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(kăth`ərī) [Gr.,=pure], name for members of the widespread dualistic religious movement of the Middle Ages. Carried from the Balkans to Western Europe, Catharism flourished in the 12th and 13th cent. as far north as England. It was known by various names and in various forms (see BogomilsBogomils
, members of Europe's first great dualist church, which flourished in Bulgaria and the Balkans from the 10th to the 15th cent. Their creed, adapted from the Paulicians and modified by other Gnostic and Manichaean sources, is attributed to Theophilus or Bogomil, a
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; AlbigensesAlbigenses
[Lat.,=people of Albi, one of their centers], religious sect of S France in the Middle Ages. Beliefs and Practices

Officially known as heretics, they were actually Cathari, Provençal adherents of a doctrine similar to the Manichaean dualistic
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). Catharism was descended from GnosticismGnosticism
, dualistic religious and philosophical movement of the late Hellenistic and early Christian eras. The term designates a wide assortment of sects, numerous by the 2d cent. A.D.
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 and ManichaeismManichaeism
or Manichaeanism
, religion founded by Mani (c.216–c.276). Mani's Life

Mani (called Manes by the Greeks and Romans) was born near Baghdad, probably of Persian parents; his father may have been a member of the Mandaeans.
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 and echoed many of the ideas of MarcionMarcion
, c.85–c.160, early Christian bishop, founder of the Marcionites, one of the first great Christian heresies to rival Catholic Christianity. He was born in Sinope. He taught in Asia Minor, then went (c.135) to Rome, where he perfected his theory.
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. The Cathari tended to reject not only the outward symbols of the Christian church, such as the sacraments and the hierarchy, but also the basic relationship between God and humanity as taught by orthodox Christianity. Instead, the Cathari believed in a dualistic universe, in which the God of the New Testament, who reigned over spiritual things, was in conflict with the evil god (or Satan), who ruled over matter. Asceticism, absolute surrender of the flesh to the spirit, was to be cultivated as the means to perfection. There were two classes of the Cathari, the believers and the Perfect. The believers passed to the ranks of the Perfect on acceptance of the consolamentum, a sort of sacrament that was a laying on of hands. The Catharist concept of Jesus resembled modalistic monarchianismmonarchianism
[Gr.,=belief in the rule of one], the concept of God that maintains his sole authority even over Christ and the Holy Spirit. Its characteristic tenet, that God the Father and Jesus are one person, was developed in two forms in early Christianity.
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 in the West and adoptionismadoptionism,
Christian heresy taught in Spain after 782 by Elipandus, archbishop of Toledo, and Felix, bishop of Urgel (Seo de Urgel). They held that Jesus at the time of his birth was purely human and only became the divine Son of God by adoption when he was baptized.
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 in the East. Persecution, such as that by the InquisitionInquisition
, tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church established for the investigation of heresy. The Medieval Inquisition

In the early Middle Ages investigation of heresy was a duty of the bishops.
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, and the efforts of popes like Innocent III destroyed Catharism by the 15th cent.


See J. Madaule, The Albigensian Crusade (tr. 1967); J. R. Strayer, The Albigensian Crusades (1971); S. O'Shea, The Perfect Heresy (2000).

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heretical Christian sect in 12th and 13th centuries; professed a neo-Manichaean dualism. [Christian Hist.: EB, II: 639]


heretical and ascetic Christian sect in Europe in 12th and 13th centuries. [Christian Hist.: EB, II: 639]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Secondly, one would have to show that the Cathari could have had sufficient knowledge of the Kabbalah at a formative period in the development of their own ideas to be materially influenced by it.
Epiphanius' account of the Cathari is canon eight of Nicaea with explanatory glosses.
By the time the last Cathari stronghold fell in 1244, what was left of the movement had gone underground.
The Cathari and other medieval movements questioned the holiness of the church as well.
In addition to frayed morality, an equally prominent reason was contemporary antisacramental movements, especially the Cathari, known as the Albigensians in southern France and as the Patarenes in Lombardy, who rejected the flesh and material creation as evil, concluding about sacraments that God does not act through evil instruments.
In this one can note a certain demonic element, as renewed study of the persecution of medieval movements like the Cathari has illustrated.