Also known as

  • Adelphians
  • Bogomili
  • Enthusiasts
  • Euchites
  • The Filthy


An heretical sect originating in Mesopotamia in 360. They denied that the Sacraments give grace and declared that the only spiritual power is prayer. Prayer, they said, drives out the evil spirit and brings into the soul the Holy Spirit, and thus unites the soul to God, and gives perfect control over the passions. The fervour of their prayers was supposed to bring them into immediate contact with God; so they neglected everything but prayer and conformed to the religious and civil customs of a place only in order to escape persecution. They said that after a period of constant prayer they saw the Trinity; that the Three Divine Persons became one and dwelt within them; and that they were then able to stamp upon the evil spirits that they saw prowling about the world. On account of their belief in their possession by the Holy Spirit, they were called Enthusiasts (Greek: enthous, full of the god). They were also called “Praying Folk” or Euchites from the Greek translation (euchomai, pray), of their Oriental name. In some places in later centuries they were identified with the Marcianists because they held some of the same doctrines. Their first leader, Adelphius, also gave his name to the sect, sometimes called Adelphians. They were condemned in 376 by Flavian, Bishop of Antioch; in 388 by the Synod of Side; in 426 by a Council of Constantinople; and in 431 by the Third General Council of Ephesus. In Armenia and Syria they were accused of immorality, were called “The Filthy,” and were banished. They revived under the name of Bogomili but perished in the 9th century.

MLA Citation

  • “Messalians”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 September 2010. Web. 20 June 2021. <>