Friday, April 17, 2009
Say what??? And again I say, What???
While I was poking around the Internet, I found the following article in Wikipedia:
The Circumcellions were fanatical bands of predatory peasants that flourished in North Africa in the 4th century. They preferred to be known as agonistici (“fighters (for Christ)”). At first they were concerned with remedying social grievances, but they became linked with the Donatist sect. They condemned property and slavery, and advocated canceling debts and freeing slaves. Donatists prized martyrdom and had a special devotion for the martyrs, rendering honors to their graves.
The Circumcellions had come to regard martyrdom as the true Christian virtue (the early Church Father Tertullian said, “A martyr’s death day was actually his birthday”), and thus disagreed with the Patriarchate of Carthage on the primacy of chastity, sobriety, humility, and charity. Instead, they focused on bringing about their martyrdom -- by any means possible.
Since Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions piously avoided bladed weapons and instead opted for the use of blunt clubs, which they called “Israelites.” Using their “Israelites” the Circumcellions would attack random travelers on the road, while shouting “Laudes Deo!” (“Praise the Lord!” in Latin.) The object of these random beatings was the death of the intrepid martyr, who hoped that hitting someone over the head with the club would provoke the victim to attack and kill them.
They survived until the fourth century in Africa, when their desire for martyrdom was fulfilled due to persecution.
1. “Circumcellions.” Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
2. Durant, Will (1972). The Age of Faith. New York: Simon and Schuster.
This article incorporates content from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, a publication in the public domain.
(End of Wikipedia article)
It takes all kinds. I wonder if they also expected to be greeted by 72 virgins.