Letter: Perfect purity

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Letter: Perfect purity

Sir: In Emily Passmore's interesting article on the Corbieres region of France (Travel, 17 January), the spiritual leaders of the Cathar (or Albigensian) community are referred to as "prefects". This is presumably a misprint for "perfects" as they were known in French as les parfaits or les bonshommes, a group of people, mainly but not exclusively men, who had taken vows of purity and abstention from meat and sexual activity. This presented a contrast to many of the regular clergy of the Roman Church.

I do wonder a little about the advisability of staying at Montsegur, where, in 1244, the Cathars emerged after a two-year siege in their eyrie to be burned alive, en masse, in the village below. It would take a strong stomach not to to feel haunted, however delicious the plats du jour.

ELIZABETH MONKHOUSE

London NW11

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