Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc




Basic Tenets


Cathar Believers

Cathar Elect

Afterlife, Heaven & Hell

Other Beliefs

Cathar Ceremonies

Cathar Prayer

The Cathar Hierarchy



Albigensian Crusade

Who led the Crusade ?

Crusader Coats of Arms

Defender Coats of arms

Medieval Warfare






Cathars on Catholics

Catholics on Cathars

Catholic Propaganda

"Kill Them All ... "






Inquisition documents



Cathar Castles

Cathar Castle Photos



Early Gnostic Dualism





Historical Studies

Popular Culture

Catholic Inheritance

Protestant Inheritance

Cathar Vindications

Do Cathars still exist ?





The Catholic Side

The "Cathar" Side

Counts of Toulouse

The Cross of Toulouse



Detailed Chronology





A Cathar Glossary

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The following quotes may be attributed to James McDonald.

"The Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc was one of the most important events of European history. It saw the elimination of the brilliant medieval culture responsible for the Troubadours. It also saw the creation of the Dominican Order and of the first papal Inquisition. It was instrumental in building what historians have called a "persecuting society". It made real Pope Innocent III's theoretical claims to temporal rule over the whole world. The annexation of the Languedoc which followed the Crusade was the first step in building modern France, the prototype nation-state of today's Europe."


"The similarities between on the one hand early Christian beliefs and practices and on the other Cathar beliefs and practices cannot be coincidental. Neither can they be explained by copying based on ancient manuscripts known in the Middle Ages. We now know that when the Cathars claimed faithfully to represent the beliefs and practices of the earliest Christians, they were merely stating a fact. So the greatest irony is that Cathars were extirpated for the crime of retaining the beliefs and practices of the earliest Christians for over a millennium."


"Baptised Cathars lived ascetic lives similar to those of the Apostles as described in the Acts of the Apostles. They lived in poverty, dressed simply, ate just enough to stay alive, rejected material possessions and obeyed New Testament commandments rigorously. They would not kill in any circumstances. They would not lie. They would not swear oaths. They would not pass judgement."


"Baptised Cathars not merely imitated the Apostles: to their followers they were Apostles, just as much as the original Twelve. It was through baptism that Apostolic Succession was transmitted from one Cathar to another, ultimately from the original Twelve."


"One of the many striking aspects of Catharism is that it had no priesthood. All baptised Cathars shared equally in the ministry. All were prophets. All were Apostles. All were Temples of the Holy Spirit. Like early baptised Christians all were "perfect" (ie complete) Christians and all were members of God's "Elect". One corollary of this was that baptised women were apostles just as men were. Since Cathar practices retained so many elements of primitive Christianity, this might well throw light on early Christian practice before the introduction of an all-male priesthood in the second century in the normative Church."


"Cathar practices reflect practices of the early Church that were unknown or ignored in the High Middle Ages. For example when Cathars recited the Lord's Prayer they did not use the familiar line 'Give us this day our daily bread" because they knew that the original Greek does not say that. They said "Give us this day our superstantial bread". Moreover they stated explicitly that that this is a literal translation of what the original Greek had said - as indeed it does in the oldest surviving manuscripts."


"One reason for the ever-increasing popularity of the Cathars is a strong modern resonance. They would not kill in any circumstances (not even animals), yet they were prepared to die for their beliefs. They would not eat meat or any animal products. They regarded men and women as equal. They lived ascetic lives. They did not build churches. At least according to their enemies they had no doctrinal objection to contraception, homosexuality, suicide or euthanasia. As a bonus for New Agers, they believed in reincarnation. All this resonates strongly with modern society."


"When the Crusader army led by a Cistercian abbot killed everyone in Beziers, the reason given by a fellow Cistercian was that there was no way to distinguish Cathars from Catholics. Within months the abbot realised his error. It was in fact easy to distinguish them. Baptised Cathars could not tell a lie, so all he needed to do was ask them."


"To the Catholic Church Catharism was "The Great Heresy". Over the centuries Cathars have been written about extensively - by Hildegard of Bingen, Voltaire, Simone Weil, and Hilaire Belloc to name just a few. Yet somehow Catharism remains "The Hidden Tradition in Europe". How many people noticed that the hit song Dominique by The Singing Nun was about the Cathars? Or that Iron Maiden sang about the massacre at Montsegur?"


"The fortitude of the Cathars is both striking and moving, even to an atheist like me. Of some 225 baptised Cathars at Montsegur not one could be induced to abjure their faith. I do not know of any other Christian sect with such a reliable record of martyrdom. Their fate was recorded in detail within days of their deaths, and not by sympathetic propagandists, but by the very people responsible for killing them."


However you cut it, the Catholic Church extirpated the Cathar Church of the Languedoc for crime of disagreeing with its teachings - nothing more. To accomplish this it invented the Inquisition which in turn created the first police state in Europe. It did this precisely for the purposes of eliminating a rival Christian Church that had proved itself more popular among all classes of society and which, if left unchecked, was likely to displace Catholic belief throughout western Christendom.


"One of the curious facts to emerge from Inquisition records is that the ranks of Cathar believers included a surprising number of Catholic churchmen."


"According to a popular local Occitan tradition "the laurel will grow green again after seven centuries", in other words Catharism will flourish again. The last known baptised Cathar in the Languedoc was burned alive in 1321, so the year 2021 will mark the seven hundredth anniversary of his death. Perhaps the laurel leaves are ready to sprout again in five years. In any case, symbolic laurel branches will be carried to the site of the burning at Montsegur after the church service on 16th October."


"The Church extirpated the Cathars. For centuries it tried to obliterate even their memory, but it never completed succeeded in that. Today, interest in them is thriving more than ever."



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