Confession of Arnaud Gélis, also called Botheler
"The Drunkard" of Mas-Saint-Antonin
The year of our Lord 1319, the 7 Kalends of March (23 February 1320)
Since it has come to the attention of the Reverend Father in Christ monsignor
Jacques, bishop of Pamiers by the grace of God , that Arnaud Gélis,
also called "Botheler" of Mas-Saint-Antonin, said that he saw
the spirits of the dead and talked to them, that he reported their speech
to their old friends and misled and abused many persons by these diabolical
phantasms, also that the said Arnaud, said, believed and persuaded others
insofar as he could, many things filled with heresy concerning spirits or
souls of dead men and women, my said lord bishop, wishing to determine from
the said Arnaud the truth of the preceding accusations, assisted by Brother
Gaillard of Pomiès, substituting for my lord the inquisitor of Carcassone,
whose commission and terms are transcribed below, called the aforementioned
Arnaud Gelis to him, so that he might swear on the holy Gospels of God to
tell the truth pure, simple and entire, as much concerning himself as others
both living and dead as witness. He swore and said what follows.
Hugues of Durfort, canon of Pamiers, in whose household I served,
died 8 or 9 years ago. Five days after his death, I was sleeping in my bed,
in my home at Mas-Saint-Antonin. I woke up in the middle of the night and
saw a canon in surplice, with a hood on his head by the glimmer of the fire,
which was now shining into the room, although I had covered it before going
Upon seeing this canon, I was frightened and I asked him who he was and
why he had come in. He replied that he was Hugues de Durfort. I told him
that he was dead and asked him not to touch me and to leave. He said not
to be afraid of him, because he would never do me harm, but to come find
him tomorrow in the cloister of Saint-Antonin, because he wished to speak
to me there. I told him that I did not know where I could find him, because
he was dead. He replied that I would find him in the cloister and left.
The next morning I went to the cloister and found this dead man, Hugues,
who was resting at the door of the cloister at the head of his tomb. He
was dressed again in his surplice, had the hood on his head and had the
same form and appearance of his living self, or so it seemed to me. I went
towards him, took off my hood and saluted him. He returned my greeting.
I said I hoped God would give him Paradise; he replied that God would do
so and that he hoped to be there in a short while.
Then he asked me to tell Brunissende, his sister, the wife of Arnaud de
Calmelles of Pamiers, to have 2 or 3 masses celebrated for his soul and
that he would then go to his rest. And immediately after this, as I was
withdrawing, he disappeared.
I went at once to the said Brunissende and told her everything and she had
3 masses celebrated for this Hugues. Later, before the masses were said,
I was often in the cloister and I saw this Hugues two or three times. When
he asked me if I had spoken to his sister, I said yes. When the masses were
said, I saw him no more, because he had gone to Repose.
Around the same time, in the cloister, by day and awake, I saw the spirit
of Hugues de Rous, canon of the same church, who had died a long time before
Hugues de Durfort. I saw him in the part of the cloister which is close
to the church. He was dressed in a surplice, with a hood on his head and
was the same size and form of his living self. I saluted him and asked him
how he was. He replied that everything was going well, and that he had confidence
in God to be soon in the place of Repose. But he did not tell me to do anything
or tell anyone to pray for his soul. I saw him again 2 or 3 times.
About 5 years ago or so, it seems to me, when I was leaving the church of
Saint-Antonin and entering the cloister I saw the spirit of the canon Athon
d'Unzent in the cloister, in the part near the church. He had his surplice
and the hood on his head and the same form and appearance of his living
self. He said to me "Are you Botheler?" I replied, "Yes,
may God grant you Paradise!" He continued, "I and the other dead,
and you others still living will soon be in Paradise, if it pleases God.
The spirit of no man will be damned until the day of Judgement, nor even
after, because Christ has made men in his image and redeemed them with his
blood. Have no fear of damnation, neither you nor the others, and pray for
I saw him 2 times before the steps of the grand altar of Saint-Antonin,
but I only spoke to him the first time in the cloister.
About 4 years ago, I went to morning mass at the church of Saint-Antonin
and soon after the mass I saw, at the place where he had been buried, my
lord Bernard, once bishop of Pamiers, dressed in his sacred vestments, the
white mitre on his head. At this sight, I bent my knees before him and greeted
him, asking that the grace of God might be with him and that God might give
him Paradise. He replied that he had confidence that God would give Paradise
to him and to all, and that his Son Christ would give to everyone whatever
they asked. Then he asked me the news of Raimond Vidal and Pierre Catala,
his old comrades and said to me that it was his own fault that they were
poor, because they had faithfully served him during his life. He said that
he had badly paid me for the services I had rendered him and to tell the
men of Mas to pray God for him, because in a short time he would be in Repose.
I saw him two other times seated on the steps of the high altar of Saint-Antonin.
I did not tell anyone to pray for my lord Bernard, but I myself personally
prayed for his soul.
Last year, towards the feast of Saint John the Baptist, I saw after the
morning mass the spirit of Pierre Durand, canon of Pamiers, in the choir
of the church of Saint-Antonin, who was wearing his surplice and hood on
his head. Upon seeing me, he said "Ah, Botheler, welcome!" I replied
that I hoped God would give him the grace to go to Paradise, as well as
to all the others. He told me that God would give it to him and to all the
I asked him how he was and he said "Quite well now, but I have known
a terrible place." I asked him which. He replied "I have passed
through the fire of purgatory which is fierce and terrible. But I only passed
through." He also asked me to pray for him.
I saw him one other time in the cloister and he said to me that God would
recompense the present bishop of Pamiers for the honors which he had done
to him or caused to be done. I saw him one other time again in the cloister
and then I saw him no more; because of this I believe that he is in Repose.
All of the above-mentioned spirits said to me that there is no need to have
fear of eternal damnation because it suffices that one be a faithful Christian
and that one be confessed and repent in order not to be damned, because
Christ has made all in his image and resemblance and has given for us his
body and his blood.
I saw the spirit of Barcelone, the mother of Arnaud of Calmelles of Pamiers,
in the chapter of Saint-Antonin 5 days after the Christmas of this year.
She asked me to go find Barcelone her daughter, the wife of Guillaume of
Loubens, and to tell her that none of her sins weighed so heavily on her
as the fact that she had not brought back the said daughter to her husband's
house. And she asked her to return to her husband, with the help of the
friars or the religious. When I reported this to the said Barcelone, she
asked me to ask her mother why she had never returned her to her husband's
house while she was living. Several days later, I was in the chapterhouse
and I saw this dead Barcelone and asked her, on behalf of her daughter,
why she had never brought her back to her husband's house while she was
living, when she could have done it. The dead woman replied that this was
because she took pleasure in the services that her daughter rendered to
her while she lived. This was why she never forced her daughter to return
to her husband. And she told me to tell her daughter to give food to eat
to three poor people one day for the repose of her soul, and that if she
did not dare to do it at the house of Arnaud de Calmelles, that she should
take the bread and bring it to Philippa, the wife of master Jacques Camelle,
and that there she could give it to the poor to eat, taking the wine and
the rest of the necessities to the house of this Philippa. I did as she
asked me, and told all this to Barcelone. After this I did not see the spirit
of this defunct Barcelone, because I believe she went to Repose.
It was two months ago, after dinner, I saw near the place where Pons Malet
of Ax was murdered. From what he told me, he came from the church of Mercadal,
and of Camp and of Pamiers and he was all covered with mud. He told me that
God would have to inspire the heart of my lord the bishop of Pamiers to
release his son, before he could enter into his country and he would stay
where he was better than pass by there. I told him that God would have given
him a better fate if he had been able to confess before being murdered.
He told me that he was confessed just a short time before.
I saw Barcelone, the widow of Pons Fauré, in the street near Saint-Antonin,
who was coming from the church of Saint-Paul les Allemans and had her arms
uncovered up to the elbows. She said to me "Botheler, it would be better
if the silk which which I adorn my arms was not being used again! I said
that one could see that well and that she was very badly dressed on her
arms. She asked me to go see Brune d'Escosse, her mother and tell her to
remove the (burial) silk from her shirts and clothes. But I did not do this.
I saw the spirit of Pons Bru of Pamiers this year around the time of the
harvest at a place called La Barrière, with many other spirits, perhaps
a hundred. They came from the church Saint-Martin de Juillac. This Pons
told me to tell his widow to put a pound of oil in the lamp of Notre-Dame
du Mercadal, a pound in the church of Camp, and one other in the communal
lamp of Saint-Antonin, and to give a day's food to three paupers, and finally
to have celebrated a mass for her spirit and that that would suffice for
her to go to Repose.
I saw the spirit of Michel Gas of Mas-Saint-Antonin, who had much sorrow
for his grandchildren.
Last night, I saw the spirit of Raimond Burgous, of Mas, who asked me why
I was at the bishop's palace. I told him that my lord the bishop made me
come here because of him and the other dead people. He said to me that God
would inspire the Monsignor to do me no violence and not to ask questions
that one not ought ask. I told him that I had no fear, because monsignor
the bishop was a just man and I left him thus.
Three years ago, I often saw two dead horsemen, who were from the contry
of Dun, riding on very thin nags. In the morning they seemed to have been
cleft right to the navel, and in the evening the wound was closed. And when
the wound was still opened, they suffered great torment, but they did not
suffer when it was closed. And I saw them thus cleft to the navel four times
at the said place La Barrière and on the road des Allemans.
For myself, I believe and I have believed since the grand Indulgence (the
Jubilee decreed by Boniface VIII for the year 1300) that all men formed
and made in the semblance of God and baptized with holy baptism will be
Since the time when I have been conscious until now, I believe and I have
believed that no human spirit will enter into hell until the day of Judgement.
I believe that no one will enter into the kingdom of heaven, unless he be
very holy, until the day of Judgement, but the spirits of the dead, their
penitence done, go to holy Repose. And I believe that no human spirit which
has received the sacrament of baptism will be damned. But at Judgement,
Christ in his pity and mercy will save all christians, however bad they
have been. This, I have heard from Athon d'Unzent; I believed it before
and I still believe it even more fervently.
Arnaud Gelis' confession continues....
English Translation © 1996 by Nancy P. Stork.
Return to Jacques Fournier Home Page