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Comunitas Agnus Dei

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The Agnus Dei Community (German: "Gemeinschaft Lamm Gottes" or "Community of the Lamb of God") is a Catholic sect that is not recognized by ecclesiastic authorities. The group is based at the old Frauenberg Monastery (Burg Frauenberg) near Bodman-Ludwigshafen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, which is provided free of charge by the property's owner. The community was established in 1980.


The founder and leader of the community is Herbert Grundberger.[1] Grundberger commonly goes by the name "Brother Elija"[1] as well as "Hermano Elias" and other names.[2] After dabbling in Buddhism, self-help groups and self-described "esoteric" and "occult" studies,[1][3] Grundberger claims to have had a decisive encounter with Jesus Christ in 1977 while on a cycling tour of Lake Constance.[1] He began to study the Catholic religion while "living like a monk" in his flat in Tübingen.[1] In April, 1980, along with several like-minded persons and their children, Grundberger founded the Agnus Dei Community.[1] Since about 1982, Count Wilderich von und zu Bodman has granted the Agnus Dei group a center of operations at Frauenberg, a former Cistercian monastery in the hills above Lake Constance.[1] In 1984, Grundberger claimed to receive messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary.[4]

Ecuador and association with Bishop Emil Stehle[edit]

In 1997, Grundberger and some members of the Agnus Dei community moved to a new center in Ecuador they called "Tierra de la Paz" (Land of Peace) near Santo Domingo de los Colorados.[4][5][6] Grundberger came to Santo Domingo at the invitation of Emil Stehle, who served as Bishop of the Diocese of Santo Domingo in Ecuador from 1987 to 2002 and was a native of southern Germany.[7]

A report published in 2022 revealed that during his years as Bishop of Santo Domingo, Stehle had given refuge in his diocese to numerous Catholic priests who were under police investigation for sexual abuse of minors in Germany.[7][8] Although he is not a priest, Grundberger was named specifically in this report as one of the men who had been under police investigation.[7]

Criminal conviction and expulsion from Ecuador[edit]

In a 2018 decree, the new Bishop of Santo Domingo ordered the dissolution of the Agnus Dei group in Ecuador and the liquidation of its properties.[6] According to the 2018 decree, written by Bishop Bertram Víctor Wick Enzler and published by the Catholic Diocese of Santo Domingo in Ecuador, Grundberger was convicted in 2002 by the Konstanz District Court (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) for sexual assaults on children within his community.[6] The decree further states that Grundberger received a one-year prison sentence with probation and a fine of over 10,000 euros.[6]

Lack of ecclesiastic recognition[edit]

The Archdiocese of Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg has denied ecclesiastical recognition to the Agnus Dei community.[9]

Life in the community[edit]

The community sustains itself through donations, child welfare benefits, and the sale of audiocassettes, CDs and books.[1] In 2000, the Agnus Dei community was estimated to include 27 adults and 29 children at centers in Germany, Belgium and Ecuador.[4] In 2021, there was an estimated total of 25 members.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Reile, Holger (June 19, 1991). "Die Gotteslämmer vom Bodensee (The Lambs of God from Lake Constance)". Die Tageszeitung: Taz. p. 13. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  2. "Comunidad en campaña de oración contra la violencia" [Community in a campaign of prayer against violence]. El Universo (in Spanish). Guayaquil. October 10, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2023.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  3. "Another spirit: a personal testimony to the pontificate of Pope Francis". November 21, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Relinfo: Agnus Dei". 2000. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  5. "Santo Domingo, Tierra de la Paz, Januar bis Mai 2001". Communitas Agnus Dei. Archived from the original on February 12, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2023. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Diocese of Santo Domingo in Ecuador: Decreto de supresión de la asociación de fieles "Agnus Dei" (Decree abolishing the faith association "Agnus Dei")". December 20, 2018. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Dominguez, Inigo; Sevillano, Elena (June 14, 2022). "Una vía de fuga de Europa para curas pederastas y un refugio secreto en Ecuador" [An escape route from Europe for pedophile priests and a secret refuge in Ecuador]. El Pais (in Spanish). Madrid. Retrieved June 23, 2023.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  8. "German Bishop, Accused of Abuse, Found to Have Helped Wanted Pedophile Priests Escape to Latin America". National Catholic Register. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Relinfo: ElijaMission (AKA Agnus Dei)". 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2023.

External links[edit]

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