Petrobrusians The sect of the Petrobrusians, or. as they are commonly but.less correctly called, Petrobussians, was the earliest of the anti-sacerdotal communities which the profound discontent inspired by the tyranny of Rome called into existence at the beginning of the 12th century. They were the followers of the eloquent Peter of Bruys, who about the year 1100 began to declaim against the corruptions of the Church and the vices of the clergy. He continued the battle for twenty years most successfully, especially in Languedoc and Provence, and made many converts to his own opinions. What these really were it is difficult to state here, as there is no record among his friends. From Peter of Clugny, who replied to Peter of Bruys, we gather that his principal doctrines — which, with one exception (his repugnance to the cross), were more ably extended by his more powerful. successor, Henry the Deacon — were, though somewhat rationalistic, yet upon the whole rather evangelical. At first the preaching of Peter seems to have been confined to the inculcation of a system of general morality; but time and impunity so favored him that he attacked the seeds of dogmatic errors "per xx fere annos sata et aucta quinque praecipue et venenata virgulta." The capital charges upon which he is arraigned are:
(1) He rejected infant baptism, alleging that no miraculous gifts were possible in that ceremony, which he declared to be wholly void when performed on the person of an irresponsible infant.
(2) He denied that any special sanctity resided in consecrated buildings; forbidding the erection of churches, and directing that such churches as did exist should be pulled down.
(3) In particular he objected to the worship of the cross, alleging that the accursed tree should be held in horror by all Christians as the instrument of the torture and death of the Redeemer.
(4) He denied all sort of real presence in the Eucharist. Whether or not he retained the office of the communion as a memorial rite is not known.
(5) He was bitterly opposed to prayers, oblations, alms, and other good deeds done on behalf of the dead. To these five capital tenets, which form the subject of the Clugniac abbot's refutation, must be added a total prohibition of chanting and all use of sacred music. Puritanical as some of these tenets seem, Peter of Bruys was no lover of asceticism. He inculcated marriage, even of priests, as a high religious usage. The deleterious effects which the Romanists claim to have come from his teachings are thus summed up by Peter of Clugny: "The people are rebaptized, churches profaned, altars overturned, crosses are burned, meat eaten openly on the day of the Lord's passion, priests scourged, monks cast into dungeons, and by terror or torture constrained to marry." His followers continued until the end of the 13th century. See Milman, AHistory of Latin Christianity, 5:412; Hardwick, Church Hist. of the M.A.; Baaur, Dogmengeschichte, volume 2; Piper, Monumental Theology, § 140; Jortin, Eccles. Rev. 3:323; Alzog, Kirchengeschichte, 2:72; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctr. (see Index). SEE PETER OF BRUYS.