ARTICLE III. – HERESIES OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY. – 19.-The Albigenses and their Errors. 20.- The Corruption of their Morals. 21. -Conferences held with them, and their Obstinacy. 22. -They create an Anti-Pope. 23.-Glorious Labours of St. Dominick, and his stupendous Miracles. 24.-Crusade under the command of Count Montfort, in which he is victorious. 25.-Glorious death of the Count, and Destruction of the Albigenses. 26.-Sentence of the Fourth Council of Lateran, in which the Dogma is defined in opposition to their Tenets. 27 – Amalric and his Heresy; the Errors added by his Disciples; they are condemned. 28.- William de St. Amour and his Errors. 29. -The Flagellants and their Errors. 30.-The Fratricelli and their Errors, condemned by John XXII.

  1. The heretics called the Albigenses, sprung from the Waldenses, made their appearance in this century, and were so called, because they first spread themselves in the territory of the city of Albi, or that part of Narbonic Gaul called Albigensum, and subsequently in the province of Toulouse (1). Graveson (2) says that the impurities of all other heresies was joined in this one sect. This sect was in existence previous to the reign of Innocent III., but it was so strong in the year 1198, that Cesarius (3), a contemporaneous author, says, that almost all the pure grain of the Faith of the people was turned into tares.

(1) Nat. Alex. 1. 16, c. 3, ar. 1. (2) Graves, t. 3, s. 12, Coll. 3. (3) Cæsar Heisterb. Dial. Mirac. Diss. 5, c. 2.

Spondanus gives the following list of their errors (4) : First – They received the New Testament alone, rejecting the Old, with the exception of the passages quoted by our Lord, and his Apostles; they, likewise, renounced all Catholic Doctors, and when asked for an account of their Faith, they said they were not bound to answer. Second – They taught that there were two Gods, a good and a bad one; the good one, the author of the New Testament, and the Creator of all invisible things; the bad one, the author of the Old Testament, the creator of man, and of all visible things. Third – They said that Baptism was useless to infants. Fourth – That an unworthy Priest had not power to consecrate the Eucharist. Fifth – That matrimony was nothing more than concubinage, and that no one could be saved in that state, and still their morals were most corrupt. Sixth – That no one should obey either Bishops or Priests, unless they have the qualities required by the Apostles; and that they have no power in the Sacraments or in Divine things, and that no one, therefore, should pay tithes to them. Seventh – That churches should not be dedicated to God or the Saints, and that the faithful are not bound to pray or to give alms, either to the poor or to churches, and that it was quite sufficient to confess to any one at all, and that Penance was of no use. Noel Alexander (5), besides these errors, enumerates several others, as that the Fathers of the Old Testament were all damned; that St. John the Baptist was a demon; that the Roman Church is the harlot of the Apocalypse; that the resurrection of the body is all a lie; that the Sacraments are all false, and that the Eucharist, Confirmation, Orders, and the Mass are nothing more than superstitions; that the souls of men are no other than the rebellious spirits who fell from heaven; that there was no purgatory, and they blasphemously applied to the Virgin Mother of God, a term we dread to make use of.

  1. They led most horribly immoral lives. Lucas Tudensis(6) horrifies us by recounting what he heard from some of them who forsook the sect, and joined the Catholic Church. Murder, cheating, theft, and usury were quite common among them, but their impurities were, above all, of the most horrible description; the nearest relatives had no regard to the decencies of life, or the very laws of nature itself.

(4) Spondan. Epit. Baron, ad. Ann. 1181. (5) Nat. Alex. loc. cit. s. 2. (6) Lucas Tuden, l. 3, Adv. Albig.

The old people, he says, are blasphemous and cruel; the young ripe for every wickedness; the children, from the universal depravity, belonging to no father in particular, are depraved from their childhood; and the infants imbibe the most pernicious errors with their mothers milk; the women, without shame or modesty, go about among their neighbours, making others as bad as themselves. Among the other proofs of their impiety, Cesarius (7) tells us, that when they were besieged by the Catholics in Bessiers, they indecently defiled a book of the Gospels, and threw it from the walls into the ranks of the besiegers, amidst a shower of arrows, crying out : ” Behold your law, wretches.”

  1. The Albigenses laboured to gain proselytes not alone by persuasion, but by force of arms likewise; and the Catholics, therefore, found it necessary to have recourse not alone to preaching, but were obliged to summon the power of the Prince to their aid. Peter of Castlenau and Rodulph, Cistercian monks, together with their Abbot, Arnold, appointed Apostolic Legates by Innocent III., were the first to oppose them. The Holy Bishop of Osma joined them, and without attendance or money, like the Apostles, they proceeded on foot to preach to the heretics, and their first conference was held in Montreal, in the Diocese of Carcasonne. They disputed for fifteen days in presence of judges chosen for the purpose, and the heretics were convinced, but the judges being favourable to the heretical party, suppressed the sentence, and would not even give up the acts of the disputation. The preachers remained in the city to instruct the people, and supported themselves by begging from door to door. The Abbot of Citeax and twelve of his Monks, together with, the Bishop of Osma, spread themselves through the country, preaching and disputing with the heretics. The Bishop of Osma and some other Prelates held another conference with the Albigenses in Pamiers, and the heretics were so confounded that the judge of the conference, a nobleman of the city, abjured his errors, and more followed his example every day (8).

(7) Caesar, l. 5, de Demon. (8) Gotti, Ver. Eel. t. 2, c. 94, . 3,

The Cistercian, Peter of Castlenau, the Pope’s Legate, having found it necessary to excommunicate Raymond, Count of Toulouse, the chief favourer of the heretics, was summoned before him to clear himself from charges laid against him; he went accordingly, but nothing was decided on in the interview; the Count even uttered threats against him when he was about to take his departure, and sent two of his servants to accompany him. One of them, while the Legate was passing the Rhone, ran him through with a lance. Peter at once felt that the wound was mortal. ” God pardon me,” said he, ” as I pardon you,” and died shortly after. Pope Innocent, when informed of his death, declared him a martyr, and excommunicated his murderers and all their accomplices, and gave orders to the Bishops of the Provinces of Arles and Narbonne and the neighbouring territories again to excommunicate the Count of Toulouse (9).

  1. A few years after the Albigenses elected a person of the name of Bartholomew, an anti-Pope. He resided on the borders of Dalmatia and Bulgaria, and was the chief adviser of the heretics. He appointed another person of the same name as his Vicar, and he took up his residence in the territory of Toulouse, and sent round to all the neighbouring cities his Principal’s letters, headed, “Bartholomew, Servant of the Servants of the Holy Faith, to N. N., health.” This Vicar pretended to consecrate Bishops, and regulate the Church (10), but the Almighty soon put a stop to all by the death of the anti-Pope (11).
  2. It is now time to speak of the glorious labours of St. Dominick, who may justly be called the exterminator of the Albigenses. He was engaged nine years, according to Graveson, or seven, according to Van Ranst, in battling with them, and, finally, he instituted the Order of Preachers, to bring back the strayed sheep to the fold of the Catholic Church. He attended the Bishop of Osma at the conference he held with the heretics, and was a most strenuous opponent of their errors, both by preaching and writing, and God confirmed his exertions by miracles. Peter de Valle Sernai, a Cistercian Monk (12), relates the following miracle, and says he had it from the man himself in whose possession the paper was. After the conference of Montreal, St. Dominick wrote down the texts he cited on a sheet of paper, and gave it to one of the heretics to peruse them at his leisure. The next evening several Albigenses were seated round a fire considering it, when one of them proposed to throw the paper into the fire, and if it burn, said he, that is a proof that our faith is the true one, but should that not be the case, we must believe the Catholic Faith.

(9) Fleury, t. 11, l. 76, n. 36; Gotti, loc. cit.; Nat. Alex. loc. cit. loc. cit.; (10) Parisius, Hist. Anglic, an. 1223.

(11) Fleury, t. 11, l. 78, n. 60; Gotti, Nat. Alex. loc. cit. s. 2. (12) Pat, Vallis. Ser. His. Albig. c.7,

All agreed; the paper was cast into the flames, and, after lying there some time, it leaped out unscorched. All were surprised; but one of the most incredulous among them suggested that the experiment should be tried again; it was done so, and the result was the same. Try it a third, said the heretic; a third time it was tried, and with the same effect. But for all that they agreed to keep the whole affair a secret, and remained as obstinate as before. There was a soldier present, however, somewhat inclined to the Catholic Faith, and he told it to a great many persons (13). God wrought another more public miracle through his servant, in Fois, near Carcasonne; he challenged the heretics, in one of his sermons, to a formal disputation, and each party agreed to bring, in writing, to the Conference their profession of Faith, and the principal arguments in support of it. The Saint laid down his document the heretics did the same; they then proposed that each paper should be thrown into the fire, and leave the judgment to God. St. Dominick, inspired by the Almighty, immediately cast his paper into the flames; the heretics also threw in theirs, which was immediately burned to ashes, while the Saint’s remained intact on the top of the burning coals. Three times it was cast into the fire, and always came forth untouched by the flames (14).

  1. Neither miracles nor missions had any effect on the Albigenses, however, who every day became more powerful, under the protection of several princes, and especially of Raymond, Count of Toulouse. Pope Innocent III., therefore, considered it necessary at last to call on the Catholic princes to free he Church from these enemies, and, therefore, wrote to Philip, King of France, and to the other princes of that kingdom, and likewise to the Bishops and faithful, calling on them to take up arms for the extermination of these heretics, and granting them the seme indulgences as were granted to those who put on the cross for the liberation of the Holy Land. This bull was published in 1210, and immediately a great number of soldiers not only from France but elsewhere, enrolled themselves in this Crusade under the command of Count Simon of Montfort.

(13) Nat. Alex. t. 16, c. 3; Gotti, Ver Rel. t. 2, c. 94, cap. 3. (14) Gotti, loc. cit.

The Albigenses numbered a hundred thousand, the Crusaders only twelve hundred, and Count Montfort was advised not to risk an engagement; but he said : ” We are numerous enough, for we fight for God, and God for us.” He divided his small army into three bodies, and made a feint, as if about to march on Toulouse, but turned on the vanguard of the enemy, and attacked them with such fury, that at first they wavered, and finally took to flight. Montfort, encouraged by this success, gave orders to his three small divisions to unite, and without loss of time, attacked the main body of the enemy, among whom was the King of Arragon. The Count broke through the ranks, and singled out the King; he charged him with his lance, but Montfort, parrying the blow with one hand, seized the King with the other, and unhorsed him, and his Esquire immediately dispatched the fallen Monarch. The enemy was panic-struck with the King’s death, and fled in every direction, and the Crusaders cut them down almost without opposition. It is said that between the Albigenses and the Arragonese twenty thousand fell that day, with only a loss of six or seven persons to the Catholics (15). The letters written by the French Bishops to all the Churches of Christendom, on the occasion of this glorious and stupendous victory, are still extant (16).

  1. Count Montfort, after so many glorious actions in defence of the Faith, died gloriously, like Judas Maccabeus, at the second siege of Toulouse. He was told that the enemy were concealed in the trenches; but he armed, and went to the church to hear Mass, and recommend himself and his cause to God. While he was hearing Mass, he was informed that the people of Toulouse were attacking the troops who had charge of the besieging engines; but he refused to move until, as he said, he had heard Mass, and seen his God on the altar.

(15) Nat. Alex. loc. cit. s. 4; Gotti, loc. cit s. 4; Bernin. t. 3; sec. 13, c. 1; Graveson, t. 4, sec. 33 : Coll. 3. (16) Rainald Ann 1213, n 60.

Another messenger came in haste to tell him that his troops were giving way, but he dismissed him, saying : ” I want to see my Redeemer.” After adoring the Sacred Host, he raised up his hands to heaven, and exclaimed : ” Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, Lord, according to thy word, in peace, because mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Now,” said he, ” let us proceed, and die, if necessary, for him who died for us.” His soldiers rallied at once when he appeared among them; but he approached too near to the engines, and a stone from one of them struck him in the head, and he had barely time to recommend himself to God and the Blessed Virgin, when his spirit fled. This was on the 25th of June, 1218 (17). After the death of this great champion of the Lord, and Martyr of Christ, as Peter de Valle Sernai (18) calls him, Louis VIII., King of France, prosecuted the war, and in the year 1236 took Avignon from the enemy, after a siege of three months, and several other strong places besides. St. Louis IX., by the advice of Pope Gregory IX., prosecuted the war, and having taken the city of Toulouse, the young Count Raymond for his wicked father met with a sudden death signed a treaty of peace, on the conditions prescribed to him by the King and the Pope’s Legate, the principal one of which was, that he would use all his power to extirpate the Albigensian heresy in his territory. The heretics, thus deprived of all assistance, dwindled away by degrees, and totally disappeared, as Graveson tells us (19), though Noel Alexander and Cardinal Gotti say that they were not totally put down (20).

  1. These heretics having been previously condemned in particular Synods, at Montilly, Avignon, Montpelier, Paris, and Narbonne, were finally condemned in the Fourth General Council of Lateran, celebrated and presided over by Pope Innocent III., in 1215. In the first Chapter of this Council it was decreed, in opposition to these heretics, ” that there was one universal principle, the Creator of all, visible and invisible, corporeal and spiritual things, who by his Almighty power in the beginning of time, created from nothing both spiritual and corporeal, angelic and earthly beings, and man likewise, as consisting of body and spirit.

(17) Fleury, L 11, l. 78, n. 18; Nat. & Gotti, loc. cit. (18) Pet. Vallises. His. Albig. c. 86. (19) Grav. loc. cit.

(20) Nat. Alex. loc. cit. sec. 4, & Gotti, loc. cit.

The devil, and all other evil spirits, were created by God good, according to their nature, but became bad of themselves, and man sinned at the suggestion of the devil. The Holy Trinity, undivided, as to its common essence divided, as to its personal proprieties gave saving doctrine to mankind, by Moses and the Holy Prophets, and other servants, according to the properly-ordained disposition of time; and, at length, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, by the whole Trinity in common, incarnate of Mary, ever Virgin, conceived by the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, and made true man, composed of a rational soul and a real body, one person in two Natures, more clearly pointed out to us the way of life; who, according to his Divinity, being impassible and immortal, was made passible and mortal, according to his humanity, and suffered and died on the wood of the Cross for the salvation of mankind, descended into hell, arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven; but he descended in the spirit, arose in the flesh, and in both ascended into heaven, and shall come in the end of the world to judge both the living and the dead, and shall render to each both the reprobate and the elect according to their works. For all shall arise in the same bodies they now have, to receive, according to their deserts, either rewards or punishment the wicked, eternal punishment with the devil the good, eternal glory with Christ. There is one universal Church of all the faithful, out of which there is no salvation, in which Jesus Christ is, at the same time, priest and sacrifice, and his body and blood is truly contained under the appearance of bread and wine, the bread being, by the Divine power, transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood, that we might receive from him what he received from us to perfect the mystery of Unity; and no one but a Priest rightly ordained according to the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ himself granted to the Apostles, and to their successors, can consecrate this Holy Sacrament. The Sacrament of Baptism, consecrated to the invocation of the undivided Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, properly administered in water, both to infants and adults, by any person, according to the form of the Church, is available to salvation. And should any one, after receiving Baptism, fall into sin, he can he always healed by true repentance. Not virgins alone, and those who observe continence, but married persons, likewise, pleasing God by true faith and good works, shall deservedly obtain eternal happiness (21).

  1. In this century also lived Amalric, or Amaury, a priest, a native of Bene, near Chartres. lie studied in Paris, and was a great logician, and taught this science with great applause. He then applied himself to the study of Sacred Scripture and Theology, and as he was fond of new-fangled opinions, he had the rashness to teach that every Christian ought to believe himself a natural member of Christ, and that no one could be saved unless he so believed. The University of Paris condemned this opinion in 1204, but Amalric refused to submit to the sentence, and appealed to Innocent III., and went to Rome, to prosecute his appeal in person; the Pope, however, confirmed the sentence, and obliged him to make a public abjuration in the presence of the University. He obeyed the Pope’s orders in 1207, but his heart belied what his lips uttered, and so great was his chagrin that he soon after died. His disciples added new errors to those taught by their master. The power of the Fathers, they said, lasted only during the period of the Mosaic Law; the New Law lasted from that till their own times that is, twelve hundred years; and then the Law of the Holy Ghost began, when all Sacraments and all other assistances to salvation ceased, and every one could be saved by the Grace of the Holy Ghost alone, without any act of his own. The virtue of Charity, they said, caused that that which before was sinful, if done through Charity was sinful no longer, and thus, under the pretext of Charity, they committed the most impure actions. They asserted that the body of Christ was only in the Consecrated Host as in any other bread, and that God spoke as much through Ovid as through St. Augustine, and they denied the Resurrection, heaven, and hell, for those who thought about God as they did had heaven in themselves, and those who fell into mortal sin had hell in their own bosoms (22).

(21) Nat. Alex. l. 16, c. 3, s. 5; Gotti, t. 2, c. 94. (22) Fleury, t 11, A 67, n. 59; Nat. Alex. c. 16, l. 3, a. 2; Graveson, t. 4, sec. 13, coll. 3.

Raul of Nemours, and another priest, laboured assidiously to discover these heretics in several dioceses, not only many of the laity, but also some priests, being infected with it, and, when they discovered them, had them conveyed to Paris, and put in the Bishop’s prison. A Council of Bishops and Doctors was held in 1209, in which some of those unfortunate people retracted; but others obstinately refused, and were degraded, and handed over to the Royal power, and were, by orders of the King, burned outside the gates of Paris; and the bones of Amalric were exhumed at the same time, and burned, and thrown on the dunghill. It was also ordered, that Aristotle’s Metaphysics, which was the fountain of this heresy, should be burned likewise, and all persons were prohibited, under pain of excommunication, from reading or keeping the work in their possession. In this Council were, likewise, condemned the books of David of Nantz, who asserted that God was the Materia Prima. St. Thomas wrote against him in 1215 (23). The heresy of Amalric was condemned in express terms, in the Fourth General Council of Lateran, cap. ii (24).

  1. William de St. Amour, a Doctor of Sorbonne, and Canon of Beauvais, lived in this century also. He wrote a work, entitled, ” De periculis adversus Mendicantes Ordines,” in opposition to the Friars, who made a vow of poverty, in which he asserted that it was not a work of perfection to follow Christ in poverty and mendicancy, and that, in order to be perfect, it was necessary, after giving up all we had, either to live by manual labour, or to enter into a monastery, which would afford all the necessaries of life; that the Mendicant Friars, by begging, acted contrary to the Holy Scriptures, and that it was not lawful for them to teach the laity, to preach, to be enrolled as Masters in Colleges, or to hear the confessions of the laity. This work was condemned by Pope Alexander IV., in the year 1252, and publicly burned, and the following year the author was banished from all the dominions of France, and a few years after died a miserable exile (25).

(23) St. Thomas, 1, p. 9, 3, ar. 8. (24) Fleury, Nat. Alex. Graveson, loc. cit. (25) Fleury, l. 12, 1. 84, n. 30; Nat. Alex, t, 16, c. 3, ar. 1; Berti, Brev. Histor. sec. 13, r. 3.

  1. In the year 1274, the sect of the Flagellants sprung up, and first made its appearance in Perugia, and thence spread on, even to Rome itself. A torrent of vice had overspread the Italian Peninsula about that time, and a violent spirit of reaction commenced. All were seized on by a new sort of devotion, and old and young, rich and poor, nobles and plebians not alone men, but even ladies terrified with the dread of Divine judgments, went about the streets in procession, nearly naked, or, at least, with bared shoulders, beating themselves with scourges, and imploring mercy. Even the darkness of the night, and the rigors of winter, could not subdue their enthusiasm. Numerous bodies of penitents sometimes even as many as twelve thousand marched in procession, preceded by priests, and crosses, and banners; and the towns, and villages, and plains resounded with their cries for mercy. A great change for the better in the morals of the people was the first fruit of this wonderful movement enemies were reconciled, thieves restored their ill-gotten wealth, and all were reconciled to God, by confession. They used to scourge themselves twice a day, it is said, for thirty-three days, in honour of the thirty-three years of our Lord’s life, and sung, at the same time, some canticles in honour of his Sacred Passion. From Italy this practice spread into Germany, Poland, and other kingdoms; but, as neither the Pope nor the Bishops approved of this public form of penance, it speedily degenerated into superstition. They said that no one could be saved unless by adopting this practice for a month; they used to hear the confessions of each other, and give absolution, though only lay people; and they had the madness to pretend that even the damned were served by their penance. Pope Clement VI. formally condemned this heresy, and wrote to the Bishops of Germany, Poland, Switzerland, England, and France, on the subject, which proves how widely it was spread; he also wrote to all secular princes, calling on them to scatter these hypocrites, to disperse their conventicles, and, above all, to imprison their leaders (26).

(26) Nat. Alex. t. 16, sec. 13, art. 5; Fleury, t. 13, I. 84, n. 62.

  1. Another sect the offspring of an ill-judged piety, also sprung up in this century, that of the Fratricelli. This sect originated with Peter of Macerata and Peter of Fossombrone, two apostate Franciscan friars, who, playing on the simplicity of Pope Celestine V., got permission from him to lead an eremetical life, and observe the rule ,of St. Francis to the very letter. Boniface VIIL, Celestine’s successor, soon saw that this institute was a source of error, which was spreading every day more widely, and he, accordingly, in express terms, condemned it; but notwithstanding this sentence, the Fratricelli every day increased in numbers, and openly preached their tenets. John XXII., therefore, found it necessary to publish a Bull against them in 1318, and, as Noel Alexander relates, condemned the following errors adopted by them: First – They taught that there were two Churches one carnal, abounding in delights, and stained with crime, governed by the Roman Pontiff, and his Prelates the other spiritual, adorned with virtue, clothed in poverty, to which they alone, and those who held with them, belonged, and of which they, on account of their spiritual lives, were justly the head. Second – That the venerable Churches, Priests, and other Ministers were so deprived both of the power of order and jurisdiction, that they could neither administer the Sacraments, nor instruct the people, as all who did not join their apostacy were deprived of all spiritual power, for (as they imagined), as with them alone holiness of life was found, so with them alone authority resided. Third – That in them alone was the Gospel of Christ fulfilled, which hitherto was either thrown aside or totally lost among men (27).

(27) Nat. Alex. loc. cit.