led the Crusade ?
Coats of Arms
Coats of arms
Them All ... "
Cathars still exist ?
Cross of Toulouse
Source Documents: Interogation of Aude, Wife of Guillaume Fauré,
On July 15, 1318, a twenty-six-year-old laywoman named Aude Faure
was called before the Inquisition tribunal at the diocesan seat
of Pamiers in the County of Foix, and immediately confessed to having
temporarily doubted both the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist
and the transubstantiation of bread and wine into Christ's body
and blood; her doubt, she explained, had been cured by intervention
from the Blessed Virgin.
Less than a month later, Aude abjured her errors by the usual
formula and was sentenced to a series of pilgrimages and fasts over
the next three years. Aude's multiple confessions, along with depositions
from her family, friends, and neighbours, take up a mere six folio
pages in the Register kept by Bishop Jacques
Fournier, head of the Pamiers tribunal, and preserved
in the Vatican Library after Fournier became Pope Benedict XII.
Aude seems to have been an ordinary woman with ordinary beliefs
- including scepticism about the then century-old doctrine of transubstantiation.
Such scepticism had become a capital crime, so we have no idea about
whether Aude really changed her mind, or simply said what she hoped
would save her life. If a stated disbelief in unicorns were sufficient
cause for a death sentence, then we might expect the majority of
people to be willing to avow a belief in unicorns. The prospect
of being burned alive would be a strong incentive to convince authorities
that one really did really, genuinely completely believe in unicorns.
So it was with Catholic doctrine in Pamiers in 1318, including the
doctrine of transubstantiation. Most rational people in Aude's circumstances
would announce their sudden acceptance of the doctrine, and might
well make up a divine vision to help bolster it. Inquisitors burned
women like Aude for expressing continued doubts about Catholic doctrine.
Her only chance was to renounce her doubts, and she might well have
gambled that a divine vision might help tip the balance in her favour
- for a bishop a vision was the best possible reason for her to
change her mind. We have no idea how many people privately rejected
and riduculed this Catholic doctrine in 1318 - the proportion might
have been much the same as it now, but we will never know because
they valued their lives.
Aude's case has prompted a number of mentions in religious and
quasi-historiographic works, and these mentions are striking for
their ideas about Aude's doubt and miraculous vision. They do not
seriously consider the possibility that Aude might be putting on
an act in order to save her life. Instead she has been diagnosed
as hypersensitive, neurotic, masochistic, morbid, hysterical, obsessive,
afflicted with atheism, prone to fantasy, tormented by guilt, suffering
from postnatal depression, and simply deviant - all views that sit
comfortably with a Catholic viewpoint. At the time of writing, only
Peter Biller, has suggested that Aude's case should be considered
as an example of the "wide range of theological doctrine, simply
and clearly held, [which] was common currency" among common
people at that time and in that place.
CONFESSION OF AUDE, WIFE OF GUILLAUME FAURE OF MERVIEL
Year of our Lord 1318, the Saturday before the holiday of
Saint Mary Magdalene (July 15th 1318). As it reached the knowledge
of Revered Father in Christ My Lord Jacques, Bishop of Pamiers
by divine Providence, that Aude, the daughter of the late
Guillaume de Maucasal, of Lafage in the diocese of Mirepoix
, and the spouse of Guillaume Fauré of Merviel, in
the diocese of Pamiers, was suspected of heresy, and even
strongly so, by reason of certain words and declarations uttered,
as it has been said, by her in the presence of certain people
against the Catholic Faith, and that moreover, as it has been
said, this Aude was publicly slandered, My Said Lord Bishop,
wishing thus to take the responsibility of investigating into
the truth of these events with the said Aude and others, had
her brought into his presence, wishing, as he has said, to
investigate with her into the truth of these above-mentioned
My said Lord Bishop, having summoned the venerable and discrete
persons My Lord Pierre du Verdier, Archdeacon of Majorque;
master Hugues de Bilhères, appellate Judge of Pamiers;
master Guillaume de Saint-Julien, jurist of Pamiers; master
Bernard Gaubert, jurist of the diocese of Narbonne; and Guillaume
de Pardailhan, public apostolic notary, to assist him in this
investigation, physically swearing them in, ordered them under
the faith of the oath in virtue of holy obedience to keep
the secrets of this investigation and to bring him help and
council, all things which they promised to do according to
the conventions of law hereabove.
After which My Said Lord Bishop requested one day the said
Aude in the name of simple information if she had fallen into
error on the articles of faith and the sacraments of the Church,
and on which of them, as it had been reported to My Lord the Bishop. She responded immediately1:
I believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the flesh
of the Holy Virgin Mary, and that he suffered, and was crucified
for the human race, that he was resurrected, and ascended
to heaven, and that he will return to judge the good people
and the bad people; I profess and believe the faith and the
sacraments as they are observed by the Holy Roman Catholic
|Interrogated subsequently, she nevertheless said:
About eight years ago, I contracted
a marriage with Guillaume Fauré, my husband, and I
was taken to his house in Merviel around All Saints'. As I
had never received the body of the Lord, even though I was
17 or 18, I confessed my sins to a priest, but at the following
Easter, I did not receive the Body of Christ. My husband asked
me why and reproached me for it. I told him that in Lafage,
where I am from originally, young men and women
did not usually receive the body of Christ.
Then, the following year, again on
Easter Day, I received the body of Christ. And as I had omitted
to confess a serious sin that I had committed before marrying
my said husband, I was completely
terrified and upset because I had received the body of Christ
without having confessed this sin.
Finally, after the following three
years had gone by, I fell into the following error: I did
believe that God was all-powerful in heaven, but I did not
believe that God was in the sacrament on the alter, or that
by virtue of the holy words spoken by the priest,
it became the body of Christ. I was in this error and persisted
in it without interruption until now that I have been taken
to My Lord Bishop for it2.
In the presence of which she said that the Holy Virgin Mary
had inspired her in her heart to again believe that the flesh
and the blood of Christ are the in sacrament on the alter,
and that she believed that which a good Christian must believe.
Did anyone, man or women, lead you
to this error?
|No, but it came to me, I
believe, from the persistence of the sin I spoke of because
I had not confessed it.
|Have you met any of the
heretics or spoken with them?
No, to my knowledge, I have never seen
|Have you confessed this
error to a priest or to anyone else?
No, until recently, when I was gravely
ill. In the grips of that sickness, I revealed this error
to Guillaume Fauré, my husband, and to Ermengarde Garaud,
of Merviel. And first to my husband in these terms: "Sir,
how is it possible that I cannot believe in our Lord!"
My husband said to me, scolding me: "What, damn woman,
are you saying this in your right
mind?" I responded: "Yes." My husband told
me then that if I had not confessed, I had better, because
otherwise I could not stay with him, and he would send me
When you said these words to your husband,
were you in your right mind'
|Yes, and even now I remember
all that very well.
In this same sickness, I sent for Ermengarde
Garaud of Merviel. When she had arrived in my house, I told
her: "Osta, tia3, how can it be that I cannot believe
in our Lord, and that I cannot
believe that the host that is raised on the alter by the priest
is the body of Christ?" Then Ermengarde reprimanded me
strongly and suggested many things to encourage me to believe,
among them, the following example:
"A long time ago, there was a
Goodwoman who made a loaf of bread, which was then consecrated
by the priest on the alter. This consecrated loaf was then
made into the body of Christ. The priest used it to give Communion
to the congregation. The woman who had made it began to laugh
when she saw this. The priest noticed, and when she approached
to receive the Communion, he told her, 'You, stay behind,'
and asked her why she had laughed. She responded: 'Sir, the
body of Christ can be made out of the loaf that I kneaded!
That's what I'm laughing about.' Immediately the priest began
to pray with the congregation so that God might work a miracle
on it. Once this prayer was done, when he tried to give this
consecrated bread to this woman, the consecrated bread that
he offered to her for Communion looked like the finger of
a child, and the consecrated wine in the Chalice like coagulated
blood. Seeing this, the frightened women began to pray. The
priest and the congregation did the same. After this prayer,
the women was thus converted, believing that the body of Christ
was in this sacrament, and this finger and this blood regained
their first appearance of bread and wine as before, and this
women received Communion devoutly."4
"the consecrated bread that he offered
to her for Communion looked like the finger of a child, and
the consecrated wine in the Chalice like coagulated blood"
- This sort of thing was reported so frequently in Medieval
times that people were ready to believe that it not only happened,
but was relatively unremarkable
|After that story, I said,
"O tia, your words are so good, and you have comforted
me so much!"
|Have you confessed this
error to a priest?
|I don't remember.
After which, the Monday before the holiday of Saint Mary
Magdalene, the 17th of July, 1318, the said Aude appeared
in person before My said Lord Bishop in the Episcopal House
of Pamiers, in the presence of My said lords Pierre du Verdier,
Archdeacon of Majorque; master Barnard Gaubert, and me, Guillaume
de Pardailhan, aforementioned notary, the assistants of My
said Lord Bishop. The which Aude swore on the Gospel of God,
touching it physically with her right hand, to tell the whole
and pure truth and to respond truthfully to the questions
that she would be posed. Interrogated about all the aforementioned
events and about each one separately under oath, she persisted
in her previous confession, except for the following corrections
and rectifications, to the effect that during the first year
that she came to her husband's house, she received the body
of the Lord at Easter, and after having received it, she fell
immediately, so she says, into the said error, because she
had not confessed a serious sin that she had committed before
having contracted marriage with her said husband.
|And from that moment until last Saturday, she
had persisted without interruption in that error. Not long ago,
however, so she says, she had abandoned it and firmly believed
all the articles of faith and all the sacraments of the Church,
these having been explained to her one by one by My said Lord Bishop.
She also said that she had recently confessed this error
in her illness, one month ago, to the priest of the Holy Cross
and that he had imposed a certain penance on her; she herself
offered, so she says, to accomplish this penance, and even
an even bigger one at that; this priest estimated that that
penance was too severe, so he imposed a certain gentler penance.
|Diligently interrogated, she said nothing more
After which, the aforementioned Monday, My said Lord Bishop
being assisted by the persons previously named, Guillaume
Fauré of Merviel in the diocese of Pamiers, the
husband of the said Aude, was brought into the presence of
My Lord the Bishop and interrogated, after having physically
sworn the oath to tell the whole and pure truth about that
which precedes, in the principle capacity as well as about
the said Aude as witness:
| How long ago was it that
you contracted marriage with the said Aude?
|It was about seven or eight
years ago around last All Saints' day.
|During this time, have you
known or believed that your wife was a heretic or a suspect
No, by the oath that I swore. I believe
quite the opposite, and I've always believed that she was
a good Christian and a good Catholic, until the time of that
illness, for I noticed that during this time, among other
qualities that she had, she was a great giver of alms, to
the point that if I had listened to her, there would not have
been anything left in the house, or not much, because she
would have given everything in alms for the love of God.
Did she ever reveal to you the error
contained in her confession, that she didn't believe
that the body of Christ was in the sacrament on the altar?
No, until recently, at least a month
ago, around the last Saint John the Baptist day, a day or
two before or after, my wife Aude had an illness during which
she received the body of Christ. She called me to her before
and told me: "By the Virgin Mary, sir, how is this possible?
When I'm in church and they raise the body of Christ, I can
neither pray to it nor look at it, and when I think about
looking at it, a kind of anbegament6 [obstacle] comes before
my eyes." When I heard that, I asked her how that had
happened to her, and she asked me then if there was anyone
else in the room. I told her no. She told
me then that she wanted to confess something to me, her husband.
I asked her what is was that she wanted to tell me, and she
said to me: "By God, sir, since the first time I communed
and received the body of Christ, since our marriage, because
of a sin that I had committed the year before I married you,
a sin that I never confessed before receiving the body of
Christ, I have not believed that the Lord could forgive my
sin or help me." At these words, I was afraid, as it
were, and I told her: "What is this? Are you speaking
in your right mind?" She responded yes, and I told her:
"A curse on you, you are lost! The devils will take you
away, body and soul, and I, I'll send you away, if you are
what you say. Confess quickly!" She responded that she
was ready to do so, and I had a priest come for her, to whom
she confessed, and she stayed with him a long time.
Why didn't you denounce this talk to
My Lord the Bishop or to the Inquisitor?
Because I believed that, when she made
these remarks, she was out of her senses because of the illness
that she had come down with. Because in this sickness she
had said a lot of senseless and horrifying things, like a
raving man or woman; and also because I had sent for a priest,
to whom I believed that Aude had confessed this sin. For these
reasons, I felt I was excused and without reproach.
|Do you know if, or have
you heard that, Aude has revealed these words or this error
to anyone else?
| No, except for what I have
|Are you aware if anyone,
man or woman, led Aude to this error?
Have you heard or do you know if the
parents of the said Aude were suspected of any heresy?
Do you know if or have you heard that
the said Aude had in friendship, association,
or liaison with one or more persons suspected of heresy?
Do you yourself have, or have you ever
had, any doubts about the articles of faith
or the sacraments of the Church?
|No, quite the opposite,
I believed them as our holy mother the Church observes them.
|Have you seen any heretic,
or have you been linked to any heretic, or had a friendship
Next, the same Monday, My Lord the Bishop being assisted
by the same, to supplement the inquiry and the obtaining of
the truth on that which precedes, he had Ermengarde Garaud
of Merviel brought before him, who swore on the Gospel
of God physically touching it with her right hand to tell
the pure and entire truth on that which precedes, in the principle
capacity and as witness. She said and testified as follows:
That year, around the last day of Saint
John the Baptist, I do not remember the day, Aude was very
ill in her husband's house in Merviel. She sent someone to
find me. When I arrived near
her, she asked me if there was anyone else in the room. I
told her there was not. She told me then that she wanted to
confess something to me; I asked her what it was that she
wanted to tell me, and she said: "Tia, how can it be
that I cannot believe in God, and that when the body of Christ
is raised on the alter, I can neither pray to it nor believe
that it is the body of Christ?" I responded to her: "Co,
na traytoressa no sia7, for this country and this house have
always been pure from all evil and all heresy. Take care to
not bring it from elsewhere and spoil our country." Aude
said to me then: "Tia, what might I do to believe in
God, and to believe that the body of Christ is really on the
alter, when the priest performs the Elevation of the Host?"
I told her to believe strongly that
the Lord and the body of Christ were really above the alter
when the priest performs the Elevation, after he speaks the
words prescribed by the Lord,
and that she mustn't doubt it in the least. Otherwise she
would be lost.
Later, she asked me again: "Tia,
how do you pray to God, and what words do you say during the
Elevation of the body of Christ, when the priest raises it
above the alter?" I told her: "Personally, here
is how I pray to God, and the prayer that I say: 'Senher,
veray Dieus e veray hom, tot poderos, que naquestz del cors
de la verges Maria ses tot peccat,
e presetz mort e passio sus l'aybre de la veray crostz e fosz
per las mas e pels pes clavelatz e per le cap de espinas coronat,
e pel costat de lansa nafrat, don esshic sanc e ayga, don
tostz em rezemitz de peccat, Senher, trametestz me una lagrema
de aquela vostra ayga que lave le mieu cor de tota legesa
e de tot peccat8. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit;
You have redeemed me, the one true Lord God.'"
Aude told me again: "Tia, what
words do you say, in the morning when you get out of bed?"
I told her that I said the prayer: "Senher Dieus tot
poderos, a vos coma l'arma e'l
cors; Senher, vos me gardastz de peccar e de falhar e de l'autra
peccada, e de la mieua meteysha e de fals testimoni, e m'amenastz
a bona fi9." After which Aude said : "Osta, tia,
ta be m'avestz coffortada10! You have such good words and
you know how to pray to God so well! Without you, I was lost,
and if I were to die, my body would rot in the Church of Saint
Christopher11, and devils would take away my soul." At
that I repeated to her again: "Na traytoressa, take care
to believe strongly in God, and believe that the body of Christ
is in the sacrament on the alter, and listen to the example
that I am going to tell you.
(And she recounted the example placed above in the confession
Then Aude began to strike her face
with her hands and cried; she told me and asked
me, for the love of God, to come see her often to comfort
As a result of the terror that I felt
when she revealed her error to me, I fell very seriously ill
and I still am at the present time; during that illness, I
revealed what she had told me to a priest, My Lord Guillaume
of the Infirmary, to clear my conscience,
and so that no one could reproach me in anyway. I believe
that it was this priest who revealed me to My Lord Bishop.
|(Interrogated about herself, she said:)
|I strongly believe in all
the articles of faith and sacraments of the Church as the Holy
Church of God keeps and observes them. Never have I seen or
heard any heretic or any suspect against the faith, nor have
I frequented any of them.
| Have you given this deposition
for favor, affection, hatred, or fear?
|No, only because it is the
|Are you a relative of Aude?
|And she said nothing more of any pertinence.
After which, the Tuesday before the holiday of Saint Mary
Magdalene (the 18th of July), My said Lord Bishop, wishing
to investigate more fully into the truth of the preceding
events, wrote to My Lord Guillaume of the Infirmary,
priest, a patented letter in the following terms:
"Brother Jacques, by divine commiseration Bishop of Pamiers, to our dear priest in Christ Guillaume of the Infirmary,
salvation in our Lord Jesus-Christ.
We firmly instruct you to appear before us in person tomorrow
at the hour of prime in our Episcopal seat of Pamiers in the
proceedings of the inquisition of the heretical deviation
opened against Aude, wife of Guillaume Fauré, of Merviel,
to give testimony of the truth, and to moreover summon those
who seem to you to be possible witnesses in this proceeding,
so that they may bring testimony of the truth on the same
day at the same hour.
Dictated at the above said seat, the Tuesday before the holiday
of the blest Mary Magdalene, the year of our Lord 1318. This
letter to be returned."
On the day indicated in the letter, the Wednesday before
the holiday of Saint Mary Magdalene, My said Lord Bishop,
attended by My Lord Archbishop of Majorque; by master Hugues
of Bilhères; and by Bernard Gaubert, priest, wishing
to pursue his enquiry regarding the events that precede, received
as witnesses My Lord Guillaume of the Infirmary, priest of
the diocese of Pamiers hereabove named in this letter; master
Geoffroy Escribe, residing at Ventenac; Bernard de Quié
of Merviel; Jean de Monteventoux, of the said place; and Jean
Garaud of Merviel, who swore on the Holy Gospel to tell the
pure and simple truth regarding the events that precede, and
they testified as it is recorded below in their depositions.
|My Lord Guillaume of the Infirmary, priest
of the diocese of Pamiers, witness sworn and required to tell
Ermengarde Garaud came to confess to
me her sins in her sickness in my capacity as the vicar of
Merviel; last Thursday morning I went to see her to tell her
that she must rejoice in having fully confessed her sins and
having soothing her conscience; and that thus, since she had
done it, she might consider if it would not be best for the
salvation of her soul to make a declaration in the presence
of some other people who would hear her. She agreed. Immediately,
with her agreement, I called master Geoffroy Escribe, Bernard
de Quié, Jean de Montventoux, and Jean Garaud, the
son of this Ermengarde. When they had entered the house and
were in the room where she was lying, sick, she told them
to promise in my hands to never reveal to anyone without my
consent what she was about to say, which they did. And she
said then that Aude, having fallen ill, had send for her one
day, that she had gone to her, and that Aude told her: "Tia,
do you believe that the host that the priest raises above
the altar is the body of Christ?" Ermengarde said and
responded yes, she did, strongly, adding, "Co, na traytoressa,
don't you believe it?" Aude responded that she could
not believe and that she did not believe that this host, when
it is raised by the priest, was the body of Christ. Then Ermengarde
told her: "You are lost if you do not become a believer
in the Lord and do not confess quickly." And, she said,
she cried then before the said Aude: "Via fora, a foc,
|Where were you when you
heard Ermengarde say this?
|In her house in Merviel.
| What day was it?
|At what time?
|In the morning before prime13.
|Who was present?
|The said Ermengarde, myself, and the four witnesses
above named, whom I had called. No one else.
| Diligently interrogated, he said nothing more
|Master Geoffroy Escribe, inhabitant of
Ventenac, witness sworn and carefully required to tell the truth
regarding the events that precede, declared:
Last Thursday, in the morning before
prime, I was called by My Lord Guillaume of the Infirmary,
priest, vicar of Merviel, who told me to come to the house
of Ermengarde Garaud of the said
place. After coming there and entering the house, I saw that
Ermengarde lying sick in her bed.
This priest then, in the presence of Bernard de Quié,
Jean de Montventoux, and Jean Garaud, the son of the said
Ermengarde, said to this woman that she must greatly rejoice
in having confessed, and that if she had something to say,
she should unburden herself. The said Ermengarde said then
to this priest that she feared that those who were there would
reveal what she would say. The priest told me then, as well
as the others above named to promise in his hands by our faith
to not reveal without his consent that which the said Ermengarde
would say. We did this, myself and the three others.
This done, Ermengarde said that recently, around the last
holiday of the birth of Saint John the Baptist, Aude, the
wife of Guillaume Fauré of Merviel send for her one
day, and that then she, Ermengarde, came to the house of Guillaume
Fauré, where that Aude was lying, sick, in bed, in
a bedroom. Aude told her then: "O tia, what am I to do?
I cannot believe that when the priest, at mass, raises the
host above the altar, the body of Christ is inside it."
Then the said Ermengarde began to shout, "Via fora, via
fora!" and said to the said Aude: "Co, na traytoressa,
you are lost, convert to God, believe firmly in God and confess
carefully and completely, for otherwise you are lost."
|Did the said Ermengarde
say anything else?
No, but when she had said that, we
left the house, myself and the others.
|Who was present during these
|Those who have been named,
no one else.
|Where did this take place?
|In the house of this Ermengarde,
|Do you know if or have your
heard that the said Ermengarde had been discovered with persons
suspected of heresy?
|This Aude, did she have
a reputation for being a heretic in Merviel, or elsewhere, to
Not that I know of or have heard tell,
until the time of her arrest, that's to say, six days ago.
Since then I have heard in Ventenac and Merviel that she had
been arrested and locked up in
the prisons of My Lord Bishop because she had been reputed
a suspect of the faith.
Do you know if or have you heard that
any heretics or any suspects of the faith
have ever gathered in the house in of the parents of the said
Aude in Lafage?
Do you know if or have you heard that
Guillaume Fauré, her husband, was a heretic
or had met with heretics or suspects of the faith?
Have you thus testified for favor,
affection, hate, or fear; have you been corrupted,
suborned, or indoctrinated'
|Diligently interrogated, he said nothing more
Bernard de Quié, of Merviel
deposition and interrogation, Ermengarde cried:
"A foc, a foc!")14.
Jean de Montventoux, de Merviel
and interrogation: Ermengarde said:
"Co, na traytoressa, heu cridare
a foc! »)14 15.
Jean Garaud, son of Ermengarde Garaud of Merviel
deposition and interrogation. Ermengarde said :
"I am going to cry fire, via fora,
by God, you are dead and lost !
|After which, the Friday before the holiday of
Saint Mary Magdalene (the 21 of July), My said Lord Bishop,
to supplement the investigation of Aude regarding that
which precedes, had her brought before him, attended by My Lord
the Archbishop of Majorque; by master Hugues de Bilhères;
and I, Guillaume de Pardailhan, notary. Under the faith of the
oath by her sworn, she corrected her prior declaration that
she had said that she had fallen in this error approximately
eight years previously, and that this had come from the thought
and the persistence of the sin of which she spoke. She now says
that she has been in this error for only approximately four
years, and this for a different reason:
One day, I was going to the Church
of the Holy Cross to hear mass, and I heard some women, whose
names I no longer remember, saying that the night before a
woman had given birth to a girl in the street, inside the
walls of Merviel, before she was able to get
home. Having heard that, I began to think about the disgusting
things that women expel when they give birth, and when I saw
the body of the Lord raised above the altar, I thought that
it had been defiled by this dirtiness. This is how I fell
into this error of belief that the body of Christ was not
[some notes were not available in the annotated copy used in transcription]
6. anbegament = obstacle; impediment; snag; hitch
Translation by Dareth Pray, San José State University, 2006
- to whom many thanks for permission to reproduce this text.
Below is an academic paper that discusses
Aude's case - without any serious consideration that her new found
faith in transubstantiation might be no more than an understandable
play-act by an intelligent woman, keen to save her life.
Wendy Love Anderson (2006). The Real Presence of Mary: Eucharistic
Disbelief and the Limits of Orthodoxy in Fourteenth-Century France.
Church History, 75, pp 748-767 doi:10.1017/S0009640700111825
The real presence of Mary: eucharistic disbelief and the limits
of orthodoxy in fourteenth-century France (1).
On July 15, 1318, a twenty-six-year-old laywoman named Aude Faure
was called before the Inquisition tribunal at the diocesan seat
of Pamiers in southern France and immediately confessed to having
temporarily doubted both the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist
and the transubstantiation of bread and wine into Christ's body
and blood; her doubt, she explained, had been cured by intervention
from the Blessed Virgin. (2) Less than a month later, Aude abjured
her errors by the usual formula and was sentenced to a series of
pilgrimages and fasts stretching over the next three years. Aude's
multiple confessions, along with depositions from her family, friends,
and neighbors, take up a mere six folio pages in the famously detailed
Register kept by Bishop Jacques
Fournier, head of the Pamiers tribunal, and preserved
in the Vatican Library after Fournier became Pope Benedict XII.
This relatively quick-moving and insignificant case seems unrelated
to the best-known activity of Fournier's tribunal, namely, the extinction
of the last vestiges of Occitan Catharism. Yet Aude's case has gleaned
several mentions in recent historiographic works, and these mentions
are striking for their focus on the protagonist's psyche: she has
been variously diagnosed as hypersensitive, neurotic, masochistic,
morbid, hysterical, obsessive, afflicted with atheism, prone to
fantasy, tormented by guilt, suffering from postpartum depression,
and simply deviant. (3) Any efforts at placing the case within either
an historical or a theological context have been extremely limited,
with passing observations comparing Aude to her famous mystical
contemporaries Angela of Foligno and Marguerite Porete, situating
her errors within the context of "unsettling reflection[s]"
on Christ's assumption of Mary's flesh, or cataloging her case among
other "fantasies" at the margins of orthodox thought about
the Eucharist. (4) Only one scholar, Peter Biller, has suggested
briefly that Aude's case should be considered as an example of the
"wide range of theological doctrine, simply and clearly held,
[which] was common currency" among equally common people at
a certain time and place. (5)
The following essay will treat Aude's case from the perspective
of the history of Christian spirituality and belief rather than
the annals of abnormal psychology. As we shall see, Aude's dossier
depicts a woman living in a climate of common interest in and expression
of the ramifications of Christ's humanity. Like contemporaries ranging
from Parisian schoolmen to the final generations of Cathar heretics,
she had trouble reconciling her knowledge of human biology with
the eucharistic doctrines codified by the Fourth Lateran Council
a century earlier. But Aude's dilemma, as produced in her dossier,
was ultimately resolved by a devotional appeal to the Virgin Mary,
which evoked the growing late medieval interest in Mary's own conception
and her role in producing the eucharistic body of Christ as well
as the long-standing history of Marian intercession or miracles
to demonstrate Christian orthodoxy. Far from being another example
of medieval grotesquerie or even a specialized instance of doctrinal
deviation, Aude's case highlights a loosely organized community
of otherwise unremarkable laypeople performing relatively sophisticated
mental operations in order to integrate doctrinal tensions and ongoing
debates about eucharistic theology into their devotional lives.
It emphasizes the elasticity of orthodox Christian belief in a time
and place most famous for the persecution of heresy and depicts
the complexity of late medieval Marian devotion as it intersected
with both eucharistic controversy and definitions of orthodoxy.
Finally, it suggests areas of overlap between Inquisitorially constructed
texts and individual expressions of spirituality where historians
of Christianity (medieval or otherwise) might fruitfully search
for new ideas.
I. THE SECRET SIN
No doubt scholars have been slow to recognize the fundamentally
theological nature of Aude's dilemma in part because of the difficulties
posed by the source text. It is a record of testimony both translated
(from Occitan into Latin, with the exception of a few phrases left
in the vernacular) and coerced (at least implicitly). Obviously,
it must be treated with immense caution, especially in view of the
tendency of southern French Inquisitorial documents to reduce most
situations to binaries of orthodoxy/heresy or belief/disbelief even
as they seem to offer glimpses into otherwise undocumented areas
of lay spirituality. (6) Treating this particular document as a
transparent, univocal account would be impossible in any case: even
a surface look at the dossier indicates that the accused offered
at least two separate (and seemingly unrelated) accounts to explain
how she fell into the Inquisitorial categories of "error"
and "disbelief." The first version appears to be the one
Aude told her husband and (in part) an in-law, or at any rate their
testimony confirms it; the second version, which only came out after
a week of questioning, is partially confirmed by testimony from
four other women and is the one that ultimately satisfied the Inquisitors.
What the two versions have in common is their precise statement
of Aude's main error--disbelief in the real presence of Christ in
the Eucharist--and her seemingly unverifiable claim that the Virgin
was responsible for ending this disbelief. While both versions of
Aude's story were necessarily constructed by some combination of
the witnesses, the Inquisitors, and the translation process, it
is extremely helpful to compare and contrast the two (intersecting)
narratives of orthodox disbelief within Aude's dossier.
Aude's first version of her fall into and deliverance from disbelief
seems to be not merely constructed but tailored to an Inquisitorial
audience invested in the importance of priestly and episcopal power
and their outgrowth in the sacrament of confession. According to
her initial confession on July 15th, Aude, daughter of the late
Guillaume de Maucasal of Lafage, had married Guillaume Faure of
Merviel some eight years earlier. She is identified as a pious Christian,
devoid of any known association with heretics, who began her confession
of faith by either asserting or repeating after her Inquisitor the
belief "that Lord Jesus Christ took flesh from the Blessed
Virgin Mary and was born from her" and continuing through a
rough paraphrase of the Nicene Creed. (7) However, according to
the Inquisitorial text, a serious sin she had committed before her
marriage worried her, so that she left this sin out of her Lent
confession the following year and avoided Communion at Easter by
telling her husband that young people in Lafage were not accustomed
to take the Eucharist. The second Easter after her marriage she
did receive Communion (for the first time, if we believe her account
of Lafage custom), but remained "all terrified and disturbed,
because she had received the body of Christ without confessing the
said sin." (8) Over the following three years, she then "fell
into error," as described in the Inquisitor's text: "Although
she believed that God omnipotent was in heaven, nevertheless she
did not believe that this God was in the sacrament on the altar,
nor that through the holy words which the priest said that there
was the body of Christ." (9) She had mentioned her disbelief
only to her husband and Ermengarde Garaude, her husband's aunt,
(10) during a recent illness. Both Guillaume and Ermengarde had
initially demanded to know whether she was in her right mind and
had threatened her with expulsion from the Faure household for bringing
unorthodox opinions into its midst. Once they were convinced of
her good intentions, Ermengarde tried to revive Aude's belief by
narrating a pious eucharistic exemplum about a woman who baked the
bread [placenta] for the Host and laughed when it was consecrated,
only to find herself faced with a child's finger when she took Communion.
Meanwhile, Guillaume--the only person to whom Aude had mentioned
her unconfessed sin--demanded that his wife confess to a priest
at once. However, Aude claimed not to remember whether or not she
had actually confessed the sin. (11) She had continued in disbelief,
the dossier specified, until she was brought before Bishop Jacques
Fournier: "in his presence she said that the Blessed
Virgin Mary cast into her heart once again that she believed the
sacrament of the altar to be the flesh and blood of Christ. And
she believed everything else that a good Christian man or woman
ought to believe." (12)
When she was called back to confirm her testimony two days later,
Aude clarified that she had fallen into error immediately after
she took Communion without a full confession and amended the timing
of her first Communion to the first (rather than the second) year
after her marriage. However, she said, she had finally confessed
her secret sin to a priest from the local church of Saint-Croix
during her recent illness. Guillaume and Ermengarde also testified
to their parts in Aude's account, confirming her lack of any heretical
associations. According to Guillaume's testimony, Aude had told
him not only about her unconfessed sin, but had admitted that "when
I am in church and the body of Christ is raised, I cannot pray to
it nor can I behold it, but when I think to look at it, a certain
glare comes before my eyes." (13) After berating his wife,
Guillaume told the tribunal, he had immediately gone out and summoned
the priest to whom Aude confessed; however, he had not reported
her to any authorities because he believed her to be out of her
rational mind from illness. (14) Ermengarde also expanded on Aude's
account of their conversation, noting that she had reminded Aude
that the words of eucharistic consecration were ordained by Christ,
and recounting several credal prayers (in a combination of Occitan
and Latin), which she herself regularly spoke during the elevation
of the Host and upon awakening. (15) Despite these efforts, Ermengarde
claimed, Aude remained convinced that her eternal soul was in peril
due to her disbelief. After further recriminations from Ermengarde,
Aude cut her face with her hands, wept, and asked Ermengarde to
pray that the love of God would comfort her. Not long afterwards,
Ermengarde concluded, she herself became ill from the fear of this
incident and recounted it to the local priest and four convenient
witnesses, all of whom in turn affirmed Ermengarde's story.
At this point, the case seemed ready for closure: the sin, whatever
it was, had been duly confessed, and Aude had been cured of her
disbelief, with all parties vigorously professing their once and
future orthodoxy. The story is picture-perfect--almost too perfect--from
a doctrinal point of view. Canon 21 of the Fourth Lateran Council,
held back in 1215, had mandated annual confession and receipt of
Communion (preferably at Easter) as a minimum for all Christians,
while enacting harsh penalties against any priest who might break
the seal of the confessional; one hundred years later, the tradition
of Summae confessorum and the growth of local statues mandating
even more frequent confession continued to emphasize the importance
of this sacrament. (16) Meanwhile, the famous first canon of Lateran
IV had emphasized the connections between Catholic unity, the real
presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the apostolic tradition
held by the Church's priests and bishops. (17) Over a century later,
eucharistic teachings continued to create controversy, but the division
of Latin Christendom into an authorized (male) clergy and a laity
whose principal responsibilities were making a full confession and
maintaining full faith in all the Church's doctrines remained unchanged.
Aude had faltered on both counts of lay responsibility, but now--according
to the Inquisition's records--she had referred her problems to the
proper series of clerical authorities and reaffirmed her allegiance
to orthodox belief. The seal of the confessional, which Jacques
Fournier respected in other cases, probably accounts
for the one remaining gap in testimony, that of the precise nature
of Aude's unconfessed sin and the identity of the priest to whom
she had finally confessed it. Yet something about this story must
have remained unsatisfactory, either to the Inquisitors or to Aude
herself, because when Aude was called before the tribunal again
on July 21 "to inquire further about the truth of what had
been sent forward by the said Aude," she offered a substantially
different account of how her "error" came into being.
II. THE PUBLIC PARTURITION
We have no clear indication of what caused Aude to change her story,
since all the details in her initial account lined up perfectly.
There is no evidence that she was subjected to or threatened with
physical or psychological punishment, but it cannot be ruled out;
there is also no ruling out the possibility that one of the witnesses
to her second story came forward with some details that Aude had
omitted. However, it is equally possible that Aude herself was unsatisfied
with her Inquisitorially constructed identity as a confused and
inadequately confessed victim of "error" and initiated
a second round of testimonies; after all, the sentencing tribunal
eventually credited her with having made a "spontaneous confession."
(19) Her second story--multiply attested, as we shall see, and accepted
by the tribunal as final truth--began from the same set of eucharistic
errors as the first, but this time Aude admitted that they did not
come from the unconfessed sin "of which mention was made above,"
although she had indeed failed to confess these events up until
her appearance before the tribunal. (20) In the new version, her
crisis had begun about four years earlier:
For it [error] touched her, as she says, when on a certain day
she went to the church of Saint-Croix in order to hear Mass. She
heard from certain women, whose names she says she does not remember,
that the previous night a certain woman gave birth to a daughter
in the road leading into the town of Merviel, it being so that
she could not come to a homestead. Upon hearing this, she thought
of the uncleanliness [turpitudinem] (21) which women produce during
childbirth, and when she saw the body of our Lord elevated at
the altar, she kept thinking about this uncleanliness which had
infected the body of the Lord, and because of this she fell into
the said error of belief, namely, that the body of our Lord Jesus
Christ was not there. (22)
Three days later, on July 24, Aude was called in to confirm her
new testimony, and either she or her Inquisitorial amanuensis amended
the account to change the moment at which error "touched"
her: "this thought of uncleanliness occurred to her [only]
when the body of Christ was elevated, and she could not believe
that the body of the Lord was there on the altar, nor could she
herself pray or contemplate well, since she was impeded by that
aforementioned thought and many other thoughts which occurred to
her during the said elevation." (23) In any case, according
to this new story, Aude's combined experience of recollected childbirth
and eucharistic celebration--not her unconfessed sin--had created
the spiritual crisis that the Inquisition defined as "error"
and diagnosed as "disbelief."
This is, of course, the episode that has given rise to most of
the modern attempts to diagnose Aude with psychiatric disorders.
From a strictly theological standpoint, however, her train of thought
was eminently rational: she had just been reminded of the realities
of normal human childbirth, and as an orthodox Christian (the Inquisitorial
text reminds us) she believed that Christ had taken flesh from the
Virgin Mary. When she saw the Host being transubstantiated into
Christ's human body, it occurred to her with new force that Christ
must also have been born in the human fashion with its accompanying
turpitudo "that women produce during childbirth." It is
unclear what Occitan word in Aude's testimony the Inquisitorial
scribe might have translated as turpitudo, but the term definitely
implies an association of childbirth with something more than simple
messiness or unpleasantness, and the emotionally fraught context
in which the word turpitudo appears argues that the association
was Aude's rather than the scribe's. Aude's crisis may be difficult
for contemporary readers to sympathize with, but it is hardly pathological
viewed in historical perspective: the connection between childbearing
and impurity in Christian thought ultimately dates back to the Hebrew
Bible Book of Leviticus, and the connection between female fertility
and sin was further attested by then-traditional Christian readings
of God's curse upon Eve in Genesis 3:16. (24) At the same time,
medieval medical authorities debated whether the blood that nourished
the fetus and was expelled along with it was simply retained menstrual
blood--a substance that was not merely symbolically and theologically
impure, but biologically superfluous and quite literally poisonous
to a variety of living creatures--or a boiled, purified version
of that same blood. (25) Aude herself had very probably given birth
at least once; in any event, it is clear from her testimony that
she had witnessed childbirth and was able to paint a vivid mental
picture of its aftermath. (26) She would certainly have been familiar
with the medical and spiritual associations of childbirth from attending
other family births, from sermons, from conversations, from popular
stories, or even from the widespread "churching" rituals
aimed at purifying women after childbirth.(27) She would also have
been familiar with the eucharistic program of Lateran IV, which
seemed to set these associations into direct conflict with Catholic
Indeed, Aude was not the first--much less the only!--medieval Christian
to puzzle over how the simultaneously human and divine Christ could
be made present in any sense in the all-too-mundane Host. Both Lafage
and Merviel were "Catholic" towns, as Ermengarde Garaude's
exemplum suggests, but in other parts of Languedoc the Cathar heresy
hung on with unexpected (if ultimately doomed) vigor, teaching that
Aude's problem could only be solved by cutting the Gordian knot,
assuming a completely divine Christ and associating human reproduction
(indeed, human bodies) with an evil deity. (28) Nor was Cathar influence
necessary to raise doubts in the minds of ordinary Catholics about
the miracle of the Eucharist. Villagers in Jacques
Fournier's Register who seemed entirely unaffiliated
with heretical movements questioned the supernatural and invisible
presence of Christ in the Host and repeated the well-worn observation
that Christ's body must be the size of a mountain if people were
still eating it. (29) Aude herself was never seriously suspected
of heresy, either in the strict canonical sense of obstinately held
error or in the historical sense of organized dissent from the Church,
and her dossier offers no evidence of a naturally skeptical frame
of mind. Indeed, Aude's translated vocabulary bespeaks not only
Catholic orthodoxy but also a certain theological sophistication
when we compare it to other testimonies in Fournier's dossier: while
she is credited with identifying the consecrated Host correctly
as "the body of our Lord," Le Roy Ladurie has pointed
out the extent to which many of Aude's contemporaries, especially
those from the lower classes, were recorded referring to the Host
simply as "Christ." (30) But even if Aude herself could
probably distinguish between Christ-as-God and Christ's body, she
still lived in an environment where the two were often elided, and
where--as Sarah Beckwith has pointed out in another context--"Christ's
body is less the forum for integration and social cohesion than
the forum for social conflict, the very arena and medium of social
argument." (31) After all, while Guillaume Faur6 had briefly
wondered if his wife was temporarily out of her mind, he had also
accused her of being "cursed," and his aunt had simply
identified her as a "traitoress" who had brought heresy
into the family home. (32) No wonder Aude's problem was not so easily
diagnosed, by her family or by the Inquisition: it represented one
facet of an extremely complex, much-vexed historical discourse about
how the sacrament was being adapted or adopted into the lives of
The equally strong theological conflict between an orthodox Christology
in which Christ was "born of the Virgin Mary" and the
Church's teachings about the inherent uncleanliness and sinfulness
associated with childbearing--that is, the particular incident that
prompted Aude's eucharistic disbelief--was also nothing new. Half
a century earlier, in the Summa theologiae, Thomas Aquinas had argued
for the distinction between a "purified blood" that sustained
the human embryo, and its impure residue, female menstrual blood,
for a very specific reason: it lessened the distance across which
he had to argue for Christ's completely pure conception.
The menstrual blood, the flow of which is subject to monthly
periods, has a certain natural impurity of corruption: like other
superfluities, which nature does not heed, and therefore expels.
Of such menstrual blood infected with corruption and repudiated
by nature, the conception is not formed; but from a certain secretion
of the pure blood which by a process of elimination is prepared
for conception, being, as it were, more pure and more perfect
than the rest of the blood. Nevertheless, it is tainted with the
impurity of lust in the conception of other men: inasmuch as by
sexual intercourse this blood is drawn to a place apt for conception.
This, however, did not take place in Christ's conception: because
this blood was brought together in the Virgin's womb and fashioned
into a child by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Therefore is
Christ's body said to be "formed of the most chaste and purest
blood of the Virgin. (33)
Aquinas did not tackle the issue of Mary's delivery, but over the
next centuries his Dominican confreres found themselves spearheading
opposition to the increasingly popular notion that Mary herself
had been conceived immaculately precisely by emphasizing her participation
(however voluntary) in the menstrual cycle: since breast milk was
also perceived as deriving from superfluous menstrual blood, they
sponsored images of lactating Virgins in churches across Europe.
(34) Of course, discussion of the Virgin's puerperal purity was
also taking place on a less technical level, as part of a narrative
tradition that had existed since at least the second century C.E.
and the Protevangelium of James. (35) The fifteenth-century English
N-Town Play offers testimony from Mary's (apocryphal) midwife on
precisely the point that so bothered Aude:
Here opynly I fele and se:
A fayr chylde of a maydon is born
And nedyth no waschynge as other don:
Ful clene and pure forsoth is he
Withoutyn spoyt or ony polucyon,
His modyr nott hurte of virgynite! (36)
These examples only begin to suggest the extent to which Mary's
distinctively female body and her role as Christ's human mother
stood at the center of both theological and popular disputations
throughout the late Middle Ages. As Rachel Fulton has pointed out
in reference to a slightly earlier period, "praying to the
Virgin and her crucified Son forced medieval Christians to forge
new tools with which to feel." (37)
Nor was Aude's leap from human motherhood to the Host entirely
without precedent in the history of Christianity. Up through the
twelfth century, Fulton notes, Mary (unlike her son) "was present
at the altar only virtually, in the remembrance of the fact that
the same body available on the altar had first taken its substance
from her own." (38) But even then, and increasingly into the
late Middle Ages, connections were inevitably drawn between the
Virgin and the Eucharist, since both were powerful symbols of Christ's
humanity, and both--often together--had become crucial to an era
of devotion to and controversy over the ramifications of that humanity.
This symbolic association was reified in popular art and literature:
Mary was variously depicted or imagined as the tabernacle, vessel,
container, robe, and clothing of Christ. She could also be cast
as the celebrant of the Mass, the miller of the eucharistic grain,
and the oven in which the Host was baked--this last very much in
keeping with Galenic theories of conception in which the mother
served only as a source of heat (a literal "oven") for
the fetus. (39) And, of course, the figure of Mary holding the infant
Christ--sometimes suckling her now demonstrably human son--was both
central to and ubiquitous in the new eucharistic altarpieces that
emerged in the aftermath of Lateran IV's liturgical reforms. In
some of these representations, Mary's lactation became explicitly
eucharistic, offering her breast in parallel to a bleeding Christ
offering his wound. Indeed, Caroline Walker Bynum has pointed out
that Christ's crucified body was itself "feminized" by
its leakages of blood/milk and water, making the parallel between
the Virgin and the Eucharist even stronger. (40) Bynum also draws
attention to assorted mystical visions that link the two concepts:
for instance, the German nun Lukardis of Oberweimar (d. 1309), too
weak to attend Mass, saw Mary appear with her child and nurse Lukardis
in lieu of Communion. (41) An even stronger association between
Mary and the eucharistic celebrant appears in the visions of the
Austrian beguine Agnes Blannbekin (d. 1315), who envisioned the
Virgin touching the Host with one finger and was immediately "given
to understand" that "the finger of the Blessed Virgin
symbolizes the officiating priest because, as the Blessed Virgin
brought the Savior physically into the world and presented him,
so does the officiating priest bring him and other sacraments to
the people." (42)
Aude was no holy woman, and her case may seem miles away from these
contemporary visions in more than geographic terms, but even in
her dossier there is one easy association of the Virgin's body and
Christ's (similarly fluid) Passion in a eucharistic context. Aude's
"aunt," the self-consciously orthodox Ermengarde Garaude,
had testified that her own customary prayer at the elevation of
the Host ran as follows: "Lord, true God and true man, all-powerful,
who was born of the body of the Virgin Mary without any sin....
Lord, whose side was pierced by a lance from which came forth blood
and water by which we were redeemed from sins, bring me a tear of
your water which washes my heart of all ugliness and of all sin."
(43) Here the middle point between Virgin and Eucharist is their
common interest in Christ's suffering yet sinless flesh. Throughout
Aude's dossier as well as the wider context of late medieval spirituality,
then, the Virgin and the Eucharist are linked by their mutual effusion
of bodily fluids and their mutual (and miraculous) production of
the human body of Christ.
However, Ermengarde's prayer also demonstrates the extent to which
both Virgin and Eucharist served as touchstones for Christian orthodoxy,
and it is here that the successive stories of Aude's dossier display
their clearest signs of doctrinal as well as devotional thoughtfulness.
While every possible reading of the Inquisitorial text indicates
that Aude was not (in any sense) a heretic, she had--as the scribe
repeatedly emphasizes--"erred." As such, she was eligible
to take advantage of yet another facet of late medieval Marian spirituality:
the Virgin providing evidence (miraculous or otherwise) to bolster
orthodoxy and eliminate the doctrinal problem of disbelief, especially
on matters pertaining to Christ's incarnate flesh. Some of the best-studied
examples of this phenomenon pit Mary against the classically "unbelieving"
Jews: in miracle stories dating back as far as the sixth century,
Mary intervenes precisely in order to convince Jews of the real
presence of her son in the consecrated Host, or occasionally in
order to spotlight alleged Jewish perfidy in dealing with the Eucharist
for the benefit of local Christians. (44) Equally common are the
Marian miracle stories in which the Virgin saves orthodox Christians
who have fallen into much more serious "errors" than Aude's:
one of the most famous is the Theophilus legend, in which Mary successfully
redeems the soul an ambitious cleric had previously sold to the
Devil! (45) Closer to Aude, there are numerous examples of Marian
devotion being demonstrated, questioned, or denied throughout the
other dossiers in Fournier's Register; Kathrin Utz Tremp notes that
some of the denials are traceable directly to Cathar concerns about
the Incarnation--another case of Inquisitorial "disbelief."
(46) Within the discourse of Aude's dossier, then, as well as the
larger discourse of late medieval Christendom, it followed that
where orthodoxy was questioned and confession (to either priest
or Inquisitor) was impossible or simply insufficient, Mary was the
appropriate object of prayer and invocation. And so the seemingly
gratuitous insertion of Aude's salvation by the Virgin--a feature
of her initial story that appeared in the very earliest version
of her testimony--became not only theologically central to her newly
framed dilemma but practically necessary as a method for demonstrating
that Aude's Inquisitorially diagnosed disbelief had indeed been
"cured." If the Virgin had truly interceded for her, Aude
must now be "orthodox" by Bishop Jacques
Fournier's standards as well as by her own.
III. THE IMMACULATE INTERVENTION
This is, of course, precisely how Aude's dossier continues its
revised narrative. As Aude explained in her testimony of July 24
(reiterated and slightly amended twice more), her husband had hired
a nurse during her own recent illness. The nurse, Alazais de Pregolh,
became ill in her turn, and she arranged for the Eucharist to be
brought her on her sickbed. Aude watched Alazais receive the Host,
and after the priest had left, Aude returned to the room where Alazais
lay accompanied by two widows from Merviel. (47) When the other
women touched Aude's body, she "began to be disturbed and to
move herself" (that is, in convulsions). (48) Her later deposition
added--perhaps with an eye toward Inquisitorial propriety--that
she had cried "Holy Mary, help me!" and then complained
of not having confessed properly. (49) At any rate, the widows reassured
her that she was known throughout the town for her charity and asked
what sin she could possible have committed; Aude told them that
she could not believe in God, to which they responded, Holy Mary,
what are you saying! Return to God and have hope in him!" (50)
After the two women left, Aude returned yet again to her nurse's
room and asked Alazais whether she believed that she had received
Christ's body. When Aude got an affirmative answer, she asked Alazais:
"How can it be that I cannot believe?" Alazais responded:
"Lady, return to God and believe constantly that this is the
body of Christ." Aude asked the nurse to pray that "God
might put in her heart that she would believe," and while the
nurse prayed, Guillelma, Aude's maidservant, entered the room. Aude
asked her, "Guillelma, put yourself in prayer and ask the Blessed
Virgin Mary of Montgauzy to illuminate me so that I may believe
in God." When Guillelma began praying to the Virgin of Montgauzy,
"suddenly the said Aude became, as she says, illuminated, and
she believed constantly in God, and she believes it still as she
says it." (51)
Was Mary really the inevitable answer to Aude's dilemma? Aude and
her contemporaries were far from naive: many of the relatives, friends,
and acquaintances to whom Aude divulged her difficulties initially
suspected that she suffered from medical or psychiatric problems,
although she was able to convince most of them that she was not
ill. (52) Instead, they suggested an array of theological (and occasionally
thaumaturgical) solutions: confession, credal prayer, edifying stories,
and appeal to higher powers. Contemporary readers familiar with
the history of late medieval Christian spirituality can offer additional
possibilities: Aude's disbelief could have been cured, as in Ermengarde's
exemplum, by a simple vision of Christ's literal body replacing
the consecrated Host. She could have confessed to a priest and received
doctrinal reassurance about the stainless nature of Christ's nativity
with only glancing references to the Virgin Mother. She could, presumably,
have gotten involved with some sort of organized or informal community
that affirmed her denial of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist.
She did none of these things--or, at any rate, she did not choose
to share them with the Inquisition. Prayer to Mary was the option
upon which both Aude and the Inquisitors seem to have seized, the
most appropriate answer for her underlying concern with childbirth-related
turpitudo as well as for her ongoing entanglement with Fournier's
Whether or not Aude was finally telling the truth, she was certainly
telling a truth, at least within the textual boundaries of her dossier.
Her new set of witnesses confirmed their parts in the story, and
Fournier--a skilled canonist and theologian, advised by a panel
of local religious--was certainly convinced by it. The penitential
regime to which Aude was sentenced on August 7 makes it clear that
Fournier considered her transgression relatively minor and that
he credited the Virgin with her return to orthodoxy: Aude was not
only to confess to her priest four times a year and report to the
bishop or his successor every St. Anthony's Day and every Corpus
Christi, but also to fast on bread and water on the vigil of each
festival of the Virgin Mary and on every Friday that did not fall
on Christmas, a festival of the Virgin Mary, or All Saints for the
next three years. (53) During the same three-year span, she was
to make one pilgrimage each year to each of three different Marian
churches in the region and continue to visit the church of the Virgin
of Montgauzy each year. (54) Fournier's sentence also confirms his
awareness of Aude's multiple stories. Indeed, an unusual postscript
to the sentence states that Guillaume Faure is to be cleared of
any wrongdoing, presumably as an acknowledgment that Guillaume had
testified in good faith despite the differences in his and his wife's
ultimate explanations (or, perhaps, had succeeded in convincing
the tribunal that this was the case). (55) Fournier also asserted
that the Inquisition would press charges against "aforementioned
women" who had committed perjury in Aude's case, possibly false
informers against her. (56) Aude herself was decidedly in the clear
as regarded the tribunal, which concluded that "now she believes
with good heart and faith, just as she asserts, that the body of
Christ is not imaginary but truly in the sacrament of the altar."
Of course, the Inquisition--even one as effective as Fournier's--had
been outwitted before, and would be again. During the past ninety
years of Languedocian inquisitions, those being questioned had made
use of strategies as obvious as flight and as subtle as resort to
allegory. (58) But if Aude's final story was a fabrication of some
sort, it was a remarkably clever and coherent one, buttressed by
considerable supporting testimony. The final narrative element that
makes the link between Mary and the Eucharist throughout all the
stories not only workable but seemingly inevitable, Aude's overhearing
of gossip and consequent recollection of the turpitudo of childbirth,
seems to have been mentioned only in front of Fournier's tribunal--yet
its internal logic makes it the most compelling and comprehensible
part of the entire dossier. If it was a reasonable approximation
of the truth, on the other hand, why all the other versions? They
seem to delineate the various social and discursive communities
through which Aude worked to resolve her dilemma. With the local
widows, it seems, Aude was extremely (and perhaps understandably)
vague, describing her problem in general terms of disbelief in God
and failure to confess that. With "Aunt" Ermengarde, an
in-law of sorts, and with her servants, Aude admitted her eucharistic
disbelief but refused to divulge a source (or, quite possibly, they
refused to admit to hearing about it). Only the immediate members
of Aude's household--husband, courtesy aunt, and servants--heard
about the specifically eucharistic nature of her disbelief, and
only the servants--tower-status women outside Aude's husband's family,
perhaps not inclined to judge her as readily as Ermengarde had--seem
to have been involved with the invocation of Mary to "illuminate"
Aude. As for the tale of the "secret sin" leading to eucharistic
disbelief, it seems likely that this was either the explanation
Aude had offered her husband (and possibly the priest from Saint-Croix
whom he had summoned) or Guillaume's own preferred version of events
in which he himself took decisive action to help his wife--perhaps
around the same time that the women in her community were beseeching
Mary to help her. (59) It might even have represented a sort of
collaboration between Aude and Guillaume, designed to appeal to
a range of male authority figures, including Fournier's tribunal,
and carefully tailored to pose as little challenge as possible to
We can hypothesize, then, that Aude distinguished between her assorted
confidants by household ties, social standing, and perhaps gender;
insofar as we can deduce from the Inquisitorial text, she may have
withheld or embroidered parts of her account to suit each community
of interlocutors. But when the entire Inquisitorial text is viewed
as a whole, what emerges is a picture of a woman with deep spiritual
concerns, lacking in any formal education (as far as we know) but
capable of addressing doctrinal dilemmas via a series of relatively
sophisticated theological and devotional maneuvers that ultimately
met with approval from a panel of trained theologians. We are also
left with the awareness that this woman existed within a number
of overlapping discursive communities, many of whom immediately
recognized the difficulties posed by both orthodox eucharistic doctrine
and Inquisitorially defined orthodoxy itself, as well as the usefulness
of appeal to Mary's unique status under those circumstances. The
Virgin's power transcended both gender and class: while Aude's dilemma
may have been created and solved in an all-female and lay environment,
the clerically educated Bishop Fournier was apparently able both
to evoke it and to appreciate it. And despite the Inquisitorial
language of belief and doubt, error and orthodoxy, we can also be
certain that Aude and her neighbors understood and acknowledged
Mary as a powerful intercessory force with respect to precisely
the sort of theological issue--eucharistic orthodoxy--in which the
Virgin had become a locus for both conflict and resolution.
Mary's invocation by the Merviel community and her direct involvement
in Aude's case indicates the presence of a highly specific and sophisticated
current of Marian eucharistic spirituality, one which Aude, her
servants, and even Bishop Fournier credited with her cure. Moreover,
Mary's invocation in the context of Aude's dossier--the proof that
her Catholic orthodoxy was being questioned--reminds us that Marian
devotion could also serve as evidence of "right" belief
despite considerable evidence of other doubts, fears, and omissions.
Taken together, these developments suggest the extent to which a
Christian community could draw on the multivalent Virgin to resolve
contradictions in not only their understanding of doctrine but also
in their experience of belief and disbelief. To argue that Aude's
concerns with turpitudo represent a neurotic fantasy, an "obsession,"
or some other problematic diagnosis is to ignore the theological
complexity and social agency involved in the invocation of the Virgin
Mary throughout Aude's dossier. Aude's multiple narratives, and
the various communities within which her stories were constructed,
ultimately test the limits of historical awareness as well as the
boundaries of late medieval Christian orthodoxy.
(1.) This article has gone through several stages
of revision: I would like to thank Dr. Lucy Pick of the University
of Chicago, Dr. James Ginther of Saint Louis University, and the
2002-3 Erasmus Institute Fellows at the University of Notre Dame
for comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank my anonymous
readers for Church History for their careful and constructive critiques.
Any remaining infelicities or errors are, of course, my own.
(2.) Aude's dossier has been edited in Le Registre
d'inquisition de Jacques Fournier, eveque de Pamiers (1318-1325),
ed. Jean Duvernoy (Toulouse : Edouard Privat, 1965), 2:82-105 (hereinafter
"Duvernoy" followed by volume and page numbers).
(3.) Cf. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie Montaillou, village
occitan de 1294 a 1324 (Paris: Gallimard, 1975; corr. ed., 1982),
532-34; Peter Dronke, Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A Critical
Study of Texts from Perpetua ([dagger] 203) to Marguerite Porete
([dagger] 1310) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 214-15;
and Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 342-43.
(4.) These are, respectively, Dronke, Women Writers;
Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast, Holy Fast: The Religious Significance
of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1987), 266; and Rubin, Corpus Christi.
(5.) Biller, "The Common Woman in the Western
Church in the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries," in
Women in the Church, ed. W. J. Sheils and Diana Wood (Oxford: Basil
Blackwell, 1990), 145.
(6.) My own reading of Aude's dossier has been
heavily informed by John Arnold's emphasis on the discursive and
textual nature of the increasingly complex fourteenth-century Inquisitorial
records, and the resultant "production" of heresy. These
concepts are elaborated in Arnold's Inquisition and Power: Catharism
and the Confessing Subject in Medieval Languedoc (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), and Belief and Disbelief
in Medieval Europe (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005). In Aude's case,
we can see the very conscious "production" of orthodoxy
even in a situation relatively far removed from organized heretical
(7.) Ibid., 82: "Auda statim dixit et respondit
quod credebat dominum Jhesum Christum carnem suscepisse de Beata
Virgine Maria et natum fuisse ex ea, ipsum passum et crucifixum
pro genere humano fuisse, et resurrexisse et celos ascendisse, venturum
etiam ad iudicandum bonos et malos, et quod profitebatur et credebat
fidem et sacramenta prout tenet sancta romana Ecclesia."
(8.) Ibid., 83: "stabat, ut dixit, tota perterrita
et turbata, quia receperat corpus Christi sine confessione dicti
peccati." Following Duvernoy, I have chosen to render names
of persons and places in the vernacular whenever possible. Aude's
husband's name is Guillelmus Faber in the Register, and the town
in which they lived is Muro Veteri; Aude herself came from the town
(9.) Duvernoy, 2:83: "videlicet quod licet
crederet quod Deus omnipotens esset in celis, tamen non credebat
quod ille Deus esset in sacramento altaris, nec quod per verba sancta
que dicit capellanus, esset ibi corpus Christi."
(10.) Aude addresses Ermengarde as tia, "aunt,"
in her report of their conversation on 82-83, but Ermengarde testifies
that she is not related to Aude on 87. However, both Aude and Ermengarde
agree that Ermengarde warned Aude against bringing heresy into their
ostal, the (patrilineal) extended-family residence. Since Ermengarde
is ideni tified as being from Merviel (like Guillaume, but unlike
Aude), she is almost certainly a relative of the Faures and a representative
of Aude's in-laws. "Aunt" could be either literal or a
(11.) Duvernoy, 2:82-83.
(12.) Ibid., 83: "in cuius presencia dixit
quod de novo Beata Virgo Maria inmiserat in cor suum quod credebat
in sacramento altaris esse carnem et sanguinem Christi. Et omnia
alia credebat que bonus christianus seu bona christiana debebat
(13.) ibid., 85: "'Nam quando sum in ecclesia
et elevatur corpus Christi, non possum orare ipsum nec possum ipsum
respicere, set quando puto respicere ipsum, supervenit quoddam anbegament
ante occulos.'" Dronke, Women Writers, 273-74, suggests amending
Duvernoy's anbegament to essbegament, corresponding to Mid. Provencal
esbayment or esbleougissament and Mod. Fr. eblouissement ("glare"
(14.) Duvernoy, 2:85-86.
(15.) ibid., 87.
(16.) For instance, the 1229 Council of Toulouse
had mandated confession three times a year (Easter, Pentecost, and
Christmas) for the Christians of southern France; cf. J. D. Mansi,
Sacrorum concilorum nova et amplissima collectio (Florence: Antonii
Zatta Veneti, 1759-98), 24:197. The Lateran IV canon is number 21,
Omnis utriusque sexus. For a brief discussion of how this canon
influenced late medieval confessional practices, cf. John Bossy,
"The Social History of Confession on the Eve of the Reformation,"
The Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 25 (1975): 21-38.
(17.) Lateran IV, Canon 1, De fide catholica.
(18.) Duvernoy, 2:94: "dictus dominus episcopus
volens plus inquirere cum dicta Auda veritatem super premissis,
fecit dictam Audam coram se adduci."
(19.) Ibid., 103: "confessa fuit spontanea."
(20.) Ibid, 94: "peccati de quo est facta
mentio superius," and 98 on her failure to confess her error
(21.) I have chosen to translate turpitudo here
as "uncleanliness," although in this context it appears
to specifically describe the afterbirth and other emissions associated
with a normal delivery. However, this English word fails to convey
the sense of pollution that accompanies the Latin. Dronke (cf. above)
chooses to translate turpitudo as "disgusting afterbirth."
Since this is a pivotal term in Aude's testimony, I will be resorting
to the Latin turpitudo at certain points later in this article.
(22.) Duvernoy, 2:94: "contigit enim sibi,
ut dixit, quod cum quadam die iret ad ecclesiam Sancte Crucis ad
missam audiendam, audivit a quibusdam mulieribus, de quarum nominibus
dixit se non recordari, quod nocte precedenti quadam mulier quandam
filiam [Duvernoy adds 'pepererat'] in via intus castrum de Muro
Veteri, ita quod non potuerat pervenisse ad hospicium, quo audito
cogitavit turpitudo quam emittunt mulieres pariendo, et cum videret
elevari in altari corpus Domini, habuit cogitationem ex ilia turpitudine
quod esset infectum corpus Domini, et quod et [Duvernoy corrects
to 'ex'] hoc inicit in dictum errorem credentie videlicit quod non
esset ibi corpus Domini Iesu Christi."
(23.) Ibid. (italics mine): "tamen occurrebat
sibi illa turpis cogitatio quando elevabatur corpus Christi, et
non poterat credere quod corpus Domini esset ibi in altari, nec
poterat ipsum rogare nec inspicere bene, inpediente ipsam cogitatione
predicta et multis aliis cogitationibus que sibi in dicta elevatione
(24.) Twenty-three of the thirty-two occurrences
of turpitudo in the Latin Vulgate come from Leviticus; perhaps the
most telling one in this context is Lev. 20:18: "Qui coierit
cum muliere in fluxu menstruo et revelaverit turpitudinem eius ipsaque
aperuerit fontem sanguinis sui interficientur ambo de medio populi
sui." Cf. Charles Wood, "The Doctors' Dilemma: Sin, Salvation,
and the Menstrual Cycle in Medieval Thought," Speculum 56 (1981):
713: "By sin not just death entered the world, but also fertile
carnality; and in women ... menstruation was both a mark of that
sin--the curse of Eve--and the necessary companion of their fertility."
(25.) Often, the distinction between ordinary menstrual
blood and its purified form was made precisely because medieval
physicians could not imagine that the vulnerable fetus could survive
sustained exposure to the former. A tripartite distinction was also
possible, in which the menses of pregnant women were divided into
a purified portion (which later sustained the child as breastmilk)
and a "superfluity" (of an already superfluous substance),
which was supremely corrupt and was expelled as afterbirth. Cf.
William F. MacLehose, "Nurturing Danger: High Medieval Medicine
and the Problem(s) of the Child," in Medieval Mothering, ed.
John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler (New York: Garland, 1979),
(26.) Fournier's dossier tells us that she had
been married for eight years, and that (as we shall see) when Aude
became ill, her husband hired a nutrix who stayed on after Aude
recovered. It is extremely likely that the woman was hired as a
wet-nurse for a child of Aude's. It is, however, something of a
leap to argue from there that Aude was suffering from postpartum
depression, as does Rubin in Corpus Christi, 343-44.
(27.) The extent to which late medieval churching
rituals ritually performed and thereby reinforced gender roles has
most recently been discussed (using northern French liturgical texts)
by Paula M. Rieder, "Insecure Borders: Symbols of Clerical
Privilege and Gender Ambiguity in the Liturgy of Churching,"
in The Material Culture of Sex, Procreation, and Marriage in Premodern
Europe, ed. Anne L. McClanan and Karen Rosoff Encarnacion (New York:
Palgrave, 2002), 93-113. As Rieder points out, "the churching
of women not only communicated pollution but actually produced women
polluted by the processes of conception and childbirth .... The
frequent repetition of the rite assured that the constructed category
of sexual pollution and the image of women, in particular, as the
harbingers of that pollution remained constant elements in the medieval
discourse on sexuality": 99.
(28.) A good summary of these intertwined principles
appears in Malcolm Lambert, The Cathars (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998),
(29.) Cf. Duvernoy, 1:215 ft., 3:464, and 2:130,
(30.) Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou., 480, n. 3.
(31.) Beckwith, Christ's Body: Identity, Society,
and Culture in Late Medieval Writings (London: Routledge, 1993),
(32.) Cf. above, note 11. Guillaume's comment is
on Duvernoy, 83: "Quomodo, maledicta, loqueris in bono sensu
tuo?" Ermengarde's is ibid., 87: "Co, na traytoressa no
sia, nam iste locus et istud hospitalium semper fuit mundus de tot
male nec de yregia!" I thank the Church History reader who
brought these conflicting diagnoses to my attention.
(33.) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Ilia a.31
q.5. Danielle Jacquart and Claude Thomasset, Sexuality and Medicine
in the Middle Ages, trans. Matthew Adamson (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 1988), 76 77, cite this passage and point out
that Aquinas supports the more typical equation of menstrual blood,
afterbirth, and female semen in his Sentences commentary; here he
is clearly bending as many rules as possible for Mary.
(34.) Cf. Wood, "The Doctors' Dilemma,"
(35.) Cf. New Testament Apocrypha, 2nd edition,
ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher, English trans. ed. R. McL. Wilson (Louisville,
Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1991), 1:421-39.
(36.) Edited in Stephen Spector, The N-Town Play,
2 vols., Early English Text Society S.S. 11 (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1991), 1:160. Recent scholarship on late medieval English
mystery plays has pointed out the extent to which many of these
dramas create new scenes where Mary's pure, painless, and pollution-free
conception and delivery of the infant Jesus can first be doubted
and then be attested by witnesses. Cf. Theresa Coletti, "Purity
and Danger: The Paradox of Mary's Body and the En-gendering of the
Infancy Narrative in the English Mystery Cycles," in Feminist
Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature, ed. Linda Lomperis
and Sarah Stanbury (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
(37.) Rachel Fulton, From Judgment to Passion:
Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 9001200 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 2002), 197.
(38.) Ibid., 245.
(39.) Cf. Rubin, Corpus Christi, 142-45.
(40.) Bynum, Holy Feast, 102-3. But the Virgin's
soothing lactation could also be contrasted to, or explicitly divorced
from, her own lower body with its far more disturbing effusions,
as Aude's story makes clear. On the "partition" of Mary's
body, cf. Dyan Elliot, Fallen Bodies: Pollution, Sexuality, and
Demonology in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Press, 1999), 114-16.
(41.) Ibid., 131.
(42.) Agnes Blannbekin, Life and Revelations, chap.
42, trans. Ulrike Wiethaus, in Agnes Blannbekin, Viennese Beguine:
Life and Revelations (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2002), 40. The original
Latin is in Leben und Offenbarungen der Wiener Begine Agnes Blannbekin,
ed. P. Dinzelbacher and R. Vogoler (Goppingen: Kummerle, 1994),
(43.) Duvernoy, 2:86: "'Senher, veray Dieus
e veray horn, tot poderos, que naquestz del corse de la Verges Maria
ses tot peccat, e presestz mort e passio sus l'aybre de la veray
crstz et fostz per las mas e pels pes clavelastz e per le cap de
espinas coronat, e pel costat de lansa nafrat, don esshic sane et
ayga, don tostz em rezemitz de peccat, Senher, trametestz me una
lagrema de aquela vostra ayga que lave le mieu cor de tota legesa
et de tot peccat.'" (The Occitan of this prayer suggests that
it is one of the few elements of Aude's dossier which experienced
a minimum of Inquisitorial translation.)
(44.) These developments are discussed in more
detail by Denise Despres, "Mary of the Eucharist: Cultic Anti-Judaism
in Some Fourteenth-century English Devotional Manuscripts,"
in From Witness to Witchcraft: Jew and Judaism in Medieval Christian
Thought, ed. Jeremy Cohen, Wolfenbutteler Mittelalter-Studien 11
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1996); and Miri Rubin, Gentile Tales:
The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews (New Haven, Conn.: Yale
University Press, 1999), 7-28.
(45.) For some of the earliest variants of this
legend, cf. G. G. Meersseman, Kritische Glossen op de Griekse Theophilus-Legende
(7 eeuw) en haar latijnse Vertaling (9 eeuw) (Brussels: Paleis der
(46.) Kathrin Utz Tremp, "'Parmi les heretiques':
la Vierge Marie dans l'inquisition de l'eveque Jacques Fournier
de Pamiers (1317-1326)," in Marie: Le culte de la Vierge dans
la societe medievale, ed. Dominique Iogna-Prat, Eric Palazzo, and
Daniel Russo (Paris: Beauchesne, 1996), 533-60.
(47.) Aude seems to have been either deliberately
vague or confused about the location and timing of this episode,
initially thinking it had all taken place at her own house, but
later amending her testimony to state that the nurse was staying
at one of the widows' houses initially and that the widows came
over to Aude's house later on to visit her, whereupon they discovered
(48.) Duvernoy, 2:95: "dicta Auda incepit
turbari et moveri." The nurse Alazais de Pregolh's testimony
is slightly more precise about Aude's symptoms: according to her,
when the Host was being presented, "incepit molestari et clamari
ac expoliari se raubis suis, et tunc dicta Aladaycis et Guillelma,
pedisseca dicta hospicii dicte Aude, credentes, ut dixit, quod dicta
Auda pateretur tunc morbum caducum Santi Pauli": 100. It seems
as though the onlookers thought Aude might be suffering from some
form of epilepsy or other convulsive disease.
(49.) Duvernoy, 2:98: "Sancta Maria, succurre
michi!" This version makes clear that the unconfessed sin was
Aude's disbelief, not the "secret sin" of her earlier
(50.) Ibid., 95: "dicens ad interrogationem
dictam duarum mulierum que eandem interro-gabant quare sic turbabatur
et movebatur, que dixit quod pro eo quia non poterat credere Deum,
que mulieres dixerunt ei: 'Sancta Maria, quid dicitis, revertamini
ad Deum et habeatis spem in eo!'"
(51.) Ibid., 95: "Postque cum dicte due mulieres
recessissent, ipsa Auda rediit ad cameram ubi iacebat dicta nutrix
et dixit sibi: 'Tu recepisti corpus Christi, credis quod illud quod
recepisti sit corpus Christi?' que nutrix respondit quod credebat
firmiter, cui dixit dicta Auda: 'Quomodo potest esse quod ego non
possim credere?' et dicta mulier dixit ei, 'Domina, revertamini
ad Deum et credatis firmiter illud esse corpus Christi.' Et dicta
Auda dixit dicta nutrici quod rogaret Deum quod poneret in corde
suo quod crederet, et dum dicta nutrix, ut melius poterat, rogaret
Deum, supervenit Guillelma, ancilla dicti hospicii dicta Aude, cui
dixit dicta Auda: 'Guillelma, pone te in orationem et roga Beatam
Virginem Mariam de Monte Gaudio ut illuminet me quod ego possim
credere Deum.' Quod et fecit dicta Guillelma flexis genibus. Et
cum orasset, statim dicta Auda fuit, ut dixit, illuminata, et credidit
firmiter in Deum, et credit adhuc prout dixit." The church
of Notre-Dame de Montgauzy or Montjoie, an Augustinian priory in
the County of Foix, was a major regional pilgrimage site from at
least the eleventh century forward; another woman in Fournier's
Register made a pilgrimage there to request the return of her stolen
property (Duvernoy, 1:192-97), so it seems likely that the Virgin
of Montgauzy was also locally renowned as an intercessor. Unfortunately,
the church Aude and Guillelma had in mind was destroyed in the late
sixteenth century during the Wars of Religion, so we cannot speculate
about whether any particular imagery might have made the Virgin
of Montgauzy especially receptive to Aude's plight. Cf. Jules de
Lahondes, Les eglises des pays de Foix et de Couserans (reprint
Nimes: C. Lacour, 2001).
(52.) The only exception, Aude's husband Guillaume,
claimed that his continued belief in her temporary insanity was
the reason he had failed to inform the Inquisition of her fall into
error (cf. above). There is ample reason to suspect an element of
self-interest in this diagnosis.
(53.) Duvernoy, 2:103-4. Aude was to confess at
Easter, Pentecost, All Saints, and Christmas; as her earlier testimony
suggests, the custom in Merviel would have been to confess and receive
Communion only at Easter.
(54.) Ibid., 104. The three churches in question
were Notre-Dame de Rocamadour, NotreDame du Puy, and Notre-Dame
(55.) Ibid, 105.
(56.) Ibid.: "Item, retinemus nobis potestatem
quod supranominate mulieres que superios in processu periurium commiserunt
possimus de dicto periuriu punire, penitencias eisdem iniungendo
et alias prout nobis placeurit et visum fuerit faciendum."
Aude herself is the only woman in her dossier who seems to have
substantially altered her testimony during her trial, and she is
certainly the only woman supranominate throughout the sentencing
phrase, unless we are to count the Virgin Mary! All the other women
who testified in her case seem to have done so truthfully, judging
from their conformity to Aude's reports of the same exchanges. I
can only suggest that Fournier might have been referring to the
one remaining omission in the dossier, the identity of the person
or persons who brought Aude's case to the Inquisition's attention
in the first place.
(57.) Duvernoy, 2:103: "nunc se meliori consilio
usa credit prout asseruit de corde bono et fide non ficta corpus
Christi esse vere in sacramento altaris."
(58.) For more on these strategies, cf. Arnold,
Inquisition; and James B. Givens, Inquisition and Medieval Society:
Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell
University Press, 1997), 93-110.
(59.) On the differences between men's and women's--and
especially husbands' and wives'--versions of miracle stories, often
focusing on who had invoked the crucial saint first, best, or most
often, cf. the discussion in Laura Smoller, "Miracle, Memory,
and Meaning in the Canonization of Vincent Ferrer, 1453-1454,"
Speculum 73 (1988): esp. 437-40.