Vicentia Tadagbe Tchranvoukinni is a rather difficult name to pronounce and that may be the reason behind the varied names of one of Benin’s most controversial pastors who calls herself God or Perfect or God Holy Spirit.
Baname is the site of the Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ which Vicentia Tadagbe runs with ‘business partner’ Mathias Vignan also known as Pope Christopher XVIII. The two lead a group of followers who have pledged to end the reign of the devil.
The Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ is apparently too holy for Benin’s community of churches and as such was expelled from the church community in Benin in 2013. The actual reason given for the expulsion is the group’s continued clashes with other religions and their overly charismatic theology. Still, repeated scandals have ensured that the group has remained in the public eye.
In January, for instance, five followers, unfortunately, lost their lives after they suffocated to death when they were instructed to lock themselves inside sealed rooms with burning incense and pray for deliverance.
Despite the unfortunate event, Vicentia Tadagbe continues to wield great influence in Benin and consequently, the Very Holy Church’s popularity keeps soaring.
Vicentia Tadagbe’s take on her birth is one of immaculate conception as she claims that she fell from the sky in northern Benin and was found by a Fulani shepherd in the bush. She met with her partner Mathias Vignan when she was 20 and had gone to the parish of Sainte-Odile-de-Baname to meet him when he was a Catholic priest for an exorcism.
The story had ended differently than anyone would have expected as she instead caught the attention of the Priest, went on to start her church and installed him as “Pope Christopher XVIII”.
One of the things that stands Vicentia Tadagbe out is her consistent condemnation of other beliefs. She is, for instance, vocal in her condemnation of voodoo which is an official religion in Benin. Her stance against these other religions is not welcome as critics accuse her of striking up hatred between what had been co-existing communities of different faiths.
Early this year, a violent clash occurred between her followers and residents in the southern town of Djime, who according to a local official, said that the group had “insulted and offended” traditional leaders during an “evangelization mission”.
Perfect’s influence in Benin does not seem to be near a foreseeable end in Benin. She publicly endorsed President Patrice Talon, who was elected in March 2016 and he is yet to say a word about the group unlike his predecessor, Thomas Boni Yayi, who summoned “Perfect” for talks.