by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Heresies requiring material poverty for eternal salvation have sprung up since the dawn of Christianity.
Here we refer more particularly to medieval miserabilists. Under the influence of the Cathars or Albigensians, who adopted the Manichean principle that matter is not only evil but the source of all evil, so-called pauperist heresies such as the Waldensians, The Poor of Lyons, the Patarines, the Apostolic Brethren, the Little Brethren or Fraticelli, the Humbled, Beghards, Hussites, Taborites, etc. proliferated in France, Bohemia, and Italy. The movement later continued with the Protestant pseudo-Reformation as in the case of Thomas Munzer’s Anabaptist hordes in Germany.
In general, leaving aside their particularities, these heretics preached effective poverty as necessary for salvation, fought private property and both richness and splendor in the Church and in temporal society. They said there were two churches: one poor and deprived — the true church to which they belonged — and the other rich and carnal, led by the Pope, to which the bishops belonged.