The Perfecti, also known as Parfait, or Cathar Perfects, where the spiritual elite of of Catharism. The position is superficially similar to a Monk, Priest, Missionary, Healer or Almoner. The Cathars were a populist religion, and Perfecti could come from any social caste - from peasant up through nobility.
Perfecti were bound to live a life of Chastity and Charity. They dedicated themselves to the church, and gave all their wealth away to the community. They wore simple robes. They abstained from all forms of sexual contact. Strict vegetarians, they did not eat meat, eggs, dairy, or anything else that was deemed a product of sexual reproduction.
Becoming a Perfecti required 3 years of training, culminating in a ritual known as the Consolamentum.
Prior to 1208, the Cathars were quite common, and thus a Perfecti could probably be found in nearly any large city in southern Europe. According to the official story, the last of the Cathar Perfecti, Guillaume Belibaste was burned by the Catholic Church in the 14th Century. For more information, read the Cathar page.
Game and Story Use
- As a persecuted and extinguished religious brotherhood, the Cathars, and the Perfecti in particular, have a lot of gaming potential.
- In a fantasy or historical RPG set in the Medieval Era, a PC could be a Cathar Perfect. You can dress up the typical Cleric-type character in these tropes and trappings. You'd get a priest-on-the-run who practices absolutism, but preaches contraception, reincarnation, and other radical views. It should be a very memorable character.
- Just remember to remove Resurrection from your spell list - the Cathars believed reincarnation was an unfortunate truth that required no intervention to provoke it, and that the physical world was created by the devil. Healing Magic is still an option, though, to lessen suffering and give people more time to work towards perfection. I suppose you could justify resurrection along similar lines, but IMHO it would take exceptional circumstances for a Perfecti to feel it was justified - better to let them have a new reincarnated life, if they've already experienced the trauma of death. Just sayin'.
- The Knights Templar were also hunted and largely wiped out by the church. Various conspiracy theories link the two organizations, and detail various lost secrets or hidden survivors. You can conflate / meld the two movements for all kinds of bisociative conspiratorial goodness.
- After 1208, a villainous deep cover agent might hide as a Perfecti - and use the existing network of Cathar hiding spots and communities to conceal themselves from the church despite having no genuine connection to the Cathars.
- Just because the "official" story says the last Cathar Perfecti was wiped out in the 14th Century, doesn't make it so. There could well be cathar traditions kept alive by an underground railroad, secret society, or relatively quiet community somewhere that survived the genocide. Revivalist movements are a possibility as well, as people of a more recent era might find the old ways appealing.