Catharic Heritage Part 3: “The Cathars were Christians too”. Montségur, October 2016

During the 12th and 13th century the Cathars’ and Albigenses’ “heretic” deviation from official dogma led to the cruelest religiously-motivated genocide in European history.On Sunday, October 16, 2016 the Bishop of Pamiers publicly apologized on behalf of the Catholic church of Occitania for participating in the inquisition crusades.

Catharic Heritage Part 3: “The Cathars were Christians too”. Montségur, October 2016

(Return to part 2)


The Rosicrucian manifesto „Fama Fraternitatis“ describes how the brothers of the Rosycross came across a hidden door after they had cleared away some of the brickwork. There they found the following inscription on the door:

I will open once 120 years have passed.

It is said that Christian Rosycross died in 1484 and that in 1604 a door to the spiritual world opened for all those who were “internally prepared” to pass through it. In a symbolic sense the number 120 can also be seen as the recurrent point in time where – after sufficient inner preparation – such a door will open.

Like a reflection of this something similar occurred on 16th October 2016 in the parish of Montségur in the South of France. The Catholic Church wrote history on this particular day and came to this conclusion:

The Cathars were Christians too.

On that particular Sunday in Montségur, Jean-Marc Eychenne, the Bishop of the Diocese of Pamiers, publicly apologised in the name of the French Catholic church in Occitania for participating in the inquisitorial crusades.

Free thinking and its consequences

Many of the people of Occitania had deviated from the original interpretation of the orthodox Christian message which in the 12th century led to the most brutal religious war in European history. The secular and clerical rulers at that time led a scathing crusade against the Cathars and Albigenses, the so-called heretics in the south of France. In Beziers alone at least 20.000 people are said to have been executed in one day in 1209 AD (anno Domini).

The annihilation and brutal breaking-up of the Cathars (=“Parfaits”) reached its peak when the last of them were burned at the foot of the mediaeval fort of Montségur. This fort was regarded as the main base of refuge for the Cathars from 1204-1244. They wrongly imagined that they would be safe here from their persecutors for a while. After the year-long siege from 1243 to 1244 the group of about 225 men and women capitulated. Before the eyes of the Inquisition they paced down the steep slope on 16th March 1244 to enter the funeral pyre (La Prada) at the foot of the Montségur fort. How easy it would have been for them to save their lives if they had only renounced their faith! Instead of doing that they were prepared to choose a martyr’s death, as so many other Cathars had done before them.

A troubadour who was witness to this event cried out the following prophecy:

The laurel will thrive again when 700 years have passed!” [1]

The French poet H. Teulié wrote in 1893:


Oh holy place of our fighters,

You were built by Esclarmonde, close to the Heavens,

Oh, platform of troubadours, knights and exiles,

How proud you stand on high stony rocks!


Oh glorious grave from Occitania’s time of glory,

Red was the blood of The Fathers that ran down your walls.

Now collapsed and freed of your roof you can teach us,

O soul of the Midi, the meaning of repentance.


But once 700 years have passed the laurel will bloom again

upon the ashes of the martyrs – ashes which cast

dark shadows of oblivion over so many happy days!


Always looming proudly on your steep height,

speak to the weather, to thunder and winter:

“My cliff face will loom for all eternity, so come to me if you dare….” [2]


The laurel thrives again

Antonin Gadal (1877-1962), guardian of the Cathars’ heritage in the South of France, made this prophecy come true. He transferred this heritage to Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharose de Petri, the spiritual leaders of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum.
Gadal, van Rijckenborgh and de Petri erected the Galaad monument in the Ariége valley in commemoration of the “Threefold Alliance of the Light” (= Grail, Cathars and Rosycross) and inaugurated it on 5th March 1957.

From 1986 onwards international conferences of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum were held at this place every 5 years (= 6 conferences in total) with approximately 2000 attendees from all over the world.

On Sunday 16th October 2016 I was sitting with thoughts like this in my head in the village square of Montségur. The autumn sun covered the place with a golden haze and gave the landscape a magical appearance. I felt that time and space were flowing into one. I was surrounded by many people, all in the here and now. Maybe other people also had the feeling that we were all being touched by the chain of the Gnostic Brotherhoods, which outlasts all of time. Catholics, Cathars, Rosicrucians and many others felt deeply stirred. This was a tremendous and indescribable experience.

The plea for forgiveness

The Bishop of the Diocese of Pamiers, a tall slim man with a friendly demeanour, gave a moving speech in the hugely packed village church. The remaining visitors were able to listen to the ceremony in the village square in front of the church via loudspeaker.

This was not the administering of any Mass, this was a special liturgy comprising various speeches. The Bishop voiced the plea for forgiveness in the name of the Ariège church. The beg for forgiveness was directed towards God, as well as the expressing of regret for the scheming tactics which had taken place between the secular and clerical authorities at the time.

Here is an excerpt from the Bishop’s speech:

“The embers are still hot under the ashes. The fire of injustice is still burning. Our wish is for justice and peace. We are asking to be able to  cry, we are asking that the ice of our indifference may break, so that the rain can wipe away our tears and quench the fire.”

The Episcopalian speaker emphasised that “it was a mistake to cooperate with the secular power that dominated at the time.”

He continued in his message to the church of Ariège: “We ask God for forgiveness for acting against the Gospel, a Gospel where Jesus decreed that we should love our brethren and to never respond to violence with acts with violence.” It should be noted here that the Cathars never resorted to any act of violence whatsoever.

The speeches were accompanied by mediaeval chants and rhythms.

It was a unique moment when the Cathars‘ version of The Lord’s Prayer was sung aloud in public for the first time by the singer Muriel Batbie. The Lord’s Prayer resounded over the loudspeakers down into the valley, so that even the brayings of a local donkey were inspired by the melody.

600 people took part in the event. It was a mixed group of people, some were dressed in mediaeval costume. Red flags with the golden Cathars’ cross were everywhere to be seen.

After the hour’s ceremony in the church we walked together in silence, with laurel twigs in our hands, up to that place in the village where the funeral pyre had at one time been presumably set up.

There we could hear music being played on mediaeval instruments; this Occitanian tradition is still cultivated today. We all sang together the “Hymn of the Cathars”.
We sat for a long time, lost in thought, at the foot of the Montségur, listening to a solitary flute player in the nearby meadow. We started our way home as the sun began to disappear from the horizon, allowing the vibrations of our memorable day to linger as we all sat together for our evening meal in our romantic tower house in Tarascon.

It was the 120th anniversary of Jan van Rijckenborgh.




[1] See Joost R. Ritman in: Antonin Gadal, De Triumf van de Universele Gnosis, Amsterdam 2004, p. 16

[2] Quoted in: Antonin Gadal, De Triumf van de Universele Gnosis, Amsterdam 2004, p. 37 (translation)

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Date: February 29, 2020
Author: Anita Selinsek (Germany)
Photo: Claude Alleva auf Pixabay CCO

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