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Stella Maris Gnostic Church

The Stella Maris Gnostic Church, one of a number of South American Gnostic sect groups, was founded in 1989 by Rodolfo Perez and former members of the Universal Christian Gnostic Movement. Modern Gnosticism had emerged in nineteenth-century Europe, from where it had been transferred to South America early in the twentieth century by Arnoldo Krumm-Heller and other occult leaders. The Stella Maris is headquartered in Cartegena, Colombia.

The small group rose out of its obscurity in the larger occult milieu in June of 1999. A month earlier, the mother of one of the young adult members complained to the local authorities about the group and asked them to assist her in removing her daughter from the group. They did not respond. In June, the group went on its annual retreat. The day after the small group (fewer than 100 members) departed for the retreat, Colombian papers carried stories that the group had departed for the Sierra Nevada mountains to meet a spaceship that would take them to another world. The Sierra Nevada has been the focus of UFO reports and many flying saucer buffs believe it to be a place where direct contact with extraterrestrials is possible. The story was given added credence by expectations of crazy actions by different groups as the millennium came to an end.

The story was picked up by international wire services, carried worldwide, and tied to memories of the suicide of the 39 members of Heaven's Gate. However, within 24 hours of the story breaking, Perez and several members of the group went on television, denied that they had any interest in flying saucers, and said that they would return to Cartegena as usual when their retreat was over. The retreat was taking place near San Pedro, Colombia, as the media had been informed some weeks previously. El Tiempo, the leading daily newspaper, had run the initial story without checking the facts that they had at hand. The follow-up story of the group was carried by the Colombian press, but no follow-up appeared in the English-language media for almost a year when Fortean Times finally broke the story of the hoax in its May 2000 issue. Meanwhile, the Stella Maris Gnostic Church returned to its routine life in Cartegena.

Sources:

Murdie, Alan. "The Stella Maris Cult." Fortean Times 133 (May 2000): 66.

. "UFOs, Strange Lights, and Meteorites in Columbia." Posted at http://www.xmo85.dial.pipex.com/colombia.htm. May 10, 2000.

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Stella Maris Gnostic Church

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