”We were talking about those excluded from the flock of sheep. For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying ‘lepers’ we would understand ‘outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.’ But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign. Excluded as they were from the flock, all of them ready to hear, or to produce, every sermon that, harking back to the word of Christ, would condemn the behaviour of the dogs and the shepherds and would promise their punishment one day. The powerful always realised this. The recovery of the outcasts demanded reduction of the privileges of the powerful, so the excluded who became aware of their exclusion had to be branded as heretics, whatever their doctrine. And for their part, blinded by their exclusion, they were not really interested in any doctrine.”
~ From “The Name Of The Rose” by Umberto Eco, as translated by William Weaver.