The Council of Narbonne, in 1229, prescribed the wearing of these crosses by all converts who voluntarily abandoned heresy and returned to the faith of their own free will, as an evidence of their detestation of their former errors. Apparently the penance was found hard to bear, and efforts were made to escape it, for the statutes of Raymond, in 1234, and the Council of Béziers of the same year, threaten confiscation for all who refuse to wear them, or endeavor to conceal them. Subsequent councils renewed and extended the obligation on all who were reconciled to the Church; and that of Valence, in 1248, decreed that all who disobeyed should be forced without mercy to resume them, and that abandoning them after due monition should be visited, like jail-breaking, with the full penalties of impenitent heresy. In a case recorded in 1251, a penitent preparing for a crusade seems to have thought himself authorized to abandon the crosses before starting, and, was sentenced to come to Carcassonne on the first Sunday of every month until his departure, barefooted and in shirt and drawers, and visit every church in the city, with a rod, to undergo scourging.
Though this penance w^as regarded as merciful in comparison with imprisonment, it was not easily endurable, and we can readily understand the sharp penalties required to enforce obedience. In the sentences of Pierre Cella it is only prescribed in aggravated cases, and then merely for from one to five years, though subsequently it grew to be universal, and without a limit of time. The unfortunate penitent w^as exposed to the ridicule and derision of all whom he met, and was heavily handicapped in every effort to earn a livelihood. Even in the earlier time, when a majority of the population of Languedoc were heretics, and the cross-wearers were so numerous that their presence in Palestine was dreaded, the Council of Béziers, in 1246, feels obliged to warn the people that penitents should be welcomed and their cheerful endurance of penance should be a subject of gratulation for all the faithful, and therefore it strictly forbids ridicule of those who wear crosses, or refusal to transact business with them. Though penitents were
- Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1229 c. 10. — Statut. Raymond! ann. 1234 (Harduin. VII. 205). — Concil. Biterrens. ann. 1234 c. 4. — Concil. Tarraconens, ann. 1242. — Concil. Narbonn. ann. 1244 c. 1. — Concil. Valentin, ann. 1248 c. 13. — Concil. Albiens. ann. 1254 c. 4.— MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, nouv. acq. 139, fol. 2.