Messalians (from Chald. מִצלַין), or EUCHITES (from εὔχομαι, to pray) is the name borne by two heretical sects of Christian mendicants.
(1.) An ancient sect, composed of roaming mendicant monks, flourished in Mesopotamia and Syria towards the end of the 4th century (dating from 360) as a distinct body, although their doctrine and discipline subsisted in Syria, Egypt, and other countries before the birth of Christ. They were a sort of mystics, who believed that two souls exist in man, the one good, the other evil. They were anxious to expel the evil soul, and hasten the return of the good Spirit of God, by contemplation and prayer, believing that only prayer could save them, and therefore taught the duty of every Christian to make life a period of unintermitted prayer. They despised all physical labor, moral law, and the sacraments, and embraced many opinions nearly resembling the Manichaean doctrine, derived from Oriental philosophy. When their heretic principles became fully known towards the end of the 4th century, the persecution of both the ecclesiastical and civil authority fell upon them; yet they perpetuated themselves to the 7th century, and reappeared in the Bogomiles and Messalians (2) of the Middle Ages.
(2.) Another sect of this name arose in the 12th century, in which there appears a revival or extension of the opinions held by those of the same name in the 4th century. They are charged with holding heterodox views respecting the Trinity. They rejected marriage, abstained from animal food, treated with contempt the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the various ordinances of external worship, placing the essence of religion in prayer, and maintaining the efficacy of perpetual supplications to the Supreme Being for expelling the evil. genius which dwells in the breast of every mortal. The term Euchite, or Messalian, became an invidious appellation for persons of piety in the Eastern churches, just as the terms Albigenses, Waldenses, and Bogomiles were used subsequently to designate all enemies of the Roman pontiff. See Neander, ,Ch. Hist. 3:589; Haweis, Ch. Hist. 2:222; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. bk. iii, ch. xii; pt. ii, ch. v; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2:199 sq. (J. H. W.)