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.[1] They preferred to be known as agonistici (“fighters (for Christ)”).[1] At first they were concerned with remedying social grievances, but they became linked with the Donatist sect.[1] They condemned property and slavery, and advocated canceling debts and freeing slaves.[2] 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.


  1. A predatory peasant? The mind boggles...

  2. Never can tell what I will learn if I come here.
    I must have been sleeping when they covered this in seminary.

  3. At first I thought you were doing an allegory - you know, don't beat people over the head with the Bible and then act all pious when they don't welcome it! I guess these people took it to new lengths. It is amazing how often we refuse to "do the do's" in the Bible, insist on "doing the don'ts" and then MAKE UP "Do's" to do. Weird.

  4. I think people are all wrong about the Bible. As a shepherd Jesus was all about making people understand.
    Understanding is different from memorizing or reading or knowing something. Its much deeper than that.To understand something means that you will never forget it.The knowledge becomes a part of you and who your are.
    So people have not understood what love is or compassion or forgiveness etc.. because if they did there would not be excuses for violence.It's like my Mom told me not to put my hand on the hot element of the stove. The next day I tried reminding her not to do and and instead did it myself in demonstration lol
    I was taught something but I did not understand till I burnt my hand. Its something like that.

  5. Thanks for the info. I had certainly never heard of this group before.

    Recently I read about the "Virgin Martyrs".....young teenage Christian girls in the 300's and 400's who submitted to martyrdom rather than be forced into arranged marriages with men they did not love, which was the customary way of marriage back then. It was very eye-opening. These girls died not so much to remain virgins for Christ as for the ideal of rebelling against the status quo of the Roman culture. Christianity somehow gave them the courage and motivation to die rather than submit.

  6. Thank you, as always, for your comments.

    jinksy - I can never tell when you are being serious and when you have a twinkle in your eye....

    Dr. John - It was new to me also, as evidenced by the posts' title.

    Rosezilla (Tracie) - And we major in the minors and minor in the majors. We are truly messed up. How could anyone think otherwise?

    A Lady's Life - Your hot stove example is a good illustration. I'm not sure I agree with you that "Jesus was all about making people understand." Why, then, did He speak in parables, which most people didn't get at all? He did explain a few of them to his disciples, though. But only a few.

    Jeannelle - Circumcellions, customs resulting in Virgin Martyrs, it's a wonder the human race is still around.