A mystical sect of prerevolutionary Russia, founded on tenets
from Father John of Kronstadt. The sect published a periodical
and spread their propaganda by means of itinerant pamphlet
sellers. They were said to abduct Jewish children, and
because of this rumor they sometimes came under police supervision.
On various occasions they unsuccessfully forecast the
date of the Last Judgment. They declared that all the powers
of heaven had descended into Kronstadt and were personified
in the entourage of Father John.
They exhorted all believers to make confession to Father
John, who alone could rescue sinners from the depths of hell.
The orthodox clergy would not know the Lord, but Father John
would gather together in Kronstadt 144,000 of the blessed and
then leave the earth. Another tenet of the Johannities was
that all newborn babies were little devils who must be
stamped out immediately after birth.
The Johannites urged people to sell all their possessions
and send the proceeds to Father John, or entrust them to the
keeping of the pamphlet sellers. It seems, however, that Father
John was unaware of the abuse of his name, and on one occasion,
in reply to a telegram from Bishop Nikander of Perm, he
strongly repudiated any connection with certain Johannite propagandists
in the Perm government.
Another well-known sect of Johannites existed in seventeenth-century
Holland. They were a less rigid branch called
the Mennonites. They were first known as Anabaptists, but this
name became distasteful because of the excesses of the Anabaptists
under such fanatics as John of Leyden, and in 1537 the
priest Menno Simonis gave his name to the movement. The
members of the Johannite branch were also known as Waterlanders,
from the name of the Waterland district in North
Jogand-Pagès, Gabriel Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
Holland where they lived. Other Mennonite sects immigrated
to the United States.