents, a solid financial base, and the tumultuous relationship with the Roman Catholic Church eventually led to the founding of a separate church. From its inception, the Palmarian Church claimed that the outside world was evil, but with time it has become even more closed and exclusive.

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