The Artotyrites



with Rome



The Artotyrites

  The following of Tertullian was not large; but a Tertullianist sect survived him and its remnants were reconciled to the Church by St. Augustine (Hær., lxxxvi).

About 392-4 an African lady, Octaviana, wife of Hesperius, a favorite of the Duke Arbogastes and the usurper Maximus, brought to Rome a Tertullianist priest. He obtained the use of the church of Sts. Processus and Martinianus on the Via Aurelia, but was turned out by Theodosius, and he and Octaviana were heard of no more.

Epiphanius distinguished a sect of Montanists as Pepuzians or Quintillians (he calls Priscilla also Quintilla). He says they gave thanks to Eve for eating of the tree of knowledge. They used to sleep at Pepuza in order to see Christ as Priscilla had done. Often in their church seven virgins would enter with lamps, dressed in white, to prophesy to the people, whom by their excited action they would move to tears.

These Pepuzians ordained women for their bishops and priests, in honor of Eve. They were called "Artotyrites", because their sacrament was of bread and cheese.

In his catalogue of heresies, St. Augustine (drawing on Epiphanius' Panavrion) explains that the Artotyrites received their name from their use of bread (artos) and cheese (turos) in their sacred rites. Epiphanius, however, seems to have been mistaken about the nature of the connection between the Artotyrites and the Montanists. Jerome, who may have had some personal contact with Montanists c.373 in Ancyra (Gal. 2.2) and possibly in Rome (Ep. 41), clearly considered the Artotyrites and the Montanists to be distinct and unrelated sects (Gal. 2.2). Filastrius separates his discussion of the Montanists (Haer. 49) and that of the Artotyrites (ibid., 74) by treating twenty-four non-related heresies in between. Timothy of Constantinople identifies the Artotyrites with the Marcionites (Ex Niconis Pandecte [PG 86a.69]).

Irrespective of the accuracy of the supposed link between the Artotyrites and Montanism, Augustine, and those later writers whose accounts are based on his (e.g., Praed., Haer. 1.28; Isid. H., Etym. 8.5.22), obviously believed that Montanist mysteria involved the use of goat (and other type of?) cheese as well as bread.

Depending on how one translates some key words in the descriptions of this alleged practice by Epiphanius and, subsequently, by Augustine, it is possible to conclude (as undoubtedly Augustine concluded) that the charge leveled against both the Artotyrites and the Montanists was that they consecrated (offerunt) both bread and cheese for use during their eucharistic meals (musthvria, oblationes).

Supporting evidence for the view that Montanists used cheese in their eucharists is frequently alleged to come from the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis. This edited account of the martyrdom of Perpetua and her companions in Carthage c.203 includes an extract from Perpetua's journal in which she relates a vision she had of a shepherd milking sheep surrounded by thousands of white-robed people. Perpetua explains that after the shepherd welcomed her (ibid.), "he called me and gave to me, as it were, a small morsel of cheese which he poured out as milk; and I received with folded hands and ate."

(Excerpted from H. Leclercq, transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company.)