In October 1994, the sect shocked Switzerland and gained worldwide notoriety when 23 bodies were discovered in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. Another 25 bodies were found in Valais. Only 5 days earlier, 3 people had been killed in Canada – a Swiss couple and their infant son Emmanuel Dutoit, who had been repeatedly stabbed with a wooden stake, because he was believed to be the Antichrist.
Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret
The cult was started by the two men in 1984 in Geneva, Switzerland. Di Mambro was born in 1924, the eldest of three children, the son of a construction worker from northern Italy. He was raised as a Catholic and received his education in a private Catholic school where he was described as an average student. He took violin courses and went to mass every Sunday until the age of 20. In the 1950s, Joseph Di Mambro began practicing occultism. He became a member of The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis. A little later he established Golden Way Foundation, the purpose of which, in addition to making money, was also to forge links between people keen on occultism. Within the foundation, he met Luc Jouret.
Luc Jouret studied to become a doctor but disappointed quickly in modern medicine and left the industry. He travelled the world, studying his spirituality and practising alternative medicine such as homoeopathy. Eventually, his journey led him to Golden Way Foundation, where he met Di Mambro and Michel Tabachnik — a famous Swiss conductor and composer who later testified against the members of the cult for killing children.
The Order of the Solar Temple
Just like in any other cult, money, sex and power played a key role. The central authority was the Synarchy of the Temple. The members were secret, headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland. There were lodges in Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Martinique and other countries. The activities were a mixture of early Christianity and various Freemason rituals. Several affluent Europeans were secret members of the group. The lodges had altars, rituals and costumes.
Jouret saw himself as Jesus Christ himself. He became obsessed with sex and was having intercourse with one of the female members before each ritual to give him strength for the upcoming ceremony. The members handed over their money and adhered to strict rules.
Upon realizing the hypocrisy, cult member Tony Dutoit spoke out and left. Soon, he and his wife were stabbed to death in Canada. Their little son Emmanuel, who was named by Di Mambro as the Anti-Christ, was wrapped in a black plastic bag with a wooden stake placed through his chest.
The leadership felt that they were being persecuted by governments. They claimed to anticipate the coming end of the world due to an environmental disaster and decided that some of the members should leave the earth prematurely.
In Fribourg and Valais, the cult members either took their own lives or were ritualistically murdered. Some were shot in the head or asphyxiated, some had been drugged. Many wore black ceremonial robes, had plastic bags placed over their heads, bodies positioned in a star formation with feet pointing to the center. Many of the bodies were set on fire.
The two founders Luc Jouret and Jo Di Mambro, were among the dead.
In March 1997 in Quebec, Canada, five more people took their lives. Three children managed to escape at the last moment and were the only survivors of the tragedy. The total number of deaths attributed to the cult was 74, including several children.
A short clip of ritual of The Order of the Solar Temple
Pictures of The Order of the Solar Temple