Excursions focused on Cathar country have become a booming industry in South West France. When I first lived in Toulouse during 1982, travel brochures focused on the indigo growers rather than the heretics persecuted during the Pope’s Albigensian Crusade. Twenty years later, the roadsides bristle with brown historical markers pointing the way to the next Cathar castle. I was shocked to see brochures for Disneyland-style theme parks depicting the violence and brutality of the era.
I suppose the Cathars are a natural fit for the blood-lust culture of my own century. The Cathars did not die prettily. Those who remained after the inquisition, torture and imprisonment were burned alive en masse. Fire and mayhem ushered their demise and lit the way to their paradise. We’ve heard all the official excuses to murder people for their beliefs that government and religion can dish out. The 21st c. terrorists follow in a long tradition of imposing fundamentalist persecution through random bloody violence. The all time experts at terrorizing communities reside in the ignominious history of the Catholic Church.