Montsegur, 1989

>Montségur, the last bastion of the Cathar “heresy”

Mí´nica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August evening. We stood in the place where 220 Cathars were buried alive in 1224.”¨
We had planned to climb it the following day.Ӭ
The weather was overcast, with clouds so low that we could not even see the ruins at the top of the gigantic rock. Just to provoke Mí´nica, I said that it might be interesting to make the climb that very night.”¨
She said no, and I was relieved, imagine if she had said yes!

At that moment a car drove up, the same make and color as mine.
ҬAn Irishman stepped out and asked us as if we were from the region, from what point the rock could be climbed. I suggested that he make the climb the next morning with us, but he was determined to go up that very night.
He wanted to see the sunrise from up there, claiming that perhaps he had been a Cathar in a past life.
“I wonder if you could lend me a lamp?” he asked.

I went to the hotel in the village where we were staying and borrowed a lamp, the only one they had.
ҬIt is a sign Рwe need to climb this rock now.

Mí´nica seemed scared, but I said that we have to go ahead. ‘Signs are signs’, I said.
The newcomer asked where the path was. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up.

And for some time, (I cannot remember how long) the three of us climbed a mountain that we did not know, at night, and with the fog that only allowed us to see a few yards ahead of us.

Finally, we were above the clouds; the sky filled with stars, the moon was full, and standing before us was the gate of the fortress of Montségur.

We entered and contemplated the ruins. I looked at the beauty of the firmament, wondering how we got there without any accident, but then I thought that it’s better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle.

For the next few years, I sent several letters to the mysterious Irishman, but he never replied back.
“¨I have returned to Montségur and climbed the mountain several other times, but have never again managed to find the path that we used that August night in 1989.


(one week after this experience, I met Brida O’Fern in the Pyrenees Mountains, and it happens that she was a Cathar in her previous life. Her story is in my book BRIDA )


  1. Marie-Christine says:

    Mont segur
    une montee a suivre
    A climb to be followed
    ‘La vie est un acte de foi. Et je suis digne de cette quete.’ P.Coelho

  2. Phylis says:

    Brida was my first Paulo Coelho Book. Its a beautiful book that you never want to finish. You want the pages to keep on turning.

    1. Camellia says:

      agreed :) its my favorite book, through Paulo Coelho’s Brida I was inspired to follow my own path unchained by traditional views I have discovered that I am a witch and on top of all my studies I am now learning Kabbalah and the hidden symbolism of Hebrew Letters…at last my life is evolving the way I want it to and I couldn’t be happier. All the luck for those who are embarking on or searching for their path and thank you Paulo Coelho forever

  3. Himani says:

    i haven’t read Brida…but this short story is encouraging me to read it at the earliest….cheers!

  4. Mathilde says:

    i wanna go

  5. dilip bhatt says:

    i also experinced a sign, which showed me right path as
    well as courage to step down from hill. this incidence
    happened to me in year 1996. my family and friends
    went to CHARDHAM yatra ( yamnotri,gangotri,kedarnath & badrinath)in himalayn mountains. it is tough religious
    yamnotri is very tough toclimbe having height of 11000 feet
    and very bad weather. while returning down from hill, i was alone ( rest of all went down by horses)and heavy rain started, sleepary land made great danger to me. i was very much afraid and lost my courage. suddenly a young lady came with a young child of about 6/8 months and went down
    i just followed her and reached to aa destination, but at the end did not find that lady.

  6. Gustavo says:

    Que experiencia!!! what an experience. Something similar happened to me, when I went out of my house, at night, to smoke a cigarette with my brother, we where watching the clouds passing by and suddenly the face of Jesus was shaped by one of the clouds and a second after that a light from the sky light up the entire environment, 1 minutes later o saw Jesus’ face again and again another light… No joking those lights freak me out a lot, as much as feel the world end anguish. A feeling that I have never experienced before. It was crazy!

  7. Garima G says:

    Even i am trying to believe in ‘signs’, lets hope i dun end up acting cynical

  8. Luisa says:

    Quando vocíª vai escrever sobre os cátaros???????
    Eu estou visitando todos os “sites” cátaros, sí£o impressionantes…… (moro perto)
    Suponho que já deve ter visitado os impressionantes Queribus e Peyrepetousse que ficam perto de Perpignan.

    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      ja escrevi em Brida

  9. Paule M. Boucher says:

    The signs appears when our spirit are well centered with the physical body. Master papears when chelas are ready!

  10. ioana says:

    miracles never repeat , lol
    but what a scenary, for such moments this planet really deserve to be saved

  11. Yorgis Toufexis says:

    *** what suprises me is not what Paulo and Mí´nica experienced on the way to Montségur, but the absurd “reality” whereby the vast majority of humans go through incarnation thoroughly clueless about the infinity of “supernatural” events going on all around them. When he was 12 my younger son commented: “dad, what others call supernatural is simply natural, but how come all those people live in such a sub-natural world?” Why indeed!

    1. Planman says:

      Your 12 year old said that?

  12. Olivier says:

    As far as I know, the 225 Cathars were not buried alive but burnt before. I dont know what is best although…

  13. Dion says:

    But when the signs say to go forward and what you see at the end is only chaos?

    1. Virginia says:

      You must not look at the end–only at what is in front of you and persevere. The response to fear is faith. To stop because of what you think you can see as the end, is to stop before the miracle happens. Look at the faith of the Egyptians in recent weeks. Had they looked at what appeared to be the end on any given day, they would never have reached the end that was to be.

  14. karin says:

    Dear Paulo,
    I was in Montsegur last year and know how hard the mountain is to climb. What a heavenly decision to make that journey in the dark. Thanks for sharing :)


  15. Zainab Baloch says:

    SUBJECT: when in doubt, do it???????
    Hi Paulo
    PAULO in alchemist you talked about ; follow the omens, listen to your heart……… but your this quote made me perplexed.
    when our heart is saying: stop, dont move forward
    omens are also in our side and make us doubtful Then how we can keep our way toward our destination????
    Because where your heart is , there you’ll find your treasure…..

  16. Pooja says:

    I loved reading Brida. Very beautifully told….. and makes me believe in the soulmate concept too!

    I was just wondering if you would want to explore the idea of lonliness among middle aged ladies. I have seen a couple of women who are single and how they handle their lonliness. One particular lady does not leave my mind… I saw her at a cafe with a potted plant. She was talking to her plant. Another one at another restaurant was just smiling to herself and her food. And of course there is yet another one I know who simply cut herself off from the rest of the world and lives absolutely alone with no one for company or to talk to, no phones, no TV, no relatives and no friends.

    I feel you would do justice to as sensitive a subject as this one.
    Thank you for bringing such lovely books to us.

    1. Aseem says:

      Hi Pooja -t isn’t only women , its human but then if we find ourselves – no companion is as true. All external companions are supports and false and will ultimately get separated . I think where we fail as humans is to make that inner connection and continue to run for the mirage…

  17. Iz says:

    Wow. Sentí­ escalofrí­os después de leer esta historia. Qué impresión. Y qué cierto es lo de seguir las señales. Dios te bendiga, Paulo.

  18. Marcel Santos says:

    Sou garí§om em SP e certa vez ao atender ao cantor Joí£o Bosco fiz o seguinte comentário: “toda vez que ouí§o uma música sua lembro-me dos livros do Paulo Coelho, embora ní£o tenha nenhuma ligaí§í£o”. E ele bem-humorado respondeu: “Interessante! Eu só gostaria de vender discos como ele vende livros”

  19. ishita says:

    thats so amazing you caught the signs and followed your heart. it made you go through that foggy night so easily without any downfall and trouble. it is because of that another traveler may be who already knew the safest way to reach there. his soul as traveled that path before. and he was confident of it.

  20. Nakarid says:

    Sencillamente magia real…. Son acontecimientos que van mas alla de las palabras… Se sienten y SON… Una vez mas GRACIAS…!

  21. Sometimes in life, we find happenings that are beyond our ken;we know, or think we know what happened, but we can’t quite comprehend the full meaning of this event.This event we will keep in our minds, closer to the conscious level, for rumination from time to time, but we can never seem to fully understand what really happened.I believe both of you had just that type of experience- the Irishman had the same type & color car, you couldn’t ever find the same path again,you climbed the rock at night,instead of the day as you preferred to do, you couldn’t contact the Irishman again. And 220 souls had given their lives , most probably because of their beliefs. In all probability there was a shift in the time/space continuum which allowed you to view something no one else was or ever would be privy to.These occurrences have been documented, but cannot be corroborated,because they did not occur in our time/space continuum. Yes,I would venture that you stepped outside our world for a brief moment in time.

  22. elaine says:

    Beautiful :-)

  23. Intento comprender lo que intenta explicarnos Paulo. Creo que me quedo con una frase que sintetiza su experiencia…”es mejor no hacer preguntas y simplemente admirar el milagro”.

    La decisión de decidir, es el premio al llegar a tu objetivo. Muchas gracias Paulo.

  24. A wonderful story Paulo and a blessing. Is interesting to read the shared comments, the feelings and energy. Have not been to Montsegur. A sacred place.
    Thankyou for the courage to share, very much appreciated. Thanks to you and friends here.

    In April of 2009 I was waiting for John’s gig to begin. The band members were onstage setting up. Elvis Presley’s cousin had just finished a show. (Thankyou for the teeshirt!)
    I was standing outside of the showroom and a man with dark red hair was in front. He turned around – we had never met before, yet ‘recognized’ each other. His eyes were twinkling, and I felt at ease. Loving energy like being embraced by a hug! We walked to a corner of the bar to sit and talk. He told me about being a widower for one year, that he had moved to California from Connecticut. He said he likes the weather in California, shared a story about his wife. That they had lived together for 8 years and married for 5 1/2 years. He said that just before she passed away, she was having difficulties remembering some things and asked him to marry her. He told her that they were already married and she smiled and said ‘Oh, because I would marry you all over again!’ He told me that he plays guitar, but only for fun now. These stories were repeated two times. The band began to play. We both got up and walked to the showroom and said that I hoped he enjoys the evening. He grinned and parted with ‘If you see me dancing, you’ll know I’m having fun’.

    Well, I went to sit with a friend and waited and waited. Eventually, the man did dance! By the end of the night he was sitting with a beautiful blonde haired woman. They were gazing into each other’s eyes with such tenderness, I dared not interrupt to say goodbye.

    Not long afterward I saw a picture of your former partner in music Paulo. Raul. He looked identical to the man I saw, except no beard. Could it have been Raul? Or maybe a twin? It was uncanny!!

    I thought about the night often. The next year, again in April while in Romania, we were crossing a bridge and noticed a sign along side of a bridge: “Raul Maramures”. Cuscru explained that Raul means river in engish and Mara and Mures is a legend about two beautiful women. The Mara and Mures is where the two rivers meet and become one.

    How Great Thou Art is a beautiful hymn. Thankyou Annie
    Dear Olta, you answered a question that I had, thankyou.

    Full of wonder, Gratitude and Love to All,
    Jane xo

  25. Keith says:

    I recall many years ago climbing a Welsh mountain at night. We were not allowed torches or lamps in order that our eyes adjusted to the light. We climbed it to see the sunset and what a magnificent sight it was. We came back down in the dark. The next day I looked up at the mountain and saw that the way we had followed, to the side was a sheer drop!

  26. El Burro de Caín says:

    Todos los dí­as tenemos un Montsegur, un irlandés y una decisión.
    Nuestra intuición nos ayudará a elegir el camino y cuando lleguemos a la cumbre, todo nos parecerá coincidencia.
    Esta historia es para leerla al despertar de todos los dí­as!

    1. Aura Lisbeth says:

      Senti exactamente lo mismo que usted, y cuando abro los ojos cada manana pido a Dios que me indique el sendero del dia…y la sabiduria para tomar la decision correcta!

  27. kam says:


    You have not described to us the sunrise. How was it?

  28. Gris Mosqueda says:

    Hermoso relato, al leer tus libros he ido aprendiendo a “mantener la vista en el horizonte” y ya no tengo miedo de abrir más puertas, sé que las cosas grandes y maravillosas le suceden a la gente grande y maravillosa, es sólo cuestión de dar el primer paso y el camino se abre ante nosotros!!! Gracias por compartir tus experiencias!!!

  29. Claire says:

    I have had a similar experience.
    On New Years day my friend and I sat on a high ridge at dust watching the light fade. My freind and I have visited this place often. Sometime we have been joined by wild Hares. As the light dimmed the fog rolled in. The fog was so dense that I could not clearly see my feet, nor in fact my hands. My friend and I couldn’t see each other. We knew that the other was their. We could hear the other move. Yet, mostly we were in silence. We were in our own world attending to each step, and listening. Each step was along a ridge that now felt quite new. Thankfully we were trusted companions, even then. As we had walked a few mountains together. However, this time, our well known route was not recognisable. In this journey of fog and hearing, it became a symbol. A walk of trust. And faith. And hearing. And companionship. We were both aware that something important had happened.
    During that next year, I became very ill. I was too ill to have my own hope. I was in that dense fog of illness. Each step to recovery was a concentration of effort. At times I could not see my friends, nor hear them, nor feel them. I had dreams of the walk. My friends helped in practical ways. They held my trust and faith.

    1. Claire says:

      Since then, we have walked many mountains together.

  30. Millie Heym says:

    I was there at Montsegur in 1997. Excerpt from my book (how timely, I’m just editing it now): “There was a loose flat stone with chipped edges leaning up against the base of the monument, with a quote by Francis Bacon that I think translates like this: “The heretic is not he who burns at the stake, but he who lights it.” There were many bouquets of flowers–some fresh, some several weeks dead–scattered all around the perimeter of the monument. Shamed that I had no flowers to leave, I picked a few nearby buttercups to lay there, and I thought about the real tragedy of Montsegur: not the death of 200 people who have long since gone on to new life elsewhere, but the fact that human beings could–and still do–kill other human beings for no other reason than their belief in a slightly different religious philosophy. What a waste and cruelty religion is, that Christians and others condemn the taking of an innocent young human life, but cheerfully and self-righteously encourage the killing of adults whose only sin is their determination to follow a different belief. Apparently God is a bone to be fought over … the last group standing wins salvation.

  31. manuela says:

    Convinzione di un atto diretto dal credo e dal cuore…è magia.

  32. Goran Tomić says:

    Dear Paulo, would love to host you in my Serbia, and show you her beauty and monasteries. If you time or curiosity lead Belgrade, would be my honor and great joy to visit Serbia to you and your friends ..

  33. Sandrine says:

    Waouh! It’s great you tell us this story, because I live not so far from Montsegur and I always love to climb this little mountain to contemplate the beautiful view we have up there.
    It’s always a magical moment, thinking about all they lived here, and for some, they died at the foot of the mountain…
    It is said that they go into the fire singing, while the soldiers were around them…Faith is above everything! When I think about the warrior of light, I don’t know why I always think about the Perfect (which is the true name instead of Cathars)! Hope to see you in the court of the Montsegur castle!