Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society.
PILGRIMAGE OF S. SILVIA OF
AQUITANIA TO THE
(CIRC. 385 A.D.),
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES,
JOHN H. BERNARD, B.D.,
FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN, AND ARCHBISHOP KING'S LECTURER IN DIVINITY.
AN APPENDIX BY MAJOR-GENERAL SIR C. W. WILSON, R.E.
K.C.B., K.C.M.G., F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D.
24, HANOVER SQUARE, W.
|PILGRIMAGE OF S. SILVIA OF AQUITANIA TO THE HOLY PLACES||11|
|S. SILVIAE AQUITANAE PEREGRINATIO AD LOCA SANCTA||79|
|PLAN OF CONSTANTINE'S CHURCHES AT JERUSALEM||136|
|GROUP OF MOUNT SINAI||140|
|MAP TO ILLUSTRATE THE ROUTE OF S. SILVIA||End|
THE PILGRIMAGE OF S. SILVIA
(CIRCA 385 A.D.).
THE MS. from which we derive our knowledge of the 'Pilgrimage of S. Silvia,' now for the first time translated into English, was discovered in 1883 at Arezzo, in Tuscany, by Signor G. F. Gamurrini, the learned librarian of a lay-brotherhood established in that place. He published an account of his discovery in Studi e Documenti di Storia e Diritto (1884), and in 1887 issued a volume containing the text of the MS., with introduction, facsimiles, and notes. The MS. is said to be written in an eleventh-century hand, and Gamurrini considers it tolerably certain that it was the work of a monk at Monte Casino. It is mutilated in several places, but contains a portion of the lost treatise, De Mysteriis, by S. Hilary of Poitiers, and two hymns, as well as the account of a journey to the Holy Land made by a female pilgrim. It is with this latter that we are here concerned.
The date of the pilgrimage can be fixed within a very few years, as Gamurrini and others1 have shown. The arguments upon which reliance may be placed are briefly as follows:
1°. In the account given of the services held at Jerusalem throughout the year, we have frequent mention of the great Church of the Resurrection, built by Constantine; and we also have an allusion (p. 44) to the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople, completed by the same emperor in 337 A.D. On the other hand, there is no mention of the churches of S. Stephen and S. Maria, which were built in Jerusalem in the fifth century, before which date, therefore, we must suppose the pilgrimage to have been undertaken.
2°. On the pilgrim's visit to Charræ she made inquiries of the bishop of that place as to the possibility of extending her journey inland, upon which he replied (p. 41): 'Hinc usque ad Nisibin mansiones sunt quinque; et inde usque ad Hur, quæ fuit civitas Chaldæorum, aliæ mansiones sunt quinque: sed modo ibi accessus Romanorum non est; totum enim illud Persæ tenent.' Now, Nisibis, which had been taken by Lucullus in 72 B.C., was restored to the Persians by Jovian in 363 A.D. This probably took place not long before the pilgrim's visit, as she is not aware of the cession having been made. The bishop's words ('modo ibi accessus,' etc.) also indicate that the transfer of territory had been recently brought about; but, in any case, we may conclude that the date of the pilgrimage is later (and probably not very much later) than 363 A.D.
3°. The pilgrim saw the church of S. Thomas at Edessa (p. 35), which she describes as 'nova dispositione.' Now, it was finished under Valens in 372 A.D.2
4°. Further, her visit to Edessa was apparently made during a period of tranquillity; there is no mention of the persecution of the Catholics by the Arians under the sanction of Valens. Gamurrini therefore suggests that she was there at a time when peace had been restored to the church after Valens' death in 378 A.D.
5°. On the other hand, she speaks of the 'martyrium' of S. Thomas as if it were distinct from the church. Hence her visit must have been prior to the translation of the tomb of S. Thomas to the new church, which took place in 394, under Bishop Cyrus.3
6°. The bishops of Bathnæ (p. 35), Edessa (p. 35), and Charræ (p. 38), are described as confessors. This, in all probability, refers to the persecution under Valens, who put all the Catholic bishops out of their sees. Now, Eulogius, Bishop of Edessa, died in 387-388, and was succeeded by Cyrus, who, as far as we know, and as is probable from the character of Theodosius and Arcadius, did not undergo persecution, and therefore was not a confessor. Accordingly, the bishop whom the pilgrim saw would be Eulogius, and this would fix her visit to Edessa as prior to 389 A.D.4
We conclude from these indications that the date of the pilgrimage is from 379 to 388 A.D. We now go on to determine the nationality and rank of the pilgrim.
Latin was her native tongue, although she understood at least a little Greek, sufficient to explain Greek words and phrases to the members of the sisterhood for whose benefit she writes. Thus the priest showing her the garden of S. John the Baptist at Enon (p. 31), describes it in Greek as κῆπος τοῦ ἀγίου ᾿ΙωάΝΝου, and then adds: 'Id est quod dicitis Latine hortus sancti Johannis.' Again (p. 46), speaking of the evening service, called at Jerusalem λυχΝικόΝ, she explains 'nam nos dicimus lucernare,' and notes that at this service the choir boys respond 'Kyrie eleison' instead of the familiar 'Miserere Domine,' etc.
Again, her comparison of the Euphrates (p. 34) with the Rhone implies that the writer is, and expects her readers to be, familiar with the latter river; hence, probably, the community to whom the account is addressed lived in the neighbourhood of the Rhone. With this, too, would well agree the words of the Bishop of Edessa, that she had come 'de extremis terris ad hæc loca' (p. 35).
And on examination of the linguistic peculiarities of the narrative the same conclusion emerges. The words perdicere, peraccedere, consuetudinarius; the use of eo quod instead of the acc. with infin. after verbs of narration; the use of quod in the sense of quando; and the use of ad for iu in such phrases as 'profecta sum de Antiochia ad Mesopotamiam' (p. 34); all point to the dialect of the south-west of France, and agree generally with the phraseology of Prosper of Aquitania. For a full discussion of these details the reader is referred to the special articles by Wölfflin and Geyer.5 What has been said is sufficient to justify the statement that our author came from Gaul, very possibly by the same route as that taken by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux. But she was not an ordinary pilgrim; she seems to have been a personage of considerable importance. She was courteously received wherever she went, and had interviews with the bishops and leading clergy of all the holy places. She had a guard of soldiers when proceeding from Sinai to Egypt through a disturbed and dangerous country (p. 20). Who, then, was she? This question cannot be answered with the same confidence as those with which we have been hitherto concerned. Kohler suggested that she might be identified with Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius the Great. This princess was at Constantinople in 423, and, according to a tradition related in an office of the Church of Ancona, went to Jerusalem afterwards. But, apart from the untrustworthiness of this tradition, the date which we must assign to our author's journey is at least forty years prior to that of Placidia, so that Kohler's guess need not detain us. Gamurrini, however, has made a much more plausible suggestion, namely, that the pilgrim whose account we have before us is S. Silvia of Aquitania, a sister of Rufinus, Prefect of the East under Theodosius the Great, of whose journey from Jerusalem to Egypt there is a notice in the Historia Lausiaca of Palladius. Like our author, S. Silvia was an earnest student of Scripture; the date of her journey, her rank and nationality, as also the fact that she rested at Constantinople for awhile on her return from Palestine, correspond well with our pilgrim's account – so well, indeed, that, in the absence of a better conjecture, and for convenience of reference, we have adopted provisionally Gamurrini's title: 'S. Silviæ Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta.' But it should be pointed out that, while S. Silvia was an ascetic of a very severe and uncleanly type, there is no trace of asceticism in the conduct or language of our author.6 She looks with veneration on the ascetics whom she meets in her travels, but does not betray any tendency to follow in their steps. She grumbles much over the steepness of Mount Sinai (p. 13), and seems to regret that she cannot be carried up in a chair (in sella); while she saves herself a great deal of fatigue by riding on an ass up the slopes of Mount Nebo (p. 27) instead of walking on foot, as a genuine ascetic would have done. S. Silvia, on the other hand, boasts that she has never used a litter in her life.7
Whether our pilgrim be S. Silvia of Aquitania or not, there is no doubt as to the value of the story of her travels. It throws much light on many obscure topographical points, some of which have been discussed in the notes which follow.8 It opens up a large field for philological inquiry, as the Latin is peculiar. And last, but not least, it gives us a most interesting picture of the ritual of the Church at Jerusalem towards the close of the fourth century. We are informed that the Lenten fast was continued for eight weeks (p. 52), a hitherto unknown usage; and we find in the narrative the earliest notices extant of the use of incense in Christian worship (p. 48), of the festivals of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin (p. 51) and of Palm Sunday (p. 58), and of the custom of reciting three psalms at the canonical hours (p. 48). We also gather that the Kyrie Eleison had not yet found its way into the Gallican offices (p. 46), and that the custom of adapting the choice of psalms to the various seasons was unknown in Gaul at the date of our account (p. 76). All these are materials full of interest to the liturgiologist.9
The student of the Old Latin Versions of the Bible will find here several passages preserved, some of which were not hitherto known.10 Gamurrini has pointed out that the text of this MS. seems to have been largely made use of by Peter the Deacon, a librarian of Monte Casino in the twelfth century. His tract, De Locis Sanctis, is printed by Gamurrini as an appendix to the editio princeps of S. Silvia, and we hence see that the account given by our pilgrim of Mount Sinai and its neighbourhood was incorporated almost entire in Peter's treatise. However, Gamurrini's attempt to distinguish all the passages in the tract which are due to S. Silvia from those which bear traces of having been borrowed from Bede's work on the Holy Places is not very satisfactory; such discrimination is at best but guesswork.
In the Latin text appended to this translation, MS. readings have always been followed, except when the divergence is marked by footnotes. Gamurrini's second edition11 is much more accurate than the editio princeps, but cannot be used without caution, as his readings have been questioned in several instances by those who have personally inspected the MS. It is only necessary to add that the translation aims rather at being literal than elegant; S. Silvia, or whoever our pilgrim was, really does not deserve to be put into good English, as her Latin is very slipshod and tedious.
JOHN H. BERNARD.
TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN,
PILGRIMAGE OF S. SILVIA OF AQUITANIA
TO THE HOLY PLACES.
[Sinai.]12 .... were shown according to the Scriptures.13 Meanwhile, as we walked, we arrived at a certain place, where the mountains between which we were passing opened themselves out and formed a great valley, very flat and extremely beautiful; and beyond the valley appeared Sinai, the holy Mount of God. This spot where the mountains opened themselves out is united with the place where are the Graves of Lust.14 And when we came there those holy guides, who were with us, bade us, saying: 'It is a custom that prayer be offered by those who come hither, when first from this place the Mount of God is seen.' So then did we. Now, from thence to the Mount of God is perhaps four miles altogether through that valley which I have described as great.
For that valley15 is very great indeed, lying under the side of the Mount of God; it is perhaps – as far as we could judge from looking at it and as they told us – sixteen miles in length. In breadth they called it four miles. We had to cross this valley in order to arrive at the mount. This is that same great and flat valley in which the children of Israel waited during the days when holy Moses went up into the Mount of God, where he was for forty days and forty nights. This is the valley in which the calf was made; the spot is shown to this day, for a great stone stands fixed in the very place. This, then, is the valley at the head of which was the place where holy Moses was when he fed the flocks of his father-in-law, where God spake to him from the Burning Bush.16 Now, our route was first to ascend the Mount of God at the side from which we were approaching, because the ascent here was easier; and then to descend to the head of the valley where the Bush was, this being the easier way of descent from the Mount of God. And so it seemed good to us that having seen all things which we desired, descending from the Mount of God, we should come to where the Bush is, and thence retrace our way through the middle of the valley, throughout its length, with the men of God, who showed us each place in the valley mentioned in Scripture.
So then we did. Then, going from that place where we had offered up prayer as we came from Faran, our route was to cross through the middle of the head of the valley, and so wind round to the Mount of God. The mountain itself seems to be single, in the form of a ring; but when you enter the ring [you see that] there are several, the whole range being called the Mount of God. That special one at whose summit is the place where the majesty of God descended, as it is written, is in the centre of all. And although all which form the ring are so lofty as I think I never saw before, yet that central one on which the majesty of God descended is so much higher than the others, that when we had arrived at it, all those mountains which we had previously thought lofty were below us as if they were very little hills. And this is truly an admirable thing, and, as I think, not without the grace of God, that although that central one specially called Sinai, on which the majesty of God descended, is higher than all the others, yet it cannot be seen until you come to its very foot, though before you actually are on it. For after you have accomplished your purpose, and have descended, you see it from the other side, which you could not do before you are on it. This I learnt from the report of the brethren before we arrived at the Mount of God, and after I had arrived there I perceived it to be so for myself.
It was late on the Sabbath17 when we came to the mountain, and arriving at a certain monastery, the kindly monks who lived there entertained us, showing us all kindliness; for there is a church there with a priest. There we stayed that night, and then early on the Lord's day we began to ascend the mountains one by one with the priest and the monks who lived there. These mountains are ascended with infinite labour, because you do not go up gradually by a spiral path (as we say, 'like a snail shell'), but you go straight up as if up the face of a wall, and you must go straight down each mountain until you arrive at the foot of that central one which is strictly called Sinai. And so, Christ our God commanding us, we were encouraged by the prayers of the holy men who accompanied us; and although the labour was great – for I had to ascend on foot, because the ascent could not be made in a chair – yet I did not feel it. To that extent the labour was not felt, because I saw that the desire which I had was being fulfilled by the command of God. At the fourth hour we arrived at that peak of Sinai, the holy Mount of God, where the law was given, i.e., at that place where the majesty of God descended on the day when the mountain smoked.18 In that place there is now a church – not a large one, because the place itself, the summit of the mountain, is not large; but the church has in itself a large measure of grace.
When therefore, by God's command, we had arrived at the summit, and come to the door of the church, the priest who was appointed to the church, coming out of his cell, met us, a blameless old man, a monk from early youth, and (as they say here) an ascetic; in short, a man quite worthy of the place. The other priests met us also, as well as all the monks who lived there by the mountain; that is, all of them who were not prevented by age or infirmity. But on the very summit of the central mountain no one lives permanently; nothing is there but the church and the cave where holy Moses was.19 Here the whole passage having been read from the book of Moses, and the oblation made in due order, we communicated; and as I was passing out of the church the priests gave us gifts of blessing20 from the place; that is, gifts of the fruits grown in the mountain. For although the holy mount of Sinai itself is all rocky, so that it has not a bush on it, yet down near the foot of the mountains – either the central one or those which form the ring – there is a little plot of ground; here the holy monks diligently plant shrubs and lay out orchards and fields; and hard by they place their own cells, so that they may get, as if from the soil of the mountain itself, some fruit which they may seem to have cultivated with their own hands. So, then, after we had communicated and the holy men had given us these gifts of blessing, and we had come out of the door of the church, I began to ask them to show us the several localities. Thereupon the holy men deigned to show us each place. For they showed us the famous cave where holy Moses was when for the second time he went up to the Mount of God to receive the tables [of the law] again after he had broken the first on account of the sin of the people; and the other places also which we desired to see or which they knew better they deigned to show us. But I would have you to know, ladies, venerable sisters, that from the place where we were standing – that is, in the enclosure of the church wall, on the summit of the central mountain – those mountains which we had at first ascended with difficulty were like little hills in comparison with that central one on which we were standing. And yet they were so enormous that I should think I had never seen higher, did not this central one overtop them by so much. Egypt and Palestine and the Red Sea and the Parthenian Sea,21 which leads to Alexandria, also the boundless territories of the Saracens, we saw below us, hard though it is to believe22 all which things those holy men pointed out to us.
[Horeb.] Having satisfied every desire with which we had made haste to ascend, we began now to descend from the summit of the Mount of God to another mountain which is joined to it; the place is called Horeb, and there is a church there. This is that Horeb where was the holy prophet Elijah when he fled from the face of King Ahab, where God spake to him saying, 'What doest thou here, Elijah?'23 as it is written in the books of Kings. For the cave where holy Elijah hid is shown to this day before the door of the church which is there; the stone altar is also shown which holy Elijah built that he might offer sacrifice to God. All which things the holy men deigned to show us. There we offered an oblation and an earnest prayer, and the passage from the book of Kings was read; for we always especially desired that when we came to any place the corresponding passage from the book should be read. There having made an oblation, we went on to another place not far off, which the priests and monks pointed out, viz., that place where holy Aaron had stood with the seventy elders when holy Moses received from the Lord the law for the children of Israel.24 There, although the place is not roofed in, there is a huge rock having a circular flat surface on which, it is said, these holy persons stood. And in the middle there is a sort of altar made with stones. The passage from the book of Moses was read, and one psalm said which was appropriate to the place; and then, having offered a prayer, we descended.
[The Bush.] Now, it began to be about the eighth hour, and we had yet three miles to go before we should have gone through the mountains we had entered upon late the day before; but we had to go out at a different side from that by which we had entered, as I said above, because it was necessary to walk over all the holy places and to see the cells that were there, and so to go out at the head of that above-mentioned valley lying under the Mount of God. It was furthermore necessary to go out at the head of the valley, because there were there many cells of holy men and a church where the Bush is; this bush is alive to the present day, and sends forth shoots. So having descended the Mount of God, we arrived at the Bush about the tenth hour. This is the Bush I spoke of above, from which God spake to Moses in the fire, which is in the place where there are many cells and the church at the head of the valley. Before the church there is a very pleasant garden with abundance of good water, in which garden the Bush is. The place is shown near where holy Moses stood when God said to him, 'Loose the latchet of thy shoe,'25 etc. When we came to this place it was the tenth hour, and because it was so late we could not make an oblation; but prayer was offered in the church, and also in the garden at the Bush; also the passage was read from the book of Moses as usual, and so, as it was late, we took a light meal there in the garden before the Bush with the holy men. So there we stayed, and rising early on the next day, we asked the priests that the oblation should be made, which was done accordingly.
Now, our way was to go through that central valley, throughout its length, i.e., the valley where, as I said before, the children of Israel stayed while Moses ascended and descended the Mount of God. The holy men used to show us each place as we came to it throughout the valley. For at the first head of the valley where we had halted we had seen the Bush from which God spake to holy Moses in the fire; we had also seen the place where holy Moses stood before the Bush, where God said to him: 'Loose the latchet of thy shoe, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.' And so also they began to show us the other places as we came to them from the Bush. For they pointed out the place where the camp of the children of Israel was during the days that Moses was in the mount. They also pointed out the place where the calf was made; a great stone is fixed in that place to this day. As we went we saw from the opposite side the summit of the mountain, which looks down over the whole valley; from which place holy Moses saw the children of Israel dancing at the time when they made the calf.26 They also showed a huge rock at the place where holy Moses descended with Joshua, the son of Nun, on which rock he, being angry, brake the tables which he was carrying. They also showed their dwelling-places throughout the valley, of which the foundations appear to this day, of circular form, made with stone: they also showed the place where holy Moses, when he returned from the Mount, bade the children of Israel run 'from gate to gate.'27 They also showed the place where the calf which Aaron had made for them was burnt at the command of holy Moses. They also showed the stream of which holy Moses made the children of Israel to drink, as it is written in the book of Exodus.28 They also showed us the place where the seventy men received of the spirit of Moses.29 And they showed us the place where the children of Israel lusted for food. [Taberah.] They showed us also that place called the Place of Burning, because a part of the camp was burned, the fire abating at the prayer of holy Moses.30 They showed also that place where it rained manna and quails. In fine, everything recorded in the holy books of Moses as having been done in that place, to wit, the valley which I said lies under the Mount of God, holy Sinai, was shown to us; of all which things it is superfluous to write in detail, not only because such great things could not be retained [in the memory], but because when it pleases you to read the holy books of Moses you will see more quickly all the things that were there done.
But, as I was saying, this is the valley where the Passover was celebrated, the first year being completed of the journeying of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt; for in that valley Israel tarried for a space while holy Moses went up to the Mount of God and came down a first and second and final time. There they tarried until the tabernacle should be made, and all things which were shown him in the Mount of God. For the place was shown to us where Moses at the first constructed the tabernacle, and the several things were finished which God had commanded Moses in the Mount that they should be done. We saw also in the far end of the valley the Graves of Lust,31 at that spot where we came back again to our road; i.e., where, going out of the great valley, we re-entered the path between the mountains above mentioned by which we had come. On that day we met with those other very holy monks who, by reason of age or infirmity, were unable to be present in the Mount of God to make an oblation; however, they deigned to receive us very kindly when we arrived at their cells. So we saw all the holy places which we desired, and also all the places which the children of Israel had touched in going to or returning from the Mount of God; and having also seen the holy men who lived there in the name of God, we returned to Faran. And although I ought always to thank God in everything (not to speak of these so great benefits which He has vouchsafed to confer on me, unworthy and undeserving, that I should walk through all these places, benefits unmerited indeed), yet I am not even able sufficiently to thank all those holy men who deigned with willing mind to receive my insignificant self in their monasteries, or to guide me through all the places which I was always seeking in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. Many indeed of these holy men who lived in or round about the Mount of God deigned to guide us back to Faran; they were, however, of stronger frame.
[Faran.] Now, when we had arrived at Faran, which is distant thirty-five miles from the Mount of God, we had to stay there two days to recruit our strength. Then rising early on the third day, we came at length to the station – that is, to the desert of Faran – where we had halted on our way [to Sinai], as I said above. Thence on the next day making a circuit, and going yet a little way between the mountains, we arrived at the station which is over the sea – i.e. in the place where there is an exit from among the mountains, and the path begins to be quite near the sea; near the sea to this extent, that at one moment the waves come up to the feet of the animals, and at another moment the path through the desert is 100, 200, or sometimes more than 500, paces from the sea: the road there is not inland, but the deserts are quite sandy. The people of Faran, who were accustomed to travel about there with their camels, place landmarks here and there, and, attending to these, they march by day. At night the camels take note of them. In short, the people of Faran from habit travel by night in that place more quickly and surely than other men could travel on a highroad. So on our return journey we came out from among the mountains at that spot where we had entered originally, and thus we wound round to the sea. The children of Israel also, returning to Sinai, the Mount of God, returned by the way that they had gone to that very place where we came out from among the mountains, and finally approached the Red Sea. Thence our return journey was by the route that we had taken going; and the children of Israel made their march from the very same place, as it is written in the books of holy Moses.32 [Clesma.] We returned to Clesma33 by the same route and the same stations which we had gone by: when we got to Clesma we had to recruit for a while, for we had stoutly made our way through the sandy soil of the desert.
[Goshen.] Now, although I already had seen the land of Goshen when I was in Egypt the first time, yet [I wished] to explore all the places which the children of Israel as they came forth from Rameses had touched on their journey until they arrived at the Red Sea; the place is now called Clesma, from the fort that is there. So I desired to go from Clesma to the land of Goshen – i.e., to the city called Arabia (which city is in the land of Goshen). From it the territory itself derives its name, viz., the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen,34 which is part of the land of Egypt, though it is a good deal better than the rest of Egypt. From Clesma – i.e., from the Red Sea – to the city of Arabia there are four desert stations; so far desert, however, that at the stations there are cells with soldiers and officers, who used always to conduct us from fort to fort. On that journey the holy men who were with us – i.e., the clergy and monks – used to show us the several places which I was always seeking out in accordance with the Scriptures. Some were on the right, some on the left of our path; some at a distance from our course, others near. For I trust that you of your good will will credit me when I say that, as far as I could see, the children of Israel journeyed in such a way that, whatever distance they went to the right, that they returned to the left. As far as they went forward, so far used they again to return backward; and so they made their journey until they arrived at the Red Sea.
[Pi-hahiroth.] For Epauleum35 was shown to us, though from the opposite side, and we were at Migdol. [Migdol.] There is now a fort there, with an officer commanding the soldiery in accordance with Roman discipline. [Baalzephon.] According to custom, they guided us thence to another fort, and Belsefon36 was shown to us: we were there too. It is a plain above the Red Sea near the side of the mountain I mentioned above, where the children of Israel cried out when they saw the Egyptians coming after them.37 [Etham.] Oton,38 too, was shown to us, which is near the wilderness, as it is written, and also Succoth. [Succoth.] Succoth is a low hill in the midst of a valley, near which little hill the children of Israel encamped. For this is the place where the law of the Passover was received.39 [Pithom.] The city of Pithom, which the children of Israel built,40 was shown to us on the same journey. At the spot where we entered the borders of Egypt, leaving behind us the territories of the Saracens, that same Pithom is now a fort. [Heröopolis.] Heroöpolis, which was a city at the time when Joseph met Jacob his father as he came, as it is written in the book of Genesis,41 is now a mere κώμη, but a large one, what we call a village. This village has a church and martyr memorials and many cells of holy monks: to see each of which we had to descend, after the custom which we had adopted. This village is now called Hero, which Hero is at the sixteenth milestone from the land of Goshen. The place is within the borders of Egypt, and is tolerably large: a certain part of the river Nile runs by it. [The city of Arabia.] And so coming out from Hero, we arrived at the city which is called Arabia,42 a city in the land of Goshen, as it is written that Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'In the best of the land of Egypt make thy father and brethren to dwell, in the land of Goshen, in the land of Arabia.'43
[Rameses.] Four miles from the city of Arabia is Rameses. But in order to come to the station of Arabia we passed through the midst of Rameses, which latter city is now a bare field without a single habitation. It is quite plain that it was once a great city, built in a circular form, and had many buildings; its ruins just as they fell are visible in great numbers to this day. But there is nothing else there now except one great Theban stone,44 in which two great statues are cut out, which they say are statues of holy men, even Moses and Aaron, erected in their honour by the children of Israel. And there is, moreover, a sycamore-tree, which they say was planted by the patriarchs;45 for it is very old, and consequently very small, although it even yet bears fruit. Now, whoever has any ailment, they go there and pluck off twigs, and it serves them: this we learnt from the report of the holy Bishop of Arabia. He told us that the name of the tree, as they call it in Greek, was δέΝδρος ἀληθείας – as we say, the Tree of Truth. This holy bishop deigned to meet us at Rameses. He is an elderly man, truly devout, as becomes a monk, courteous, enter- taining strangers kindly, well versed in the Scriptures of God. He then put himself to the trouble of meeting us, and showed us everything, telling us about the statue which I have mentioned, and also about the sycamore-tree. This holy bishop also told us how that Pharaoh, when he saw that the children of Israel had escaped him, before he tried to catch them, had gone with his whole army into Rameses, and had burnt it completely, because it was very great, and thence had set out after the children of Israel.
Now, by chance it very happily fell out that the day on which we came to the station of Arabia was the eve of the most blessed day of the Epiphany.46 On that day vigils were to be held in the church. And so the holy bishop kept us there for some two days, a holy man, and in truth a man of God, known to me well from the time that I was in the Thebaid. This holy bishop was formerly a monk; he was brought up from a child in a cell, and was so versed in the Scriptures, and so disciplined in his whole manner of life, as I have said above. From here we sent back the soldiers who, according to the Roman military system, had given us protection as long as we walked through suspected places. But now, since the line of our route throughout Egypt was by the public road, which crossed it through the city of Arabia – i.e., which leads from the Thebaid to Pelusium – it was no longer necessary to trouble the soldiers. Proceeding thence right through the land of Goshen, we pursued our journey continually through vineyards and balsam plantations and orchards and tilled fields and gardens; at first keeping quite above the bank of the river Nile, through frequent estates which once were the farms of the children of Israel. In short, I think I never saw a fairer territory than the land of Goshen. [Taphnis.] So journeying from the city of Arabia for two days right through the land of Goshen, we arrived at Taphnis, 47 the city where holy Moses was born. This is that city of Taphnis which was once Pharaoh's metropolis.. And although I already had seen these places, as I said above, when I was at Alexandria or in the Thebaid, yet I wished to learn fully all about the places which the children of Israel had traversed as they marched from Rameses to Sinai, the holy Mount of God; and so it was necessary to return again to the land of Goshen, and thence to Taphnis. [Pelusium.] Marching from Taphnis, walking along a known route, I arrived at Pelusium; and marching thence, again making our route through the several stations in Egypt by which we had formerly taken our course, I arrived at the borders of Palestine; and thence in the name of Christ our God, again making my stations through Palestine, I returned to Ælia – that is, Jerusalem.
[Jerusalem.] Having spent some time there, God commanding me again, I had the wish to go as far as Arabia, to Mount Nebo, where God commanded Moses to go up, saying to him: 'Get thee up into the mountain Arabot, unto Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: and die in the mount whither thou goest up.'48 And so Jesus our God, who will not fail those who trust in Him, vouchsafed to bring to effect this my wish. Starting from Jerusalem, and journeying with holy men, with the priest and deacons from Jerusalem, and some brethren – that is, monks – we arrived at that place of the Jordan where the children of Israel had crossed when holy Joshua, the son of Nun, made them cross the Jordan, as it is written in the book of Joshua.49 For the place was shown to us a little higher up where the children of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had made an altar at that part of the bank where Jericho is. [Livias.] Crossing the stream, we came to the city called Livias,50 which is in the plain where the children of Israel then encamped. For the foundations of the camp of the children of Israel and of the dwellings in which they abode appear there to this day.
The plain itself is very large, under the mountains of Arabia above Jordan. This is the place of which it is written: 'And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab and Jordan opposite Jericho forty days.'51 This is the place where, after the departure of Moses, Joshua the son of Nun was straightway filled with the spirit of knowledge. For Moses put his hands upon him, as it is written. This is the place where Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy; here he spake in the ears of the whole congregation of Israel the words of his song, even to the end of that which is written in the book of Deuteronomy. Here holy Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel separately in order before his death. And when we had come to this plain we went up to the very place, and there a prayer was offered, and a certain passage of Deuteronomy read at the spot, his song and the blessings with which he blessed the children of Israel. And after the reading, prayer was offered again, and, giving thanks to God, we moved on from thence. For it was always our custom that whenever we were enabled to approach the desired places, a prayer should first be offered, then the lection read from the book, then one appropriate psalm said, and, finally, another prayer. This custom we always held to, God commanding us, whenever we were able to arrive at the desired places. Then, that the work we had begun should be accomplished, we began to hasten in order that we might arrive at Mount Nebo. As we went the priest of the place, i.e., of Livias, whom we had persuaded to move with us from the station, because he knew the places better, gave us advice. And this priest said to us: If you wish to see the water which flowed out of the rock, which Moses gave to the children of Israel when they were athirst, you can see it if you like to impose on yourselves the fatigue of going52 about six miles out of your way. When he said this we eagerly wished to go, and immediately diverging from our road, we followed the priest who led us. In that place there is a little church under a mountain – not Nebo, but another inner mountain not far from Nebo; many truly holy monks live there, whom they here called ascetics.
These holy monks deigned to receive us very kindly; they permitted us to pay them a visit. When we had entered and had offered prayer with them, they deigned to give us gifts of blessing, which they are accustomed to give to those whom they receive kindly. But, as I was saying, in the midst there, between the church and the monastery, there flows out of a rock a great stream of water very fair and limpid, and with a very good taste. Then we asked the holy monks who lived there what was this water which was so good, and they told us that it was the water which holy Moses gave to the children of Israel in this wilderness. Then, according to custom, a prayer was offered there, and the lection read from the books of Moses, and one psalm was said; and so with those holy monks and clergy who had come with us we went out to the mountain. Many, too, of the holy monks that lived there near the water, who were able and willing to endure the fatigue, deigned to ascend Mount Nebo along with us. So then, starting from that place, we arrived at the foot of Mount Nebo, which, though very high, could yet be gone up for the most part sitting on an ass, but there was a bit slightly steeper which we had to go up laboriously on foot.
[Mount Nebo.] So we arrived at the summit of the mountain, where there is now a small church on the summit of Mount Nebo. Inside this church, at the place where the pulpit is, I saw a place slightly raised containing about as much space as is usual in a grave. I asked the holy men what this was, and they answered: 'Here holy Moses was laid by the angels, since, as it is written, "No man knows how he was buried,"53 since it is certain that he was buried by angels. For his grave where he was laid is now shown to-day; as it was shown to us by our ancestors who lived here, so do we point it out to you; our ancestors said that it was handed down to them as a tradition by their ancestors.' And so presently a prayer was offered, and all things which we were accustomed to do in order in the several sacred places were also done here, and then we began to go out of the church. Then those who knew the place, the priests and holy monks, said to us: 'If you wish to see the places written of in the book of Moses, go out of the door of the church, and from the very summit, but on the side from which you can be seen from here, behold and see;54 we shall tell you all the places which are visible.' At this we were delighted, and went out at once. [The Prospect from Mt. Nebo.] For from the door of the church we saw the place where the Jordan enters the Dead Sea, which place appeared below us as we stood. We saw also opposite, not only Livias, which was on the near side of Jordan, but Jericho which was beyond Jordan, so prominent was the lofty place where we stood before the door of the church. The most part of Palestine, the land of promise, was seen from thence, also the whole Jordan territory – that is, as far as our eyes could reach. On the left hand we saw all the lands of the Sodomites, and also Segor, which Segor55 is the only one remaining to-day of the famous five. There is a memorial of it, but of those other cities nothing appears save the overturned ruins, just as they were turned into ashes. The place where was the inscription about Lot's wife was shown to us, which place we read of in the Scriptures. But, believe me, venerable ladies, the pillar itself is not visible, only the place is shown. The pillar is said to be covered up in the Dead Sea. We certainly saw the place, but we saw no pillar; I cannot deceive you about this matter. The bishop of the place, that is, of Segor, told us that it is now some years since the pillar was visible. It is about six miles from Segor to the place where the pillar stood, which the water now covers. Also we went out on the right side of the church, and opposite were shown us two cities – Esebon,56 now called Exebon, which belonged to Seon, King of the Amorites; and another, now called Sasdra,57 of Og the King of Basan. From the same place was shown opposite to us Fogor,58 which was a city of the kingdom of Edom. All these cities which we saw were situated in the mountains. Underneath us the ground seemed to be somewhat flatter, and we were told that in the days when holy Moses and the children of Israel fought against these cities they encamped there; and the signs of a camp were there apparent. On the side of the mountain that I have called the left, which is over the Dead Sea, a very sharp mountain was shown to us, which before was called Agrispecula.59 This is the mountain where Balak the son of Beor placed Balaam the soothsayer to curse the children of Israel, and God would not allow him, as it is written. And so having seen all things which we desired, in the name of God, returning through Jericho, we retraced to Jerusalem the whole route by which we had come.
[Ausitis.] After some time I wished to go also to the region of Ausitis,60 to visit the grave of holy Job for the sake of prayer. For I used to see many holy monks coming from thence to Jerusalem to visit the holy places for the sake of prayer, who, reporting particulars about those places, made me desirous to impose on myself the labour of visiting them, if, indeed, that can be called labour when a man sees that his desire is being accomplished. So I set out from Jerusalem with the holy men, who deigned to accompany me on my journey, they also going for the sake of prayer. Taking our way from Jerusalem to Carneas, we passed through eight stations. (The city of Job is now called Carneas, formerly being called Dennaba,61 in the land of Ausitis, in the borders of Idumæa and Arabia.) Going by this route, I saw above the bank of the river Jordan a very fair and pleasant valley, abounding with vines and trees, for many very good streams were there. [Salem.] In that valley there was a large village, which is now called Sedima. In that village, situated in the midst of the plain, in the centre there is a little hillock, made as tombs are accustomed to be, like a large tomb, and on the top is a church. Underneath, round the circumference of the little hill, great and ancient foundations appear. And also in the village itself some tombs still remain. When I saw this pleasant place, I inquired what it was, and I was told, This is the city of King Melchizedek, formerly called Salem, whence the present village, by corruption of the name, is called Sedima.62 The building which you see at the summit of that little hill, in the centre of the village, is a church, which church is now called in the Greek language Opu Melchisedech63 for there Melchizedek offered pure victims to God – that is, bread and wine, as it is written.
Forthwith when I heard these things we got down from our animals, and, behold, the holy priest of the place and the clergy deigned to meet us; and they, receiving us, led us straight up to the church. When we had got there, first, according to custom, a prayer was offered, then the passage was read from the book of holy Moses, and a psalm said appropriate to the place, and again having offered a prayer, we descended. When we had descended, the holy priest, an elderly man, and well versed in the Scriptures, who had presided over the place from the time that he was a monk, spoke to us, of whose life many bishops, as we learnt afterwards, bore high testimony. For they said of him that he was worthy to preside in the place where holy Melchizedek first offered pure victims to God as he met holy Abraham.
When we had descended, as I have said above, from the church, this holy priest said to us: 'Behold those foundations round that little hill which you see, they are [the remains] of the palace of Melchizedek. To this day, if anyone wishes to build a house near there, and happens on the foundations, he sometimes finds little pieces of silver and bronze. The way which you see crosses between the river Jordan, and that village is the way by which holy Abraham returned from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer,64 King of Nations, coming back to Sodom, where holy Melchizedek, King of Salem, met him.' Then, as I remembered, it was written65 that S. John baptized in Enon near Salem, I asked of him how far off that place was. And the holy priest said: 'It is about two hundred paces; if you like, I shall now lead you there on foot. This large and pure stream which you see in the village comes from that source.' So I began to thank him, and to ask him to lead us to the place, which he accordingly did. Straightway we began to go with him on foot through a most pleasant valley, until we arrived at a very pleasant fruit-garden, where he showed us in the midst a fountain of very good and pure water, for it sent forth all at once a new stream. This fountain had before it a sort of lake, where it appeared that S. John the Baptist had baptized. Then the holy priest said to us: 'To this day this garden is called by no other name in the Greek tongue than Copos tu agiu Johanni66 – that is, as you say in Latin, Hortus sancti Johannis – "The garden of S. John." For many brethren, holy monks, coming from different places, proceed to wash here.' Then at the fountain, as at every place, a prayer was offered, and the lection was read, an appropriate psalm was sung, and all things which we were accustomed to do when we came to holy places we also did there. And the holy priest told us that to the present day, always at Easter, those who were to be baptized in the village – i.e., in the church called Opu Melchisedech – were all baptized in this fountain; and they would return early to vespers with the clergy and monks, singing psalms or antiphons, and so all who had been baptized would early be led back from the fountain to the Church of S. Melchizedek. Receiving then from the priests gifts of blessing from the orchard of St. John the Baptist, and likewise from the holy monks who there had their cells in the fruit-garden itself, and always giving thanks to God, we set out on our way whither we were going.
Thence going for some time through the valley of the Jordan above the bank of the river, because that was our route for a time, we suddenly saw the city of the holy prophet Elijah – i.e., Thesbe, whence he has the name Elijah the Tishbite.67 And there to this day is the cave where the holy man sat, and there is the grave of holy Getha,68 whose name we read in the books of Judges. And so giving thanks to God, according to custom, we proceeded on our journey. As we went we saw a very pleasant valley on the left approaching us, which valley, being large sent a great torrent into the Jordan; and there in that valley we saw the cell of a certain brother – a nunnus, that is, a monk. Then I, as I am an inquisitive person, began to inquire what this valley was where the holy monk had made his cell, for I did not think it was without reason. Then the holy men who were travelling with me – that is, those who knew the place, said: 'This is the valley of the Cherith,69 where holy Elijah the Tishbite dwelt in the days of King Ahab, when there was a famine; and at the command of God the ravens used to bring him meat, and he drank water from the torrent. For this torrent, which you see flowing from the valley into the Jordan, is the Cherith.' And so giving thanks to God, who vouchsafed to show us, undeserving, those things which we desired, we began to go on our way as on the other days. And so going on our way, suddenly on our left, whence opposite to us we saw the parts of Phoenicia, there appeared a great and lofty mountain, which extended a great distance. . . .
[A leaf wanting]
[Carneas.] which holy monk and ascetic thought it necessary, after the many years which he had spent in the desert, to move himself and to descend to the city of Carneas, that he might bid the bishop and clergy of that time, as it had been revealed to him, to dig in the place which was shown him. This was done, and they, digging in the place which had been pointed out, found a cave, which they followed for about a hundred paces, when suddenly as they dug a stone became visible; and when they had uncovered this stone they found carved on its face the word Job. To this Job the church that you see was built in that place; so, however, that the stone with the body should not be moved, but that the body should be placed where it had been found, and should lie under the altar. That church, which some tribune built, stands, imperfect, to this day. The next morning we asked the bishop to offer the oblation, which he deigned to do, and the bishop giving us his blessing, we departed. Then communicating, and ever thanking God, we returned to Jerusalem, pursuing our journey through the several stations through which we had gone three years before.
[Jerusalem.] There, in the name of God, having spent some time, it being now three full years from the time that I had come to Jerusalem, and having seen all the holy places, to which for the sake of prayer I had directed my course, I had a mind to return to my own country. But I wished, God commanding me, to go to Mesopotamia in Syria to visit the holy monks, who were said to be numerous there, and of such blameless life as baffles description; and also for the sake of prayer at the martyr-memorial of S. Thomas the Apostle at Edessa, where his whole body is laid. For Jesus our God testified that, after He had ascended into heaven, He would send him there, in the letter70 which He sent to King Abgar by Ananias as courier, which letter is preserved with great reverence at the city of Edessa, where the martyr-memorial is. I would have you of your affection to believe that there is no Christian who does not wend his way thither for the sake of prayer, who has got as far as the holy places at Jerusalem; it is at the twenty-fifth station from Jerusalem. And since from Antioch it is nearer to Mesopotamia, it was very convenient for me, at the command of God, that, as I was returning to Constantinople, and my way was through Antioch, I should go from thence to Mesopotamia. This, then, I did at the command of God.
[Antioch.] So, in the name of Christ our God, I set out from Antioch to Mesopotamia, holding my way through the stations and some cities of the province of Cœle-Syria, i.e., Antioch; and thence I entered the borders of the province of Augustofratensis,71 [Hierapolis.] and arrived at the city of Gerapolis,72 which is the metropolis of that province, viz., of Augustofratensis. And as this city is very fair and rich, and abounds in everything, it was necessary for me to make a halt there, as the boundaries of Mesopotamia were not far off. [The Euphrates.] And then, starting from Hierapolis at the fifteenth milestone, in the name of God, I arrived at the river Euphrates, of which it is very well written73 that it is 'the great river Euphrates,' so mighty and, as it were, terrible is it, for it rushes down in a torrent like the river Rhone,74 except that the Euphrates is bigger. As we had to cross in ships, and in none but large ships, I waited there till mid-day was past, and then, in the name of God, I crossed the river Euphrates, and entered the borders of Mesopotamia in Syria. [Bathnæ.] So, again making my way through some stations, I came to a city whose name we read in the Scriptures – that is, Batanis75 – which survives to this day. It has a church, with a right holy bishop, monk, and confessor, and some martyr-memorials. It is a city swarming with inhabitants, for there is to be found the soldier with his tribune. [Edessa.] Again setting out from thence, we arrived, in the name of Christ our God, at Edessa; and when we had arrived, we straightway proceeded to the church and the martyr-memorial of S. Thomas.
There, according to our custom, prayers were offered; and we read there both the other things which we were in the habit of reading at the holy places, and also some things of S. Thomas himself. The church is great and very beautiful, and built in a new form,76 truly worthy to be the house of God; and as there were many things there which I desired to see, it was necessary for me to make a stay of three days. In that city I saw many martyr-memorials, also the holy monks who lived there – some at the martyr-memorials, others having cells in retired places at a distance from the city. And the holy bishop of the city, a truly devout man, a monk and confessor,77 receiving me kindly, said to me: 'As I see, daughter, that for the sake of religion you imposed this great toil on yourself to come from distant lands to these places, if you like we will show you whatever places here are pleasing for Christians to see.' Thereupon, first giving thanks to God, I besought him much that he would deign to do as he said. Accordingly he brought me first to the palace of King Abgar, and showed me there a great statue of him, very like (as they said), of marble, which shone as if it were of pearl. From the face of Abgar, it would appear that he was a wise and honourable man. Then said the holy bishop to me: 'See King Abgar, who, before he saw the Lord, believed that He was the Son of God.' And near was another statue made of like marble, which, he said, was that of his son Maanu; it also had something gracious in its look. Then we went into the inner part of the palace, and there were fountains full of fish such as I never saw before: of such size were they, so brilliant, and of such a good flavour. The city has no other water inside it but that which comes from the palace, which is like a great silver stream.
[The story of Abgar.] And then the holy bishop told me about that water, saying: 'Once on a time, after that King Abgar had written to the Lord, and the Lord had sent a reply to Abgar by Ananias the courier (as it is written in the letter itself), when some time had elapsed, the Persians came down and surrounded the city. But Abgar, bearing the letter of the Lord to the gate, prayed publicly with all his army. And he said78: "Lord Jesus, Thou hast promised us that none of our enemies shall enter this city, and, lo! now the Persians attack us." And when the king had said this, holding up the open letter with uplifted hands, suddenly there was a great darkness outside the city before the eyes of the Persians, as they were approaching the city about three miles off; and they were so confounded by the darkness that with difficulty they pitched their camp and surrounded the whole city at the distance of three miles. So confounded were the Persians, that they could never see afterwards in that direction to attack the city; but they guarded the city, shut in as it was all round by foes at the distance of three miles, and thus did they guard it for some months. But after a time, when they saw that in no way could they enter the city, they desired to slay the inhabitants by thirst. Now, at that time, daughter, the little hill which you see above the city supplied the city with water, and the Persians, perceiving this, turned aside the water from the city, and diverted its course by the place where they had pitched their own camp. But on the day and hour on which the Persians diverted the water, the fountains which you see in this place, at the command of God, burst forth all at once, and from that day to this they continue by the grace of God; but the water which the Persians diverted was dried up in that hour, so that the besiegers had nothing to drink, not even for one day, as, indeed, is still apparent, for never after to the present day has any moisture been visible there. And so, at the command of God, who had promised that it should be so, they had forthwith to return to Persia, their own country; for as often as the foe desired to come and take the city by storm, the letter was produced and read in the gate, and straightway they were all driven back by the will of God.' The holy bishop also said: 'The place where these fountains burst forth was formerly a level space inside the city lying under the palace of King Abgar, which palace of Abgar was, as you see it still is, on somewhat higher ground. For it was a custom at that time that palaces should always be built in elevated positions; but after the fountains had burst forth in that place, Abgar built this palace for his son Maanu (that is the one whose statue you saw near his father's), so that the fountains should be enclosed in the palace.' After the holy bishop related all these things, he said to me: 'Let us now go to the gate by which Ananias the courier entered with that letter which I spoke of.'
So when we had come to the gate, the bishop, standing, offered a prayer, and read us the letters, and finally, blessing us, another prayer was offered up. Also the holy man told us, saying: 'From the day that the courier Ananias entered the gate with the letter of the Lord to the present, care is taken that no unclean person nor mourner pass through, neither may a corpse be brought out through this gate.' The holy bishop showed us also the grave of Abgar and of his whole family, very beautiful, but made after the antique manner. He led us also to that higher palace which King Abgar had at the first, and if there were any other places he showed them to us. It also gave me great pleasure to receive from the holy man himself the letters of Abgar to the Lord and of the Lord to Abgar, which the holy bishop read to us there; for although I had copies of them in my own country, yet it seemed to me very pleasing to receive them from him, lest perhaps something less might have reached us at home, for, indeed, the account which I received here is more full.79 So if Jesus our God shall command it, when I come home you also shall read them, ladies, my dear souls.
[Haran.] Having stayed there for three days, it was necessary for me (still advancing) to go on as far as Charræ, as it is now called. In the Holy Scriptures it is called Charran, where holy Abram tarried, as it is written in Genesis, the Lord saying to Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy father's house, and go into Charran,' etc.80 When I arrived at Charræ, straightway I went to the church, which is inside the city, and presently I saw the bishop of the place – truly a holy man and a man of God, both monk and confessor – who deigned to show us all the places there which we desired. He conducted us forthwith to the church, which is outside the city, in the place where was the house of holy Abram, i.e., on the same foundations and made of the same stone, as the holy bishop said. So when we had come to this church, prayer was offered, and the passage read from Genesis, one psalm said, and another prayer, and then, the bishop blessing us, we went out. He also deigned to conduct us to that well where holy Rebecca used to draw water, and the holy bishop said to us: 'Behold the well where holy Rebecca gave drink to the camels of holy Abram's servant, Eliezer;'81 and so he deigned to show us each thing. For at the church, which I said is outside the city, ladies, venerable sisters, where at the first Abram's house was, there is now placed the martyr-memorial of a holy monk, by name Elpidius. It happened very pleasantly for us that we arrived there the day before the memorial day of S. Elpidius – i.e., April 23.82 On this day all the monks from all the borders of Mesopotamia had to descend to Charræ, and likewise those elders who live in solitude, whom they call ascetics. On this day also there is a large attendance, on account of the memory of holy Abram, whose house was where the church now is, in which is laid the body of the holy martyr. And so, beyond our expectations, it fell out very pleasantly that we saw there the holy monks of Mesopotamia – truly men of God – and also those whose fame and manner of life were widely spoken of, whom I did not count upon possibly seeing. Not that it was impossible for God, who had vouchsafed to grant me all things, to grant this also, but because I had heard that, except at Easter and on this day, they do not descend from their dwellings (for they are men who perform many acts of virtue), and I did not know in what month the day of the memorial festival was, as I have said; but, at the command of God, it so fell out that I came there on a day which I had not hoped for.
We stayed there two days, on account of the memorial day and to see these holy men, who deigned freely to admit me to salutation and to speak to me, which I did not deserve. After the memorial day they were not seen any more, but presently in the night they sought the desert and each one his own cell where he lived; and in the city, beyond a few clergy and holy monks (if any such delayed there), I saw no Christian, but they were all heathen; 83 for as we observe with great reverence that place where formerly was holy Abram's house, so these heathen with great reverence observe a place about a thousand paces from the city, where are the graves of Nahor and Bethuel. And as the bishop of that place was well instructed in the Scriptures, I asked him, saying: 'I beg of you, sir, to tell me what I desire to hear.' And he said: 'Tell me, daughter, what you wish, and I will tell you if I know it.' Then I said: 'I know from the Scriptures that holy Abram, with Terah his father, and Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, came to this place; but I have not read when Nahor or Bethuel came here, save that I know that afterwards Abram's servant came to Charræ to seek Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, for Isaac, the son of Abram, his master.' Then the holy bishop said to me: 'Truly, daughter, as you say, it is written in Genesis that holy Abram migrated here with his family, and canonical Scripture84 does not say at what time Nahor or Bethuel migrated with their families; but they manifestly did migrate here afterwards, for their graves are about a thousand paces from the city. But the Scripture testifies that holy Abram's servant came hither to receive holy Rebecca; and again, holy Jacob came here when he received the daughters of Laban the Syrian.'
Then I asked where that well was where holy Jacob had given water to the flocks which Rachel, the daughter of Laban the Syrian, was feeding. And the bishop said to me: 'At the sixth milestone from here there is a place near the village where was the farm of Laban the Syrian; but when you wish to go there we will go with you and show it to you. There are many right holy monks and ascetics, and a holy church is there.' I also asked the holy bishop where was that place of the Chaldees where Terah dwelt at first with his family. Then the holy bishop said to me: 'That place, daughter, which you seek is at the tenth station inland to Persia, for from this to Nisibis there are five stations, and from thence to Hur, which was a city of the Chaldees, there are five more stations; but there is now no access for Romans, as the Persians hold the whole country.85 This district is especially called Eastern which is on the confines of the Romans and the Persians, or the district of the Chaldees.' And many other things he deigned to relate, as also did the other holy bishops and holy monks, all their accounts, however, being either from the Scriptures of God or else of deeds done by holy men – that is, monks – the wonderful things done by those who had departed, or at the present day by those who are yet in the body – those, at least, who are ascetics. For I would not have you think in your pious zeal that the monks ever related any stories except those from the Scriptures of God, or else those of the deeds of the greater monks.
After I had been there two days the bishop conducted us to that well where holy Jacob had watered the flocks of holy Rachel; it is at the sixth milestone from Charræ. In honour of this well is built hard by a holy church, very great and beautiful. When we came to the well prayer was offered by the bishop, the passage from Genesis was read, one psalm appropriate to the place was said, and, after a final prayer, the bishop gave us his blessing. And we saw there lying near the well the enormous stone that Jacob moved from the well, which is shown to this day. Round the well no one lives save the clergy of the church there and the monks who have their cells near, whose truly unheard-of manner of life the holy bishop described to us. Then, prayer having been offered in the church, I made my way with the bishop into the cells of the holy monks, giving thanks to God and to them who deigned to receive me with willing mind into their cells wherever I entered, and to address me with such words as were worthy to come from their lips. And they deigned to give gifts of blessing to me and to all who were with me, as it is the habit of monks to do – at least, to those whom they voluntarily entertain in their cells. [Padan-Aram.] And as the place is in a great plain, I was shown opposite by the holy bishop a very large village, perhaps five hundred paces from the well, through which village we directed our course. This village, as the bishop said, was once the farm of Laban the Syrian; it is called Fadana.86 There I was shown the memorial of Laban the Syrian, Jacob's father-in-law; and I was also shown the place where Rachel stole her father's idols.87 And so, in the name of God, having seen all things, bidding farewell to the holy bishop and the holy monks, who had deigned to conduct us back to that place, we returned by the route and the stations by which we had come from Antioch.
[Antioch.] When I returned to Antioch I stayed there for about a week, until the necessaries for my journey should be prepared. [Tarsus.] And then starting from Antioch, and journeying through several stations, I came to the province called Cilicia, which has Tarsus for its chief city, at which Tarsus I had been already on my way to Jerusalem. But as the martyr-memorial of S. Thecla is at the third station from Tarsus, that is, in Hisauria, it pleased me to go thither, more especially as it was so very near.
Starting from Tarsus, I arrived at a certain city above the sea, but still in Cilicia, called Pompeiopolis. Thence I entered the borders of Hisauria, and halted in a city called Coricus. [Seleucia.] On the third day I arrived at the city called Seleucia in Hisauria. When I arrived there I was at the bishop's, a right holy man, formerly a monk. In the same city I saw a very beautiful church. And since the distance was about 1,500 paces from thence to S. Thecla (which place is outside the city on an elevated tableland), I preferred to go out to it and there make the halt which I purposed. In addition to the holy church nothing else is there save innumerable monasteries, both for men and women. I found there one woman, a very dear friend of mine, to whose life all in the East bore testimony, a holy deaconess, by name Marthana,88 whom I had known at Jerusalem, whither she had gone up for the sake of prayer; she ruled the monasteries of Renuntiants89 and Virgins. When she saw me what joy for both of us! How can I describe it?
But to return. There are very many monasteries on the hill, and in the midst a great wall enclosing the church in which is the martyr-memorial, a very fine thing. And, further, the wall was built to guard the church on account of the Hisauri, who are very mischievous and constantly engage in brigandage, lest by chance they should make an attempt on the monastery which is there appointed. So when I had come in God's name, having offered prayer at the memorial and all the Acts of S. Thecla having been read, I gave countless thanks to Christ our God, who vouchsafed to satisfy in all things the desires of me, unworthy and undeserving. Having stayed there two days, and having seen all the holy monks and renuntiants, men and women, who were there, and having offered prayer and communicated, I returned to my route at Tarsus. Here I stayed three days, and thence, in God's name, set out on my way. Arriving the same day at a station called Mansocrenæ90 wich is under Mount Taurus, I there stopped.
On the next day going along under Mount Taurus, and making my now familiar way through the several provinces I had passed through on my outward journey, viz., Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, I arrived at Chalcedon, where I stopped on account of the famous martyr-memorial of S. Eufimia91 already well known to me from a former visit. [Constantinople.] On the next day, crossing the sea, I arrived at Constantinople, giving thanks to Christ our God because He had vouchsafed to bestow such grace upon me unworthy and undeserving; for He vouchsafed to grant me not only the wish to go, but the power to walk over the places I desired, and finally to return to Constantinople. When I had got there I went through the several churches – the Church of the Apostles,92 the martyr-memorials, which are there in great numbers; and did not cease to give thanks to Jesus our God, who had vouchsafed to bestow His mercy upon me. From which place, ladies, my loved ones, whilst I prepare this account for your pious zeal, it is already my purpose to go to Asia – to Ephesus – on account of the martyr-memorial of the holy and blessed Apostle John, for the sake of prayer. But if after this I am still in the body, and am able to visit any more places, I shall either tell it to your pious longing in person (if God vouchsafes to grant this), or in any case, if I determine otherwise, I shall acquaint you with it by letter. Only do you, ladies, my loved ones, deign to remember me whether I am 'in the body or out of the body.'93
[Daily service at Jerusalem.] But that your affection may know what services are now held daily in the holy places, I must give you information, for I know that you would gladly learn.
Every day before cockcrow all the doors of the Anastasis94 are opened, and all the monks and virgins (monazontes and parthenæ, as they call them here) descend, and not only these, but also the laity, both men and women, who desire to have an early vigil. From that hour to daybreak hymns are sung, and psalms and antiphons sung in response. And after each hymn prayer is offered. For two or three priests at a time, and likewise the deacons, have their turns every day along with the monks, to say prayers after each hymn or antiphon. When day begins to break then they begin to sing the matin hymns. Then the bishop arrives with the clergy and forthwith enters the cave, and from within the rails he first says a prayer for all; then he commemorates the names of those whom he wishes, and blesses the catechumens. Then he says another prayer and blesses the faithful; and next, as the bishop comes out from within the rails, they all approach [to kiss] his hands, and blessing them one by one, he departs, and so the dismissal is given with the dawn. At the sixth hour they all go down again to the Anastasis, and psalms and antiphons are sung until the bishop is summoned, when he again descends and does not sit down, but enters immediately within the rails inside the Anastasis, that is, inside tho cave, where he was in the early morning; in like manner, he first offers prayer, then blesses the faithful, and then, as he comes out from the rails, they approach [to kiss] his hands as before. And so is it done at the ninth hour as at the sixth.
At the tenth hour – which they call here λυχΝικόΝ, as we say the service of lights – in like manner the crowd collects at the Anastasis; all the candles and wax-tapers are lit, and a great light is made. But the light is not brought from outside; it is fetched from the inner cave, where a lamp burns night and day, i.e., from inside the rails; the vesper psalms are sung, and the antiphons for a good while. But lo! the bishop is summoned, and he comes down and sits on high; also the priests sit in their places; hymns and antiphons are sung. And when they have been recited according to custom, the bishop gets up and stands before the chancel, i.e., before the cave, and one of the deacons makes a commemoration of individuals,95 as is the custom. And while the deacon recites the names of the individuals, many boys stand responding Kyrie eleison, as we say, Lord, have mercy upon us,96 whose voices are innumerable. And when the deacon has recited all that he has to say, first the bishop says a prayer and prays for all; and then they all pray, the faithful and the catechumens together. And then the deacon calls out for each catechumen to bow his head where he stands; and so the bishop, standing, pronounces a benediction over the catechumens. Again prayer is offered, and again the deacon lifts his voice and warns the faithful, standing, to bow their heads. And then the bishop blesses the faithful, and so the dismissal is given from the Anastasis. And they begin severally to approach [to kiss] the hands of the bishop. Afterwards the bishop is escorted from the Anastasis to the Cross with hymns, and all the people go with him. When they have arrived he first offers a prayer, then he blesses the catechumens; then another prayer is offered, then he blesses the faithful. And after that the bishop and the whole crowd go behind the Cross, and there are there again similar ceremonies to those in front of the Cross. In like manner as at the Anastasis, they approach [to kiss] the bishop's hands; as in front of the Cross, so behind the Cross. Everywhere hang numbers of great bright candles and wax-tapers before the Anastasis, and also in front of and behind the Cross. All these ceremonies are finished in the dark. This service is held every weekday at the Cross and at the Anastasis.
[Lord's day.] But on the seventh,97 that is, the Lord's day, before cock-crow the whole crowd collects, as many as the place will hold; and if it be at Easter, in the Basilica, which is there near the Anastasis, but outside, where lights hang for this very purpose. For, as they are afraid that they may not be there at cockcrow, they come beforehand and sit there. And hymns and antiphons are sung; and after each hymn or antiphon a prayer is offered. For the priests and deacons are always ready there for vigils, on account of the crowd which assembles; and it is their custom not to open the holy places before cockcrow. But when the first cock has crowed, forthwith the bishop descends and enters inside the cave to the Anastasis. All the doors are opened, and the whole crowd streams into the Anastasis. Here innumerable lights are shining; and when the people have entered, one of the priests says a psalm, and they all respond; then prayer is offered. Again one of the deacons says a psalm, and again prayer is offered; a third psalm is said by one of the clergy, and prayer is offered for the third time, and the commemoration of all men is made. Then these three psalms having been said,98 and these three prayers offered, behold censers99 are brought into the cave of the Anastasis, so that the whole Basilica of the Anastasis is filled with odours. Then where the bishop stands inside the rails, he takes the Gospel and advances to the door, and himself reads of the Lord's resurrection. And when he has begun to read this, there is such a moaning and groaning of all the people, and such weeping, that the most obdurate person would be moved to tears, for that the Lord endured such grievous things for us. Then the Gospel having been read, the bishop comes forth, and is led to the Cross with hymns, and all the people with him. There again one psalm is said and a prayer offered. Again he blesses the faithful, and the dismissal is given. As the bishop comes forth they all approach [to kiss] his hand; and presently the bishop betakes himself to his own house. From that hour all the monks return to the Anastasis, and psalms and antiphons are said until daylight; and after each psalm or antiphon prayer is offered. For every day in turn the priests and deacons keep vigil at the Anastasis with the people. If any of the laity, either men or women, wish it, they stay there till it is light; but if they do not wish to do so, they return to their houses and go to sleep again.
But with the dawn, because it is the Lord's day, they proceed to the Great Church built by Constantine, which is in Golgotha behind the Cross; and all things are done according to the use which is customary everywhere on the Lord's day. For their use is this, that as many as wish of all the priests who sit there shall preach, and after them all the bishop preaches; these sermons are always delivered on the Lord's day, that the people may always be instructed in the Scriptures and in the love of God. And while these sermons are being delivered, there is a long interval before they are dismissed from the Church. They are thus [not] dismissed before the fourth, or perhaps the fifth, hour. But when the dismissal has been given at the Church, in accordance with the use which everywhere prevails, then the monks escort the bishop with hymns from the Church to the Anastasis. And when the bishop begins to come with hymns, all the doors of the Anastasis Basilica are opened; and all the people enter (that is, the faithful, for the catechumens enter not). And when the people have entered, the bishop enters and forthwith proceeds within the rails of the memorial cave. First, thanks are given to God, and prayer is made for all men; next the deacon calls to all to bow their heads where they stand, and the bishop blesses them standing inside the inner rails; and finally he comes out. As the bishop comes out they all approach [to kiss] his hand. And thus it is that the dismissal is put off nearly to the fifth or sixth hour. And in the evening the ordinary daily service is held. This manner of service is then observed every day throughout the year, certain solemn days being excepted, as to the observance of which we have given an account below. But among all these details this is very plain, that suitable psalms or antiphons are always said; those at night, those in the morning, and those through the day, whether at the sixth hour or ninth hour or at vespers, being always suitable and intelligible as pertaining to the matter in hand. And as throughout the whole year they always proceed on the Lord's day to the Great Church (that is, the church in Golgotha, behind the Cross, which Constantine built), on one Lord's day alone, that is, on the Feast of Pentecost, they proceed to Sion, as you will find noted lower down, but so that they arrive at Sion before the third hour. First, Mass is celebrated in the Great Church100 . . . .
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[Epiphany.] 'Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord,' and the rest which follows. And since, on account of the monks who go on foot, it is necessary to proceed more gently, they arrive in Jerusalem about the hour when one man begins to recognise another, i.e., near daylight, but before the day has fully broken. When they have arrived, straightway the bishop and all with him enter the Anastasis where the lights are now superfluously shining. There one psalm is sung, prayer is offered, and first the catechumens, then the faithful, are blessed by the bishop. The bishop then departs, and everyone goes to his lodging to recruit. But the monks stay there, and sing hymns until daylight. And when the crowd is refreshed, at the beginning of the second hour, they all assemble at the Great Church, i.e., in Golgotha. It is unnecessary to describe the decoration on that day of the Church, of the Anastasis, or of the Cross, or the Church at Bethlehem; you can see nothing but gold and gems and silk.101 If you look at the veils, they are of silk, studded with gold; if you look at the curtains, they are likewise all of silk, studded with gold. All the gold and jewelled vessels are brought out on that day. As to the number or weight of the tapers or candles or lamps or different vessels, how could it be estimated or described? And what shall I say of the decoration of that structure which Constantine, with the assistance of his mother, adorned, as far as the resources of his kingdom would go, with gold, mosaic, and precious marbles102 – a larger church than the Anastasis or the Church at the Cross or any of the holy places in Jerusalem? But to return. On the first day Mass is celebrated in the Great Church in Golgotha. And whether they preach or read the several lections or say hymns, everything is appropriate to the day. And thence, when Mass has been celebrated at the church, they go to the Anastasis with hymns according to custom; and Mass is held about the sixth hour. On this day vespers are said as usual, after the daily custom.
[Octave of Epiphany.] On the next day again they go in like manner to the Church in Golgotha; and so again on the third day. Thus for three days, a universal service of joy is held in the Church built by Constantine up to the sixth hour. On the fourth day there are similar decorations, and similar services in Eleona,103 i.e., in the very beautiful Church on the Mount Of Olives. On the fifth day at the Lazarium,104 which is about 1,500 paces from Jerusalem. On the sixth day in Sion. On the seventh day in the Anastasis. On the eighth day at the Cross. And so throughout the eight days there are these decorations, and this service of joy is held in all the above-mentioned holy places. During these eight days there are like decorations daily in [the Church at] Bethlehem, and the same service of joy is held by the priests and all the clergy of the place and the monks who are appointed there. For from that hour at night when all return to Jerusalem with the bishop, the monks of the place who are there keep vigil in the Church at Bethlehem, till the dawn, singing hymns and antiphons; for it is necessary that the bishop should always keep these days in Jerusalem. Great crowds come from all quarters to Jerusalem for the ceremonial and services of this joyous festival, not only monks, but laity also, both men and women.
[The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.] But certainly the Feast of the Purification105 is celebrated here with the greatest honour. On this day there is a procession to the Anastasis; all go in procession, and all things are done in order with great joy, just as at Easter. All the priests preach, and also the bishop, always treating of that passage of the Gospel106 where, on the fortieth day, Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple, and Simeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Famuhel,107 saw Him, and of the words which they said when they saw the Lord, and of the offerings which the parents presented. And when all things have been celebrated in order as is customary, the sacrament is administered, and so the people are dismissed.
[The Lenten Fast.] When the days of Easter come they are celebrated as follows. For as with us forty days before Easter are observed, so here eight weeks before Easter are observed.108 But the eight weeks are observed for this reason: they do not fast on the Lord's day or on the Sabbath, with the exception of the one Sabbath day which is the vigil of Easter, on which it is necessary to fast. Except on this day they never fast on a Sabbath throughout the whole year.109 So deducting from these eight weeks, eight Lord's days, and seven Sabbaths – for they must fast on one Sabbath, as I said above – there remain forty-one fast days, which they call here ἑορτύι, i.e., the quadragesimal [fast]. The several days of the several weeks are thus observed.
[Sunday.] On the Lord's day at cockcrow the bishop reads inside the Anastasis the passage from the Gospel about the Resurrection of the Lord, as is done throughout the year on the Lord's day; and at daybreak the same things are done at the Anastasis and the Cross as are usual throughout the year on the Lord's day. Next in the morning, as on every Lord's day, they proceed to the Great Church, called the Martyrium, which is in Golgotha behind the Cross; and the services which are customary on the Lord's day are held. And in like manner, the dismissal having been given from the Church, they go with hymns to the Anastasis as always on the Lord's day. While these things are being done, the fifth hour comes on; the evening service is held here at its proper hour, as is always done at the Anastasis and at the Cross and the various holy places. On the Lord's day it is held at the ninth hour.
[Monday.] And on the second day they go in like manner at cock-crow to the Anastasis, and the usual ceremonies are gone through until the dawn. Again at the third hour they go to the Anastasis, and hold the service usual throughout the year at the sixth hour,110 for during Lent they go at the third hour in addition. Again, at the sixth and ninth hours and in the evening they hold the services usual throughout the year at the holy places.
[Tuesday.] On the third day all the same services are held as on the second.
[Wednesday.] On the fourth day they in like manner go at night to the Anastasis, and the usual ceremonies are gone through up to daybreak, and similarly at the third and sixth hours. At the ninth hour, as is the custom throughout the year on the fourth and sixth days, they proceed to Sion (for in those places, unless a festival of martyrs occur on them, the catechumens always fast on the fourth and sixth days).111 If by chance during Lent a festival of martyrs fall on the fourth or sixth day, even still they proceed to Sion at the ninth hour.112 During Lent, then, as I said above, on the fourth day of the week, they proceed to Sion at the ninth hour, as is usual throughout the year, and all ceremonies are performed which are usual at the ninth hour, except the oblation.113 And to the end that the people may ever learn the law, the bishop and the priest preach continually. When the dismissal has been given the people escort the bishop thence with hymns to the Anastasis. And when now they enter the Anastasis, the whole of evensong is said; hymns and antiphons are sung, prayers are said, and evening service held in the Anastasis and at the Cross. The evening service in Lent is always later than at other times throughout the year.
[Thursday.] On the fifth day the ceremonies are similar to those on the second and third.
[Friday.] On the sixth day they are like those on the fourth, and in like manner they go to Sion at the ninth hour, and the bishop is escorted back with hymns to the Anastasis. But on the sixth day vigils are celebrated in the Anastasis from the hour at which they come back from Sion with hymns until the morning – i.e., from the hour of evensong until they have entered upon the morning of the next day, the Sabbath. The oblation is made early in the Anastasis, so that the dismissal may be given before sunrise. All night, by turns are said responsive psalms, by turns antiphons, and by turns various lections, which are all protracted until the morning.
[Saturday.] But the Mass – that is, the oblation – which is celebrated on the Sabbath at the Anastasis, is celebrated before sunrise, so that at the hour at which the sun begins to show himself the dismissal may be given at the Anastasis. These, then, are the ceremonies of the several weeks of Lent. As I have said, Mass is celebrated earlier114 on the Sabbath, before sunrise, and for this reason also that they may the more quickly set free those whom they call here domadarii. For the custom here of those who fast in Lent is that those whom they call hebdomadarii – i.e., those who observe the week-long fast115 – eat heartily on the Lord's day, for mass is celebrated at the fifth hour. And after they have breakfasted on the Lord's day, they do not eat until early on the Sabbath,116 as soon as they have communicated in the Anastasis. So on their account, that they may be released the quicker, Mass is said before the sun is up in the Anastasis on the Sabbath. But when I said that Mass is celebrated early on their account, it is not that they communicate alone, for all communicate, who purpose doing so, in the Anastasis that day.
[Fasting.] For the custom of those who fast here in Lent is that some, viz., those who observe the week-long fast, as soon as they have eaten on the Lord's day after Mass – that is, at the fifth or sixth hour – do not eat throughout the whole week until the next Sabbath after the Mass at the Anastasis. But when they have eaten early on the Sabbath, they do not eat in the evening, but on the next day – that is, the Lord's day. They eat after the Mass at the church, at the fifth hour or even later, and then do not eat again until the next Sabbath, as I said above. For the custom here is that all those who are, as they say, Renuntiants, whether men or women, only eat once a day, and this not only in Lent, but throughout the year. If there are any of these Renuntiants who cannot keep the entire week's fast, as we described above, throughout Lent, they take a meal on the fifth day in the middle [of the week]. Those who cannot do even this fast for two days at a time all through Lent, and those who cannot do even this much, fast from one evening to the next. No one demands how much one ought to do, but each one does what he can; neither is he praised who does more than he need, nor is he blamed who does less.117 Such is the custom here. And their food during the forty days is of this kind: they neither eat bread which cannot be strained as a liquid, nor taste oil nor anything else which is got from trees, but live on water and a little gruel made out of flour. So the Lenten fast is kept, as we have said.
During the whole of these weeks vigils are held in the Anastasis, from the hour of evensong on the sixth day when they come from Sion with psalms, until early on the Sabbath, when the oblation is made in the Anastasis. And in the second, third, fourth, and sixth weeks of Lent, ceremonies similar to those in the first are observed.
[Seventh Week.] But when the seventh week has come – i.e., when there are now only two weeks to Easter – everything is done on the several days as during the weeks which have passed; only the vigils held during the other six weeks in the Anastasis are in the seventh week (on its sixth day) held in Sion after the same manner. At all services psalms or antiphons suitable to the day and place are sung.
[Saturday.] When it begins to be morning, as the Sabbath dawns, the bishop makes an offering and the oblation early on the Sabbath. And when the dismissal is to be given the archdeacon calls out, saying: 'Let us all be ready in the Lazarium at the seventh hour to-day.' So at the beginning of the seventh hour they all come to the Lazarium. The Lazarium – i.e., Bethany – is about two miles from the city; and as they come from Jerusalem to the Lazarium, about 500 paces from the latter place, there is a church in the street at the spot where Mary, the sister of Lazarus, met the Lord. And when the bishop has come here all the monks meet him, and the people enter; one hymn is sung and one antiphon, and they read the passage from the Gospel where the sister of Lazarus meets the Lord.118 So prayer having been made, and all having been blessed, they go from thence to the Lazarium with hymns. When they come to the Lazarium the whole crowd assembles, so that not only the place itself, but the fields all round, are full of people. Hymns and antiphons are sung appropriate to the day and place, and in like manner lections suitable for the day are read. Before they are dismissed, Easter is announced – that is, the priest goes up to an elevated place and reads the passage from the Gospel where it is written, 'When Jesus had come to Bethany, six days before the Passover,'119 etc. The passage having been read and Easter announced, they are dismissed. These things are done on this day, because it is written in the Gospel that so it was done in Bethany six days before the Passover; now from the Sabbath to the fifth day, when, after the supper, the Lord was apprehended at night, is six days. Then they all return to the city straight to the Anastasis, and vespers are held as usual.
[Palm Sunday.] But on the next day – that is, the Lord's day – which begins the Paschal Week, called here the Great Week,120 they proceed from cock-crow to go through the usual ceremonies in the Anastasis, and at the Cross until the morning. Early on the Lord's day they proceed, as usual, to the Great Church, called the Martyrium. It is so called because it is in Golgotha – i.e., behind the cross where the Lord suffered, and so is a Martyrium or Testimony. When all things have been celebrated, according to custom, in the Great Church, before the dismissal is given the archdeacon raises his voice, and says first: 'During the ensuing week – that is, from to-morrow – let us all meet at the ninth hour at the Martyrium' – i.e., in the Great Church. Again he raises his voice a second time and says: 'To-day let us all be ready at the seventh hour in Eleona.' Then the dismissal having been given in the Great Church – i.e. at the Martyrium – the bishop is conducted with hymns to the Anastasis, and there the ceremonial having been gone through which is customary in the Anastasis on the Lord's day after Mass at the Martyrium, everyone goes home and hastens to eat, that at the seventh hour, now beginning, they may all be ready in the church in Eleona – i.e., in the Mount of Olives. The cave in which the Lord used to teach is there.121
So at the seventh hour all the people and also the bishop go up to the Mount of Olives (i.e., Eleona) to the church; hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and place are sung and lections read in like manner. And when it begins to be the ninth hour they go up with hymns to the Imbomon122 – that is, to the place from which the Lord ascended into heaven – and there they sit down. For all the people are always bid sit down in the presence of the bishop; only the deacons always remain standing. Hymns and anti- phons suitable to the place and the day are sung, and in like manner lections and prayers are interspersed. And now when it begins to be the eleventh hour, that place from the Gospel is read where the children with branches and palms met the Lord, saying: 'Blessed is He that Cometh in the Name of the Lord.'123 And forthwith the bishop arises and all the people, and they go down on foot the whole way from the summit of the Mount of Olives. For all the people go before him, responding the while with hymns and antiphons: 'Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.' And all the children in those parts are there holding branches of olive-trees124 or palms125; even those who cannot walk because of their tender years are supported on the hill by their parents. And thus the bishop is escorted like as the Lord was in former time. From the top of the hill to the city, and from thence to the Anastasis, throughout the whole city, they all go the whole way on foot, lords and ladies alike; thus they escort the bishop, singing in response, but slowly and gently, so that the people may not be wearied. When they have come, although it is late, they have vespers; then a prayer is said at the Cross, and the people are dismissed.
[Monday before Easter.] Again on the next day – that is, the second day of the week – the usual services are held at the Anastasis from cockcrow to early morning; and similarly at the third and sixth hours those things are done which are customary throughout Lent. But at the ninth hour all assemble in the Great Church – i.e., at the Martyrium; and there up to the first hour of the night hymns and psalms are continually sung, lections appropriate to the day and place are read, and prayers are constantly interspersed. There vespers are held when it begins to be the hour, and so it is night when the dismissal is given at the Martyrium. When it is concluded the bishop is escorted to the Anastasis with hymns; and as they are entering into the Anastasis one hymn is sung, a prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed and also the faithful, and they are dismissed.
[Tuesday before Easter.] On the third day of the week all things are done in like manner as on the second. This alone is added on the third day, that, late at night, after service has been held at the Martyrium and they have gone to the Anastasis, and again service has been held in the Anastasis, they all at that hour of the night go out to the church on the Mount of Olives. When they have come to this church, the bishop enters into the cave, where the Lord was wont to teach His disciples, and receives the book of the Gospel, and, standing, he reads the words of the Lord written in the Gospel according to Matthew, where it is said, 'See that no man deceive you.'126 All that discourse the bishop reads. And when he has read it prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed, and also the faithful; the dismissal is given, and they return from the mount each to his own home very late at night.
[Wednesday before Easter.] On the fourth day everything is done from cockcrow as on the second and third days; but after service has been held at night at the Martyrium, and the bishop has been escorted with hymns to the Anastasis, forthwith he enters the cave within the Anastasis, and stands inside the rails. A priest stands before the rails, and takes the Gospel and reads that passage where Judas Iscariot went to the Jews and determined what they would give him to betray the Lord.127 And when this passage has been read, there is such a groaning and moaning of all the people that there is no one who would not be moved to tears at that hour. Finally prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed, and afterwards the faithful, and so they are dismissed.
[Thursday before Easter.] Again on the fifth day, from cockcrow up to early morning, the usual things are done at the Anastasis; likewise at the third and sixth hours. But at the eighth hour all the people assemble at the Martyrium as usual, but in better time than on the other days, because it is necessary that service should be over sooner. And so all the people being collected, they do the things which are to be done; on this day the oblation is made at the Martyrium, and service is held at about the tenth hour. But before the dismissal is given the archdeacon raises his voice and says: 'At the first hour of the night let us all meet at the church in Olivet, for our greatest labour presses on us on the night of this day.' Then when the service at the Martyrium is over, they come behind the Cross, where one hymn only is sung, prayer is made, the bishop offers there the oblation, and all communicate.128 But except on this one day, throughout the whole year there is no offering [made] behind the Cross. So Mass having been celebrated there, they go to the Anastasis, prayer is made, the catechumens and then the faithful are blessed according to custom, and they are dismissed. Then each one hastens to return home that he may eat, for as soon as they have eaten they all go up to Olivet to that church in which is the cave where the Lord was on that day with the Apostles. And there, up to about the fifth hour of the night, continually there are hymns and antiphons suited to the day and place, lessons are read, and prayers are interspersed. Also those, places from the Gospel are read where the Lord talked with the disciples on the same day as He sat in the very cave which is in the church. And now at about the sixth hour of the night they go up to the Imbomon with hymns, to that place whence the Lord ascended into heaven. And there again in like manner lections and hymns and antiphons suitable to the day are said; the prayers also which are said by the bishop are always suitable to the day and place.
And so when the cocks begin to crow they descend from the Imbomon with hymns, and come to that place where the Lord prayed, as it is written in the Gospel: 'And He withdrew from them about a stone's-cast, and prayed.'129 In that place there is an elegant church, into which the bishop and all the people enter; a prayer is said there suitable to the day and place, and the passage is read from the Gospel where He said to His disciples: 'Watch, lest ye enter into temptation.'130 And the whole passage is read, and then a prayer is said. And thence with hymns all down to the smallest child descend on foot to Gethsemane along with the bishop, where, on account of the great crowd of people wearied with vigils and worn out with daily fastings, because they have to descend so great a mountain, they come gently and slowly with hymns to Gethsemane. Over two hundred church candles131 are prepared to give light to all the people. When they have arrived at Gethsemane, first a suitable prayer is offered, then a hymn is sung, then that passage from the Gospel is read where the Lord was apprehended; and when this passage has been read there is such a moaning and groaning of all the people, with weeping, that the groans can be heard almost at the city. From that hour they go to the city on foot with hymns, and arrive at the gate at the time when one man begins to be able to recognise another. Thence throughout the city they all assemble for the same object, great and small, rich and poor; for on that day specially no one keeps back from the vigil until early morning. So the bishop is escorted from Gethsemane as far as the gate, and thence through the whole city as far as the Cross.
[Good Friday.] By the time that they have come in front of the Cross it begins to be broad daylight. Then again that passage is read from the Gospel where the Lord is brought before Pilate, and everything which it is written that Pilate said to the Lord or to the Jews is read. Then the bishop addresses the people, encouraging them, as they have toiled all night, and are about to toil all day, not to be weary, but to have hope in God, who will give them a greater reward in return for that toil. And so encouraging them as he can, he thus addresses them: 'Go, every one of you, home now to your cells, and sit there for a little while, and by the second hour of the day be all ready here, that from that hour to the sixth you may be able to gaze upon the holy wood of the cross, trusting each one that it will profit us for our salvation. After the sixth hour we must all meet again in front of the Cross, that we may give ourselves to lections and prayers until night.'
After this then they are dismissed from the Cross, the sun not being yet up. Straightway the more ardent ones go up to Sion to pray at that pillar at which the Lord was scourged.132 Then, having returned, they sit down for a little while in their own houses, and soon are all ready again. A chair is placed for the bishop in Golgotha behind the Cross, which stands there now; the bishop sits down in the chair, there is placed before him a table covered with a linen cloth, the deacons standing round the table. Then is brought a silver-gilt casket, in which is the holy wood of the cross; it is opened, and the contents being taken out, the wood of the cross and also its inscription133 are placed on the table. When they have been put there, the bishop, as he sits, takes hold of the extremities of the holy wood with his hands, and the deacons, standing round, guard it. It is thus guarded because the custom is that every one of the people, faithful and catechumens alike, leaning forward, bend over the table, kiss the holy wood, and pass on. And as it is said that one time a person fixed his teeth in it, and so stole a piece of the holy wood, it is now guarded by the deacons standing round, so that no one who comes may dare to do such a thing again. And so all the people pass on one by one, bowing their bodies down, first with their forehead, then with their eyes, touching the cross and the inscription, and so kissing the cross they pass by, but no one puts forth his hand to touch it. When they have kissed the cross and have passed by, the deacon stands and holds Solomon's ring,134 and the horn with which the kings were anointed; they kiss the horn and touch the ring. . . . second . . . 135 up to the sixth hour all the people pass by, entering by one door and going out by another; for this is done in the same place in which the day before (the fifth day) the oblation was made.
And when the sixth hour has come they go in front of the cross in all weathers; for this place is exposed to the open sky, being a kind of atrium, very large and beautiful, situated between the Cross and the Anastasis. Then all the people collect there so that no one can pass through. A chair is placed for the bishop in front of the Cross, and from the sixth to the ninth hour nothing else is done but to read lections as follows: First they read from the Psalms where the Passion is spoken of; then from the Apostolos,136 either from the Apostolic Epistles, or from the Acts, wherever the Lord's Passion is mentioned; also the passages from the Gospels where He suffered are read. Then they read from the prophets where they foretold that the Lord would suffer, and from the Gospels where He speaks of His Passion. So from the sixth to the ninth hour lections are always being read, or hymns sung, that it may be shown to all the people that whatever the prophets foretold about the Lord's Passion is proved by the Gospels or by the writings of the Apostles to have taken place. So for those three hours all the people are taught that nothing took place which was not first foretold, and that nothing was predicted which was not fully accomplished. And continually prayers suitable to the day are interspersed. At the several lections and prayers there is such emotion displayed and lamentation of all the people as is wonderful. For there is no one, great or small, who does not weep on that day during those three hours in a way that cannot be measured, that the Lord should have suffered such things for us.
After this, when it begins to be the ninth hour, that passage from the Gospel according to John is read where He gave up the ghost,137 which having been read, prayer is offered, and Mass celebrated. But when Mass has been celebrated in front of the Cross, forthwith all things are done in the Great Church at the Martyrium which it is usual to do throughout that week from the ninth hour, when they come to the Martyrium, until late. And Mass having been celebrated, they come from the Martyrium into the Anastasis; and when they have come there the passage from the Gospel is read where Joseph asks Pilate for the body of the Lord, and places it in a new tomb.138 This passage having been read, prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed, and so they are dismissed. But on that day there is no announcement made of vigil at the Anastasis, for it is known that the people are tired out. But it is usual, nevertheless, to hold a vigil there. Those of the people who wish it – that is, all those who are able – keep vigil; those who are not able do not keep vigil till the morning. But the clergy keep vigil there – that is, the stronger and younger of them – and during the whole night hymns and antiphons are sung there until the morning; but most people keep vigil from late in the evening, or from the middle of the night, as they are able.
[Easter Eve.] On the next day, the Sabbath, the usual services are held at the third and sixth hours; but at the ninth hour on the Sabbath the service is not held, for the paschal vigils are prepared for in the Great Church – i.e., in the Martyrium. The paschal vigils are held as with us, with this addition only, that the children139 when they have been baptized and robed, after coming out of the font, are escorted along with the bishop first to the Anastasis.140 The bishop goes inside the rails of the Anastasis, one hymn is sung, and then the bishop offers prayer for them, and so comes to the Great Church with them. There, when all the people are keeping vigil after the customary manner, the same ceremonies are observed as are usual with us, and the oblation having been offered, Mass is celebrated. And after the Mass of vigils is over in the Great Church, they come straightway with hymns to the Anastasis, and there again is read the passage of the Gospel about the Resurrection. Prayer is made, and again the bishop makes an offering, but all is done quickly, on account of the people, that there may be no more delay, and so the people are dismissed. The Mass of vigils is held on that day at the same hour as with us.
[Easter.] Thus in the evening those paschal days are observed as with us, and Masses are celebrated in proper order throughout the eight paschal days, as is everywhere done through- out the octave of Easter. There is the same decoration and the same order of service throughout the eight days of Easter as throughout Epiphany in the Great Church, at the Anastasis, at the Cross, in Olivet, also in Bethlehem and at the Lazarium, and everywhere else. On the day itself, the first Lord's day, there is a procession to the Great Church – i.e., the Martyrium – and on the second and third day also; so, however, that always when Mass has been celebrated at the Martyrium they come to the Anastasis with hymns. But on the fourth day they go in procession to Olivet, on the fifth day to the Anastasis, on the sixth day to Sion, on the Sabbath in front of the Cross, and on the Lord's day – i.e., the octave – to the Great Church, the Martyrium, again.
Daily during these eight paschal days after breakfast the bishop, with all the clergy, and all the children who have been baptized, and all who are Renuntiants, both men and women, and as many of the people as wish, goes up to Olivet. Hymns are sung and prayers are offered both in the church in Olivet, where is the cave in which Jesus used to teach the disciples, and also in Imbomon, that is, the place from which the Lord ascended into heaven. And after that psalms have been sung and prayer offered, they descend again to the Anastasis with hymns at the hour of vespers. This is done throughout the whole eight days. But on the Lord's day – i.e., Easter day – after vespers at the Anastasis, all the people escort the bishop with hymns to Sion. When they have come there, hymns suitable to the day and place are sung, prayer is offered, and that place is read from the Gospel where on the same day the Lord entered in to the disciples when the doors were shut in the same place where the church now is in Sion. That was the occasion on which one of the disciples, viz., Thomas, was not there, and when he returned and the other Apostles said to him that they had seen the Lord, he answered,141 'I will not believe, except I see.' This having been read, prayer is again offered, the catechumens are blessed, also the faithful, and everyone returns to his own home late, about the second hour of the night.
[Sunday after Easter.] Again on the Lord's day, which is the octave of Easter, immediately after sext all the people go up with the bishop to Olivet; first for some time they sit in the church there, hymns and antiphons are sung suitable to the day and place, and appropriate prayers in like manner. Then with hymns they go up to Imbomon, and the same ceremonies are gone through there. And when it begins to be the time all the people and the Renuntiants escort the bishop to the Anastasis with hymns, and they arrive at the Anastasis at the usual hour for vespers. Then vespers are said at the Anastasis and at the Cross, and then all the people together escort the bishop to Sion with hymns. When they have come there, in the same way hymns appropriate to the day and place are sung; then again is read that passage from the Gospel where, on the octave of Easter, the Lord entered in where the disciples were, and refuted the unbelief of Thomas. All that passage is read; afterwards prayer is offered, and the catechumens and the faithful having been blessed, they return as usual each to his own home, as on Easter Day, at the second hour of the night.
[Easter to Pentecost.] From Easter to Quinquagesima – i.e., Pentecost – no one fasts here, not even the Renuntiants.142 During these days, as throughout the year, the usual services are held at the Anastasis from cockcrow until early morning, and likewise at the sixth hour and at vespers. But on the Lord's days they always proceed as usual to the Martyrium – i.e., the Great Church – and thence they go to the Anastasis with hymns. On the fourth and sixth days [of the week], since during these days no one fasts, they proceed to Sion, but early in the morning, and Mass is celebrated in due order.
[Ascension Day.] On the fortieth day after Easter – i.e., the fifth day of the week – (for after sext on the fourth day of the week they go to Bethlehem143 to observe the vigils; because vigils are held in the church in Bethlehem, where the cave is in which the Lord was born) – on this fifth day of the week, the fortieth after Easter – Mass is celebrated in due order, the priests and the bishop preach on subjects appropriate to the day and place, and finally they all return to Jerusalem in the evening.
[Pentecost.] On the fiftieth day, a Lord's day, which is the most laborious for the people, all things are done as usual from cockcrow. There is a vigil in the Anastasis, that the bishop may read the passage from the Gospel, always read on the Lord's day, about the resurrection of the Lord, and after it the services customary throughout the whole year are held in the Anastasis. When it is morning, all the people proceed to the Great Church, the Martyrium; all customary things are done, the priests preach, and then the bishop, and all prescribed things are done – i.e., the offering is made which is usual on the Lord's day; but the Mass in the Martyrium is hastened so that it may be over before the third hour. As soon as the Mass is over in the Martyrium, all the people together escort the bishop to Sion with hymns, and they get to Sion when it is now the third hour. And when they have come there, that place from the Acts of the Apostles144 is read where the Spirit descends so that all nations might understand the things that were spoken, and after that Mass is celebrated in due order. For the priests read the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (because the place is in Sion, there is another church there now), where once after the Lord's passion a multitude was collected with the Apostles, when this happened of which we spoke above. After that Mass is celebrated in due order, and an offering is made; and to dismiss the people the archdeacon raises his voice and says: 'To-day, after the sixth hour, let us all be ready in Imbomon in Olivet.'
Then all the people return each to his house, and refresh themselves, and after breakfast the Mount of Olives – i.e., Eleona – is ascended by each one as he can, so that no Christian remains in the city who does not go up. As soon as ever they have come to the Mount of Olives – i.e., Eleona – they go first to Imbomon, the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven, and there the bishop and the priests sit down, and likewise all the people; lections are read there, and hymns are interspersed; antiphons also are sung suitable to the day and place; the prayers also which are interspersed always contain expressions similarly suitable. The place from the Gospel is read where it speaks about the Lord's ascension, and also from the Acts where it speaks of the Lord's ascension into heaven after His resurrection. When this has been done, the catechumens are blessed, and also the faithful, and then it being by this time the ninth hour, they descend and go with hymns to the church, also on Olivet, where is the cave in which the Lord as He sat used to teach the Apostles. When they have come there it is more than the tenth hour; vespers are said there, prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed, and also the faithful. Thence all the people descend together along with the bishop, singing hymns and antiphons suitable to the day, and so they come slowly and gently to the Martyrium.
When they arrive at the gate of the city it is now night, and two hundred church candles are produced on account of the people; but since it is a good way from the gate to the Great Church145 – i.e., the Martyrium – they do not arrive until about the second hour of the night, because they go the whole way very gently on account of the people, lest they should be wearied. And the great doors being opened which are on the side next the market,146 all the people along with the bishop enter the Martyrium with hymns. When they have entered the church hymns are sung, prayer is offered, the catechumens are blessed, and also the faithful, and then they go again with hymns to the Anastasis. Likewise when they have come to the Anastasis, hymns and antiphons are sung, prayer is made, the catechumens are blessed, and also the faithful; likewise is it done at the Cross. And thence all the Christian people together escort again the bishop to Sion with hymns. When they have come there, suitable lections are read, psalms and antiphons are sung, prayer is made, the catechumens are blessed, and the faithful, and so they are dismissed. The service being over, they all approach [to kiss] the hand of the bishop, and so they return each to his own home about midnight. Thus the greatest amount of fatigue is undergone on this day, since at the Anastasis there is vigil from cockcrow, and thenceforth there is no cessation the whole day, and all the ceremonies are so prolonged that it is at midnight after the service which is held in Sion that all return to their homes.
[Daily service throughout the year.] But from the next day after Pentecost all fast who can, according to the custom throughout the year, Sabbaths and Lord's days being excepted, on which days no one ever fasts in these places. Also on the other days following, the several ceremonies are observed, so that throughout the year – i.e., always – there is a vigil at the Anastasis from cockcrow. For if it is a Lord's day the bishop first from cockcrow reads the Gospel according to custom inside the Anastasis – the passage about the Lord's resurrection, which is always read on the Lord's day. Afterwards hymns and antiphons are sung in the Anastasis until daylight. But if it is not a Lord's day, only the hymns and antiphons are sung in the Anastasis in like manner from cockcrow until daylight; all the Renuntiants go, those of the people who can possibly do so go; but the clergy go in turn every day from cockcrow. The bishop always goes as it is beginning to dawn, that the matin service may be held with all the clergy, except on the Lord's day, when he has to go at cockcrow to read the Gospel in the Anastasis. At the sixth hour again the usual services are held in the Anastasis; likewise at the ninth, and likewise at vespers, according to the custom usual throughout the year. On the fourth and sixth days of the week there is always a service147 in Sion at the ninth hour, according to custom.
[Preparation for baptism.] I ought also to describe how those are taught who are baptized at Easter. The person who gives the name gives it before the first day of Lent, and the priest notes down all the names;148 this is done before those eight weeks begin which I have said are observed here as Lent. When the priest has noted down all the names, on the second day of Lent, when the eight weeks are begun, a chair is placed for the bishop in the centre of the Great Church, the Martyrium. The priests sit here and there, and the clergy all stand; those who are qualified are led up one by one, the males with their fathers, the females with their mothers. And then the bishop asks the neighbours of each one separately who enters if he is of good life, if he obeys his parents, whether he is a drunkard or a liar, and he also inquires about those vices which are yet graver. If the bishop finds that he is without reproach from all those present as witnesses of whom he has made inquiry, he marks the name with his own hand. But if he is accused of aught, he bids him go away, saying: 'Mend your ways, and when you have done so, then come to the font.' So he says, making inquiry concerning the men and the women alike. If anyone is a stranger, unless he has the testimony of those who know him, he is not easily admitted to baptism.
[Instruction of catechumens.] But I ought to describe this for you, my sisters, that you may not think that these things are done without being understood. The custom is here that those who present themselves for baptism, during the forty days of the fast, are first exorcised149 early in the morning by the clergy as soon as the morning dismissal has been given from the Anastasis. Then a chair is placed for the bishop in the Great Church, at the Martyrium; and all who are to be baptized, males and females, sit round near the bishop; the fathers and mothers also stand there. Those of the people who wish to hear enter and sit down, but only the faithful. No catechumen150 is there when the bishop teaches them the law; beginning from Genesis, he goes through all the Scriptures during those forty days, first expounding them after the flesh,151 and then explaining them according to the spirit. Also concerning the resurrection and in like manner all things concerning the faith, are taught them during those days; that is called catechising.
When five weeks are completed from the beginning of their instruction, they are taught the Creed, the meaning of which he expounds to them as he did that of the Scriptures, first according to the flesh as to its several phrases, then according to the spirit: thus he expounds the Creed. And so it is, that in these places all the faithful follow the Scriptures when they are read in church, because they are all taught for those forty days, from the first hour to the third hour (for the catechising lasts for three hours). But, sisters, God knows that the voices of the faithful who come in to listen at the catechising to the things said and explained by the bishop are louder than when he sits and preaches in the church on the several points thus expounded. There is an end of the catechising at the third hour, and thence the bishop is conducted forthwith to the Anastasis with hymns, and so the dismissal is given at the third hour. And so for three hours they are taught every day for seven weeks.
But during the eighth week of Lent (that which is called the Great Week) they cease to receive instruction, that higher things may be added to them. When these seven weeks have elapsed, only that one paschal week is left which they call here the Great Week. Then the bishop comes early in the morning to the Great Church at the Martyrium; a chair is placed at the back in the apse behind the altar for the bishop, and there one by one they go up, the men with their fathers and the women with their mothers,152 and recite the Creed to the bishop. And it having been thus recited, the bishop addresses them all, and says: 'During these seven weeks you have been instructed in the whole law of the Scriptures, and also you have heard concerning the faith. You have heard also concerning the resurrection of the flesh, and all the meaning of the Creed as far as you could; but yet while you are catechumens you cannot hear the words which relate to a deeper mystery even to baptism itself. However, that you may not think that anything is being done without meaning, when you have been baptized in the name of God, for the eight paschal days after Mass in the church, you shall hear in the Anastasis those more secret mysteries of God which cannot be told you while you are yet catechumens.'153
[Instruction of the newly baptized.] But after the paschal days have come, during the eight days from Easter to its octave, as soon as Mass has been celebrated in the church they go with hymns to the Anastasis; presently there is a prayer, the faithful are blessed, and the bishop stands up leaning against the inner rail which is in the cave of the Anastasis, and explains all the ceremonies of baptism. At that hour no catechumen is admitted to the Anastasis: only the neophytes and the faithful who wish to hear the mysteries enter therein. The doors are shut lest any catechumen should find his way in. And while the bishop is arguing about and expounding the details, so loud are the voices of those applauding that they are heard outside the church.154 For truly all the mysteries are made so plain that there is no one but is moved by the things that he hears thus expounded.
[Given both in Syriac and Greek.] And since in that province some of the people know both Syriac and Greek, but others Greek alone or Syriac alone, and since, therefore, the bishop (although he may know Syriac) always speaks Greek,155 and never Syriac, a priest always stands by who interprets in Syriac what the bishop says in Greek, so that all may understand the explanations. And since it is necessary that the lessons read in church shall be read in Greek, a man stands by who interprets in Syriac that the people may receive instruction. And that the Latins, who know neither Syriac nor Greek, may not be saddened, an explanation is also given to them in Latin by those brothers and sisters present who understand both Greek and Latin. But above everything else it seemed to me very pleasing and admirable that the hymns, antiphons, and lessons, as well as the prayers said by the bishop, always contain expressions suitable to the day which is being observed, and the place where the service is being held.156
[Dedication festival.] Those days are called the days of Dedication,157 on which the holy church in Golgotha, called the Martyrium, and the holy church at the Anastasis, where the Lord rose after His passion, were consecrated to God. The dedication festival of these holy churches is observed with the greatest honour, since the Cross of the Lord was found on that day. For so it was ordained that the day on which first the above-mentioned holy churches were consecrated should be the day on which the Cross of the Lord was found, that it should be thus observed with all manner of joy. And this, too, we find in the Holy Scriptures, for that was the day of dedication on which holy Solomon, when the house of God which he had built was completed, stood before the altar of God, and prayed as it is written in the books of Chronicles.158
[Attended by large crowds.] When, then, the dedication festival has come, eight days are observed; for many days before they begin to assemble from every quarter, not only monks and Renuntiants from the different provinces of Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, or the Thebaid, where there are a number of monks, but from all sorts of different places and provinces. For there is no one who does not for that day wend his way to Jerusalem for such great rejoicing and so honourable a festival; even secular persons, both men and women, with faithful hearts, for the sake of this festival, collect at this time at Jerusalem from all the provinces. The bishops at fewest are in Jerusalem at this time to the number of forty or fifty, and with them come many of their clergy. In short, a man thinks he has committed a grievous sin if he is not present on so solemn an occasion, provided that no necessity has prevented him, such as may keep one from a good design. During these days of the dedication, the decoration of all the churches is the same as at Easter and Epiphany; and on the several days they proceed to the different places as at those seasons. For on the first and second day they proceed to the Great Church – the Martyrium; on the third day to Olivet, to the church on the mountain itself, from which the Lord ascended into heaven after His Passion, below which church is that cave in which the Lord taught the Apostles on the Mount of Olives. And on the fourth day ....
S. SILVIAE AQVITANAE
PEREGRINATIO AD LOCA SANCTA.
[The Latin text has been omitted from this online edition.]
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE PILGRIMAGE OF S. SILVIA.
THE fragmentary MS. of S. Silvia's pilgrimage opens with a minute and accurate description of Mount Sinai, Jebel Músá, and its vicinity. She had come from Faran, now Feirán in the Wády Feirán, which is stated (p. 19) to be thirty-five Roman miles from the Mount of God – a distance that agrees very well with the actual measurement, thirty and a half English miles from Feirán to the foot of the Rás Sufsáfeh. This statement disposes effectually of the theory, advocated by Lepsius and others, that Jebel Serbál was regarded as Mount Sinai.
The route followed was evidently that by Wády Soláf, and Nagb Hawa, 'Pass of the Wind,' to the plain of er Ráhah. At the northern entrance of the Nagb are some very interesting megalithic remains, which are connected by a quaint Bedawí legend with the history of Moses and the children of Israel. These remains, called by S. Silvia the 'Graves of Lust,' consist of several nawámís or stone houses, and immense stone-circles that present the appearance of a gigantic cemetery. The Nagb is a fine pass through the wall of granite cliffs that, in the eyes of the Bedawín, seem to guard the inner recesses of the 'Mountains of Our Lord Moses.' It is from 200 to 300 yards wide, and on either side granite peaks and precipices tower to a height of 2,000 feet above the path. Four miles from the entrance a first glimpse is caught of the majestic cliffs of Rás Sufsáfeh, four miles away, closing the prospect at the end of the long vista of mountains. Here prayers are frequently offered, and the distance agrees with that given by S. Silvia; but it seems clear that the spot at which she really stopped to pray was two miles further on – at the highest point of the pass, where the traveller is face to face with the Rás Sufsáfeh, less than two miles distant, and obtains a full view of the entire plain of er Ráhah.
The mountain mass of Musá Sufsáfeh, described by S. Silvia as 'Sinai, the Mount of God,' is about two miles long, and a mile broad, with its longest dimension from S.E. to N.W.; its general elevation is 6,500 feet above the sea, but, at its southern extremity, Jebel Musá rises to 7,363 feet, and at its northern end the peak of Rás Sufsáfeh to 6,937 feet, whilst the intervening space is cut up by a series of deep clefts into numerous peaks of lower altitude. The mass is bounded on the west by the ravine of Wády el Lejá, and on the east by Wády ed Deir, in which the Convent of S. Katherine stands; both valleys run northwards, and the former, after sweeping round the foot of the Rás Sufsáfeh, which rises abruptly to a height of 2,000 feet, unites with the W. ed Deir, and takes its name. To the north of the Rás Sufsáfeh, and sloping uniformly down to its very base, lies the plain, or Wády, er Ráhah, flanked on either side by imposing masses of granite, and containing 400 acres of open ground directly in front of the mountain. The southern boundary is formed by Wády Seb'aíyeh, the bed of which is separated by nearly a mile and a quarter of rugged broken ground from the precipice which forms the southern face of the peak of Jebel Musá proper.
The great mountain feature of Musá-Sufsáfeh is thus almost isolated, and this peculiarity is noticed by S. Silvia (p. 12), who also distinguishes 'the whole range,' which she calls 'the Mount of God,' from the actual peak of Jebel Musá, which was 'specially called Sinai,' and was 'higher than all the others.' She is also correct in stating that the peak of J. Musá cannot be seen by anyone ascending, as she did from the west, until he comes to its very foot, and that it is visible from Wády ed Deir on the east side. The length of the valley, sixteen miles, is greatly exaggerated, for the distance from the north end of er Ráhah to Jebel Moneijáh, at the head of W. ed Deir, which is regarded as part of the 'great valley,' is very little more than four miles. The average width of er Ráhah is only half a mile, and even if measured in the Seil Lejá, at the foot of the Rás Sufsáfeh, the breadth would be only two miles.
Crossing the plain of er Ráhah, 'in which the Children of Israel waited during the days when holy Moses went up into the Mount of God' (p. 12), S. Silvia stopped at one of the convents in the Wády el Lejá, probably that now known as the Arb'aín, as it is nearest to the point at which the ascent from the west side commences. There are five roads up J. Musá, of which four are ancient and one is modern. Two of the former start from W. ed Deir the third starts from W. el Lejá, near the convent of the Arb'aín, and the fourth, which is the easiest of all, runs up Wády Sh'reich, a deep valley in the heart of the mountain, which runs nearly parallel to W. el Lejá, and has its mouth at the foot of the cliff of Rás Sufsáfeh. The narrative seems to indicate that S. Silvia ascended by the steep path from the Wády el Lejá, and that she crossed the mountain in the opposite direction to that followed by pilgrims in the present day, who ascend from Wády ed Deir and descend to the Arb'aín in W. el Lejá.
On the highest peak of Sinai S. Silvia visited the small church on the spot 'where the law was given' (p. 13) and the 'cave where holy Moses was' (p. 14); and on leaving the church she was given a small present of fruit, a custom which, under a slightly altered form, has survived to this day. On the summit of J. Musá there is now a small chapel, and over 'the cave' there is a mosque; both are built with stones taken from an earlier church, perhaps that mentioned by S. Silvia, of which many fragments may be seen on the mountain side. Antoninus (xxxvii.) also mentions the fact that no one slept in the church. Sinai is said (p. 15) to overtop all the other mountains, and the view from it is described as embracing Egypt, Palestine, and the Mediterranean and Red Seas. This has led some writers to suppose that S. Silvia ascended Jebel Katharína, the highest mountain in the Peninsula, but it is quite clear that she did not do this, for she arrived late one evening, crossed Mount Sinai next day to 'the Bush,' where the convent of S. Katherine now stands, and the following day, after visiting the holy places in the er Ráhah plain, commenced her return journey. She could not therefore have had time to climb J. Katharína. There can be little doubt that S. Silvia was misinformed by her guides, as travellers and pilgrims often are at the present day. Until Dr. Robinson visited Sinai it was very generally supposed that the Red Sea could be seen from J. Musá, and that the view was much more extensive than it really is. This was probably due to the difficulty which an untrained eye experiences in distinguishing distant objects in the desert haze.
Descending from the peak S. Silvia reached Horeb, where was the cave in which 'holy Elijah hid,' in front of the door of a small church. This place appears to be the mountain basin in which the cave and chapel of Elijah are now shown. The identification of Horeb as a part of the 'Mount of God' is interesting; in the sixth century Antoninus was shown Jebel ed Deir as Horeb. The place where Aaron stood with the seventy elders is shown a short distance north of the chapel of Elijah. From this point our pilgrim descended by the path, Sikket Syedná
Group of Mount Sinai from the Ordnance Survey
Musá, now used by pilgrims in their ascent, to Wády ed Deir and the place of 'the Bush,' where there were many monasteries and a church. Before the church there was 'a very pleasant garden, with abundance of good water,' as there is at present. The allusion to the valley in which 'the Bush' was, as being the head of the 'valley lying under the Mount of God' (p. 16), identifies it with certainty as the W. ed Deir which can be seen to its rise in J. Moneijáh from the plain of er Ráhah. The 'place of the Bush' was probably the spot now shown in the chapel of the Burning Bush, within the walls of the convent of S. Katherine. The descriptions of the manner in which the monks and anchorites lived round the church at the place of 'the Bush 'agree with those of Ammonius and Nilus, who visited the Peninsula about the same period as S. Silvia; but the lady had no experience of the Saracen raids from which the two men had such narrow escapes.
After sleeping near 'the Bush,' S. Silvia went down W. ed Deir to er Ráhah, where she was shown a number of holy places, of which only a few can now be identified. The place where the Children of Israel encamped is the plain of er Ráhah; the place where the calf was made is the 'mould of the calf,' near the mouth of Wády Sh'reich; the summit of the mountain from which Moses looked down is the top of the Rás Sufsáfeh; the 'stream of which holy Moses made the children of Israel to drink ' (Exod. xxxii. 20) is that which runs down W. Sh'reich; and the 'place of the Burning' is probably the spot now shown in the Seil Lejá as that where Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up. After seeing these places S. Silvia commenced her return journey to Faran, and appears to have slept the first night in one of the convents, of which the ruins are still to be seen in Wády et T'láh.
The route from Faran to Clysma, Suez, appears to have been that followed by travellers who journey by W. Feirán to Jebel Músá; but unfortunately S. Silvia described the stations in a portion of the MS. which has been lost. The only locality alluded to (p. 19) is the long narrow coast plain of el Murkheiyeh, which is nowhere more than a mile wide, and is in places so narrow as to leave only a few yards between the sea and the cliffs. The statement (p. 20) that the Israelites, after leaving Rameses, reached the Red Sea at Clysma, is the earliest indication of the tradition that they crossed the sea in the vicinity of Suez. There are at present three theories with regard to the point at which the passage was effected: (1) that of Linant, Poole, and Naville, who place it near the Serapeum, between Lake Timsah and the Bitter Lakes; (2) that of Sir W. Dawson, who is in favour of a route through the shallow southern end of the Bitter Lakes; and (3) that of Ebers, Gobet, and others, who support the traditional view that it was near Suez. The merits of these theories need not be discussed here; the truth can hardly be ascertained unless some happy accident discloses the exact position of Pi-hahiroth, Baalzephon, or Migdol.
From Clysma S. Silvia proceeded to 'the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen,' and thence by Pelusium to Palestine. She evidently travelled to Goshen by the usual road, on which the halting-places were forts and monasteries; and this road passed through Migdol, Pithom, which was then called Heroöpolis, and Rameses, to the city of Arabia, where it joined the main road from the Thebaid to Pelusium. Pithom-Heroöpolis has been satisfactorily identified by M. Naville with Tell el Maskhuta on the line of railway between Ismailia and Zagazig; Rameses, where two great statues were shown as those of Moses and Aaron, and where there was a sycamore-tree 'planted by the patriarchs,' appears to have been Saft el Henneh, a place which M. Naville identifies with Phacusa and Rameses, and where he found an inscription, in which the sycamore-tree of Sopt was mentioned; and the 'City of Arabia,' four miles from Rameses, was probably Thou, the point at which, according to the Antonine Itinerary, the road to Clysma left the direct route from Memphis to Pelusium.
Saft el Henneh is the only ancient site at which the remains of large statues and a tradition relating to a sycamore-tree have been found combined; and the locality in which we should naturally look for Thou is the vicinity of Abu Hammad, where a tongue of the desert projects, and separates the Wády Tumeilat from the cultivated land of the Delta proper. In this case we must suppose that S. Silvia went straight to Rameses, Saft el Henneh, and turned back to reach the City of Arabia, Thou, near Abu Hammad. It is, however, possible that Bubastis was pointed out to her as the 'City of Arabia,' and that she followed the road thence to Pelusium.
The distances given by S. Silvia are as follows: (1) Between Clysma and the City of Arabia there were four desert stations; that is, there were five marches, probably three to Pithom-Heroöpolis, and two on to the City of Arabia. The five marches agree well with the distance from Suez, through Tell el Maskhuta, to Abu Hammad (about eighty-four English miles) or to Tell Basta (about ninety-four miles). (2) The distance from Heroöpolis to the Land of Goshen is said to have been sixteen Roman miles, which, if measured westward from Tell el Maskhuta would bring a traveller to a point within the limits of the district generally believed to have been the Land of Goshen; and if we may suppose that the MS. is corrupt, and that the proper reading is twenty-six miles, a point near Abu Hammad, or Thou, would be reached. (3) The four miles from Rameses to the City of Arabia (p. 22) agree well with the distance from Saft el Henneh to Abu Hammad, and fairly with that from the same place to Tell Basta. The great accuracy of S. Silvia's description of Sinai leads me to attach more importance to the journal of her travels in Egypt than M. Naville has done in his valuable work on Goshen (pp. 19, 20); though we can of course only take what she says as the prevailing tradition at the close of the fourth century. Possibly the first portion of the MS., which has been lost, may have contained an account of the earlier visit to Goshen (p. 20) that would have enabled us to identify the places with certainty.
From the City of Arabia S. Silvia journeyed for two days by the ordinary highway along the banks of the Nile, and through the Land of Goshen to Taphnis, which had once been Pharaoh's metropolis, and where Moses was born. Thence she proceeded to Pelusium, and so on by the coast road to Palestine and Jerusalem. The description of the route leads us to infer that she followed the main road along the right bank of the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, which is given in the Antonine Itinerary, viz., Thou – Tacasarta – Daphnæ – Pelusium. In that case Taphnis would be Daphnæ, Tell Defenneh, where Mr. Flinders Petrie uncovered 'Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes.' The other alternative is that she followed a road between the Pelusiac and the Tanitic arms of the Nile, and passed through Tanis, Zoan, the modern San; but in this case she could hardly have travelled for two days through the Land of Goshen, which apparently lay east of the Nile.
After resting some time at Jerusalem S. Silvia set out with a number of holy men and monks for Mount Nebo. They first reached the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan, probably a little below Kasr el Yehúd, and after crossing the river went on to Livias, Tell er Rámeh in the plain where the Children of Israel encamped. (See Antoninus Martyr, App. I.) From Livias they were taken to see 'the water which flowed out of the rock, which Moses gave to the Children of Israel when they were athirst.' The spring was between a monastery and a church, and there is little difficulty in recognising it as the 'Ayún Musá. 'There is a cave,' Major Conder writes to me, 'near there which might be the chapel in question.' It is one of the largest streams east of Jordan, and the name of the ruin, el Mesh-hed, near it shows that it was once a sacred place. The ruins are described (Memoir to Survey of Eastern Palestine p. 194) as 'foundations of a small tower.'
On the summit of Mount Nebo, Jebel Neb'a, there was a church, now probably forming part of the ruins of Siághah, which Major Conder assigns to the third or fourth century A.D. Some mouldings and capitals are given in the Memoir of Eastern Palestine (p. 154). S. Silvia describes the view from Mount Nebo in language which, though somewhat vague, is evidently that of an eye-witness; and she specially mentions the following places: (1) Segor is probably Shaghúr, which is about six miles from the Dead Sea. The pillar of Salt, which had disappeared at the date of S. Silvia's visit, was confidently pointed out in the twelfth century; (2) Esebon is Heshbon, now Hesbán; (3) Sasdra of Og, i.e., Edrei. The true site of Edrei cannot be seen from Mount Nebo, as the view northwards is limited by Jebel Osh'a; but Major Conder has suggested that the ruin Edh Dhra'a on the ridge near 'Arák el Emír, may have been wrongly identified with the more distant Edrei; (4) Fogor, or Bethfogor, was, according to Eusebius and Jerome, about six miles from Livias. Mention is also made in the Onomasticon of a Mount Fogor, on which was situated Dannaba, seven miles from Heshbon. No name has been found to suggest an identification; but Mount Fogor, or Peor, was apparently between Wády Hesbán and Wády Ná'aúr; (5) Agrispecula. Major Conder writes: 'This is one of the high rocks which rise from the plateau beneath Nebo, probably Khazeikat en Nasábah, 'the upright stakes,' a conspicuous point.
From Mount Nebo S. Silvia returned to Jerusalem, and then set out to visit the grave of Job, in the region of Ausitis or Uz. The first point mentioned is Carneas, apparently Ashtoroth-Carnaim, which was probably pointed out to her at Tell Ashtarah, near the traditional home of Job at Sheikh S'ad. It was the general belief of the early Christians that Uz lay at this site in Bashan, where Job's stone is still shown; the 'Land of Uz' of the Old Testament must, however, be looked for in the vicinity of Edom. S. Silvia mentions that between Jerusalem and Carneas there were eight stations, or nine marches, and on the journey she was shown Salem, then called Sedima, the ruins of the palace of Melchizedek, and the fountain, Ænon, where S. John Baptist had baptized. Eusebius and Jerome place Ænon and Salem, at which the ruins of the palace of Melchizedek were still to be seen, eight miles south of Scythopolis, Bethshean, now Beisán; and it seems clear that S. Silvia alludes to the same place. She states (p. 30) that she saw 'above the bank of the river Jordan a very fair and pleasant valley,' in which, 'in the midst of the plain,' was Sedima, or Salem, with a tumulus -shaped mound surmounted by a church; and after leaving Salem she went (p. 32) 'for some time through the valley of the Jordan above the bank of the river.' This would lead us to look for Salem in or close to the Jordan Valley, and the description of the abundance of water agrees well with the remarkable group of seven springs, about seven and a half miles from Beisán, near which is the artificial mound of Tell Ridhghah, with the tomb of Sheikh Sálim on its summit; the place apparently identified by Eusebius and Jerome with Salem. Major Conder, however, is of opinion that the site alluded to was that near the Wady Far'ah, which he identifies with the Ænon of the New Testament. The next place mentioned, Thisbe, which was seen whilst travelling up the Jordan Valley, seems to have been Pella, Fahíl, which would have been visible on the right soon after leaving Tell Ridhghah. Further on S. Silvia saw 'a very pleasant valley on the left approaching us,' through which a large stream ran to the Jordan; this valley she was told was that of the Cherith. Some annotators have supposed, from the statement that the valley was on the left, that the valley of Jezreel is intended; but if S. Silvia crossed the Jordan near Beisán, and ascended to the plateau by the road leading through Umm Keis, Gadara, she would have had the valley of the Yarmuk on her left; and this may be the valley to which she alludes. The 'great and lofty mountain' (p. 33) is probably Hermon and the range of Anti-Lebanon. Here, unfortunately, a page of the MS. is missing, and we only know that the pilgrim lady, after communicating in the church dedicated to Job, returned to Jerusalem by a road that she had travelled over three years previously.
After a prolonged sojourn in Jerusalem S. Silvia determined, she tells us, to return to her own country after visiting Mesopotamia, and especially the martyr-memorial of S. Thomas at Edessa, which was at the twenty-fifth station from Jerusalem. Her route is not given in detail, but she probably travelled by the main roads, and most of the places mentioned are easily identified. Antioch, the well-known city on the Orontes; Hieropolis, now Membij, the capital of the province of Augusta-Euphratensis; Batanis, or Batnai, now Saruj; Charron, now Harrán; Edessa, now Urfah; Nisibis, now Nisibin; and Hur, five stations beyond Nisibis, which is apparently the place, not yet identified, mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, as a 'Castle' existing in his day between Atrai, el Hadhr and Nisibis. After returning to Antioch, S. Silvia journeyed through Cilicia to Tarsus; Pompeiopolis, near Mersina; Coricus, now Korghos; and Seleucia, now Selefkeh, where she visited the church of S. Thecla, on a hill near the town. At this period the boundary between Cilicia and Isauria was between Pompeiopolis and Corycus, apparently the same as that which separated Cilicia from Cilicia Tracheia. From Seleucia she retraced her steps to Tarsus; and thence travelled, probably by the road described in the Itinerary of the Bordeaux Pilgrim, to Chalcedon and Constantinople. The first station out of Tarsus, Mansocrinae (Mansucrinae, Itin. Hierosol.), midway between Tarsus and the Cilician gates, is alone mentioned. (See 'Bord. Pilgrim,' Eng. ed., p. 40.)
I have been much struck by the accuracy of S. Silvia's topographical descriptions; they are evidently those of a person who has seen the places described, and have apparently been compiled from notes written on the ground. I have to thank Major Conder for several valuable suggestions respecting the Palestine sites east and west of Jordan.
C. W. W.
[The Index has been omitted from this online edition.]