Q: Who are the Collyridians?

A:

Kollyridians or Collyridians were adorers of Mary in the fourth-century Arabia, as Epiphanius mentioned in his writing against heretics (see: Haer. 78, 23; 79). He coined the expression Collyridians which has the meaning of "cake-eater-sect." Leontius of Byzance had a different name for them. He called them "Philomarianites," meaning Mary-lovers (PG 87, 1364). The priestesses of this sect used to present Our Lady with cakes or a special kind of bread (kolluris) intended as offerings as was the custom in pre-Christian times. This sect, mainly consisting of women or at least led by woman priests, propagated what amounts to a Goddess cult regarding Our Lady. Epiphanius had this warning on their behalf: "Although Mary is the most beautiful and holy and worthy of praise, we don't owe her adoration." (Haer. 79, 7, PG 42, 752) In a different passage Epiphanius uses even stronger words: "Adoration must cease. For Mary is no goddess nor has she received her body from heaven. (oute gar theos hae Maria oute ap'ouranou exousa to soma)" (Haer. 78, 24). Collyridians are also known and mentioned by John Damascene (PG 94, 728).

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