Mariavites

A Polish sect founded in Warsaw in 1906 by Jan Kowalski and Maria Felicja Kozlowska, who had both founded communities under the Franciscan Rule, but because of their suspected mysticism had been excommunicated from the Roman Church. The new union took its name from devotion to the Virgin Mary and was recognized by St. Petersburg and the Duma. Having negotiated with members of the Utrecht Schism, they ultimately joined the Old Catholics* (1909) with Kowalski their bishop. With Kozlowska's death, fanaticism within the sect increased noticeably and took the form of “mystic marriages” between priests and nuns, whose children were considered to be without original sin, destined to found a new, sinless race. In 1924 the Old Catholics renounced them. Kowalski, dethroned in 1935, was held by the Nazis and a split occurred. The majority followed bishops C.P. Feldmann (1935-45) and M. Sitek (1957- ), with a minority at the Felicjanów monastery. By 1962 their total number was but a fraction of the 200,000 it had been in 1911.