Abstinents

The title given to several sects that flourished in SW Europe in the third and fourth centuries. Partly a revolt against the worldliness of the established churches, the movement shared the Gnostic concept of matter as intrinsically evil. Strict asceticism was demanded, including the proscription of marriage. There was total abstinence from animal food, and constant prayers, fasts, and vigils were further evidence of the adherents' austere devotion. Priscillian,* their most prominent member, was executed at Trier in 385 for alleged magic and heresy.