Bogomiles, an important sect of the twelfth century, kindred to the Massilians (q.v.), or perhaps the same. They seem to have represented parts, at least, of the Paulician (q.v.) heresy. Their name is derived by some from their constant use of the prayer "Bog Milui" (Lord have mercy); by others from the Slavic word Bogomil (Beloved of God). Our knowledge of them rests chiefly on the Panoplia of Euthymius Zigabenus, published by Gieseler (Gottingen, 1852). Issuing from Thrace, they obtained a footing in the patriarchate of Constantinople and in some dioceses of Egypt (Neale, Eastern Church, ii, 240).
Their theological system was a modified or quasi dualism; admitting, indeed, but one Supreme principle, the good, but holding that the Supreme had two sons, Satanael and Jesus. Satanael, the first-born, had the government of the world, but, becoming intoxicated with the pride of power, he rebelled, in order to organize a kingdom of his own, and many celestial spirits joined him. Driven from heaven, he formed the earth from pre-existing elements, and also created man. The human soul, however, was inspired directly by the Lord of Heaven, Satanael having sought in vain to animate the works without help from the Author of all Good. The very excellencies now apparent in mankind inflamed the envy of Satanael. He seduced Eve; and Cain, their godless issue, became the root and representative of evil; while Abel, the son of Adam, testified to the better principle in man. This principle, however, was comparatively inefficacious, owing to the craft of the Tempter; and at length an act of mercy on the part of God was absolutely needed for the rescue and redemption of the human soul. The agent whom he singled out was Christ. A spirit, called the Son of God, or Logos, and identified with Michael the Archangel, came into the world, put on the semblance of a body, baffled the apostate angels, and, divesting their malignant leader of all superhuman attributes, reduced his title from Satanael to Satan, and curtailed his empire in the world. The Saviour was then taken up to heaven, where, after occupying the chief post of honor, he is, at the close of the present dispensation, to be reabsorbed into the essence out of which his being is derived. The Holy Spirit, in like manner, is, according to the Bogomiles, an emanation only, destined to revert hereafter to the aboriginal source of life.
The authors of this scheme had many points in common with the other mediaeval sects. They looked on all the Church as anti-Christian, and as ruled by fallen angels, arguing that no others, save their own community, were genuine "citizens of Christ." The strong repugnance which they felt to every thing that savored of Mosaism urged them to despise the ritual system of the Church for instance, they contended that the only proper baptism is a baptism of the Spirit. A more healthy feeling was indeed expressed in their hostility to image-worship and exaggerated reverence of the saints, though even there the opposition rested mainly on Docetic views of Christ and his redemption. These opinions had been widely circulated in the Eastern empire when Alexius Comnenus caused inquiries to be made respecting them, and, after he had singled out a number of the influential misbelievers, doomed them to imprisonment for life. An aged monk, named Basil (q.v.), who came forward as the leader of the sect, resisted the persuasions of Alexius and the patriarch. He ultimately perished at the stake in Constantinople in 1119. His creed, however, still survived, and found adherents in all quarters, more especially in minds alive to the corruptions of the Church and mystic in their texture.-Hardwick, Ch. Hist. p. 302-305; Neander, Ch. Hist. 4:552 sq.; Gieseler, Ch. Hist. per. 3, div. 3:§ 93; Gieseler, De Bogomilis Commentatio; Engelhardt, De Origine Bogomilorum (Erlang. 1828). SEE CATHARI.