A group commonly called Cathari, meaning "pure ones." Since they were especially influential in and about the town of Albi in southern France some people called them Albigenses. Although most of what we know about the Albigenses comes from their enemies, it is likely that they filtered into Europe from Bulgaria. Like the gnostics in the early church, the Cathari held that the universe is the scene of an eternal conflict between two powers, the one good, the other evil. Matter, including the human body, is the work of this evil power, the god of the Old Testament. He had imprisoned the human soul in its earthly body. To escape from the power of the flesh the true Cathar was supposed to avoid marriage, sexual intercourse, eating of meat, and material possessions. Here was a radical poverty, but not one based on the example of Jesus so much as on the perceived nature of the universe. The Cathari rejected not only popes and bishops, but basic Christianity. They tried to escape from evil, not by repentance and faith but by dividing the self in two. Not only did the Cathari succeed in reviving the ancient dualist heresy, by 1200 they had gained the protection of the princes of Toulouse, a cultural area in southern France, and were spreading at an alarming rate. The Roman church eventually unleashed the Inquisition against the Cathari to rout them out and destroy them and the movement was brought to an end before the thirteenth century closed.
[tags]Albigenses, BlogRodent, Cathari, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Inquisition, Jesus[/tags]