Spirituality and religious life


The long period of the Middle Ages, which stretched from the end of Antiquity to the beginning of the Renaissance, was marked by the domination of one school of thought: the Christian religion. This religion unified over the course of the centuries, accepting the authority of the Pope. It permeated every level of society, from the bottom to the top of the social scale; governed the lives of individuals; and was ever-increasingly firm at imposing its dogmas, i.e. Its fundamental, indisputable and intangible affirmations..

The notion of heresy re-emerged at the end of the 9th Century. The year 1000 was haunted by the combat between good and evil: under the banner of the Pope, holy war was justified, against infidels or heretics.

Illustration de saint Michel terrassant le Dragon


In a person's daily life, this spirituality manifested as a permanent concern as to whether one's sins would be forgiven, and whether one’s soul would find salvation after death. In their quest for pardon, people, whether rich or poor, were guided by the Church. Sacraments, pilgrimages, donations and devotion to the relics of saints were just some of the ways in which you could express your faith. For a noble during the Middle Ages, there was a real benefit in being buried close to the relics of a saint or making donations to an abbey. For anyone, pilgrimage is one path towards forgiveness.

Alongside the secular clergy, like bishops and priests, who lived amongst the people in order to guide the faithful, the regular clergy prayed for everyone. This clergy was the monks, who lived a life governed by a Rule. Numerous rules have been drawn up since Antiquity, but one has come to dominate the Western Christian world: the Benedictine Rule.

In the 12th Century, the Church became rich and powerful, and was dotted with various movements seeking a return to the ideal of poverty. Numerous orders arose and it sometimes took time before they were accepted by the papacy, as was the case for the Franciscans, for example. The period also saw the emergence of what the Church would refer to as “heresies”, i.e. schools of thought in contradiction with dogma. Catharism was one of these schools.

Confirmation au couvent de Prouilhe des privilèges relatifs à la maison du miracle du feu à Fanjeaux