תמונות בעמוד

sings the gospel. The last order is that of the priests, who are either seculars or regulars.

According to the orders in the pontifical, when a person is to be ordained a priest, two deacons accompany him to the sacred doors, and there deliver him into the hands of the priests. The protopapas, and he who is next in dignity to him, lead him three times round the altar, singing the hymn of the martyrs. The candidate for the priesthood then kneels down, and the ordinant makes three times over bis head the sign of the cross, repeats the prayers adapted to that particular occasion, and lays his hands upon him. In one of the prayers in particular, the ordinant enumerates the principal functions of a priest,-viz., those of sacrificing, preaching the gospel, and administering the sacrament of baptism, &c. These prayers being concluded, he orders the new priest to rise, and puts the band of the horary, which hung down behind, over his right shoulder. He then presents him with the epitrachelium, or the stole; and the phelonium, or the surplice ; the choir singing during the whole of the time this ceremony is performing. A deacon afterwards pronounces the following exhortation, Let us love one another. Then the patriarch kisses the altar, and each priest approaches the sacred table in regular order, according to his rank and dignity, and not only kisses it, but also the patriarch's hand, which lies upon it, and then his cheek. The priests salute each other, and the deacons follow their example.

The priests wear a white woollen fillet behind their hats or caps, which hangs down upon their shoulders, and is called “ peristera,” that is to say, a dode; and is looked upon as an emblem or figure of the innocence and purity of the priesthood. The bishop moves this dove from any priest under bis jurisdiction, who is proved guilty of any enormous offence; and the majority of them are so notoriously vicious, that very few can boast of wearing this badge of innocence for any long period of time.

At the ordination of a bishop, the priests deliver him into the hands of two prelates, who oblige him to make a formal procession round the altar, as in the preceding ordinations. After these preliminary ceremonies, the chartophylax, or archivist, delivers the contacium, which is a small collection of degrees, forms, &c. relating to the election of a bishop, to the patriarch, who takes it in luis left hand, and lays his right on the candidate for the bishopric, in order to read the form of his election ; after this lesson, he opens the book of the gospels, and lays it on the head of the candidate, all the assistant bishops laying their hands on the book at the same time: all these ceremonies are accompanied with several prayers which are suitable to the solemn occasion.

The prayers being over, the ordinant takes the book from the head of the bishop elect, and having deposited it on the altar, presents him with the pallium : this ceremony is accompanied with singing and with holy kisses.

The Greeks are, in general, an ignorant and superstitious people. Superstitious Amongst their superstitious customs, the following may be Customs. included as some of the most extraordinary :

They attach a particular sanctity to some fountains, which they look upon as miraculous waters, especially when they are devoted to the service of any celebrated saint. This superstitious notion appears to be a true copy of a pagan original.

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They think it a duty incumbent upon them to refrain from blood, and all meats that have been strangled ; but notwithstanding this scruple of conscience, they are not very nice in regard to the kind of provisions which are set before them. If they be strict, however, in the observance of this custom, they are in that respect very nearly allied to the Jews.

They call the Nile the Monarch of the Floods; and are of opinion, that the overflowing of this river is a peculiar blessing, and an indulgence of the Almighty to Egypt, on account of our Saviour and the Blessed Virgin having been sheltered and protected in that country from the persecutions of Herod.

Their art of physic, which is generally practised by empirics and ignorant pretenders, is accompanied by innumerable superstitions. The following may be adduced as a striking instance of the extent of their medical knowledge. When their patients' heads are so very much disordered as to cause delirium, they use the same means for their recovery as for a demoniac, or one possessed with the devil. The physician in this case ceases to prescribe for him ; but his friends make an immediate application to an exorcist; that is, to one of their papas, who approaches the patient's bed-side, and not only reads several prayers over him, but sprinkles him with holy water. He pours likewise a plentiful quantity of it into the bed in which the patient lies, and, in short, sprinkles the room all over. The exorcisms ensue, and the papas in the most solemn manner expel the imaginary demons. Conceit effects a cure which was supposed to be beyond the skill of the most able physician.

The Greeks are extremely fond of visiting their churches and chapels, especially such as are on precipices, and places very difficult of access; and, indeed, the principal part of their devotion consists in voluntary fatigue, which is, in their eyes, a kind of mortification of the flesh. On their first arrival at the church or chapel, they repeatedly cross themselves, and make numerous genuflexions and profound bows. They kiss the image which is erected in it, and present it with three or four grains of the choicest frankincense ; recommending themselves to the protection of the Blessed Virgin, or to the saint whom the image represents; but in case the saint does not incline his ear, and hearken to their vows, they soon make him sensible of their resentment.

One of the greatest frauds engendered by superstition, is the urn of Amorgos, which is looked upon as the oracle of the Archipelago. It has this in common with the ancient oracles of Greece, that it is indebted to the artifice and roguery of the priests for the fame of its predictions. This urn, which stands near a chapel consecrated to St. George, fills and disembogues itself several times in the course of a day, and sometimes within so small a period as half an hour, which is looked upon as a miracle, and ascribed to the prevailing influence and power of St. George. This is the very same St. George who, at Scyros, flies at and seizes upon those impious persons who neglect to perform their vows. His image, according to traditionary report, lays violent hands on the delinquents, jumps upon their shoulders, and gives them many severe blows on the head and back, till they have discharged the duty incumbent on them. They see him sailing in the air, and frisking about from one place to another, till at last he settles

upon the back of a blind monk, who carries him he knows not

If any

whither. Those who consult 'the urn of Amorgos before they engage in any affair of the last importance, are sure to prove unsuccessful if, upon their first approach, they find the water lower than ordinary. Father Richard assures us, that the islanders annually, at Easter, consult this urn of Amorgos, which, from its fulness or emptiness, presages a plentifnl or a bad harvest.

There is a very particular custom observed in the island of Andros, the origin of which, however, has hitherto baffled the most rigid inquiry. At the procession on the festival of Corpus Christi, the bishop of the Romish church, who carries the body of our blessed Saviour, tramples under foot all the Christians, of whatever sect they may be, who lie prostrate before him in the streets. The same custom is observed at Naxos, and the missionary who relates the story adds, that such as have any sick persons in their family bring them out, in order to lie in the way of the blessed Sacrament; and the more they are trodden, the nearer they approach to convalescence.

The inhabitants of some part of the island of Chios are of opinion that a corpse, which is not corrupted in forty days, is transformed into a familiar spirit, or hobgoblin, which is very troublesome and impertinent, knocks at people's doors, and even calls them distinctly by their names. person presumes to answer to his call, they think he will most assuredly die in two or three days at furthest.

At Nicaria, near Samos, the inhabitants, who are all swimmers, will not marry their daughters to any but such young fellows who can dive eight fathoms deep at least. They are obliged to produce a certificate of their diving ability, and when a papa, or some substantial islander, is determined to dispose of his daughter in marriage, he appoints a day when the best swimmer is to bear away the prize. As soon as the candidates are all stripped naked, the young lady makes her personal appearance, and in they jump. He who continues longest under water is the fortunate bridegroom.

The Greeks of the Holy Land assert, and firmly believe it to be a real fact, that the birds which fly round about Jerusalem never sing during passion week ; but stand motionless and confounded almost all the time, testifying a sympathetic sorrow and compassion for the sufferings of our Saviour.

The sacred fire of the Greeks is a ceremony more superstitious than religious; a whimsical, merry custom, which is very justly a stumblingblock and rock of offence to several serious Mahometans, instilling into their minds a most contemptible idea of the Eastern Christians. In short, it is nothing but a piece of priestcraft, to cheat the too credulous pilgrims out of their money, by making them believe that, on Easter-eve, a fire descends from heaven into the sacred sepulchre. The Turks are no strangers to this pious fraud, but connive at it, because it is very advantageous to them; and the patriarchs on their part declare that they could never pay their taxes, nor their tributes, if this stratagem, however unbecoming the practice of a Christian, should be discovered and exposed. Thevenot has given us the following description of this religious farce. “ About eight in the morning the Greeks extinguish all their lamps, and those in the sacred sepulchre. Then they run about, staring like persons distracted,

bawling and making an hideous howling, without any regard or reverence to the sacred place. Every time they passed the holy sepulchre, they cried out Eleyson! that is, 'Have mercy upon us !' It was very diverting to see them afterwards jump upon one another's backs, kicking one another's shins, and flogging each other on the shoulders with knotted cords. A whole crowd of them got together, and taking up some of their comrades in their arms, ran for some time with them round the sepulchre, until, at last, they threw them down in the dirt, and laughed till they hallooed again at their own unlucky gambols. Those, on the other hand, who had thus been made the laughing-stocks of the crowd, ran in their turn after the others, in order to be equally mischievous, and to revenge themselves for the affront which they had received ; in short, they all acted like a set of idle fools and merry-andrews. Every now and then they would lift up their eyes to heaven, and hold up their wax-tapers, with outstretched arms, as if they implored the Almighty to send down his celestial fire to light them. After this folly and extravagance had continued till about three o'clock in the evening, two archbishops and two Greek bishops, dressed in their patriarchal robes and coifs, marched out of the choir, attended by the clergy, and began their procession round the sepulchre : the Armenians likewise attended, with their clergy, followed by the Coptan bishop. After they had taken three solemn tours around the sepulchre, a Greek bishop came out of the Chapel of the Angel, which is at the entrance of the sepulchre, and informed the individual who personated the Patriarch of Jerusalem, that the sacred fire had descended from heaven. He then entered the holy sepulchre with a large bundle of waxtapers in each hand, and after him the prelate, who represented the Armenian patriarch, and the bishop of the Copti. Some short time afterwards, the Greek archbishop came out in a very whimsical posture, marching with his eyes cast upon the ground, and both his hands full of lighted wax-tapers. As soon as he appeared, the mob crowded upon one another's shoulders, kicking and boxing one another, to reach the prelate, for the purpose of lighting their tapers by that which he held in his hand ; because that fire which comes immediately from his, is looked

upon to be the purest and most holy. In the mean time the Janizaries, who were the guards of the sepulchre, dealt their blows indiscriminately about then, to make room for the archbishop, who used his utmost endeavours to get clear of the crowd. At last he came to a stone altar, which stood before the door of the choir, and opposite that of the holy sepulchre. Immediately the populace flocked round about him for some of his sacred fire; but those who liad lighted their tapers, in their endeavours to retreat, were overpowered by others, wlio very devoutly struck them with their fists, and took away the fire that had cost them so much labour and fatigue to procure : in short, the gravest of them all threw down and trampled their neighbours under foot, to get close to the prelate. At last, the Greek archbishop withdrew; the Armenian bishop retired to the church of the Armenians, and the Coptan bishop to that of the Copti. In the mean time, the Turks, who kept the door of the holy sepulchre, permitted none to enter but those who paid for lighting their wax-tapers at the lamps of that sanctuary, as those lamps are the first that are touched by the sacred fire. In a few minutes after, the church was illuminated with above two thousand branches of blazing torches, whilst the numerous congregation, hooting like madmen, began to repeat their former frolics. A man, with a drum at his back, ran with all imaginable speed round the sacred sepulchre, and another ran after him, and drummed upon it with two sticks; when he was tired, a third supplied his place. Devotion, or rather custom, enjoins the Greeks not to eat nor drink that day, till they have received the sacred fire.”

Some ascribe the origin of this superstition to a real miracle, which they pretend was formerly wrought in the presence of the whole congregation on Easter-eve, in the church belonging to the holy sepulchre. The Almighty sent down celestial flame into this divine monument, which kindled or lighted again all the lamps, which by the orders of the Church are extinguished in passion week, and thereby indulged them with new fire. Every one was an eye-witness of the descent of this new flame from heaven, which darted from one place to another, and kindled every lamp and taper that was extinguished. It is added, also, that the Almighty, being provoked at the irregularities and disorders of the Christian Crusades, refused to work this miracle one Easter-eve, when they were assembled together in the most solemn manner, to be spectators of the descent of his celestial fire ; but that, at last, he vouchsafed to have mercy on them, and incline his ear to their fervent prayers and repeated supplications. The. descent of this holy fire continued for seven hundred and fifty years after the time of St. Jerome; but since that period, it has, owing to some reason not easily defined, been wholly discontinued: the most probable conjecture is, that the whole fraud was discovered, and an end was consequently put to the enactment of this religious farce.

This ceremony of the sacred fire, which is so whimsical and extravagant, and so unbecoming the practice of a Christian, has introduced another superstitious custom very conformable to its romantic original. In this same church of the holy sepulchre, there are some men and women who have several pieces of linen cloth lying before them, which they mark from one end to the other with a cross, made by the tapers kindled at the sacred fire. Thus marked, they serve for the shrouds or winding-sheets of these good devotees, and are reserved for that solemn purpose, as the most sacred relics.

Amongst the superstitious customs of the Greeks, may be included the marks which the pilgrims imprint upon their arms, and which they take care to produce as a certificate of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. These marks are made with some particular wooden moulds, filled with charcoaldust, and afterwards pressed hard upon the arm. As soon as the part is thus stamped, it is pricked with an instrument full of needles ; it is then bound up, and a scurf or scab generally rises upon the place, which falls off again in about two or three days; but the blue impression remains ever after.

There is a stone still to be seen not far from Bethlehem which is perfectly white, and which colour we are told is owing to the extraordinary - virtue of the Blessed Virgin's milk. The Greeks assure us, that this stone will infallibly fill a woman's breast with milk; and even the Turks themselves, and the Arabians, are so strongly riveted to the same belief, that they oblige their wives, who have sucking infants at their breasts,


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