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n. pl. Cath·a·ri (-ə-rī′) or Cath·ars
A member of a Christian sect flourishing in western Europe in the 1100s and 1200s, whose dualistic belief, embracing asceticism and identifying the world as the creation of a satanic Demiurge, was condemned by the Church as heretical.

[French Cathare, from sing. of Medieval Latin Catharī, from Late Greek Katharoi, from pl. of Greek katharos, pure.]

Cath′ar adj.
Cath′a·rism n.
Cath′a·rist adj. & n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Catharist writings have recently been discovered proving the falseness of claims that Cathars were Manichaean heretics: lies made up by inquisitors.
Preaching against Catharist deviancy in 1163, Eckbert of Schonau enumerated ten heresies of which they were guilty, including: "The second heresy: avoiding meat.
In this same period, Dominic de Guzman with his bishop undertook missionary work among Catharist heretics in the Midi.
However, these storytellers (excepting von Eschenbach) were tainted by the perspectives of Catharist heresy and the results were dreamy, flesh-denying, life-denying legends that violated the older, if pagan, Irish tales.
This includes the story of Peter Martyr, a Dominican from Verona who preached against heresy and was assassinated by Catharist heretics in 1252.