Foreword to the Cathar Ritual





This Occitan Cathar ritual is appended to the New Testament in ms. Palais des Arts 36, Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon (ff. 325v-241v). The dialect of both texts is Languedocian though the language of the ritual diverges somewhat from that of the N.T., especially as regards a sprinkling of Italianisms, most notably in the Servissi. The manuscript was probably copied in northern Italy around the middle of the first half of 14th century; see Harris 1987, 2004. E. Cunitz’s 1852 edition of the Ritual, difficult to find today, is of little value. His many erroneous readings are excluded from the apparatus here, but Léon Clédat gives a number of them in the notes to his 1887 edition, reprinted in 1968. Thouzellier transcribed in 1977, using Clédat’s photolithographic reproduction, the Latin texts of the Pater noster and verses 1.1-17 of the Prologue to the Gospel of John that Clédat had not included in his edition. Jean Duvernoy’s 1977 somewhat rough edition of the entire Ritual remained unpublished until 2001 when it was posted online as a PDF file. Regrettably, the digital text suffers from an abundance of data entry errors, as yet uncorrected in May 2005. Due to its present condition, Duvernoy’s readings are only selectively chosen for the apparatus. Thouzellier sometimes repeats errors picked up from Dondaine and both tend to perpetuate Clédat’s incorrect or questionable readings.

editorial procedures: The present edition for Rialto has profited from the use of good quality digitized color images of the ritual. For example, high magnification permits the reconstruction of the missing words in the long blank space in Clédat’s reproduction (p. 481b26, ms. 241b); see note 6.34. A searchable preliminary digital transcription of the complete New Testament has also been of great value for the study of linguistic peculiarities in the Ritual. Paragraph indentation corresponds to the scribe’s large decorated initials, those for the Prologue to John and for the Servissi being distinctly large. Roman numerals plus titles for the six sections as well as folio numbers with column lettering (a, b recto; c, d verso) and verse numbering for John’s Prologue have been added. Sentence numbering in brackets has also been added to facilitate referencing; italicized numbers point the reader to the apparatus. Latin text is italicized. Biblical citations, a list of which follows the apparatus, are in boldface type. A major innovation separates this edition from earlier ones, namely, the rigorous resolution of the scribe’s two distinct styles of abbreviated nasals, one as a wavy titulus (~) for m and the other as a straight titulus (-) for n. Ms. clusters ‑mt‑ and ‑md‑ replacing ancestral ‑nt‑ and ‑nd‑ are therefore kept; cf. gramde for grande in a 14th-century Italian praise hymn (l. 15), La dona del pareyso, by a Piedmontese brother, Columba da Vinchio. Though the glide ‑p‑ in ms. imptemtationem (1.11) offers proof for the pronunciation [m] < [n] before [t] in sentence phonetics, it is suppressed here for lexical neatness; cf. in word phonetics memta (432) in which [m] is noted as a wavy titulus. Another striking feature preserved here, because of its frequency in ms. PA 36, is the missing n expected in the traditional clusters ‑nt‑, ‑nd‑ and ‑nc‑, ‑ng‑; cf. pregan for prengan (6.26). Emendation is kept to a minimum, though the reconstruction of  an extended piece of text assumed to have been lost in sentence 5.10 constitutes a major exception to that conservative stance; see the details in Harris 1984. Subjective differences in capitalization do not appear in the apparatus. Only significant divergences in sentence division and the resulting required punctuation appear in the apparatus; cf. 3.36. The scribe’s Roman numerals are retained whereas Clédat rewrites most of them as words. The single case of fully written oracio (2.14) has determined the resolution of the abbreviated forms despite the prevalence of orazo over oracio in the N.T. in the rare cases where they are written in full. As regards other resolutions of abbreviations, Occ. Crist is preferred over Christ because of cr‑ in crestia. Lat. Iesus, Christus and Iohannes are resolved according to the Stuttgart Vulgate. Resolved Occ. Lat. and Occ. gracia instead of gratia is supported by Lat. grasiam (6.41). The root sant‑ written in full in Lat. santus (1.3) and six other cases of sant‑ accounts for the spelling without ‑c‑ in the four abbreviations scm (twice), scs, sce + superscript line despite its presence in fully written sanctificetur (1.6) and sanctum (1.14). Occitan derivatives of Lat. SANCT‑ are most often abbreviated as .S. + superscript line in ms. PA 36. That abbreviation is resolved here as sg. sant before vowels and as in sante for sant e and sant avangeli (2.16) despite N.T. hom sanh e just (p. 72b21) with sanh written in full. It is likewise resolved as sg. sanh before consonants as in 1Th 5.26 el sanh baizar (p. 423a21) where it is written in full. The abbreviated masculine predicate adjective is likewise developed thus in es sanh (3.28); cf. 1Co 3.18 es sanhs (p. 356b13). The prevocalic plural objective case in sanhs Av/angelis (2.2) follows Lu 9. 26 san/hs angels (p. 122a18/19); the subjective case in li sanh a|postol (2.6) is conjectural for the lack of  a parallel. Occ. fem. sg. santa for all ten cases of abbreviated sca + superscript line is supported by Jude 20 santa (p. 330a11). Cl’s ‑i‑ in aia/‑tz, deiatz, merceneiar, and autreiar (but batejat/‑z, batejara; cf. bategi, bategec) is written here as ‑j‑. Lat. iusticia is preferred to Clédat’s justicia. Tironian 7 is developed as Lat. and Occ. et. The hyphen in mas‑emposetio denotes a noun + noun compound calqued on manus impositio; see Harris 2004, 234-235. The suppression for typographic neatness of the second running title servisi (236c) causes no loss of linguistic data inasmuch as ms. seruisi (236a23) and seruisj (236c25) also register the form with ‑s‑ versus ‑ss‑ in servissi (T.2).

translations: Clédat’s French translation (pp. [IX]-XXVI) essentially supplied, with very few modifications, is the source for Nelli and Lavaud’s text (also without the opening Latin text) and Nelli’s slightly reworked Servisi. The complete Occitan text has been translated into English by Wakefield and Evans who acknowledge Clédat’s French text as their source and into Italian by Zambon whose text shows signs of reliance on Clédat’s interpretations. Those two versions perpetuate some of Clédat’s mistranslations.

Marvyn Roy Harris





L. Clédat, Le Nouveau Testament, traduit au XIIIe siècle en langue provençale, suivi d’un rituel cathare, Geneva 1968; reprint of the Paris 1887 edition. Photolithographic reproduction of New Testament, pp. 1-469, and of Ritual, pp. 470-482; Latin text of section I (incomplete), pp. VI-VII, and Occitan text with facing French translation of sections II-VI, pp. [IX]-XXVI.

E. Cunitz, «Ein Katharisches Ritual», Beiträge zu den theologischen Wissenschaften, vol. IV, Jena 1852.

A. Dondaine, O. P. Un traité néo-manichéen du XIIIe siècle: le Liber de Duobus Principiis suivi d’un fragment de rituel cathare, Rome 1939; esp. pp. 37-43.

Jean Duvernoy. Online edition of the Occitan Cathar Ritual at Occitan text 1977; PDF file May 2001.

M(arvyn) Roy Harris, «Le problème des bonshommes devant l’animal piégé dans le Rituel cathare occitan», Heresis, 2 (summer 1984), pp. 15-19; see also the supplementary argument of H. Stein-Schneider in num. 3 (Dec. 1984), p. 63.

, «La localisation de la scripta du Rituel cathare occitan (MS. Lyon, Bibl. mun., PA 36)» in Actes du Premier Congrès International de l’Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes, ed. Peter T. Ricketts, A.I.E.O., London 1987.

—, «Minca ‘chaque’ et d'autres mots piémontais dans le Rituel cathare occitan (Ms. Bibl. mun. de Lyon, PA 36)», La France latine, Nº 139, 2004, pp. 217-238.

René Nelli, Écritures cathares. Le Rituel cathare (Le Rituel occitan, Le Rituel Latin), pp. 207-247, Paris 1968.

— and René Lavaud, Les Troubadours, vol. II Le Trésor poétique de l’Occitanie, Rituel cathare (only the Servisi), pp. 1028-1033, [Paris-Bruges] 1966.

Enrico Riparelli. Rialto edition of Glossa al «Pater» in Prosa religiosa, Naples 2002.

Christine Thouzellier. Rituel cathare; introduction, texte critique, traduction et notes, Paris 1977.

Columba da Vinchio (frate). Inni e lauda in Opera del Vocabolario Italiano. ARTFL Project at

Walter L. Wakefield and Austin P. Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, 2nd ed., New York-Oxford 1991.

Francesco Zambon, La cena segreta; trattati e rituali catari, Milano 1997.