Esclarmonde ~ Light of the World

Rayvn Navarro

Denver, United States

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

Esclarmonde de Foix (c. 1154 – 1232), was also known as Esclarmonde the Great. She was a prominent figure of the Cathars in thirteenth century France. Esclarmonde was the eldest daughter of Roger Bernard I de Foix and Cecile Trencavel de Béziers.

The name Esclarmonde means “light of the world” in the Occitan language. She married Jordan III of L’Isle-Jourdain. He was the lord of L’Isle-Jourdain in the Gers department of France. Esclarmonde was widowed in about 1200 and she returned to Pamiers the county seat of her family, where the capital is the town of Foix. There she received the consolamentum from the Cathar bishop Guihabert de Castres in 1204 and became a Parfaite, a member of the Cathar Elect.

Esclarmonde was likely involved in the initiative to rebuild the fortress of Montségur along with Raimond de Pereille (aka Raimond de Cuq). She belonged to the conference of Pamiers, also called the “conference of Montreal” in 1207. It was the last debate between the Cathars and the Roman Catholic Church, represented by Dominic Guzman (aka St. Dominic founder of the Dominicans). The following year Pope Innocent III launched the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars. The Cathars were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church and the Albigensian Crusade was instrumental in the establishment of both the Dominican Order and the Inquisition in Europe.

Esclarmonde de Foix also was responsible for the establishment of schools for girls and for hospitals in the region. She and her sister-in-law Philippa de Moncade (wife of Raimond Drut) ran a House for Parfaites at Dun in the Pyrenees Mountains, which functioned as a home for aged Parfaits and a girls’ school. Esclarmonde de Foix is held as a saint by today’s Gnostics.

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