Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
Documents: Rainerius Sacconi,
Summa on the Cathars and the Poor of Lyons


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THE SUMMA OF BROTHER RAINERIUS OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS ON THE CATHARS AND THE POOR OF LYONS (1250)

 

Translated in Wakefield & Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, S51 pp.329-346.

Rainerius was an inquisitor and an ex-Cathar, so his testimony is particularly valuable: Wakefield & Evans give the following excellent introduction to his work which dates from 1250.

Rainerius Sacconi, onetime heretic become Dominican friar and inquisitor, wrote the most widely circulated tract on the Cathars and Waldenses of the thirteenth century. He was a native of Piacenza, that city so torn by civic and religious strife, but after many years in heresy-"formerly a heresiarch" he says of himself-he was converted, about the year 1245, by the influence of Peter of Verona, and entered the Dominican order. The careers of these two men then ran together for several years. In 1252 Rainerius was also a target of the plot which took Peter's life, but he escaped. He later sat with the commission investigating the miracles attributed to his martyred associate and, as inquisitor, took part in the proceedings against the assassins. From 1254 to 1259 he was inquisitor for Lombardy. The last record of him is in a papal letter of July, 1262.

In 1250, Rainerius wrote his Summa de Catharis et Pauperibus de Lugduno [summa on the Cathars and the Poor of Lyons]. Its great historical value in details of Catharist churches and sects and in the catalogue of their beliefs is qualified only by a certain terseness and by the obvious antipathy of the convert for his former coreligionists. As Father Dondaine remarks, without Rainerius's description of the doctrinal system of John of Lugio, our understanding of an important heretical work, the Liber de duobus principiis (see No. 59), would be much more difficult.

The translation is of the summa as printed by Antoine Dondaine, in his preface to Un Traite neo-manichien du Mlle gide: Le Liber du duobus principiis, suivi d'un fragment de rituel cathare (Rome, 1939), pp. 6478,4 by permission of the Istituto storico domenicano di S. Sabina. For our comments on the author we have relied heavily on the sketch of his career in that same work.

 

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although at one time sects of heretics were numerous, by the grace [330] of Jesus Christ they have been almost completely destroyed; yet, two in particular are now found, one of which is called the Cathars or Patarines, the other the Leonists or Poor of Lyons. Their beliefs are set forth in the pages which follow.

 

[1] On the Various Sects of the Cathars.-

Now it should be noted at the outset that the foremost sect, to wit, the Cathars, is divided into three parts or principal groups, the first of which is called the Albanenses, the second the Concorezzenses, the third the Bagnolenses; all these are in Lombardy. Other Cathars, whether in Tuscany or in the March of Treviso] or in Provence, do not differ in beliefs from the Cathars just named or from some part of them. For all the Cathars have general beliefs in which they agree and particular ones in which they differ. We shall discuss all of these and first those which they hold in common.

 

[2] On the General Beliefs of the Cathars.-

The general beliefs of all Cathars are as follows: That the devil made this world and every-thing in it. Also, that all the sacraments of the Church, namely, baptism of actual water and the other sacraments, are of no avail for salvation and that they are not the true sacraments of Christ and His Church but are deceptive and diabolical and belong to the church of the wicked. How many sacraments, which ones, and of what sort the aforesaid heretics do have is recounted below. Also, a belief common to all Cathars is that carnal matrimony has always been a mortal sin and that in the future life one incurs no heavier a penalty for adultery or incest than for legitimate marriage, nor indeed among them should anyone be more severely punished on this account. Also, all Cathars deny the future resurrection of the body. Also, they believe that to eat meat, eggs, or cheese, even in pressing need, is a mortal sin; this for the reason that they are begotten by coition. Also, that taking an oath is in no case permissible; this, consequently, is a mortal sin. Also, that secular authorities commit mortal sin in punishing malefactors or heretics. Also, that no one can attain salvation except in their sect. Also, that all children, even the baptized, will endure no lighter punishment in eternity than will thieves and murderers. [The Albaneses disagree, saying that no creature of the good God shall perish. Also they deny purgatory. It is the common opinion of all Cathars that one of them would sin very gravely by deliberately killing any bird, from the smallest to the largest, or any quadruped, from a weasel to an elephant in size; but they make no reference to other living things - found only in Dublin, Trinity College, MS C5.19]

 

On this point the Albanenses seem to disagree somewhat, as will be explained below. Also, they all deny purgatory.

 

[3] On the Sacraments of the Cathars.-

The Cathars, indeed, like apes who try to imitate the acts of man, have four sacraments, though [331] false and vain, unlawful and sacrilegious. They are the imposition of the hand, blessing of bread, penance, and consecration [ordo] which will be treated in this sequence.

 

[4] On the Imposition of the Hand.-

The imposition of the hand is called by them the consolamentum, spiritual baptism, or baptism of the Holy Spirit. According to them, without it mortal sin is not forgiven, nor is the Holy Spirit imparted to anyone; both of these occur only when the rite is performed by them. But the Albanenses differ a little from the others in this; for they say that in this rite the hand accomplishes nothing (since according to them it was itself created by the devil, as will be explained below), but only the Lord's Prayer, which those who impose the hand repeat at the time. All the other Cathars, however, say that both, that is, the imposition of the hand and the Lord's Prayer, are necessary and requisite for the rite. It is also the common belief of all Cathars that no remission of sins is accomplished by that imposition of the hand if those who impose the hand are in any mortal sin at the time. This imposition of the hand is performed by at least two persons, and not only by their prelates but by those under them, even, in case of need, by Cathar women.

 

[5] On the Breaking of Bread.-

The blessing of bread by the Cathars is a certain bread-breaking which they perform daily at the morning and evening meal. This breaking of bread is done thus: When the Cathars, men and women, have come to the table, they remain standing while they say the Lord's Prayer. Meanwhile, one who has precedence in length of membership or rank holds a loaf, or several if necessary for the group which happens to be present, and with the words, "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with us all," he breaks the loaf or loaves and distributes the bread to all those at the table, not only to Cathars but also to their believers, to thieves, adulterers, and murderers. The Albanenses, however, say that the actual bread is not blessed nor can it receive any blessing, since according to them the bread itself is the creation of the devil. In this they differ from all the others, who say that the bread is truly blessed. Nevertheless, none of them believes that the bread is changed into the body of Christ.

 

[6] On the False Penance of the Cathars.-

The next point of discussion is the nature of the penance of the Cathars. The penance of the Cathars is altogether false and vain, deceptive and poisonous, as is shown below. For in true penance three things are requisite: contrition [332] of heart, confession of the lips, and satisfaction by works. But I, Brother Rainerius, formerly a heresiarch but now by the grace of God a priest in the Order of Preachers, although unworthy, say positively and testify before God, who knows that I do not lie, that not one of these three appears among the Cathars or in their penance. For the poison of error which they have sucked from the mouth of the old serpent does not let them feel any sorrow for their sins. This error is fourfold, namely, that eternal glory is not lessened for any penitent by any sin, that the punishment of hell is not increased thereby for the impenitent, that for no one is purgatorial fire reserved, and that guilt and penalty are blotted out by God through the imposition of the hand. Judas the traitor will be punished no more severely than a child one day old, but all will be equal in glory as well as in punishment. This they believe, except the Albanenses, who say that each one will be restored to his former status, although not by his own merits, and that in each kingdom, whether of God or of the devil, some are greater than others.

 

And I add this further statement, that many of them who have been infected by the errors set forth above often grieve when they recall that they did not indulge their passions more frequently in the days when they had not yet professed the heresy of the Cathars. Moreover, this is why many believers, both men and women, no more fear to give them-selves to sister or brother, daughter or son, niece or nephew, relation by blood or marriage, than to their own wife or husband. But from acts of this kind some of them are perhaps restrained by horror or by a natural human feeling of shame.

 

That they do not feel contrition for sins committed before the profession of their heresy is clearly proved by the fact that they make restitution to no man for usury, theft, or rapine; on the contrary they keep the gain for themselves, or rather they leave it to their children or relatives who are still of the world. They say that usury is no sin.

 

Furthermore, I say positively that during the seventeen years when I was in intimate converse with them, I did not see any one of them pray secretly, apart from the others, or show himself contrite for his sins, or weep, or beat his breast and say, "Be gracious, 0 Lord, to me, a sinner," or anything of this sort, which might be a sign of contrition. Never do they implore the aid or intervention of angels, or of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or of the saints, nor fortify themselves by the sign of the Cross.

 

[7] On the Confession of the Cathars.-

Now to be considered is the [333] confession of the Cathars: what it is and how constituted, when they make it, and to whom they confess. Their confession is made in this manner: "I am here before God and before you to make confession and to take upon myself the guilt for all my sins which in any way are in me and to obtain pardon from God and from you all." The confession is made publicly and in the presence of all who have met together, where oftentimes there are a hundred or more Cathars, men and women, and their believers. Every one of them makes the confession quoted when he receives the imposition of the hand described above, reciting it primarily to their prelate, who holds the Gospels or the whole New Testament before his breast. After absolution has been granted, the prelate places the Book, and the other Cathars who are present put their right hand upon the convert's head; then they begin their prayers.

 

When, moreover, any one of them, after he has received the imposition of the hand, commits a sin of the flesh or any other which is a mortal sin according to their belief, he need confess that sin only and no others and may again receive the imposition of the hand, privately, from his prelate and at least one associate.

 

Also, confession of venial sins is made in this manner: One says in a loud voice, speaking for all who are bowed to the ground before the prelate, who holds the Book before his breast, "We come before God and before you to confess our sins, for we have sinned much in word and in deed, in our purposes and in thoughts," and more of this sort. Whence it is clearly apparent that all the Cathars die in their sins without confession. In this fashion they confess once a month if they can conveniently do so.

 

The next question is whether the Cathars do works in satisfaction of the sins which they committed before they professed heresy. To this I say no, although this may perchance seem strange to the undiscerning. For they do pray often and they fast and they always abstain from meat, eggs, and cheese, all of which seem to be in the nature of acts to amend for their sins; and of them they often boast vaingloriously. But there is among them a threefold error which prevents the said works from being reparations. The first is that guilt and punishment are totally wiped out by their imposition of the hand and by prayer, or by prayer alone according to the Albanenses, as was stated above. The second is that God inflicts on no one purgatorial punishment, the existence of which they totally deny, or temporal punishment, which they think is [334] inflicted by the devil in this life. Here also we must say that from the time they become Cathars the works referred to are not required of them for penance or for the remission of sins. The third is that every-one is bound of necessity to perform these works as if they were the commands of God. For instance, a boy ten years old who had never committed any mortal sin at all before he became a Cathar is in the same class as an old man who had never ceased from sinning. For no Cathar among them would be punished any more severely if he drank poison from a desire to commit suicide than if, on a physician's advice, he ate a fowl to avoid death or for some other imperative reason; nor, in their view, would he be punished more severely in the hereafter. They speak in the same way about matrimony, as has already been explained above.

 

Also, they do little or no almsgiving, none to outsiders, except to avoid scandal among their neighbors and to be held in esteem by them, and little to their own needy. The reason for this is threefold. The first is that they do not thereby expect greater glory in the hereafter or forgiveness of their sins. The second is that almost all of them are very avaricious and grasping. This is why the poor among them, who in time of persecution do not have the necessities of life or anything with which to repay those who harbor them for goods or houses destroyed on their account, can hardly find anyone who is then willing to receive them; but wealthy Cathars can find many. Wherefore every one of them accumulates wealth if he can and saves it.

 

Furthermore, the question of their prayer should not be overlooked; the times at which they think it must be said, most particularly when they partake of food and drink. Since many of them when ill have sometimes asked those who nursed them not to put any food or drink into their mouths if the invalids could not at least say the Lord's Prayer, it is quite evident that many of them thus commit suicide.

 

So, from what has been said above, it is abundantly clear that the Cathars perform no penance, especially since they do not feel contrition for their sins or confess them or do works in satisfaction of them (although they do greatly afflict themselves), and that for their errors they will be heavily punished throughout eternity.

 

Now we have to deal with the fourth and last sacrament of the Cathars, namely, consecration. First, how many offices they have; second, their names; third, the function of each office; fourth and fifth, [335] by whom and how they are constituted; and last is added the number and location of the churches of the Cathars.

 

[8] On the Offices of the Cathars and Their Duties.----

The offices of the Cathars are four. He who has been established in the first and highest office is called bishop; in the second, the elder son; in the third, the younger son; and in the fourth and last, the deacon. The others among them, who are without office, are called Christian men and women.

 

[9] On the Functions of the Bishops.-

It is the duty of the bishop always to take the first place in everything they do, namely, in the imposition of the hand, the breaking of bread, and beginning the prayer. In the absence of the bishop, the elder son presides, and in the absence of the bishop and the elder son, the younger son does so.

 

Moreover, these two sons, together or separately, go about visiting all the Cathar men and women who are in the bishop's charge, and all persons owe them obedience. Likewise, the deacons preside and perform all functions, each among his charges, in the absence of the bishop and the sons. It is to be noted that the bishops and the sons have particular deacons in their own particular cities, especially where Cathars abide.

 

[10] On the Duty of the Deacons.-

It is also the function of the deacons to hear from those in their charge the confession of venial sins, which is made once a month, as mentioned above, and to give them absolution by enjoining on them a three-day fast or one hundred genuflections. This is called the Service, or, in other words, to impose (caregare) the Service.

 

[11] How the Bishop Is Ordained.-

The offices just described are conferred by the bishop and also, with the bishop's consent, by the sons. The ordination of a bishop once usually took place in this fashion: When a bishop died, the younger son ordained the elder son as bishop, the latter thereupon ordained the younger son as elder son. Then a younger son was elected by all the prelates and those in their charge who were gathered at the place set for the election, and he was ordained as younger son by the bishop. The ordination of the younger son has not been changed among them. But that described above for the bishop has been changed by all the Cathars dwelling on this side of the [Adriatic ??] sea, who say that by the former ordination the son would appear to install the father, which seems rather unnatural. Consequently, it is now done [336] in a different way, namely, the bishop before his death consecrates the elder son as bishop. Upon the death of either one of these, the younger son is made elder son and bishop on the same day. Thus almost every church of the Cathars has two bishops. Hence, John of Lugio, who is one of those so consecrated, always describes himself in his letters, "John, by grace of God elder son and ordained bishop," etc. Nevertheless, both ordinations are manifestly reprehensible, for a carnal son never appoints his parent and nowhere do we read that one and the same church had two bishops at the same time, just as one woman does not legally have two husbands.

 

[12] The Method of Ordination.-

A11 the offices described above are conferred by the imposition of the hand, and that grace of conferring the offices listed and of bestowing the Holy Spirit is assigned to their bishop alone, or to any one of them who has precedence and who officiates by holding the New Testament over the head of the one on whom the hand is imposed.

 

[13] A Notable Uncertainty among Them.-

Hence, all Cathars labor under very great doubt and danger of soul. To specify, if their prelate, especially their bishop, may secretly have committed some mortal sin -and many such persons have been found among them in the past-all those upon whom he has imposed his hand have been misled and perish if they die in that state. In order to avoid this peril all the churches of the Cathars, excepting only one or two, have allowed the consolamentum for the second, or even for the third time, that is, the imposition of the hand, which is their baptism, as described above. These facts are a matter of common report among them.

 

[14] These Are the Churches of the Cathars.-

There are in all sixteen Cathar churches but, reader, do not blame me for calling them churches, rather blame them, since this is how they refer to themselves: The church of the Albanenses or of Desenzano [or Donnezacho], the church of Concorezzo, the church of the Bagnolenses or of Bagnolo, the church of Vicenza or of the March [of Treviso], the church of Florence, the church of the Spoletan Valley, the church of France, the Toulousan church, the church of Carcassonne, the Albigensian church, the church of Sclavonia, the church of the Latins of Constantinople, the church of the Greeks of the same place, the church of Philadelphia in Romania, the church of Bulgaria, the church of Drugunthia. All sprang from the last two named. [337]

 

[15] The Places Where They Are Located.----

The first group, namely, the Albanenses dwell in Verona and several cities of Lombardy and number about five hundred of both sexes. Those of Concorezzo are scattered throughout almost all of Lombardy, and there are fifteen hundred or more of both sexes. The Bagnolenses are at Mantua, Brescia, Bergamo, and in the region of Milan (but in very small numbers), and in Romagna; there are about two hundred of them. The church of the March [of Treviso] persists at Vicenza but has no members at Verona; there are about one hundred of them. Those of Tuscany and of the Spoletan Valley number not quite a hundred. The church of France is in Verona and Lombardy, about one hundred and fifty strong. The Toulousan church, the Albigensian, and that of Carcassonne, together with some who were formerly of the church of Agen, which has been almost totally destroyed, number nearly two hundred. The church of the Latins in Constantinople comprises less than fifty people. Likewise, the church of Sclavonia, that of Philadelphia, and those of the Greeks, of Bulgaria, and of Drugunthia, number altogether something under five hundred. 0 reader, you can safely say that in the whole world there are not as many as four thousand Cathars of both sexes, [ie baptised Cathars, Munich MS Clm, 311, f 96 adds "but they have countless believers"] and the computation given here has been made many times in the past among them.

 

[16] On Beliefs Peculiar to the Albanenses.----

An account has been given in the preceding of the beliefs and sacraments common to the Cathars and also of their ministers. It remains now to describe the ideas peculiar to each group, beginning with the church of the Albanenses, which is also called by the name of Desenzano, because they err in more ways than the others.

 

First, then, it is important to note that these Albanenses are divided into two groups with contrary and different opinions. The head of one group is Belesmanza of Verona, their bishop, whom most of the older and a few of the younger persons of that sect follow. The leader of the other group is John of Lugio of Bergamo, their elder son and ordained bishop. He is followed, in distinction from the first group, by the younger men and a few of the older ones; this group is somewhat larger than the first.

 

[17] On the Beliefs of Belesmanza.-

The first group maintains the old beliefs, which all the Cathars and Albanenses used to hold in the period of approximately A.D. 1200 to 1230. Thus, their peculiar beliefs, [338] besides the common ones set forth above, are these:

 

That there are from eternity two principles, to wit, of good and of evil.

 

Also, that the Trinity, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is not one God, but that the Father is greater than the Son and than the Holy Spirit.

 

Also, that each principle, or each God, created his own angels and his own world, and that this world and all which is in it was created, made, and formed by the evil deity.

 

Also, that the devil with his angels ascended into heaven and there, after doing battle with the archangel Michael and the angels of the good God, carried off a third part of the creatures created by God. These he implants daily in human bodies and in those of lower animals, and also transfers them from one body to another until such time as all shall be brought back to heaven. According to these heretics, these beings created by God are called "the people of God," "souls," "the sheep of Israel," and also by many other names.

 

Also, that the Son of God did not acquire human nature in reality but only its semblance from the Blessed Virgin, who, they say, was an angel. Neither did He really eat, drink, or suffer, nor was He really dead and buried, nor was His resurrection real, but all these things were in appearance only, as one reads of Him in Luke, "being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph." [Luke 3:23]. They teach the same about all the miracles which Christ performed.

 

Also, that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the fathers of old, and John the Baptist, were enemies of God and ministers of the devil.

 

Also, that the devil was the author of all of the Old Testament except these books: Job, the Psalms, the books of Solomon, of Jesus the son of Sirach, of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Daniel, and of the twelve prophets. Some of these, they say, were written in heaven, to wit, those which were written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which, they say, was the heavenly land.
Also, that the world will never come to an end. Also, that the "future" judgment has already been made and will not be made again.

 

Also, that hell and eternal fire or eternal punishment are in this world only and nowhere else.
In general, all the Albanenses in the time we have stated held the [339] beliefs described above, except those who were less well informed, to whom special points were not revealed.

 

[18] On Beliefs Peculiar to John of Lugio.-

Next to be described here are the beliefs of the John of Lugio mentioned above and his fol-lowers. It should first be noted that John still holds some of the beliefs mentioned above, some of them he has completely changed for the worse, and some other errors he has devised for himself, as appears below.

 

[19] On the Two Principles.-

This John of Lugio, an Albanensian, asserts that there are from eternity two principles, or gods, or lords, namely, one of good and the other of evil, but in rather a different fashion from the earlier ideas, as will soon be apparent. He completely spurns the Trinity and its unity in God as held in the Catholic faith.

 

[20] The Names He Gives to the Evil Principle.-

The first principle of evil, he maintains, is called by many names in the Holy Scriptures. It is called malice, iniquity, cupidity, impiety, sin, pride, death, hell, calumny, vanity, injustice, perdition, confusion, corruption, and fornication. And he also says that all the evils named are gods or goddesses, that they have their being from the malice which, he asserts, is a first cause, and that this first cause is signified from time to time by the vices named.

 

Moreover, he says that the evil principle is denoted by "the tongue," which St. James characterizes as "an unquiet evil, full of deadly poisons"; [James 3:8] likewise by "day," whereof the Lord says in the Gospel, "Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." [Matt. 6:34] It is also referred to in that phrase of the Apostle in his second epistle to the Corinthians, "It is, and It is not." [2 Cor. 1:17-20] It is called also Mount Seir, concerning which it is said in Ezekiel, "Because thou hast been an everlasting enemy of the Lord." [cf. Ezechiel 35:5] It is also said to be the belly, whereof the Apostle says, "Whose God is their belly." [Phil. 3:19]

 

He says further that the idols of the nations of which one reads throughout the entire Old Testament are really evil gods, that is, malign spirits, and that the Gentiles made images of them the better to worship them. But why say more? It disgusts me to record the many fabulous things which this John has written about the above mentioned evils and idols in an attempt to buttress his errors.

 

[21] On the Beliefs of John of Lugio about Creation and What Creation Is, According to Him.-

What this John believes about the [340] creator of all things visible and invisible remains to be told. First, what creation is; second, whether created things were made or created from nothing; third, whether creatures of the good God were created absolutely good and pure, without any evil; fourth, whether anyone ever had freedom of will.

 

According to him, to create is to make something from some pre-existent matter, and it is always so considered, never to make from nothing. And he distinguishes a threefold creation: First, from good to better; according to this distinction, Christ was created or made by the Father, whence Isaiah, "I the Lord have created Hun," [Isaiah 45:8] and, the Apostle says, "made a high priest forever." [Heb. 6:20] Secondly, to change from evil to good is called "to create," in accord with the word of the Apostle, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus," [Ephesians. 2:10] and the sentence in Genesis, "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth," [Gen 1:1] which John explains thus: "In the beginning," that is, in the Son who says: "[I am] the beginning, who also speak unto you." [John 8:25] And John explicitly says that at that time God the Father created heaven and earth, not from nothing but from something to something good, as with those of whom the Apostle says, "Created in Christ Jesus in good works." [Ephesians 2:10] Thirdly, creating also refers to making bad into worse. In support of this he adduces that passage in The Code [of Justinian] under the title De haereticis et Manichaeis: "All heresies forbidden by divine laws and imperial constitutions," and so on, as far as "to create ministers because they are not." [the reference is to Codex Justinianus, see W&E p 747, note 32] And so, he says, all creatures exist from eternity, good creatures with the good God and evil with the evil god; that creators do not precede creatures in eternity except causally; and that creatures are from God from eternity, like the splendor or rays of the sun which does not precede its rays in time, but only as cause or by nature.

 

Also, he thinks that the good God has another world wherein are people and animals and everything else comparable to the visible and corruptible creatures here; marriages and fornications and adulteries take place there, from which children are born. And what is even more base, there the people of the good God, against His command, have taken foreign women to wife, that is, daughters of a strange god or of evil gods, and from such shameful and forbidden intercourse have been born giants [Gen. 6:4] and many other beings at various times.

 

[22] Whether the Good God Created His Creatures Free of Evil.-

The next point is whether the good God created His creatures pure ,[341] without any evil. In this connection it is necessary to pass over many blasphemies uttered by this John, such as that God is not omnipotent. He says, however, that God wills and can do all good as far as lies in Him and in His creatures, who of necessity render him. obedience, but that this will and power of God are hindered by His enemy.

 

Also, that each of these gods has been active against the other from eternity and that the evil cause, that is, the evil god, has from eternity attacked the true God and His Son and all His works. In support of these points he cites many authorities, such as that speech of the Lord to Satan in Job, "Thou halt moved me against Job, that I should afflict him without cause"; [Job 2:3] and again, Job to God, "Thou art changed to be cruel toward me." [Job 30:21] Also, he says that he who is chief in evil is more powerful than the creatures who are subjects of the highest God of good; whence, he concludes from these premises that the good God could not make His creatures perfect even though He wished to. And this befell Him and His creatures because of the opposition of the evil god, who from eternity has forced into them his own impulse (arum) or a certain malice, from which evil they have the capability of sinning. In support of this he cites that passage in Ecclesiasticus, "He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed, and could do evil things, and hath not done them," [Ecclesiasticus ??? 31:10] the whole of which he simply explains as referring to Christ; and that passage from Job, "In his angels he found wicked-ness," [Job 4:18] and again, "The stars are not pure, "[Job 25:5] and so on; and the passage in the beginning of Genesis, "Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made." [Gen 3:1] From this he draws the inference: Therefore all the beasts of the field are endowed with cunning, but the serpent more than all the others, and therefore through him has deceitfulness come about. In addition to the foregoing, he also makes another assertion on his own authority, to wit, that there is nothing which has free will, not even God most high, since even He could not carry out His own will because of the opposition of His enemy.

 

Also, he says that every creature of the good God received the capacity for action under influence of error. He calls error the greatest god of evil. Christ is an exception. In Him that capacity for sinning or the power of transgression was so suppressed by the highest good that it failed of its effect-which was marvelous and extraordinary, even for [342] Christ. Wherefore, He is greatly to be praised, as says Ecclesiasticus, "Who is He, and we will praise Him?" [the text here refers to the Book of Wisdom, but the quote is from Ecclesiasticus 31:9] and so on. All other creatures of the good God became blameworthy. In support of this he cites the word of the Apostle, "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly,"[Rom. 8:20] and so on; and again, "We know that every creature groaneth," [Rom 8:22] and so on.

 

Also, he says that when God inflicts punishments for sins upon His creatures, He does evil and does not comport Himself as God but rather serves His adversary.

 

Also, he says that when God declares, "I am God and there is no other," [Isaiah 45:22] and again, "See that I alone am God," [Cf. Deut. 32:39] and the like, repetitiously, then He is influenced by His adversary, for the true God speaks but once and, as Job says, does not repeat Himself. [Cf. Job 33:14]

 

Also, he says that God, by the power of His own knowledge, does not have foreknowledge of anything evil, since it does not emanate from Him, but sometimes He does have foreknowledge of it through His adversary. Also, he believes that the true God brought about the Flood, destroyed Pentapolis, and overthrew Jerusalem, because of the sins of His creatures; and, to summarize, the true God, provoked by His adversary, brought upon His people Israel all the afore-mentioned evils which they suffered in Judea or in the Promised Land because of the sins which they had committed. So this John says; he also believes that all the events mentioned took place in a certain other world, belonging to the true God.

 

Also, he believes that the souls who are of God are transferred from body to body and that in the end all will be freed from punishment and guilt.

 

Also, this John accepts the whole Bible, but thinks that it was written in another world, and that there Adam and Eve were formed.

 

Also, he believes that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the other patriarchs, and Moses, Joshua, and all the prophets, and the Blessed John the Baptist were pleasing to God and that they were men in another world.

 

Also, that Christ was born according to the flesh of the fathers of old, just named, and that He really assumed flesh from the Blessed Virgin and really suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, and rose again on the third day, but he thinks that all these things took place in [343] another, higher world, not in this one. Also, that in the aforesaid world, the whole human race incurred death because of sin to which it yielded, sin which this John calls the principle and cause of all evil, as we have repeatedly remarked. And after their bodies were buried in that world, their souls necessarily descended into hell, that is, into this world, and to this hell Christ came down to help them.

 

Also, he believes that in the upper world will come the resurrection of the dead, namely, that each soul belonging to God will receive its own body.

 

Also, that in that same world the true God gave the law of Moses to the people we have described. There, also, priests offered sacrifices and burnt offerings for the sins of the people, as their offering is commanded in the Law.

 


Also, in that same place Christ literally wrought true miracles in raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, and feeding five thousand men, not counting the women and children, from five barley loaves and two fishes.

 

Why say more? Whatever in the whole Bible is stated to have been in this world he changes to have actually taken place in that other world.

 

[23] How John of Lugio Wrote a Book about His Errors.-

Indeed, the oft-mentioned heresiarch John of Lugio fabricated the blasphemies and errors described above and many others which would take too long and be too disgusting for me to recount. From them he compiled a large volume of ten quires, a copy of which I have. I have read it all and from it have extracted the errors cited above. It is also to be noted especially that this John and his associates do not dare to reveal to their believers the errors described, lest their own believers desert them on account of these novel errors and because of the schism existing among the Albanensian Cathars, of which they are the cause. The Albanensian Cathars censure the Concorezzenses and are in turn censured by the latter.

 

[24] The Following Concerns the Particular Errors of the Church of the Cathars of Concorezzo.

These people rightly believe in one Principle only, but many of them err in respect of the Trinity and unity.

 

Also, they confess that God created the angels and the four elements from nothing; but they err in believing that the devil, with God's permission, made all visible things, or this world. [344] Also, they believe that the devil formed the body of the first man and into it infused an angel who had already sinned slightly.

 

Also, that all souls exist by propagation from that angel.

 

Also, they reject the whole of the Old Testament, thinking that the devil was its author, except for those phrases which were carried over into the New Testament by Christ and the apostles, such as, "Behold a virgin shall be with child, [Matt 1:23] and the like.

 

Also, they all reject Moses, and many of them are doubtful about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the other patriarchs, and also especially the prophets.

 

And many of them only recently came to believe correctly about the Blessed John the Baptist, whom they all formerly condemned.

 

Also, they say that Christ did not take on a human soul, but almost all believe that He did assume flesh from the Blessed Virgin.

 

[25] The Errors of Nazarius, Their Bishop.---

Nazarius, a former bishop of theirs and a very old man, said before me and many others that the Blessed Virgin was an angel and that Christ did not assume human nature but an angelic one, or a celestial body. And he said he got this error from the bishop and elder son of the church of Bulgaria almost sixty years ago.

 

Moreover, it should be noted that all the Cathars who profess that Christ assumed a true human body deny that that body was glorified and is to be glorified. They say that Christ on the day of His ascension laid it aside in the shining sky and will resume it again on the Day of Judgment, and after the judgment it will be resolved into pre-existent matter like a putrid corpse.

 

Also, they say that the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary and those of the apostles and of all the saints are not yet in glory, nor will they be until the Day of Judgment, but they are in that ether, in the same place as the body of Jesus Christ.

 

[26] On the Bagnolensian Cathars.

The next matter for discussion is the beliefs of the church of Bagnolo.

 

These people agree with the aforesaid Cathars of Concorezzo in almost all the beliefs described above, except for this: They say that souls were created by God before the foundation of the world and that they sinned even then.

 

Also, they believe, along with the aforesaid Nazarius, that the Blessed Virgin was an angel and that Christ did not assume human nature from [345] her, nor did He undergo any real suffering in death, but that He assumed a celestial body.

 

[27] On the Toulousan Cathars, the Albigenses, and Those of Carcassonne.--

Lastly, it is to be noted that the Cathars of the Toulousan church, and those of Albi and Carcassonne, maintain the errors of Belesmanza and the old Albanenses, as do almost all the churches of Cathars beyond the seas which I have named.

 

No church of Cathars, in truth, agrees on all points with the church of Concorezzo. The church of France (Franciae) agrees with that of Bagnolo. Those of the March of Treviso, indeed, and of Tuscany, and of the valley of Spoleto agree in more points with the said Bagnolenses than with the Albanenses, but little by little they are being drawn to the Albanenses.

 

Also, all the churches of the Cathars recognize each other, although they may have differing and contrary opinions, except the Albanenses and the Concorezzenses, who censure each other, as mentioned above. If any Cathar, of either sex, refuses to admit the particular errors described, or at least those held in common, then one may indisputably say of him that he utters lies in hypocrisy, which is a characteristic of the Cathars-witness thereto is the Apostle, who so clearly prophesied about them [I Tim. 4:1-3] -unless perhaps that person be someone simple or a novice among them, for to many such they do not reveal their secrets.

 


[28] On the Heresy of the Leonists, or the Poor of Lyons.-

Enough has now been said about the heresy of the Cathars. Our next subject is the heresy of the Leonists, or Poor of Lyons. However, this heresy is divided into two parts, the first called the Ultramontane Poor, the second the Poor of Lombardy. The latter are descended from the former. The first, namely, the Ultramontane Poor, say that in the New Testament every oath is forbidden as a mortal sin. And they say the same about secular justice, to wit, that kings, princes, and potentates are not permitted to punish malefactors. Also, they affirm that a simple layman can consecrate the body of the Lord. I believe, also, that as to women they say the same thing, since they have not denied it before me. Also, that the Roman Church is not the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

[29] On the Poor of Lombardy.----

The Poor of Lombardy agree with the first group as regards the oath and secular justice. About the body of the Lord, indeed, their beliefs are even worse than those of the others: [346] They say that any man without mortal sin is allowed to consecrate it.

 

Also, they say that the Roman Church is the church of the wicked, the beast and the harlot which are described in the Apocalypse; consequently, they say that it is no sin to eat meat during Lent and on Fridays, despite the precepts of the Church, provided it be done without scandal to others.

 

Also, [they say] that the Church of Christ subsisted in the bishops and other prelates down to the time of the Blessed Sylvester,[= the time of Constantine] and in him it fell away until they themselves restored it. Nevertheless, they assert that there were always some who feared God and were saved. Also, they say that infants are saved without baptism. [not a generally accepted belief]

 

The foregoing work has been faithfully compiled by the said Brother Rainerius, in the year of our Lord 1250. Thanks be to God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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