Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/267

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247
THE POOR CATHOLICS.

ing to the faithful and converting the heretic, pledging themselves not to attack the vices of the clergy. Laymen unable to serve in this capacity were to live in houses and labor with their hands, giving due tithes, oblations, and first-fruits to the Church. The care of the poor, moreover, was to be a special duty, and a rich layman in the diocese of Elne proposed to build for them a hospital with fifty beds, to erect a church, and to distribute garments to the naked. They were to elect their own superior, but were to be in no wise exempt from the regular jurisdiction of the prelates.[1]

In this institution of the "Pauperes Catholici," or Poor Catholics — as they called themselves in contradistinction to the "Pauperes de Lugduno" or Waldenses — there lay the possibilities of all that Dominic and Francis afterwards conceived and executed. It was the origin, or at least the precursor, of the great Mendicant Orders, the germ of the great fructifying idea which accomplished results so marvellous ; and while it is not likely that Francis in Italy borrowed his conception from Duran, it is more than probable that Dominic in France, where he must have been familiar with the movement, was led by the plan of the Poor Catholics to that of the Preaching Friars, which was so closely modelled on it. Yet though at the start Duran had apparently far better prospects of success than either Dominic or Francis, his project was foredoomed from the beginning. Already in 1209 he had communities planted in Aragon, Narbonne, Béziers, Usez, Carcassonne, and Nimes, but the prelates of Languedoc were universally suspicious of the project and secretly or actively hostile. Cavils were raised as to the reconciliation of converted heretics ; complaints were made that the conversions were feigned and that the converts were lacking in respect for the Church and its observances. The crusade was on foot ; it seemed easier to crush than to persuade, and in the tumultuous passions of that fierce time the humble methods of Durán and his brethren were laughed to scorn. In vain he appealed to Innocent. In vain Innocent, who viewed the project with the intuition of a Christian statesman, assured him of the papal protection, and wrote again and again to the prelates commanding them to favor the Poor Catholics, reminding them that wandering sheep


  1. Pet. Sarnens. c. 6.— Guillel. Pod. Laur. c. 8.— Innoc. PP. HI. Regest. XL 196, 197; xn. 17.