Some Gnostics sprinkled the heads of the dying with oil and water to render them invisible to the powers of darkness; but in the East generally, where the need to compete with the Cathar sacrament of Consolatio was less acutely felt, extreme unction is unknown.
Of the Starine of the South Slavonic Academy at Agram, shows great resemblance to the Cathar ritual published by Cunitz, 1853.
This article relates to the Western Cathars, as they appear (1) in the Cathar Ritual written in Provencal and preserved in a 13th -century MS. in Lyons, published by Cledat, Paris, 1888; (2) in Bernard Gui's Practica inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis, edited by Canon C. Douais, Paris, 1886; and (3) in the proces verbal of the inquisitors' reports.
(Fn3) The Cathar rites, which remain to us in a manual of the sect, "recall," says the Abbe Guiraud, no too favourable a witness, "those of the primitive church with a truth and precision the more striking the nearer we go back to the apostolic age."
This being so, it is of the deepest interest to study the Cathar cult, since through its rites we can get a glimpse of those of the primitive church, about which want of documents leaves us too often in the dark."
The central Cathar rite was consolamentum, or baptism with spirit and fire.
Just as at the third scrutiny the early catechumen passed a last examination in the Gospels, Creed and Lord's Prayer, so after their year of abstinence the credens receives creed and prayer; the allocution with which the elder "handed on" this prayer is preserved, and of it the Abbe Guiraud remarks that, if it were not in a Cathar ritual, one might believe it to be of Catholic origin.
The Cathar Eucharist was equally primitive, and is thus described by a contemporary writer in a 13th-century MS. of the Milan Library: "The Benediction of bread is thus performed by the Cathars.
To counteract it celibacy was finally imposed on the clergy, and the great mendicant orders evolved; while the constant polemic of the Cathar teachers against the cruelty, rapacity and irascibility of the Jewish tribal god led the church to prohibit the circulation of the Old Testament among laymen.