In April 1233 Gregory IX issued bulls
authoring the establishment of inquisitorial tribunals in Languedoc. By January 1234 the
provincial prior of the Dominicans in Toulouse was able to present a papal legate with a
list of inquisitors.
One of the inquisitors’ first victims fell into their hands on the very
day when the canonization of St. Dominic was proclaimed in the city of Toulouse. On
August 5, 1234, the bishop of Toulouse, Raymond of Miramont, said a solemn mass in
Dominic’s honor in the Dominicans’ residence. As he and the friars were entering the
convent’s refectory, “through the merits of the Blessed Dominic,” as Pelhisson put it, a
man told the convent’s rector that some Cathar heretics were in the process of
administering to a dying believer the consolamentum, the ritual which enabled an
individual to escape from the demon-created prison of this world back to his/her true
home in heaven. This was happening at the house of Peitavin Boursier, who Pelhisson
claimed had long been “something of a general courier” for the heretics.
Seating himself by her bedside, Bishop Raymond launched into a long discussion
about contempt for the world. Boursier’s mother-in-law, who had just received the
consolamentum, thought she was talking to one of the Cathar Good Christians. The
bishop was able to get her to admit to many heretical beliefs. He then said, “For the rest,
you must not lie nor have much concern for this miserable life…Hence, I say that you are
to be steadfast in your belief, nor in fear of death ought you to confess anything other
than what you believe and hold firmly to your heart.” The dying woman answered, “My
lord, what I say I believe, and I shall not change my commitment out of concern for the
miserable remnant of my life.” The bishop replied, “Therefore you are a heretic! For
what you have confessed is the faith of the heretics, and you may know assuredly that the
informed the bishop, and a crowd went to Boursier’s house. There they found Boursier’s
mother-in-law suffering from a high fever. One of those gathered at her sick-bed called
out, “Look, my lady, the lord bishop is coming to see you.” But the bishop and the others
entered the house so quickly that he did not have an opportunity to tell her that her visitor
was the Catholic bishop of Toulouse, not a Cathar bishop.
heresies are manifest and condemned. Renounce them all! Accept what the Roman and
catholic church believes. For I am your bishop of Toulouse, and I preach the Roman
Catholic faith, which I want and urge you to believe.” Boursier’s mother-in-law
courageously proved true to her vow, and refused to recant. The bishop condemned her.
She was immediately picked up, bed and all, and taken out of the city and burned.
As she cooked in a meadow belonging to the count of Toulouse, the bishop and the friars
happily repaired to their dinner.