Ecumenism and the Significance of Durand of Osca (1160-1224)

About 1102 a certain Benedictine Monk, Henry, was expulsed from the Catholic Church. He then spent some time in Lausanne, Switzerland, for which he also received the name “Henry of Lausanne.” From about 1105-1148 this same Henry evangelized around Southern France, resulting in converts and house churches. About that same time another evangelist, Peter of Bruys, also preached throughout Southern France. Peter attracted the attention of the Catholic Peter the Venerable, who wrote a tractate against him. It appears that Peter of Bruys had a shorter ministry as he “was burned at the stake by an angry mob” in St. Gilles, France, in 1126.[1]

The churches that were encouraged, revived, or founded by these men became known as the Cathar churches (for Pure Ones, or Puritans, if you will) and also Albigensian Churches, due to their prominence in the region around the French town of Albi. In 1250 the Inquisitor Reinerius Saccho differentiated between 16 denominations of these Cathars, in addition to the Poor Men of Lyons or Waldenses.

However, something very unusual happened in 1167. In 1167 an Orthodox Bulgarian Bishop named Nicetas traveled from Constantinople to Southern France to ordain six bishops at the chateau of Saint-Felix-de-Carmanan. Four of the six bishops he ordained over churches were later considered different denominations by Saccho: Church of France, Church of Carcassone, Church of Toulouse, and the Church of Albi.

What is interesting is what happened after these ordinations. The alarm of a non-Rome-approved Christian Church within the boundaries of the former Western Roman Empire caused alarm to the hierarchy of the Catholic church. This alarm was addressed in the 1178 Synod of Toulouse and the 1179 Third Lateran Council under Pope Alexander III. The 27th section of this Council harshly rebuked the Cathars and put them under the pain of anathema (the death penalty).

Then began the first crusade against the Albigenses in 1181 when the Papal Legate Henry Abbott of Clairveaux and his Catholic knights deposed the archbishop of Narbonne and laid siege on the city of Lavaur, capturing it. This began a long series of crusades against the Cathars in Southern France that continued until 1255.

Meanwhile another evangelist, Peter Valdes, had the favor of Archbishop Guichard de Pontigny in the Eastern French city of Lyons. However, when Guichard died in 1181 he was replaced by Archbishop Jean de Bellesmains. Jean promptly excommunicated Valdo and his followers from the Catholic Church. They then received the name Poor Men of Lyons, and also, due to the name of their leader, Valdez, Valdo, or Waldo, the Waldenses.

Now enter Durand of Osca. Durand was a second-generation Waldensian leader, born in Huesca or Osca (of Aragon) about 1160. In 1204, Durand took part in a debate in Pamiers, France, against the Catholic Bishop of Osma, Diego. Becoming convinced of the benefits of the Catholic system, Durand reconverted to Catholicism in 1207. Of significance is that he founded a Lower Order in 1208, the Poor Catholics. While his order did not last, three other Lower Orders soon followed his example: the Franciscans of [St] Francis (1208-1209), the Poor Reconciled of “the first” Bernard (1210), and the Dominicans of [St] Dominic (1215). It was this same Bishop Diego who gave his blessing to Dominic to found the Dominicans.[2] One focus of all four Lower Orders was to combat the spread of heresy.

Below is the “Profession of Durand d’Osca.” Several things are fascinating about this profession. First, it expands the quote from Cyprian, “outside the Church there is no salvation,” by adding the adjective “Roman” for the first time in confessional history. Second, this confession is an example of the downward steps in Catholic theology that foreshadowed the Protestant Reformation’s refocus on “Scriptures alone, faith alone, and grace alone.” Third, it clearly portrays doctrines important to Catholic leaders when seeking to reabsorb heretics or non-Catholics into their church.

As is noted below, Pope Innocent III titled this profession, “The Example.” Therefore this profession provides an example of the Catholic goals as they engage in ecumenical discussion today. So it appears that the doctrinal convictions in the Profession of Durand of Osca provide endpoints for ecumenical conversations with Roman Catholics.

The Introductory note is from a 2006 hard copy of Denzinger’s Symboles and Definitions de la Foi Catholique. The Profession is also found online, at the website in the notation. Both translations into English are mine.

Introductory note from Denzinger[3]

790-797. Letter [of Pope Innocent III] “Eius Exemplo [The Example]” to the Archbishop of Tarragon, December 18, 1208.

This letter contains the formulation of the profession of faith of Durand of Osca, or Huesca (Aragon), a Waldensian returned to the Catholic Church in 1207. The formula is repeated in a letter to the Archbishop of Tarragon and to his subordinates on May 12, 1210 (PL 216,274D), and in a slightly abbreviated form, in a letter of June 14, 1210 (PL 216,289C-293A; Potthast 4014) in which is proclaimed the conversion of the Waldense Bernard Prim. The research of A. Dondaine and of J. Leclercq have permitted to establish that already P. Valdes himself had taken a vow by an analogous formulation during the Council of Lyons between 1179 and 1181 in the presence of the Cardinal-Legat Henry, Bishop of Albano; this formulation (ed. by A. Dondaine, ArchFrPr 16 [1946], 231s; K.-V. Selge, Die ersten Waldenser 2 [Berlin, 1967], 3-6) has without contest served as the model for ulterior formulations.

Ed.: PL215,1510C-1513A (Letters XI 196).—Reg.: Potthast 3571.

Text of Profession (1208)[4]

Letter “Euis exemplo [The Example]” to the Archbishop of Tarragon, Dec 18, 1208.
The profession of faith prescribed to the Waldenses

May all believers know that I, Durant of Osca… and all our brothers, we believe from our heart, we recognize by faith, we confess from our mouth and we affirm by these simple words:
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three persons, one God only, and all the Trinity is co-essential, consubstantial, coeternal, and all-powerful, and each of the persons within the Trinity is fully God, as is contained in the “I believe in God” [30 150 75]
We equally believe from our heart and confess with our mouth that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God alone as we have spoken, created made, governs and ordains all things corporate and spiritual, visible and invisible.
We believe that the author of the New and of the Old Testament is one and the same: God who, as it is said, subsist in the Trinity, created all things from nothing; and that John the Baptist was sent by him, holy and righteous, and filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb of his mother.

We believe from our heart and we confess from our mouth that the incarnation was not accomplished in the Father nor in the Holy Spirit, but only in the Son; in such a way that he who was the divine Son of God the Father, was, humanly, the Son of Man, true man from a mother, having true flesh within the entrails of the mother and a reasonable human soul; at the same time the two natures, that is God and man, one person only, only one Son, only one Christ, only one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, author of all things and who directs all things, born of the Virgin Mary by a true fleshly birth; he ate and drank, he slept, and tired after a trip, he rested; he suffered a true passion in his flesh, and died a true death in his body, and was resurrected in his flesh and by a true return of the soul to the body; in this flesh, after having eaten and drank, he was raised up to heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and he will return to judge the living and the dead.

We believe from our heart and confess with our mouth only one church, not that of the heretics, but the holy Roman Church, catholic, apostolic, and outside of which we believe that no one is saved.

Similarly we do not reject in any way the sacraments which are celebrated within her, and through which the Holy Spirit cooperates by His inestemable and invisible virtue, even if they are administered by a sinful priest, from the moment that the church recognizes it; and neither do we despise ecclesiastical actions and the benedictions accomplished by him, but we accept them from a watchful heart just as if they came from the most righteous men, for the malice of a bishop or priest does not annihilate the baptism of a child, nor the consecration of the Eucharist, nor the other ecclesiastic offices celebrated for their subjects.

We therefore approve of the baptism of children, and if they are dead after their baptism, before they committed any sins, we confess and believe that they are saved; and we believe that in baptism all sins are remitted, so also original sin that was contracted as those that we voluntarily committed.
We esteem that the confirmation done by a bishop, that is the laying on of hands, is holy and must be received with veneration.

We firmly and unalterably believe from a sincere heart, and we affirm simply with words filled with faith, that the sacrifice, that is to say the bread and the wine, is, after consecration, the true body and true blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, and that nothing more is accomplished by a good priest and that nothing less by a bad priest, for it is not accomplished by the merit of him who consecrates, but by the word of the Creator and by virtue of the Holy Spirit. This is why we believe and firmly confess that regardless if a person may be so honest, so religious, so holy, and so prudent, he may not consecrate the Eucharist nor accomplish the sacrifice of the altar, unless he is a priest and regularly ordained by a visible and tangible bishop. For this office, three things are necessary: a determinate person, that is to say a priest particularly established unto that office by a bishop, as we have said; these are the solemn words expressed by the Holy Fathers in the Canon; and the intention of the faith of him who utters [the consecration]; this is why we believe and firmly confess that whosoever, without the ordination of a bishop as we have said, thinks and pretends to be able to realize the sacrifice of the Eucharist, is a heretic; he participates in the iniquity of the sons of Korah and his accomplices [Nb 16], and he must be separated from the Holy Roman Church.
We believe that unto sinners who truly repent the pardon of God is granted by God, and that it is with great joy that we are in communion with them.
We venerate the anointing of the infirm with oil.
We do not deny that carnal marriages must be made contractual, according to the Apostle [1 Cor 7], and we absolutely prohibit the breaking of those that were regularly solemnized. We believe and we confess that a man may also be saved with his wife, and neither do we condemn second or other weddings.
We do not reprove in any way the consumption of meats. Nor do we condemn the taking of a vow, even more, we believe from a sincere heart that it is permitted to swear according to the truth, the sentence and righteousness.
(addition in 1210: On the subject of secular power, we affirm that he may, without mortal sin, exercise judgment unto the shedding of blood, provided that, in exercising the verdict, he does not proceed with hatred but according to the sentence, nor carelessly but with moderation.).

We believe that preaching is very necessary and is praiseworthy, however we believe that it must be accomplished by virtue of the authorities or with the permission of the supreme pontiff or the prelates. But in all the places where manifest heretics reside who deny and blaspheme God and the faith of the Roman Church, we believe that we must, according to the will of God, confound them by disputation and exhortation, and bring in opposition to them the Word of the Lord, with head held high and unto death, as unto the adversaries of Christ and of the Church.
Ecclesiastical ordinations and everything that is read or sung according to what has been established, we humbly approve of and we venerate according to the faith.

We believe that the devil did not become evil for by his condition, but by his free choice.
We believe from all our heart and we confess with a loud voice the resurrection of this flesh that is ours and not that which is other.
We believe and we firmly affirm that there will also be a judgment by Jesus Christ and that everyone, according to what he has done in this flesh, will receive punishment or recompense.
We believe that alms, the sacrifice and other good works can benefit the deceased.
Those that live in this world and own goods, we profess and believe that they will be saved if they give alms and do other good works with that which they possess, and if they observe the commandments of God. We believe that, according to the precept of the Lord, tithes, first fruits and offerings should be paid to clergy.



[1]These events are explained in my “Evangelism in the Western Church: A Chronological History and Theology”; available at:; accessed 14 July 2014; Internet.

[2]“Durand de Huesca”; available at:; accessed 9 July 2014; Internet. “Durand de Huesca”;; accessed 9 July 2014; Internet.

[3]Heinrich Denzinger, Peter Hünermann (ed., original edition), and Joseph Hoffmann (ed., French edition), Symboles et définitions de la foi catholique: Enchiridion Symbolorum (aka. Denzinger, or DS), 38th ed. (37th ed., Freiburg: Herder, 1997; Paris: Cerf, 2005), DS 790-797, “Introduction.” Translation mine.

[4]“1996 Denzinger”; available at:; accessed 2 July 2013; Internet. Translation mine.

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