Pre-Nicene Christianity

Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller reminds us that “having known him [Richard, Duc de Palatine] for more than twenty years the present writer can attest that this modern Gnostic leader was also profoundly learned in Gnostic scriptures and wished his church to be truly a Gnostic one.”

We are making Bishop Richard, Duc de Palatine’s essay available because it reveals both his firm commitment to ancient Gnosticism and his deep spiritual insights.

First published in The Lucis Magazine, Volume 1 No.3, in 1959, we trust you will find this document an important part of the history of the modern Gnostic revival. 


Bishop Richard Duc De Palatine
Bishop Richard, Duc De Palatine

The Pre-Nicene Gnosto-Catholic Church was established on the 25th October, 1953 in London, England with the object of restoring the GNOSIS – DIVINE WISDOM to the Christian Church, and to teach the PATH OF HOLINESS which leads to God and the Inner Illumination and Interior Communion with the Soul through the mortal body of man.

The title of this old but new Church was decided on because by being PRE-NICENE we hold to the Wisdom Religion as taught by the Gnostic Doctors Valentinius, Basilides, Marcion, Cerentius and Paul; being GNOSTO-CATHOLIC we hold to the doctrine of a Universal Creed that all religions are but expressions of the ONE RELIGION and that no religion has the monopoly on this Universal Truth. We claim that RELIGION manifests as many religions, and UNIVERSAL because we welcome to our Fellowship ALL men and women, irrespective of race, colour or creed. We place no barriers between the Sons of God and our Altars and Church because we believe that a Church should be the Temple of God, an earthly mirror of the Spiritual Church of Divine Souls. The Church should be a magnetic centre for the free passage of power, life and consciousness from the material to the spiritual and from the spiritual to the material regions. Within this magnetic centre a forcing house is established to assist the faithful to spiritualise themselves and receive the blessed Gift of the Holy Spirit.

We do not claim that a belief in man-made dogmas is essential for the redemption of mankind, but by the re-union with the Christ-Soul within man who is the MEDIATOR between God and Man. By the investigation into the doctrines which were taught by the Gnostic Doctors of the Church Universal before 325 A.D., it has ­now been established that the Gnostics held to the tenets of the Wisdom Religion, as to be found in THE HYMN OF THE ROBE OF GLORY; THE ACTS OF THOMAS;ACTS OF JOHN; ACTS OF ANDREW; THE TRAVELS OF PETER; PISTIS SOPHIA; THE BOOKS OF THE SAVIOUR; THE BOOK OF THE GREAT LOGOS; CODEX BRUCIANUS; THE AKHIM CODEX and the MEMOIRS, ACTS and GOSPELS which contained SAYINGS-OF-THE-LORD or Logoi. It has been amply shown by the above extant manuscripts that it was after the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., that the present doctrines were formulated by the ignorant monks in their attempt to explain man’s “redemption” from what they have been pleased to call sin, hell, etc.

The Gnostics understood the Scriptures not as historical narratives, but as being the presentation of the Spiritual Drama of the Fall of the Divine Man into matter and his eventual return to his original Spiritual Home. But the ‘orthodox’ Fathers only knew them as so-called historical facts and events as shown by the unreliable writings of Eusebius, as CHRONICON, Rome 1833; DEMONSTRATION EVANGELICA; ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY,  Irenaeus in AGAINST HERESIES; Epiphanus in PANARIA, Berlin 1859-61 and Tertullian in APOLOGY; ADV MARCIONEM and in Hippolytus Romanus’ work REFUTATION OF ALL HERESIES given in their Commentaries on the ten extant Gnostic documents of the times.

The Orthodox Church has claimed without any real authority that all other interpretations of the Mysteries of Jesus other than their own are ‘heretical’ and we find that this same intole­rant and ignorant attitude still exists in the Church today, in spite of the findings of reputable scholars that there is nothing in the present Christian Doctrines which was not taught by the older and pagan Mystery Religions many thousands of years before Christ, such as the cross, monastic systems, tonsure, confessions, the sacrifice of the bread and wine etc., excepting the doctrines of hell, satan and eternal damnation. The present Divines of all the Christian Sects still hold to the literal interpretations of the Scriptures, whereas as Our Lord the Christos definitely stated in MARK, c.4. v.11:”Unto you (Illuminated) it is given to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom (man’s inherent spiritual nature), but unto them that are without (uninitiated), these things are done in parables.” We claim that the Mysteries are the true religion which is the instinctive recognition by man that he possesses a spiritual nature, and the effort which he makes to realise that nature; this was the teaching of the Gnostics.

We hold with the Gnostics that the Scriptures have two meanings, as Origen in his DE PRINCIPIIS  states: “The Scriptures have a meaning, not only such as is apparent at first sight, BUT ALSO ANOTHER, WHICH ESCAPES THE NOTICE OF MOST MEN. For such is written in forms of certain Mysteries, the image of Divine Things, respecting which there is ONE OPINION ‘THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE CHURCH, that the Law is indeed spiritual; but that the spiritual meaning which the Law conveys is NOT KNOWN TO ALL, but to those on whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed (Illumination) in the words of wisdom and understanding.” This has been verified in Ad. Franck’s KABBALE OU LA PHILOSOPHIC RELIGIEUSE DES HEBREUZ, Paris, in chapter 3, page 152: “The narratives of the doctrine are its cloak. The simple look only on the garment, that is upon the narrative of’ the doctrine; more they know not. The instructed (Illuminated), however, see not merely the cloak, but what the cloak covers.” Jacob Boehme says in his EPISTLES, c.9. v.3: “For the book (Bible) in which all mysteries lie is man himself; he is the likeness of God; the great Arcanum lieth in him.” Meister Eckhart says of this ‘Mystery’ – “This is hidden from the soul.”

We in this Church claim with excellent authority that this Wisdom or Mystery concerns the GNOSIS OF GOD AND THE SOUL, that deeper Wisdom underlying all religions and philosophies, not usually expressed in writing, but is passed on from generation to generation verbally, and this Wisdom has been expressed by Clement in his STOMATA, iv.23: “The Logos of God became man that from man you might learn how man may become God.” Therefore the Scriptures and Philosophies contain the outer teaching suited to the needs of the masses, but the inner soul of’ the teaching resides in the minds of a few of the wisest in every generation.

This Wisdom or Gnosis was the immediate knowledge of God’s mysteries received by interior communion with the Soul through the process of Illumination, by the transformation of’ the whole of man’s nature into a spiritual being, by means of (a) initiation into a Holy Community, which will be through the sections of THE SOVEREIGN IMPERIUM OF THE MYSTERIES; (b) by a duly qualified Teacher, one of the Illumined Sons of God, through the BROTHERHOOD OF THE ILLUMINATED; and (c) under the veils of symbols and sacra­ments, that being the work of THE PRE-NICENE GNOSTO-CATHOLIC CHURCH.

There are three stages of spiritual progression in this Church which will awaken all the personality of man until he becomes Illuminated by the Christ-Soul within his own Divine Nature, and this process is the eternal drama ever taking place within the individual with its goal being Union with the Divine. This process of’ Illumination and Interior Communion with the Divine is accomp­lished by these three definite stages: (a) PURIFICATION, each of the Faithful will be encouraged to build into himself the quali­fications which are ever demanded of him before he can allow the Presence of the Mystic Christ to become known to the to the personality; he is then ready for the rite of BAPTISM. (b) ILLUMINATION, when they have purified the personality, the Christ-Soul will re-enter into His own human temple, he is then ready for CONFIRMATION, and finally that of PERFECTION; they are then ready for the last and most sacred Mystery of all that of Union with the Christ-Soul which makes them one of the Elders.

“The Christ of the human heart is, for the most part, Jesus seen as the mystic human Christ, struggling, suffering, dying, and finally triumphant, the MAN in whom humanity is seen crucified and risen, whose victory is the promise of victory for everyone. This is the summary of the highest Science known to man and is the final goal of all spiritual knowledge and labour, the final object is to make men gods.”

The GNOSIS as held by this Church means ‘knowledge’, – THE THINGS THAT ARE – which was the technical term used by the Gnostics to denote the object of their quest. They taught that Illumination could be obtained by mystical union with the Christ within the Soul. This feat was accomplished in their secret rites or their “Mysteries” in which the death and resurrection of Christ was enacted and the worshipper could achieve ‘union’ with the Christ within his own Soul, he was able to share in the spiritual power and refreshment in this symbolical act, but it was more than just a symbolical act, the worshipper learned to live the drama in time and space in his or her daily life.

We in this Church seek to attain that spiritual union through the Holy Mass which is the central act of Christian worship and mysteries and is the representation of the inner mystery-drama, re-enacting in time and space the primal cosmic sacrifice of God; the incarnation or descent into matter of God the Son of the Supernal Trinity and by this sacrifice we as Sparks of the Divine Life descend into matter so that we can become as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. This Mass helps us to realise that our bodies are expressions of our Divine Souls, of the Indwelling Spirit; so that Bread and Wine which nourish our bodies become here the special expression or manifestation of the Christ, the channel of His blessing for the nourishing of our Souls. The inner or esoteric meaning of the EUCHARISTA means the fermentation of the seed of life by the Wisdom into the Divine.

We hold to the plan which was adopted by our Lord the Christ, which provides a special reservoir of spiritual power for the Church’s use and which provides that our Priests are empowered to draw upon this reservoir of spiritual power for the spiritual upliftment of our people. This method is called the Sacrament of Ordination. We hold to the Doctrine of the APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION coming through the Apostles from the Mysteries; we in this Church have blended all the known lines together in the person of our Presiding Bishop.

According to the extant documents of the first three centuries it is now known that Jeshu-Jesus was initiated into many of the known Mystery Schools of the time. Thus by this means Jesus was able to blend them all together for His work for the new Christian Church. He formed his own Mysteries which were called the “Mysteries of Jesus” after His death in 70 B.C., on the wall of the City of Lud or Lyddia, this line of ancient spiritual succession was passed to the Apostles and from them on to the present day. But it has been overlooked that a number of the Gnostic Doctors were both Bishops of the Church and Initiates of the Gnostic Schools who in turn received their authority from the Mystery Schools, such as St. Paul, who was an Initiate of the Greek and Hebrew Mysteries and passed this line into the Church.

Origen was initiated by Clemens Alexandrinus who in turn was initiated by Ammonius Saccas, who was an initiate of the Platonic and Pythagorian Schools who derived their authority from the Greek and Egyptian Mysteries and according to the statement made to Solon by the High Priest of Sais in Egypt, the Egyptians received their Wisdom and Mysteries from the Atlanteans. The Greeks and Egyptians also received their authorities from the Chaldeans and the Magi who in turn received their authority from the Trans-Himalayan Lodge beyond the Himalayas in the Tarim Basin near the Gobi Sea. It will be seen that Jesus stood in direct line of succession from the famous Atlantean Schools and from the Lodge of the Communion of Saints in Thibet.

After the suppression of the Gnostics and the last of the Sacred Schools at Arles, Gaul, the Gnosis was forced underground to continue its tradition,  it left the underground passage into the Light of’ day through the “Brothers of’ Light” in 1498 and this line has continued today in the present Prince-Primate of’ the Rite.

In 1118 Hugh de Payens vvas initiated by the Grand-Pontiff’ of the Order of the Temple of the Nazarene Gnostics by Theocletes and continued until 1307 as the Templar Order, “when aided by Phillippe Le Bel, King of France, Pope Clement has the Order suppressed at the Council of Vienne in 1311 and in 1313 the Grand Master Jacques du Molay perished in the flames. During his last imprisonment Molay secretly conferred the Grand Mastership of the Order upon Johannes Marcus Larmenius and by the CHARTA TRANS­MISSIONIS, appointed Theobaldus Alexandrinus as his successor and the line was secretly perpetuated until 1804, when Bernard Raymond Fabre-Palaprat became Grand Master. It then passed through Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, Prince de Benevento (1808­1831) – Georges-Eugene, Baron Haussman (1831-1868) – Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley (1868-1905) – Charles Henry Alfred Nunez Arnold (1905-1938) – Hubert George Knowles (1938-1946) – Hugo, Marquis de Villarosa (1946-1958) when the Grand Mastership was held jointly by Hugo and Richard, the present Prince-Prinate of this Church.

Christian Rosenkruz founded the Brotherhood of’ the Rosy Cross in Germany (circa 1300) and this line was carried through Count Victor Cherep-Spivodich to the Prince-Primate of this Church. Cagliostro brought to France the Masonic Rite of Egypt which was blended with the Gnostic tradition, forming the basis for the Masonic Rite of Memphis and Mizraim and through St. Martin to form the Martiniste Order through Pasqualis, these two lines are now blended in the person of’ the Prince-Primate of this Church.

It will be seen that this Church embodies the tradition of the Ancient Mystery Schools and Colleges of the Philosophers, the Gnostic Tradition and those lines of tradition which have sprung from the roots of Gnosticism. Perhaps never in the history of’ the Christian Church have all the lines possible in the Wisdom Traditions been brought together into one Church. Most of the so-called non Christian lines of authority were originally within the Church proper and were never intended to be anything else but the mystic aspect of the Church, but we have the sorry sight of seeing many so called authentic lines of tradition refusing to work within the Church and claiming to be non-religious.

The direct lines of succession called “Catholic” are now known as THE OECUMENICAL APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION and blended with the non-Catholic successions, they became what could be termed THE WISDOM RELIGION-GNOSTIC MYSTIC TRADITION. The Catholic successions arc derived through (1) Syrian-Antiochene. (2) Syrian­Malabar; (3) Syrian-Gallican; (4) Armenian-Uniatc; (5) Syro­Chaldean; (6) Chaldean-Uniate; (7) Coptic-Orthodox;(8) Old Catholic (American); (9) Order of Corporate Reunion; (10) Roman Catholic; (11) Anglican, for what it is worth. They are derived through His Sacred Beatitude Mar Georgius, Lord Patriarch of Glastonbury. His Beatitude’s Orders were declared valid in the Parish Hall of Notre Dame de la Chambre, Brussels, Belgium on 26th March 1953 during a Conference of Roman Catholic Theologians presided over by Canon Pierre Gillet, who was for 18 years Professor of Canon Law in the Seminary of Malines, and Canonist in Title to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malines. The first ten lines can also be verified as being valid in the CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPAEDIA DICTIONARY. As Tertullian, of the 3rd century, demands: “Have you an Apostolic Succession? Unfold your line of Bishops.”

The fact that this Rita does not hold to the present accepted theological beliefs but to the Gnostic-Wisdom Religion teachings, may cause the present Catholic Church to denounce our Orders as being heretical, but before they make such a pronouncement they are advised to think carefully as the scholastic world have verified the contrary, that the Orthodox Church is in the position of being the ‘true heretics’, deviating from the True Teachings of the Christ. The old order of things and beliefs always dies very hard before the Light of the new age becomes fully established.

Such scholars as G.R.S Mead, Godfrey Higgins, King, C..W. Leadbeater, Bishop Colonso, Dean Inge, Bishop Barnes, H.P.Blavatsky, Joseph McCabe, C.C.J. Baron Bunson, J.P. Lundy, and hosts of others, have all shown with unshakable facts that the present Christianity is NOT, and we repeat NOT the true religion of the Christ, and since our present Bible is a translation of a translation of a recension of the Greek and Aramaic copies which have been lost there is,  therefore, no factual evidence to rely upon, excepting the writings of the Gnostics which such ‘Fathers’ as Eusebius, Ireneaus and Hyppolitus either distorted or destroyed in their attempts to obliterate the true sources of Christianity.

© Copyright 2006 by Universal Gnostic Alliance.