Chicago Examiner Vol. 11 no28 (1911)-Buffalo Ny Courier (1911)
"Antoinism," Belgium's New Sect of Healers
A NEW religion has been officially ''discovered" in Belgium by the presentation of a petition to Parliament to obtain legal status for it.
It la called Antoinism, and was founded a few years ago by a coal miner named Louis Antoine, who is now celebrated far and wide as "Antoine the Healer." His followers claim that they number 160,000. of whom 300, including his wife, are "adepts".
Mrs. Guillaume, a middle-aged American woman who came specially from New York to be treated by Antoine, says she has been practically cured of the chalky rheumatism which formerly compelled her to walk on crutches. She is herself an adept now, with power to heal by faith, she says.
Antoinists literally worship their leader. They believe that he knows all the world's happenings, though he never reads a newspaper his home is at Jemeppe-lez-Liege.
Antoine is now sixty-five, and confines his healing to ceremonies in the church he has built. They are the simplest services ever invented. They take "place at 10 a m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—there are none on Sunday.
At 9 a. m. the congregation assembles, and an adept, M. Deregnancourt, who is the publisher of the sect's literature, takes his place at a desk under the raised platform. There is silence till 9:30. Then he announces that "operations" will take place at certain hours on certain days.
He continues sitting perfectly still, not a muscle moving and his watery blue eyes fixed straight before him in an unblinking stare, until the stroke of 10, when every one rises and the Parent One enters through a side door and slowly walks up the steps to the rostrum, wearing a black cassock.
Antoine faces the people for a full minute without moving, and then lifts his right hand toward the people and holds it extended for another minute, and that is all. He walks slowly out again. Those two minutes are the service. The adept remarks. "Every one whose faith is strong enough must be cured." The church empties silently.
The programme is always the same. If cures do not take place, of course, the patients have not had enough faith. Antoine's iron-grey hair falls to his shoulders, and he wears a long beard.
Antoine cannot sleep much at night. He rests for two hours, and then walks in his garden, which has electric lamps fitted up all round the walls.
For six months Antoine has not spoken to any one at all. People come at all hours with all sorts of ailments and appeals.
The Good Mother, as Antoine's wife is called, or the housekeeper, or some other adept, stands in front of the applicant and, turning her eyes upward, slowly waves her hand in the air, which means that she is invoking Antoine the Healer. The patient then goes off smiling, cured by deputy. There is nothing to pay.
Antoine lives on vegetables only, and prepares them himself. He is a veritable hermit. When it is necessary to speak to him a telephone is used. Subscriptions are made for the maintenance of the church, but it was built partly with $4,000 he had himself saved.
The badge of the sect is "the tree of the knowledge of the sight of evil" represented by a white tree on a black ground.
Chicago Examiner Vol. 11 no28 (1911)
Buffalo Ny Courier (1911)
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