Doinel, Jules-Benoit (1842-1894)

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Doinel, Jules-Benoit (1842-1894)

Jules-Benoit Doinel du Val-Michel, the patriarch of the Nouvelle Église Gnostique Universelle (New Universal Gnostic Church), was born in France on December 8, 1842. As a teenager he was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church by the bishop of Moulins. He was 26 when he married Stephanie-Francoise le Clerc.

In 1867, the year before his marriage, he claimed that he had had an apparition of the Virgin Mary and that Jesus had appeared to him and consecrated him as a bishop. Through the next years, he read in metaphysical and theosophical literature and then around 1890, during a Spiritualist séance, he accepted a second consecration out of which he founded the Nouvelle Église Gnostique Universelle. The new church had as its goal the reviving of the mystical doctrines attributed to the second-century theologian Origen, especially the preexistence of the soul and metempsychosis (reincarnation).

Doinel assumed the religious name of Tau Valentin II, and as a bishop with direct contact with Christ, initiated a new line of apostolic succession. He consecrated several bishops into his new Gnostic church, including Gerard Encausse, better known as Papus, and the man who eventually succeeded him as patriarch, Leonce Eugene Joseph Fabre Des Essarts. Doinel died in 1894.

The Nouvelle Église Gnostique Universelle has continued to the present, though it fractured over the twentieth century and now exists as a number of small Gnostic churches. Among its more important derivatives is the Gnostic Catholic Church associated with the Ordo Templis Orientis (OTO). Some claim that both Theodor Reuss and Aleister Crowley were consecrated by Papus, but the documentary evidence is lacking. Herman Joseph Metzger (1919-1990), who eventually became head of the largest German-speaking branch of the OTO, accepted consecration as a Gnostic bishop through a separate lineage from Doinel.

Sources:

Anson, Peter. Bishops at Large. London: Faber and Faber, 1964.

Ward, Gary L., Bertil Persson, and Alan Bain, eds. Independent Bishops: An International Directory. Detroit: Apogee Press, 1990.