Joseph Pepe Remey – Aghsan – Branch. The 2nd Guardian of the Bahá’i Faith seated upon the Throne of David.

Joseph Pepe Remey (February 13, 1922 – April 11, 1994) is the grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, second President of the Universal House of Justice of Baha’u’llah (, and second Guardian of the Baha’i Faith seated upon the throne of King David which is to last forever (Psalms 89; Will and Testament (W&T) of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, page 15).


Joseph (Giuseppe) Pepe, Jr. was born on February 13, 1922 in Newark, New Jersey son of Giuseppe Pepe Sr. and Anna Rayca. Pepe, as he liked to be called, was a teacher by profession, and an avid lover of the arts, music and culture. He was first introduced to the Baha’i faith in the 1950’s when he attended several Baha’i feasts. It was at one of these Baha’i gatherings in Italy that he first met Mason Remey that was to become his adoptive father.

Pepe served Mason loyally as Mason’s son and secretary until his passing in 1974. After the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, Pepe traveled with Mason to the United States in 1960, and then subsequently moved with Mason to Florence, Italy. He was adopted by Mason as his only son and heir in the year 1963. This was filed in the Court of Appeal in Florence, Italy in 1964. Pepe was bequeathed “all things tangible and intangible” in his father Mason’s Last Will and Testament. This entitlement in Mason’s Will was Mason’s final appointment for his successor affectively voiding all previous appointments. Pepe is buried alongside his father Mason in a beautifully sculpted white marble double-vaulted tomb of the Classic Style in the city of Florence, Italy.

Guardianship of the Baha’i Faith

As the only son of Mason Remey, Pepe was the only surviving Aghsan left alive in all the world after the passing of Mason Remey. Though many people urged Pepe to take a firm public stand, regarding his Presidency of the Universal House of Justice (, Pepe put himself forward publicly as reluctant to come forward to take an active position, explaining in several letters that it was more important that the true body of believers be raised up, than that the head should come forward without a body.

“It is so much more urgent for the Baha’i Faith today to achieve that UNITY which would permit a spiritually healthy and sound BODY of believers to come into play for what good is a HEAD without a functioning BODY? We have already seen during Mason’s Guardianship how poorly that works.” (Pepe to Dr. Jensen, 24 July 1975)

The Guardianship of the Baha’i Faith is restricted to appointment from the family line of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha only. Others claiming “guardianship outside of that family line, now entitled Aghsan (literally branches) are determined to be outside the provisions of the Covenant, by the criteria given on page 12 of the sacred Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha which is the Charter of the Baha’i faith (see “World Order of Baha’u’llah,” p. 144).

Writing and Test

In Pepe’s correspondence with Dr. Leland Jensen, and various believers, Pepe confided his true intent about his own role as the successor of Mason Remey:

“If Mason had been recognized by the masses of believers as both spiritual and administrative head of the Faith then I would naturally have fallen in line as his successor. I have encouraged confused individuals to turn to Donald Harvey (as you pointed out). I have never considered Donald the spiritual successor to Baha’u’llah. (Pepe to Dr. Leland Jensen, 18 January 1994)

“Pepe told me that the one thing that got through to him in all the recent correspondence was that Mason Remey would have liked what (was) presented about him being the Aghsan. Pepe told me that if Mason was an Aghsan, so was he himself, and then naturally all the others could be put aside for the guardianship mentioning Donald Harvey in this light. He said words to the effect that if Mason Remey was an Aghsan, so was he, and therefore he would of course be the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith…he would have no other recourse than to accept his guardianship.” (Transcript of a Phone Conversation of Pepe to a believer, Sept. 4, 1990)

“Mason was confident that in time the masses of Believers would come to the conclusion that they NEEDED and WANTED a Guardian. Had they done so during his lifetime, I should not have objected to being his successor. Mason would have delighted in (the) conclusion regarding the Afnan and Aghsan branches and if it is true that Mason was, in fact, the adopted Aghsan son of `Abdu’l-Baha, and if that fact were to be generally accepted, then I should not be able to refuse being his only possible successor….The fact will always remain that IF THE Baha’i FAITH MUST HAVE A GUARDIAN TO PROGRESS, then ONLY MASON REMEY COULD HAVE FULFILLED THAT ROLE, and Mason Remey intended me as his successor…” (Pepe, 25 July 1991. Personal names omitted for privacy)

“From what Mason told me about Shoghi Effendi’s experience as Guardian and how it affected him…plus what I experienced in the first person regarding what the Guardianship did to Mason, believe me, I wouldn’t wish that role on my worst enemy. Nevertheless, if I were convinced that coming forth and taking a definite stand as Mason Remey’s successor would result in peace and harmony amongst all the Baha’is, I should not hesitate one minute to do so…Mason awaited the day when the masses of Baha’is (now termed sans-guardian Baha’is) would WANT a Guardian. Should the time come when those masses should turn to me, I could NOT refuse to fulfill the role, for not to do so would be a violation of the faith and trust that Mason Remey placed in me…. I am dedicated to that end.” (Pepe, 9 May 1992. Personal names omitted for privacy)

Notability and Contributions

Pepe’s widely recognized contribution to the enduring historical record of the Baha’i Faith concerns his specific efforts and focus on preserving and rehabilitating the good name of his father Mason Remey. His efforts focused on validating that in fact his father Mason was the true Guardian after Shoghi Effendi, as well as the legall’y adopted son, therefore an Aghsan, of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Pepe was an expert source and eye witness authority pertaining to the history of the Faith, and the role of his father Mason. Scholars of the Baha’i Faith, have also commented on Pepe’s role in this as well: “letters from Mason Remey and Giuseppe Pepe, are critical to understanding what really happened during the mid-1960 period of Mason’s Guardianship.” (Reed, B. 3/11/2002)

Anyone and everyone that supported Mason as the true Guardian was supported by Pepe of which he contributed a tremendous amount of personal and historical information pertaining to the Baha’i Faith.

Passing and Appointment of Successorship

In continuing the method of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Joseph Pepe adopted and appointed Neal Chase, to be his Aghsan-son and successor to the Guardianship in 1991 in the same manner and style as that in which ‘Abdu’l-Baha legally adopted and appointed Mason Remey. Pepe announced this in his letters sent to the three “sub-Guardians” — “Hands” — who were to “give their assent” (W&T, p. 12) to the one Pepe appointed to be the Guardian, who is his only son and successor. These “Hands” (“sub-Guardians”) followed the same route as the “Hands” of Shoghi Effendi before them who rejected ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s son, Mason Remey. Later, just prior to his passing on April 11, 1994, Pepe again finalized his appointment of Neal. Neal Chase is the current living President of the Universal House of Justice of Baha’u’llah (, the sole remaining Aghsan, seated upon the throne of King David, alive in the world today.

Further reading:

• “The Most Mighty Document” (1979) by Dr. Leland Jensen

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