The Cathars were a religious sect from the middle ages, which withheld a dualist doctrine of good against evil.

Declared as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church in a 1179 council. Thereafter, they were hunted down in the crusades. Of notice is the fall of Montségur, their last stronghold, on March 16th, 1244. On that day more than 200 Cathars were burned alive.

The word comes from the Greek katharos (well actually that should be written with Greek characters), meaning "pure".

Because of their dualist doctrine, they are frequently linked to the pre-Christian Manicheans.

They had three initiatic degrees, and one initiated in the third would be known as a parfáit (perfect). They would then pick up some votes, including chastity.

Got this information from "Cathares et Catharisme", from Lucienne Julien, Éditions Dangles, France, 1990.


See also catharism and catharist.
    Here is a Cathar confession, translated in 1229 from the vulgate into Latin and back again, recorded by the prelates of Pope Gregory IX, heard while he was in the city of Perugia. It essentially summarizes the Cathar revision of the Book of Genesis:
    In the beginning there were two principles: Good and Evil. The God of Light made all the ideal and spiritual things, while the God of Darkness, the Devil, made all shadows and some of the angels, who were to act as messengers between the two Gods. The Devil and the angels he made, however, tricked Lucifer and his angels, who were beings of the God of Light. Lucifer and his angels fell from Heaven.
    One of the Good angels with some of his followers traveled into the shadows to recover Lucifer and his fallen friends. The Devil, the Great Dragon, had bid he and Lucifer create a New World for them, to be lost in, and they made it in six days. The God of Light permitted them to do so. They then seized the good angel and his followers and took from them their crowns and jeweled wings, tore them to shreds, and with them made the stars in the firmament.
    They then placed the spirit of the captured Angel into the body of a man: Adam. The Devil wished Adam to be immortal, but Lucifer refused, and man was given the escape of mortality. Later Lucifer repented, begging God’s forgiveness, and with His permission preserved Noah and his flock.
    The Devil, however, had the Tower of Babel constructed, and scattered the many peoples into many languages, so that if any emissary from Heaven came into the world, the celestial could not preach to all men, for only a few would understand. Then Lucifer summoned Abraham, Issac and Jacob, showing them the God of Light, and so was handed down The Law and they were saved.
    If ever there existed an ‘perfect’ example of why heretics were hunted ruthlessly in the Middle Ages, this is it. Not only is there the dualist origin of two equally potent Gods, one evil and one good, but the world itself is seen to be the creation of the Evil One – which would have come as an unadulterated Gnostic slap in the face to most doctrinaire Christian listeners. Add to that the bits about the tragedy of the Angel Rescues, the clear distinction made between the ex-archangel Lucifer and the Great Dragon, Devil, and finally the show stopper: Some of the saddest people you’ve met were born with the souls of trapped angels. It simply doesn't get much more subversive than this.
    How could the Church not freak out when this stuff started to float around? One scholar, Robert Moore, wrote interestingly in his Formation of A Persecuting Society, that the Church actually used these powerful heresies to build up their military and administrative prowess, and ‘to preserve and build their own power through the invention of an external threat’. His point is valid, but presupposes that these retellings were just stories, and therefore harmless. This is where he and other critics of the Church during the period miss the point by a country mile and seriously under-appreciate the potential threat. These beliefs were a neo-Manichean shot of revolutionary adrenaline straight into the spiritual heart of Christendom: and would have torn the Church to shreds had they had the chance to take hold by completely upending the Catholic foundations of Original Sin – the Cathar faith held a person with an angelic soul had nine lives here in the world of shadows to purify themselves and regain Ascension. But the individual alone was responsible: no church, bishop, sacrament, miracle, scripture or indulgence of Catholicism could provide the way; for the body was but a cruel prison and all the machinations of our world but a diabolical labyrinth set to contaminate and trap the soul.
Manuscript source: Santa Maria Novella, 26 Guigno 1229, collection ‘Diplomatico’, Archivo di Stato di Firenae; trans. C. Cansing, Power & Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy (Oxford: 1998), pp. 86-87. See also J. Mundy The Repression of Catharism at Toulouse (Toronto, 1985) and M. Lambert, Medieval Heresy (Oxford: 1992).

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