committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

SECTION XX.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUISITION IN BOSNIA.—THE LETTER
OF POPE JOHN XXII.—PREVIOUS TESTIMONY OF ENEMIES TO THE PURITY
OF THE LIVES OF THE BOGOMILS.

ABOUT 1275, Bosnia passed under the overlordship of the King of Serbia, Stephen Dragutin, and his successor, Milutin Urosh II. The latter was favorable to the Romish Church, and in 1291 allowed two Franciscan brothers to establish the Inquisition in Bosnia. But at first the jaws of this terrible wild beast were muzzled. For a period of about sixty years the Bogomil churches had rest, and, like those in apostolic times, "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

After this season of peace and quiet the hand of the persecutor was raised against them more violently than ever. The Hungarians had once more regained their ascendency in Bosnia, and the Romish authority was re-established there. In June, 1325, the pope, John XXII., wrote two letters, one to Charles, King of Hungary, the other to Stephen Kotromanovic, Ban of Bosnia. The letter is still extant, and bears date at Avignon. The following is a literal translation of it:

"To OUR BELOVED SON AND NOBLEMAN, STEPHEN, PRINCE OF BOSNIA: Knowing that thou art a faithful son of the church, we therefore charge thee to exterminate the heretics in thy dominions, and to render aid and assistance unto Fabian, our inquisitor, forasmuch as a large multitude of heretics, from many and divers parts collected, hath flowed together unto the principality of Bosnia, trusting there to sow their obscene errors and to dwell there in safety. These men, imbued with the cunning of the Old Fiend and armed with the venom of their falseness, corrupt the minds of Catholics by outward show of simplicity and lying assumption of the name of Christians; their speech crawleth like a crab and they creep in with humility, but in secret they kill and are wolves in sheep's clothing, covering their bestial fury as a means whereby they may deceive the simple sheep of Christ."[31]

How terrible the danger that these ravenous lambs would tear and destroy the meek, gentle, and timid wolves of the Inquisition!

This was not the first time that the Bogomils had been accused of hypocritical meekness and gentleness. Three centuries before, the presbyter Cosmas had said, "When men see their lowly behavior, then think they that they are of true belief; they approach them, therefore; and consult them about their souls' health. But they, like wolves that will swallow up a lamb, bow their head, sigh, and answer full of humility, and set themselves up as if they knew how it is ordered in heaven." And to the same purport Euthymius, the scribe of Alexius Comnenus, who furnished the evidence on which the Bulgarian elder was sent to the stake, says of them: "They bid those who listen to their doctrines to keep the commandments of the gospel, and to be meek and merciful and full of brotherly love. Thus they entice men on by teaching all good things and useful doctrine, but they poison by degrees and draw to perdition." We could hardly ask for stronger evidence than these hosthe popes and priests supply of the purity of the lives and doctrines of those whom they persecuted.

 
 
The Reformed Reader Home Page 


Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved