Although the main charge on which Priscillian was eventually found guilty was sorcery (maleficium), he is usually listed as the first person in Christian history to be executed for heresy.
Henry Chadwick, however, claims that: "The use of torture to uncover heresy from Innocent IV (1242) onwards was a sharp break with past tradition" (Priscillian of Avila: The Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church [Oxford, Clarendon, 1976] 139 n.
An example is the portrait of the "heretic," Priscillian of Avila, that some of his opponents created through the use of typology.
Sulpicius Severus in the fourth century, for example, made similar comments about the erudite background of Priscillian of Avila to warn potential followers about the sinister intellectual abilities that he effectively used to deceive.
A whole set of later groups were probably its offshoots: Quintillianists from a prophetess of the third century; Pepuzites, Priscillianists (of Priscilla, not Priscillian
), apparent oddities like the Artotyrites and Tascodrougites, and the Tertullianists of Augustine's day, who were the true Montanists of North Africa.
Priscillian, bishop of Avila and, for his many admirers in Galicia, the martyr of Trier at whose tomb (at Compostela?) miracles were obtained, is no easy figure to interpret, and this learned and urbane monograph is a welcome fresh endeavour to make sense of the intricate evidence.
Observing that in an age of doctrinal fluidity beliefs were not yet defined, she does not wish to see Priscillian as a heretic confronted by the orthodox.
Priscillian, the fourth-century Spanish ascetic and bishop, is a figure at once notorious and obscure.
first reconstructs the series of events from the initial episode of controversy in 380 at the episcopal council at Saragossa to the denouement around 386, when Priscillian and some followers were executed at Trier by order of the usurper Magnus Maximus.
Vollmann, who two decades ago produced distinguished pieces on Priscillian
and is now happily successor to Bischoff at Munich, copes with Honorius Augustodunensis.
One recalls Priscillian
's troubles in Spain when he recommended fasting on 25 December.
The cathedral in Lugo, Spain, is reported to have maintained eucharistic adoration for more than 1,000 years--begun in reparation for the heresy of the Priscillians
, a Gnostic sect that was condemned by the Spanish bishops.