Confession of Arnaud Gélis, also called Botheler
"The Drunkard" of Mas-Saint-Antonin
After this, the same year after the feast of St. Matthew (24 February)
the said Arnaud, appearing for questioning before my said bishop in the
Chamber of the bishop's palace of Pamiers, said
This year before the harvest, I saw Pons Bru of Pamiers at the aforementioned
La Barrière with many other dead people. He told me what I have related
above, and then I asked where they were going. He replied, " to the
church of Saint-Martin des Rives." When I said that it was a long time
since he had been at Pamiers, he replied that, on the contrary, they had
come just recently into the house of Thomas Isarn de la Caussade and that
it was necessary for the said Thomas to be careful not to draw the wine
of a certain ton which he had in this house, because if he wished to do
it, he would find it empty. But I said nothing of this to Thomas.
The same day and hour, close to the house of lepers, I saw Master Jean Marty,
a deceased doctor of Pamiers, draped in a white sheet. He had a hat on his
head and a hood on his shoulders. He said nothing to me.
A year and a half ago, I was on the high road which goes from Foix to Pamiers
and I spoke to Guillaume d'Arignac of Pamiers, who was already dead, asking
him how he was. As we were talking thus, his wife came by, who was also
dead. I asked what her grandchildren were doing, the three daughters of
her son, dead in infancy, because her son Raimond d'Arignac wished to know.
She told me that she had not seen them after their interment, but that they
had gone forthwith to Repose. This is what happens to all the baptised infants
when they die before their seventh year. I asked her what happens to unbaptised
infants. She told me that they go to an obscure place where they suffer
no ill nor partake of any good. They rest there until Judgement.
This is what I have believed for a long time. After Judgement, I believe
and I have believed for a long time since I heard the word of God preached
in church that all the unbaptised infants and generally all reasonable creatures,
through the grand mercy of Jesus Christ will be saved, in fact that none
I have, for seven years often and in diverse places seen many spirits of
the dead, both by day and night. They enter into the church and spend the
evening there and all night, then, in the morning, leaving the churches
in which they have passed the night. When the weather is nice they are especially
wont to traverse the roads and travel to other churches in which they spend
the following night.
The churches in which they spend time near Pamiers and its environs are
the following: Saint-Antonin, le Camp, le Mercadal, Saint-Jean et Sainte-Natalène,
le Mas-Vieux, Saint-Raimond, Saint-Sernin du Vernet, Saint-Martin des Ollières,
Saint-Martin de Juillac, Saint-Paul des Allemans, Saint-Blaise de Villeneuve.
And the churches further away where they travel are Saint-Marie de la Salvetat
and Saint-Pierre de Pujagou in the diocese of Rieux.
The spirits of Pamiers and environs generally spend Saturday nights in the
church of Saint-Antonin; I heard many of the dead say that they regret very
much that their bodies were not buried in the cemetery of the church of
Saint-Antonin. Each dead soul frequents the church of which it was a parishioner
and the cemetery where its body rests, more than the other churches.
The dead wear clothes of white linen, except the religious who wear the
habit of their order, as living. The non-religious have their heads uncovered.
The dead are the same size, form and figure of their living selves.
They do penance in going to different churches as has been said. Some go
quickly, others more slowly, in the sense that those who have the greatest
penance go the quickest. This is why userers go like the wind, but those
who have a smaller penance walk slowly. From none have I ever heard that
they undergo any penance other than this movement, except the above-mentioned
Pierre Durand who had passed through the fire of Purgatory. When they cease
to visit the churches, they go to the place of Repose, in which they rest
and will rest just until the day of Judgement, as the dead themselves have
This is what I believe myself and what I have believed since I have been
told. But I do not know and have never heard them say of what type or where
this place of Repose is located. I believe therefore that it is on the earth.
But after the Judgement God will call them to the celestial kingdom.
Those who died young and robust have some trouble moving forward. But those
who died in old age struggle even more, quake and fall to the earth and
cannot pick themselves up if they are not aided by their friends and acquaintances.
Those who do not know them pass over them without a thought of aiding them.
To the dead, it is pleasing that their friends have masses celebrated for
them, or that one puts oil in the lamps of the churches where they were
parishioners, because this is pleasing to God and they seem to be better.
It displeases them when one does not pay the bequests that they have made,
and they would rather have left 10 sous which will be paid immediately than
100 which are paid slowly. The dead, according to what I have heard from
some of them, wish that all the living men and women were dead. But they
say and have said to me that the living ought to prolong life as long as
they can and fortify themselves. I have never heard them give any explanation
I have heard many of the dead women say that that they have come from time
to time to see their young grandchildren, at least the baptised ones, and
they derived great pleasure from this. I myself have seen my dead mother-in-law
Raimonde come 3 or 4 years ago to see my son Raimond, who now is 6 or 7
years old. She embraced him and kissed him saying "May God give you
honesty by his grace" after which she disappeared immediately.
I often saw dead Jews, some of whom went backwards, others forwards like
the other dead. But I never saw them enter into churches. They travel along
the roads, not with the Christians, but amongst themselves and I do not
know if they go to the place of Repose.
-----How were you able to distinguish Jews and Christians?
Because they stink and they hold themselves apart from the others.
Certain of the dead have from time to time given me an order to say something
to their friends. When I have not obeyed, they maltreat me on my body, especially
by hitting me with a baton and their blows are very hard. This is how Pons
Bru hit me near to the house of lepers.
In general I see the dead and speak to them in the morning after Mass.
I had a second cousin named Raimonde, daughter of Pons Hugou de la Force
near Fanjeaux, who as she told me often, saw dead men and women and talked
to them. Sometimes she left her father's house for 3 or 4 days to go, according
to her, with the dead and when she returned to the house, when I saw her,
she was very sorrowful and afflicted. She told me that she had seen Rousse,
my dead mother who told her that soon after her death, when she was washed
and she had a nice veil on her head, someone took it away and put one of
less value in its place. She asked me to send her a good veil. My cousin
told me also that she saw my dead father, Raimond Gelis, who told her that
while living he owed three quarterns of wheat and asked me to pay them.
I took faith in what this cousin told me, I gave to a poor woman a good
veil and I distributed three quarterns of wheat for the love of God.
-----If you do not believe that the spirits of certain men will
finally be damned, then what is the purpose of hell?
In hell, there are demons. After Christ released the souls of the holy ones
from hell, no spirit of a man has entered into hell, nor will any enter
there in the future. Only the demons will remain tormented in hell, because
I do not believe that any man holding the Christian faith and holy baptism
will be damned. Even the Jews, the Saracens and the heretics, provided they
implore the mercy of God, God will pity them and give them paradise.
-----Who taught you this?
I have heard it in sermons and I believe it myself because of the great
mercy of God.
Since I have seen the spirits of dead men and women endowed with bodies,
having all the members that they had while living, I believe that the spirits
of all men and women, whether they are presently in their bodies or have
left them have all the members, eyes, ears, nostrils and all the other members
of the bodies in which they actually live or have lived. I have believed
this for as long as I can remember.
After this, the same year as above, the following Wednesday (February 26),
the said Arnaud appeared before my said lord bishop in the Chamber of the
episcopacy of Pamiers, in the presence of Brother Gaillard of Pomiès.
Everything that he had said, deposed and avowed above was read to him and
explained in detail one by one. He avowed that all of it was true and that
he believed everything contained in the deposition, in the presence of the
venerable and discreet personage my lord Pierre du Verdier, archdeacon of
Marjoque, of Brother Aicret of the order of the Preaching Friars of the
convent of Pamiers, and of me Guillaume Peyre-Barthe, notary of my said
lord bishop, who have written all of this on the order of the said lord
Item: The said Guillaume d'Arignac, when I saw him as is related
above, told me among other things that the souls of all those who have never
been to Saint-Jacques-de-Galice (Santiago de Compostella) while they were
living, go there after their death.
Item: A year ago, at the place called La Barrière, I saw among
many others the late Raimond Sache, who was coming, it seemed, from the
church of Saint-Martin de Juillac; he told me to put a livre of oil in the
lamp of Saint-Marie du Mercadal, and to have a mass celebrated for his soul.
On his order, I told this to his wife and I believe that she did according
to what he had asked.
Item: Hughes de Durfort, Guillaume d'Arignac and Raimond Sache told
me, when they appeared, not to reveal to anyone that the souls of the dead
appeared to me and to tell anyone the dead sent a message not to reveal
this to anyone, but to do in secret anything that had been commanded them
by my voice.
Item: I never accepted payment of any kind from the person to whom
I brought messages from the dead, unless on occasion they gave me something
spontaneously for the love of God, sometimes bread, sometimes a penny. But
the dead, they never give me anything for this.
Item: The dead venture willingly into clean locales and clean houses.
They do not wish to go into dirtly places, nor enter into dirty houses.
Arnaud Gelis' confession continues....
English Translation © 1996 by Nancy P. Stork.
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