Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Confession of Navarre, widow of Pons Bru of Pamiers


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Source Documents: Confession of Navarre, widow of Pons Bru of Pamiers

 

Navarre made the mistake of visiting a man who claimed to be able to communicate with the dead - including her dead husband. The Inquisition immediately took an interest in him as well.

 

Confession of Navarre, widow of Pons Bru of Pamiers

The year of the Lord 1319, the 10th of March, Navarre, widow of Pons Bru of Pamiers, said, deposed and avowed that which follows:  

It must have been about a year ago, one day, I myself and Touzes, the widow of Arnaud Pascal, went to the Church of St. Antonin. It was the time of indulgences. Returning home, we met Raimonde, the daughter of Guillaume Fauré of Saint Bauzeil and Mengarde, the seamstress, who told us they were going to see a man who lived in Mas-Saint-Antonin, who saw the spirits of the dead and travelled with them. Raimonde said that this man had told her that her mother was buried in the house of the Friars Minor, and that he had seen her spirit, which was wearing the cord of the Friars Minor. Since we had just arrived at the leper hospital and Mengarde and Raimonde wished to return home, I told them that I would very much like to see this man; they told me I could easily see him, if I wished.

After this, during that same year, before the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, I saw this man, called Arnaud Botelher, who was taking the sun in front of my house, and I called to him. He came to me and I asked him straightaway if he could see the dead and travel with them. At first he told me no, but soon after, without delay, at my insistence, he said and admitted that he could see them and travel with them. I then asked him if he had seen My Lord, wishing to talk to my late husband. He then asked me who had lived in this house, and when he learned from me that it had been my husband, he said and affirmed that he had seen him and he travelled to various churches, doing his penance, and that the following night he would be keeping vigil in the church of Saint-Marie de la Salvetat, and the following in that of Camp. And this Arnaud commanded me, on the behalf of my husband, to keep clean the room in which he had slept while alive, because he came there every Saturday, to give food to three beggars in his name and to put a half measure (demi-livre) of oil in the lamp of Notre Dame du Mercadal.

I then asked Arnaud: How is it that my husband, who was a good man and lived almost like a monk is still doing penance and is not in paradise? He replied that no soul, no matter how just it had been, would enter into Paradise nor could enter there until Judgement Day, but that it was only in visiting churches that they did penance. When the penance was done, they would go to Repose. It seems to me, although I do not recall this fully, that Arnaud told me that the place of this Repose is the earthly paradise, and that one would experience no evil there, but that the souls would not see the face of God, and would not see it until Judgement, and also that no soul would go to hell, or so it seems to me.

 

 

Arnaud Botelher or Botheler (Arnaud Gélis, "The Drunkard" of Mas-Saint-Antonin) was brought before the bishop's inquisition within days.

 

 

He also told me that the soul of Brother Pons Bru, my late son, who had been a Friar Minor, was in Repose.

 

He told me that souls look like the bodies of men and women and have hands, feet and all other members. I did not believe him and wishing to reveal him to be lying, I asked if it had been a long time since he had seen my husband. He said yes, some time. I told him "Ask him about a certain loan which Pierre de Serres made to him while he was alive, because I have had many difficulties concerning this debt." Some days later he told me that he had seen my husband, that he had asked him about this loan, and he had responded that I should extract myself from these difficulties as best as I could and asked that I no longer question him concerning this matter. He told me that my husband and many others of the dead, and he, Arnaud, among them, were once in a wine cellar in Pamiers and had drunk of the best wine that there was.

 

He told me with certainty that in a little while, when the masses had been celebrated, the soul of my husband would go to Repose.

 

He told a woman, named na (Dame) Serres, that he had seen her late husband, and he had told him to say to this na Serres to be prudent and that she would find a good husband. I learned this from na Serre herself and from Arnaud who had said this, which led me to consider him a liar and a fraud, because no husband wishes his wife to remarry or find another husband.

 
This Arnaud told me that Master Jean Marty, physician, my late brother would go in a short while to Repose.  

Have you ever believed or do you believe what this Arnaud told and affirmed to you or that what he taught in any manner to another person or persons was true?

No, by my word.

 

And this Navarre said that she was ready to repent of all that precedes, and declared herself ready to do and accomplish all penance that my said Lord Bishop might judge to give her for that which precedes, demanding humbly to be absolved of the sentence of excommunication that she had incurred for this.

 

Item, she swore on the four holy Gospels of God that in the future she would denounce heretics and their followers if she knew of them and have them apprehended according to her power, and that especially she would denounce all and each that she knew to have adhered to the said Arnaud in the above mentioned points or similar ones, and to have been acocomplices of his.

 

And my said Lord Bishop immediately gave to the said Navarre absolution from the sentence of excommunication that she had incurred for these facts, if at least she repented of them from the bottom of her heart and if she said plainly the truth concerning herself and others for these same facts, without which, the intention of My Lord Bishop, as he said, would not be to absolve the said sentence of excommunication.

 

And the above said Navarre asked that if she remembered anything else concerning this affair, she might be able to make a deposition without danger when it returned to her memory, and this was granted to her by My Lord the Bishop.

 

After which, the same year as abaove, Saturday the 7th of March the said Navarre appeared in the cemetery of Saint-Jean-Martyr of Pamiers and was given her sentence by the said lords bishop and Inquisitor according to what follows, "Let all know, etc." See the sentence in this case in the Book of Sentences of the Inquisition.

It is not clear exectly what her crime was - all she had admitted to was talking to someone who imagined himself able to talk to the dead

And I Rainaud Jabbard, cleric of Toulouse, sworn to the service of the Inquisition, have, on the order of My Lord the Bishop, faithfully corrected the above confession against the original.

 
   

 

She was condemned to take some minor pilgrimages along with Raimonde Fauré, whose confession precedes hers.

 

 


Translation by Nancy Stork, San José State University - to whom many thanks for permission to reproduce this text.

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

 

NOTES

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Author: James McDonald MA, MSc.
Title: Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
url: http://www.cathar.info
Date last modified: 8 February 2017

 

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