The formation of the Christian movements namely Waldensians, Humiliati and Robert of Arbrrisel was driven by a common cause. This explains why they may share some characteristics. They most probably stemmed from the Catholic Church and their doctrines were founded on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The original founder of Waldensians was known as Valdese. He was a former catholic priest and broke out following the confession of his faith. He refused to abide by the requirement that the heretics (the believers in orthodox practice) were to sign an oath. The Robert’s movement, however, did not split out of Catholic Church for the same reason. Robert remained in the favor of catholic limelight for a while before he begun criticizing some of the fundamental principles by the mother church, (Maureen 126). It therefore, means that the factors that necessitated the splitting of Waldensians from the Catholic Church are different from the factors that necessitated the splitting of Robert’s movement. The Humiliati, on the other hand, did not have roots with the catholic. Moreover, it was formed by a group of students in Massachusetts, America. Waldensians and Robert movement have their origin in France. Up to this extent, we see a great diversion in the factors contributing to the formation of these movements.
We now take a look at some of the fundamental beliefs and culture that characterized each of these movements. From these characteristics, we derive similarities, draw differences and discover the details of each movement. To begin with, we look at these movements in terms of causal factors. Valdese was accused of being heretical. After failing to gain his ecclesiastical recognition, he broke out with his followers to form a movement later referred to as Waldensians. After the formation of this movement, the group later enlarged the list of disagreement from the Roman Catholic teaching. Careful study can reveal that this marked the coincidence of Waldensians and Robert of Arbrrisel movement. Robert remained a member of Catholic Church for a long time before disagreeing with some teachings of the catholic.
There are various principles of the catholic that Waldensians and Robert did not agree with. The first point of diversion is the concept of salvation as practiced by the Roman Catholic. Christian officials of his time, popes and bishops focused on purity and order as the means toward universal salvation but Robert chose to speak to individual minds and heart. Waldensians opposed the universal salvation by claiming that the Holy Scriptures was enough to lead men into salvation, (Maureen 127).The same practice as of Robert was done by the Humiliati. They diverted from stale intellectualism to adopt new liturgical form of worship, (Maureen 131).
It is also right to say that both Waldensians and Robert’s movement were inspired by poverty. Robert denied himself of the luxuries to lead an austere life in the forest of Cranon. He was an archpriest and the vicar of the diocese of Rennes, . Moreover he was a chancellor of the Duke of Brittany. The Waldensians followers were a group of poor and humble people. The literature available for the humiliate states that the group was made up of students. It is no known whether they were poor students. However, from the nature of their interactions, the poverty is not so much of a factor in its formation.
Regarding poverty, both Waldensians and Humiliati practices voluntary poverty. The Humiliati, allowed voluntary poverty and marriage; regulated pious exercises and approved solidarity. The life of Robert tells us that he exercised voluntary poverty. He was an archpriest and a vicar. Despite being endowed with high ranking positions and wealth, he denied himself of these luxuries and embarked on a mission to preach to the poor, .
The Humiliati and Waldensians both share the aspect of taking an oath. They believed that the oaths taken were mortal sin, (Maureen 129). Similarly, the Humiliati rule also forbade vain oath and taking of God’s name in vain. The analysis of literature of the Robert Movement indicates that in the earlier times, the clergy were expected to take an oath that brings the differences between Robert’s movement and the other two movements.
The other aspect by which the movements may be compared is the practice of Social Gospel. Social Gospel is the practice of Christian faith as a call rather than personal conversion. Humiliati believed that every Christian has to make a personal conviction in his/her faith. Robert also engaged his followers to exercise their will in practicing Christian faith.
Auricular confession is a practice that Waldensians did not agree with. They claimed that an individual ought to confess directly to God in order to receive blessings. In none of Robert’s mission do we see him encourage auricular confession. He strongly motivated his followers to have strong faith and endure temptations to receive salvation, .
There is little evidence that Robert of Arbrissel renounced the sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is most likely that he continued with this tradition. We are told, however, that the Waldensians criticized the sacraments but later adopted only two of them, .
Since Robert did not renounce with most catholic teachings, it is likely that he maintained those that he did not criticize. For example, that the church is dependent of the state. The Waldensians opposed this culture by claiming that the church should be entirely independent of the state, . It is also possible that the Humiliati did not agree to the treatment of the church and the state as one. They believed in a liberal religious culture, (Maureen 126).
Considering that Robert did not renounce all the teaching of the original Catholic Church, he retained some practices such as wearing of the veil by the clergy, . Similarly, the Humiliati used this trend largely. Other traditions of the catholic that migrated with Robert are the use of symbols such as Virgin Mary that is used to pray for these sick, . These same practices are evident in humiliate. However, the Waldensians renounced the symbols as meaningless and powerless. Waldensians also never had veils.
Robert also championed public involvement in preaching as opposed to the common practice during his time. For the Christian majority, religious instructions remained in the hand of parish priests, . Priests were responsible primarily for prayer services and rituals like baptism and mass. Most churchgoers were spectators rather than meaningful participants in the services. Most Christians, including the elite ones probably heard sermons only occasionally, . Public religion was also practiced by Waldensians and Humiliati largely.
It can be seen that the 12th century Christian movements were not entirely formed from Catholic Church. The Waldensians and Robert of Arbrrisel have roots from Catholic Church. However, the Humiliati do not have close relationship with the church. Moreover, these movements have shared many characteristics but their causal factors are very different. For example, Waldensians formed from the Catholic Church because of the church’s treatment of heretics. Robert of Arbrrisel broke out because of differences in part of the teachings such as teachings on public involvement in religious activities.
Bruce, L., Venarde. Robert of Arbrissel (Ca. 1045-1116): A Medieval Religious Life. CUA Press, 2003.
Maureen, C., Miller. Power and the Holy in the Age of the Investiture Conflict: A Brief History with Documents. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.