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§ 80. The Cathari.


The most widely distributed of the heretical sects were the Cathari. The term comes from the Greek katharos, meaning pure, and has given to the German its word for heretic, Ketzer. It was first used by the Cathari themselves.966966    Schmidt. II. 276; Döllinger, I. 127. The term "Cathari" occurs in the twelfth century in Ecbertus and the acts of the Third Lateran Council, 1179, which speak of the heretics in Southern France as Cathari, Patrini, Publicani, or as known by some other name. Quos alii Catharos, alii Patrinos, alii Publicanos, etc., alii aliis nominibus vocant. Innocent III. called them Cathari and Patarenes, Epp. I. 94; II. 228; VIII. 85, 105, etc.967967    Alanus de Insulis, Migne, 210. 266, says, "The Cathari are so called from the cat, whose posterior parts they are said to kiss and in whose form, as they say, Lucifer appears to them." Jacob de Voragine, in his Legenda aurea, refers to the use made of the cat by Satan in connection with heresy. He relates that on one occasion some ladies, who had been heretics, were kneeling at St. Dominic’s feet and suddenly cried out: "’Servant of God, help us.’’ Tarry awhile,’Dominic said, ’and ye shall see what ye have been serving.’ Suddenly a black cat sprang up in their midst, right horrible, with long tail standing upright and emitting from the after end a terrible stench. After a while the cat climbed up the bell rope to the steeple, and the ladies were converted." called New Manichaeans. From the quarter they inhabited in Milan, called Pataria, or the abode of the junk dealers, they received the name Patarenes.968968    Schmidt, who discusses the names in an elaborate note (II. 275-284), says that a portion of Milan was still called Contrada de’Patari in the eighteenth century. Frederick II., in his Sicilian code, derived the name Patarenes from patior, to suffer. Patarenos se nominant velut expositos passioni, Huillard-Bréholles, IV. 6. So also Walter Map, De nugis, Wright’s ed., p. 61, who says the devil persuaded the Patarenes that they would become perfect by suffering and doing what he commanded.

In Southern France they were called Albigenses, from the town of Albi, one of the centres of their strength. From the territory in Eastern Europe, whence their theological tenets were drawn, they were known as Bulgari, Bugares, or Bugres.969969    M. Paris, Luard’s ed., III. 520, speaks of "Bugares" as a common appellation for the "Paterini, Jovinians, Albigenses, and those stained with other heresies," and associates with them Robert Bugre, who from being a heretic became a Dominican and noted Inquisitor. The modern word "bugger" is derived from his name.dustrial classes, or Publicani and Poplicani, a corruption of Paulicians.970970    Döllinger, I. 129 sq.

It was the general belief of the age that the Cathari derived their doctrinal views from heretical sects of Eastern Europe and the Orient, such as the Paulicians and Bogomili. This was brought out in the testimony of members of the sect at their trials, and it has in its favor the official recognition which leaders from Eastern Europe, Bosnia, and Constantinople gave to the Western heretics. The Paulicians had existed since the fifth century in Asia Minor, and had pushed their way to Constantinople.971971    Ibid., I. 1-51, gives an elaborate description of the Paulicians and the Bogomili. He regards the Paulicians as the bridge between the Gnostics of the ancient Church and the sectaries of the Middle Ages, p. 3.972972    Ibid., p. 114, says that the teachings of the Cathari and the Bogomili are so much alike that the "direct descent of the former from the latter must be regarded as beyond doubt." Our knowledge of the Bogomili is derived from Euthymus, whose Narratio de Bogomilis was edited by Gieseler, Göttingen, 1842.nd Arian heresy were left in Italy and Southern France after these systems were supposed to be stamped out in those regions.

The Paulicians rejected the Old Testament and taught a strict dualism. The Bogomili held to the Sabellian Trinity, rejected the eucharist, and substituted for baptism with water a ritual of prayer and the imposition of hands. Marriage they pronounced an unclean relationship. The worship of images and the use of the cross were discarded.

It was in the early years of the eleventh century, that the first reports of the appearance of heresy were bruited about here and there in Italy and Southern France. About the year 1000 a certain Leuthard, claiming to be inspired, appeared in the diocese of Châlons, destroying crosses and denouncing tithes. In 1012 Manichaean separatists appeared for the first time in Germany, at Mainz,973973    Hauck, Kirchengesch., III. 431.e flames. Constance is said to have struck one of them, her former confessor, with a staff and to have put out one of his eyes.974974    Schmidt, I. 31; Hefele, IV. 674 sqq.jected infant baptism.975975    Hauck, IV. 88.ss. In 1052 they appeared at Goslar, where the guilty were discerned by their refusal to kill a chicken. With these notices, and a few more like them, the rumor of heresy is exhausted for nearly a century.

About the middle of the twelfth century, heresy suddenly appeared again at Liége, and prosecutions were begun. In 1145 eight men and three women were burnt at Cologne. The firmness of the victims was exemplified in the case of a young woman, who was held back for a time with the promise of marriage, but, on seeing her coreligionists burnt, broke from her keepers and, hiding her face in her dress, threw herself into the flames. And so, Caesar of Heisterbach goes on to say, she descended with her fellow-heretics to hell.976976    Dial., V. 19.gne in 1163 we hear of trials and burnings, but thereafter the Cathari are no more heard of in Germany.

Their only appearance in England was at Oxford, 1161, when more than thirty illiterate Germans, men and women, strove to propagate their errors. They were reported as "detesting" marriage, the eucharist, baptism, and the Catholic Church, and as having quoted Matt. 5:10, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." A council of bishops ordered them branded on the forehead and flogged.977977    William of Newburgh, Hamilton’s ed., pp. 121-123. Walter Map, De Nugis, p. 62, reduces the number to sixteen. They were called Publicani by the Oxford council, 1260978978    Stubbs, ed. of De Hoveden, II. p. liv. sq.

In France the Cathari were strong enough in 1167 to hold a council at St. Felix de Caraman near Toulouse. It was attended by Nicetas of Constantinople, to whom the title of pope was given. He was accompanied by a Catharan bishop, Marcus of Lombardy.979979    Döllinger, I. 121 sq., has no hesitation in declaring him a bishop of the Paulicians large. They were compared by William of Newburgh to the sand of the sea, and were said by Walter Map to be infinite in number in Aquitaine and Burgundy.980980    . Superabundant jam ad omnem infinitatem.981981    Caesar of Heisterbach, quoted by Döllinger, I. 124.he Dominican Rainerius gave 4,000,000 as a safe estimate of their number and declared this was according to a census made by the Cathari themselves.982982    p. 1768.983983    Döllinger, I. 125. not to be taken too seriously, but they indicate a widespread religious unrest. Men did not know whereunto heresy might grow. In Southern France the priests were the objects of ridicule. In that region, as well as in many of the cities of Lombardy, the Cathari had schools for girls and boys.

Agreed as the Cathari were in opposing many customs and doctrines of the established Church, they were divided among themselves and broken up into sects,—seventy-two, according to one document.984984    Döllinger, II. 300. the Albanenses and Concorrezzi, deriving their names from two Lombard towns, Alba and Concorreggio, near Monza.985985    Ibid., I. 117; II. 82. Schmidt derived them from Albania and from Coriza in Dalmatia.y had a bishop whose authority was acknowledged by the Cathari in Mantua, Brescia, and Bergamo.986986    Rainerius is our chief authority for these statements. He makes the above threefold classification (Martène, V. 1761), and then proceeds to give the doctrinal and practical errors the sects had in common, and those which separated them. He also gives a list of the Catharan centres in Lombardy and other parts. See also the important document, the Supra stella, by Salvus Burce, 1235, published by Döllinger, II. 52-84. The title was chosen to distinguish it from a Catharan treatise entitled Stella, the Star.

The differences between the Albanenses and Concorrezzi were of a theological character and concerned the nature of God and the origin of matter. The Albanenses were strict dualists. Matter is eternal and the product of the evil god. Paul speaks of the things, which are seen, as dung. The Concorrezzi seem to have rejected dualism and to have regarded evil as the creation of Lucifer, the highest of the angels.

In matters of ritual and practical conduct, and in antagonism to the Church establishment, all groups of the Cathari were agreed. Since Schmidt wrote his History of the Cathari, it has been common to represent Catharism as a philosophical system,987987    See also Alphandéry, p. 35. Lempp, in a criticism of Alphandéry’s work, Lit.-zeitung, 1905, p. 601, takes the view which is presented in the text. is difficult to understand the movement from this standpoint. How could an unlettered folk, as they were, be concerned primarily or chiefly with a metaphysical construction? Theirs was not a philosophy, but a daily faith and practice. This view alone makes it possible to understand how the movement gained such rapid and widespread acceptance in the well-ordered and prosperous territory of Southern France, a territory in which Cluny had exercised its influence and was located.

The Cathari agreed—to use the expression of their opponents—in vituperating the established Church and in calling its adherents Romanists. There are two Churches, they held,—one of the wicked and one of the righteous. They themselves constituted the Church of the righteous, outside of which there is no salvation,988988    Döllinger, II. 322, etc.; Douais, II. 105, etc.; Bonacursus, Migne, 204. 777.ot prescribe it. The Roman Church sits in the place of rule and is clothed in purple and fine linen. The true Church teaches first. The Roman Church baptizes first. The true Church has no dignitaries, prelates, cardinals, archdeacons, or monks. The Roman Church is the woman of the Apocalypse, a harlot, and the pope anti-Christ.

The depositions at their trials indicate that the Cathari made much use of the Scriptures. The treatises of Bonacursus, Ermengaudus, and other writers in refutation of Catharan teachings abound in quotations of Scripture, a fact indicating the regard the heretics had for them. They put spiritual interpretations upon the miracles and freely allegorized parables. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the man who fell among the thieves was Adam, whose spirit, at God’s command, descended from heaven to earth and fell among thieves in this lower world.989989    Bonacursus, p. 775.dited, pronouncing it the work of the devil. Its God is an evil god.990990    Döllinger, II. 294, etc.; Ermengaudus, 1237. Lea, I. 563-567, gives a document, apparently dating from about 1300, in which a Catharan uses Scripture to prove that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of the New. He deposed, "God says in Genesis, ’Ye shall not eat the tree of life.’ But the God of the New Testament says in the Apocalypse ’to him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life. ’That one prohibits, this one promises. Therefore they are antagonistic, one to the other." Again he deposed, "Genesis says I will place enmity between thee and the woman. The God of the Old Testament is thus the sower of discord and enmity. But the God of the New Testament is the giver of peace and the reconciler of all things. Hence they are antagonistic."

The Catharan doctrine seems to have highly exalted Christ, though it denied the full reality of his human nature. He was created in heaven and was not born on the earth, but passed through Mary as through a pipe. He neither ate material food nor drank material drink. As for John the Baptist, he was one of the major demons and was damned for doubting when he sent to Christ the question, "Art thou he that should come or do we look for another?"991991    Bonacursus, p. 777; Ermengaud, p. 1234 sq.; Douais, II. 93, 96</cbr>, 103, etc.

A strange account of the fall of the angels was current in Southern France. Satan ascended to heaven and waited in vain thirty-two years for admittance. He was then noticed and admitted by the porter. Hidden from the Father, he remained among the angels a year before he began to use his art to deceive. He asked them whether they had no other glory or pleasure besides what he saw. When they replied they had not, he asked whether they would not like to descend to his world and kingdom, promising to give them gifts, fields, vineyards, springs, meadows, fruits, gold, silver, and women. Then he began to praise woman and the pleasures of the flesh. When they inquired more particularly about the women, the devil said he would descend and bring one back with him. This he did. The woman was decked in jewels and gold and beautiful of form. The angels were inflamed with passion, and Satan seeing this, took her and left heaven. The angels followed. The exodus continued for nine days and nights, when God closed up the fissure which had been made.992992    Döllinger, II. 149-153.

The Cathari divided themselves into two classes, the Perfecti and the Credentes, or Believers. The Perfect were those who had received the rite of the consolamentum , and were also called bons hommes,993993    Boni homines, Döllinger, II. 22, 27, etc.; Boni Christiani, II. 4, 17</cbr>, 25, etc. In Southern France one of the of the repeated charges was that the accused called the Cathari bons hommes, Douais, II. 9, 11, 14</cbr>, 25, etc. The Credentes are so called by French synods, by Innocent III., in letters written by papal legates, etc. See Hefele, V. 846, 850, etc.; Döllinger and Douais under Credentes in Index. good Christians, or the Girded, vestiti ,994994    Synod of Toulouse, 1229, etc. See Schmidt, II. 127. the catechumens of the early Church, and placed all their hope in the consolamentum, which they looked forward to receiving. By a contract, called the convenenza , the Catharan officials pledged themselves to administer the consolamentum to the Credentes in their last hours.

The consolamentum took the place of baptism and meant more. Its administration was treated by the Catholic authorities as equivalent to an initiation into heresy — haereticatio, as it was called. The usual form in which the court stated the charge of heresy was, "He has submitted to heretication."995995    Haereticationi interfuit, Douais, II. 17, 19</cbr>, 22, etc.’s breast.996996    Ante pectus, Rainerius, p. 1764. An elaborate description is given in an Appendix to Rainerius, Martène, V. 1776.997997    Ermengaud, Migne, 204, 1362; Rainerius, p. 1764; Döllinger, II. 41.

The Perfect had a monopoly of salvation. Those not receiving the consolamentum were considered lost or passed at death into another body and returned to the earth. The rite involved not only the absolution of all previous sins but of sins that might be committed thereafter. However, relapse was possible and sometimes occurred.998998    Among those who recanted was the rich citizen Morand of Toulouse, who did penance by standing naked to the waist at the altar of St. Saturninus and allowing himself to be scourged in the presence of the papal legate. He went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but on his return went back to the Cathari and died as one of the Perfect. Schmidt, I. 77 sqq.teenth century, when it was administered to sick children. Those who submitted to it were said to have, made a good ending."999999    Döllinger, II. 30.

The consolamentum involved the renunciation of the seven sacraments. Baptism with water was pronounced a material and corruptible thing, the work of the evil god. Even little children were not saved who received absolution and imposition of bands.10001000    Ibid., II. 5, 322.10011001    Ibid., II. 21, 34, 65, 90</cbr>, 283, etc.st made a clear distinction between baptism with water and the baptism of power, Acts 1:5. The latter he promised to the Church.

As for the eucharist, the Cathari held that God would not appoint the consecrated host as a medium of grace, nor can God be in the host, for it passes through the belly, and the vilest part of the body.10021002    In latrinam ventris et per turpissimum locum, quae non possunt fieri, si esset ibi deus. Döllinger, II. 5. times a year, called the apparellamentum, and the charge was very frequently made that the accused had attended this feast.10031003    Douais, II. 17, 22, 27</cbr>, 45, etc.ng the requirements made of those who received the consolamentum were that they should not touch women, eat animal food, kill animals, take oaths, or favor war and capital punishment.

The marriage bed was renounced as contrary to God’s law, and some went so far as to say openly that the human body was made by the devil. The love of husband and wife should be like the love of Christ for the Church, without carnal desire. The command to avoid looking on a woman, Matt. 5:27, 28, was taken literally, and the command to leave husband and wife was interpreted to mean the renunciation of sexual cohabitation. Witnesses condemned marriage absolutely,10041004    Moneta, p. 315; jacere cum uxore sua sicut cum meretrice, Döllinger, II. 30; matrimonium est meretricium, Douais, II. 93; Döllinger, II. 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 40, 156</cbr>, 300, etc. omnem carnalem concubitum dampnabilem dicunt, Douais, II. 93, 96, etc. groups, that the eating of the forbidden fruit in Eden meant carnal cohabitation.10051005    Bonacursus, p. 776 Douais, II. 93, 103, etc.

As for animal nourishment, not only were all meats forbidden, but also eggs and cheese. The reason given was that these were the product of carnal intercourse.10061006    Ibid., p. 777; Rainerius, p. 1762; Döllinger, II. 294, 300.ords of Peter on the housetop, Acts 10:14, were also quoted. The Cathari, however, allowed themselves fish, in view of Christ’s example in feeding the multitude and his example after his resurrection, when he gave fish to his disciples. The killing of animals, birds, and insects, except frogs and serpents, was also forbidden.10071007    Döllinger, II. 5, 152, 181, 248</cbr>, 294., the return of the souls of the dead in the bodies of animals.

The condemnation of capital punishment was based on such passages as: "Give place unto wrath, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord," Rom. 12:19; and the judicial execution of heretics and criminals was pronounced homicide, a survival from the Old Testament and the influence of its evil god. The Cathari quoted Christ’s words, "Ye have heard how it hath been said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."10081008    Salve Burce, in Döllinger, II. 71, a remarkable passage; Douais, II. 94 Rainerius, p. 1762.gainst the established Church was that it countenanced war and marshalled armies.

The interdiction of oaths was in obedience to the words of Christ, and was in the interest of strict integrity of speech.10091009    Bonacursus, p. 777; Ermengaud, p. 1269. See Alphandéry, p. 83 sq.

The Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair. It was the instrument of Christ’s shame and death, and therefore not to be used.10101010    Döllinger, under Kreuz in Index II. 730; Bonacursus, p. 777 Douais, II. 94.

They also rejected, as might have been expected, the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences.10111011    Rainerius, 1762. See Alphandéry, p. 44.

In addition to the consolamentum, the Cathari practised two rites called the melioramentum and the endura.10121012    See Döllinger in Index under these two words and Schmidt, II. 71-103.garded it as a travesty of the adoration of the host.10131013    Döllinger, I. 193, 210; II. 4, 25</cbr>, 30, etc.; Douais, II. 23, etc.

The endura, which has been called the most cruel practice the history of asceticism has to show, was a voluntary starvation unto death by those who had received the consolamentum. Sometimes these rigorous religionists waited for thirteen days for the end to come,10141014    Alphandéry, p. 51; Döllinger, II. 205.y suicide are quite numerous.

Our knowledge of the form of Church government practised by the Cathari is scant. Some of the groups of Italy and Languedoc had bishops. The bishop had as assistants a "major" and a "minor" son and a deacon, the two former taking the bishop’s place in his absence.10151015    Rainerius, p. 1766; Döllinger, II. 82, 278, 295</cbr>, 324. At the time of Nicetas’visit, Bernard Raymund was ordained bishop of Toulouse, Guiraud Mercier, bishop of Carcassonne, and Raymund of Casalis, bishop of Val d’Aran.res of repression everywhere put in force against the sect.

The steadfast endurance of the Catharan dissenters before hostile tribunals and in the face of death belong to the annals of heroism and must call forth our admiration as it called forth the wonder of contemporaries like Bernard.10161016    Sermon, 65, Migne, 183. 1091.10171017    Quoted by Schmidt, II. 94.


"A hard and wandering life. We flee from city to city like sheep in the midst of wolves. We suffer persecution like the Apostles and the martyrs because our life to holy and austere. It is passed amidst prayers, abstinence, and labors, but everything is easy for us because we are not of this world."


Dr. Lea, the eminent authority on the Inquisition, has said (I. 104) that no religion can show a more unbroken roll of victims who unshrinkingly and joyfully sought death in its most abhorrent form in preference to apostasy than the Cathari. Serious as some of the errors were which they held, nevertheless their effort to cultivate piety by other methods than the Church was offering calls for sympathy. Their rupture with the established organization can be to a Protestant no reason for condemnation; and their dependence upon the Scriptures and their moral tendencies must awaken within him a feeling of kinship. He cannot follow them in their rejection of baptism and the eucharist. In the repudiation of judicial oaths and war, they anticipated some of the later Christian bodies, such as the Quakers and Mennonites.



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