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The Cathar Religion 1

La Religion Catara 1
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- 1 - Occitan Myth or Fact ? -
2 - Its Principles
3 - Its Places
4 - Its History
5 - Its Eradication
6 - Its Conclusion

1 - Occitan Myth or Fact ?

A - Social and religious context

Occitan civilisation, in the XII th century, also called Ramondina, stretches away as far as South of France, North of Spain and far North East of Italy.
It joins together the provinces of Lengadòc, Aquitania, Gasconha, Auvèrnha, Lemosin, Delfinat, Catalonha and Vals Alpins Italians. These ones, in spite of their geographical differences, still show nowadays similar features : as crossing points they have seen successive civilisations that have let some remains, have opened people’s minds by predisposing them to new prospects ; and have enriched their thoughts and ways of  thinking.
In the early normal XII th century, Toulouse is an European town as prestigious as Venice or Marseilles.
Catharism is said to be a return to the purity of the first Christians.
Church disorders arouse a spiritual confusion that cudgel one’s brains. This new religion, on the other side, proposes an anticlerical evangelism struggling against Rome’s power.

B - The roots of Catharism

This religion comes from one of the trends of primitive Christianity, influenced by agnostics and Manichean theories (Bogomils). The root of the name cathare is supposed to come from “katte” signifying “cat” and “heretic” in medieval German. Cathars call themselves good Christians, believers call them Bons-òmes (good men), bonas-femnas (good women) and amics de Diu (God’s friends : literal translation of “bogo-mil”).
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2 - The Cathar religion, its principles

Known in Latin through various liturgical texts (the Book of the Two Principles, the Ritual of Florence) and known in Provensal by accounts given of controversies by Catholic theologians or by judicial documents from the Inquisition.

A - Good and Evil.

The Cathar religion is duellist. God is unique ; he is source of Good and Love, and could by no means have created Evil. Satan can not be placed at the same level as God ; those two principles are not equal. Only God gets the «Èsser» (Being), contrary to the "non-èsser", nothingness. Evil breaks out and grows with time, and then reveals itself as the shade to Good and Eternity. It takes root not only in time but also in substance. Evil is only troubles and annoyances, but it can be find in the World of Blend, with Good, Light and Darkness. Therefore, God’s kingdom is not in our world and it is the reason why one has to be detached from it. Evil will not exist anymore when on the threshold of eternity, leaving the temporal world (the realm of Satan). Since man belongs to the World of Blend God can look over him, change his destiny and by doing so, he can save him.

B - Body, Soul, Spirit.

Human being is body, soul and spirit. When separated from substance his soul goes up and joins the Holy Ghost, and by that means approaches eternity and finally escapes Evil and Nothingness. Therefore, a man cannot attain the spiritual world but by separating himself from our world of death and flesh, so a true connection between body and soul is needed. Our spirit ensures the transmutation of our body, our soul is submitted to spirit to be transmuted, spirit needs soul to be elevated. That is the reason why they see human body as a jail that imprisons men in a cycle of rebirth. Without soul purification during terrestrial life, spirit cannot reach eternity.

C - Liturgy : Baptism and "Consolament".

The Soul, a spirit fallen by accident to the material world and tempted by Satan, cannot be saved and find again its own place closed to God except by reaching the supreme Truth revealed to men through Baptism. Therefore, the Soul of each man has to go through another body if it does not ascent and prepares its release by that way (St Paul). In fact, for Cathars, Baptism is a ritual through which they transmit their knowledge. It consists in laying hands down on men : it is the baptism by fire (instead of the baptism by water of Catholics) Cathars call it consolament (consolation). For believers Consolament is both baptism and extreme unction, but for Bons-Òmes it is also Ordination. Given by a member of their clergy (the Perfects for inquisitors), Consolament consists in a presentation of the New Testament, a lecture of the St Jean’s gospel, and in prayers (Benedictus, Pater… ). Consolament has to be given to dying people but when are still alive. However, when there are risks of a sudden or violent death, it may be preceded by the convenença (convenience), by that way the believer shows his will to receive consolament when in a coma. Once safe he can become a Bon-òme if he desires to. Some of them choose to die of exhaustion (test call endura), other choose a cloistered life, and the rest of them stay ordinary believers, and has to receive a new consolament when dying.
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