Western Civilization lesson 120

What did the Albigensians believe?

At the turn of the twelfth century, the Albigensians, a religious sect which was in itself split off a larger group called Catharists (that had itself split off from the Catholic Church), came to prominence in the South of France. This occurred because they openly received bountiful support from the French nobles of the region. What was so different about the Albigensians that they couldn’t bear to be Catholics? To start off, they were not monotheistic. The first god in their belief was almost identical to the Catholic’s God, but only controlled the spiritual side of the universe. The second god was completely opposite from the first. He not only constructed his kingdom of all things material, but was evil and avaricious. In a desperate attempt to reject the evil god, they condemned all earthly possessions including their own bodies as despicable. To die a pregnant woman was seen as the greatest evil ever because the women in question was in the act of bringing more evil into the world. The Albigensians scorned the sacraments because their god’s gifts must be purely spiritual. For the same reason, they also rejected the incarnation.

The next logical step to become a prefect being in the eyes of the Albigensians was to never touch material things again. Their vows were performed in a ceremony called the Consolomentum. People liked them because most popular Catholic clergy members were very scandalous and worldly. In contrast, the Albigensians seemed like they were living a much more sacred life. Pope Innocent III was outraged at the Albigensians. They were pulling the nobles away from the Catholic faith and the church was quickly losing power and money because of it! In 1209, the Pope called for a crusade to wipe them out and retake the nobles’s trust and beliefs. By 1229 the Albigensians had almost all been relegated to the dust bins of history.

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