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Quasi-Christian Sects
Updated: 01/18/2021


(Greek Καθαρoι, "pure ones"), or Catharists, was the name assumed by a widely diffused heretical sect of the middle ages, which took its rise most probably among the Slavs in Macedonia and spread into northern Italy and western Europe.  In France it was active as early as 1022, when 13 clergy were condemned at Orleans for holding catharist doctrines.  From this period to the 13th century the chief centers were the Milanese, Champagne and southern France; in this last the Cathari were called Albigenses.   In Germany their activities were largely limited to the Rhineland.  By the 14th century catharism no longer occupied an important place among the heresies of Europe.  The Cathari distinguished between the great mass of their credentes or "believers" and the perfecti, who had received the baptism of the Spirit by the laying on of hands, called consolamentum because in it the Comforter was imparted.  These "pure" ones practised a rigid asceticism and were estimated at only 4,000 in all Europe about the year 1240.  See Albigenses; Bogomili; Paulicians.


Is a name applied loosely to the heretics of various sects who abounded in the south of France about the beginning of the 13th century; it is derived from Albi, a city 43 miles NE of Toulouse.  Southern France and especially the counties of Toulouse and Provence in the 12th century enjoyed a civilization different from that of France north of the Loire.  It had a lively trade with Spain, long Muslim, and up the Rhone valley, with the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean.  Southern French religion was affected by eastern dualism, i.e. Manichaeism, and took on a local quasi-national character.  The Albigenses constituted a branch of the Catharist heresy, which began to affect northern Italy and various parts of France early in the 11th century.  Their teaching had nothing in common with that of the Waldenses, also a southern French sect.  Their adherents were divided into the credentes, whose obligations were very light, and the perfecti, who were expected to lead a life of extreme esceticism.  Their one sacrament was the consolamentum and their act of final perfection the endura, or suicide.  Their faith was adopted by the mass of the population, especially in Toulouse, and by counts and bishops.

The immediate cause of the first Albigensian crusade, in 1209, was the murder of Innocent III's legate, who had been sent to extirpate heresy in the lands of Count Raymond VI of Toulouse.  The leader of the crusaders was Count Simon de Montfort, who was killed at the siege of Toulouse in 1218.  King Louis VIII of France thenb took up the leadership of the crusade, but died in 1226.  Count Raymon VII was defeated and in 1229 had to make peace, yielding the lordship of Narbonne and other lands to Louis IX, doing penance for his errors and promising to set up schools of sound doctrine in Toulouse and to aid the Dominicans in their efforts to reconvert his people.


A heterodox Christian sect, it flourished in south-eastern Europe, especially Bulgaria, from the 10th to the 15th centuries; the name probably originates form that of the priest Bogomil, who is recorded to have preached their doctrines circa 940.  These doctrines were a fusion of those of the Paulicians and of the Messalians, from both of whom, however, the Bogomili must be distinguished.  They were a Manichaen sect; but their dualism was not absolute, since it gave to God a superior power over the evil principle.  In its early form Bogomilism was a spiritualizing movement, rejecting sacraments and the priesthood and manifesting an asceticism of life that even repudiated marriage; in its decadence it was distinguished by a fantastic mythology and licentious living.  Many attempts were made by civil and ecclesiastical authorities to suppress the movement, but it persisted till theTurkish conquest.  The relations between the Bogomili and the western sects of Cathari have not yet been fully determined; they may have been the first important link between the early Manichaeism of the east and the mediaeval dualistic bodies of the west, e.g. the Albigenses.

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