|Origins of the Montanists|
| The Montanists were schismatics
of the second century, first known as Phrygians, then as Montanists and Pepuzians. The sect was founded by a prophet,
Montanus, a recent Christian convert who began to prophesy in the villages of Ardabau and Pepuza in Phrygia around
156 A.D.. The same prophetic gift was believed to have descended also upon his two companions, the prophetesses
Maximilla and Prisca, sometimes called Priscilla.
The prophets did not speak as messengers of God, but described themselves as possessed by God and spoke in His Person. "I am the Father, the Word, and the Paraclete," said Montanus (Didymus, "De Trin.", III, xli); and again: "I am the Lord God omnipotent, who have descended into to man", and "neither an angel, nor an ambassador, but I, the Lord, the Father, am come" (Epiphanius, "Hær.", xlviii, 11). And Maximilla said: "Hear not me, but hear Christ" (ibid.); and: "I am driven off from among the sheep like a wolf [that is, a false prophet--cf. Matt., vii, 15]; I am not a wolf, but I am speech, and spirit, and power." This possession by a spirit, which spoke while the prophet was incapable of resisting, is described by the spirit of Montanus: "Behold the man is like a lyre, and I dart like the plectrum. The man sleeps, and I am awake" (Epiphanius, "Hær.", xlviii, 4). Priscilla once went to sleep, and Christ came to her and slept by her side "in the form of a woman, clad in a bright garment, and put wisdom into me, and revealed to me that this place is holy, and that here Jerusalem above comes down".
Maximilla died in 179 A.D. Montanus and Priscilla had died yet earlier.
(Excerpted from H. Leclercq, transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company.)