Peter of Bruys (Pierre De Brois)

Peter Of Bruys (Pierre de Brois)

a French ecclesiastic of the 12th century, is noted as the representative of those anti-hierarchical tendencies which so generally prevailed in Southern France. He was a priest, but resigned his orders, preferring to become a leader of the people against the corruptions of the Church, about 1104. Peter of Clugny, whose pastoral epistles to the bishops of the south of France are the principal source of information concerning Peter of Bruys, reproaches him with heretical opinions; and, although the account of an enemy is always to be read with suspicion, the high and disinterested character of the abbot of Clugny gives more than ordinary value to his narrative. The time of the composition of the preface to the refutation (the body of which was of early date) was shortly after the death of De Bruys, which took place about A.D. 1125. At this time, the author tells us, the heresy had been flourishing for twenty years. Peter of Bruys seems to have rejected infant baptism, because he felt that baptism without faith was of no avail, and with Abelard he rebaptized adults. He also rejected all public divine service, for God, he argued, "ante altare vel ante stabulum invocatus" — is heard as well in the inn as in the church. The crosses he would burn, and not honor, for that is a reproach to the sufferings of the Saviour. Peter of Bruys even maintained that the Supper was not instituted by Christ as a rite of perpetual observation; that he only once distributed his body and blood among his disciples. This expression is obscure:

perhaps he meant to say that Christ had observed this rite once for all. He also rejected the mass and sacrifices for the dead. He found many followers, known as the Petrobrusians (q.v.). Peter of Bruys was burned at St. Gilles on Still Friday, in 1124, in the Arelatensia diocese, by a mob, in an emeute caused by his preaching, and probably instigated by the Romish ecclesiastics. See Gieseler, Kirchengesch. volume 2, part 2, page 536; Engelhardt, Dogmengesch. volume 2, chapter 3, page 51 sq.; Munscher, Dogmengesch. (edit. by Cohn), page 209, 210. (J.H.W.)

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