NA PROUS BONETA
Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
Prous' confession begins by describing her as "daughter of Durand Bonet of Saint-Michel de la Cadière in the diocese of Nîmes, an inhabitant of Montpellier since the age of seven." Her sister Alissette's confession, dated November 1325, begins, "Alissette Bonet, daughter of Durand Bonet of Saint-Michel de la Cadière in the diocese of Nîmes, who has been an inhabitant of Montpellier for twenty-two years." That seems to mean Alissette has lived in Montpellier since 1303 but obviously such reckoning can offer only an approximation. If we say "ca. 1303", then Prous was born around 1297 and was approximately twenty-eight at the time of her confession, approximately thirty-one when she was sentenced.
For a fuller treatment of Prous' biography see my "Na Prous Boneta and Olivi," Collectanea Franciscana, 67 (1997), 477-500.
Na(1) Prous Boneta, the daughter of Durand Boneta, of the parish of Saint-Michel de la Cadière in the diocese of Nîmes, an inhabitant of Montpellier since she was around seven (so she says), was arrested there as one accused and suspected of the heresy of the Beguines who were burned, and was brought to the prison at Carcassone, as is established by her confession made in legitimate judicial proceedings. She spoke freely, willingly, and without interrogation on the sixth of August, in the year of our Lord 1325.
She claimed that on Good Friday, four years before she made the confession written below, while she was in the church of the Franciscans in Montpellier listening to the service with some other people, she adored the crucifix, as it is customary to do. When she had made her adoration in this way and had returned to her seat, after the mass was over and most of the people had left the church, the Lord Jesus Christ transported her in spirit (that is, in her soul) to the first heaven. When she was there she saw Jesus Christ in the form of a man as well as in his divinity. He appeared to her and showed her his heart opened like the door of a lantern. Out of this heart came rays of the sun, but, brighter than rays of the sun, which illuminated her all over. Immediately she saw, clearly and openly, the divinity of God, who gave her his heart in the spirit. She said, "Lord, I have little to recommend myself," and Christ replied," I will give you more if you are faithful to me."(2)
She drew near to him and put her head within Christ's body,(2a) and she saw nothing but that great light which Christ gave to her in those rays. Then she returned to the place where she first saw that light and looked on Christ himself, and thus gazing at the rays, little by little they covered the whole of Christ's body. When this had been seen and done, Christ replaced her in her seat where she had been before. Then she came to herself with great weeping and tears, in great fervor and love toward God, and she wanted her companions and other people to know what had happened. She did not move from there until her companions called her. Then she got up and went out of the church, and in the cemetery she saw again a man from whom she wanted to separate herself, and the light which she had seen before surrounded her again.
When she was at home and at table with her companions, and they were talking about the sermon they had heard, the rays again shone all about her, and because of them she was so kindled with fervor and love that she could not eat. Leaving the table, she went up to the solar and began to pray. Afterwards they went to the Tenebrae service, and there in the same church as before she saw a certain lady who spoke to her and immediately vanished.
She also claimed that on the following Holy Saturday, when she was again there in the church for the service, at the time of the elevation of Christ's body or a little before, God the Father appeared to her. High contemplation was given to her by God, and the grace of contemplating heaven and of seeing our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as continuous prayer and a continual sensing of Our Lord. From then on, so she claims, very often our Lord God said to her, "I myself have given Him to you as to the Virgin, and I have kept Him with me." She claims that she frequently saw the Lord God face to face, and he came there in the form and appearance of a man. Afterwards an indulgence was preached at Maguelone and she wanted to go to it, but the Lord prevented her from going and said to her, "Shall I be the Lord of one soul?" He then added, "Saint John the Baptist was the herald of the advent of Jesus Christ's holy baptism, and you are the herald of the advent of the Holy Spirit."
Hearing this, she realized that the Lord was comparing her first to the Virgin and then to Blessed John the Baptist, and in her heart she thought that she was unworthy of being compared with the Virgin and of being called the handmaiden of Christ, and unworthy of being compared with Saint John, a voice crying in the wilderness. So she replied to the Lord, "Lord, I am truly nothing, for I feel myself to be a sinner and sin is nothing." She gave herself to contemplation, and asked God to give that grace to another.
At length the Lord responded, "Whether you want it or not, this shall be yours." And the Lord added, "I give myself to you, and I retain myself." But this time He did not say "as to the virgin" as he had said above, but he said it as she reported here.
She also claims that she was accustomed to say prayers. She cried out three times to God in a loud voice, "Friend, friend, friend," but the Lord did not reply until the third cry, and then he showed himself in a cloud and said this:
"And you, what do you want?"
She answered, "Lord, may you have mercy on all the sins of the Jews, the Saracens, and all the peoples of the world. Lord, grant this to us by your great mercy, and by the merit of your good servants, that we may always live faithful to you in your faithfulness. Also, Lord, may you have mercy on yourself and your poor family. May honor and glory be given to you, Lord . " When this prayer was over, the Lord God replied, "I know what I have chosen to do." And however many times she completed this prayer, she fell into ecstasy, so she said, for she desired so much that God be loved and honored, and she was so bound to him, that he frequently sent her into it.(3) For a year she kept all this hidden and revealed it to no one, until she had a guilty conscience, for she could no longer say her hours as completely and perfectly as she had before, that is, the thirty paternosters that she used to say for Matins and so on. Finally, when she wished to reveal all this to a certain religious man whom she named, the Lord prevented her from revealing it. At length, she revealed it to a certain person whom she named, with the permission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Afterward, God rebuked her for having spoken to this person, who was a man. Then she spoke as follows to the Lord God: "Lord, you are a man as he is, and thus you should not come within." The Lord replied, "I am not like other men, for divinity took on human nature, and the root of the Christ's person is divinity, whereas you others are and were of the root of sin." Having said this the Lord fashioned a fire for her saying, "See this fire, how it converts the whole matter and substance of the wood into its nature? In the same way the nature of divinity converts into itself souls it wishes for itself." Thus God proved that he could better come to the home of her telling this than could the aforementioned man.
Shortly afterwards she saw two other persons like God himself, who were joined in order, one after the other. One of them began to run, and as he did so placed himself on the neck of her who is telling this, and the other placed himself on her right arm, saying, "You and I have been made one, and thus those words are fulfilled which I spoke to you when I gave you the Holy Spirit, and you replied that you had little to recommend yourself, and I replied that I would give you more if you were faithful to me; and now, since I have given you the other two persons, those of the Father and the Son, that promise has now been fulfilled. I promised to give you more, and now you have the whole trinity." From then on the three persons of the Trinity came to her and she saw them, though this seeing was spiritual and not corporeal, just as sometimes it seems mentally to a person that she sees physically what she is really seeing only spiritually.
She also claims that God frequently said to her, "I go away totally and I return, for I have chosen and made my chamber in you."
Also one time the Lord leapt on her neck and fashioned a white horse with a man on it, saying, "See how this man controls this horse just as he wishes. Thus I am above all nature, and I rule you as I will, and I am with you wherever you are." She claims that from that moment on the entire holy trinity was with her in spirit, and that Christ said to her, "When you made the vow of virginity, I forgave you all your sins just as completely as I forgave my mother's when she was in her own mother's womb. And she asserted that she made a vow of virginity and has observed it for twenty years. Again, she said and asserted Christ had told her that on the day she made the vow of virginity, nine months before the day of the feast of Brother Pierre Déjean , the Lord God had conceived Na Prous in the spirit; and that on that feast day, while she was in Narbonne at the sepulcre of the aforesaid Brother Pierre Déjean , the Lord had given birth to her in the spirit and given her three gifts: the gift of tears or weeping whenever she stood at the aforementioned sepulchre; a greater fragrance or odor than she had ever before smelled; and a gentle, sweet warmth as if a mantle had been thrown over her shoulders and wrapped around her. Again, at that time the Lord told her that he nourished her with two things, bodily labors and spiritual foods; and fifteen years after she had been at the sepulchre the Lord had given her the Holy Spirit. Again, she claims that God gave her the entire divinity in the spirit as completely as he had given it to his virgin mother and her son, and that the entire human nature was not sufficient for seeking the truth unless God also gave the Holy Spirit.
She further claims that the divinity which God gave to her formed for itself a body of the spirit of more precious and more pure understanding than the one she had, and there was no angel nor archangel nor saint in paradise who might have become involved in this or impeded it.
She likewise claims that the spirit which God gave her was the same one that at another time despoiled hell and restored all human nature. Also that God said to her, "The Blessed Virgin Mary was the donatrix of the Son of God and you shall be the donatrix of the Holy Spirit." When she heard this she became afraid and prayed to God, saying, "Lord God, guard me from that sin of pride through which the angel Lucifer fell from heaven." And the Lord God replied, "I shall hear your prayer. " After that the Lord fashioned in her spirit and vision a great number of men, that is, men of penance. He also showed her a great river, and there was a causeway which turned all the water to one side of the river and not the other. God said to her that on the day he gave her the Holy Spirit he had placed that causeway in the river. Later she saw that little water flowed to that side, and later still she saw that none at all flowed there, and it was entirely dried out. Then the Lord explained the symbol to her, saying that the flowing of that water represented his grace. He added that the grace of God began to lessen in part when the gospel of Christ was destroyed, that is, when the writing of Pierre Déjean was condemned, for at that time the sacrament of the altar lost its power. This coming Christmas it will have been two years since that occurred
She also claim God told her that Christ had two natures, one human and the other divine, and that the destruction of the Gospel was an offense against his human nature, while the destruction of the writing of the Holy Spirit given to Brother Pierre Déjean is an offense against his divine nature.
Also Christ told her that the pope preceding the present one was like that good man who placed the crucified body of Christ in a tomb, and that this present pope, John XXII, is like Caiaphas, who crucified Christ. Moreover, the poor beguins who were burned, and also the burned lepers, were like the innocents beheaded by Herod's command. Again, just as Herod procured the death of innocent children, thus this Herod, the devil, procured the death of those burned beguins and lepers. Again, she claims that Christ told her the sin of this pope is as great as the sin of Cain, and a fourth part of it is as great as the sin of Caiaphas, and a fifth part as great as was the sin of Simon Magus, and another part as great as was the sin of Herod.
Again, she says Christ told her that God made Lucibel head of all the angels, who had to obey him, except for their prior loyalty to Christ himself; and he made Lucibel like himself in brightness, so that if any angels should deviate from God's will it was Lucibel's task to reform them so that they held to that truth which God had created them to hold in the beginning. And he gave Lucibel a more beautiful name than that of anyone in the entire world. Christ asserted, as she says, that (allowing always for Christ's own ultimate superiority) he was held and reputed to be God, .. Human beings know that any good they have they receive from God, and Lucibel should have thought the same, and so should this pope. Christ said that Lucibel wished to be like God and this pope wants to be like Jesus Christ. Lucibel wanted to be like God in his power, while this pope wants to be like God in his wisdom. Christ also told her, she asserts, that the sin of this pope when he betrayed the Franciscan friars to death was as great as the sin of Adam when he ate the apple. And when he condemned the Gospel, the sin of this pope was as great as the sin of Adam when he tasted the apple and took it out of greed, perceiving that he sinned; for it was then that he ought to have sought mercy from the Lord God our God. Again, the sin of this pope, when he condemned the writing of Brother Pierre Déjean, the holy father, was as great as the sin of Adam when he ate the apple and on account of that accused the woman Eve, saying that he had eaten the apple offered to him by her; for he ought to have ruled her, since the man is the head of the woman, and instead he accused her. In similar fashion this pope, as head of the holy church of God, should have ruled the church according to God's will, that is, the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. And just as Adam, on account of this sin, lost the grace given to him earlier by God, so this pope, on account of his sin, lost the grace given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ, for the punishment is equal to the sin, and consequently the sacraments have lost their power. Also, just as Adam could never regain the grace which he had lost, so this pope will never be able to regain the grace he had at first and then lost, that ; for just as the whole human nature was spiritually dead through the sin of Adam, the first man, so Christianity as a whole is spiritually dead because of this pope's sin.
Again, she asserted that this pope's sin is as great as Cain's, because just as Cain killed his brother, so this pope killed all of human nature, which is, as Christ told her, this pope's brother. Again, it is as great as the sin of Simon Magus, because Simon Magus wanted to be adored by the peoples of the world and this pope wants to be adored in the same way. Again, Simon Magus honored the cross of Jesus Christ and he honored a cock which Simon carried with him and claimed was the Holy Spirit; whereas the pope does not honor Christ's cross (that is, Christ's poor) nor does he honor the cock (that is, holy scripture, for the cock stands for the Holy Spirit, who crows out in holy scripture). Again, this pope matched the evil of Herod, for Herod killed the innocents, and in a similar way this pope kills many innocents, prophets, patriarchs, apostles, disciples, virgins, confessors and martyrs.
Again, she says that this pope has stolen from Christ the conversion of the cock, that is, the conversion of the whole world,(4) for Christ has prepared for himself a society as solemn as the one he prepared at the time of his passion. Because of this Christ asked the pope to render him an account of the conversion of the world, and because the pope was foolish and stupid enough to transgress God's order, that pope, Christ told her, has fallen from the grace he held, the grace given by Christ to the blessed apostle Peter. He lost it when he condemned or gave over to death the aforesaid friars. And neither he nor anyone else will ever recover that grace.
Moreover, she said that because the pope destroyed the writings of Brother Pierre Déjean, written by the hand of divinity, the sacrament of the altar lost its effectiveness and power, which it will never recover. For this reason God took away from the pope and all others the grace of the sacraments. Likewise Jesus Christ told her, so she claims, that St. Peter had confessed that Jesus Christ was the true Son of the living God, and that this pope confessed Christ to be a sinner when he said that Christ owned things both individually and in common.
Again, Jesus Christ told her that St. Francis began his order in that same perfection and altitude as had Christ, when he began with his apostles to hold to poverty. In that same perfection and altitude St. Francis began to hold to poverty with his brothers.
Again, Christ told her that just as the noblest name among the angels was given to Lucibel, in the same way the noblest name among all men in this world was given to the present pope; and just as the most terrible name among the all the demons was given to Lucifer, so the most terrible name among all men in the world was given to this pope. As Christ says, God first gave to Lucibel a nobler and more beautiful name than those given to the other angels, and later God gave him another name more terrible than all the names of the other demons, Lucifer. Again, Jesus Christ said to her that because this pope has produced so much wind and stupidity, so much malice and evil, for that reason, just as Christ first gave him the most beautiful name given to any man in this world, because he was first called "apostle" or "pope,"(5) so Christ later gave him that most terrible of names, "Antichrist." Christ imposed that name on him, so she claimed, on the next to the last Friday before the feast of the Lord's Nativity just passed.
Again Christ said, so she claims, that after God created all the angels in the heavenly paradise and Adam and Eve in the terrestrial paradise, and saw that both lost the grace first given to them, it was later the will and counsel of the whole trinity to give both graces to man and woman, both that grace which the angels lost and that which Adam lost; that is, the celestial paradise lost by the angels and the terrestrial paradise lost by Adam and Eve through their sin.
Likewise Christ told her that by the counsel of the whole Trinity, he placed his son in the Virgin Mary, and that God placed his son in the Virgin in such a way that God did not diminish himself. Likewise, that divinity which was given to the Virgin formed for itself a body of the more precious and pure blood that might be in the Virgin; and there was no angel nor archangel nor saint in paradise who was involved in this, but only Jesus Christ himself formed his body; likewise that Christ did not return to God the Father until he had fulfilled everything that the whole Trinity had established, and that the whole Holy Trinity had established that Christ had to to receive human flesh in the Virgin, and that he was God and man, and that he should return to man that which man had lost, that is, the terrestrial paradise.
Likewise, she testified, Christ said that by virtue of his passion Christ himself ordained the terrestrial paradise and enclosed it with the ten commandments. In this paradise be placed the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the four cardinal virtues; and in the terrestrial paradise - that is, in the church - people might confess their sins with such bitterness of heart that all things were forgiven by God. Again, in that earthly paradise people could view the body of Christ with such reverence that all their sins were forgiven. Again, they might hear mass with so much reverence that all their sins were remitted. Again, in that earthly paradise people could receive the body of Christ with such reverence that all their sins were remitted, even forgotten mortal sins that had been forgotten [and therefore not confessed].
Again, Christ told her, so she claims, that in that terrestrial paradise Christ placed Elijah and Enoch, and that Elijah was Saint Francis while Enoch was Brother Pierre Déjean, both of whom bore witness to Jesus Christ. Saint Francis bore witness to the life of poverty instituted by Christ, while Brother Pierre Déjean bore witness to the divinity in holy scripture, in which he discovered all the words of the saints and conveyed them in his writings through the power of the Holy Spirit given to him. Again, Christ told her, so she claims, that Antichrist killed Elijah and Enoch, that is, Saint Francis and Brother Pierre Déjean, in the middle of the street,(6) which street she said was holy scripture.
Again, Christ told he, so she claims, that he would have pardoned Lucifer and forgiven his sin if he had acknowledged it, and that, because Adam did acknowledge his sin, God forgave it. Again, if Cain, Caiaphas, Simon Magus and Herod had repented and asked God for mercy they would have received it. Again, Christ told her, so she claims, that to say "Antichrist" is the same as saying "the sum total of all evil," that Antichrist himself - by which she means this pope - matches the complete evil of all the demons, Lucifer and all the rest who fell from heaven. Again, this Antichrist matches all the evil of all the evil men who ever lived, and because of this Antichrist will, unless he repents, be given as great a punishment as Lucifer and all his demons received, and unless he repents he will receive as much punishment in hell as all the people currently there combined are receiving. Christ said, however, so she claims, that he would forgive Antichrist for all his flaws if he repented, acknowledged his sins, and believed in the Holy Spirit.
Again, Christ told her, so she claims, that he endured suffering and death in his flesh because of Adam's sin, and thus he endured suffering and death in the spirit because of Antichrist's sin, for just as God has only one son, he has only one spirit. Again, she claimed, God had told her that power lasted from that time until the time when God the Father placed his Son in the Virgin Mary, and then the entire trinity gave all of its power to God the Son in the Virgin Mary, and this power given to the Son lasted until the time when God gave the Holy Spirit to the aforesaid Pierre Déjean. The entire holy trinity gave its power to the Holy Spirit, which was given to Pierre Déjean.
Again, Christ told her, so she claimed, that the son of God battled with the devil in single combat, and in a similar way the writing of the Holy Spirit given to the aforesaid Pierre Déjean battled with Antichrist in single combat. Again, Na Prous said and claimed that at that time the Lord Jesus Christ told her she should go to a certain village (which she named) and say the following to certain people whom he named to her (and whom she also named), "She who bears this message should not be treated or received badly, for the Lord sends me here to you." And she should also say to them, "I shall have nothing to do with your gifts or your prayers, for I am interested in only two things, namely that you put your heart and mind into the work of the Holy Spirit and that henceforth you should keep your body prepared for martyrdom if it shouldbe necessary, for the Holy Spirit will do great things and give great gifts." She said the people gave her no response, and later she returned to another village and said to certain people, "Today I am compelled to speak to you, and unless you believe what I have said, now say and will say you will never be saved. Then the people asked her, "What are these things that you have said, now say, and will say?" She replied, Here is someone who will tell you," showing them a certain man (whom she named) who was there.
Again, the Lord said to her, so she claims, that the first pope whom the Son of God ordained was Saint Peter, and the first pope whom the Holy Spirit ordained was Brother Guillaume Giraud of the Franciscan order, and that because this present pope deserved to lose his grace, God gave it to the aforementioned Guillaume Giraud.
Again, she said that God once told her two women were named or described in holy scripture. The son of God was to be given to one, and the Holy Spirit was to be given to the other. And God told her that it was she, Na Prous, to whom the Holy Spirit was to be given. When she begged God that she not be known the Lord said to her, "It is necessary that you be known as the virgin Mary was known among the apostles," and she finally consented. Again, she claimed that Jesus Christ told her at that hour in which Christ was born the sacrament of the altar lost its power, that is, two years ago from this coming Christmas, and at that hour the gates of paradise were shut and barred, and from that point on not a single soul entered. All those whom He wishes to save he puts in the place where the holy fathers were,(7) and because the sin of this pope is, as has been said, as great as that of Adam, it was necessary for Christ to die again in person and spirit so that souls could be saved, because otherwise no soul would ever again enter paradise. And this has occurred, she claims. Christ has died a second time in person and spirit, so she claims the lord God himself told her.
Again, the Lord Jesus Christ said to her, so she claims, that a certain notary whom she names, to whom Na Prous set forth and related the aforesaid things and who was unwilling to believe her, along with those who held to the opinion of this notary, publicly crucified the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit, and that a certain apostate Franciscan friar whom she named, to whom she revealed the aforesaid things, and those who maintained themselves in the opinion of the said apostate (whom she does not call an apostate), crucified the Lord Jesus Christ secretly. Using this similitude, she said that in the same way as God first sent his Son to the legal experts among the Jews, so God first sent the Holy Spirit to the legal experts among the Christians, that is, to the aforesaid notary, and thus it is obvious that just as the legal experts among the Jews knew the Son of God, so the legal experts of the Christians knew the Holy Spirit of God, for in the same way as the Jews crucified the Son of God in his person, so did these, that is, the legal experts of the Christians, crucify the Holy Spirit in person, that is, in the person of the speaker, Na Prous. Accordingly all these things, so she claims, the Lord God said to her, and God, as she said above, gave her the Holy Spirit.
Again, she says that God, when he ordained the orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic, did a great work, as great as when he created the world. Moreover, that as many souls as he has saved from the creation of the world up to that time in which he established the two orders, so many souls will he save between then and the end of the world. Again that as many saints as there were up to the aforesaid time, so many great saints shall there be from then until the end of the world.
Again, that Saint Francis is as great a saint in paradise as is Blessed John the Baptist, for just as Blessed John prepared the way for the Lord, so Saint Francis prepared the way for the Holy Spirit. Likewise the Lord told her, so she claims, that he gave as many graces and as much glory to Brother Pierre Déjean as he gave to the Son of God in his person, that is, insofar as he was man and not insofar as he was God; and thus from now on it will be necessary to believe that the Lord God gave the spirit completely to the aforesaid Brother Pierre Déjean, for otherwise men and women could not be saved. For, so she claims God told her, in the body of Jesus Christ and in the body of his Mother, that is, the Virgin Mary, there was no mixture, since all was the same. Likewise in the body of the spirit of the aforesaid Brother Pierre Déjean and in the body of the spirit of the one speaking, Na Prous, there is no mixture, for the spirit of friar Pierre Déjean and the spirit of Na Prous are one and the same, since the whole descends from God, as she said.
Again, the Lord told her that just as God ruled the Church through two bodies of flesh, that is, the bodies of Christ and of his mother the Virgin Mary, so in the same way he henceforth rules the church through the two bodies of spirit given to the aforesaid friar Pierre Déjean and to her who is speaking, Na Prous, both of which spirits are one, as she said. Again, she claimed that the Lord told her whoever wishes to be saved must believe the words of the writing of Brother Pierre Déjean, since they were written by the power of the Holy Spirit, and likewise must believe the words of Na Prous, since they are spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit, as she said. Once they have known these things, they cannot be saved otherwise, and whoever does not believe in the words of Na Prous shall die an eternal death.
Again, the Lord God shall give two things to every person who believes in the words of Na Prous; that is, he will forgive the sins of the believing person, and he will give that person the Holy Spirit. Again, the Lord gave as much grace and glory and as many gifts to Saint Dominic as he did to Abraham. Again, that Abraham had one son from his servant, and God commanded Abraham to send that son into the desert with a full barrel of water. God calls this modern church a servant, and from this servant the order of Saint Dominic had a spirit. And just as it is clear that the other was legitimate, so is it clear that this spirit is legitimate, because just as Abraham sent that son whom he had begotten into the desert, thus the Preachers(8) sent this spirit into the desert. And just as Abraham ordered his son to take a full barrel of water along, so God ordered the Preachers that they should weep because they have not ruled their order well according to our Lord. And God commands both the Preachers and the Minors(9) that henceforth they should conduct no more inquisitions. Again, God commanded the Preaching Brothers and Brothers Minor that, just as he once commanded Abraham to take as a wife a free woman who was old, so he commands them that they should take and hold fast to their old disciplines as established and observed by the blessed Dominic and Saint Francis. Again, just as Abraham's son by the free woman had twelve sons who were patriarchs, so this new order of Preachers, if it observes its discipline as before, will have twelve sons by this spirit, and these are called the twelve gates in holy scripture, and God will rehabilitate the Jewish people through this order. Again, she claimed that just as Adam had two sons, Abel and Cain, so now in this age the lord God refers to himself as Adam and has said that he has engendered two sons. Just as Adam had two sons by Eve, so God has had two sons by the modern church, because, as he said, just as Eve was disobedient so this church was disobedient. Thus God calls this church Eve, or so she said. Again, just as Adam had two sons by Eve, Abel and Cain, so the lord God had two sons, Abel and Cain, by the church, which he calls Eve. That son of the church who is was similar to Abel was Brother Pierre Déjean, and the other, Cain, was Brother Thomas Aquinas,of the order of Preachers, recently canonized. And just as Cain physicially slew Abel his brother, so Brother Thomas slew his brother, the aforesaid Pierre Déjean, spiritually. That is, he slew his writing. Again, just as the blood of Abel cried to God for justice, so the spirit of the aforesaid Pierre Déjean cries to God for justice. She heard all this from the lord God, so she says.
Again, she claims that the Lord told her she would bear as much suffering as the Virgin did, and as much as Christ bore in his person, and she would bear all these in the spirit.
Again, she said and claimed that the Lord God told her that book which Blessed John said he had seen sealed with seven seals, she herself, Na Prous, opened. And that the first seal was opened by the notary of whom she spoke above, and the second was opened by a certain apostate Minorite friar of whom she spoke above, and the third seal was opened by a certain other person whom she names, and moreover that the whole book was opened to me, Mennetus the notary, who writes this.
Again, that horse which the blessed John says in the book of Revelations he saw is Na Prous herself, and he who sits on this white horse is Jesus Christ. Again, the Lord wants the rules of blessed Francis and Saint Dominic to be raised up again and observed as strictly and gloriously as when Saint Francis and Dominic instituted them, and there is not a living person who would contradict this, for if that should occur, God's curse would fall upon that person. Again, she said God told her that all the works spoken by Na Prous and written above were words of the Holy Spirit provided to her who spoke them by the Holy Spirit after God gave her the Holy Spirit, which occurred four years ago this coming Good Friday. God commands everyone to govern themselves wisely in accordance with them, and wishes them to be known throughout the entire world. Again, the lord God has told her, so she claims, that the truth of these things, or at least some of them, can be found in three books of sacred scripture: the Apocalypse, the Bible,(10) and Daniel. She says she fervently believes that everything she has said is true and should take place as stated. She thinks it will occur and thus be verified. On this coming Good Friday it will have been four years since she received the Holy Spirit, and she still possesses it. Although if she were following her own will in the matter she would not want all the aforesaid things divulged throughout the whole world, God wants them divulged.
Asked about it, she says she was never told any of these things by any living person, but it was God alone and the Holy Spirit who gave her knowledge of them. She says she wants to live and die in the aforesaid beliefs, because God, who has never lied, told her they were true, and she does not believe that he lied to her. Again, she said that if this present pope, that is, Pope John XXII, and the cardinals, prelates, and doctors of the sacred page should tell her and demonstrate by reason and by the authority of holy scripture that the aforesaid things, which she holds and claims that she believes and holds, are erroneous and heretical, and should warn her to revoke the aforesaid errors, she would neither believe nor obey them, because, as she said, the Lord Jesus Christ, who told her the aforesaid things, is more learned and more prudent than all the men in the whole world.
Again, she said that if the pope should excommunicate her on account of that disobedience, she would not think herself to be excommunicated nor would she even believe herself to be damned if she were to die under the aforesaid excommunication, for God has made her certain in another way, as she said, claiming that no matter who should condemn her and burn her on account of the foregoing, she would still believe herself to be saved and a glorious martyr in paradise.
Again, since she had said the sacraments did not contribute to salvation, she was asked if she referred to all seven sacraments. She replied that the power given to the blessed Peter and to the sacrament of the altar had lost its effectiveness, as the Lord told her. She believes, as she says, that no sacrament administered by anyone who does not share her views contributes to salvation. Moreover, no one who celebrates the eucharist can confer the body of Christ any more no matter how thoroughly they believe in the works of the Holy Spirit, because they have all lost the grace of conferring Christ's body and will never get it back, as she has said. Again, she said that two types of people will be saved: first, those who understand and believe those things which she has said, and to these God will give understanding of scripture and of the grace of the Holy Spirit; and second, those who do not understand but believe anyway. She claims that no one who does not believe the aforementioned two things, or at least one of them, will be saved, nor can such a person be saved, so the Lord has told her.
Again, she said that it will henceforth be necessary for whoever wishes to be saved to believe in the works of the Holy Spirit given to Brother Pierre Déjean and to her, that is, to believe in the words that are in the writing of the said Brother Pierre Déjean and in the words that she herself has spoken, which words are all the work of the Holy Spirit. She says that now she had great discomfort, for it was necessary to say such things about herself that it might seem possible she said them out of vainglory; for she would prefer, as she claims, to be cut in pieces with swords, or that lightning from heaven should fall upon her and lay her stretched out upon the ground, than to say such things about herself, and she would rather speak about any other creature. But because God wishes and commands her, she must do the will of God and say them. For the lord God told her, as she claims, that all who believe the writings of the said Brother Pierre Déjean and the words of the same Na Prous, and obeys his commandments, shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will forgive their sins.
Again, she said and claimed that just as the sin of Adam our first parent was wiped away and redeemed through Christ's passion, the time of which passion she says is now over and done with, so the sin of this pope, which is a great as the sin of Adam, is wiped away and redeemed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the beginning of which is the end of the passion of the lord Jesus Christ. She claims that the new time of the Holy Spirit and the new age of the church began with Brother Pierre Déjean and continues in herself, as she said. Thus there is now a new age of the church in which it is necessary to believe in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Again, she said that all who believe in the work of the Holy Spirit and obey God's commandments, should they sometimes transgress one of the commandments, can be saved as long as they repent in their hearts and feel contrition, without participating in the sacrament of confession or the sacrament of the altar, because, as the Lord said to her (so she claims), he who forgave sins through confession of the mouth during the time of Christ's passion will, in the time of the work of the Holy Spirit, through the grace and work of the Holy Spirit, forgive these same sins through contrition of the heart. Thus these two sacraments, the sacrament of the altar and oral confession, are completely annulled and finished, as she said, but the sacrament of penance remains. She claims that the aforesaid sacraments are not necessary for salvation, but only belief in the work of the Holy Spirit, obedience of the commandments, and contrition of the heart suffice for salvation of souls.
Likewise, when questioned, she said that God commanded the sacrament of matrimony to be maintained and observed in that way it was performed between Adam and Eve and in Saint John,(11) and in the same way in which the marriage was performed when Christ was present in the nuptials with the Blessed John, although, when questioned, she said she did not know in what way that marriage was performed.
Again, she said she believed that all who sin mortally and feel contrition in their hearts can be saved without confession of the mouth as long as they believe in the work of the Holy Spirit. She says there is no need to impose a penance to be carried out in this world, like fasting or some other thing, because by virtue of the fact that the person is contrite, that person does penance, and thus no other penance is necessary. Such persons will be saved, as she said, because the Holy Spirit, in the work of which these persons believe, has conferred on them grace and salvation. She says from now on however often chaplains celebrate mass and say the proper words consecrating the body of Christ in the eucharist, it will contribute nothing to anyone's salvation, nor will they confer Christ's body, because, as she has claimed and still claims, the sacraments have lost their power.
Again, she said that he who gave the law can take it away; but Christ gave the law of the sacraments and grace, and he has taken it away, as she said, because of the pope's sin. Again, she said that all men and women, whether Christian or Jew, Saracen or anything else, who believe in the work of the Holy Spirit will be saved. Again, she said that letters, prayers of the saints, gospels, paternosters, and the good words of the prophets and other holy men can be read in churches and elsewhere to praise God and memorialize God and the saints, but the sacraments should not be performed, and if they are they will be of no avail.
Likewise she said that every day and night and every hour she sees God in the spirit, and he never leaves her; she says that Christ himself wishes to be head of the church and to rule souls, and that henceforth he will not permit them to be ruled by any pope, even if another should be elected by the cardinals, since the papacy is permanently annulled. Questioned as to how God rules souls, she said he does it by the Holy Spirit and by the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, she claimed that the Lord told her Christ took his body of flesh from a poor virgin so that poor people and rich would not be afraid to find fault with him and finally crucify him, and no one should console him as they crucified him; and in the same way Christ took a body of spirit in a poor virgin so that poor and rich would not be afraid to find fault with him and persecute him and finally to crucify him in the spirit, because, as God told her (as she claims), he took his body from a virgin, and from her, Na Prous, he took the word, for as much as Christ was vituperated in the body which he took from the Virgin, it is necessary that he be vituperated the same amount in that body of words of her speaking, that is, in the spirit.
Again, she said God told her that just as Eve, the first woman, was beginning and cause of the damnation of all human nature or humankind through Adam's sin, in the same way "you shall be the beginning and cause of the salvation of all human nature or humankind through those words I make you speak, if they are believed." Again, God told her, so she claims, that Saint John saw three angels the first of which bore the sign of the living God,(12) and that was Saint Francis. The second had a face like the sun,(13)and that was Brother Pierre Déjean. The third carried the keys of the abyss,(14) and that was the Holy Spirit whom God gave to her who speaks. Again, she said the abyss will be shut and barred to those who believe her words, and opened to those who do not.
When asked if God told her what she had said above, she said yes, but that she would not say them to anyone living unless compelled to do so by God himself.
The aforesaid made her deposition and confessed freely and willingly, and as many times as her testimony was read to her in the vernacular she confirmed and approved it. And having been warned, asked, and exhorted many times in judicial proceedings and on other occasions to revoke and abjure all the things reported above as erroneous and heretical, she persevered in them, claiming that in the aforesaid, as in the truth, she wishes to live and die.
Prous' sentence appears later in the same manuscript. It seems to be part of what was called a Sermo generalis, a general sermon, that took place on November 11, 1328. Thus, despite the obviously heretical nature of Prous' testimony and her refusal to repent, they seem to have given her three years to reconsider before they finally passed sentence.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Since we, Brothers Henri Chamayou inquisitor at Carcassonne, Pierre Brun inquisitor at Toulouse, and Hugh Augier and Durand the aforesaid commissioners, through legitimately performed inquiry [inquisitionem] find that you, Na Prous Boneta, daughter of Etienne Boneta of Saint-Michel de la Cadière in the diocese of Nîmes, currently an inhabitant of Montpellier, have sustained many articles against the sacred canons and still pertinaciously try to sustain them, impugning the true catholic faith and sacrosant Roman church as well as the power and authority of the holy apostolic seat and lord high pontiff, and thus you are seriously guilty of heresy (as has been read and recited to you in the vulgar tongue so that you could understand it). Even though you, Na Prous Boneta, continued to sustain and defend so many and such terrible errors even though our predecessor often lovingly advised and begged you to repent, nevertheless we, the aforesaid inquisitors and commissioners, following in the footsteps of the aforementioned [Christ] who does not wish the death of sinners but rather that they should repent and live, have asked, advised, and pleaded with you and caused religious and secular men of good reputation to advise and beg you to reject the aforesaid errors, abjuring and renouncing them in word and soul, returning faithfully and sincerely to the unity of Holy Mother Church, whose bosom is not closed off but rather open to all those wishing to return to it. You, however, have refused and still refuse to accept these admonitions and pleas, continuing in your hostility and asserting moreover that you wish to live and die in those errors and heresies, which you claim to be true and catholic, not wishing to accept our counsel or that of learned, well-reputed men , doctors of Sacred Scripture and of both canon and secular law. Having observed all this and knowing from experience that those who are evil simply get worse by the day when they think they will go unpunished, we, compelled by our office which we are obliged by holy obedience to fulfill diligently, since we neither should nor indeed wish to tolerate any longer such abominations and such dangerous opposition to the entire church and the catholic faith, having obtained counsel concerning the above matters from many religious and secular persons learned in both laws, having God before our eyes and the holy gospels of Jesus Christ placed before us so that our judgment should proceed from God and appear right before God and our eyes should see what is just, on this day, in this place and time assigned by us to hear definitive sentence, sitting as a tribunal, invoking the name of Christ, we pronounce, judge and declare you, Na Prous, to be an impenitent heretic and heresiarch and pertinacious in your obduracy. Since the church can do nothing more with such people, we release you to the secular authorities, begging them, in accordance with canonical sanctions, that they should spare your life and not harm your members to the point that death could result.
(1)Short for domina.
(2)This exchange may be translated incorrectly. For some reason Christ begins to speak Provençal at this point.
(2a)The text actually says (52v) she posuit caput suum infra corpus ipsius Christi, thus under Christ's body rather than in it; but her sister's confession (f. 27v) says Prous told her she had intruserat caput suum in latus Christi, et quod viderat claritatem totius trinitatis. She is obviously describing the same experience, and "in" makes better sense than "under," particularly in the light of Angela of Foligno's description of entering into Christ's side.
(3)One more questionable translation of a passage no one seems to understand. There is, I think, a problem in the manuscript at this point.
(4)The text is mutilated here and I'm guessing at what it said.
(5)Remember that the Latin papa actually means both "pope" and "father."
(7)Limbo. According to medieval belief, between the crucifixion and resurrection Christ went down to Limbo and released all the Old Testament figures who had anticipated the Messiah and had been awaiting his arrival.
(8)The Dominicans, officially named the Order of Preachers.
(9)The Franciscans, officially named the Order of Brothers Minor.
(10)She probably means the gospels.
(11)Presumably John 2.
(14)Apoc. 20:1, although 9:1 also speaks of a key to the abyss.
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