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they brandish over the heads of the pilgrims, and which they sometimes apply with such violence as to cover with blood those who would force their way in without paying tribute. This distressing sight I have but too often before my eyes; and I never witness it without being as painfully affected by it as I was the very first time. . I must admit that, among the crowd thronging to the church, there are many sailors from the islands of the Archipelago and Greece - men of rough demeanour and ardent disposition, who require keeping in order by severity; otherwise it would be impossible that the religious ceremonies, successively performed by each of the different nations, could be peaceably and decently solemnized. But the violence, not to say the cruelty of the means employed to preserve order—the arm of a Turk, uplifted over the head of a Christian, whose only crime, after all, is excessive impatience to approach the tomb of his Saviour—this fills me with profound grief ; this rends and revolts my heart.
The day before yesterday, I retired with a soul so afflicted by what I had seen in passing this church, that I could not help going to relieve my heart by communicating to one of our good Fathers the painful feelings which I experienced.
“ Alas !” said he, lifting his eyes towards heaven, “alas ! Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, therefore, is she removed ..... The Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up.'* Let us not deceive ourselves, Father,” he continued ; “let us not seek elsewhere, but in the sins committed by the Christians, especially in the Holy Land,
Lament. Jerem. c. l.
MISCONDUCT OF THE CHRISTIANS
the cause of the mortification we endure to see the holy places in the hands of the enemies of Christ. They are the instruments by which God punishes our iniquities, our ingratitude.” Then, taking a rapid review of the principal traits in the conduct of the Christians, in the years which followed their triumphs in Palestine, he thus proceeded :
“While Godfrey, the honour and glory of the Crusades, not less by his piety than by his valour, and his brother Baldwin, equally celebrated for his courage and his zeal for the faith, reigned at Jerusalem, the Lord, who had blessed their arms, was pleased to bestow the favours of his mercy on the new state subjected to their authority; but those who succeeded them did not tread in their noble steps. The Christian army soon plunged into the most frightful disorders; the scandal, in a short time, attained its highest pitch. It became so great that William, archbishop of Tyre, who had undertaken to write the history of that period, had not the courage to continue it. The counsels of wisdom,' said he, the law of the priesthood, the words of the prophets, are fled; these words of Isaiah are verified in the moral sense, in regard to this people : — The whole head is sick, and the heart is afflicted; from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, there is no sound place in it.'
“ With a deplorable corruption of manners were combined enmities, rivalries, discord, intestine dissensions, which drew upon this country all the scourges of the divine wrath. Fifteen towns, among others Ptolemais, an impregnable fortress, fell, in consequence of these divisions, into the hands of the Saracens. Thousands of
Christians, who had polluted this land by their abominations, perished by water, by the sword, or by fire, till at last the conquest of Godfrey disappeared along with the sad remnant of the conquerors. God is not to be defied with impunity; and when it is Christians who are guilty of such excess, they are the more severely punished for it: they know better what they do.
“ You feel indignant, as well you may,” he continued, “ that the crowd should be kept off with a sort of cruelty, and especially that it should be Turks who treat it in this manner. But, before I tell you all I think on this subject, you must admit with me, that it is not since yesterday, but for ages, that the Mussulman has been commissioned by the Most High to chastise the sinful Christian people. God, who is not frightened at the number of the guilty, gives up to him a whole nation as one man to be punished when it deserves it : look at Greece! On the other hand, do you not perceive something providential in this disposition, which has placed disciples of Mahomet at the door of a Christian temple, and makes them serve as ushers to introduce the disciples of Jesus Christ to their divine master? The Turks, you will tell me, in so doing, have an eye only to the money. But is it for aught else that the servant acts as usher to his master, and the grandee himself very often to his prince? All things are instruments in the hands of God.
“ But, to make you thoroughly acquainted with my sentiments—no doubt, among the thousands of pilgrims attracted by the religious solemnities, the greater number have undertaken so long a journey, amid so many perils, merely from motives of faith and love, in order to
MISCONDUCT OF THE CHRISTIANS.
worship Christ on the spot where he suffered, where he died for us.
Still, how many are here this day who seem to have come to Jerusalem solely to renew the crimes and the disorders which have so frequently drawn upon it the wrath of Heaven! Have you not seen in this venerable church, almost at the foot of Calvary, but a few paces from the sacred tomb, Christians forget that it is written: 'My house is a house of prayer, and ye have made it a den of thieves ?' Is it not Christians who have set up those tables, who buy, who sell, who have turned the most sacred spot on earth into a place of traffic, and hold a vile market in it? A thousand times more guilty than the profaning Jews whom Jesus drove out of the Temple, regardless of the seal of redemption with which they are marked, do they not defy the anathema of religion, and the warnings of piety, which is afflicted and alarmed at their conduct? And are you still astonished, Father, that God should chastise, should humble, that he leaves the whip in the hands of the Mussulman, and does not take from him the custody of his sanctuary! The punishment, the humiliation, are but too well deserved!”
I could not deny that the good monk was right. I had seen, with my own eyes, things more deplorable than he had mentioned, things which my pen dares not detail ; a hideous medley of superstitious practices, of dances, accompanied with yells, with ferocious cries, the bare idea of which excites horror. Happily, Heaven be praised, the Catholics were not implicated in this scandal; it was the Greeks and Armenians only who had taken part in it.
It is unfortunate for the Catholics that their Easter now and then happens at the same time as that of the Schismatic Christians : that was the case this year. The concourse is then so great, that it is no uncommon thing to see persons squeezed to death. Besides, the different ceremonies which those various denominations can only perform successively, are never celebrated with so much regularity and decency, and there is no way to obviate the inconveniences thence resulting, or to prevent accidents. One thing, however, is remarkable, namely, that, notwithstanding this immense concourse of strangers from the Morea, the Archipelago, Constantinople, Russia, Armenia, Natolia, Egypt, Syria, &c., you never hear of any theft or robbery : it may even be asserted that amidst so many pilgrims the most valuable articles are perfectly safe.
On Palm-Sunday commenced the religious ceremonies, held in commemoration of the last mysteries of infinite mercy, accomplished in Jerusalem in the course of this week, to which the church has so justly given the epithet of great. The Franciscan Fathers, the Catholics, who had come on pilgrimage, those of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the environs, repaired early to the church. Several Mahometans had mingled with the crowd, and were remarkable for an air of curiosity and respect. Near the altar, set up at the door of the Holy Sepulchre, lay a heap of palm branches, brought the preceding day, according to custom, from the neighbourhood of Gaza. The Father warden, with mitre and crosier, to which, as I have told you, he is entitled by virtue of his office, and covered with a magnificent purple cope; and the priests, who