Christian Churches of God

No. 122





General Distribution of the

Sabbath-keeping Churches

(Edition 3.0 19950624-19991205-20100111)



This important paper traces the Sabbath-keeping Churches from the first century into the Middle East, Europe and throughout Asia. Covering a span of some two millennia, it is a comprehensive record not only of the Churches but also of the lengths to which the Sunday-worshipping system went to wipe them out under persecution.


Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright ©1995, 1998, 1999, 2010 Wade Cox)


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General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches



From an examination of the history of the Sabbath-keeping Churches, we are able to draw some important conclusions about them and also trace a system of observance, which shows that the biblical model as established by Christ has never ceased. There are a number of significant examples, which show a sequential history of the Sabbath-keeping Churches throughout the early Christian world and in Europe, before and during the Middle Ages. These continue on into, and through, the Reformation. The Sabbath-keeping churches, termed also Sabbatati, have existed at one stage or another over the greater part of the planet. These Churches also appear to have, in their central core, from the earliest stages, kept the Holy Days.


Sabbath observance was widespread and appears to have been opposed from Rome. It was kept in Egypt as the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus (c. 200-250 AD) shows:

Except ye make the sabbath a real sabbath [Gr. sabbatize the Sabbath], ye shall not see the Father (The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Pt. 1, p. 3, Logion 2, verso 4-11, London: Offices of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1898).


Origen also enjoined Sabbath-keeping:

After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice [the crucifixion] is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to keep also the festival of the Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is, a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God [Hebrews 4:9] (Homily on Numbers 23, para. 4, in Migne, Patrologia Græca, Vol. 12, cols. 749, 750).


Similarly the Constitution of the Holy Apostles (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7, p. 413; c. 3rd century) states:

Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands.


Sabbath-keeping, the original position of the Church, had spread west into Europe and from Palestine, it spread East into India (Mingana Early Spread of Christianity, Vol. 10, p. 460) and then into China. The introduction of Sabbath-keeping to India caused a controversy in Buddhism in 220 CE. According to Lloyd (The Creed of Half Japan, p. 23) the Kushan Dynasty of North India, called a council of Buddhist priests at Vaisalia, to bring uniformity among the Buddhist monks on the observance of their weekly Sabbath. Some had been so impressed by the Old Testament writings that they had begun to keep the Sabbath.


The Sabbatati of Europe were not an inconsiderable force. The Church established in Milan kept the Sabbath.

It was the practice generally of the Eastern Churches; and some churches of the West ... For in the Church of Millaine [Milan]; ... it seemes the Saturday was held in a farre esteeme ... Not that the Easterne Churches, or any of the rest which observed that day were inclined to Iudaisme [Judaism]; but that they came together on the Sabbath day, to worship Iesus [Jesus] Christ the Lord of the Sabbath (Dr. Peter Heylyn History of the Sabbath, London 1636, Part 2, para. 5, pp. 73-74; original spelling retained).


The western Churches under the Goths had allegedly fallen into neglect of the Sabbath, because of the influence of Rome, even though the Goths themselves were not Catholic, but Subordinationist or so-called Arians. Sidonius says that under Theodoric in 454-526:

It is a fact that it was formerly the custom in the East to keep the Sabbath in the same manner as the Lord's day and to hold sacred assemblies: while on the other hand, the people of the West, contending for the Lord's day have neglected the celebration of the Sabbath (Apollinaris Sidonii Epistolæ, lib. 1,2; Migne, 57).


However, the West Goths, who moved into Southern Gaul and Spain, were adoptionist and were termed Bonosians allegedly from Bonosus of Sardica, who taught that Joseph and Mary had children. He was classified with Marcellus and Photius, thus indicating that they were of similar mind regarding the Sabbath and the law.


That appears to be supported also by the fact that Marseilles was the headquarters of the western predestinationists (Massilians), which erupted there and was finally condemned as Pelagianism (probably incorrectly) at Orange in 529 (ERE, Sects, Vol. XI, p. 319).


From canon 26 of the Council of Elvira (c. 305), it appears that the Church in Spain had kept the Sabbath. Rome had introduced the practice of fasting on the Sabbath to counteract Sabbath-keeping. Pope Sylvester (314-335) was the first to order the Churches to fast on the Sabbath, and Pope Innocent (402-417) made it a binding law in the Churches that obeyed him.

Innocentius did ordaine the Saturday or Sabbath to be always fasted (Peter Heylyn, History of the Sabbath, Part 2, Ch. 2, London, 1636, p. 44).


Canon 26 of the Council of Elvira held

As to fasting every Sabbath: Resolved, that the error be corrected of fasting every Sabbath.


The city of Sabadell in north-eastern Spain near Barcelona draws its name from the Sabbatati or Valdenses (or Vallenses). The age of the name and the antiquity of the terms Sabbatati and Insabatati mitigate against the case for Waldo to have founded the Vallenses, but rather their distribution shows that he was converted by them, and took his name from them as we will see.


The Sabbath-keeping Churches in Persia underwent forty years of persecution under Shapur II, from 335-375 specifically, because they were Sabbath-keeping.

They despise our sun-god. Did not Zoroaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honour of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday (O'Leary, The Syriac Church and Fathers, pp. 83-84, requoted Truth Triumphant p. 170).


This persecution was mirrored in the west by the Council of Laodicea (c. 366). Hefele notes:

Canon 16 - The Gospels along with other Scripture be read on the Sabbath (cf. also canons 49 and 51, Bacchiocchi, fn. 15, p. 217).

Canon 29 - Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day honouring rather the Lord's day by resting, if possible, as Christians. However if any shall be found judaizing, let them be anathema for Christ (Mansi, II, pp. 569-570, see also Hefele, Councils, Vol. 2, b. 6).


Socrates the Historian says:

For although almost all Churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries [assumed by Catholics to be the eucharist or Lord's Supper so-called] on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Bk 5, Ch. 22, p. 289).


The Sabbath was observed into the fifth century by Christianity (Lyman Coleman Ancient Christianity Exemplified, Ch. 26, Sec. 2, p. 527). Certainly, as at the time of Jerome (420), the devoutest Christians did ordinary work on Sunday (Dr. White, bishop of Ely, Treatise of the Sabbath Day, p. 219).


Augustine of Hippo, a devout Sunday keeper, attested that the Sabbath was observed in the greater part of the Christian world (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF), First Series, Vol. 1, pp. 353-354) and deplored the fact that in two neighbouring Churches in Africa, one observed the seventh day Sabbath, while another fasted on it (Peter Heylyn, op. cit., p. 416).


The Churches generally held the Sabbath for some time.

The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day ...  It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival ...  Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same (Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Bk. xx, Ch. 3, Sec 1, 66. 1137,1136).


In the last half of the fourth century, the bishop of the Sabbath-keeping Abyssinian Church, Mueses, visited China. Ambrose of Milan stated that Mueses had travelled almost everywhere in the country of the Seres' (China) (Ambrose, De Moribus, Brachman-orium Opera Omnia, 1132, found in Migne, Patriologia Latina, Vol. 17, pp. 1131-1132). Mingana holds that the Abyssinian Museus travelled to Arabia, Persia, India and China in 370 (see also fn. 27 to Truth Triumphant, p. 308).


The Sabbath Churches were established in Persia and the Tigris-Euphrates basin. They kept the Sabbath and paid tithes to their Churches (Realencyclopæie fur Protestantishe und Kirche, art. Nestorianer; see also Yule, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, Vol. 2, p. 409). The St. Thomas Christians of India were never in communion with Rome.


They were Sabbath-keepers, as were those who broke off communion with Rome after the Council of Chalcedon, namely the Abyssinian, the Jacobites, the Maronites, and the Armenians and the Kurds, who kept the food laws and denied confession and purgatory (Schaff-Herzog, The New Encyclopædia of Religious Knowledge, art. ‘Nestorians’ and ‘Nestorianer’ above). 


In 781 the famous China Monument was inscribed in marble to tell of the growth of Christianity in China at that time. The inscription of 763 words was unearthed near the city of Changan in 1625 and allegedly now stands in the Forest of Tablets at Changan. The extract from the tablet states:

On the seventh day we offer sacrifices, after having purified our hearts, and received absolution for our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts (M. l'Abbe Hue, Christianity in China, Vol. I, Ch. 2, pp. 48-49).


The Jacobites were noted as Sabbath-keepers in 1625 in India (Pilgrimmes, Pt. 2, p. 1269).


The Abyssinian Church remained Sabbath-keeping and in Ethiopia the Jesuits tried to get the Abyssinians to accept Roman Catholicism. The Abyssinian legate at the court of Lisbon denied they kept Sabbath in imitation of the Jews, but rather in obedience to Christ and the Apostles (Geddes, Church History of Ethiopia, pp. 87-88). The Jesuits influenced king Zadenghel to propose to submit to the Papacy in 1604, and prohibiting Sabbath worship under severe penalty (Geddes, ibid., p. 311 and also Gibbons, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. 47). 


The Sabbath in Italy

Allegedly, Ambrose of Milan kept Sabbath in Milan and Sunday in Rome, hence giving rise to the saying when in Rome do as Rome does (Heylyn, op. cit., 1612). Heylyn identifies the Church at Milan from the fourth century, as the centre of Sabbath-keeping in the West (ibid., part 2, para 5, pp. 73-74). It is thus not surprising that the Sabbatati had their school there, as recorded under the Vallenses at the time that Peter Waldo joined them. The Sabbath had been observed in Italy for centuries and the Council of Friaul (c. 791) spoke against its observance by the peasants at canon 13.

We command all Christians to observe the Lord's day to be held not in honour of the past Sabbath, but on account of that holy night of the first of the week called the Lord's day. When speaking of that Sabbath which the Jews observe, the last day of the week and which our peasants observe ...  (Mansi, 13, 851).


There was thus a nucleus of Sabbath-keeping tradition in Europe between Milan and Lyons, which became the centre of The Poor Men of Lyons, a branch of the Sabbatati or Insabatati, later termed Waldensians. The Milan-Lyon nexus was facilitated by Pothinus and Irenæus (c. 125-203). Both were disciples of Polycarp, disciple of John and both were Sabbath-keepers. Irenæus became bishop of Lyons after the martyrdom of Pothinus in 177 under the persecution of Marcus Aurelius. The Church at Lyons and Vienne, reporting on their persecution in 177 and probably as a result of that persecution, argued for clemency for the Phrygian Montanists (but they themselves were prudent in their views and not Montanist (The Catholic Encyclopedia (C.E.), art. ‘Montanists’, vol. X. pp. 522-523). (Montanus and the prophetesses Maximilla and Prisca or Priscilla prophesied with ecstatic utterances probably from the influence of the cult of Cybele in Phrygia. They and their followers were condemned).


Irenæus was a Unitarian, as was Justin Martyr and all the Ante-Nicene Apologists. He stated that the Church held one constant belief, i.e. that there was but one Creator of the world, God the Father (ANF, Vol. 1, Against Heresies, Bk. II, Ch. IX, p. 369).  He stated that the Church position was that:

Perfect righteousness was conferred neither by any other legal ceremonies. The decalogue however was not cancelled by Christ, but is always in force: men were never released from its commandments (ANF, Bk. IV, Ch. XVI, p. 480).


He quotes Ezekiel (Ezek. 20:12) and Moses (Ex. 21:13) referring to the Sabbaths as the sign between God and His people. The Sabbaths were given as a sign, which was also symbolical. The Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. Man was not justified by them, but they were given as a sign to the people (ibid., p. 481).


Ignatius, bishop of Antioch at the time of Trajan (98-117 CE), argues against the Judaizing tendencies of his territory. The tenacious survival and veneration of Jewish institutions, such as the Sabbath, are explicitly mentioned by this author (Epistle to the Magnesians, see also Bacchiocchi, p. 213). It is then hardly conceivable that a radical break from Sabbath-keeping had already taken place (ibid., p. 214). It is obvious that Ignatius was combating Jewish traditional practices on the Sabbath, which was kept by both parties.


Justin Martyr, himself a Unitarian, introduces the concept of Sunday worship (ANF, Vol. 1, First Apology, LXVII, pp. 185-186) and attempts to convince his Jewish friend Trypho of the correctness of this practice (e.g. see ANF, Vol. 1, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. XII, p. 200). Bacchiocchi (perhaps the authority on the transition from Sabbath to Sunday worship; cf. From Sabbath to Sunday, Pontifical Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1977) deals with the failure of Justin to cite any previous examples in justification for the practice. Justin’s argument presupposes that in his time Sunday observance was alien to both Jews and Jewish-Christians (p. 156). The Nazarenes also did not observe Sunday, as is supposed by Epiphanius (ibid.). The Nazarenes, whose existence in the fourth century is attested to by Jerome, appear to be the direct descendants of the Christian community of Jerusalem who migrated to Pella (Bacchiocchi, ibid.).


The intent of the Sabbaths was understood by the early writers to be spiritual, whereas the Jews tied to the physical and this is the essence of the debate. The removal of the Sabbath and the substitution of Sunday would have been abhorrent.


The Church at Lyons under Irenæus intervened in the Quartodeciman Passover dispute (see Butler, Lives of the Saints, pp. 196-197; and also Passover papers). He spread early Christianity through much of Gaul and dealt a death-blow to the forms of Gnosticism being entrenched there. Lyons in the time of Pothinus and Irenæus was the centre of the Church in Gaul and was the centre for the conversion.


The account of the persecution in Lyons and Vienne was given to the brethren in Smyrna in a letter, which is preserved by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V, i-iv). Vienne was dependent upon Lyon and perhaps was administered by a deacon (C. E., art. ‘Gaul, Christian’, Vol. VI, p. 395).


The Churches in Gaul appear to have been facilitated by the heavy concentration of Jews around Marseilles and Genoa, over the period 100-300 (see Gilbert, Atlas of Jewish History, Dorset Press, 1984, map 17). These communities were obviously in contact with the heavy concentrations of Jews in Ephesus and Smyrna. The movement up the Rhone from Marseille to Lyons the Metropolis and centre of communication for the whole country, is no doubt a result of the Jewish participation in commerce. The demands of the community are probably what prompted the dispatch of Pothinus and Irenæus to Lyons, from Polycarp in Smyrna. Thus there was a Sabbath-keeping Church established in Lyons prior to the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in 177. Lyons was the centre of the Churches in Gaul when Irenæus was bishop. The Churches of Gaul wrote to Rome over the Quartodeciman controversy (see Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., V, xxiii) in support of the Asian bishops concerning the introduction of Easter.


Gregory of Tours (Historia Francorum, I, xxviii) alleges that in the year 250 Rome sent seven bishops to found Churches in Gaul. Gatianus allegedly founded the church of Tours; Trophimus that of Arles; Paul that of Narbonne; Saturninus that of Toulouse; Denis that of Paris; Stremonius (Austremonius) that of Auvergne (Clermont); and Martialis that of Limoges (see Lejay C. E., art. ‘Gaul’, ibid.). As Lejay says this is questioned by serious historians. It is more likely a record of Roman intervention in the affairs of the nation. Regardless of the motive and facts, Cyprian records that by the middle of the third century, there were a number of Churches organised in Gaul. They suffered little from the great persecution. It appears that Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine, was not hostile to Christianity. It is probably from his exposure to the Subordinationists at Lyons, that Constantine refused to become an Athanasian (a quasi-Trinitarian, later termed Catholic) and was in fact baptised a Subordinationist Unitarian (or a so-called Eusebian or Arian) prior to his death (see C.E., ibid. and also vars. articles re Constantine). The Council of Arles records that there were a number of dioceses established at that time (c. 314) coinciding with the Edict of Toleration (of Milan). The signatories of the bishops still in existence prove the following sees: Vienne, Marseilles, Arles, Orange, Vaison, Apt, Nice, Lyons, Autun, Cologne, Trier, Reims, Rouen, Bordeaux, Gabali, and Eauze. The sees of Toulouse, Narbonne, Clermont, Bourges and Paris must also be admitted (see C. E., ibid., p. 396).


Monasticism did not enter the Gaulish Churches until introduced by Martin (d. c. 397), who founded Marmoutier near Tours, and Cassian (d. c. 435), who founded two churches at Marseilles (c. 415). By and large Christianity was confined to the cities, among the more educated and perhaps Jewish influenced groups. The rural people were pagans, with infusions of the Gallo-Celt and Roman superstitions. The conversion of the Goths, Vandals, Suevi, Alans etc. to Unitarianism (incorrectly termed Arianism) from the beginning of the fourth century, ended the Roman Trinitarian and Sunday keeping ambitions for some time. The episcopal sees of Gaul, became objects of aristocratic greed under Roman influence. Honoratus founded a monastery on the island of Lérins (Lerinum). From there the episcopates were taken over and the so-called orthodox graduates of Lérins placed in many diocese. Honoratus, Hilary and Cæsarius were placed at Arles; Eucherius at Lyons, and his sons Salonius and Veranius at Geneva and Venice respectively; Lupus at Troyes; Maximus and Faustus at Riez.

Lérins too became a school of mysticism and theology and spread its religious ideas far and wide by useful works on dogma, polemics and hagiography (C.E., op. cit.).


Thus the monastic schools introduced mysticism into the simple religion of the early church in Gaul. There was significant resistance to the monastic mysticism and many of the priesthood were married. It was the Merovingian dynasty, which finally introduced the Roman system at the point of the sword.


Until 417, when Pope Zosimus made Patrocles, bishop of Arles, his vicar or delegate in Gaul, all disputes had been referred to Milan where the Council of Milan decided the matter (see C.E., p. 397). Thus it is easy to see the relationship of Milan to the extended area of the Sabbatati or Vallenses. The Churches in Gaul were in dispute as to the nature of God on an extended basis. The Churches were continually Subordinationist.

The Church of Gaul passed through three dogmatic crises. Its bishops seemed to have been greatly preoccupied with Arianism; as a rule they clung to the teaching of Nicæa, in spite of a few temporary or partial defections.


This is perhaps an understatement. The Sabbatati were Subordinationist Unitarians, from the time of the founding by Pothinus and Irenæus over a century before Arius was heard. Sabbath-keeping had spread over Europe. Hefele says of the Council of Liftinæ in Belgium in 745 that:

The third allocution of this council warns against the observance of the Sabbath, referring to the decree of Laodicea (Conciliengeshicte, 3, 512, sec, 362).


Sabbath-keeping was extant in Rome under Gregory I (590-604). Gregory wrote against the practice (Ep. 1, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF), Second Series, Vol. XIII, p. 13).

Gregory, bishop by the grace of God to his well-beloved sons, the Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the Holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-Christ (Epistles, b. 13:1).


Gregory pronounced against a section of the city of Rome, because it kept the Sabbath. He held that when anti-Christ would come, that he would keep Saturday as the Sabbath (ibid.).


The Sabbath Church in Asia

The Church located in Asia Minor was termed Paulicians. The Paulicians had developed there for some hundreds of years. C. A. Scott was to say, of the Paulicians, that they were:

… an anti-Catholic sect which originated in the 7th century (possibly earlier), experienced many alternations of imperial favor and ruthless persecution, remained influential till the 12th cent., and is not without descendants in Eastern Europe today. Making its appearance first on the eastern borders of the empire, and having its natural home in Armenia, Mesopotamia and N. Syria, it spread, partly through propaganda and partly through the transplantation of its votaries, westward through Asia Minor, then into Eastern Europe to establish new centres in the Balkan peninsula. The specific opinions which have been ascribed to it include a dualistic conception of the government if not the origin of the world, an Adoptionist doctrine of the Person of Christ, a vehement and stubborn rejection of Mariolatry and the worship of saints and images, a similar rejection of sacramental symbolism, and a special emphasis on adult baptism as the only valid form. The basis of these opinions is found in a concentration on Scripture as the sole and sufficient authority to the exclusion of tradition and the 'teaching of the Church' (ERE, art. ‘Paulicians’, Vol. 9, p. 695).


The Paulicians increased greatly in numbers under Sergius Tychicus and they were found chiefly among the hardy mountain people of the Taurus. Scott says that

… alike as defenders of the empire and as objects of imperial persecution, they showed the greatest stubbornness and courage (ibid., p. 697).


They were protected by Constantine Copronymous (741-775) and invited to settle in Thrace. Nicephorus (802-811) employed them in the protection of the empire on its eastern frontier. Michael and Leo V ruthlessly persecuted them.

But the Paulicians were too numerous, too warlike, and too well organised to be dragooned into orthodoxy. They resisted, revolted, and even retaliated by raiding Asia Minor from their mountain fastness. After twenty years of comparative tranquillity they were exposed to still more violent persecution under Theodora (842-857), which under Basil developed into a war of extermination (see Krumbacher, p. 1075). The Paulicians were driven into the arms of the Saracens, and with some assistance from them, under the leadership of an able ruler Chrysocheir, they not only successfully resisted the imperial forces but forced them back and pillaged Asia Minor up to its western shores (Scott, ibid.).


This demonstrates two aspects of the Paulicians. Firstly they used arms and secondly the Muslims regarded them as a separate group to Trinitarian Christians and rendered them assistance and protection. This protection was not confined to Asia Minor, but also extended into Spain. The distinction between the groups was known and preserved in the Koran.


The comment by Christ against the Pergamum Church, which might be identified with this sect, is thus made more intelligible when he says in Revelation 2:16 that he will fight against [those holding false doctrines among them] with the sword of his mouth.


Scott records that a second deportation of Paulicians from Armenia to Thrace was carried out, on a large scale, by John Tzimiskes (970) (ibib.). Latin crusaders found the sect in Syria in the eleventh century and Lady Mary Montagu, found them in the neighbourhood of Philippopolis, in the eighteenth century (Scott, op. Cit.).

In Europe they developed into or amalgamated with the Bogomils (q.v.), and their views and influences were propagated throughout the Middle Ages by various anti-Catholic sects - e.g., Cathari, Albigenses - whose filiation with the Paulicians is probable, though difficult to trace. Their name, like 'Manichaean,' became in turn a generic description of any of these movements which opposed the development of Catholic hierarchy and doctrine (Scott, ibid.).


Scott says it is impossible to decide whether the Pope-licani, the Piphles of Flanders, or the Publicani, who were condemned and branded at Oxford in 1160, were directly descended from the Paulicians, or bore their name as a term of reproach. Scott says the Paulicians are best understood as a section, in that continuous stream of anti-Catholic and anti-hierarchical thought and life, which runs parallel with the steam of 'orthodox' doctrine and organisation, practically throughout the history of the Church (cf. Krumbacher, p. 970, the Paulicians' setzten einer verweltlichen Reichsorthodoxie ein echt apostolisches Biblechristentum entgegen).


F.C. Conybeare (The Key of Truth, Oxford, 1898) holds they were Adoptionist in their Christology; held three sacraments of repentance, baptism and the Body and Blood of Christ (see also p. 124), declared infant baptism invalid, denied the perpetual virginity of Mary, and rejected the doctrines of purgatory and the intercession of saints, and the use of pictures, crosses and incense.


Thus the movement of the Church from Asia Minor into Europe took place over several centuries and as can be seen above, was effected by word of mouth and the relocation of peoples. The denigration of the doctrines of the groups is undertaken by the orthodox that by and large have written the histories of the matter.


East European Sabbath-keeping

It is evident, that the main works of the Sabbath-keeping Church, did not take place in Europe, until the works of the churches initiated from Smyrna (termed the Smyrna era) and those initiated from the Paulicians in Asia Minor (termed the Pergamos era) had run their course.  Indeed it is obvious, that the work in Gaul was commenced from and was in contact with the Church in Smyrna, until after the death of Irenæus. The work was disjointed and uncoordinated, until the relocation of the Paulicians into Europe.


The spread of the Sabbath-keeping Christian faith had been noted (below) to move from Thrace into Albania and Bulgaria, with the Paulicians. In the ninth century this dispute had erupted in Bulgaria. It is noted that:

Bulgaria in the early season of its evangelization had been taught that no work should be performed on the Sabbath (Responsa Nicolai Papæ I and Con-Consulta Bulgarorum, Responsum 10, found in Mansi, Sacrorum Concilorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, Vol. 15; p. 406; also Hefele, Conciliengeshicte, Vol. 4, sec. 478).


Bogaris, ruling prince of Bulgaria, wrote to Pope Nicholas I on a number of questions regarding this matter. In answer to Question 6 re bathing and work on the Sabbath, he replied:

Ques. 6 - Bathing is allowed on Sunday. Ques. 10 - One is to cease from work on Sunday, but not also on the Sabbath (Hefele, 4 346-352, sec. 478).


Nicholas was declared excommunicated by a counter synod in Constantinople. Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, accused the Papacy

Against the canons, they induced the Bulgarians to fast on the Sabbath (Photius, von Kard, Hergenrother, 1, 643).


The Sabbath question became a bitter dispute between the Greeks and the Latins. Neale commented on this in regard to the split in 1064 (A History of the Holy Eastern Church, Vol 1, p. 731).


The Athingians (or Athingani) of the ninth centure, were held by Cardinal Hergenrother, to have stood in intimate relation with Emperor Michael II (821-829) and he states that they held the Sabbath (Kirchengeschicte, 1, 527). The Athingani were a sect in Phrygia and were referred to as Melchizedekites by Timotheus of Constantinople in his Reception of Heretics (see ERE, art. ‘Sects’, Vol. XI, p. 319b). Whitley says here that they:

… observed the Sabbath day; as they touched no one, they were popularly called Athingani. This reads as if they observed the Jewish rules of cleanliness, but the information is too scanty to trace their origin and tenets (ibid.).


After the defeat of Chrysocheir, leader of the Paulicians in the ninth century, and the destruction of Tephrike, their stronghold, they were decimated and dispersed. They existed in scattered communities in Armenia, in Asia Minor and especially in the Balkan Peninsula. In the middle of the ninth century, they experienced revival in Armenia under Smbat, who according to Conybeare may have been the author of the Key of Truth (see ERE, art. ‘Paulicians’, Vol. IX, p. 697). Headquartered at the town of Thondrak, they received the name of Thondrakians.

Another branch from the same root is probably to be found in the sect known as 'Athingani' referred to by Theophanes (Chronographia, 413), and yet another in the 'Selikians.' The biographer of the patriarch Methodius claims for him the credit of having converted to orthodoxy one Selix and his followers, who held 'Manichæan opinions - opinions which in detail correspond with those charged against the Paulicians in Cod. Scor. (Ibid.).


The second deportation under John Tzimiskes (970) then occurred.


It is thus seen that these sects are all interrelated and are attacked as having heretical doctrines, by the Trinitarians and broken up into different sects by name and persecuted where possible. The Paulicians were also iconoclasts and that appears to be consistent with what we know of the Sabbatati and Cathari in Europe.

The Paulicians always objected to their rivals worship of the Cross (Armenian, Chazus); therefore the term Chazitzarii, Chazinzarians (Staurolatræ) seems to denote no small sect, but the Established Church of Armenia as viewed by the Paulicians (Whitley, ERE, art.’ Sects’, p. 319).


Troitsky in his article on the Greek Orthodox Church (ERE, Vol. VI, p. 427), notes that the Athingani were linked to Judaism. They are grouped with, but not specifically identified as Paulicians. Troitsky seems to group the Paulicians as having a belief of a mystic character, which we know to be incorrect, from the extant works. There seems little doubt that the Paulicians and the Athingani, or the sects in Asia Minor, kept the Sabbaths and the food laws and carried these practices into Europe.


The Bogomils

One of the first groups to emanate from the Paulicians directly in Europe appears to have been the Bogomils (see above) who occurred amongst the Slavs and particularly the Bulgars (Powicke, ERE, Vol 1, p. 784).


The term Bogomil is perhaps derived from Bog Milui meaning God have mercy, or perhaps the Bogumil or beloved of God. Two early Bulgarian MSS, which confirm each other, state that 'pope' Bogomile was first to present the 'heresy' under Bulgarian Tsar Peter (927-968). Thus the name may be derived from a prominent representative of the sect, in the tenth century.


The Bogomils are described as a neo-Manichaean sect by N. A. Weber (C. E., art. ‘Bogomils’, Vol. II, p. 612). The sect is noted as being found in the later Middle Ages at Constantinople and in the Balkan states. The Bogomils held that both Satan and Christ had the power of creation, under the will of God. The Bogomils held that God the Father had a human appearance, but was incorporeal. The Sons of God included Satanel (or Azazel), who sat at the right hand of God, and Jesus or Michael. Satan was endowed with creative power, but he rebelled. Together with the angels who followed him, he was cast out of heaven. Satan was held to have created a second heaven and a second earth, and formed man out of earth and water. Satan could not give man a living spirit. Thus the Father bestowed life on man at their request. From the seduction of Eve, Satan lost his creative power, but still retained rulership of the planet. God sent another Son, Jesus, to assume bodily form through Mary. Thus Satan was judged by the actions of Christ. Satanel lost the divine name or El rank and thus became known merely as Satan.


Now this history is written by the orthodox "enemies" and thus is somewhat garbled in relation to the biblical structure it purports to explain. Nevertheless a student of the Bible will see the structure of the texts that are being expounded. The concepts actually are more in accord, with what we now know of first century cosmology, but garbled if the notes by Powicke (below) are correct.


The concept is that ultimately, the only surviving person in heaven, is God the Father, both Christ and Satan being absorbed. This is the concept of God becoming all in all. The concept is perhaps explained away in simplistic terms by the orthodox, because it does not comply with the soul doctrine.


The claim by Weber, that the Bogomili rejected the Old Testament other than the Psalter and the Prophetical books, appears to be based on Euthymius (PG, Vol. cxxx) (see also Powicke, op. cit.) where there are 52 heads of belief, the main listed by Powicke and summarised as follows.

1.    The rejection of the Mosaic books.

2.    Christ's history was symbolic of a higher knowledge.

3.    They taught a Sabellian concept of the Godhead saying that all three names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit apply to the Father. In the end all three spirits having done their work will flow back to the Father. (The concept of all flowing to the Father is not just confined to a Trinity as Euthymius would assert from the concept of the union of the host).

4.    The Satanic creation was extended to the law which begat sin. God intervened in the world and despatched the Archangel Michael as the logos which became Jesus Christ.

5.    The Holy Spirit was held to be only in the elect (which they equated with the Bogomili).

6.    The elect cannot die.

7.    The temples of the Church were the temples of demons but they permitted worship there out of expediency.

8.    They are alleged to have held that John the Baptist was a servant of the Jewish God Satanel.


The claim that the sect rejected water baptism holding only spiritual baptism (by the laying on of hands), is perhaps derived from the intrusion of the sect into the monastic orders. The sect denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. Weber held that the sect condemned marriage and prohibited the eating of meat. The Bogomils extended over several centuries, as a monastic order. As their writings were burnt, what is known of them seems to be derived from Euthymius Zigabenus (died after 1118) in Chapter xxvii of Panoplia Dogmatike in which he refuted some twenty-four of their alleged heresies (under 52 heads cf. Powicke).


Weber considers that the Bogomili may have developed from the Euchites (probably from the dualistic nature of their doctrine). They were also called Messalians, from where they derived their asceticism. This aberration of unknown date seems to set them apart from the other groups. They came into prominence in the twelfth century. They were first mentioned by name at Philippopolis (European Turkey) in 1115 (note the continued occupation by the Paulicians here as above). Their leader Basil, a monk and physician, who had appointed twelve apostles, was seized and imprisoned (1111) (after being tricked) by Alexius I, Comnenus (1081-1118) who demanded retraction of the errors. Some retracted, some died in prison (Weber ibid.). Basil was condemned to death (1118) and burned (1119 Powicke). A synod of Constantinople in 1140 ordered the destruction of its writings, and in 1143, two bishops of Cappadocia were deposed for embracing its tenets. The synods of Constantinople in 1316 and 1325 again condemned the sect. The Bogomili remained until the conquest of the Balkans by the Turks in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Weber ibid.). Powicke says (op. cit., p. 785) their influence is traceable, in the smaller societies into which they separated, to much later times. What appears to be the case is that the Paulician doctrines not only existed in the societies to which they were transported and in the Slavic communities, which surrounded them but also they were adopted within monastic orders, where they became distorted, by the monks, but nevertheless, anti-Catholic. The Bogomil doctrines as presented, represent a divergence from the other sects, derived from the Paulicians and indeed from the doctrines of the Paulicians themselves.


It is thus incorrect, to assert that the sect found among the monastic orders, as Bogomils, were in fact the general groups of that name, which spread among the Slavs and across Europe. The mean view of the doctrines can be best found from a comparison between the Paulicians and the European sects, which were influenced by them.


The Subordinationist or anti-Trinitarian sects were to spread across Europe. The sects were known by various titles.


The Waldensians or Waldenses

Lentolo is the author of the earliest history of the Waldensians and the chief authority for that of the persecution of his own times. This history was virtually unknown till in 1897 Comba called attention to a copy of it in the Berne Library (W. F. Adeney, art. ‘Waldenses’, ERE, Vol 12, p. 669).


Thus the history by Muston (L'Israel des Alpes, Paris, 1851 or Eng. tr. and reprint Israel of the Alps NY 1978) must be viewed against it. The Roman Catholics assert that the Waldensians are merely the followers of Peter Waldo of Lyons. The name is given in French as Valdes, in Latin as Valdesius, Valdenius, Gualdensis and in Italian as Waldo. He was allegedly converted in 1173. The Waldensians themselves deny this assertion, which in effect attempts to label them Protestant, and trace their ancestry back to earliest Christianity.


The earliest record of this claim is by a Dominican monk at Passau in 1316 (Contra Valdense in Maxima Bibliotheca veterum Patrum, Lyons, 1677-1707, xxv, 262 ff.), noting that they claim to have existed at the time of the fathers (duravit a tempore patrum). The next time it is recorded, is from a letter of Barbe Morel to Oecolampadius in 1530 (A. Scultetus Annalium Evangeli ... decades duo, Geneva, 1618, pp. 295,306). The text was adopted by Robert Olivetan and published in the preface to his translation of the Bible in 1535. Thus the Protestants came to honour the Waldenses, as the one Church that had preserved the NT faith. The sect termed its clergy Barbe or uncle, because of the biblical injunction against calling anyone father, teacher or leader (Mat. 23:9-10). The title Father was a rank of the Mithras system and is forbidden to Christians (see for example C. K. Barrett, The New Testament Background: Selected Documents, rev. ed., SPCK, London, 1987, p. 133). There is no evidence that the sect existed, unchanged, in the Alpine valleys. Given the acceptance of that fact, a second theory to explain the sect was developed. This theory holds that it arose in Rome, during the episcopate of Sylvester. Sylvester allegedly, after baptising Constantine (which we know is incorrect as Constantine was baptised a Unitarian (incorrectly called Eusebian or Arian) by Eusebius of Nicomedia) put the Church under the power of the emperor. A bishop allegedly broke away and went to the Vaudois Valley, hence founding the Waldensians. There is, however, the possibility that the Arian Goths, who had a Bible in Gothic from c. 351, may have influenced the area. The origin of the Church in fact, stems from the Church at Lyons, under Irenaeus and his successors (see above). The beginnings of the influence are still found in the time of Claude, bishop of Turin in the eighth century, under Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. Claude revived the Augustinian doctrine of predestination, but ignored the High Church aspect of Augustine's teaching,

… according to which the Church was the appointed medium of communication between God and man, resisting the papal claims and denying that St. Peter had received power to bind and loose. He had crosses as well as images removed from his churches, in all these matters anticipating the Reformation (Adeney, ibid.).


The Churches of the Vaudois, are understood to have been included in Claude's diocese. Accordingly Leger, Muston and other Waldenses, held that if their derivation could not be traced to apostolic times, then it should be attributed to him. However, there is no evidence of their existence, as a significant Church, for centuries after Claude. The statement by Muston (ibid., Paris, p. xxxii, n. 2) that in the year 1096 Urban II described the Vaudois as infected with heresy, Adeney says (p. 665), is founded on a mistake, since no such reference to these people, is to be found amongst his Bulls (cf. Comba, p. 154). The spread of the doctrines, however, are down-played by the Athanasians, as the evidence indicates. The fact is that a Unitarian Church existed there for centuries.


Adeney holds that the Waldenses repudiated indulgences, purgatory, and masses for the dead, and denied the efficacy of the sacraments administered by unworthy priests (p. 666). But he thinks that the full doctrines are still obscure. The literal application of the teachings of Christ, contained in the gospels, was its chief theme, as they were of Peter Waldo, the person from whom he alleges their name derives. Waldo died in Bohemia in 1217. Adeney says that the Waldensian Church grew out of a fusion of the work of Waldo and the Poor Men of Lyons, with the movements of Arnold of Brescia, Peter of Bruys, and 'Henry of Cluny' (ibid.). Thus Waldo superimposed his system on the pre-existing groups already in the Vaudois and elsewhere and gave them a new dynamism. The movement of Peter of Bruys named Petrobrusians, is only described in a treatise against him by Peter the Venerable and a passage in Abelard. Thus the information is suspect. Peter began to teach in the dioceses of Embrun, Die, and Gap between 1117-1120. He was an iconoclast, who burnt crosses. He was burnt as a heretic some twenty years later, in St. Gilles near Nimes. He gained adherents at Narbonne, Toulouse and in Gascony. The Clunaic monk Henry of Lausanne allegedly adopted the Petrobrusian teaching about 1135 and modified it after Peter of Bruys was martyred. The doctrines included adult baptism and it is alleged that the sect taught a relative importance of the biblical texts in the NT, i.e. Subordination of the epistles to the gospels and the rejection of the Old Testament. It is difficult to be an absolute iconoclast and reject the Old Testament. Both Testaments are interlinked for iconoclasm.


Allegedly, they rejected the Mass and Eucharist, because the repetition of the sacrifice was not possible. They held that the Church was the community, not the buildings and they thought Church buildings should be destroyed. The assertions regarding these people stem from their enemies. The record in the Catholic Encyclopedia is by N. A. Weber (art. ‘Petrobrusians’, Vol. 11, p. 781) the same author of the article ‘Waldensians’. The ideas found in these areas were alleged to have been in the air. However the ERE (articles ‘Paulicians’ and ‘Waldenses’) makes note that there was a general progression of ideas across Europe from the East. We have seen that this source was the Paulicians that were resettled in Thrace. These Churches no doubt linked up with sympathisers in the west.


The Waldensian Sabbatati

The Waldenses, or Vallenses, are alleged to have obtained the name Insabathas or Insabbatati, because they observed no day of rest, but the Sabbath. They were termed Insabathas, as though they observed no Sabbath (because they did not keep Sunday) (Luther's Fore-Runners, pp. 7-8 (incorrectly cited and see also Gui, Manuel d' Inquisiteur)). The Waldensians did not obtain their name from Peter Waldo but rather the reverse. Catholic historians write as to give the impression that the Waldensians were a late innovation and try to create the impression that they, the Catholics, have apostolic authority with all other Churches being later offshoots.


This propaganda was swallowed by some Protestants because of the nature of the early history of the Vallenses, which was Subordinationist Sabbath-keeping. Peter Allix says of this:

It is not true that Waldo gave this name to the inhabitants of the valleys: they were called Waldenses, or Vaudes, before his time, from the valleys in which they dwelt (Ancient Church of Piedmont, Oxford, 1821, p. 182).


Allix continues on to say that:

Some Protestants, on this occasion, have fallen into the snare that was set for them. ... It is absolutely false, that these churches were ever founded by Peter Waldo. ... It is pure forgery  (ibid., p. 192).


William Jones (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 2, p. 2) states that he:

… was called Valdus, or Waldo, because he received his religious notions from the inhabitants of the valleys.


When one examines the evidence of the texts and the writings of the Catholic apologists such as N. A. Weber, there is no evidence presented other than the fact, that the two barbe (meaning Uncles or Elders) of the Waldensians were called Vallenses for the first time, by Raymond of Daventry in his condemnation of 1179 and Bernard of Fontcaude took up the title in his condemnation of 1180 (Adversus Vallenses et Arianos). Adeney notes this in his work but Weber does not. It is alleged that the term Vallenses was derived from Waldo at this time. However, that is by no means certain, as the name itself refers to the valleys and not to Waldo. Thus while the assertion is made by Weber and seemingly by Adeney, the conclusion can be rejected as supposition.


It seems that the reorganisation in Milan, stemmed from the infusion of the Sabbatati from Austria, and the north-east, given what we can piece together of the movements. Thus the establishment of the college in Milan with a strong base in Austria mitigates against any foundation by Waldo. Indeed Blair, in his History of the Waldenses (Vol. 1, p. 220), says that:

Among the documents, we have by the same peoples, an explanation of the Ten Commandments dated by Boyer 1120. Observance of the Sabbath by ceasing from worldly labours is enjoined.


Thus the Waldensians were Sabbath-keeping Subordinationist Unitarians well before Waldo was on the scene, according to Dugger and Dodd, A History of the True Religion, (3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972, p. 224ff.).

Benedict in his history of the Baptists says of the Waldenses: 'We have already observed from Claudius Seyessel, the popish archbishop, that one Leo was charged with originating the Waldensian heresy in the valleys, in the days of Constantine the Great. When those severe measures were emanated from the Emperor Honorius against rebaptizers [Anabaptists], they left the seat of opulence and power, and sought retreats in the country, and in the valleys of Piedmont (Italy) which last place in particular, became their retreat against imperial oppression.'

Rainer Sacho, a Roman Catholic author, says of the Waldenses: 'There is no sect so dangerous as Leonists, for three reasons: first it is the most ancient; some say it is as old as Sylvester, others, as the apostles themselves. Secondly, it is very generally disseminated; there is no country where it has not gained some footing. Third, while other sects are profane and blasphemous, this retains the utmost show of piety; they live justly before men, and believe nothing concerning God which is not good.'

Sacho admits that they flourished at least five hundred years before the time of Peter Waldo. Their antiquity is also allowed by Gretzer, a jesuit, who wrote against them. Crantz, in his "History of the United Brethren," speaks of this class of Christians in the following words:

'These ancient Christians date their origin from the beginning of the fourth century, when one Leo, at the great revolution in religion under Constantine the Great, opposed the Innovations of Sylvester, bishop of Rome. ...


According to Allix:

The Reformers held that the Waldensian Church was formed about 120 A.D., from which date on they passed down from father to son the teachings they received from the apostles. The latin Bible the Italic, was translated from the Greek not later than 157 A.D. We are indebted to Beza, the renowned associate of Calvin, for the Statement that the Italic Church dates from 120 A.D. (Allix, Churches of Piedmont, 1690 edn, p. 177, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 35, and Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. II, p. 43, cf. Dugger and Dodd, A History of the True Religion, pp. 224-225).


The formation in 120 is consistent with the dispatch of the disciples of Polycarp from Smyrna (and Ephesus) as we have dealt with the persecution of the Church at Lyons, under Marcus Aurelius in 177, where Photinus, disciple of Polycarp, was martyred, and the passage of information back to Smyrna. The Churches in Gaul were subject to the Council in Milan for centuries, as is established herein until Papal interference.


Dugger and Dodd also note (p. 226) that:

Atto, bishop of Vireulli, had complained of such people eighty years before [before the year 1026 A.D.] and so had others before him, and there is the highest reason to believe that they had always existed in Italy (cf. Jones, Church History, p. 218)


Thus the establishment of the Waldensian College in Milan, is a natural extension of this orientation. Dugger and Dodd go on to quote Mosheim as saying:

In Lombardy, which was the principle residence of the Italian heretics, there sprung up a singular sect, known, for what reason I cannot tell, by the denomination Passaginians. ... Like the other sects already mentioned, they had the utmost aversion to the discipline and dominion of the Church of Rome; but they were at the same time distinguished by two religious tenets which were peculiar to themselves.

The first was a notion that the observance of the Law of Moses, in everything except the offering of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians; in consequence of which they  ... Abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy, and celebrated the Jewish Sabbath. The second tenet that distinguished this sect was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature (Eccl. Hist., Cent 12, Part 2, Ch. 5, Sec. 14, p. 127: as quoted by Dugger and Dodd, emphasis retained).


Dugger and Dodd go on to say:

That the Cathari did retain and observe the ancient Sabbath, is certified by Romish adversaries. Dr. Allix quotes a Roman Catholic author of the twelfth century, concerning three sorts of heretics - the Cathari, the Passiginians, and the Arnoldistae. Allix says of this Romish writer that -

'He lays it down also as one of their opinions, 'that the law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and that the keeping of the Sabbath ...  and other legal observances, ought to take place. They hold also that Christ, the Son of God, is not equal with the Father, and that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, these three ...  are not one God and one substance; and as a surplus, to these errors, they judge and condemn all the doctors of the Church and universally the whole Roman Church ... (Eccl. Hist. of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, pp. 168-169, cf. Dugger and Dodd, pp. 227-228).


Thus it can be seen that the Cathari, Waldensians and Passiginians, were branches of the same group. They could be differentiated, because they were never an hierarchical church. They were organised on New Testament lines and that is one reason why they were never completely wiped out. More particularly they are seen to be specifically Subordinationist and definitively Unitarian. Thus the original Churches in Europe were neither Ditheist/Binitarian, nor Trinitarian, but were Unitarian.


Dugger and Dodd also note (pp. 228-229) that they bore another name: that of Paterines, which seemed to stem from the fact that, in Liman, where it was first used, it answered to the English equivalent of vulgar or common and was used of the lower orders of men, who derived their income from manual labour. Dugger and Dodd allege Gazari to be a corruption of Cathari, or Puritans, however, there is another application. They do not at all address the question of the influence of the Khazari or Khazars, as noted below.


There is no doubt that the Waldensians were a Subordinationist sect prior to and at 1179 just prior to the Lateran Council (this is not even mentioned by Weber). Their two barbes Olivier and Sicard, fell into dispute with the bishop Montperoux between 1175-76 and two or three years later, Pope Alexander III sent the cardinal of St. Chrysogone, Henry of Citeaux, and Reginald, bishop of Bath, then on his way to the Lateran Council, accompanied by the monk Walter Mapes and the priest Raymond of Daventry, to Toulouse to inquire into the matter. Two barbes of the Vallenses came there under safe conduct, Bernard of Raymond and Raymond of Baimiac, to be examined by John of Bellesmains, bishop of Poitiers. They then went to Narbonne to be examined by Bernard of Fontcaude, under the presidentship of the English priest Raymond of Daventry. It is this priest Raymond of Daventry, who first uses the name of Vallenses or Waldenses. Thus they were named by their inquisitors for one of their leaders. The two barbes were condemned as heretics in 1179 by Raymond of Daventry who then proceeded to the Lateran Council. Naming sects for major leaders has been the usual practice for centuries and gives a false impression as to the stream of thoughts and groupings they represent.


In 1180 Bernard of Fontcaude wrote the book entitled Adversus Vallenses et Arianos (see Gay, Hist. des Vaudois, p. 16, n. 1 and also Adeney, ibid. p. 667). Adeney says that:

It seems that these discussions arose out of the union of the Petrobrusians and Henricians with the Poor Men of Lyons in Provence. About the same time Waldo's followers united with the Arnauldists in Lombardy. Thus the Waldensians of France and Italy were united, and their union was cemented by persecution. A sentence of excommunication by the Council of Verona cleared the remaining followers of Waldo out of Lyons and drove them to Provence, Dauphine, and the valleys of Piedmont, Lombardy, and some even to Germany. So numerous had they become that Innocent III sent his best legates to suppress them in the years 1198, 1201, and 1203.


There is no doubt, however, that we are dealing with a Subordinationist Unitarian doctrine, which was classed as and with Arianism. In the suppression of 1203, the legates included a Spanish bishop and Dominic (called saint) the founder of the Dominicans, who then took part in the Inquisition with the Benedictines. They conducted a succession of disputations lasting until 1207, when the legate Peter of Chateauxneuf was killed. Two years later the Pope declared the crusade. Adeney merely refers to the crusade as a crusade but it was in fact the Albigensian crusade and the Waldensians were the subject of this crusade in the same sense. In 1210 the Emperor Otho ordered the archbishop of Turin to drive the Waldenses out of his diocese, and in 1220 the Statutes of Pignerol forbade the inhabitants to harbour them. Some fled to Picardy, and Philip Augustus drove them on to Flanders. Some came to Mayence and Bingen, where 50 were burnt in 1232. (Adeney, ibid.)

They were seen early in Spain, condemned by Church Councils and harried by three of the Kings (ibid.).


This period is over the Inquisition and the Albigensian crusade, which extended into Spain from France (see below). These people were aggregations of varying groups of Christians. At least some of these groups not only appeared to be Sabbath-keepers in these early times but also were persecuted for keeping the biblical Holy Days. This must be inferred from the edicts about them, as only the confessions obtained under torture survive. Thus the accounts are suspect. However, there is direct evidence for some (e.g. the Hungarian) Churches. It is important to note that the crusade spoken of above as commencing in 1209 was in fact the Albigensian crusade, which lasted until 1244 and was the subject of the most ruthless suppression. The authorities whipped up the most extreme hatred against the so-called heretics and then put them to the Inquisition (see C. Roth, Spanish Inquisition, pp. 35-36 for comments). The extent of the Waldensians over the same period shows that we were dealing with all of these groups of people over the same distribution as the Albigensians. The Waldensians were biblical literalists, who were Subordinationists termed (incorrectly) Arians.


The non-Trinitarians in Spain were identified with the Jews in their habits and non-Trinitarianism, although, by the later inquisitorial edict of 1519 by Andres de Palacio, the Christian sects were largely dispersed, or completely underground (see Roth p. 77 for the edict). The Waldensians elsewhere in Italy, after the reformation, on the other hand, appear to have become Trinitarian and the later history, written by Protestants and somewhat self-justificatory, seem to deny the earlier history of biblical literalism.


In 1237 Pope Gregory IX

… sent a bull to the archbishop of Tarragona which resulted in fifteen of the heretics being burnt, King Ferdinand himself casting wood on the fire. In course of time these Spanish Waldensians were exterminated (Adeney, ibid.).


The Waldensians were as widespread as Germany, where their Churches sent candidates for the ministry to a Waldensian College in Milan. The head of the college was John of Ronco who was appointed head for life, despite Waldo's disapproval.


It was this fact that resulted in the division between the French group and the Italian and German Group. The Lombards appointed their own chief pastor (proepositus). He and their ministry held office for life, while Waldo and the French Waldenses on his authority, elected annual leaders to administer the Lord's Supper and serve as pastors. Thus, we can establish that we are dealing with a group, which at the thirteenth century, were keeping the Lord's Supper on an annual basis. The suggestion that they were Sunday worshippers at this time is impossible to sustain.


The extraordinary problem faced in this matter is, that of the existence of the Albigensians in the northern and French side of the Alps. The southern and Italian valleys were occupied by the Waldensians. From the division mentioned above, it is most probable that the names being conferred by the Catholic Inquisitors assumed a reality of their own. The edicts in Spain however show that we are dealing with the same sect. The subsequent division would have assumed a different reality, when the sect became Protestant Trinitarian. Bohemia, 40 years after Waldo died, according to the Inquisitor of Passau, had 42 so-called nests of heresy (Adeney, op. cit.). The king Otakar started persecution, which was most severe under Pope Benedict XII in 1335. The rise of the Hussite movement resulted in a fusion of some of the two groups, under the name Taborites. Adeney holds that the most famous of these was the barbe Frederic Reiser. After 25 years, among the Waldensians of Bohemia and Austria, he was burnt at Strassburg in 1458.


There are thus at least four groups over some eight countries, some of which were integrated with Protestants. There were Subordinationists, or Unitarians, in Austria in the thirteenth century and the Inquisitor of Krems denounced 36 localities in 1315, burning 130 martyrs. The bishop of Neumeister was burnt as one of these heretics in Vienna. He is said to have declared, that there were some 80,000 Waldensians in the duchy of Austria. At the end of the fourteenth century there was a terrible persecution in Styria. There was an organised mission into Italy from Austria where the missionaries travelled as pedlars (Adeney, ibid.). The movement had a college in Milan when Waldo was alive. From these points it is difficult to assert, as Adeney seems to, that the Subordinationists in Austria were Waldenses, given that the evangelism was from Austria into Italy. The bishop was more likely of the same group, being later named Waldenses. The group were also called Sabbatati and subsequently Insabbatati, which allegedly is derived from the wooden sabots or shoes that were worn. It is more likely a corruption of their views on the Sabbath, turned into ‘a play on words’. This then developed into the terms Sabotiers and then Sandaliati. Weber (C. E., art. ‘Waldenses’, Vol. XV, p. 528) fails to note the linguistic distinction between the words and in fact intermixes them in their order so as to confirm his position. He also asserts that the sect was derived from Waldo, ignoring almost completely the evidence mentioned by Adeney. Perhaps more information was available to Adeney, but the bias in Weber's work is noticeable and understandable given the history.


The Waldenses had been forbidden to preach by the archbishop and they are alleged to have appealed to the third Lateran Council, under Alexander III, although they had been condemned, from above, before the Council in 1179. They had been summoned to the examination. It must be remembered, in those days that the medieval system ensured that the states were the property of their Lords, under direction from Rome and that it was not possible to hold any belief, not in accordance with Rome. Hence they had to appear as summoned, even though they accorded no allegiance to Rome. Not to do so, was to be burnt in any case.


Another vital division among the Waldensians, occurred from the teaching of the Italian Waldensians that the sacraments administered by unworthy priests were of no effect. The French did not accept this view. The Italians repudiated all the sacraments of the Roman priests and at the same time insisted on close adhesion to NT teachings. This division was discussed at a conference in May 1217, the year of Waldo's death (Adeney, ibid.). The two branches of Waldensians established contact over time, but we clearly have extensive divisions and the existence in France of one group co-existing with the Albigensians.


In the fifteenth century, Inquisition records reveal there was a large and influential number of Waldensians in central Italy. In Calabria, the Waldensians from Piedmont won over most of the district. They flourished for 250 years, after which they were almost exterminated by wholesale persecution (Adeney, ibid.).


The French system of Church government, despite Waldo, was episcopal, whereas the Italian was presbyterian, being comprised of a Church government of a council, with a head pastor and a council of laymen. The annual synod comprised elders and laity in equal numbers (Adeney, ibid.).


The Waldensians gradually became centred on the valleys on the Italian side of the Cottian Alps. Thus Vaudois was asserted to be a geographical name. Adeney denies this and admits that the name Waldo derives from the Poor Men of Lyons and thus the early stages are, without doubt, admitted to be general across the Alps and thus exposed to and associated with the Albigensians. It is highly improbable that the Subordinationist sects, incorrectly termed Manichaeans by the Catholics, could have spread from the Balkans, across Austria and into France and Spain, and somehow bypassed the Alps and the Waldensians, who occupied similar regions.


The most likely solution, is that the Waldensians changed under persecution and became Protestant to survive. After they ceased to be Subordinationist, it is little wonder that they held Sunday worship. Indeed their later historians claim that they were always so. In the fifteenth century the valleys came under intense persecution from the Duke of Savoy, with large numbers being forced to emigrate in 1434. In 1475 the Inquisitor Acquapendente, after visiting the Luserna valley, compelled the overlords to suppress the religion there and obey the Inquisition. There was a consequent rebellion, which led to the intervention of Duke Charles I in 1484. The first serious attack, with armed forces occurred under Philip II (Regent of Savoy in 1490 and Duke in 1496) in 1494, whereupon Philip was so disastrously defeated, that he made peace with them for 40 years. Adeney admits that it is not easy to be clear, as to the theological views of the Waldenses during this period.

When we do meet with a Waldensian statement of belief, this is subsequent to the Reformation and characterized by doctrines and phrases distinctive of that movement. The earlier Protestantism was partly negative, in the rejection of Roman Catholic teachings and practices which could not be justified by the NT, and in so far as it was positive, a return to the simplicity and spirituality of worship believed to have been characteristic of the primitive Church (Adeney, p. 668).


When the Reformation broke out, the only organised groups on the continent were the Waldensians and the later Hussites or Bohemian Brethren, both of whom the Protestants and Roman Catholics designated Waldensians (Adeney, ibid.). Thus the application of these names is inaccurate, even as late as the Reformation. The doctrines of the early periods cannot be established with certainty. However, there is no doubt that they were Subordinationists Unitarians, classified as Arians and that they kept the Lord's Supper. This practice normally was associated with Sabbath-keepers. It is however, the practice of Sunday worshipping Protestants, to sometimes refer to the eucharist as the Lord's Supper. Assuming that the practice was used in its usual reference, then logically the understanding of the Sabbath is prior to that of the Passover/Lord's Supper. The texts above identify them as Sabbath-keepers. Adeney would probably not have misunderstood the term Lord’s Supper.


The Waldensians held a synod in Piedmont in 1531, to discuss the report of the Protestant doctrines by George Morel. They divided over the issue of whether to accept Protestantism. The two groups were termed Conservators and Innovators (see Adeney, note p. 668). There is thus no doubt, that their original doctrines were not Protestant. From this time onwards they merged with the Protestants. The denial of Rome and Medieval ritual, which was regarded as idolatrous, spirituality of worship, and the use of Scripture in the vernacular, were Waldensian views which found welcome support from the powerful new Protestant reformers. From 1532 and the synod of Chamforans at Angrogna a number of reforms took place

1. the adoption of public worship by the Waldensian Churches instead of secret meetings;

2. an absolute condemnation of the custom of some Waldensians of attending Roman Catholic services (there seems little doubt that this grew out of fear of persecution (see also Rev. 2:20-22));

3. an acceptance of the reformers views on predestination, good works, oaths, the denial of obligatory confession, Sunday fasts, marriage of the clergy, and the two sacraments.


The matters were voted on by the assembly and carried by the great majority.


The Waldensians on the French side of the Alps, who were mostly conservators, were fused into French Protestantism. Persecution in Bohemia and Southern Italy nearly exterminated the Churches of the Waldensians in those parts, leaving only Piedmont and the Italian valleys of the Cottian Alps, termed the Vaudois country, as the only important habitat (Adeney, p. 669) although many were scattered among the Swiss and German Protestants.


In 1536, Piedmont came under the dominion of the French Francis I, which lasted until 1559. William of Furstenburg, a resolute Protestant, was appointed governor and was friendly to the Waldensians. He left the brother of the reformer Farel in charge of the Luserna and the Waldensians prospered, but they were nevertheless, by this time, well and truly Protestant. It is thus very misleading, to say that they were always Sunday-worshippers, because they were not even Trinitarians until after the fourteenth century and only then on persecution. In fact, that may not have occurred until the Reformation. The practice of meeting in secret, no doubt was prompted by intense persecution. The inherent flexibility with which they viewed their religious life and their strictness regarding the biblical simplicity of it no doubt reflected this also. Similarly, the history is written by Sunday-worshipping Trinitarian Protestants, who were attempting to develop a continuous Protestant lineage back to the Apostles. They did not want a Subordinationist organisation keeping the Lord's Supper, which was the fact of the matter. But also, the earlier manuscripts were not available to Muston, for example.


The Waldensians were persecuted for many years. The worst period was from 1540-1690. In 1534 in Provence there was a wholesale destruction of the Waldensian Churches of Provence. The Italian side of the Alps was subjected to intense warfare by della Trinite the army commander for Philibert, duke of Savoy. The Waldensians won and were granted peace on 5 June 1561.


The Calabrian Waldensians were persecuted by Spanish troops under the Inquisitor Michele Ghislieri later Pope Pius V. The descendants of those not wiped out in the wholesale slaughter of the thirteenth century were persecuted. 2,000 were put to death and 1,600 imprisoned. In the Piedmont, under Jesuit and Capuchin friars, with the aid of soldiers, several local persecutions occurred, with seizure of Church buildings and fines resulting in the bloody war of 1624, in which both sides suffered. Peter Gilles was the leader at this time.


There was a great persecution under Louis XIV, when the young Charles Emmanuel II became duke of Savoy. His mother Mary de Medici was daughter of Henry IV and grand-daughter of Catherine de Medici, the author of the Massacre of Saint Batholomew. A Council for the Propagation of the Faith was established at Turin. Five years later the Decree of Gastado was issued, ordering all the Waldensian families on the plain, back into the mountains within 20 days, unless they would renounce Protestantism. In the depths of winter, they endured much suffering with great courage. It seems that it was a tactical ploy as some 15,000 troops were despatched to la Torre, in spite of the fact that the Waldensians took to the mountains. The Catholic forces offered to treat with them and they opened the mountain passes to them. They were subjected to wholesale massacre and there were some 1,712 martyrs numbered by Jean Leger, the author of a history of the Waldenses (noted by Adeney, p. 670). This massacre, before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (in 1685) shocked Europe. Cromwell proclaimed a fast. He had Milton draw up a letter to the king of France and to the Protestant princes. He sent Sir Samuel Morland to the duke of Savoy in protest. Cromwell's intervention had an effect. Mazarin directed the duke to put an end to the persecution and grant the Protestants amnesty.


In 1686, the year after the Edict of Nantes, Louis XIV sent a letter to his cousin, Victor Amadeus II duke of Savoy, requesting that he persecute the Waldensians, as he was persecuting the Huguenots, as they were taking refuge among the Waldensians. When the persecution commenced, the Swiss Protestants at Basle intervened, offering the Waldensians exile in Switzerland. The Swiss envoys managed with great difficulty, to persuade the Waldensians to accept this exile. On 9 April 1686 the duke signed a decree, permitting the exile. However, in spite of this, some who had accepted exile were seized and imprisoned. The Waldensians resisted after this breach of the terms. War commenced and by the end of the year, 9,000 were killed and 12,000 were taken prisoner, many of whom died in the Piedmont dungeons. There were some 200 left in the mountains and they conducted such persistent guerilla warfare, that they finally obtained the release of all the surviving prisoners and their safe conduct to Switzerland. 3000 survivors were released in 1687. They set off across the Alps for Geneva (an average twelve-day journey), and many perished in the snow. This was done despite the Swiss protest and children under twelve were detained, to be educated as Roman Catholics. They were dispersed as far as Brabdenburg, Prussia, Wurtemberg and the Palatinate, to prevent their attempts to return.


The Waldensians regained control of their homeland by an invasion, mounted from Switzerland with some 1,000 men on 16 August 1689. In the valley of the Jaillon, after six days march, they defeated a force of some 2,500 French troops under the Marquis de Larry. The French lost 600 and the Waldensians lost 15 and 12 wounded, although they lost 116 on the way. The Waldensians fought from La Basiglia and carried out mountain warfare over the spring of 1690.


On 23 May 1694 they were granted religious liberty, by decree of Victor. Pope Innocent XII denounced the edict, whereupon the senate in Turin repudiated the Papal decree and forbade publication of it in the duchy, under penalty of death. They would have been in severe hardship had it not been for the assistance of England and Holland. William and Mary and later Queen Anne, assisted them warmly as Cromwell had done in previous years (see Adeney, p. 671). The history of the Waldensians is one of severe and intermittent oppression over the remaining centuries. They are of little relation to the Churches of God in that they had long since given up the distinctive Subordinationism and other characteristics of the Church. But they are of interest in noting how the papacy dealt with non-Catholics, when they had the power to act. Had they been able, they would have killed every single Waldensian, until they had exterminated them from the face of the earth.


The Albigensian Crusade

The Cathars, Albigensians or Waldensians were persecuted after first being protected by Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, perhaps an Albigensian himself. Raymond was excommunicated by Pierre de Castelnau, legate of Innocent III in 1207. An equerry of the Count later killed de Castelnau. The Pope immediately deposed Raymond and he, frightened into submission, expelled the Albigensians from his dominions, doing public penance on 18 June 1209 before the Church of St Gilles. When the crusaders, who were assembled in the north of France, invaded Langeudoc, Raymond assisted the crusade and assisted in the siege of Beziers and Carcassone in 1209. Returning to Toulouse, he avoided his obligation and was excommunicated by the Council of Avignon. Raymond went to Rome and was received by Innocent III, but his estates were overrun by Simon de Montfort in his absence. In 1212 he held only Toulouse and Montauban. His brother-in-law Peter, king of Aragon, came to his aid, but was killed in the battle of Murat in 1213. In 1215 Simon de Montfort besieged Toulouse and Narbonne. Raymond did not resist, but accepted humiliating terms from the Papal legates. He was deprived of his estates and retired to England, later seeking Innocent III's favour at the Lateran Council of 1215. From exile in Aragon, Raymond VI reassembled his troops and took Toulouse on 7 November 1217, later defending it against Simon de Montfort, who was killed 25 June 1218 (C.E., Vol XII, art. ‘Raymond VI’, p. 670).


Raymond VII tried to fend off a new crusade, by offering obeisance to the assembly at Bourges in 1226, but a new crusade was decided upon. Louis VIII (ceded rights in the south by Amaury de Montfort) seized Avignon and occupied Langeudoc without resistance, but died on his return north at Montpensier on 8 November 1226. Blanche of Castille did not press the war against Raymond who then took several places from Imbert de Beaujeu, seneschal of the king of France. In 1228 new bands of crusaders began pillaging Toulouse. Soon Raymond lost nearly all of his strongholds and had to sue for peace from Blanche of Castille. After the conference of Meaux, Raymond returned to Paris and did public penance on 12 April 1229 in the Church of Notre Dame. He pledged to demolish the walls of Toulouse and gave his daughter Jeanne in marriage to Alphonse of Poitiers, brother of king Louis IX. He returned to Toulouse and keeping the promise extracted from him, he allowed the establishment of the Inquisition (Bréhier, C.E., Vol XII, ‘Raymond VII’, ibid.). Thus the protection afforded the Sabbath-keeping Albigensians, or Waldensians, was forcibly removed. Every vagabond knight and opportunist in Europe was encouraged to entrain on Toulouse and the south of France. The district was attacked from all sides and when the allies could not be induced to do so, they were themselves harassed. The whole object of the crusade was to allow the Inquisition into the south of France and Spain, to exterminate the Sabbatati. With the effective removal of the only favourable overlord, the Unitarian and Sabbath-keeping faith was persecuted into virtual extinction, or into apostasy. These people committed no crimes. They were an asset to their overlord and virtuous towards their God. For that reason alone, they were hunted and destroyed. The Council of Toulouse of 1229 published canons against the Sabbatati

Canon 3 -   The lords of the different districts shall have the villas, houses and woods diligently searched, and the hiding- places of the heretics destroyed.

Canon 14 -  Lay members are not allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New Testaments (Hefele 5, 931,962).


H. C. Lea was to speak against the Inquisition and its persecution of the Vaudois (History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, Vol. I, esp. p. 96). Thousands were tortured to death by the Inquisition, or killed in the crusades. It is alleged that:

While devastating the city of Biterre the soldiers asked the Catholic leaders how they should know who were heretics; Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux, answered: 'Slay them all, for the Lord knows who is His’ (p. 96).


It can be seen, that there was a more or less continuous tradition of Sabbath-keeping Subordinationism throughout southern Europe up until the thirteenth century. These bodies were named Paulicians, Petrobusians, Pasaginians (Passaginians), Waldensians, Sabbatati or Insabbatati. The Roman Inquisitor Reinerus Sacho writing c. 1230 held the sect of the Vaudois to be of great antiquity, thus long preceding Waldo by centuries.


The Sabbatati were known also by the name Pasigini. In reference to the Sabbath-keeping Pasigini, Hahn was to say:

The spread of heresy at this time is almost incredible. From Bulgaria to the Ebro, from Northern France to the Tiber, everywhere we meet them. Whole countries are infested, like Hungary and southern France; they abound in many other countries; in Germany, in Italy, in the Netherlands and even in England they put their efforts (Gesch. der Ketzer, 1,13,14).


Bonacursus is also quoted against them thus:

Not a few, but many know what are the errors of those who are called Pasigini. ... First, they teach that we should obey the sabbath. Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn and reject all the church Fathers, and the whole Roman Church (D'Archery, Spicilegium I, f, 211-214; Muratory Antiq. medævi. 5, f, 152, Hahn 3, 209).


The priests allegedly (Hahn) answered the charge to keep the fourth commandment, by declaring that the Sabbath symbolised the eternal rest of the saints.


Traces of Sabbath-keepers were found in the times of Gregory I, Gregory VII, and in the twelfth century in Lombardy (Strong's Cyclopædia 1, 680). This general application extends from Italy through Europe.

Robinson gives an account of some of the Waldenses of the Alps, who were called Sabbati, Sabbatati, Inzabbatati, but more frequently Inzabbatati. 'One says they were so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath because they kept the Saturday for the Lord's day’ (General History of the Baptist Denomination, Vol. II, p. 413).


In fact, it was because of the inability to stamp out the Subordinationist Sabbatati, that the crusades of the thirteenth century were implemented. In Spain the persecution is specifically directed at the Waldensian Sabbath-keepers.

Alphonse, king of Aragon, etc., to all archbishops, bishops, and to all others. ... We command you that heretics, to wit, Waldenses and Insabbathi, should be expelled away from the face of God and from all Catholics and ordered to depart from our kingdom (Marianæ, Præfatio in Lucam Tudenæm found in Macima Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum, Vol. 25, p. 90).


After the crusades, and in spite of the Inquisition, the system was still extant.

Louis XII, King of France (1498-1515), being informed by the enemies of the Waldenses, inhabiting a part of the province of Provence, that several heinous crimes were laid to their account, sent the master of Requests, and a certain Doctor of the Sorbonne, to make inquiry into this matter. On their return they reported that they had visited all the parishes, but could not discover any traces of those crimes with which they were charged. On the contrary, they kept the sabbath day, observed the ordinances of baptism, according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith, and the commandments of God. The King having heard the report of his commissioners, said with an oath said that they were better men than himself or his people (History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, pp. 71-72, third edition, London, 1818).


The extent and distribution of the sects termed Cathars and Albigensians

The groups extant at the time of the Waldensians, particularly in Southern France and Spain were termed, as we have seen, Cathars and Albigensians. Cathari, as they were termed, comes from the Greek katharos or pure. They were thus, literally, puritans. We see however, that the Waldensians are extant at the same time and place having the same doctrines. We are thus dealing with branches of the same faith. The term Cathari is ancient. The Novations of the third century were known as Cathari and the term was also used of the Manichaeans. Weber states:

Cathari was a general designation for the dualistic sects of the later Middle Ages. Numerous other names were in vogue to denote these heretics. Without speaking of the corrupted forms of 'Cazzari', 'Gazzari' in Italy, and 'Ketzer' in Germany, we find the following appellations: 'Piphli' 'Piphles' in Northern France and Flanders; 'Arians', 'Manicheans', and 'Patareni' owing to real or alleged doctrinal similarity; 'Tesserants', 'Textores' (Weavers), from the trade which many of the members followed. Sometimes they were erroneously styled 'Waldenses' by their contempories. From the demagogue Arnold of Brescia and the heretical bishop Robert de Sperone, they were called 'Arnoldistae' and 'Speronistae'. To their geographical distribution they owed the names of 'Cathari of Descenzano', or 'Albanenses' from Descenzano between Brescia and Verona, or from Alba in Piedmont, Albano or perhaps from the province of Albania; 'Bajolenses' or 'Bagnolenses' (from Bagnolo in Italy); 'Concorrezenses' (probably from the Concorrezo in Lombardy); 'Tolosani' (from Toulouse); and especially Albigenses from Albi. The designations 'Pauliciani', of which 'Publicani', 'Poplicani', were probably corruptions, and 'Bulgari', 'Bugri', 'Bougres', point to their probable Oriental origin (N. A. Weber, C. E., art. ‘Cathari’, Vol. III, p. 435).


Weber seems to attempt to completely divorce the Waldenses from these sects and wrongly. He admits that:

Eastern Europe seems to have been in point of date, the first country in which Catharism manifested itself, and it certainly was the last to be freed from it. The Bogomili, who were representatives of the heresy in its milder dualistic form, perhaps existed as early as the tenth century and, at a later date, were found in large numbers in Bulgaria. Bosnia was another Catharist centre. Some recent writers make no distinction between the heretics found there and the Bogomili, whereas others rank them with the rigid Dualists. In the Western contemporary documents they are usually called 'Patareni', the designation then applied to the Cathari in Italy.


There is a readily identifiable pattern in the movement of these peoples. The source is easily identified as the Paulicians, who were settled in Thrace. The first settlements were thus Albania and Bulgaria. From there it spread into Bosnia. The Bulgars embraced Catharism which by definition enjoined the sanctity of marriage and was practiced as such by all puritan sects. The Bogomils appear to have developed a perverted form of the system, among the monastic orders and orthodox clergy. This system appears to have caused a serious controversy among the Bulgars and also in the Balkans. There is no doubt that all the groups were married and bore children over centuries, in all of the general areas in which they settled. To assert that they enforced celibacy is absurd.


The reason the Cathari were called Pauliani (or Paulician) was because they embraced those doctrines. The assertion that the epistles were relative is a supposition.


The sects were biblical literalists, as statements of their doctrines indicate. The reason that they were called Cazzari and Sabbatati is also not difficult to follow. The Khazars or Cazzars had been converted to Judaism c. 740. They occupied the area from the Crimea, eastwards past the Caspian to the Aral and the Oxus River. They extended north up the Volga to south of Bulgar and were overlords for the areas north of Bulgar and both east and west. They ruled north-west to the Ukraine. They kept the Sabbath and Holy Days and followed the food laws as the Paulicians seem to have done. The Khazars gave military aid to the Magyars in their invasion of Hungary. The Magyars appear to have been one of their allied tribes, in the establishment of their empire. The Khazar Jewish kingdom lasted from approx 700-1016. The Jewish fugitives fled to the Khazars from Greece in 723. The maps of their distribution and influence are found in Martin Gilbert Atlas of Jewish History, 3rd edition, Dorset Press, 1984, pages 25-26. These Khazars invited Rabbis into the kingdom and had correspondence with the Spanish Jews. They were identified by Koestler (The Thirteenth Tribe, Popular Library, New York, 1976) as the descendants of Ashkenaz the descendants of Gomer (Gen. 10:3). Ashkenazi means the people of Ashkenaz. Zvi Ankori's attempted refutation of Koestler in Genetic Diseases Of Ashkenazi Jews is unconvincing.


The Ashkenazi centre was the Pale of Settlement, which extended from the Crimea, north-west to the Baltic (see Atlas of Jewish History, p. 43). The area can be seen as more or less a reorientation of Khazaria. This occurred from the Russian attacks, which commenced from 970. In 1016 a joint Russian-Byzantine expedition finally destroyed the Khazar kingdom. This ultimately weakened the area, relocated the Khazar Jews and opened the way for the Mongol invasions of 1215. This forced the Khazars even further west. There were Jewish movements out of the Crimea from 1016 (south to Constantinople, Trebizond and Alexandria and north-west to Kharkov and Chernigov) and in 1350 (to Kiev) and 1445 (to Lithuania). Persecutions in Hungary between 1349 and 1360 drove the Jews north to Tarnapol (see Atlas of Jewish History, pp. 45-46). Thus it is no surprise that some would have converted to a form of Christianity, which held the doctrines akin to Judaism and also had been persecuted with them, over a similar time scale. Some went into Russian Orthodoxy. Most remained Ashkenazi Jews and became absorbed into Judah, although the Ashkenazi are still distinct to this day, being physiologically different to the Sephardic Jews of Spain, Britain and the east. The persecution of the Jews was severe in Europe generally, especially in Spain and also Portugal. This accorded by and large, with the persecution of the Puritans, under their different names.


The Bosnian Cathars

In the twelfth century Kulin, the ban or civil ruler of Bosnia, embraced Catharism with 10,000 of his subjects. The Catholics under Innocent III, Honorius III and Gregory IX, tried to exterminate them without success. Pope Nicholas IV (1288-92) sent Franciscans to Bosnia. The Hungarians were stated to have tried to suppress the Cathari in Bosnia, but the Cathari identified their religion with their independence. The Bosnian King Thomas was converted to Catholicism in the fifteenth century and issued severe edicts against his co-religionists. They were 40,000 in number. They left Bosnia for Herzegovina in 1446. The heresy disappeared after the Turks conquered the area. Several thousand became orthodox while many more became Muslim. That of itself indicates that the movement was Unitarian. Weber's comments (C.E., p. 437) regarding the enforced celibacy of the Cathari are scarcely to be credited. One cannot maintain a populace over centuries without breeding, as they were not free to proselytise. The practices found among the Bogomil monks, are scarcely indicative of the practices of a general populace, which does not practice monasticism and indeed condemns it. The remnant of these people is most likely to have gone north into Transylvania, where the Sabbatati emerged. The conversion of members of the Khazar Empire was accompanied also by the movement of the Puritan sects into Hungary and into Trans-Carpathia/Romania. The sects in Hungary were called Sabbatharier in the German, because they were Sabbath-keepers.


The history of these sects remained more or less intact until the end of the nineteenth century, when it was written by Dr. Samuel Kohn, Chief Rabbi of Budapest Hungary. The work is DIE SABBATHARIER IN SIEBENBURGEN Ihre Geshichte, Literatur, und Dogmatik, Budapest, Verlag von Singer & Wolfer, 1894; Leipzig, Verlag von Franz Wagner. The text has been translated and published by CCG with a foreword by W.E. Cox and is available from CCG Publishing at


Kohn says that: “As the ideal continued step by step to go toward original and true Christianity, Jewish religious customs and statutes prescribed by the Old Testament, which were originally judged and rejected by Christianity, were actually taken over and practiced.” He seems to have no idea of the extensive Waldensian era prior to the Reformation from which these Sabbatarians had emerged.


According to Kohn, they were similar to the Ebionites and other Judaic-Christians of the first few centuries after Christ (Kohn tr. p. 10). The Sabbath-keepers of the Carpathians formed a loosely knit structure before 1588, when Andreas Eossi became their leader. The two main concentrations were in the towns of Szekely-Keresztur (today the Romanian town of Cristuru-Secuiesc) and Korospatak (today Bodoc). The main villages where the Sabatharier or Sabbath-keepers resided, toward the end of the sixteenth century, were the Hungarian residences of Nagy Solymos, Kis Solymos, Uj-Szekely, Szent-Demeter, Ernye, Ikland, Bozod, Bozod-Ujfalu, and the home residence of Andreas Eossi. Soon after Eossi's death in 1599 an apostasy set in.

... authors of some of the literature were Enok Alvinczi, Johannes Bokenyi, Thomas Pankotai, and Simon Pechi (Eossi's closest associate) (Marx, ibid.).


Also, in 1579, the Unitarian Church split into two parts – Sabbath-keepers and Sunday worshippers. They differed from Protestants in three main doctrines:

1. disbelief in the Trinity and were called Anti-Trinitarians;

2. disbelief in baptising children;

3. disbelief in Christ's divinity.


Francis Davidis was held to be the founder of the Unitarian Church in Transylvania in 1566. It was at the death of Davidis in 1579 that the Unitarian church split. In 1568 and 1569 Davidis had held the common view of the Sabbatarians that the Holy Spirit was not God (but the power of God) and that it does not need to be worshipped “because the prophets and the apostles do not teach such worship anywhere” (Kohn, tr. p22). In 1571 he published a treatise on the difference between the “adoration and worship of God and Jesus (ibid.).” In 1578 he published the four theses on the non-worship of Jesus Christ (ibid.).


Eossi accepted the Unitarian faith in 1567. Doctrines under his administration are almost identical to the present day.


1 The New Year, the Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets covered as a New Moon, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day.

2.The Ten Commandments.

3.The Food and Health Laws (no eating of blood, pig, strangled animals).

4. The Millennium to last 1000 years. Christ will return at the beginning and gather Judah and Israel.

5.The use of God's sacred calendar as per the Temple system.

6.There are to be two different resurrections: one to eternal life at Christ's coming; the other to judgement and correction at the end of 1000 years.

7. We are saved by grace, but God’s law still needs to be kept.

8. It is God who calls people into His truth. The world in general is blinded.

9 Christ was the greatest of the prophets, the most holy of all people, the "crucified Lord", "the Supreme Head and King of the real believers, the dearly beloved and holy Son of God."


On pages 62-67 of Kohn’s work (pp. 54ff. of the translation) the Old Sabbath Songbook is discussed. The hymnal was written in Hungarian and only eight songs show the name of the author in an acrostic. There were Eossi, Enok Alvinczi, Janos Bokenyi, Thomas Pankotai and Simon Pechi.  


The Old-Sabbatarian Hymnal this contains altogether a hundred and two hymns for diverse devotional occasions, among which not less than 44 are for the Sabbath. In addition there are five songs for the New Moon, 11 for the Feast of the Passover [and Unleavened Bread], 6 for the Feast of Weeks, 6 for the Feast of Tabernacles, 3 for the feast of the New Year, 1 for the Feast (sic) of Atonement, 26 for the different occasions of everyday life (Kohn tr. p. 55).


There is thus no doubt that the Church kept the Sabbaths and New Moons and the Holy Days in that order of importance. The Day of Trumpets is not listed as it was covered by the hymns for the New Moons, which took precedence. Thus in the early stages they did not observe Rosh Hashanah. The Feast of the New Moon listed in the sequence by Kohn is considered to apply to the actual New Year in Abib. Its relocation to the position of Trumpets (also the later observed Rosh Hashanah) is considered a late Judaising innovation. The error of the limited ongoing role of the sacrifice of Christ asserted by Kohn is a late Judaising error and was never held by the Sabbath-keeping churches over time (Kohn tr. p. 78).


Simon Pechi took over the Sabbatarians in Transylvania in 1623 and the Sabbatarian faith took a specific Judaising bend until 1638. The court session at Des in 1638 broke the strength of the so-called Judaising movement. From the trial in 1638 to the 1869 a Judaising progression resulted in the conversion of one element to Judaism, which formed the basis of Kohn’s work. There were other elements still in existence that kept the original faith by keeping the Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts and the Foodlaws with the same theology as we do today.


By 1637 there were believed to be between 15,000 and 20,000 Sabbatarians in Transylvania. At the end of the seventeenth century, the Sabbatarians were still represented in at least eleven towns and villages in Transylvania. The 1867 declaration by the Hungarian Parliament of religious freedom to all religious confession, including the Jews, enabled the Sabbatarians to leave their Christian denominations and reveal themselves and some (not most as Kohn tries to assert) became Jews. The foreword for the translation explains the circumstances in which Kohn wrote and the errors he asserted.


The likelihood of most going over is not likely as Kohn admits that as of his day (c. 1894):

The largest group of Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania today - and they number in the thousands - are situated in the areas of Oluj and Sibiu. The bishop of Cluj - Rumania's second largest city - keeps the Sabbath.


These people were present in Trans-Carpathia and Romania until this century, when they went under Communist domination and have emerged recently as two unrelated groups of Sabbath-keepers, one of which is keeping all other aspects, as they did centuries before. Thus the European Church, which might perhaps be termed the Thyatiran era, still lives as Christ promised to them at Revelation 2:25-26.


Sabbath Britain

Sabbath-keeping was extant in England from the initial conversions. Britain was certainly introduced to Christianity very early and Tertullian of Carthage (a rhetorical writer) in Against the Jews

boasts that 'parts of Britain inaccessible to the Romans were indeed conquered by Christ'. That was written about two hundred years after the birth of Christ (Edwards, Christian England, Vol. I, p. 20).  


The area of Glastonbury was kept under control of the British until Ine, King of the West Saxons (688-722), occupied it. He found a wooden Church there already revered as ancient. He gave extensive lands to its clergy and it survived until it was burnt down in 1184. The earliest Christian martyr recorded under the Romans in Britain is Alban. He seems to have been a Roman soldier, who sheltered a Christian priest escaping from Gaul and was baptised by him (Edwards, p. 21). Gildas and Bede tell us also, of the martyrs Aaron and Julius at Caerleon. Aaron's name suggests that he was a Jew (Edwards, ibid.).


There were five British Christians, including three bishops at the Council of Arles in 314. Eborius, bishop of York, Restitutus, bishop of London, Adelfius, bishop of Lincoln (but this is not certain since the scribe wrote Colonia Londoninensium rather than Colonia Lindensium), a priest and a deacon (Edwards, ibid.).


The emperor Constantine had been declared Augustus or emperor at York on 25 July 306, on the death of Constantius, his father.


Constantius had been sympathetic to the Christians in Gaul, who were Subordinationist Unitarian. Constantine had facilitated the Council at Nicæa in 325 and Athanasius records the British bishops there as agreeing with its decrees. Edwards considers that it is probable, that the Church in Britain remained a minority concentrated in the towns (p. 22). It is more probable, that the elements which were sympathetic to the Athanasian position, were so concentrated and in the abject minority. The remainder were Sabbath-keeping Subordinationists, who extended from Ireland to Scotland. It is worthy of note that Pelagius, the well-known theologian, was born in Britain about 380 and so the doctrinal links with the Churches in Gaul, is not accidental. He emphasised the freedom and ability of man to co-operate with the grace of God (Edwards, p. 23). This doctrine conflicted with the doctrine of Augustine of Hippo, on the complete sinfulness of man, who must rely totally on forgiveness and redeeming power, exemplified by the Augustinian prayer

Grant what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt (ibid.).


Rome fell in 410 to the so-called barbarians. The Vandals, who came to occupy Rome, were in fact iconoclastic Unitarian Sabbath-keeping Christians, so-called Arians. Vandalism comes from the fact that the Vandals destroyed the graven images of the idolatrous Romans and were then subjected to a bad press by later historians. It is a matter of record, that their occupation of Rome was exemplary. Pelagius went to live in Africa, somewhat stupidly near Augustine his enemy. This later resulted in his excommunication and death in Palestine. His choice of locality perhaps indicates, that Pelagius was not in accord with the doctrines of his northern forebears, or perhaps did not like the cold. It is asserted by the contemporary chronicler Prosper that the Pelagian heresy is alleged to have been spread there by Agricola, a bishop's son. Bishop Germanus was summoned from Auxerre in Gaul in 429, and was accompanied by the neighbouring bishop Lupus of Troyes. It must be remembered, that Lupus of Troyes was a monk of Lérins. This was the centre from which Gaul was redirected to the Roman system. Thus we are dealing with Athanasian mystics, using the Roman force to overcome the British system, which is accused of Pelagianism. They did this allegedly not only in churches but at cross roads and in field and lanes (Edwards, ibid., p. 23). The preaching at cross roads was used, because the cross roads were seen by the Romans and the Europeans as being centres of the goddess Hecate, from which the significance of the cross is developed. It was for this reason that the Subordinationists, or Unitarians, were iconoclasts, particularly in relation to crosses. The bishops accompanied a military expedition against the Picts and the Saxons in the north. Germanus had been a dux or military commander, before his ordination. The Church and the bishops of Gaul under the Roman system took on a strange new shape as a power.


Britain was weakened by the movement of forces outside of Britain. In 383, the Spanish born Christian, general Magnus Maximus, married to the British girl Helena, took his troops to the mainland and declared himself emperor. From then on the defence was inadequate. In 407 another Constantine led his troops to the mainland to do the same. No Roman coins later than this date, have been found in Britain. Rome was then cut off in the great barbarian invasions of Gaul and Italy in 410. The British then invited the Saxons in. The Roman-British Church was only a very small part of Christian Britain and was confined to the Romanised and urbanised south and south-east from the Wash to Exeter, with the second area being from York, north-west to Carlisle and the Cumbrian coast or the western end of the military zone (Edwards, p. 25). The Celtic Church on the other hand was acknowledged to be the centrality of a fervent Christian faith (Edwards, p. 27). The Celts acknowledged the holiness of the Bible, taking it literally and obeying it wholeheartedly; even the food regulations in the Old Testament were received as the law of God. The Celts were organised as tribes, which seem to have been of mixed racial origins.

What united them was not an army and an administration with urban centres, as in the Roman civilization, but a strong common culture based on their shared faith (Edwards, p. 27).


Thus, it is easy to see why the Roman bishops had to go to the countryside, in order to argue against the so-called Pelagian heresy, if indeed that is what it was. It is hard to imagine a refined argument on the doctrine of grace and predestination taking place among pagans. Thus we are dealing with two Christianities extant in Britain, and with that of the British or Celts, the superior and the more biblical. It was only suppressed where the Romans could dominate.


Catholicism was not established in Britain, until the conversion of the Angles by Augustine of Canterbury. Ethelbert king of Kent, was converted to Catholicism at Pentecost 597 (according to Butler, Lives of the Saints, ed. Walsh, concise edn., p. 158) and many (some 10,000) subjects were baptised at the pagan midwinter Christmas festival of 597. The Christians of Britain were up until that time, predominantly, if not exclusively, all Sabbath-keeping Subordinationist Unitarians, who kept the food laws and the Holy Days. They were not dominated by Rome until the Synod of Whitby in 663 at Hilda's Abbey, where they submitted under duress. Columba of Iona kept the Sabbath and foretold his death on the Sabbath, Saturday 9 June 597 (Butler, Lives of the Saints, Vol. 1, art. St. Columba, p. 762). Butler says in his footnote, that the practice of calling the Lord's day the Sabbath did not commence until a thousand years later (Adamnan, Life of Columba, Dublin, 1857, p. 230. This was also commented on by W.T. Skene in his work Adamnan's Life of St. Columba, 1874, p. 96).


The Catholic historian Bellesheim (History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Vol. 1, p 86) comments regarding the Sabbath in Scotland.

We seem to see here an allusion to the custom observed in the early monastic Church of Ireland, of keeping the day of rest on Saturday, or the Sabbath. 


James C. Moffatt (The Church in Scotland, p. 140) says that:

It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labour. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week.


Flick (The Rise of the Mediæval Church, p. 237) says that:

The Celts used a Latin Bible unlike the Vulgate (R.C.) and kept Saturday as a day of rest, with special religious services on Sunday.


In Scotland until the tenth and eleventh centuries it was asserted that:

They worked on Sunday but kept Saturday in a Sabbatical manner ...  These things Margaret abolished (Andrew Lang, A History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation, Vol. I, p. 96; see also Celtic Scotland, Vol. 2, p. 350).


The Scots were Sabbath-keepers up until Queen Margaret, according to Turgot (Life of Saint Margaret, p. 49)

It was another custom of theirs to neglect the reverence due to the Lord's day, by devoting themselves to every kind of worldly business upon it, just as they did upon other days. That this was contrary to the law, she (Queen Margaret) proved to them as well by reason as by authority. 'Let us venerate the Lord's day,' said she, 'because of the resurrection of our Lord, which happened on that day, and let us no longer do servile works upon it; bearing in mind that upon this day we were redeemed from the slavery of the devil. The blessed Pope Gregory affirms the same.'


Skene also comments (Celtic Scotland, Vol. 2, p. 349) regarding Queen Margaret and her activities against Sabbath-keeping in Scotland:

Her next point was that they did not duly reverence the Lord's day, but in this latter instance they seemed to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early Church of Ireland, by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours.


Lewis (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, Vol. 1, p. 29) says:

There is much evidence that the Sabbath prevailed in Wales universally until AD 1115, when the first Roman bishop was seated at St. David's. The old Welsh Sabbath-keeping churches did not then altogether bow the knee to Rome, but fled to their hiding places.


Sabbath-keeping enjoyed a revival in Elizabethan England.

In the reign of Elizabeth, it occurred to many conscientious and independent thinkers (as it previously had done to some protestants in Bohemia) that the fourth commandment required of them the observance, not of the first, but of the specified 'seventh' day of the week (Chambers Cyclopædia, article ‘Sabbath’, Vol. 8, 1837, p. 498; quotation blurred).


James I of England dismissed Chief Justice Coke in 1616, putting an end to the attempt to limit the power of the king via the courts. There were a series of persecutions of Protestants during this time. On the publication of the Book of Sports in 1618, a violent controversy broke out among English theologians, as to whether the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was in force and, secondly, on what ground the first day of the week was entitled to be observed, as the Sabbath (Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, art. ‘Sabbatarians’, p. 602). Mrs Traske, a teacher, was imprisoned in 1618, for fifteen or sixteen years, at Maiden Lane, a prison for those in disagreement with the Church of England.  She had refused to teach on the Sabbath and would teach for only five days a week (Pagitt's Heresiography, p. 196).


Meanwhile, in mainland Europe, the battle for Catholic domination and control of the continent was in force. This war, commencing in 1620, was effectively a Catholic/Protestant conflict. The Hapsburgs sought to impose Catholic and Imperial control of Europe. In 1618 the Bohemians had rebelled against Ferdinand of Hapsburg, shortly to become German Emperor. The Bohemian crown was given to the Protestant Elector Palatine. This effectively precipitated the Thirty Years War. In 1620 the Hapsburgs regained control of Bohemia and Sabbath persecution resumed.


In 1628, despite English attempts to stop him Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's chief minister, took the French-Protestant stronghold La Rochelle and destroyed the power of the Huguenots.


In 1639 Scots Covenenters, uncompromising Protestants rebelled against Charles I, who was attempting to impose a new prayer book on them (McEvedy, World History Factfinder, Century, London, 1984, p. 88).


In 1642 the Civil War began between King and Parliament. From this time onwards, the religious divisions saw the emergence of Unitarian theology in people such as Milton, Isaac Newton and others. Cromwell became the symbol of those opposed to Catholic domination and persecution.


In 1647, Charles I queried the Parliamentary Commissioners and asserted that Sunday worship proceeds directly from the authority of the Church.

For it will not be found in Scripture where Saturday is no longer to be kept, or turned into the Sunday wherefore it must be the Church's authority that changed the one and instituted the other (R. Cox, Sabbath Laws, p. 333).


The assumption here is, that to reject the papacy necessarily involves the changes that rest entirely on the Councils of the Church for authority, such as Sunday worship. The logic places Protestantism on a dangerous footing. Milton identified this logic and said:

It will surely be far safer to observe the seventh, according to express commandment of God, than on the authority of mere human conjecture to adopt the first (Sab. Lit. 2, 46-54).


In 1648, the treaty of Westphalia brought the Thirty Years War in Europe to an end. After the Thirty Years War, hostilities continued between the French and the Spanish. The riot in Paris marked the beginning of the long period of civil disorder, known as the Fronde. Also, in 1648, George Fox founded the Society of Friends (termed Quakers first from 1650).


At about this time Dr. Peter Chamberlain, physician to King James and Queen Anne and King Charles I and Queen Katherine, was baptised (according to his monument: cf. Telegraph Print, Napier as per SDA notation to document of Sabbath references of unknown publication, p. 25).


In 1649, Charles I was executed, England declared a Commonwealth and Cromwell crushed the Irish rebels at Drogheda.


Religious tolerance for Sabbath-keepers during this period was much greater, however, the restoration of Charles II, in 1660, after promising an amnesty and religious toleration (McEvedy, ibid.) saw Sabbath-keeping again in disfavour. Thomas Bampfield, Speaker in one of Cromwell's parliaments, wrote on behalf of seventh day Sabbath observance and was imprisoned in Ilchester jail (Calamy 2, 260). According to Stennet's letters, 1668 and 1670, there were about nine or ten churches that keep the Sabbath, besides many scattered disciples, who have been eminently preserved (R. Cox, Sabbath Laws, ibid., Vol. I, p. 268).


By and large, from this period, Sabbath-keeping incurred an almost enforced migration to America. According to Jas. Bailey, Stephen Mumford, the first Sabbath-keeper in America came from London in 1664 (J. Bailey, History of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, pp. 237-238). In 1671 the Seventh Day Baptists had broken from the Baptist Church in order to keep Sabbath (see Bailey History, pp. 9-10). However, the Pilgrim Fathers were from a Sabbath-keeping tradition (cf. the paper The Dutch Connection of the Pilgrim Fathers (No. 264)).


Northern Europe

Sabbatarianism had been persecuted in Norway, from at least the Church Council in Bergen, 22 August 1435 and the conference in Oslo in 1436. People in different places of the kingdom had commenced to keep the Sabbath day holy and the archbishop forbade it on the grounds that:

It is strictly forbidden - it is stated - in the Church-Law, for anyone to keep or to adopt holydays, outside of those which the pope, archbishop, or bishops appoint (R. Keyser, The History of the Norwegian Church under Catholicism, Vol II, Oslo, 1858, p. 488).


Also at the Catholic Provincial Council of Bergen 1435, it was said:

We are informed that some people in different districts of the kingdom, have adopted and observed Saturday-keeping.

It is severely forbidden - in holy church canon- [for] one and all to observe days excepting those which the holy Pope, archbishop, or the bishops command. Saturday-keeping must under no circumstances be permitted hereafter further that the church canon commands. Therefore we counsel all the friends of God throughout all Norway who want to be obedient towards the holy church to let this evil of Saturday-keeping alone; and the rest we forbid under penalty of severe church punishment to keep Saturday holy (Dip. Norveg., 7, 397).


The Church Conference at Oslo in 1436 stated:

It is forbidden under the same penalty to keep Saturday holy by refraining from labour (History of the Norwegian Church etc., p. 401).


In 1544 the warning was reissued.

Some of you, contrary to the warning, keep Saturday. You ought to be severely punished. Whoever shall be found keeping Saturday, must pay a fine of ten marks (History of King Christian the Third, Niels Krag and S. Stephanius).


Thus it is evident, that Sabbath-keeping had become entrenched in Norway, over the period of at least one hundred years.


Sabbatarianism and at least the understanding of the seventh day Sabbath, was also extant in Norway from the reformation, according to comments made in notations or translations: for example see Documents and Studies Concerning the History of the Lutheran Catechism in the Nordish Churches, Christiania, 1893; and also Theological Periodicals for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norway, Vol. 1, Oslo, p. 184. Sabbath-keeping spread also into Sweden and was suppressed continuously.

This zeal for Saturday-keeping continued for a long time: even little things which might strengthen the practice of keeping Saturday were punished (Bishop Anjou, Svenska Kirkans Historis, (after) Motet i Upsala).


The practice extended into Finland and King Gustavus Vasa I of Sweden wrote to the people of Finland.

Some time ago we heard that some people in Finland had fallen into a great error and observed the seventh day, called Saturday (State Library at Helsingfors, Reichsregister, Vom. J., 1554, Teil B.B. leaf 1120, pp. 175-180a).


Sabbath-keeping Churches, however, remained extant in Sweden up until current times.

We will now endeavour to show that the sanctification of the Sabbath has its foundation and its origin in a law which God at creation itself established for the whole world, and as a consequence thereof is binding on all men in all ages (Evangelisten (The Evangelist), Stockholm, May 30 to August 15, 1863: organ of the Swedish Baptist Church).


The forms of Sabbath-keeping in the north, had however, degenerated into a form of Trinitarian Protestantism, with Subordinationism being wholly gone. The Protestants had begun to simply adopt the Sabbath, rather than the purity of the biblical concepts. Pastor M. A. Sommer began observing the seventh day and wrote an article on the true Sabbath in his church paper Indovet Kristendom, No. 5, 1875. He wrote in a letter to the Adventist Elder John G. Matteson.

Among the Baptists here in Denmark there is a great agitation regarding the Sabbath commandment ... However, I am probably the only preacher in Denmark who stands so near to the Adventists and who for many years has proclaimed Christ's second coming (Advent Tidente, May 1875).


The remnants of the original Church were still in the south-east, however. Luther had also noted (Lectures on Genesis, 1523-27) that Sabbatarians existed at that time in Austria. These appear to have been the remnants of the earlier Waldensian Sabbatati. He in fact advocated Sabbath-keeping.

God blessed the sabbath and sanctified it to Himself. God willed that this command concerning the Sabbath should remain. He willed that on the seventh day the word should be preached (Commentary on Genesis, Vol. 1, see pp. 133-140).


Sabbath-keeping in Germany and Holland was suppressed vigorously and many were martyred. Barbara of Thiers was executed in 1529. Another martyr Christina Tolingen, denied the veracity of Catholic holy days and held to the seventh day Sabbath (Martyrology of the Churches of Christ, commonly called Baptists, during the era of the Reformation, from the Dutch of T. J. Van Bracht, London, 1850, 1, pp. 113-114).


Sabbath-keeping in Germany was not stamped out and was adhered to by such as Tennhardt of Nuremburg, who was a strict Sabbath-keeper (Bengel's Leben und Werken, Burk, p. 579). He appeared to hold that Sunday was appointed by Antichrist (K. I. Austug aus Tennhardt's "Schriften", 1712, p. 49).


We had noted above the suppression of Sabbath-keeping in Belgium, centuries before the reformation. The Sabbath-keepers found refuge in Lichtenstein from about 1520, on the estate of Lord Leonhardt of Lichtenstein

… as the princes of Lichtenstein held to the observance of the true Sabbath (J.N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath, p. 649).


This practice in Lichtenstein was attacked by Wolfgang Capito.

The Sabbatarians teach that the outward Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, must still be observed. They say that Sunday is the Pope's invention (Wolfgang Capito, Refutation of Sabbath, 1599).


Sabbatarianism had penetrated Russia prior to the Reformation and was condemned at a Council of Moscow in 1503.

The accused [Sabbath-keepers] were summoned; they openly acknowledged the new [sic] faith, and defended the same. The most prominent of them, the secretary of State, Kuritzyn, Ivan Maximow, Kassian, archimandrite of the [Bury?] Monastery of Novgorod, were condemned to death, and burned publicly in cages, at Moscow: Dec. 19 1503 (H. Sternberg Geschichte der Juden [in Polen], Leipsig, 1873, pp. 117-122).


Sternberg notes:

But the majority moved to the Crimea and the Caucasus, where they remain true to their doctrine in spite of persecution until this present time. The people call them Subotniki, or Sabbatarians (Sternberg, Geschicte der Juden in Polen, p. 124).


There is little doubt that the Sabbatati or Waldensians, were significant in Bohemia as late as 1500.

Erasmus testifies that even as late as about 1500 these Bohemians not only kept the seventh day scrupulously, but were also called Sabbatarians (from R. Cox, The Literature of the Sabbath Question, Vol. II, pp. 201-202; requoted in Truth Triumphant, p. 264).


The quotation from R. Cox appears to say:

I find from a passage in Erasmus that at the early period of the Reformation when he wrote, there were Sabbatarians in Bohemia, who not only kept the seventh day, but were said to be ... scrupulous in resting on it (Dr. R. Cox, Literature of the Sabbath Question, Vol. II, pp. 201-202)


Armitage and Cox (ibid.) note the existence of the Bohemian Sabbatati, as well established in 1310.

In 1310, two hundred years before Luther's theses, the Bohemian brethren constituted one-fourth of the population of Bohemia, and that they were in touch with the Waldenses who abounded in Austria, Lombardy, Bohemia, north Germany, Thuringia, Brabdenburg, and Moravia. Erasmus pointed out how strictly Bohemian Waldenses kept the seventh day Sabbath (Armitage, A History of the Baptists, p. 318; and also R. Cox, ibid.).


In Moravia some Sabbath-keepers were led by Count Zinzendorf in 1738 where he wrote of keeping the Sabbath.

That I have employed the Sabbath for rest many years already, and our Sunday for the proclamation of the gospel (Budingache Sammlung, Leipzig, 1742, Sec. 8, p. 224).


The Moravians under Zinzendorf moved from Europe to America in 1741, where Zinzendorf and the Moravian brethren resolved with the church at Bethlehem USA, to observe the seventh day as rest day (ibid., pp. 5,1421,1422). Their doctrine of the Godhead is not clear. Rupp observes that before Zinzendorf and the Moravians at Bethlehem began the observance of the Sabbath and prospered, there was a small body of German Sabbath-keepers in Pennsylvania (Rupp, History of Religious Denominations in the United States, pp. 109-123). The history of the Bohemians and Moravians, from 1635 to 1867, is described by Adolf Dux. He says:

The condition of the Sabbatarians was dreadful. Their books and writings had to be delivered to the Karlsburg Consistory to become the spoil of flames (Adolf Dux, Aus Ungarn, Leipzig, 1880, pp. 289-291).


The suppression of Sabbath-keeping continued in the areas of Romania, Czecho-Slovakia and the Balkans. In 1789 it was continued and Joseph II's edict of tolerance did not apply to the Sabbatarians, some of whom again lost all their possessions (Jahrgang 2, 254). Catholic priests, aided by soldiers, forced the Sabbatarians to accept Roman Catholicism nominally, working on Saturday and attending services on Sunday, over a period of two hundred and fifty years. The exclusion of the status of Churches to Sabbath Churches in the edicts of toleration, in particular that of the Hungarian Parliament of 1867, is also noted by Samuel Kohn SABBATHARIER IN SIEBENBURGEN op. cit., and noted in Gerhard O Marx's notations of the work op. cit. (see above); (cf. Kohn, The Sabbatarians in Transylvania, trs. T. McElwain and B. Rook, ed. W. Cox, CCG Publishing, USA, 1998).


The Church in Romania and Hungary, under Andreas Eossi, from 1588, was denied use of the printing press and had to publish its material by a system of hand duplication. This Church existed in Trans-Carpathia and Romania (chiefly in Oluj and Sibiu) c. 1894 and was Sabbatati, termed Sabbatharier (the suffix arier seems to indicate Aryan [perhaps because they were non-Jewish Sabbath-keepers, or perhaps it was a mistaken term for Arian] Sabbath-keepers). These people are extant now in the Ukraine and the areas to the north of the 1894 locations. They were Unitarians.


Other Christian tradition

A notation made by Brady's Clavis Calendaria (I-II, London, 1812, pp. 313-314) holds that the early determination of the birth of Christ was held by the early Church to have occurred at the Feast of Tabernacles. The early Christians, who were noted as being Hebrews, although conforming to the Roman year with the nativity as 1 January, on the Feast of Tabernacles, ornamented their churches with green boughs, as a memorial that Christ was actually born at that time, the same way the Jews erected booths or tents. Brady holds this to be the origin of the decoration of the nativity scene with boughs at Christmas.  


The Empire of 1260 Days

It can be seen, that there is a continuous strand of Subordinationist, or Unitarian Sabbath-keeping, throughout the centuries in the Christian world, which runs side by side with the Catholic Church and which the Catholic Church has spent years trying to suppress. At times it has been very close to extermination. In virtually every situation where the Orthodox Church has been in a position of power, it has used every means at its disposal to introduce an Inquisition, using the technology of its day to exterminate this system.


The period of the Holy Roman Empire commenced in 590, with the declarations of Pope Gregory I. The Papacy became the effective ruler of Rome, with the decay of East Roman power in Italy (see McEvedy, ibid., p. 41). This system remained as an image of the Roman beast for 1260 years. In 1846 the last Inquisition came to an end. It lasted for 23 years, from 1823 to 1846, and 200,000 people were sentenced to death, life imprisonment, exile or the galleys, in the papal states alone. Another 1.5 million were placed under continual police surveillance and harassment.

There was a gallows permanently in the square of every town and city and village. Railways, meetings of more than three people, and all newspapers were forbidden. All books were censored. A special tribunal sat permanently in each place to try, condemn and execute the accused. All trials were conducted in Latin. Ninety-nine percent of the accused did not understand the accusations against them. Every pope tore up the stream of petitions that came constantly asking for justice, for the franchise, for reform of the police and the prison system (see Malachi Martin, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, Secker and Warburg, London, 1981, p. 254).


Revolts were put down with wholesale executions, lifelong hard labour, exile or torture, using Austrian troops (ibid., p. 254). Pope Gregory XVI put down one revolt by wholesale butchery of the rebels. The end of the empire of 1260 years was commenced by the revolutions in Italy and Europe of 1848 (see McEvedy, p. 151). The Pope, Pius IX, was restored by French troops to Rome on 12 April 1850. He was without power, however. Garibaldi's army surrounded Rome on 19 April. There was a vote taken for independence from the Papacy, for the papal-states by joining the Republic. The vote in Rome alone was 46,785 for and 47 against. Throughout the papal-states the result was 132,681 for and 1,505 against (Martin, p.255). It was a total rejection of papal rule. Eight months later the Italian parliament passed the Law of Guarantees:

… the pope is an independent sovereign, the parliament acknowledges; he has personal inviolability and immunity, and liberty to come and go, to hold conclaves, councils, consistories, as he wills. He owns the Vatican, the Lateran, the Papal offices, and Castel Gandolfo. He will have an annual revenue of 3,225,000 lire.


Pius tore up the copy of the law saying: “We will be a prisoner" (Martin, p. 255).


Thus the empire came to its primary or great conclusion. There was a minor resurgence, which was ended in 1871, when the Pope lost all temporal power again completely. The Sabbath Churches were safe for the time being, but they were all but dead. Sardis reigned (Rev. 3:1 ff).


In China it appeared that the end of the 1260 years was celebrated in the Taiping Revolution of 1850. Hung Hiu-Tsen proclaimed himself Emperor and took Nanjing and Shanghai (McEvedy, p. 151). Sabbath-keeping was a major factor and stimulus. According to one of their officers (Lin-Le), under Hung all opium, tobacco and all intoxicating drinks were prohibited and the Sabbath religiously observed (Lin-Le The Ti-Ping Revolution, Vol. I, pp. 36-48,84). When asked why they observed the seventh day Sabbath, the Taipings said that firstly, the Bible taught it and secondly, their ancestors observed it as a day of worship (A Critical History of the Sabbath and the Sunday noted also in SDA publication, p. 27).


The empire of the 1260 years is derived from Revelation 12:6 and Revelation 12:15, where the woman was given the wings of the great eagle (Christ as per the Exodus), that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is to be nourished for a time, times and half a time. From the prophetic times system, this is based on the 360 day prophetic year or 360 years. Thus there is a duality possible for this prophecy. However, the main meaning is that the duration is 1260 years (360 x 3.5). The start point from this prophecy is that of 590 CE. The assertion that the 1260 years began with the Roman battles at Busta Gallorum and ended with the deposition of Napoleon in 1814 is completely false. Belisarius took Sicily and Italy from 535-540 from the Ostrogoths, but they successfully counter-attacked in 540. In 568 the Lombards overran Italy. They were displaced from Hungary by the Avars. The end of the system was not in 1814. Waterloo was fought in 1815, not in 1814.


Napoleon had in fact disbanded or abolished the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. All Hapsburg estates became part of the Austrian Empire, with German as the official language. Napoleon had annexed the papal estates in 1808 (McEvedy, p. 135). In 1815 the Conference of Vienna produced a settlement, which redrew the map of Europe. The conference restored the Austrian and Prussian monarchies. The Holy Roman Empire was reconstituted as a German Confederation, under Austrian Presidence. Sweden gained Norway from Denmark, but lost her last foothold on the Continent (McEvedy, p. 140). Between 1815 and 1848 there was only one boundary change within the area covered by the congress and only two in the whole of Europe. The first was simply to recognise that the attempt by the Congress to unite Belgium and Holland had failed (the Belgians threw out the Dutch in 1830). The second was the independence of the Serbs from the Ottomans in 1817. The Greeks made a bid for total independence in 1821. 


Thus the assertion that the Holy Roman Empire finished in 1814 is a fiction of propaganda emanating from churches in the USA. The basis appears to stem from the fact that the Americans were ignorant of Continental politics. The Adventists in the USA attempted to proclaim the advent of Messiah from 1842. The assertions of the 1842-44 advent could not be made if the prophecy of Revelation concerning the 1260 years were still in progress. Thus the Adventists conveniently ignored the 1806 disbandment and the 1815 reconstitution of the Holy Roman Empire and conveniently ceased the period in 1814. This lie has been accepted by American Adventists and other offshoots of the Church of God to this very day. The end result of this date error is that the assertions of Adventism regarding 1842-44 are false. Nothing could have happened whatsoever, as the prophecies could not have been fulfilled at that time. 1850 was the earliest that they could have applied the end of the 1260 years and there are others that the Adventist-Millerite offshoots in the USA did not apply, and have still not applied. The result was disastrous for Sabbatarian biblical exposition.


Another date of significance was that of 663, when the Synod of Whitby was held at Hilda's abbey in England and the British Churches, and all of the western Hebrews, were forced to accept Roman dominion at the point of the sword. Effectively this placed all of the Christian West under the dominion of the erroneous Church system. This began another period of prophecy, which will be detailed elsewhere. The end result was that the obedient Christians endured hardship over the period. There is yet another test in the last days (Rev. 6:9-11) and then Messiah will come.


(Note: There were some important quotes that were obtained from an indeterminate SDA paper which had some incomplete citations. Some were extremely old or rare. Two were difficult to decipher. The quotations were authenticated where possible. One was corrected and another supplemented. The scholarship is regretted but the notations are considered important).