Originally refers to puritan and ascetic separatists who followed the teachings of the Roman bishop Novatian in the 3rd century. In the Middle Ages the term came to refer to a highly organized sect that rejected sacraments and believed in a neo-Manichaean dualism in which good and evil were separate spheres and the material world was evil. Cathars led rigorously ascetic and celibate lives.
(Greek katharoi, "pure ones"). Also Cathars. Heretical sect especially influential in southern France and nothern Italy in the 13 and 14th centuries, and characterized by a dualistic worldview and strict asceticism.