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THE CHURCH MAKES WAR ON THE CATHARS, THE WALDENSIANS, AND THE HUGUENOTS

"I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus."  (Rev 17: 6)

THE DEVIL'S HANDMAIDEN GOES ON THE WARPATH

   The reformation was slow to gain traction, and was divided into many different factions, each adopting it's own path, and degrees of deviation from Roman Catholic tradition. Divergent as these various groups may have been, they had one thing in common, a repudiation of the strict orthodoxy, indeed a repudiation of the self-proclaimed authority espoused by the Nicene church. Yet, one doesn't challenge established orthodoxy unless one is willing to accept the consequences. 

   Though, as heterodoxy began to intrude on her domain, the Roman Catholic church, with the able, and often enthusiastic assistance of civil authorities, developed a quick reaction mentality, and was tireless in keeping pace. The Harlot sought to eradicate dissidents and reformers of every type. Over time, as the Protestant movement only continued to grow and spread, the Catholic reaction likewise raised the stakes at every turn, testing new realms of unimaginably vicious brutality.

statue of Peter Waldo at the Luther Monument in Worms

photo attributed to Alexander Hoernigk 

   The Waldensian movement was very different, and was essentially a pre-Reformation run-up to the Reform movement. These were Christian people who were known from the beginning as lay (untrained) preachers, given to voluntary poverty, and strict adherence to the Bible. They rejected some of the teachings of the Nicene church, which they considered to be a corrupt institution. Originally known as 'the Poor Men of Lyon', Peter Waldo's teachings would grow into a movement that existed alongside the Cathars, though the two groups were far apart in degrees of separation from Catholicism.

   Between 1175 and 1185, Peter Waldo commissioned a cleric from Lyon to translate the New Testament into the local vernacular, the Arpitan language, a French dialect. This was the first attempt at translating any part of the Bible from the approved Latin Vulgate to a more modern, common 

THE WALDENSIANS

   The Waldensians would continue to disregard the Third Lateran Council and kept on preaching according to their own understanding of the scriptures. By the early 1180s, The Waldensian 'back-to-the-Bible' approach held such appeal to so many, that the movement was spreading rapidly, through Spain, northern France, Flanders, Germany, southern Italy, and even Poland and Hungary. The Catholic church reacted in 1181, when the archbishop of Lyon formally excommunicated the Waldensians. Three years later, the pope declared them heretics. 


   The Waldensians loved the Bible and insisted that the Bible was their sole authority, not the pope. At the same time, they publicly criticized the corruption of the Roman Catholic clergy. The Waldensians rejected many of the superstitious traditions of Catholicism, including the concept of holy water, the concept of indulgences, and the doctrine of purgatory. Communion, they said, was a memorial of Christ’s death, not a sacrifice. They did not follow the church’s liturgical calendar concerning days of fasting, and they refused to bow before altars, venerate saints, or treat consecrated bread as holy. They insisted that prayer in a barn was every bit as valid as that in a church. Still, the Waldensians considered themselves Catholic, and well within the orthodoxy of the true Christian faith. 

   In 1211 more than 80 Waldensians had been burned alive as heretics in Strasbourg, an event that would launch several centuries of merciless persecution. In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council, under the direction of Pope Innocent III, declared Waldensian doctrine anathema (cursed), condemning them as heretics (worshipping according to the Bible is curiously declared heresy, by an infallible papal decree).

   The growing snowball effect began, as Innocent III was determined to stamp out dissent. The declaration stated that the group's principal error was "contempt for ecclesiastical power," while also accusing the Waldensians of teaching countless errors. The Waldensians were forced out of Lyon, and compelled to move from town to town, meeting secretly.    

vernacular, so that ordinary people could read and study the words of scripture. An effort that the church would condemn as heresy.

   Waldo went with one of his followers to Rome, in 1179, at the invitation of Pope Alexander III, in order to answer questions before a panel of three clergymen, concerning their faith and beliefs. The meeting began on friendly terms, but wrapped up inconclusively. Later they were judged to be outside of orthodox teaching, and so, in the same year, the Third Lateran Council wound up condemning Waldo's teachings, but didn't condemn the movement itself, as the council held off on excommunicating any of the leadership or followers of the movement. That would come later. 

   In 1655 the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel II, had cleverly pre-positioned troops in the upper valleys of the Alps, where many Waldensians had found refuge after refusing to attend Mass. In April of 1655, the signal was given to initiate the slaughter. This massacre became known as the Piedmont Easter. Some 1,700 Waldensians are estimated to have been slaughtered. The massacre was so brutal it aroused indignation throughout Europe. Protestant rulers in northern Europe 

   "Little children were torn from the arms of their mothers, clasped by their tiny feet, and their heads dashed against the rocks; or were held between two soldiers and their quivering limbs torn up by main force. Their mangled bodies were then thrown on the highways or fields, to be devoured by beasts. The sick and the aged were burned alive in their dwellings. Some had their hands and arms and legs lopped off, and fire applied to the severed parts to staunch the bleeding and prolong their suffering. Some were flayed alive, some were roasted alive, some disemboweled; or tied to trees in their own orchards, and their hearts cut out. Some were horribly mutilated, and of others the brains were boiled and eaten by these cannibals. Some were fastened down into the furrows of their own fields, and ploughed into the soil as men plough manure into it. Others were buried alive. Fathers were marched to death with the heads of their sons suspended round their necks. Parents were compelled to look on while their children were first outraged (raped), then massacred, before being themselves permitted to die."

    While many Waldensians had fled into remote valleys of the Alps, these settlements would prove an inadequate refuge. In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII pronounced a crusade against two Waldensian groups in the Cottian Alps along the French-Italian border. Many villages were desolated. In April 1545 two Waldensian towns in France, Merindol and Cabrieres, along with twenty-eight smaller villages, were attacked by troops dispatched by Cardinal Tournon, the archbishop of Lyons. The towns were destroyed, the women were raped, and about four thousand people killed. In response to such severe persecution, many Waldensians fled to Geneva, Switzerland, where they sought refuge under the protection of John Calvin.

offered sanctuary to the remaining Waldensians. Oliver Cromwell, then head of state in England, began petitioning on behalf of the Waldensians; writing letters, raising contributions, even calling a general fast in England, and threatening to send military forces to the rescue.

   The following nightmarish excerpt, is from an eyewitness account of the Piedmont Easter slaughter, attributed to a Peter Liegé:

   Papal primacy being of the most essential importance, was a concept defined by Gregory VII in his Dictatus papae where he set out, in no uncertain terms, how the theological plan of Roman papal  'primacy' is of divine origin, whereby the pope is the only intermediary, charged with making known the will of the trinity and of the apostles Peter and Paul. The universal powers of the pope include his authority over bishops, clerics and councils, and even the right to dethrone an emperor. To certify every canonical text, to make law, and deliver judgments from which there is no appeal. "Founded by the Lord alone," the Roman church cannot err. Judge of all, the pope cannot be judged by anyone. Thus the pope is overlord of the church, he controls the hierarchy and can modify its institutions as he sees fit. 

   This overly aggressive determination to eradicate protest, and inflict Roman Catholicism on every person in Europe, was partly an offshoot of an earlier and ongoing reform movement within the church itself. It was called the Gregorian Reform and developed as a result of corruption within the church stemming from lay appointments to church offices, up to, and 

   Clergy and church officials were generally appointed from among the friends and family of the lords and monarchs across Western Europe. Simony, or the outright purchase of church offices by unqualified persons was also a common practice, as the Lords and Princes were always willing to accept a price in exchange for a respectable appointment. It didn't matter that simony had been banned by the Council of Orleans V, in 549. The church council's prohibition was conveniently overlooked if the price was right. As a result, the concept of papal primacy suffered severely during the 10th and first half of the 11th centuries, as the papacy was characterized by weakness, mediocrity, and even utter disgrace. Church officials were suffering a loss of respect and credibility.

   The Gregorian Reform movement did not originate with Gregory VII, nor did he see it to the finish. However, he has become the patron saint of the movement which came to bear his name. Essentially it was a three fold movement to restore, first of all, papal primacy, then, reform of the clergy, and finally, to free the church from lay domination. Gregory VII took on the princes of feudal Europe with a firm fixation of purpose, determined to restore theological integrity, and the undisputed primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

   While the issues of Gregorian reforms were being hammered out, other problems were emerging as loathsome distractions. There was never anything monolithic about the dissenting reformation movement, as it consisted of different movements, led by different personalities, with different ecclesiastic priorities, and with different degrees of separation from orthodoxy. Our study will take a brief look at some of the better known faith movements which entangled themselves with Christian teaching, some parasitic external borrowers, and some internal reformers. To the church, they all had to be treated with equal savage contempt.

GNOSTICISM

   Not all, but some of the earlier dissident movements had branched out from the early days of gnosticism. From the Greek gnosis, meaning 'knowledge'. Gnosticism is still with us, though it has changed considerably over time. Today it has morphed into an esoteric form of new age occultism, better known as 'modern gnosticism'. It is the root of the word of  'agnostic' which, while an agnostic may lean more towards theism or atheism, can roughly be defined as:

   "Uhh. . . I don't believe there is a God, but uhh. . . I don't really know enough to be sure. It's not a problem though, because if there is a God, he will see that I'm basically a good person." 

   The older forms of gnosticism were not bashful about borrowing from numerous wisdom belief systems. Originating in Manicheism, an even older dualistic belief system which had at one time spread as far as China, and across Europe. Manicheism fit nicely with the Greek philosophical schools, which also held similar dualistic beliefs. Dualism is the philosophical cosmological view that holds the idea that there are two gods. One evil, and one good. One is the creator god, the demiurge, who rules over all things material and physical, which was considered evil and vulgar, while the spiritual existence is good and superior, governed by a different god.

   In the Platonic, and Neopythagorean, schools of philosophy, the demiurge is seen as an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term 'demiurge' from the Greeks. Although a craftsmen, the demiurge is not exactly the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something already mysteriously present, almost recognizing the existence of a God Creator Almighty. In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material, or spiritual world, is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is simply ignorant or misguided.

including the papacy. These were the days of European feudalism. These were the days when the secular princes, or lords of the manors, dominated everything within their given territories, including church property, and even taking to themselves the right to appoint church officials and priests. This mindset extended all the way up to the monarchs of Europe, and all the way to the papacy itself.

   There were numerous, various strains of gnosticism, but the thread that ran through them all was the dualistic view of universal existence. The understanding was that the two elements of duality existed side by side, together, and one could not exist without the other. Curiously, the dual elements thus constitute a monistic reality, or singularity. With cosmic dualism we have life and death, light and dark, up and down, good and evil. One cannot be understood without the other. Life is a mixture of these two opposing elements, and in the dualistic combination you have a singularity. This philosophical concept would be borrowed later by church fathers in the development of the trinitarian doctrine, whereby the dualistic singularity was expanded to a triple-listic singularity, separated from Jewish, Abrahamic tradition of a monotheistic God.

   Early Christian church fathers such as Origen, Tertullian, Justin Martyr and Eusebius from Caesarea condemned gnostic teachers and beliefs as heretical. Gnostic writings often describe God as incomprehensible and unknowable. This idea conflicts with the Judeo-Christian 

concept of a personal God who desires a relationship with His human creation. Gnostics also separate the inferior or evil god of creation from the superior god of spiritual salvation, embodied in Jesus Christ, a wholly spiritual god.

   Gnostics came to be divided in their beliefs about Jesus Christ. One view held that he only appeared to have human form, but that he was actually spirit only (He wasn't fully human). The other view contended that his divine spirit entered his human body at baptism and departed before the crucifixion. The Christian tradition, on the other hand, to one degree or another, holds that Jesus was fully man and fully God and that his human and divine natures were both present and necessary to provide a suitable sacrifice for humanity's sins. These are arguments that would continue in Christian debates for centuries. (see- schism)

THE CATHARS

   Still, the Cathars considered themselves Christians. They differed from Catholic orthodoxy principally in their confusing elements of dualism with elements of Christian teachings. Because the Cathars taught that the creation of the physical body was the work of the wicked demiurge or Satan, they could not imagine that Christ could have been incarnated in the flesh. This belief was in direct conflict with the church teachings concerning the incarnation. According to some Cathar teachers, Christ actually suffered, died and rose again, not in the physical world, but in a higher spiritual world. Some claimed that Christ was crucified by the bad god, the creator god, meaning the old Testament Yahweh. The good god had nothing to do with this. Therefore the crucifixion does not represent salvation for men, but does show that the veri christiani (the Cathars) will have to suffer in his footsteps. The true salvation is achieved through gnosis. For the Cathars, Christ was the wise teacher who revealed to us that our true origin is from the spirit.

   However, it must be understood that most of what we know about the Cathars, we know from the histories presented by the church which hated them. Their writings were all burned. While they considered themselves Christians, they were clearly untaught and theologically confused.

   Women accused of being heretics in early medieval Christianity included those labeled Gnostics, and Cathars, as well as several other dissenting groups which were sometimes tortured and executed. Cathars, like the Gnostics before them, assigned more importance to the role of Mary Magdalene in the spread of early Christianity than the church did. The Cathars saw Mary Magdalene as perhaps even more important than the apostle Peter as far as spreading the gospel.

   Catharism first appeared in Europe in the Languedoc region of southern France in the 11th century. The adherents were sometimes known as Albigensians, called after the city of Albi in southern France where the movement first took hold. The name is from the Greek katharoi meaning "the pure ones." Their beliefs combined elements of dualism with elements of Judeo-Christianity, as kind of an offshoot of Gnosticism. Cathars believed that the good god was the god of the New Testament and the creator of the spiritual realm. They believed the evil god was the God of the Old Testament, creator of the physical world whom many Cathars often identified as Satan. Cathars thought human spirits were the spirits of angelic beings trapped in the material realm of the evil god. Cathars clearly had no grounding in foundational Jewish or Torah teaching, and only a rudimentary understanding of Gospel teaching, resulting in a confusing composite of beliefs.

painting by Pedro Burruguete  depicting the trial by

fire contest between Saint Dominic and the Cathars 

   It was in 1147 that Pope Eugene III initiated a largely unsuccessful mission, sending legates, or representatives, to negotiate with the Cathars of northern Italy and southern France. Substantial condemnations of the Cathars also came from the Council of Tours (1163) and the Third Lateran Council (1179), but these likewise had little effect. 

   When Pope Innocent III took the papal throne in 1198, he came to power with what would develop into a pronounced resolve to inflict Catholicism on anyone and everyone standing outside orthodoxy. At first, though, Innocent tried peaceful conversion methods, sending a number of legates into the Cathar regions. They found however, that they had to contend not only with the Cathari, but also the nobles who protected them, and the people who respected them, and even many of the church bishops of the region, who resented the considerable authority the Pope had conferred upon his legates.


DOMINIC


   Born in Old Castile in northern Spain, Dominic Guzmán was trained for the priesthood by an uncle-priest. Then, while on a journey through France with his bishop, Dominic came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy in Languedoc. Dominic realized the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and wound up getting commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching crusade was not succeeding. He noted how the ordinary people admired and followed after the ascetic heroes of the Albigensians. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horses and retinues, stayed at the

   Dominic, began his mission of conversion in Languedoc in 1206, and an important element of this mission were the Catholic-Cathar public debates which were held in various cities of the region. A famous story came out of this, whereby he was challenged by some Cathari elders to a test of trial by fire of their respective faiths. Who did God favor? Dominic was holding a thesis he had written, a statement of Catholic faith, and the Cathar presented a written work on his faith. The fire was lit, and the Cathar was first to throw his in the flames, where it was promptly consumed. Then Dominic threw his work of Catholic doctrine on the flames and it leapt from the fire as if swatted away by some invisible hand. He threw it back a second and third time with the same result. However, even after witnessing this, the Cathari were not convinced, and Dominic went on his way.

   The story bears some copycat similarity to the Biblical account of Elijah's contest with the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). The Catholic church rests so much of it's identity on fabricated traditions, it can be difficult to know sometimes where the lines are drawn between fact and fable. The fact is that most of what we know about the Cathars, Waldensians, and others, we only know by what their enemies wrote about them. The Roman Catholics, were quick to destroy any written works of these groups, while spreading misleading stories, conclusions, and rumors that would justify the brutal treatment the heretics ultimately received. As if there could be any justification for Christian inhumanity towards others.

   While there may be some reason to question the correctness of the Christian beliefs held by the Cathars, those questions cannot justify the torture and inhuman mass murders they received at the hands of the churchmen. Their beliefs may have been questionable, but their humanity was not. The most excellent way of teaching is by example, a method that was never given a fair chance.


   As the preaching and conversion mission was yielding no measurable success, Innocent became impatient. Finally the church turned to its ultimate weapon, launching a crusade against the Cathars in Southern France, first unofficially in 1204. Then Pope Innocent III officially announced the ‘Crusade against the Albigensians’ (Cathars) in 1208. The Massacre at Béziers took place in July 1209, and was the first major military action of the Albigensian Crusade.

   The crusader army consisted of knights with their retinue (mostly from northern France), professional soldiers, mercenary groups, and pilgrims. They assembled and departed from Lyon in early July 1209. Béziers was a stronghold of Catharism, and was the first major town the crusaders encountered on their advance into Cathar territory.

   Amalric's own version of the siege, described in his letter to Pope Innocent in August 1209, states;


   "Indeed, because there is no strength nor is there cunning against God, while discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt, as divine vengeance miraculously raged against it."

   

   It has been noted that the city did not have 20,000 inhabitants, though it is believed that a great many people from all around the countryside would have taken refuge behind the city's walls at the sight of the approaching army. Even so, while the number may be exaggerated, the fact remains that the slaughter was enormous, total, and absolutely appalling. Another account of the massacre informs us of concerns expressed by some military personnel during preparations for the attack;


   "When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot, "Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics." The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied, "Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His," and so countless number in that town were slain."

best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, along with three Benedictine monks, began an itinerant preaching mission following the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, enjoying some limited success with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

 Luke 21:16.17

   After this great massacre, the remaining castles and towns of the region submitted without resistance as the crusaders advanced. However, the crusaders lost the support of the local Catholic population and thus became a hated occupying force. The war became protracted (20 years), and eventually the French king entered the war and took control over the Languedoc. The Inquisition, led by the Dominicans, then proceeded to hunt down any remaining heretics.


   Another Dominican tradition relates how an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to Dominic at the church of Prouille in 1214. She give him a rosary and told him to "Pray my Psalter and teach it to your people. That prayer will never fail." Dominic was told that if he did as instructed, the heresy of the Albigensians would be dispelled 

   After the massacre of 1209, the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominican Order, was approved in December 1216 and January 1217 by Pope Honorius III in the papal bulls Religiosam vitam and Nos attendentes. Members of the Order were trained to preach in the local vernacular as a helpful teaching method. Later, a roving papal Inquisition was set up by Pope Gregory IX in 1229. He extended existing legislation against heretics and introduced the death penalty for them - indeed for anyone who dissented from Catholic orthodoxy. Initially intended to be temporary, this Inquisition was used to exterminate surviving Cathars in the Languedoc. Anyone accused or "defamed" was treated as guilty, and no one, once defamed, got off without some form of punishment. After 1227, inquisitorial commissions were granted only to the friars, usually to the Dominicans, but with some assistance from the Franciscans. Still, the final solution was ultimately granted to the Dominicans and it became known as the "Dominican Inquisition."










   Local resistance continued. The Cathar church was still able to operate and oppose the Inquisition that continued to run through the Languedoc. The Castle Montségur was a fortress built atop a steep, wooded hill, and enjoyed symbolic and strategic importance as a safe haven and headquarters for the Cathars. The fight against the Catholic church and the French forces was mostly one of peaceful resistance, but there were a small number angry enough, and willing to engage in fighting.

   In May, 1243, two representatives of the Inquisition, William Arnald and Stephen de Saint-Thibéry, as well as their companions and retinue were murdered by about fifty men from Montségur. This event led to the decision to send a royal military expedition to eliminate the stronghold. 

   The French military command dispatched about 10,000 royal troops against the castle that was held by only about 100 fighters, but was home to Cathari perfecti, who as pacifists would not participate in combat, as well as a number of civilian refugees. The steep terrain made the stronghold a difficult objective for the French forces, who laid siege for about nine months. Eventually they were able to get a catapult in position, and began a relentless bombardment. By March of 1244, the defenders of the castle decided to negotiate a surrender.

   Terms of surrender were quickly decided on, whereby all the people in the castle were allowed to leave except those who would not renounce their Cathar faith, primarily the perfecti. A two-week truce was declared, and those last two weeks were spent praying and fasting. 

The Knights Templar courageously slaughter women and children for God 

The massacre at Béziers

from France. The Marian Psalter was a form of prayer which involved praying 150 "Hail Mary's" divided into groups of 10 by "Our Fathers." Prayer beads, called a rosary, were used to keep count of the Hail Mary's.

because it was a 'crusade' sanctioned by the pope, they recieved indulgences as well as whatever booty

   The Edict of Nantes was signed in April 1598 by King Henry IV of France, granting the Calvinist Protestants (also known as Huguenots) substantial freedom of religion in France, which was still considered essentially a Catholic nation at the time. In the edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed freedom of religion to his Protestant subjects. The revocation actually followed one of the most disgraceful actions committed by a subject of the Holy Roman Empire, known as the 'Piedmont Easter'.

impale the women, thou shalt not suffer a witch

the Piedmont Easter - massacre of Waldensians

   A remnant survived, and the present Waldensian Church considers itself to be a Protestant church of the Reformed tradition originally framed by Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin. It recognizes as its doctrinal standard the confession of faith published in 1655, based on the Reformed confession of 1559. It recognizes only two ceremonious sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. Supreme authority in the body is exercised by an annual synod of elders.

   Cathars and Waldensians initially constituted a developmental prelude to the larger reformation coming, which would be led, not by lay persons, but by trained church clergymen. After the French Revolution, the Waldensians of 

THE HUGUENOTS

   The year 1517 is generally considered the official launch of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. It was the year an upstart Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther's actions, along with his training and experience, gave the Protestant movement the forceful drive it required to find the traction it needed. His revolutionary teachings of reform spread rapidly through France, yet as the Protestant movement developed, the French protestants moved further away from the Lutheran standard, and inclined more towards Calvinism. The ideas of Calvin, along with the publication of new Bible translations, promised an uplifting spiritual liberation. Origins of the name "Huguenot" are unclear, but it is thought to have originally carried a derogatory connotation, and was applied generally to French protestants. 

   Pope Innocent's Fourth Lateran council (1215) had put in place the systematic machinery of the inquisitions, which would be expanded later under the papacy of Gregory IX (1227 -1241). Under the edicts issued by Gregory IX, the inquisitions took a turn for the worse, and were expanded to include Jews as well as Protestants. It became illegal to disagree with Rome’s doctrines and practices, to preach any doctrine other than that of the Nicene church, or to translate or read the Bible in the common languages without permission from the Catholic authorities. Those who disobeyed were arrested, tortured, robbed of their properties and possessions, and put to death. (see - Roman Catholic suppression of Bible reading)

   Much has been made about King Herod's 'massacre of the innocents', when he sent his soldiers into Bethlehem. (Matthew 2: 16-18) Yet King Herod's crimes have been decisively eclipsed by the crimes of the Harlot of Revelation known as the Roman Catholic church. The Harlot's current spokesperson, Pope Francis, visited Turin in 2015, and offered a formal public apology to the Waldensians for the atrocities committed by the Catholic church. After a special synod of Waldensian elders met to consider it, they announced they were unable to grant forgiveness. Ouch. How does he apologize to Yeshua - or Yahweh?

   The use of rosary beads does not come from scripture, does not come from Jewish tradition, and were never used in the early church (see - rosary). Historians believe the use of rosary beads came into common use among Catholics around the 7th century. Catholic tradition, however, suggests the rosary was first used by Dominic after he received the beads directly from an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The rosary has always been associated with the worship and veneration of Mary Theotokos, the Mother of God. 

   The Roman Catholic church is awash in "traditions," meant to support various doctrinal teachings and buttress the church's claims to ecumenical supremacy. Many of the traditional beliefs surround a large number of the Catholic saints and are prime examples, including Saint Dominic. These traditions also help promote and support the industries which make and sell such things as rosary beads, and images of saints. The use of fables as a teaching tool, however, seriously detracts from the truths of scripture, and truths of the Christian faith, which are what the students of the Messiah should be focusing on. Fables pose a dangerous manner of teaching because they smack of old Roman pagan mythologies incorporated into the church, and as such, can lead people to question the veracity of everything related to the inspired Holy Bible. In other words, myths and fables, as well as icons, are so-called teaching tools that do harm to the inspired teachings of Torah and Gospel.

   The plague, or black death, was introduced to Europe in 1347 and lasted until 1351. It was the clergymen of the Nicene church that allowed people to believe fervently that the affliction was a curse from God, and heretics were the cause of the plague. Fear of the black death in medieval Europe led to an increase, and more intense persecution of non-Catholics by the church inquisitors. Although the inquisition originated before the black death came to Europe, the fear that non-Catholics were the sources of the epidemic, gave license to rulers to take the inquisition to new levels of depravity that may never have been achieved under other circumstances.

   As the plague spread across Europe, the people grew afraid and angry. They blamed the church and the clergy, demanding to know why the church was unable to protect them from such a curse from God. Good Catholics were dying everywhere, even nuns, caring for the sick were perishing. Whole parishes were withering away and vanishing. The primary occupation of the living, was carting away the bodies of the dead to mass graves. The clergy had to scramble for scapegoats. More than the usual suspects like the Waldensians and Cathars, because the Plague was big. Really big. Conveniently, there was another group of plausible non-Catholics who were being allowed to co-exist in Christian Europe. The Jewish people. Thus, new waves of persecution were brought against Jewish communities across Europe that would last for centuries, often associated with outbreaks of smallpox, cholera, or other epidemics.

"You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake." 

   On March 1, 1562, François, the second Duke of Guise, travelling to his estates, stopped in Vassey and decided to attend mass. He found a large congregation of Huguenots holding religious ceremonies in a barn that was serving as their church. Some of the duke's party attempted to push their way in, but were pushed back. Events escalated, stones began to fly, and the Duke was struck. Outraged, he ordered his men to fortify the town and set fire to the barn, killing 63 unarmed Huguenots and wounding over a hundred more. The massacre provoked open hostilities between Catholics and Protestants, sparking the first of a long series of French Wars of Religion, which continued largely uninterrupted for more than a hundred years.

   In August, 1572 another Catholic slaughter rattled France. Assassins had made an unsuccessful attempt to murder Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Protestant Huguenots. Two days later, on the eve of the feast of Saint Bartholomew, the trouble exploded as King Edward ordered the outright killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter began. It spread throughout Paris, lasting several weeks. The massacre expanded outward to other urban centers and engulfed the countryside. Modern estimates for the total number of dead vary widely, from 5,000 to 30,000.

   The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of so many of its most prominent aristocratic leaders. Those who remained were increasingly radicalized.

   Though by no means unique, it was thought by some to have been the worst of the century's religious massacres. Throughout Europe, it "printed on the minds of Protestants the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody, murderous, and treacherous religion." Indeed, that Catholicism served the devil's own purposes exclusively. 

   Indeed, the Harlot of Revelation, became drunk on the blood of martyrs. These protestants just didn't get it. She cannot ever allow herself to be reformed, questioned or scrutinized, because a true and thorough examination would reveal the depth and the breadth of her sins. Institutions, religious or otherwise, are built in such a way as to make any form of dismantling or serious reform, impossible. By design. Exposure of her sins cannot be allowed. Make no mistake, the hand of Satan moves the Nicene Mother church. "In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.'" - Revelation 18:7

Piedmont were assured liberty of conscience and, in 1848, a much later ruler of Savoy, King Charles Albert of Sardinia granted them civil rights.

   Dominic Guzmán's threats of slavery and death for the citizens of the Languedoc were fulfilled twice. First the massacres, then the Inquisitions. While Saint Dominic is considered by most, a heroic figure in Roman Catholic tradition, others consider Saint Dominic a monster devoid of any sense of decency or humanity. The Bishop of Toulouse marked the canonization of Saint Dominic on the first day of his sainthood (4th of August 1234), by burning a woman alive for her Cathar beliefs. She had confessed to him as she lay sick in bed with a fever. She was then carried to a field, still on her sickbed, and given to the flames without trial. The churchmen then withdrew for their celebratory banquet, at which they gave thanks to Saint Dominic for his miraculous assistance in the discovery and elimination of another heretic.

   A number of defenders decided to join the estimated 190 perfecti and received their consolamentum. The consolamentum was a unique sacrament of the Cathars. A spiritual baptism, thought to lift the individual spiritually into the class of the perfecti. The Cathars held in common with Christianity belief in original sin, but like Gnostics, believed material temporal pleasure to be sinful and iniquitous. These last minute initiates brought the total number of Cathar perfecti, destined to burn, to something like 210 or 220.        On March 16, led by the Cathar bishop, Bertrand Marty, the group left the castle and went down to the place where the pyre had been prepared. No stakes were needed. They mounted the pyre and perished voluntarily in the flames. The remainder of the defenders, including those who had participated in the original murder of the inquisitors, were allowed to leave, though they would later be caught up in the on-going Inquisition.

   Catharism continued in the Languedoc for many decades but it had lost its organization, and under the pressure of the Inquisition, adherents if not captured, moved to other places, such as Spain and Italy, where conditions were less oppressive, eventually being absorbed into other denominations. As we shall see, the Cathars merely served as a warm-up exercise for the vicious brutality other groups would suffer at the hands of the church.

   In the aftermath of the Piedmont massacre, both Francis I and Pope Paul III approved of the actions taken. The Pope rewarded Maynier with Imperial honors.

   While the first known translation of the Bible (the New Testament) into one of France's regional languages, Arpitan or Franco-Provençal, had been commissioned by the 12th-century pre-Protestant reformer Peter Waldo. The availability of the Bible in vernacular languages was important to the spread of the Protestant movement and development of the Reformed church in France. They found that what drove the Protestant movement was that the Bible speaks louder than the Roman Catholic church, or the pope. The country had a long history of struggles with the papacy, and by the time the Protestant Reformation arrived the Catholic stranglehold on Biblical text was finally being broken. The invention of the moveable-type printing press in the 15th century, as well as new Bible translations, played an enormous role in the spread of Protestantism.

   Like other religious reformers of the time, Huguenots felt that the Catholic Church needed a radical cleansing of its impurities, and that the Pope represented a worldly kingdom, which sat in mocking tyranny over the things of God, as the anti-Christ. Rhetoric like this grew ever more fierce as events unfolded, and eventually stirred up a reaction in the Catholic establishment.     Fanatically opposed to the Catholic Church, the Huguenots attacked priests, monks, nuns, monasticism, images, and church buildings. Most of the cities in which the Huguenots gained a hold, saw iconoclast (icon breakers) riots in which altars and images in churches, and sometimes the buildings themselves torn down.

   Louis XIV gained the throne in 1643 and acted with increasing aggression to force the Huguenots to convert. At first he sent missionaries, backed by a fund to financially reward converts to Roman Catholicism. Then he imposed penalties, closed Huguenot schools and excluded them from favored professions. In 1685, he issued the Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking the Edict of Nantes and declaring Protestantism illegal. Louis' revocation was a game changer, for the Huguenots and the Waldensians.

   The revocation forbade Protestant services, required education of children as Catholics, and prohibited emigration. It proved disastrous to the Huguenots and costly for France. It brought on civil bloodshed, ruined commerce, and resulted in the illegal flight from the country of hundreds of thousands of Protestants many of whom were intellectuals, doctors and business leaders, whose skills were transferred out of France and away from Catholicism. Some four thousand emigrated to the American colonies, where they settled, especially in New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.

   The English authorities welcomed the French refugees, providing money from both government and private agencies to aid in their relocation. Those Huguenots who stayed in France were subsequently converted to Roman Catholicism by force, and were called "new converts." The Huguenots, in numbers estimated from 200,000 to 1,000,000 fled mostly to Protestant countries around Europe, including England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia, where they were generally well received. It wasn't until after the French Revolution, in 1789, that the persecution of Protestants came to an end with the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen."

   It's an ironic shame that it took the worldly 'secular' French Revolution to finally reign in the Roman Catholic murder campaign. The Harlot of Revelation gives herself away by her actions, by her 'fruits'. Her accumulated history has removed any sense of 'mystery'. These Bishops of Rome are the men that claim to be of the unbroken line of succession from the apostle Peter. When Peter encounters them in the next life, we'd love to see their faces. Only Satan himself could have directed the grooming and guidance of so many weak men into such a convoluted course of purpose, firmly believing in their own towering intellectual and spiritual superiority.

   By her sneering lack of respect for human life, or even simple human decency in the face of Yahweh, the Creator who made us all, she and her servants have established a dark and shameful history for the Christian religion, and laid it at the feet of Yeshua, as if expecting a reward. The Harlot has no shame nor any fear of God, and still believes she sits a queen. The preceding brief history is the ecumenical examiner's twenty-four carat love-letter to Miss Mystery, the Harlot of Revelation. Thanks for the nightmares.

Cathari perfecti surrendering themselves to the flames.

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." - Matthew 7:15-20

   During Europe's pre-renaissance and renaissance periods, Revelation's Harlot was inspired to run wild in a series of unfathomable murder campaigns. The source of the inspiration did not come from God, as you may judge for yourself. Her rage was largely due to the fact that she didn't have a keen response to the criticism coming from the Protestant reformers. But she was also angry because across Europe there was a distinct lack of uniform submission to dogmatic Nicene tenets and conventions. People were boldly defying the self-proclaimed authority of the church, and therefore needed to be, not just corrected, but punished. The church demanded total submission, no exceptions.

   During the 16th century, the Nicene church seemed to be flailing about madly at harassment coming from every direction. This period of Christian history, is well worth serious study and consideration, because it had so much to do with shaping and informing the fractured Christian religion of today. Because, friends, you need to know what it is you believe, and to whom you're trusting your salvation.

Know your faith.