Constituents of a religious movement with social overtones originating among the laity and certain sections of the clergy, especially the lower clergy, in northern Italy in the early part of the second half of the 11th century.
Origin. The derivation of the term is unclear, but it probably has its origin in Pataria, a quarter of Milan where the group was particularly active. The earliest known "Patarine" preaching was that of the deacon of Milan, arialdo, at Varese (early 1057), and later in Milan. He was soon joined by Landulph Cotta, the notary of the church in Milan. Initially Patarine preaching was directed against priests' concubinage or marriage (see celibacy, history of). However, it soon came to condemn, with equal vehemence, every kind of simony, attacking specifically the archbishop of Milan, Guido of Velate, but by extension, implicating the greater part of the clergy, most of whom were guilty of some personal simony or had, at least, been ordained by simoniac bishops. This antisimony movement struck also at the vested interests of the upper classes of the laity, for they had insinuated their own members into the ranks of the higher clergy precisely by means of simoniac practices.
The Patarine movement signified a more intense participation by the laity in the life of the Church, and the ethical standards demanded by that laity resulted in an active campaign to reform the morals of the clergy. In an age that drew its spiritual values from the evangelical counsels of perfection, i.e., apostolic poverty and virginity, it was natural that the laity demanded chastity of its clergy and condemned any traffic in sacred objects, as well as excessive wealth or power for clergymen. The Patarine movement was, in fact, but one facet of an age that produced at one and the same time the heretical cathari and the gregorian reform, new eremitical groups such as the camaldolese and vallombrosans, and the reform of both monks and canons. Thus, the Patarines of Florence were much influenced by the Vallombrosans, and Arialdo himself founded a reformed chapter of canons regular.
Milan remained the head of the Patarine movement, and after the death of Landulph Cotta, his brother erlem-bald, a layman, assumed its leadership. To the bishops, to the supporters of the Church's diocesan hierarchy, and to those faithful to local church traditions, the Patarines appeared to be a dangerous lay movement subversive of the sacramental hierarchy and of Holy Orders itself. It was such, in its extreme forms; for certain lay Patarines took upon themselves the duty of preaching, especially against corrupt clergy. Nor did they limit themselves to abstaining, as directed by decrees of the councils, from participation in rites celebrated by priests guilty of simony; they would even use force to prevent any of the other faithful from participating and would forcibly remove an unworthy cleric from the altar, from the church, and from his benefices, which he, as a simonist, had legally forfeited. The Patarines often did not act as the executors of a regular canonical sentence of condemnation of an unworthy churchman, but on their own initiative proclaimed to the people the cleric's guilt. Pope alexander ii, even though he was a fellow townsman and supporter, reproved the Milanese Patarines for taking matters into their own hands in this way.
The Patarine movement did not go so far as to deny the special character and indispensable function of the priesthood. The Milanes Patarines, however, refused to attend rites celebrated by contumacious priests or to receive the Sacraments from such clerics, and they sought out priests and bishops free of every taint so that they might "freely" receive the Sacraments from them (mente libera, as one source puts it). To find such men they dispatched a mission to Vallombrosa and gladly welcomed a bishop, Rudolph, sent from the Vallombrosan area to minister to their needs in Milan. When the Patarines considered simonist ordinations as invalid and the Sacraments administered by such priests and bishops as sacrilegious, they were simply following the common teaching in the Church of the day, supported by Cardinal humbert of silva candida, who was not without Vallombrosan connections. peter damian himself had allowed and promoted lay preaching, although he limited it to "earnest exhortation" and excluded doctrinal preaching.
Crisis in Milan. When the Milanese Patarines appealed to the Holy See against the diocesan bishop and clergy, Rome dispatched an exploratory mission in 1057. Two years later, a second mission composed of Peter Damian and the Milanese Bishop of Lucca, Anselm I of Baggio, later Pope Alexander II, reconciled Archbishop Guido to the Church along with any guilty priests who declared themselves willing to amend their ways and to do penance. But the traditionalist Ambrosian clergy was irritated by the Patarines' appeals to Rome, and Archbishop Guido soon reverted to his old ways, sided with antipope Cadalus of Parma, and persecuted the Patarines. Alexander II thereupon granted Erlembald the gonfalon of Saint Peter, entrusting this layman with exercising the physical coercive power of the Church; the pope then excommunicated Guido (March 9, 1066), touching off a violent anti-Patarine reaction that led to the murder of Arialdo (June 28).
The Patarine movement spread to other Italian cities, notably Cremona, Piacenza, Lodi, and later Brescia. A religious movement in Florence had the essential characteristics of the Patarines if not their name; it united the laity and the lower clergy under john gualbert and his Vallombrosans against corrupt ecclesiastics and the simonist Bishop Peter Mezzabarba, a Pavian nobleman. The faithful appealed to the pope, who sent Peter Damian to attempt a reconciliation: by the victory of their representative in an ordeal by fire, the insurgents convicted Mezzabarba of simony and persuaded him to resign.
In Milan itself the ephemeral reconciliation and futile reform effected by a third pontifical mission in 1067 were swept away by the schism that broke out after the resignation of Archbishop Guido in 1070, a schism between Godfrey, appointed and invested by the German king (Henry IV), and atto of milan, elected by the Patarines and recognized by the Holy See. Thus the campaign of the Patarines for Church reform became part of the vaster arena of the imperial-papal investiture struggle. Pope gregory vii naturally gave strong support to Erlembald and to the Patarines in their fight against the corrupt clergy and the schismatic archbishop, who had received lay investiture.
Erlembald was killed in a tumult triggered by his trampling on holy chrism that had been consecrated by a simoniac bishop. His death marked the end of Patarine agitations (1075). The Ambrosian Archbishop Anselm III submitted to Pope urban ii, whose conciliatory policy toward the bishops of central and northern Italy smoothed the way for rooting out some of the worst evils of the Church in that area. And thus the chief cause of Patarine complaints disappeared in the atmosphere of the new enthusiasm for the Crusades. An important social result of the Patarine movement was the destruction of the network of vested interests and family contacts that had enabled a few powerful Lombard families to keep the most important sees of central and northern Italy, especially Tuscany, for their own members. However, there remained in Lombardy, especially in Milan, a small group of Patarine extremists, dissatisfied with the compromise of a moderate and orderly reform. These smoldering resentments and the deluded aspirations for radical religious renewal later found expression in other reform movements or in new heretical currents.
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