Rise of the Bogomils

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. They were placed there as a bulwark against the invading Bulgar tribes. Relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

What did these Bogomils teach? "Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women. images and crosses were idols" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., "Bogomils"). They also taught that prayer should be done at home, not in separate buildings such as churches. They taught that the congregation consisted of the "elect" and that each individual should seek to attain the perfection of Christ. Their ministry is said to have gone about healing the sick and casting out demons.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, many Bogomils spread westward and settled in Serbia. Later, large numbers took refuge in Bosnia by the end of the twelfth century. These Bogomils were "only one version of a group of related heretical sects that flourished across Asia Minor and southern Europe during the Middle Ages under a variety of names, the best-known being the Patarenes, Cathars and Albigensians" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. 29, p. 1,098). They were condemned as heretics due to their belief that "the world is governed by two principles, good and evil, and human affairs are shaped by the conflict between them; the whole visible world is given over to Satan" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 1,098). From their Balkan base, the Bogomils' influence, initially fostered by a merchant's trading network, extended into Piedmont in Italy and also southern France. By the time the Ottoman Turks assumed power in Bosnia, the seeds of the Truth had spread to the Piedmont, Provencal and Alpine areas of Europe.

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