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The Most Successful Heresy of the Middle Ages
Without lifting a sword, the Cathars posed a threat to Catholicism greater than the Muslims or Jews—or so the Church believed. The Cathars believed that matter was essentially evil—especially the human body—and that the material world had to be transcended through a simple life of prayer, work, fasting, and nonviolence. Though they radically departed from certain traditional Christian beliefs, the Cathars still believed themselves to be the heirs of the true heritage of Christianity. They completely rejected the Catholic Church and all its opulent trappings, regarding it as the Church of Satan; Cathar services and ceremonies, by contrast, were held in fields, barns, and people's homes.