One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A member of a Christian movement of dualistic tendency of 4th-cent. Near Eastern origin, frequently regarded as heretical, which rejected the efficacy of the sacraments and good works, regarding prayer as essential to salvation; a member of one of the later heterodox or marginal movements supposedly related to this.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Messalians.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in John Jewel (1522–1571), bishop of Salisbury. From post-classical Latin Messalianus, Massalianus, respectively from Byzantine Greek Μεσσαλιανός and Μασσαλιανός from Syriac meṣalyånå given to prayer (compare Byzantine Greek εὐχίτης, lit. ‘member of the praying sect’, εὐχόμενος, lit. ‘one who prays’, both used to denote Messalians).
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