Charles Mason Remey (1874-1974) was an eminent American Bahá’í with a distinguished life of service to the Bahá’í Faith. Acquaintances knew him as Mason Remey. Born in Burlington, Iowa, on May 15, 1874, Mason was the eldest son of Rear Admiral George Collier Remey and Mary Josephine Mason Remey, the daughter of Charles Mason, the first Chief Justice of Iowa. One of his ancestors, John Howland, came to America as a pilgrim aboard the Mayflower.

Charles Mason Remey’s parents raised him in the Episcopal Church. Mason Remey was introduced to the Bahá’í Faith in 1899 by May Ellis Bolles while in Paris, France. [1]

Mason Remey trained as an architect at Cornell University (1893-1896) and the Ecole des Arts in Paris, France (1896-1903). ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son and successor of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, appointed him to design the future Bahá’í Temple at Mt Carmel, Israel. Shoghi Effendi, the grandson and successor of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the [first] Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith from 1922-1957, approved Mason Remey’s design for the project. Shoghi Effendi further directed Mason Remey to design Bahá’í Temples for construction in Teheran, Iran; Kampala, Africa; and Sidney, Australia; and to initiate the design of the International Bahá’í Archives in Haifa, Israel. During ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s leadership of the Faith, Mason Remey was responsible for the approval of the design for the “Mother Temple of the West,” the Bahá’í House of Worship in North America, built in Wilmette, Illinois, beginning in 1920.

‘Abdu’l-Baha praised Mason Remey’s efforts and character in a tablet to Corrine True, published in the Bahá’í magazine Star of the West (STW) in August 1920. What follows is one of the many examples of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s affection and love for Mason Remey:

. . ."Praise be unto God, that the model of the Mashrekol-Askar [current transliteration: Mashriqu'l-Adhkár] made by Mr. [Louis J.] Bourgeois was approved by his honor, Mr. Remey, and selected by the Convention. His honor, Mr. Remey is, verily, of perfect sincerity. He is like unto transparent water, filtered, lucid and without any impurity. He worked earnestly for several years, but he did not have any personal motive. He has not attachment to anything except to the Cause of God. This is the spirit of the firm and this is the characteristic of the sincere." (Star of the West.11, No. 9 20 August 1920, p. 139)

Mason Remey’s attachment to the Cause was well known at the time. He travelled extensively to promote the Bahá’í Faith during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By (1950 edition, p. 261) recorded that Mason Remey and his Bahá’í companion, Howard Struven, were the first Bahá’ís to circle the globe teaching the Faith. Mason Remey visited ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the Holy Land several times and received numerous Tablets from The Master. Star of the West (STW) published many of these letters during the years 1913-1922. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s high regard for Mason Remey is evident in these letters. Samples of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s greetings and words to him illustrate this affection.

"O thou illumined youth and my spiritual beloved!” (STW, April 1913)

"O my dear son! Numerous letters have been received from you and their contents have all been conducive to happiness. Praise be to God, thou art confirmed in service to the Kingdom, art promulgating divine teachings, art raising the call of the oneness of mankind, art detaching the souls from ignorant racial prejudices, art summoning them to the investigation of truth, art showing forth unto them the light of guidance and art offering them the chalice of the wine of the love of God. This blessed purpose of thine is the magnet of the confirmations of the Abha Kingdom." (STW, July 1919, translation by Shoghi Effendi)

"O thou enlightened beloved son!" (STW, November 1920)

"O thou herald of the Covenant! Thy letters have been received and an answer has been written. Verily thou art firm in the Covenant, art self-sacrificing, art the son of the Kingdom and dost deserve the confirmations of His Holiness Baha’u’llah." (STW, December 1920, translation by Shoghi Effendi)

A prolific writer, Mason Remey wrote numerous published and personal articles promoting the Bahá’í Faith, including " ‘Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant" and the five volume A Comprehensive History of the Bahá’í Movement (1927); "The Bahá’í Revelation and Reconstruction" (1919); "Constructive Principles of The Bahá’í Movement" (1917); and "The Bahá’í Movement: A Series of Nineteen Papers" (1912) are a few of the titles of the many works Mason Remey produced while ‘Abdu’l-Baha was still alive. A dedicated diarist, Mason Remey also recorded his life in considerable detail. In 1940 he provided copies of his diaries and selected writings to several public libraries. [3] Included in most of these collections are the letters and tablets ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote to him.

Mason Remey’s memoir of his final visit with ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 1921, records the words ‘Abdu’l-Baha, spoke to him at that time.

"I have adopted you as my son. You have to appreciate this favour very much indeed. One should see that you are living according to the requirements of this sonship. You should be aware of your responsibilities. My prayers will help you. I always pray for you."[4]

Juliet Thompson, a Bahá’í pilgrim who knew both ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Mason Remey, confirmed the special relationship the two shared. In her diary, published in 1983, she reveals a message that ‘Abdu’l-Baha asked to be given to Mason Remey:

“Give my greatest love to Mr. Remey and say: You are very dear to me. You are so dear to me that I think of you day and night. You are my real son. Therefore I have an idea for you. I hope it may come to pass.” [5]

According to Juliet Thompson, ‘Abdu’l-Baha wished for her and Mason Remey to be married. “He told me He loved Mason Remey so much,” Thompson writes, “and He loved me so much that he wished us to marry. That was the meaning of His message to Mason. He said it would be a perfect union and good for the Cause. Then he asked me how I felt about it.” [6] They did not marry, although Thompson anguished over her decision, which she felt would cause ‘Abdu’l-Baha disappointment.

Shoghi Effendi was also aware of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Mason Remey’s relationship. Shoghi Effendi translated some of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s letters to Mason Remey, and may have served as translator during their meetings. After ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s passing, Mason Remey made his eighth pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There he met with Shoghi Effendi, who showed him the original text of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament and provided him with a copy of it.

In one of his diaries Mason Remey recorded his reaction to his first reading of the Master’s Will and Testament:

“Never have I read anything which gave me the joy and inspiration that this Holy document produced in my heart. It filled my heart with assurance that the Cause was safely guarded and gave me a fixed direction toward which to turn and a continuous centre about which we are all to revolve so long as we are in this world. I rejoice at the Bahá’í standard of excellence which it established…” [7]

At the end of his 1922 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Shoghi Effendi handed Mason Remey a packet, sealed and signed by himself sometime in the months after ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s passing. [8] This packet was found among Remey’s stored papers after his death in 1974. [9]

The packet’s outside envelope contained these handwritten words:

"Coagulated drops of Baha'u'llah's All-Sacred Blood and Ringlets of His Most Blessed Locks presented as my most precious possession to 'Abdu'l-Baha's 'dear son' Mr. Charles Mason Remey as a token of my Bahá’í affection and brotherly love. Shoghi"

On the packet’s inner sealed envelope was handwritten:

"Of all the remnants of Baha'u'llah's all-Sacred Person, the most hallowed, the most precious, confidently delivered into the hands of my brother and co-worker in the Cause of God, Mr. Remey. Shoghi March 1922"

Mason Remey lived for some time in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s and 1940s, enjoying his family’s high social standing. In 1932 Mason Remey married Gertrude Heim Klemm. She died a year later. Little is known about their relationship, and Mason Remey never married again.

In 1950 Mason Remey moved his residence from Washington, D.C., to Haifa, Israel, at the request of Shoghi Effendi. In January 1951, Shoghi Effendi issued his historic Proclamation announcing the formation of the International Bahá’í Council (IBC), the evolution of which he described as

“this first embryonic International Institution, marking its development into officially recognized Bahá’í Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House (of) Justice .”[12]

Shoghi Effendi announced Mason Remey’s appointment as the President of the International Bahá’í Council (IBC) in a cablegram dated March 2, 1951.[13] The same cablegram to the Persian and Arabic Bahá’ís used the term “Ra’is” (meaning in both Arabic and Farsi “president” or “head”) of the IBC. [14] “Ra’is” is the same term used by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His Will and Testament in the passage referring to the Guardian as the “sacred head and distinguished member” of the Universal House of Justice.

At the end of the year, December 24, 1951, Shoghi Effendi appointed Mason Remey to be among the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause of God. [15]

One Bahá’í who recognized the significance of Remey’s appointment as IBC President was Joel Marangella. Marangella wrote an account of an “unforgettable incident” that transpired on November 30, 1952, during his pilgrimage to Haifa. In his fourth letter to Ruhiyyih Khanum (Naw Ruz, 1999), Marangella reminded her of their dinner together with Shoghi Effendi, which also included Mason Remey and Marangella’s wife. In Marangella’s account, Shoghi Effendi made a remark to Mason Remey, asking if he was prepared to be the “Judge” of the Bahá’í World Court. [Joel Bray Marangella, The World Order of Baha’u’llah Continues to Unfold, Bahá’í Scholars Publishing Trust, 2005, Washington D.C. Page 67] The creation of a Bahá’í World Court was one of the goals of Shoghi Effendi’s 1953 Ten Year Plan. The court served as a stage in the evolution of the International Bahá’í Council into the Universal House of Justice elected by universal suffrage.

Mason Remey was a resident Hand at Haifa when Shoghi Effendi died in November 1957 while in England. The cablegrams sent by Hands Ruhiyyih Khanum and Leroy Ioas immediately after Shoghi Effendi’s death called upon the world’s Bahá’ís to “remain steadfast” and thus maintain unity, and to “cling” to the institution of the Hands for guidance. [The Ministry of the Custodians, 1957-196, Introduction, Page 7, 1992 Print] The potential authority of the International Bahá’í Council, the embryonic Universal House of Justice, was not recognized or discussed, except for a brief mention in the Hands’ first Conclave’s official statement.

During the first Conclave of the Hands, Mason Remey, together with the other Hands, unanimously signed a document stating that Shoghi Effendi had passed away "without having appointed his successor. . . .” This proclamation by the Hands announced their conclusion: “The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guardian." Thus the Hands reasoned "that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him. . . ." [The Ministry of the Custodians, 1957-196, page 29, 1992 print]

One explanation for Mason Remey’s signature on such a document, despite his belief in the necessity of a living Guardian, is the established Bahá’í principle of collective action. Once an assembly reaches a majority decision, all dissenters must cease opposition and accept the decision in an effort to maintain unity, even if they believe it to be in error. [17] Bahá’ís trust in God that eventually the truth will be revealed and the error corrected. [Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith is not expected to leave a will to be read after his ascension. Guardian of the Cause, as stated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, is not expected to leave a will with regard to his successor. He, Guardian of the Cause, must appoint his successor during his life-time. ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His Will states “It is incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor,”]

The first Conclave of the Hands selected Mason Remey to serve as one of the nine Custodian Hands to reside at the International Bahá’í Centre in Haifa, Israel. This collective institution of Hands assumed direction of the Bahá’í Administration. The International Bahá’í Council, which Shoghi Effendi had created and designated as the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice, remained inactive.

During the years of 1957-1960, Mason Remey wrote more diaries, which he subsequently self-published as Daily Observations of Things and Conditions in The Holy Land. In three volumes he recorded his memoirs of the years in Haifa after Shoghi Effendi’s passing. Mason Remey urged the Hands repeatedly to “seek their Guardian.” Mason Remey’s conviction that the Faith required a living Guardian resounded throughout his diaries.

Late in 1959, Mason Remey left Haifa and returned to the United States after the announcement by the Hands of the plan to elect the body of the International Bahá’í Council in 1961. This plan bypassed Shoghi Effendi’s intermediary stage of the formation of a Bahá’í World Court. Shoghi Effendi’s Ten Year Plan, outlined in 1953, delineated the formation of a Bahá’í World Court by 1963, prior to the election of the International Bahá’í Council. Such a divergence from the Ten Year Plan convinced Mason Remey to leave Haifa and appeal to the Bahá’ís of America and the world to pressure the Hands to reconsider their decision to elect an IBC and end the institution of Guardianship. The 1959 plan called for the election of the IBC in 1961 as a prelude to the formation of a Universal House of Justice in 1963.

In April 1960 Mason Remey issued a public Proclamation [21] that he was the “Second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.” In it, Mason Remey explained:

"The Beloved Guardian chose me to be the President of the Bahá'í International Council that is according to his explanation the President of the Embryonic Universal House of Justice. Therefore I am the President of the Embryonic Universal House of Justice. When this August body becomes the Universal House of Justice, if such being during my lifetime, I will then be the President of the First Universal House of Justice of the Bahá'í Dispensation.

"Therefore, inasmuch as The Beloved Guardian in His Infallibility has thus placed me in command of the Faith to protect and to guard the Faith, I can do nothing but assume my place that he has given me with all of the responsibilities, the perquisites and emoluments that go with this position, therefore by his infallible orders I now alone after him command the cause and guard its integrity."

Mason Remey requested the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States to read his proclamation before the assembled delegates at the annual National Convention in 1960, and to transmit it to the other NSAs around the world. Instead, Mason Remey’s Proclamation was prohibited from circulating among the Bahá’ís. Most Bahá’ís [under pressure by the Hands of the Faith] rejected his Proclamation as spurious. Mason Remey’s belief was ridiculed as a delusional aberration of his alleged senility and ego. [22] Although he would live almost another fifteen years, Mason Remey was 85 when he made his proclamation.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, in her introduction to the book The Ministry of the Custodians, 1957-1963: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause, [The reader’s attention is drawn to the fact that “stewardship of the Hands of the Cause does make them to be in command. The Hands of the Faith assumed leadership], wrote of the Hands’ reaction to Remey’s Proclamation:

“But there was one agonizing issue we could not agree on. Year after year we could come to no conclusion about whether the Guardianship was closed for the period of this Faith. The death of Shoghi Effendi had really been like an arrow shot into our hearts. Each one struggled with his bereavement in his own way. "One of us, Mason Remey, one of the oldest and most distinguished, solved his personal dilemma by concluding that the Bahá’í Faith could not go on without a Guardian and that undoubtedly Shoghi Effendi's successor was himself—for various invalid and unprovable reasons, such as that he was one of the earliest, famous believers of the West, had been made a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi and President of the International Bahá’í Council. All this was true, but it still did not make him the second Guardian. Mason Remey's activities, beginning in 1960, when he "proclaimed" himself the second Guardian, were a profound source of embarrassment to his fellow-Hands who, in addition to all their other heavy, heart-breaking responsibilities, now found themselves obliged to progressively remonstrate with, admonish, warn, expose and finally excommunicate him. This extraordinary and sudden display of unexpected pride and conceit passed over the Bahá’í world, producing a brief flutter in France, a passing ripple in Chile and sundry vibrations in the United States, Pakistan and one or two other countries, and was soon gone forever. For those who, like myself and Paul Haney, had known and loved him all our lives, and Milly Collins, who had been a particularly old friend and co-worker, it was a very bitter and tragic experience. Unfollowed and un-mourned, alone and isolated in his old age, when he died he was buried by his young secretary who was not a Bahá’í. Although this whole episode had no effect on the Faith, [Let future generation of the Bahá’ís be judge of that. These words of Ruhiyyih Khanum are evidence of the unfaithfulness of the Hands of the Faith to the second Guardian of the Faith, Mason Remey.], it added to the burdens of the Custodians, consumed hours of consideration better spent on constructive matters, and saddened our hearts. Like any branch cut off from the root, the Remey incident withered away.”[23]

The Hands barred independent investigation and discussion of Mason Remey’s claim, and they enforced this censorship by excommunication. The National Spiritual Assembly of France was the only national Bahá’í institution to officially recognize Mason Remey in 1960. Soon thereafter, the Hands dissolved the French NSA, [on whose authority?], when five of its nine members remained steadfast in their recognition of Mason Remey as Guardian. [24]

Mason Remey wrote separately to the Hands of the Cause in April 1960 of a “prophetic vision that [he] had about a year and a half before the Beloved Guardian called [him] to Haifa,” and prior to his appointments by Shoghi Effendi. [25] This “flash vision” influenced and strengthened his conviction that he was the intended Guardian of the Faith after the passing of Shoghi Effendi. [Mason Remey had based his guardianship on his appointment, as the head of the embryo of the Universal House of Justice, by his predecessor, Shoghi Effendi. In his proclamation of 1960 he has not made any mention of “flash vision”. This cannot be a reason for the masses to accept his station as the second Guardian of the Faith.]

A major argument against Mason Remey’s claim to the Guardianship, [is advanced by Hands of the Faith by misinterpretation of section of Writings], is found in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament on page 11, where it states that the Guardian must choose “another branch” if the Guardian’s first born does not manifest the spiritual within him. Most Bahá’ís have interpreted this to mean that the successor to the first Guardian must be a male physical descendant of Baha’u’llah. As an American, Mason Remey was not of the blood lineage of Baha’u’llah.

Consider instead ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words:

"That manifestation of the kindness of the Supreme God states that the line (selseleh: lineage, genealogy, family) of the descendants (salaleh: progeny, descendants, specifically descendants traced patrilineally) is divided into two types, one is the physical descendants, and the other is the spiritual descendants. One is born of water and clay, and the other is born of soul and heart. When the two gather, then it would become light (nur: light, epithet of God, one who enlightens) upon light." (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, Part II, compiled by Khavari, First Indian Edition, October 1984, p. 275)

"There are two kinds of relationship - Physical and Spiritual Relationship. The highest and greatest is the Spiritual. The physical is of no importance. It is very good to possess both in each other....We are all of one family because we are under the shadow of the Blessed Perfection....Spiritual Relationship is the true Family-hood of God's children. The Báb had many relatives. He particularly wished that His mother should believe in this Revelation and attain. Christ said that His mother Mary was not of His Relationship; also that those were his brothers and sisters who were in the Kingdom of God." (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Ten Days in the Light of Acca. Compiled by Grundy, 1907 Edition, pp. 46-7)

Consider also the Words of Baha’u’llah:

“He doth what He pleaseth. He chooseth; and none may question His choice. Whatsoever He, the Well-Beloved, ordaineth, the same is, verily, beloved.” (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 333)

"Knowledge is a light which God casts into the heart of whomsoever He willeth." (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, )

“God indeed shall make whom He will to hearken” (Baha'u'llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 162) [The Book of Certitude, Baha’u’llah, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1961]

Mason Remey, after Shoghi Effendi’s sudden death, and prior to his 1960 Proclamation, wrote in his Daily Observations:

"Later on after a generation or so some of the Aghsan [sic] will we trust come back into the fold of the Faith and then the line of Guardianship will be arranged to be back again in the line of the direct descendants of Baha'u'llah as prescribed by ‘Abdu'l-Baha." (Daily Observations, Vol. I, p. 38)

"We are at an impasse in the History of the Bahá’í Faith. The line of the succession by birth of the Guardianship is broken. Now the blank question before us is where and how shall we make the [next] step." (Daily Observations, Vol. I, p. 63)

No evidence is known whether Mason Remey informed his fellow Hands that ‘Abdu’l-Baha regarded him as his son, and thus he may be considered as “another branch,” a spiritual descendant of Baha’u’llah. Mason Remey’s Proclamation of 1960, and his adopted son’s (Joseph Pepe) letters, indicates that Mason Remey believed himself to be the successor of Shoghi Effendi primarily because of his appointment as the President of the IBC.

Mason Remey’s supporters did point to a passage from ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s “Last Tablet to America,”

"Consider! The Divine Gardener cuts off the dry or weak branch from the good tree and grafts to it a branch from another tree. He both separates and unites. This is that which His Holiness Christ says: that from all the world they come and enter the Kingdom, and the children of the Kingdom shall be cast out." (Bahá’í World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1943), p. 438)

Another argument against Mason Remey’s succession was the Will and Testament’s passage that the Hands must elect nine of their number to assent to the Guardian’s choice of successor. [The nine Hands of the Faith to be elected by the company of the Hands were not elected after their appointments by Shoghi Effendi, during Shoghi Effendi’s life-time. The Hands of the Cause failed consciously or otherwise to recognise the successor, in order to ascent to the choice of Shoghi Effendi. The original word in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, is “تصدیق “. It means ascent not “approval”. ‘The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha does not create conflict of authority in the Cause of Baha’u’llah.] The nine Custodian Hands never assented to Mason Remey as successor, with the exception of Mason Remey himself. [These nine Hands of the Cause were elected after Shoghi Effendi’s death. The Hands of the Faith announced, in their Proclamation of 25 November, 1957, ”AND WHEREAS in accordance with the Will and testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha ‘The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the importance services in the work of the Guardian of the Cause of God.’” [The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1944] Shoghi Effendi was no longer on this planet earth. His soul was ascended to his creator, God. The Hands of the Faith had to serve the living second Guardian of the Faith, Mason Remey.

[Further] a counter argument can be made that Shoghi Effendi’s appointment of Mason Remey in March 1951 preceded his appointment of any Hands. Evidently, Shoghi Effendi never presented his appointment of Mason Remey as President of the IBC to the Hands for their assent, or officially directed the Hands to recognize Mason Remey as his potential successor. During Shoghi Effendi’s life-time, none of the Hands expressed their dissent concerning Shoghi Effendi’s appointment of Mason Remey as President. [They failed to do their duty.]

In “Bahá’í News,” February 1955, Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote on his behalf the following explanation of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s requirement that the Hands assent to the succession:

"The statement in the Will of 'Abdu'l-Baha does not imply that the Hands of the Cause of God have been given the authority to overrule the Guardian.’Abdu'l-Baha could not have provided for a conflict of authority in the Faith."

For the rest of his life, Mason Remey continued his efforts to persuade Bahá’ís that he was Shoghi Effendi’s successor as the Guardian.

Mason Remey had some success initially in the early 1960s among Bahá’ís who believed the continuation of the Guardianship was essential as one of the Twin Pillars of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. They based this belief on Shoghi Effendi’s statements in the “Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,” which many Bahá’ís regard as Shoghi Effendi’s Will and Testament, and is found in the book The World Order of Baha’u’llah. Prior to Shoghi Effendi’s death, Bahá’ís generally anticipated future Guardians, and official statements and actions by Shoghi Effendi confirmed this belief.

Mason Remey gathered supporters internationally in France, India, Pakistan, the United States, South America, and Iran. His American supporters organized to elect a National Spiritual Assembly under his Guardianship in 1963.

Circa 1961, Mason Remey gave Joel Marangella, a member of the French NSA that had recognized Mason Remey as Guardian, a sealed envelope to be opened upon Mason Remey’s death. [28] The envelope contained Mason Remey’s instructions to Marangella to inform the Bahá’í world that Marangella was Mason Remey’s successor to the Guardianship.

Mason Remey’s American supporters published a newsletter titled “Glad Tidings” in the mid-1960s. In the October 1964 issue, Mason Remey published his appointment of the “Second International Bahá’í Council,” with Joel Marangella as President and the rest of the members as Vice Presidents. Mason Remey stated, “All powers vested in the appointed members of this Council are ‘potential’ "; and “in the event the Guardian should be prevented from appointing his successor to the Guardianship of the Faith, the President of this Council will become the Third Guardian of the Faith.” Mason Remey devised the council to assure the survival of a potential successor, as he believed in an impending world catastrophe.

After a period of residence in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s, Mason Remey moved to Italy. He persuaded his Italian friend, Joseph Pepe, to live with him as a companion, personal attendant, and secretary. In 1963 Mason Remey adopted Pepe as his son, granted him power of attorney over his affairs, and made him his financial and material heir. Mason Remey’s close relationship with Pepe caused concern among his supporters. They did not trust Mason Remey’s isolation and dependence on Pepe. This distrust eventually contributed to the estrangement of some, including Marangella.

Mason Remey came under criticism among his followers for other reasons as well. Mason Remey began a study of prophecies of an approaching world cataclysm. Mason Remey believed that there would be worldwide cataclysm in the imminent future. He made the decision not to pursue a civil law suit against the American National Spiritual Assembly, which caused more criticism. In the late 1960s, he stated that Shoghi Effendi made a “mistake” with his Administration. Allegations arose that Mason Remey was senile, or being unduly influenced. [Sincere believers would follow the direction and guidance from the guardian of the Faith. Even when, his guidance, direction or statement, does not coincide with theirs, the sincere ones would follow and support the living guardian. This is the sign of steadfast in His Covenant. This is the sign for receiving confirmation from the Abha Beauty.]

Prominent Bahá’ís under Mason Remey began to contend amongst themselves for position. Mason Remey wrote his supporters on several occasions, urging them to cease and desist from their fighting. In his February 18, 1966, letter to Marangella, published in the May 1966 “Glad Tidings,” Mason Remey wrote: “The time has come for all contests between the friends under the Guardianship to cease—TO STOP. At this same time the friends should arise to teach the Faith. As I myself have teaching to do here in Italy, I am turning the affairs of the Faith over to you (Marangella) as the President of the second Bahá’í International Council to handle this for me.”

A few months later Mason Remey dissolved the second International Bahá’í Council, in October 1966. Mason Remey ordered Marangella, its former President, to "turn over to me such records as you have of the second Council that no longer exists".

On May 23, 1967, Mason Remey appointed Donald A. Harvey of France to be his successor. Mason Remey hand wrote the appointment:

In the Most Holy Name of El Baha, I, the second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, hereby appoint Donald Harvey at my death to be my successor the third Guardian of the Faith. (Signed) Mason Remey, May 23rd 1967, Florence Italy

Mason Remey added the following prayer as a post script to the appointment.

May the Spirit of El Abha ever protect this line of spiritual descent from ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of the Covenant of El Baha. [27]

Donald Harvey, another member of the 1960 French NSA that initially recognized Mason Remey as Guardian, was regarded by Mason Remey as a selfless, devoted Bahá’í. [28]

In the late 1960s most of Mason Remey’s supporters eventually abandoned him. Many accepted Joel Marangella’s 1969 announcement that he was the new Guardian, even though Mason Remey was still alive, and accepted Marangella’s explanation that Mason Remey had abdicated as Guardian with the activation of the Second International Bahá’í Council in 1965. [Donald A Harvey, third Guardian of the Faith, in his letter of June 21, 1984 to E S Yazdani, wrote: “The true Cause of God is not a sect, and it can never be a sect, and needs have a true Center, One Center, in former times it was the Manifestation Baha’u’llah, then it was ‘Abdu’l-Baha, then Shoghi Effendi, then Charles Mason Remey, now Donald [A. Harvey], and the Center is only one, the Center can in no wise collegiate as men would like to have it. The oneness of God finds its reflection in oneness of its Center being vested in one Person.”]

At the time of his death, Mason Remey had few faithful supporters. Among those steadfast, the author has had acquaintance with Joseph Pepe, Charles Gaines, Mary Magdalene Wilkins, Donald Harvey, Jacques Soghomonian, Jean Miller, and several others that need anonymity.

Mason Remey lived his remaining years in relative inactivity, and his loyal supporters became mostly quiescent. He died February 4, 1974, at the age of ninety-nine in Florence, Italy. After a simple burial, Pepe, with the assistance of some of Mason Remey’s supporters, arranged for a monument at Remey’s grave.

Mason Remey has been judged guilty on the charge of Covenant-breaking by the mass of Bahá’í believers. In fact, most Bahá’ís are not familiar with Mason Remey’s life or his role in the Faith’s history—other than as an alleged example of a Covenant-breaker. Mason Remey’s life ended in obscurity; this perception, and his simple grave, are interpreted by many as signs of divine justice for actions of his alleged opposition to the Covenant of Baha’u’llah after the death of Shoghi Effendi. Mason Remey’s decades of meritorious service to the Bahá’í Cause, under ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi have been disregarded. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s confidence in Mason Remey as His “dear son,” as a “Herald of the Covenant” of “perfect sincerity,” and as one who was “firm in the Covenant,” have all been dismissed.

Mason Remey was lucid and in good spirits to the end of his life, according to his companion, Pepe, and their visitors. [29] Pepe reported that Mason Remey remained steadfast in his conviction that he was the Guardian of the Cause of God. Mason Remey stayed optimistic that eventually the mass of the Bahá’í world would recognize his Guardianship as valid. [In 1977 Mr E S Yazdani, on his way back to Iran, after he visited D A Harvey in Paris, He met J. Pepe in Florence, Italy. Mr Pepe stated that, Mason Remey, towards the end of his life, he repeatedly stating “I am the second guardian of the Bahá’í Faith and nothing matters”]

Time, and divine judgment, will determine whether— as in the words of Yeshoa (Jesus), the Christ— the fruit of Charles Mason Remey’s tree of life was ripe or not, and good or evil. [There should not be any doubt that Mason Remey has rightfully claimed his position as the second Guardian of the Faith. It was the Hands of the Cause and company of the believers had to accept or reject the position of Mason Remey as their guardian. The Hands of the Faith, initially, were the chosen ones. When the winds of trial blew upon them, they fell from the stations that the Almighty God desired for them to “mow’a’v’al” ( مؤوّل ) status. Baha’u’llah, in Kitáb-i-Bad’i, has defined “mow’a’val ” to “those people that deny the exalted manifested truth and with the axe [aid] of imagination form/create idles of superstitious and then they become devotee, worshiper and humble before their creation. With that; considered themselves to be [true] worshipers and [sincere believers] in God, and detached from all but God.” Kitab-i-Badi, Baha’u’llah, Bahá’í-Verlag, 2008]

Donald A. Harvey of France succeeded Charles Mason Remey as Third Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, and his spiritual lineage continues.

May God bless the soul of Charles Mason Remey, and give him peace.

Note on author: Brent Mathieu accepted the Bahá’í Faith in December 1973 and recognized Mason Remey as its Guardian. This was prior to Mason Remey’s death in February 1974. Mathieu’s first teachers in the Faith were Leland and Opal Jensen of Missoula, Montana. He corresponded extensively with Joseph Pepe, the adopted son and companion of Mason Remey, from 1975 to1993. He maintains a personal collection of Pepe’s correspondence with Bahá’ís during that time. Mathieu’s collection includes personal correspondence with Donald A Harvey, Mason Remey’s successor, and Orthodox Bahá’ís Frank Schlatter and Joel Marangella. It contains other individuals’ correspondence supportive of Mason Remey’s Guardianship. The above biography is based on Mathieu’s memoirs, personal letters, and research of credible histories. More footnotes and references are planned to be added.

[*] This biography was edited by Anita Coryell and subsequently was added/or deleted some notes.

[1] May Ellis Bolles was beloved by Baha’is as the “Mother of Paris” for her teaching efforts establishing the Faith there. Sutherland Maxwell, the architect of the Bab’s Sepulcher, and Bolles were posthumously elevated by Shoghi Effendi to the rank of Hands of the Cause of God. Their daughter Mary Maxwell later became known as Ruhiyyih Khanum after her marriage to Shoghi Effendi.

[2] See Ref. in the article

[3] A description of one these collections is online at the website of John Hopkins University:

[4] 'Abdu'l-Baha to Remey, 1921: Final Visit in Tiberias, Folio 2, "A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Reminisces of the Master, 1921," pp.127-129. John Hopkins University, Special collections.

[5] ‘Abdu’l Baha cited by Juliet Thompson, The Diary of Juliet Thompson (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press,1983), p.71.

[6] Ibid., p. 75-76.

[7] Charles Mason Remey. “A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” 1922, Baha’i Archives of Washington, D.C., pp. 8-9.

[8] Charles Mason Remey. “A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” 1922, Baha’i Archives of Washington, D.C., p. 48.

[9] Joseph (aka Guisepe) Pepe, October 22, 1985, letter to Leland Jensen. Pepe was Remey’s adopted son and companion until the end of Remey’s life. Letter available online at:

[10] Messages to the Baha’i World, p. 7-8.

[11] Messages to the Baha’i World, pp. 8-9.

[12] Letter from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice to Brent Mathieu, circa 1992.

[13] Messages to the Baha’i World, p. 20. [publication info?]

[14] Letters from Joseph Pepe to Brent Mathieu, circa 1990, Brent Mathieu collection, Boise, Idaho.

[15] An exception to this principle is explained by Shoghi Effendi in the “Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,” that the Guardian may ask the Universal House of Justice to reconsider their decision.

[16] See Ref. in the article

[17] See Ref. in the article

[18] The Ministry of the Custodians, 1957-1963: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause, With an Introduction by The Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1992), Introduction p. 12.

[19] This policy is explained by Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Ministry of the Custodians, Introduction, p. 10.

[20] Joseph Pepe letter to Brent Mathieu, circa 1990, Brent Mathieu private collection.

[21] Charles Mason Remey, PROCLAMATION OF THE SECOND GUARDIAN OF THE BAHÁ’Í FAITH, April 1960. [Link to Proclamation]

[22] For example read David Hofman's original essay published in his booklet: "Commentary on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu'l-Baha,” 1982. Hofman was a former member of the Universal House of Justice.

[23] Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Ministry of the Custodians, Introduction, p.16.

[24] Monir Derakhchan, an Iranian Baha’I on the NSA of France, and a supporter of Remey, wrote a testament describing these events. Brent Mathieu collection [Link to Derakchan’s testament]

[25] Charles Mason Remey, “A Last Appeal to the Hands," April 1960, p. 8. [Link to Last Appeal]

[26] “The Guardian, like the Master before him, has not considered it advisable to as yet permit any person or assembly to put another out of the Cause of God.” Letter to NSA by Shoghi Effendi’s secretary on his behalf, April 11, 1949.

[27] Scanned image of Remey’s appointment of Harvey is online at: Follow links: The Guardians – III Guardian – Donald Alphonse Harvey

[28] Remey letter to Mrs. M. C. Timmerman, August 18, 1967. Also Pepe letters to Brent Mathieu, Mathieu collection, Boise, Idaho.

[29] Joseph Pepe letters circa 1974-1991, and report of Donald Harvey and Jacques Soghomonian, circa 1971, Brent Mathieu private collection, Boise Idaho. Also Harvey letter to Charley Murphy, March 13, 1974.