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Krishna Venta

Krishna Venta (born Francis Herman Pencovic, March 29, 1911 - December 10, 1958) - California cult (the term used in the newspapers of his day) leader born in San Francisco. Venta founded the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love) Fountain of the World cult in Simi Valley, California in the late 1940s.

The Fountain of the World became famous in the press in the 1940s and 1950s for uniformly dressing in robes, going barefoot, and requiring its male members to grow beards and wear their hair long. The Fountain was marginally controversial because one of the requirements for membership was that one donate all wordly assets to the group prior to joining; for most who joined the Fountain, however, this was irrelevant since few had much in the way of possessions anyway.

The group was responsible for a multitude of positives, including fighting wildfires, offering shelter to those in need, and feeding the homeless. The group first gained national exposure in 1949 when the newswires picked up the story that Fountain members had been among the first on the scene to offer aid to the victims of Standard Airlines Flight 897R, which had crashed into the Simi Hills, killing 35 of the 48 persons onboard. (Among the survivors of the crash was Judy Garland's stand-in.)

Pencovic, who stated in April 1948, "I may as well say it: I am Christ. I am the new messiah," and who claimed to have led a convoy of rocketships to Earth from the extinct planet Neophrates, legally changed his name to "Krishna Venta" in the California Courts in 1951.

He died in Chatsworth, California on December 10, 1958 in a suicide bombing instigated by two disgruntled former followers (Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller) who, although never offering any documentary evidence to support their claims, charged that Venta had both mishandled cult funds and been intimate with their wives.

A branch of the WKFL Fountain of the World cult was also established in Homer, Alaska in the years prior to Venta's death. Fountain membership at both sites declined rapidly following Venta's death, and the cult had ceased to exist entirely by the mid-1970s.

Pencovic/Venta is also remembered because of the child support case Pencovic v. Pencovic, 45 C2d 97, Cal Sup Ct (1955).

External links

Photo Gallery (Public Domain, use freely, donated by ex-Fountain members)

Krishna Venta

This is a portrait of Krishna Venta taken in the mid-1950s.

Krishna Venta

1949 Worcester Meeting, Rudi Balzer, Elsa Lackstrom, MKV, unknown, Signe Holme

Fountain Members

WKFL Choir at Olive View Sanatorium, Olive View, California Front L-R, Audrey, Babs, Patrice, Ruth, Jane, Elesha, Bitzi, Lila, Leta, Rear L-R Gene, Earl, Asaiah

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