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Catholic Dictionary




The name in the early Church for catechumens after their baptism. The term is generic for members of various sects inspired by the principles of illuminism, which claims to have access to specially infused knowledge from the divinity. Sometimes the title is loosely applied to such varied groups as the ancient Gnostics, who believed that the perfect life consisted in esoteric knowledge and contemplation; the Montanists, who sought perfection in gifts of prophecy and ecstasy; and the Beghards, who held that the soul can reach an intuitive vision of God on earth. More properly Illuminati refer to the Alumbrados in the sixteenth century and a masonic society in recent times.