A 2nd-century Christian sect known for their extreme practice of self-castration.

The Valesians were a Christian sect that emerged in the second century AD, founded by an Arabian philosopher named Valens of Bacetha Metrocomia. This sect is primarily known for advocating and practicing self-castration, a practice that set them apart significantly from mainstream Christian beliefs and practices of the time.

Background and Beliefs

The Valesians’ doctrine was notably distinct due to their emphasis on self-castration. This practice was rooted in their belief that it would help reduce temptation to lust, particularly when consuming certain foods. They were known for not only practicing self-castration among their own members but also infamously for forcibly castrating travelers and guests who visited them.

The sect is described in the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, a text detailing various heresies in early Christianity. According to the Panarion, the Valesians also held views on authorities and powers similar to Sethianism or the Archontics, suggesting some Gnostic influences.

Condemnation and Legacy

The Valesians’ doctrine and practices, particularly their extreme approach to asceticism, were condemned as heresy by the Synod of Achaia around 250 AD. Their views and practices, especially their advocacy for self-castration, were far outside the mainstream Christian thought and were viewed with disapproval and horror by the larger Christian community.

The sect’s unusual practices have been cited in various historical and religious texts, including “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” by Flaubert, indicating the lasting impression they made on Christian and secular literature. The Valesians stand as a stark example of the diversity and extremity of beliefs that can emerge within religious movements, especially in the early, formative years of major world religions like Christianity. Their legacy is a reminder of the complexities and variabilities in interpreting religious doctrines and the extent to which beliefs can lead to extreme practices.