PATERINS, PURITANS, CATHARI
Throughout our Baptist history, from the time of Christ until now, we have been called by many names. The majority of these names have been given to us by our enemies. Many of these names show up on The Trail of Blood chart by J. M. Carroll. Often, there is no explanation concerning the names in his booklet. In this chapter we will look at some of these names and seek to give you a little information concerning them.
This is a name by which our Baptist forefathers in Italy were called. Let us look at a lengthy quote from William Jones:
"Much has been written on the etymology of the word PATERINE; but as the Italians themselves are not agreed on the derivation, it is not likely foreigners should be able to determine it. In Milan, where it was first used, it answered to the English words, vulgar, illiterate, low-bred; and these people were so called, because they were chiefly of the lower order of men; mechanics, artificers, manufactures and others, who lived of their honest labour. GAZARI is a corruption of Cathari, puritans; and it is remarkable, that in the examination of these people, they are not taxed with any immoralities, but were condemned for the speculations, or rather virtuous rules of action, which all in power accounted heresies. They said a Christian church ought to consist of only good people; a church had no power to frame any constitutions; it was not right to take oaths; it was not lawful to kill mankind; a man ought not to be delivered up to officers of justice to be converted; the benefits of society belonged alike to all the members of it; faith without works could not save a man; the church ought not to persecute any, even the wicked: -the law of Moses was no rule to Christians; there was no need of priests, especially the wicked ones; the sacraments, an orders, and ceremonies of the church of Rome were futile,
expensive, oppressive, and wicked; with many more such positions, all inimical to the hierarchy.
As the Catholics of those times baptized by immersion, the Paterines, by what name soever they were called, as Manichaeans, Gazari, Josephists, Passigines, & c. made no complaint of the mode of Baptizing, but when they were examined, they objected vehemently against the baptism of infants, and condemned it as an error. Among other things, they said, that a child knew nothing of the matter, that he had no desire to be baptized, and was incapable of making any confession of faith, and that the willing and professing of another could be of no service to him. "Here then," says Dr. Allix, very truly, "we have found a body of men in Italy, before the year one thousand twenty-six, five hundred years before the reformation, who believed contrary to the opinions of the church of Rome, and who highly condemned their errors." Atto, bishop of Verceulli, had complained of such people eighty years before and so had others before him, and there is the highest reason to believe that they had always existed in Italy. It is observable that those who alluded to by Dr. Allix were brought to light by mere accident. No notice was taken of them in Italy, but some disciples of Gundulf, one of their teachers, went to settle in the low countries, (Netherlands) and Gerard, bishop of Cambray, imprisoned them, under pretence of converting them.
From the tenth to the thirteenth century, the dissenters in Italy continued to multiply and increase; for which several reasons may be assigned. The excessive wickedness of the court of Rome and the Italian prelates was better known in Italy than in other countries. There was no legal power in Italy in these times to put dissenters to death. Popular preachers in the church, such as Claude of Turin, and Arnold of Brescia, increased the number of dissenters, for their disciples went further than their masters. The adjacency of France and Spain, too, contributed to their increase, for both abounded with Christians of this sort. Their churches were divided into sixteen compartments, such as the English Baptists would call associations. Each of these was subdivided into parts, which would be here termed churches or congregations. In Milan, there was a street called Pataria,
where it is supposed they met for divine worship. At Modena, they assembled at the water-mills. They had houses at Ferrara, Brescia, Viterbe, Verona, Vicenza and several in Rimini, Romandiola, and other places. Reinerius says, in 1259 the Paterine church of the Alba consisted of above five hundred members; that Concorezzo, of more than fifteen hundred; and that of Bagnolo, of about two hundred. The houses where they met seem to have been hired by the people, and tenanted by one of the brethren. There were several in each city, and each was distinguished by a mark known by themselves. They had bishops or elders, pastors and teachers, deacons and messengers; that is, men employed in traveling to administer to the relief and comfort of the poor and the persecuted. In times of persecution they met in small companies of eight, twenty, thirty, or as it might happen; but never in large assemblies, for fear of the consequences.
The Paterines were decent in their deportment, modest in their address and discourse, and their morals irreproachable. In their conversation there was no levity, no scurrility, no detraction, no false-hood, no swearing. Their dress was neither fine nor mean. They were chaste, and temperate, never frequenting taverns, or places of public amusement. They were not given to anger and other violent passions. They were not eager to accumulate wealth, but content with the necessities of life. They avoided commerce, because they thought it would expose them to the temptation of collusion, falsehood, and oaths, choosing rather to live by labour or useful trades. They were always employed in spare hours, either by giving or receiving instruction. Their bishops and officers were mechanics, weavers, shoemakers, and others, who maintained themselves by their industry.
About the year 1040, the Paterines had become very numerous at Milan, which was their principal residence, and here they flourished at least two hundred years. They had no connection with the (Catholic) church; for they rejected not only Jerome of Syria, Augustine of Africa, and Gregory of Rome, but Ambrose of Milan; considering them, and all other pretended fathers, as corrupters of Christianity. They particularly condemned pope Sylvester, as Antichrist. They called (the adoration of) the cross the mark of the beast. They
had no share in the state, for they took no oaths and bore no arms. The state did not trouble them, but the clergy preached, prayed and published books against them with unabated zeal. About the year 1176, the archbishop of Milan, an old infirm man, while preaching against them with great vehemence, dropped down in a fit, and expired as soon as he had received extreme unction! About fourteen years afterwards, one Bonacursi, who pretended he had been one of these Paterines, made a public renunciation of his opinions, and embraced the Catholic faith, filling Milan with fables, as all renegadoes do. He reported that cities, suburbs, towns, and castles, were full of these false prophets -that this was the time to suppress them, and that the prophet Jeremiah had directed the Milanese what to do, when he said, "Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood!!" Advice which we shall presently see was but too implicitly followed."1
Dr. Jones said that much had been written on the etymology of the word "Paterine." I have found this word spelled "Patarenes" in some of the histories. Concerning the etymology let us see what some have said about it.
Let us begin with Orchard: "Socrates states that, when the church was taken under the fostering care of Constantino, and on his party, using severe measures against the dissenters, the dominant party called themselves the Catholic church; but the oppressed and suffering party was known by the name, the church of martyrs. In a previous section, we have given the outlines of these suffering people, under the denomination of Novatianists, and endeavored to trace their history till penal laws compelled them to retire into caves and dens to worship God. While oppressed by the Catholic party, they obtained the name of Paterines; which means sufferers, or what is synonymous with our modern acceptation of the word martyrs, and which indicated an afflicted and poor people, trusting in the name of the Lord; and which name was, in a great measure, restricted to the dissenters of Italy, where it was as common as the Albigenses in the south of France, or Waldenses in Piedmont."2
Augustus Neander gives it a slightly different slant: "The whole population of Milan was separated into two hotly contending parties. This controversy divided families; it was the one object which commanded universal participation. The popular party, devoted to Ariald and Landulph, was nicknamed Pataria, which in the dialect of Milan signified a popular faction; and as a heretical tendency might easily grow out of, or attach itself to, this spirit of separation, so zealously opposed to the corruption of the clergy, it came about that, in the following centuries, the name Patarenes was applied in Italy as a general appellation to denote sects contending against the dominant church and clergy, -sects which, for the most part, met with great favor from the people."3
Again, Neander says, "The name Patarenes, which, signifying in the first place a union of the people against the corrupt clergy, passed over into an appellation of the Catharists, may serve as an illustration."4
Hassell lists them right along with the other Baptists of the other ages. "Among the persecuted people of God have been the Novatians, Donatists, Cathari, Paterines, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Henricans, Arnoldists, Albigenses, Waldenses, Lollards, Mennonites and Baptists, nearly all of whom were occasionally designated Anabaptists or Re-Baptizers by their enemies, because they disregarded infant or unregenerate baptism, and baptized all adults, whether previously baptized or not, who, upon a credible profession of faith, applied to them for membership in their churches -thus insisting upon a spiritual or regenerate church membership, the First and Most Important Mark of the Apostolic Church."1
Paterines Were Baptists
This will be all the information we will give on the Paterines. It should be easy to see, from the historical quotations, that they held to Baptist doctrine and that their stand made many of them martyrs. They were suffering churches united in their opposition to a corrupt clergy of the Catholic church. That takes in both Orchard's and Neander's ideas of the etymology of Paterines.
The name Puritan appears on J.M. Carroll's chart in the Trail of Blood. This has nothing to do whatsoever with the Puritans of England and New England. These were nonconformists of the church of England. They flourished in the 17th century. These were not Baptists even though the Reformed (?) Baptists (?) of our day praise them so highly.
As best as I can tell, "Puritan" comes from the word "Cathari." The last word means "the pure." There is very little use of the word "Puritan" in the histories referring to the early Baptists. However, the word "Cathari" is often used so most of our information will be concerning them.
The Novatians were the first to be called Puritan (Cathari). Jones writes: "In the end Novatian formed a church and was elected bishop. Great numbers followed his example, and all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted and flourished through the succeeding two hundreds years... They call Novatian the author of the heresy of puritanism, and yet they know that Tertullian had quitted the church nearly fifty years before, for the same reason.
The doctrinal sentiments of the Novatians appear to have been very scriptural, and the discipline of their churches rigid in the extreme. They were the first class of Christians who obtained the name of (Cathari) Puritans, an appellation which doth not appear to have been chosen by themselves, but applied to them by their adversaries; from which we may reasonably conclude that their manners were simple and irreproachable."6
Of the Novatianists Orchard writes: "The churches thus formed upon a plan of strict communion and rigid discipline, obtained the reproach of Puritans; they were the oldest body of Christian churches, of which we have any account, and a succession of them, as we shall prove, has continued to the present day."7
This is the Greek word meaning, according to Thayer, "clean, pure." That is the meaning of Puritan. As
Constantine changed the government of the false churches when he took the reins of it, other changes naturally followed. He desired to make the church inclusive. By that I mean he wanted everybody in the empire to be in "the church." If the "church" is to include everyone in a given locality then, the world and the church are the same. The church is no longer in the world but not of the world. Constantine's inclusive church (all citizens are to be church members) would lead to a non-distinction between the church and the world. Logically, this is exactly what Catholicism is.
The Novatianists and the Donatists began to withdraw and to speak of the Catholic church as the fallen church for this reason. Quite naturally the "fallen church" would seek to discredit these whom she labeled heretics.
Leonard Verdiun's book The Reformers and Their Stepchildren is one of the greatest aids to the serious student of Baptist History ever written. Listen to what he says about the term Cathari. "The fallen church in her effort to discredit the heretic, who was incessantly nagging her concerning her conductal averagism, dug up an old term of reproach, the name by which an ancient dualistic heretic had been known, the name Cathar, a word meaning cleansed."8 He wrote this in connection with the Donatists.
Cathari was a name widely applied to those who opposed the corruption in the church of Rome in all ages. It was applied to the Albigenses. Jacques Madaule (no friend to the Baptists at all) has much to say about the Cathari that is very useful. Following are some quotes in the chapter of his book that is titled The Cathars:
"Admittedly the Cathars re-echoed the attacks against the church of Rome, which they viewed as the church of the Devil or of the Antichrist... The Cathars, on the other hand, refused any kind of legitimacy to the Roman church. Though the prelate's evil ways might bear witness to her error, they were not its cause. The church, in the Catharist view, had taken a wrong turning with Pope Sylvester at the beginning of the fourth century, after the edict of Milan (313) by which her
position had been radically altered: from the persecuted church she had become the official church. Dante, too, dated the church's misfortunes and deviations were in the moral order only, whereas for the Cathars (who claimed links with the early Christians) they were in the doctrinal order."9
The Catharist Doctrine
Madaule writes: "The immediate origins of the movement are easy enough to trace; the more distant ones are less clear. We cannot help being struck -as Jean Guiraud, though a very Catholic historian, has brought out excellently in his History or the Inquisition -by the astonishing resemblance between the Catharist ritual and the ceremonies of the early church; so it would seem that the Cathars' claim to be the true Christians, preserving the purity and simplicity of the early church, was not entirely fanciful."10
Let me introduce a quote from Armitage. He quotes Everine, a Roman Catholic; which really is a good source of information for anyone studying the Cathari:
"Amongst the Cathari, however, we find a Baptist Body at Cologne and Bonn. Whence they came we are not informed; but they appeared in 1146, and Everine gives a full account of them in writing to Bernard, of whom he seeks aid in their suppression. He says that they had been recently discovered, and that two of them had openly opposed the Catholic clergy and laity in their assembly; the archbishop and nobles being present. The 'heretics' asked for a day of disputation, when re-enforced by certain of their number they would maintain their doctrines from Christ and the Apostles; and unless they were properly answered they would rather die than give up their principles. Upon this they were seized and burnt to death. Everine expresses his astonishment that they endured the torment of the stake not only with patience, but with joy; and asks how these members of Satan could suffer with such constancy and courage as were seldom found amongst the most godly. He then describes their heresy.
They professed to be the true Church, because they followed Christ, and patterned after the Apostles; they sought no secular gain or earthly property, but were the poor in
Christ, while the Roman Church made itself rich. They accounted themselves as sheep amongst wolves, fleeing from city to city, enduring persecution with the ancient martyrs, although they were living laborious, holy and self-denying lives. They charged their persecutors with being false apostles, with adulterating the word of God, with self-seeking, and the pope with corrupting the Apostle Peter's chair. He says: 'They do not hold the baptism of infants, alleging that passage of the Gospel, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.'" They rejected the intercession of saints, and they called all observances in the Church which Christ had not established superstitions. They denied the doctrine of purgatorial fire after death, and believed that when men die they go immediately to heaven or to hell. He therefore beseeches the 'holy father' to direct his pen against 'these wild beasts,' and to help him to 'resist these monsters.' He then says some of them 'Tell us that they had great numbers of their persuasion scattered almost everywhere, and that amongst them were many of our clergy and monks. And as for those who were burnt, they in the defense they made for themselves told us that this heresy had been concealed from the time of the martyrs -and that it had existed in Greece and other countries.' All this he evidently believed."11
The Cathari Were Baptists
By their doctrine and sufferings we identify with them as Baptists. Puritan or Cathari was just a name that described them. It was applied to most of the different Baptist groups. Vedder writes: "In the East they were long known as Paulicians, in Italy as the Paterines, in Bulgaria as Bogomils, in Southern France as Albigenses, and in all these places as Cathari."12
Notes on Chapter 8
1 History of the Christian Church, pages 281-283.
2 A Concise History of Baptists, pages 141-142.
3 History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, page 393.
4 History of the Christian Religion and Church, Volume 4, page 592.
5 History of the Church of God, page 299.
6 History of the Christian Church, page 181.
7 A Concise History of the Baptists, page 55.
8 The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, page 97.
9 The Albigensian Crusade, page 31.
10 The Albigensian Crusade, page 32.
11 History of the Baptists, Volume 1, pages 280-281.
12 A Short History of the Baptists, page 102.
Baptist History Notebook
Baptist History Homepage