The Cathar Initiation Caves at Ornolac in the Ariege region of Southern France continue to beckon the spiritual travellers to their initiatory door. This three-part cave complex houses the Eglise (Church), the Hermit and the Bethlehem Cave are known as the 'doors to Catharism' These underground retreats, places of meeting with the ‘Almighty Creative Essence’, offered the Cathars a safe and peaceful dwelling place. We are told that in these caves the initiate would begin to access the state of the living Soul, the state of the ‘Pure One’ or ‘Perfect One’ (parfait). When the timing was right the disciple would go through the ‘Mystical door’, and come back into the world to devote themselves to suffering mankind, in service to Christ.
The Bethlehem is the third and final stage of the Initiation,. To reach the Bethlehem, one must climb the steep Path of Initiation. This cave may well have been the spiritual centre of the Cathar world. For it was here that the 'Pure' candidate underwent an initiation ceremony that culminated in The Consolamentum, the invoking of the redeeming force to wipe away all sin (errors against love) and anoint to soul at the highest level with the touch of the Holy Spirit.
The Bethlehem comprises of a square niche in the wall in which stood the veiled Holy Grail, a granite altar upon which the Gospel of John would lay, a pentagram carved into the wall and obvious telluric currents emanating from the rock walls and floor.