Béziers was the first target of the war against the Cathars (the “Albigensian Crusade”) in 1209. According to the Cistercian abbot in command, reporting to the pope after the siege of Béziers, 20,000 were killed here without regard to age, sex, or rank. Another Church source reports that 7,000 of them were burned alive in the high church during the massacre. Another reports the abbot as giving the famous instruction “kill them all, God will know his own”. The massacre was celebrated as miraculous and attributable to divine vengeance. The present structure here dates from the thirteenth century and was erected on the site of the cathedral destroyed during the mass burning in 1209.