The New York Times - Another new religion (December 25, 1910)
Foreign correspondence THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Dec. 14 - Yet another faith-healing religion has appeared, this time in Belgium, and the results that are said to be attained are quite as marvelous as in other cases.
So remarkable are come of the cures reported to have been made that the Daily Mirror regarded it as worth while to send a special correspondent to the little town of Jemeppe-lez-Liège, where the headquarters of the sect are situated.
The correspondent has come back with some curious photographs and an even more curious story. He says that the existence of the new religion has become generally known through a petition to the Belgian Parliament to obtain a legal status for it. It is called Antoinisme, 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 100.000, of whom 300, including his wife, are "adepts".
Mrs. Guillaume, a middle-aged American lady who came specially from New York to be treated by Antoine, says she bas 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 the leader. They believe that he knows all the world's happenings, though he never reads a newspaper.
Antoine is now 65, and confines his healing to ceremonies in the church he has built. They are the simpliest services ever invented. They take place at 10A.M. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - ther are none on Sunday.
At 9 A.M. the congregation assembles and an adept, Mr. 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 ans 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 correspondent was present a couple of days ago and was informed that the programme was always the same. If cures do not take place, of course the patients have not had enough faith.
Antoine's iron-gray hair falls to his shoulders, and he wears a long beard. His second sight extends to America, said Mrs. Guillaume, for he told her that her husband had hurt his back in New York, and a week later came a letter from her daughter confirming it and adding that he had quickly got better. Mrs. Guillaume was told by Antoine that she need not worry about her husband's accident, as Antoine was in "fluidic communion" with him.
Antoine cannot sleep much at night. He rests two hours, and the walks in his garden, which has electric lamps fitted uop all round the walls. For six months Antoine has not spoken to any one. People come at all hours with all sorts of aliments 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. The is nothing to pay.
It is three years since Antoine walked in the street. His little house is hidden away in the midst of a block of similar houses, and the spire of his church, which adjoins his home, rises high above the roofs. 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 £800 Antoine 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.
Tags : adepte, Antoinisme
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