In the high and late Middle Ages, Catharism (and other heretical religions) threatened the souls of Christians and worried the Catholic Church; this concern for the spiritual health of the masses stimulated the work of "doctors of souls," whose vocation was to prevent the spread and to cure the "disease" of heresy. At the turn of the 13th century, St. Dominic de Guzman, acting as one of these doctors, motivated individuals through demonstrating venerable qualities, and through preaching and teaching. A century later, Bernard Gui, also one of these doctors, investigated the specific deviations from the Catholic Church through inquisition and assigned appropriate penance to correct the disease. I examine contemporary source material to explore these drastically different methods of treatment and to prove that despite their differences, both St. Dominic and Bernard Gui had the interest of saving Christian souls at the heart of their treatment. This examination of their methods offers a historical analysis of the practice of a doctor of souls and seeks to substantiate that the differences between them do not undermine their pastoral care. Further, my research contributes to the understanding of the divide between "persuasion" and "coercion" (often associated with the evolution of the inquisition) and provides modern scholarship with a new understanding of the inquisitorial process.
Additional contributor: Stephen Martin (faculty mentor)
Deering, Ashley M..
Saving Faith in Languedoc: The Dominican Practice of Medieval "Doctors of Souls".
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