A continuation of the History of the Cathari in Italy, as elsewhere, and their distinction from the Patarines.


MY design is not to abuse my reader’s patience, by setting, down here all that I could observe relating to the history of the Cathari, from the writings of several authors of the twelfth and thirteenth century, as of Egbert, Abbot of Schonauge, Alanus of Lisle, Giraldus Cambrensis, and Bonacursius, who gives us an account of their opinions, and of their settlement in the dioceses of Cologne, Gallia Narbonensis, Flanders, and the diocese of Milan. Yet I cannot but represent to the reader, that the malice or imprudence of these authors makes them ordinarily to confound those whom Evervinus, in his forementioned Epistle to St. Bernard, had with more care and honesty distinguished, and that whilst they writ the history of the Cathari, they had an eye to the Patarines, who had spread their belief through all those places, and whom they designed to make odious, by confounding them with the Cathari, that is to say, with the new upstart Manichees.

Egbert, a Monk, and afterwards Abbot of Schonauge, tells us, that he had as often disputed with these heretics as any of them were discovered amongst the people, so that he seems to be a witness well informed in the case, though he owns that he had learned more of their opinions from those who had renounced them, that is, from those who by the force of torments, and threats of being burnt, had abandoned their belief. He sets them forth as men famous by their errors;

“These are they who are commonly called Cathari a sort of people very pernicious to the Catholic faith, which like moths they corrupt and destroy.”

And yet he adds, that they were divided into several sects, and maintained their opinions by the authority of Scripture.

“They are armed with the words of holy Scripture which any ways do seem to favor their opinions, and with these they know how to defend their errors, and to oppose the Catholic truth; though indeed they be altogether ignorant of the right understanding that is couched in those words, and which cannot be discovered without great judgment.”

We may observe here, that this title of Egbert’s book doth not answer to the account Trithemius gives us of it in his catalogue, who sets down only these two words, adversum hereses, lib. 1. Prophetatum dudurn tempora; whereas the title of it contains a long description of these Manichean heresics: jid, ersus pestif eros fosdissimosque Catharorum (qui Manichosorum hwresim innovarunt) damnatos errores ac hereses, Egberti Presbyteri, primo Ecclesiae Collegiate Bunnensis, Coloniensis dioeceseos Canonici, demure vero professi monachi Schonaugiensis monasterii, utilissimi sermones, ex penetralibus Evangelicis, et aliarum divinarum Scripturarum atmario deprompti. Esc quibus proculdubio fructum plurimum metet diligens lector et candidus. Breve ex dugustino de Manicheis excerptum, per eundem Ecbertum. Possibly Trithemius had no mind to trouble himself with quoting so prolix a title; but certain it is, that neither Reginald’s Epistle, nor the first Sermon of Egbert, have the beginning which Trithemius ascribes to it: which may give us just cause of suspicion, that either the list they give us under Egbert’s name is none of his; or, that some part of it has been suppressed, according to the laudable custom which is in vogue with the Roman party in their publishing of authors. Nor is it without reason they make use of this way, their zeal for the Romish faith frequently obliging them to make use of pious frauds, by hiding or disguising the true sentiments of those authors they publish. But not to insist upon this, he represents to us, first, the extent and spreading of the doctrine of the Cathari throughout several places, as well as their different names.

“They are increased to those multitudes throughout all countries, that the Church of God is in great danger of the poison they scatter every where against her; for their words spread like a cancer, and, like a flying leprosy, runs every way, infecting the precious members of Christ. These in our Germany we call Catharini, in Flanders they call them Piphles, and in French, Tisserands, from the art of weaving, because a great many of them are of that occupation. And as our Lord has foretold concerning them, they say Christ is in the inward rooms; for they declare that the true faith and worship of Christ is no where to be found but in their meetings, which they keep in their cellars and weaving rooms and in such like dwellings under ground, they say, they lead the lives of Apostles.”

Secondly, He sets forth to us their opinions, and the desire they have to multiply their disciples; in which regard we must own that he describes them as true Manichees, who absolutely forbade marriage, and all eating of flesh; who rejected baptism with water, and instead thereof substituted a false one, in Spiritu Sancto et igne, “with the Holy Ghost and with fire;” and who concerning the Eucharist entertained the notions of the Manichees, and who in particular maintained that souls were fallen angels. But withal we are to observe, that he attributes opinions to them that are very different from any thing of Manicheism, and which Evervinus attributes to another sort of heretics, of whom he makes mention. De animabus mortuorum, talem sententiamr habent, quod in ipsa hora exitus sui, vel transeunt ad aeternam beatitudinem, vel ad aeternam damnationem. Non enim recipiunt, quod credit universalis Ecclesia, viz. esse quasdam purgatorias paenas, in quibus animx quorundam electorurn, ad ternpus examinantur pro peccatis suis, de quibus in hac vita per con-dignam satiJactionem ad plenum purgatx non sunt: propterea ergo arbitrantur superfluum et vanum esse pro mortuis eleemosynas dare, missas celebrare, et irrident pulsationes campanarum, quas facimus, quos tamen pia ratlone in ecclesias funt, ut videlicet vivi ad orandum pro mortuis commoneantur, et ad memoriam proprix mortis excitentur. Missas qux in ecclesiis celebrantur, omnino spernunt, et pro nihilo ducunt. Nam si forte cum populo, in quo habitant, ad audiendure missas, sive etiam ad perci: piendam Eucharistiam accedunt, omnino hoc simulatorie faciunt, ne indqdelitas eorum possit notari. Ordinem quippe sacerdotii in Romans Ecclesia, et cunctis Ecclesiis Catholicae fidei, omnino periisse dicunt, nec usquam nisi in secta eorum veros sacerdotes inveniri.

“Concerning the souls of the dead, they hold this opinion; that at the very instant of their departure out of the body, they go to eternal bliss, or eternal damnation: for they receive not the belief of the universal Church, viz. that there are some purgatory punishments, wherewith the souls of some of the elect are tried, for some time for those sins from which they have not been purged by a plenary satisfaction in this life. Wherefore also they account it superfluous and vain to give alms for the dead, and celebrate masses; and they scoff at our ringing of bells, which yet for pious reasons are used in our churches, to give others warning that they may pray for the dead, and to put them in mind of their own death. As for masses, they altogether despise them, and look on them as nothing worth; for if ever they accompany the people they dwell with to hear Mass, or to receive the Sacrament, they do this only dissemblingly, that their infidelity might not be taken notice of; for they maintain that the sacerdotal order is altogether perished in the Church of Rome, and all other Catholic Churches, and that true priests are only to be found in their sect.”

Thirdly, He sets forth to us the original of these Cathari, which he pretends they derive from the Manichees, notwithstanding that he himself observes, that they were not all of the same opinions. These are his words; Multa tamen permixta habent doctrince magistri sui, quae inter hareses illius non inveniuntur. Divisi etiam sunt contra semetipsos, quia nonnulla quoe ob alifuibus eorum dicuntur, ab allis negantur:

“Yet have they also many things mingled with their Master’s doctrine, which we do not find amongst his heresies. They are also divided amongst themselves; so what some of them I say again denied by others.”

We may see from hence, whether our author herein deals with that candor as he ought to do, when, without distinguishing between the different sects whereof he treats, he endeavors to prove them all to be Manichees.

1. From the conformity of their discipline with that which authors tell us was amongst the Manichees.

2. From the conformity of their opinions.

3. From the account he gives us of some extracts out of St. Augustin’s discourse on this subject, with design to draw a comparison between the opinions of these new Cathari and those of old.

It seems to me to be very evident, either that this author did out of malice confound these two parties, against whom he disputes, which was avoided by Evervinus; or that he jumbled them together out of ignorance, upon pretense, that there was something of conformity in their opinions, though they differed in their principles, on which they founded their opinions, the one drawing them as consequences from Manicheism, the other maintaining them upon other principles opposite to the Church of Rome.

We ought to make this observation with respect to those authors, who in the twelfth century have made mention of the Cathari with this kind of confusion.

Ughellus tells us, in the Life of Galdinus, Archbishop of Milan, that after he had persecuted them, during the eight or nine years of his episcopacy, he died in the year 1173, by his over-vehement preaching against them. Ripamontius, in his History of Milan, gives us the sermon of Galdinus against the Cathari, whom he calls Manichees and Arians. But an indifferent judgment will be able to discover, that that piece is of Ripamontius’s own forging, and consequently deserves no credit at all. D’Achery has published the writing of an author, who pretends to discover the doctrine of the Cathari, of which he had been surely informed by the conversion of one Bonacursus to the Roman faith, who had been one of their Bishops, and had abjured their doctrine. This author makes three sorts of heretics, the Cathari, the Passagii, and the Arnoldistae whose doctrines he refutes: but a wise reader will easily discern a great deal either of ignorance or malice in this author.

He accuseth some of these Cathari of maintaining doctrines that are plain Manicheism; but then he jumbles others with them that are pure Arianism, and others again which seem to have been defended by the Paterines. I shall pass by those doctrines that are wholly Manichean, as, that the Devil created the elements; that he made Adam; that the old Law was given by the Devil, etc., as also those that are Arian, as, that Jesus Christ is not equal with the Father. It is evident, that amongst these he has mingled some which were maintained by the Paterines, who were enemies to the Romish idolatry: as for example, that the Cathari maintained erucem esse characterem bestice, quce in Apocalypsi esse legitur, et abominationera stantem in loco sancto. Beatum Sylvestrum dicunt Antichristurn fuisse, de quo legitur in Epistolis, daelius perditionis est, qui extollitur super omne quod dicitur Deus; a tempore illo dicunt Ecclesiam esse perditare:

“That the cross is the mark of the beast, whereof we read in the Revelation and the abomination standing in the holy place. They say that blessed Pope Sylvester was the Antichrist, of whom mention is made in the Epistles of St. Paul, as being the son of perdition, who extols himself above everything that is called God; for, from that time, they say, the Church perished.”

We see clearly from this passage, that he confounds the Paterines, or Waldenses, with the Manichees, that having been an opinion of the Waldenses, and not of the Manichees, as the Papists themselves own. He lays it down also as one of their opinions,

“That the Law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and that the keeping of the Sabbath, Circumcision, and other legal observances, ought to take place. They hold also, that Christ the Son of God is not equal with the Father, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, these three Persons are not one God and one substance; and, as a surplus to these their errors, they judge and condemn all the doctors of the Church, and universally the whole Roman Church. Now, since they endeavor to defend this their error by testimonies drawn from the New Testament and Prophets, I shall, with assistance of the grace of Christ, stop their mouths, as David did Goliah’s, with their own sword.”

He in particular sets down their cleaving to the old Law, in his first chapter, wherein he seems better to understand the Scripture than the Church of Rome did, whose Popes, several ages before this, imposed great penances on those who had eaten the flesh of beasts dying of themselves, or of hens drowned in a pit; as we may see in the Penitential Canons. He does not so much as once mention the Arnoldists; and we may take notice that his reason was, because their opinions as to many articles were the same with those he had refuted in the Cathari. What I have already said concerning this matter may suffice; neither is it necessary to repeat the same here.

It is difficult to determine the time wherein this author lived. D’Achery supposeth that he lived towards the end of the twelfth century: but the manner of his speaking concerning the four doctors of the Church, of St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Gregory, and St. Augustin, makes me judge that he wrote later.

But not to insist on this, we find, that Alanus at, tributes to the Cathari almost the very same opinions, in his first book against heretics, which he wrote about the year 1192; and that under that general name which he gives them, he comprehends a great number of sects, who differed from one another in their principles, some of them being Manichees, others Arians, and others again holding the opinions of the Reformed or Protestants. Some of the opinions of these latter you may see in what follows.

He affirms, that some of these heretics believed that Baptism is of no use to infants, because they were not guilty of any sin. And that others of them held, that it was of no use, but only to those who were of age. Others again, that it could not be of any advantage to either of them both. He says that some of them held, that that Sacrament was of no use without the imposition of hands.

I have, in one of the foregoing chapters, made appear upon what occasion some of the diocese of Milan fell into these opinions concerning Baptism; which it is not needful to repeat in this place.

He tells us, that some of them believed, that penance was of no use after Baptism, and that they banished all those from their assemblies that sinned after they had been baptized. And that others were of opinion, that penance is of no use for the remission of sins, because that is a work of grace.

He gives us an account of the opinion of others of them, who maintained it was sufficient for them to confess their sins to God.

He takes notice, that they rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation; and that they condemned it, as being an article that was not to be found in any Creed of the Church.

He saith, there were others amongst them that rejected Confirmation, Orders, and Extreme Unction, pretending that they were no sacraments of the Gospel.

That there were others of them that had no regard for churches, and refused to own them for the house of God.

That they rejected the invocation of saints, and prayers for the dead. I have given this account of the imputations wherewith Alanus blindly chargeth the Cathari, for so he calls them, in his 63rd chapter, to evidence the sottishness or malice of this author: of his sottishness we may take a scantling by the etymology he gives us of the name Cathari, for he maintains that they got that name from their kissing the hinder part of a cat in their assemblies, the Devil appearing unto them under that form. We may judge of his stupidity by the contrary and contradictory opinions which he heaps up together in the same book, as if they had all of them been defended by the same persons. Valentinians, Marcionites, Manichees, Arians, all comes alike to him, as being names very proper to render his adversaries whatsoever odious, whom he had a design to blacken to the utmost.

We may judge of his malice by his jumbling so different parties together, with design thereby to make a greater impression upon the mind of his reader. It is easy to perceive, that he sets forth the errors of the Cathari, with allusion to the opinions of the Church of Rome: she believed the absolute necessity of Baptism, and she held it for an error either to defer Baptism, as formerly had been practiced, till they were grown up, as well as the opinion of those who condemn her excess in raising it to such a degree of necessity as she does.

She believed the absolute necessity of the Eucharist, as we may see in the synod of Arras, in the life of heretics, and in Alanus; and he calls those heretics who deny this article of faith concerning the Communion.

They were at that time setting up the necessity of confession, and Innocent III. soon after established it by the Canon, Omni,’ utriusque sexus, etc. and yet in the mean time the doctrine of contrition, as restoring a sinner to grace and favor, was still in use. This is that which is owned by Mathoud in Pullurn Cardinalera, and by Boileau in his Treatise of Attrition; and in the mean time they charge this belief upon the Cathari as a crime.

The power of declaring remission of sin by a laic is of the same nature; the Church of Rome admitted of it, and there have been a thousand examples of it in shipwrecks; and yet in them this is censured by Alanus as an error, because they made use of it as an argument against the absolute authority of the Priests.

It may be some will imagine, that it was Alanus’s design to set upon the Albigenses in his first book, as he makes it his business to attack the Waldenses in his second. And probably the Bishop of Meaux would not be wanting to make his observation, that consequently the Albigenses were mere Manichees; which will appear the more probable to him, first, because he chargeth the Waldenses only with some controversies of less importance, which they had with the Church of Rome, concerning discipline. Secondly, that writing to the Earl of Montpellier, he seems rather to have had an eye to the Albigenses, than to the Waldenses, whom he distinguisheth from them, and sets upon in his second book.

But here, first of all, we are to take notice, that the Waldenses and Albigenses had both of them the same belief, as I shall be able to justify with God’s assistance. Secondly, we are to observe, that his design being to set forth the Cathari in their colors, without distinguishing them, as Evervinus and Petrus Cluniacensis have done, he raked together all the discourses that had been made against them, without troubling himself about the examining of them. Thirdly, that since there were some Manichees in the country of the Albigenses, he made it his business to confound them with the true Albigenses, in order to render them the more odious, and to draw down upon them the aversion and horror of his readers, who were not of sufficient capacity to search into the nature of the opinions which he attributed to them, nor into their connection and incompatibility. Fourthly, we are to observe, that though he lays nothing to the charge of the Waldenses, but controversies of lesser importance in his second book, his reason for that was, because he had already sufficiently comprised them in the first book.

However, I shall presently make it appear, that the difference between the Waldenses and the Church of Rome was not so small, that they could be looked upon only as schismatics, as the Bishop of Meaux has been pleased to imagine; and that the reason why this author thus divided his book, was not to evince, that the Waldenses held no other opinions differing from those of the Church of Rome, but that he might range the questions he designed to treat of under different titles, whosoever they might be whom he was resolved to write against. And for an evident proof that this observation is well grounded, we may take notice, that Gyraldus Cambrensis saith, that the errors of the Paterines, or Cathari, were principally about the Eucharist. It is in a MS. treatise of his, entitled, Gemma Ecclesiastica, where we find these words; Deus itaque qui in omnibus operibus suis magnus est, et merito magnificandus, in duobus hic prcecipue se magniscum ostendit ; quod in illis mundi pattibus, in quibus hoeretici illi nostri temporis, qui Patari seu Catari dicuntur, et circa hunc praecipue articulum, scilicet de corpore Christi conociendo, errare noscuntur, scilicet in Handrice Snibus, magis abundant, hoc declaravit.

“God therefore, who in all his works is great, and worthily to be magnified, has in these two particulars chiefly glorified himself by declaring this in those parts of the world, viz. on the borders of Flanders, in which those heretics of our time who are called Patetines and Catharines, and who are known chiefly to err about this article of making the body of Christ, do most abound.”


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