The Order of Ste Esclarmonde
The Order of Saint Esclarmonde is a Gnostic, monastic lay Order open to women and men, sponsored by both the Gnostic Church of Mary Magdalene and the Apostolic Johannite Church. Novices are not required to be members of either church.
The purpose of the Order is to provide structure to committed, solitary, traditional spiritual practice. Nuns and Monks of the Order commit to mindfulness, daily contemplation, and community action through charitable works. During daily prayer, nuns and monks wear the traditional white alb and white cincture as both a reminder of their connection to others undertaking this work, and as a symbol of purification.
Saint Esclarmonde was an early 13th century Cathar mystic. She is traditionally identified as the woman who successfully debated the virtues of Catharism against the founder of the Inquisition, St. Dominic. Legend has it that when the Inquisition finally came to take her to her execution, she turned into a dove and flew away. Her legend was romanticized during the Napoleonic era to the point where she became a kind of Cathar Joan of Arc and patroness of the revival of art and mysticism of the 19th century.
The Proctor for female novices is Reverend Mother Marsha Emrick+ of the GCMM, while male novices are Proctored by Monsignor Jordan Stratford+ of the AJC. Aspirants are required to provide the following:
1. A photocopy of government-issued picture identification
2. A criminal background check
3. A 1000 word essay on their spritual journey
4. A curriculum vitae
5. A letter of reference
Vows of the Order of St. Esclarmonde
All the Monks and Nuns shall annually renew their either on Montsegur Day (March 16th) or the Sunday closest to said date.
In the Name of the Fullness, of the Fallen Word, and of of the Lost Queen who is Holy Wisdom. Amen
Be it known that on this day before God and my fellow companions that I avow:
To abide by the common Rule of the Order of Saint Esclarmonde; in listening, intention, waking, mindfulness, stillness and compassion
To contemplate scripture that I may deepen my understanding.
To practice hospitality to all I meet.
To treat each member of the Community of Esclarmonde with love and respect as a brother or sister in Gnosis.
To be accountable for my actions and to make amends to those who I cause harm.
All these things do I vow In the Name of the Fullness, of the Fallen Word, and of of the Lost Queen who is Holy Wisdom. Amen+
Rightful Queen of faithful souls,
Who never erred,
Who never lied,
Follower of the rightful course,
Who never doubted
lest we should accept death
in the realm of the wrong god;
as we do not belong to this realm
and this realm is not ours –
teach us Your gnosis
and to love what You love.
*adaptation of a traditional Cathar prayer, 13th century
The Very Rev Msgr.
Jordan Stratford, STL, OSE
The Reverend Mother