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As the Latin convent is that most frequented by European travellers, the number of whom has much increased of late years, the monks found it inconvenient to afford accommodation to all, and they, therefore, established an hospicè in the immediate vicinity. To this place we were conducted by Elias, the cook of the establishment, a friendly old fellow, whose attention every traveller will, I am persuaded, acknowledge. We found the best rooms of this inn already occupied by other travellers, and so were compelled to take up our quarters in a cold, dark apartment, with a stone roof, without even the necessary comfort of a fire-place.
A letter from Signior Campanelli procured us the services and kind assistance of Father Benjamin, the curate of the convent. He generally acted as our guide. The curé was a kind, goodnatured creature, but extremely dirty in his habits. He had been but a few years in the country, and had not yet told his tale often enough to believe it himself; for, on questioning him as to the locality of many of the sacred places, he usually finished his speech with, “But I am sure it is all tradition." His evening visits to us were often very acceptable, for he generally produced from underneath his brown cloak a bottle of good wine, much better than that supplied to us by the convent.
After dinner, we proceeded to pay our respects to the superior of the convent, and in passing to his apartment we were conducted through a long gallery, on either side of which were ranged the cells of the Padres, numbers of whom stood waiting at their doors to catch a chance word, to know our country, and hear something of what was going forward in Europe. The reception-room we found a very comfortable apartment, in which were some good old paintings. It was partly hung with tapestry, and a deewan ran along two sides of it. The superior was a stout, intelligent-looking Italian, about forty years of age; courteous, well bred, and apparently well skilled in the art of pleasing. He appeared to be well acquainted with the general affairs of Europe ; and hearing that we had been lately in Spain, he was particularly anxious to learn the success of Don Carlos, in which he seemed to be deeply interested. In the course of conversation, he learned that I was an Irishman, and instantly inquired after Daniel O'Connell, and asked if the bishops of Ireland were not now a very learned body. Being an Irishman
VISIT TO THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
seemed to raise me not a little in his estimation, perhaps from his supposing that I must, of necessity, be also a Roman Catholic, as it is considered in several places abroad, that none others are to be found in Ireland ; and I attribute the attention I received in visiting many places of worship here to this circumstance. The superior invited us to partake of lemonade, and brandy flavoured with aniseed, which brought to our recollection the day we spent at Mafra. In the secretary of the superior I found a good botanist, and a man of more taste and refinement than we were led to believe could exist among the Terra Santa friars. We returned to our hospice, and thus ended our first evening in Jerusalem.
Having taken up our residence in the Holy City, I here close my diary for the present, and instead of dragging my readers from place to place, and enumerating all that we saw and heard, I choose rather to compress my notes of the week which I spent here, into distinct sections upon some of the most remarkable places and objects which have been least dwelt upon or described by recent travellers.
One of the first places visited by the traveller or the pilgrim, is the Holy Sepulchre ; and here I generally spent an hour daily during our sojourn at Jerusalem—for all must be willing to accept the invitation—“Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Our way from the Latin convent to the sepulchre led down through a tolerably wide street, having high dead walls on either side, with low massive doors at intervals, leading into the courts and houses within. Turning to the right, at the end of this street, we proceeded through one of the smaller bazaars, generally filled with ragged Arab women, the vendors of vegetables and snails, the latter of which are much eaten here, especially during the season of lent. Pursuing this path for a short distance, our attention was attracted to a crowd of people of different nations and various costumes hastening towards a narrow lane upon the left. Mixing with these, we found both sides of the lane crowded with shops for the sale of wearing apparel, besides crosses, rosaries, and such other sacred ware. Several crooked turnings, and a steep descent, conducted us into a large square court in front of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Part of this enclosure is raised a few steps, and these steps form the basement of a row of pillars ; so that, in all probability, the whole
COURT OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
of this court was originally covered in. The scene that presented itself in this space was of most novel and exciting interest, and the motley groups of figures that thronged it gave it a very extraordinary appearance. On the upper raised steps were tables spread with coffee, sherbet, sweetmeats, and refreshments; and throughout the court were seated pedlars, and the Bethlehemite vendors of carved shells, beads, ornaments in mother-ofpearl, bituminous amulets, bowls made of the asphaltum of the Dead Sea, and other articles of holy merchandise, some of which each of the pilgrims purchased during their stay. Through these wares, hundreds of persons passed and repassed to the church door. Pilgrims of many nations were to be seen in their different costumes ; Latin, Armenian, Russian, Greek, and Coptish friars, with Turks and Egyptian soldiers, all forming the most extraordinary scene that could be found in any spot upon the globe ; and a polyglot language is heard, such as few other places in the world could exhibit.
The front of the church presents little worth describing. No architectural beauty seems to have been attempted in its erection; and it is now a poor, mean-looking building, and very much defaced, as for many years past the Turks would not permit any
of the Christian edifices to be repaired. The entrance was originally a double arch, supported by three sets of clustered pillars of grey marble and verd-antique. On the architrave above it is represented the Messiah's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, in good basso-relievo. This is a handsome piece of sculpture, but like the others in the building, it too is greatly defaced. Several other scriptural devices are distinguishable round the cornices and windows. On the left stand the ancient helfry and the Greek convent, and on the right, some old walls and ruined houses. We were not a little surprised, upon entering the door of the church, to see the stiff form of an Egyptian soldier guarding the entrance to the tomb of Christ! On the left, upon a raised platform, half a dozen turbaned Turks sat smoking and drinking coffee. These Mohammadans are necessarily placed there, for the purpose of preserving order and decorum among the devout priests and Christian pilgrims during their religious ceremonies! They keep the keys of the church, and open it every morning and evening, except during passionweek, when it remains open the entire day.
One of the first objects that caught our attention on entering the church, was a large oblong slab of variegated yellow marble, raised a few inches from the floor, and having an immense candle burning at each corner. Our cicerone, Padre Benjamin, very gravely informed us, that this was the stone on which our Lord was anointed, and here, on Good Friday, the priests go through a similar ceremony with an effigy of the Saviour. At this spot the daily station of the pilgrim commences, for, on approaching it, he kneels, and not only kisses it, but touches it with his forehead, and then with both cheeks. This is the usual form of salutation at all the holy places. Whence this slab was procured, I cannot possibly discover, as it is totally different from any of the marbles found in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem ; however, tradition has sanctified it, and so we pass on without questioning its antiquity.
A few yards to the right of this anointing-stone, a flight of eighteen steps cut out of the solid rock, led us to a square platform, surrounded by a dome or cupola, distinct from, and of a smaller size than that covering the Holy Sepulchre and the rest of the church. This platform, which is mostly covered with marble and ornamented work, we are told is Calvary. Seventeen paces from the top of the stairs brought us to a low white marble altar, towards which the pilgrims were rushing as quickly as they could on their knees. The attendant priest, perceiving that we were strangers and Europeans, very politely interfered in our behalf. He caught hold of a person who happened to delay too long under the altar, and pulling him back, procured for us an immediate entrance into the aperture. Going down upon my knees, I entered the passage to the crypt beneath. The first thing that attracted my attention on reaching this place, was a large circular plate of embossed silver, fastened on a marble flag, and containing the marks of many precious stones and gems which had been formerly set upon it. In the centre of this plate there is an aperture, into which I sunk my arm, and at about the depth of a foot I found a square hole in the rock, where, it is said, the cross was placed on which our Lord was crucified. A few paces to the right of this spot, we were shown a silver grating which covers a cleft in the rock, which we were told was the exact spot where the rock was rent at the time of the crucifixion. We found no altars over the places where the other two crosses are said to have
THE PLACE OF THE CROSS.
been placed, as was stated to have been in existence there some years ago. I anxiously inquired after the skull of Adam, said to have been found here, but I believe that tale is now better known to the traveller and to the English reader, than to the monks of Jerusalem ; however, of this tradition I shall have occasion to speak in another place. This chapel is now in the hands of the Greeks, who have decorated it with their usual gaudy tinselled paintings. A number of ornamented lamps, suspended from the ceiling, shed a peculiar mellow and sombre light over the place. To the right of where the cross is said to have been fixed, the Latins have erected another altar, where, they say, he was nailed to the cross ; but very few of the pilgrims seemed to pay any reverence to this altar, which, like many other places of the same kind established in the vicinity of those which have been acknowledged as possessing greater antiquity, look like so many “opposition shops.” The walls of this chapel were adorned with faded tapestry; and underneath the platform of rock is a small cript belonging to the Copts, and also a place for preparing coffee. In this chapel is shown a crack or fissure in the rock, corresponding to that in the apartment above; and the examination of it rather induces me to consider the place called Calvary as a portion of the original rock, squared and hewn down to its present form ; but I am at a loss to discover at what time, or under what circumstances, this place received the name of a hill or mount, as no scriptural evidence for such an appellation exists. The top of this plateau is fifteen feet above the floor of the adjoining church, and the bottom is thirty-five yards from the site of the Holy Sepulchre. Whatever may be the diversity of opinion as to the identity of this rock, a subject which I will discuss in another place, it was not, I confess, without feelings of deep emotion that I visited the so-called Calvary.
On many of my visits to this place, particularly at an early hour in the morning, when but comparatively few pilgrims were present, I was greatly struck with the sincere and devotional feeling exhibited by many who slowly and reverently approached the altar on their knees, with tears of sorrow running down their cheeks ; when sighs and stifled groans were the only sounds that broke the stillness of those moments, save the tinkle of the piaster as it fell into the money-tray of the attendant priest, who