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An Esoteric Comment on Apocalypse by Antoine de Larminat

by Jean-Pierre Laurant
A paper presented at the CESNUR 2010 conference in Torino.© Jean-Pierre Laurant , 2010. Please do not quote or reproduce without the consent of the author

Antoine de Larminat (1895-1963) was a catholic parish priest in the diocese of Soissons, near-by Paris; he wrote between 1942 and 1963 on typed book notes a long comment on Apocalypse, more than 1200 pages. He submitted his work to the censure of the Church, through the official channels: his bishop Mgr Douillard, and sold or distributed a few copies to friends or parishioners who seemed to share his views [1] . The work was focused on Jews conversion as a sign of the end of the times. His approach was quite ambiguous insofar as he had inherited anti-Semitic catholic currents  of the 19th century [2] on the one hand and on the other hand he  attached a leading role to the Jewish people: The Jews had kept the key of history. His stance is very interesting if you consider he wrote his texts after the Holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel.

A short biography:

     His family was coming from Beaurieux (Aisne) [3] , he was a volunteer in 1914 and taken prisoner in Verdun (second lieutenant, 1916). After the war he followed the call of Church and joined a Trappist monastery (diocese of Seez) for eight years. Unfortunately, he ate heartily and had no taste for diet, so he left the monastery and became parish priest in Guise and Corbeny (Aisne, 1932). From 1944 to 1948 he was back to the Trappist monastery of Lérins and again in some parishes of Aisne (Fontaine-les-Vervins, Escaufourt, nord).                                                                                               

In a short interview in 1959 (8p.), he affirmed he had received a mission from the Holy Spirit in1942, a mission of exegesis: to give the true sense of the prophecies, especially Daniel, regarding the end of the times and the Revelation. He started at that time to write: Commentaire scripturaire de l’Apocalypse (350p.) ;  Clef de l’Apocalypse (115p.) Commentaire de l’Apocalypse à l’aide des prophéties modernes (609 p.) ; Evénements qui marqueront la fin du temps des nations (30p) ; Essai succinct d’application du sens littéral aux prophéties eschatologiques de la Sainte Ecriture (99p., written after 1956, he refers to the Arabian wars) ; Le plan de Dieu révélé par les prophéties de l’A et du N T sur l’avenir du peuple juif à la fin des temps ; Les cieux nouveaux et la terre nouvelle (162p., 1961, CNTN) ; he wrote Quand aura lieu la Parousie (75p), between 1961 and 1963, the latter was not listed. According to Larminat, the Pope himself had to order the examination of his comments by the best censors (nevertheless he had respected the hierarchy with his bishop). 

 A traditional exegesis of the 19th century

   Following Joseph de Maistre, it was a common place since the beginning of  the19th century, that  prophecies of the  Scripture pointed out this period; a good lot of learned clerics tried then to prove it wit the help of historical arguments. Both the concordance of prophecies and the accumulation of testimonies borne by a thousand-year-old tradition of exegesis clearly showed the sense. They called “science catholique” that blending of historic methodology and spiritual authority and one can find in Amos the justification [4] :  “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? ...Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret into his servants the prophets”. Larminat followed  the same direction and explained his stance in a short general introduction [5] . All the classical authors of the French anti-Semitic literature fin de siècle were present in his bibliography: Emmanuel Chabauty (1827-1914) who built the theory of the revival of the world created for eternity [6] ; Auguste Rohling (1839-1931) or canon Magnier (1829-1906) of  Soissons. Chabauty brought together Paul’s affirmation in I Corinthians : « Behold, I show you a mystery  we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed …for the trumpet  shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed” [7] and Peter’s one : « Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth” [8] . He concluded: the world had been created for eternity. Restored here below and not transfigured in heavens. Revival should possibly become the official position of the Church in the future as you can see when you consider the long list of Fathers (mostly Greeks) following that way.

Such kind of exegesis looks partly like Christian Esotericism of the 19th century at first sight. They have in common a gnosis, a knowledge setting free as part of a hidden tradition inside the apostolic transmission. She uses complex systems of correspondences within the regeneration of the whole nature. The argument was based on the discovery of new disciplines, both physical and historical ones.

Abbé de Larminat’s argument

Regarding the legitimacy of  private prophecies and the general sense of apparitions in the 19th century one can find nothing new in Larminat’s texts, neither in Chabauty’s revival of the world.  But  he propounded a new literal reading of the Scriptures [9] of John’s Apocalypse changing the order of chapters. The expression “New heavens and new earth” and “the thousand years reign” had to be rolled  in one ( in chap. 20 and not 21). John’s separation was a convenience of exposition, no more. It was an important matter; the first consequence was to send back into human history the accomplishment of God’s kingdom. A good part of mankind could be alive at the given time of  Christ’s Second Advent [10] . So the author considered the historical events as signs and we have to take in account the meaning of the date when he wrote his texts: the final collapse of the Nazi extermination and the birth of the state of Israel in a hostile milieu. The classical themes of the “Grand Monarque” and the “Pape angélique” [11] we found everywhere in his first texts, linked to  Christ’s Second Advent, disappeared in the last one (CNTN).

The connection between Paul’s assertion in  1Corinthians  about man removed alive from earth to heaven and the resurrection of the dead  on the one hand and the new earth and the new heaven on the other hand,  brought very strong arguments to that exegesis which tried to be a literal one. The close of the war reinforced the very idea that the Jewish people was really indestructible, according to the divine promise [12] . The return en masse of Jewish immigrants in Palestine was a proof. Therefore Larminat had focused its narrations of the end of times about the battle of Armaged’don [13] ; after the attack of Jerusalem by all nations (meaning the non Jews), Christ could come back but “he will not only content with the victory of Jewish people, defeating his assailants, he will remove his Church to heaven and convert en masse the Jews, pouring upon them a Spirit of grace…” then Jerusalem will become the centre of a worldwide theocratic power. They will rebuild the Temple and restore bloody sacrifices. God will allow it to show openly the Jewish root on which the Catholic Church had been grafted. [14] As  the Diaspora had been  a  result of crucifixion, people and states  nowadays  renouncing their faiths were faced with the same position (see Pius XI): “ Our Lord will take the Jewish people back and restore their old religion for the glory of Catholicism…the Jewish root will be laying bare.”  It was an open secret that the Jewish people was the central point of the revival and their final conversion a sign of a worldwide event. [15] While Levitic priesthood should be restored, the Christian one should disappear; in the presence of  Christ himself there is no place for Eucharistic [16] . “All the nations” referred to a real country, the geographical Palestine at the time of Abram. [17]

When will the battle of Armaged’don  occur and what happens afterward?

Since 1920, immigration into Palestine has increased quickly by way of proof  the really strong establishment of  the Jews in the country and “the recent war [18] … (showed) an invincible firmness to gain possession of the Promised Land [19] ”. The neighbours' hostility explained the delay to prophecies but almost the special position of the Jewish people as witness of the covenant, so we can’t consider them only as a nation”. The conversions had to be firstly individual but they are on the increase now. At the second stage Enoch and Eli’jah who never died will be coming and convert the people en masse. They will divide the territory between tribes of Israel, establish boarders and order the rebuilding of the Temple. The righteous alive in the Church [20] will take part in the populating, according to Paul, but they will not be in the majority amongst the Jews at home and in a furious rage to fight the last battle for Christ. Larminat doesn’t refer to Oriental Christians living in Palestine or to Muslims. The last judgement will be following and the resurrection of the dead as Ezekiel announced it [21] . One can find a symbol of the progressive character of Israel’s redemption in the flesh, bones and breath coming slowly together: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ez, 37,11).

After its transfiguration the terrestrial city would be identified with the celestial Jerusalem of the Revelation; its linear measures and breadth squared with those of a modern city. Rome then would  lose  its place as the spiritual centre of the world.

How to live in Jerusalem waiting for Doomsday?

As the term “Generation” shows in a lot of prophecies, the man will multiply sexually but without mortal sin, and continue his way to perfection, more or less quickly.  When the world is drawing to an end, man will not need any Temple, the whole City would become a Temple visited by the pilgrims of the whole world. The cult of Jews would be simplified.

Larminat calls then historical and natural sciences for help, he analyses physiological modifications of animals becoming vegetarians [22] and considered the life-expectancy of trees as pointing out the landscape of the coming new Garden of Eden. By the way, the amazing change of Palestinian landscape in Jewish colonies was a foreshadowing of all geographical transformations of the world to come. For instance the climatic and water condition between “Hid’dekel” and Euphra’tes was changing as you can read in prophecies [23] ; a French engineer of Ordnance survey confirmed.

All prophecies clearly related the material fate of the world; mankind was going back to the Garden of Eden. That’s why most part of mankind could be saved and why the snake cannot reach the woman of the Genesis higher than her heel [24] . The only remainder “will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire” [25] .


If  esoteric currents  of the Renaissance focused their attention upon the problem of an Adam-Kadmon and a pre-adamic world, a created world for eternity supposes modern arguments and bears the stamp of occultist and individualist arguments of the 19th century. At the same time Larminat put in practice a literal reading as a good lot of clerks wanted to do, through the 19th century, and this in order to oppose a “Catholic science” to hated modernity.

Jean-Pierre Laurant

[1] The answer is unknown. The texts had never been  published.

[2] Anti Judaic seems to be a better expression, see Emile Poulat...

[3] A neighbouring friend of the family, Yves de Thézy, gave me Larminat's files, my grateful thanks to him.

[4]     Amr., 3,6-7.

[5]   17 pages undated with a  bibliography ( 8.p.) at the end of La clef de l’Apocalypse…

[6] Etudes scripturales, patristiques, théologiques, sur l’avenir de l’Eglise catholique selon le plan de Dieu, Paris, Oudin , 1890.

[7]   I Co, XV, 51-52

[8]   2 P, III, 13

[9]   The « old theology » in the 19th century defended that  position against the new historical criticism.

[10] He compared  the total number of humanity to the destruction described in the  Revelation and concluded it was impossible that  most part of the saved could be non Christians. So the time of the end was not to come at once. 

[11] They meant the restauration of the king in France. The notions were present since the Middle Ages.

[12] « But with thee, will I estabish my covenant »,Gn, 6, 18

[13]   Ap, 16,16

[14] CNTN, chap.6, p.4. Larminat refers then to Daniel, to justify the secret character of the event.

[15] « The huge event »  Joseph de Maistre had spoken of.

[16]   The bloody  sacrifice was no more  Christ’s sacrifice prefiguration but a reminder.

[17] The author worried about the fate of Sodom.

[18] 1948 after the birth of Israel or 1956 after the Suez crisis.

[19]   Essai succinct, chap.4, p23. He was amazed  at the passion  to emigrate since 1935 but he can’t see the connection with persecutions of Nazism.

[20]   The Catholic Church indeed, he considered the others as schismatic.

[21]   Ez, 37,1-14

[22] The snake made an exception, he lived of dust, a symbol of its condemnation.

[23] Ap, 16,12

[24] Gn 3, 15 : « and thou shalt bruise his heel » .

[25]   Ap, 21, 8