"It was this essentially spiritual insistence on purity, in relation to a world totally evil and diabolical, which gave rise retrospectively to a probably false etymology of the word Cathar, which has been said to derive from a Greek word meaning 'pure'. In fact 'Cathar' comes from a German word the meaning of which has nothing to do with purity."
"The Cathars disappeared as an organized sect in Europe quite suddenly in the first half of the fifth century. But in the East the Novatian Cathars continued, supported by the apocalyptic sect of the Montanists. In those turbulent times, when Augustine could count twenty-eight heresies, and Gnosticism and Manichaeism were fully developed as churches, the Cathars went underground."
"The Armenian Gregorian Church has through the centuries suffered cruel persecution and several attempts at systematic extermination. It also had to contend with dangerous heresies, particularly that of the Paulicians, or Tondrakites. These Paulicians, who feature prominently in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, were medieval successors of the early Christian Gnostics, and of the Manichaeans. The Paulicians, whose teachings were much attacked and distorted by their enemies, apparently held that St Paul was the only true Apostle, rejected the Old Testament, and claimed that the world was created by a spirit at war with the God of the New Testament. They had strong iconoclastic tendencies, smashing images and even crosses whenever they could."
"Although the problem of the Paulicians has not been settled with any precision, the general opinion of historians is that it orginated as a mixture of Manicheism and Marchionism in the province of Armenia, then part of Byzantium, at the end of the 7th century, and it was linked to the name of of a certain Constantine. It was because this teaching strove to renew the old form of Christianity on the basic of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle that its supporters called themselves the Paulicians. The Byzantine Tsar Constantine V Copronymus (741-775) moved some of these Paulicians from Armenia to Thrace, then again in 778 another group was settled in the same region by Tsar Leo IV Hazarski (775-780). Paulist propaganda swiftly began to spread from Thrace over the Balkans, primarily among the neighboring countries, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Greece."
"From AD 830, the Armenian branch of the Paulician movement was centered on a village called Tondrak, hence the name Tondrakites. They attacked the feudal privileges of the Armenian barons, who united with the clergy in persecuting and suppressing them. The Tondrakites are hailed by modern Soviet historians as ancestors of present-day Communism; a tract purporting to be their manual of doctrine was published in 1898, under the title The Key of Truth. The Paulicians are also important for their influence on the development of Bogomilism in the Balkans, where there were important Armenian colonies, particularly in Bulgaria."
In the ninth century in Armenia, "it was in the marginal and mountainous
regions of those parts that Gnostics and other heretics of various persuasions
had taken refuge from those edicts of the emperors of Constantinople which
had made heresy a capital crime. Among these outlaws were the so-called
Paulicians, a sometimes warlike sect of an apparently mixed 'Manichean'-gnostic
origin but whose beliefs may have served better to dissociate themselves
from the political control of the emperors. In 872 a military victory was
won over the Paulicians and some of them were deported to the Balkans."
"In the tenth century we first hear of the Bogomil Church in Bulgaria. Bogomil is Bulgarian for 'beloved of God' [or is derived from the prayer 'God have mercy!'] and it may be that their founder took this name. Among their beliefs was that characteristically gnostic one which held that the Father of Jesus Christ was not the creator of the world."
"The essence of Mani's message surfaced again in the teachings of a tenth-century Bulgarian priest named Bogomil. He also believed that all natural things were evil and filthy. They were the work of the devil, whom Bogomil claimed to be the elder son of God and the brother of Christ."
"The Bogomil movement appears to have begun as a radical dualism, teaching two eternal principles, evil and good, like Persian Zoroastrianism; later it was modified into a less radical form, which looked on the dualism it saw in the world as the result of the rebellion of the one God's eldest son, Sataneal."
Besides Satanael, God the incorporeal Father had another son, Jesus or [the Archangel] Michael. "Satanael formed man of earth, but his life came from the Father. Jesus took the semblance of a body, to combat and conquer Satanael."
"...Bogomili held that the works of Satanael, were absolutely distinct
from the spiritual universe of God. The manifestation of Christ on earth
and is Crucifixion were seen by Bogomil as mere illusions. The Bulgarian's
followers...taught that the Virgin Mary had not actually given birth to
Christ but that he had entered her body through her right ear and then
issued forth again as a phantom. Even the cross on which Christ had been
killed was to be reviled, according to the Bogomils, because it had been
made by Satanael.
"Marriage and procreation, which could lead only to the production of yet more matter, were abhorred within this view, along with meat, wine, churches, and any form of church hierarchy. The Bogomils rejected the sacrament of baptism and denied the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The only set way for devout followers to express their faith was by reciting the Lord's Prayer at regular intervals night and day."
"During the early twelfth century, Bogomil missionaries began the journey up the Danube to the west, possibly as a result of the persecution of Bogomils in Constantinople. What remains a mystery is whether these Bulgarian missionaries were, in fact, the direct founders of Catharism in the Languedoc [from langue d'oc, the Occitan language which, along with Latin, was used in Cathar rituals]."
"Probably under the influence of Bogomil and Cathar heretical tendencies toward dualism, apocryphal books of Christian legends (such as The Wood of the Cross, Gospel of Nicodemus, How Christ Became a Priest, Adam and Eve, and Interrogatio Iohannis) circulated in both eastern and western Europe. They usually stressed the role of Satan as co-creator of the world or as a being whose fall is responsible for the evil world that exists. The devil plays a major role in legend, and his activity usually exhausts the creative energies of the good God, who falls into passivity."
"Manichaeans appeared in Aquitaine, leading the people astray. They denied baptism, the cross, and all sound doctrine. They did not eat meat, as though they were monks, and pretended to be celibate, but among themselves they enjoyed every indulgence. They were messengers of Antichrist, and caused many to wander from the faith."The Cathars "never refer to Mani, the prophet of the Manichees and although they shared certain characteristics of Manichaeism, the heretics themselves thought of themselves not as representatives of a new revelation, as the Manichees did, but as true or good Christians. Their chief source of doctrine was the New Testament, holding particular attention to The Gospel of John and the other three gospels. The word 'Cathar' comes the Greek word katharos meaning 'unpolluted'..."
- Adh?mar of Chabannes (c. 1018)
The Cathars "called themselves Christians, based their teaching on the parts of the Bible that they recognized, notably the Gospels and the Acts, clothed much of their doctrine in Christian garb, and increasingly as time went on, some historians now argue, drew closer to Christianity in their attitudes and assumptions. But they differed from Christians at a fundamental point: they believed not in one God but in two....All their life and teaching was derived from one premise of overwhelming importance, that creation was a dual process: there was a kingdom of good which was immaterial, and a kingdom of evil - the material world - into which their souls had fallen or been led captive, and to which belonged their bodies, the prisons of the evil god. In every material body a soul was immured, and salvation consisted of escape from the flesh. The procreation of the flesh, therefore, and the consumption of its products, meat, milk, eggs, were the perpetuation of the kingdom of evil, to be avoided by those who aspired to good."
"The Cathars believed in reincarnation and repudiated the tenet of eternal damnation for sinners. A soul was obliged to live many lifetimes in a human body until it achieved salvation. If earthly bodies were evil, as the Cathars taught, then God could not become incarnate in a man. Therefore, according to the Cathars, the Christian Christ was not God, only an emissary of God; he became a man in appearance only. To the Cathars, the sacraments that the Catholic church claimed to confer divine grace through material elements such as water, bread and wine were inherently blasphemous. Marriage was also condemned, as it led to the production of children and so entrapped more spiritual souls in evil, material bodies."
The Cathars "rejected baptism, the cross as a symbol, individual confession, and all religious ornamentation. Church services were simple and could be held anywhere. They consisted of a gospel reading, a brief sermon, a benediction, and the Lord's Prayer. The Cathars' back-to-basics approach to the liturgy anticipated the simplicity of some of the later Protestant sects."
"And he [Satan] imagined in order to make man for his service, and took the lime of the earth and made man in his resemblance. And he ordered the angel of the second heaven to enter in the body of lime; and he took another part and made another body in the form of woman, and he ordered the angel of the first heaven to enter therein. The angels cried exceedingly on seeing themselves covered in distinct forms by this mortal envelopment.:"The author of the work goes on to recount how Sathanas made Paradise for the purpose of making the 'man' and 'woman' sin. He accomplished his malicious purpose and so further held the angelic souls in bondage. The rite of consolamentum, the 'enspiriting' of the Cathar effectively released the soul from the grip of the devil's material bondage and united it with the spirit of God, the Holy spirit, which until the rite exists, as it were, in a dormant state attending the delivery made possible by the love of Christ. The perfectus could now, in all truth call God 'Father'."
- The Cathar Les Questions de Jean
"Souls could only find release from this wandering transmigration if they came to dwell in the body of a Catharically 'perfect one' or 'good Christian'."
"They think that the devil went to heaven with his angels, fought a battle against the Archangel Michael and the angels of the good god, and carried off a third of his subjects. Then he imprisoned them in human bodies and in animals, changing them from one body to another until they should all be led back to heaven. Hence they call all these subjects of God as they see them, 'the People of God', 'Souls', 'Sheep of Israel', and many other such names.""...One important Cathar symbol was the dove. It represented for them then, as it does for us today, the idea of 'peace' or, more accurately the more subtle concept of 'grace', that state of being in God's love. After the first crusades, when the European Cathars in the entourage of Godfroi de Bouillon established some contact with the Sufi mystics of Islam, the symbolism of the dove sometimes became linked inconographically with the Islamic mystical idea of baraka, with also means ' grace' and with the idea that a person can be a 'vessel of grace'....In some instance, the Cathar dove flying with its wing outstretched was rendered in an artistic motif very similar to the stylized ship meaning baraka [bark] in Sufi calligraphy, with the feathers of the dove and the oars of the vessel alike representing the flight and freedom of the soul."
"They claim that the Son of God did not really assume human nature from the Blessed Virgin, who was an angel, but only the appearance of it. They say that he did not truly eat or drink, suffer or die, and was not buried or resurrected: all of this was only in appearance, for we read in Luke, 'being [as it was supposed] the son of Joseph'. They interpret all Christ's miracles in the same way.
They say that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the ancient fathers and also John the Baptist were enemies of God and servants of the devil. The devil is the author of the whole of the Old Testament, except for the books of Job, the Psalms, Solomon, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and twelve of the prophets, some of which they way were written in Heaven - that is, before the fall of Jerusalem, which they think was Heaven.
"They teach that this world will never come to an end, that the Last Judgment has already been made, and will not be made again, and that hell, eternal fire and eternal punishment are in this world and nowhere else."
- Raineir Sacchoni (1250)
"In the Old Testament account of the Creation, the spirit of God hovers like a bird above the primeval sea, wafting with its wing-beat the breath of God into the slime from which the world was made (Genesis 1:2). So Pliny speaks of 'that famous breath (spiritus) that generates the universe by fluctuating to and fro as in a kind of womb.' It is much the same imagery that portrays the Holy Spirit fluttering down on the head of Jesus at his baptism (Matthew 3:16), making him, too, a 'Bar-jona', 'Son of a Dove'."
"The Bogomils and the Cathars appear to differ from the earlier Marcionite and Manichaean dualists in their teachings on sexuality, at least for ordinary believers. Most of the older dualists called for the strictest asceticism - no meat or other animal foods, no wine, and no sexual activity. Marriage was opposed for several reasons. It is an attachment based on the body and its sexual appetites....In addition, marriage clearly promotes the bearing of children, which implies bringing new spiritual beings under the domination of fleshly bodies and so helping the cause of Evil....Because normal heterosexual intercourse is conducive to reproduction, it was discouraged, and various alternative forms of sexual activity encouraged in its place; the vulgar expression 'bugger' is a corruption of 'Bulgar', the name often given the Bogomils in the West because of their Balkan origin. Although these medieval Manichaeans did permit ordinary believers to live self-indulgent, licentious lives, it was expected that all Cathars would receive the ceremony of the consolamentum before death and thus die pure."
"While the Cathars thought childbearing a great sin, they did not object to sexual motivations other than reproduction. Coupling the indifference placed on performance in the material world with the belief that all bodily sins would be erased by the consolamentum before death, Cathar society virtually destroyed any orthodox restrictions on sexual conduct. It is interesting to note that the population of Occitania grew rapidly during the years of the Cathar expansion."
"Ordinary believers did not receive the consolamentum until just before death, when it was plain that the end was near. This arrangement allowed ordinary believers to lead a fairly agreeable life, not too strict from the moral point of view, until the end approached. But once they were hereticated [the ordinary people's term for receiving the sacrament of the consolamentum], all was changed. Then they had to embark (at least in the late Catharism of the 1300s) on a state of endura or total and suicidal fasting. From that moment on there was no escape, physically, though they were sure to save their souls. They could touch neither women nor meat in the period until death intervened, either through natural causes or as a result of the endura."
"Fifteen or seventeen years ago, said Brune Pourcel (i.388), one dusk, at Easter, Guillaume Belot, Raymond Benet (the son of Guillaume Benet) and Rixende Julia, of Montaillou, brought Na Roqua to my house in a *bourras* [a rough piece of canvas]; she was gravely ill and had just been hereticated. And they said to me: 'Do not give her anything to eat or drink. You mustn't!'""Catharism had two classes, or degrees. Laity were known as credents, or believers. They were not required to follow the rigid rules of abstinence reserved for the elect perfecti or bonhommes (good men), who formed the hierarchy of the Cathar church."
"That night, together with Rixende Julia and Alazai"s Pellissier, I sat up with Na Roqua. We kept on saying to her, 'Speak to us! Say something!' "
"But she would not open her lips. I wanted to give her some broth made of salt pork, but we could not get her to open her mouth. When we tried to do so in order to give her something to drink, she clenched her lips. She remained like this for two days and two nights. The third night, at dawn, she died. While she was dying, two night birds commonly called gavecas [owls] came on to the roof of my house. They hooted and when I heard them I said: 'The devils have come to carry off the late Na Roqua's soul!'"
- Brune Pourcel of Montaillou, as recorded in the Inquisition Register of Jacques Fournier (Bishop of Pamiers in Ari?ge in the Comte' de Foix from 1318 to 1325)
"The first heresy: marriage. There are indeed some among them to whom these words refer, who denounce and condemn marriage, and promise eternal damnation to those who remain in the married life until death."
"The second heresy: avoiding meat."
"The third heresy: the creation of flesh...that all flesh is made by the devil..."
"The fourth heresy: the baptism of children...They maintain that baptism can be of no value to the children who are baptized, because they cannot seek baptism of their own volition, and cannot make any profession of faith."
"The fifth heresy: baptism of water....Those who join their sect are rebaptized in a secret way, which they call baptism by fire and the Holy Spirit."
"The sixth heresy: the souls of the dead. They believe that at the hour of death the souls of the dead pass either to eternal happiness or to eternal damnation. They reject the view of the Church Universal that there are punishments in purgatory, in which the souls of certain of the elect are searched for the sins of which they were not fully cleansed by adequate penance in this life."
"The seventh heresy: contempt for the mass. They scorn and hold pointless masses celebrated in churches."
"The eighth heresy: the body and blood of the Lord. They believe that the body and blood of Christ cannot be made by our consecration, or received by us through communion."
"The ninth heresy: the humanity of the Savior. He [a former member] tells me that they are also in error about our Savior, believing that he was not truly born of the Virgin, and did not truly have human flesh, but a kind of simulated flesh; that he did not rise from the dead, but simulated death and resurrection."
"The tenth heresy: human souls. They say that human souls are apostate spirits which were expelled from heaven at the creation of the world; in human bodies they can come to deserve salvation through good works, but only if they belong to this sect."
- Eckbert of Sch?nau (1163)
"Whether Cathar or Catholic, every married woman could expect a fair
amount of beating. As the man possessed the initiative in the courtship,
he later on claimed the right to violence. The reaction to Guillemette
Clergue's black eye is indicative of the sort of behavior expected from
husbands. Through some accident or infection, Guillemette had a bad eye,
and was travelling to find a cure. On the way, she encountered the perfectus
Prades Tavernier, who assumed she had been beaten. Later, in her testimony
to Jacques Fournier, Guillemette admitted to keeping her rapport with Tavernier
a secret from her husband for fear of abuse, perhaps even death."
"Women could, however, be accepted among the perfecti; it is widely speculated that this was the main appeal of Catharism for women. The perfecti were the ministers of the Cathar faith, wandering in pairs throughthe countryside to be with the credentes. Women and men worked together to gain converts to the faith and maintaining devotion. To be a perfecta gave a woman a higher status than she could ever attain in the Catholic church."
"Anyone, man or woman, aspiring to join the perfecti faced a probationary period lasting at least two years. During that time, he or she gave up all worldly goods, lived communally with other perfecti, and abstained from partaking of meat and wine. To avoid temptations of the flesh, an initiate was denied all contact with the opposite sex and vowed never to sleep naked."
"Through a ceremony called the consolamentum, the laying on of hands, a Cathar was inducted into the perfectus class. The ceremony not only eradicated any previous sins, but swore the Cathar to commit no more for the duration of their lives."
"They call the laying-on of hands the consolamentum, spiritual baptism, or baptisms of the Holy Spirit. Without it according to them, mortal sin cannot be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit cannot be conferred on anyone: it is given only by them, through the consolamentum. On this the Albaneses differ somewhat from the others. They way that the hand contributes nothing (since according to them it was created by the devil, as we shall see), and it is only the Lord's Prayer said by whoever performs the ceremony that is effective."The "much larger group, the credentes or the true believers, were subjected to no restrictions of their lifestyle. Any vocation could be followed. Unlike orthodox Christianity, Catharism imposed no restrictions on eating or drinking. Most significantly, the codes of sexual morality were lax. The only crucial obligations for a Cathar were to renounce all allegiance to the orthodox church, and to undergo the consolamentum before death."
- Ranier Sacchoni (1250)"
In "Catholics, Heretics and Heresy, by Gilles C. H. Nullens...section 1.2, 'Introduction to the Cathar Religion', he mentions four surviving Cathar documents:
1. A Latin manuscript "The Book of the Two principles" kept in Florence is a translation made in 1260 from a work by the Cathar Jean de Lugio from Bergamo and written in 1230.
2. The Latin translation found in Prague in 1939 from an anonymous treaty written in Languedoc at the beginning of the 13th century. The author could be the Parfait Barthelemy of Carcassonne.
3. Latin Ritual of Florence
4. Occitan Ritual of Lyon"
- Dennis Stallings (private correspondence)
"The Catholic church did what it could to combat the spreading Cathar heresy. At first, it tried to win Cathars back to the fold by dispatching teaching missions of Cistercian monks led by the head of the order, the future Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. The monks made few conversions, however, and the recalcitrance of the heretics dismayed Bernard, whose own efforts to reach them were met with boos and catcalls in the streets of Toulouse."
"At the eleventh ecumenical council in the Lateran in 1179, Pope Alexander III pronounced the anathema on the Cathars and everyone who followed their teachings and defended them. All the faithful were called upon zealously to oppose this 'pest', and even take up arms against them. Whoever killed a Cathar was given an indulgence worth two years' penance and the protection of the Church as a Crusader."
"On 5 August four men and a girl were taken outside the city [Cologne] and burned. The girl would have been saved by the sympathy of the people if she had been frightened by the fate of her companions and accepted better advice, but she tore herself from the grasp of those who were holding her, threw herself into the fire and was killed."
- Eckbert of Sch?nau (1163)
"Let men rise and come to our aid, and make themselves our rampart against these savage beasts. Arise, husbands, and fathers; arise, princes of nations and leaders of peoples. Drive off these vile animals, or put to flight at least the little foxes.""... The Albigensian Crusade was essentially a crusade against Manichaeanism....In 1209 an army of some 30,000 knights and foot-soldiers from Northern Europe descended like a whirlwind on the Languedoc - the mountainous north-eastern foothills of the Pyrenees in what is now southern France. In the ensuing war the whole territory was ravaged, crops were destroyed, towns and cities were razed, a whole population was put to the sword. This extermination occurred on so vast, so terrible a scale that it may well constitute the first case of 'genocide' in modern European history. In the town of Beziers alone, for example, at least 15,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered wholesale - many of them in the sanctuary of the church itself.
- Henry of Clairvaux
The Knights Templar were also ordered by the pope to help crush the Cathars. "The knights readily complied, burning the French towns of Albi and Toulouse in 1209."
At at the siege of Be'ziers, 1209, when the military commander asked the pope's representative how he might distinguish heretics from true believers, the reply was:
"Kill them all. God will recognize His own.""Maybe the last 'pure ones', as they voluntarily gave themselves up to the besiegers outside their fortress of Monts?gur on 12 March 1244 and walked to their death at the stake on the Champ des Cr?mats, the 'field of the burned', found consolation in the words of their favorite letter of St John:"
- Papal legate Arnaud-Amalric
"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.""It was under Innocent III [reigned from 1198-1216] - although not at his behest - that the infamous Fourth Crusade was diverted from the Holy Land to the capture and sack of Constantinople."
- 1 John 3:13
"Christ, in whom we have counsel.
We remember your faithfull in ages past.
We remember the fallen at the hands of those that worship destruction.
May our hearts contain thy mercy at this day of sorrows and grieving.
As we see this crime repeated before our eyes and while our ears are filled with rumours of the killing of innocents all around the world.
Guide us so that we may understand, in spite of this shiver of doubt in our worth and our right to know of thee, for surely when a man can contribute to this destruction, these are grievous times for humanity."
- Beginning of commemoration of the Cathar Martyrs fallen at Montsegur (March 16, 1244)
|Other Cathar Sites|