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assisted him in sacerdotal habits of the greatest beauty, advanced at a slow pace towards the altar, and the singers struck up the Hosanna Filio David, which the people repeated with the warmest devotion.
Meanwhile, the reverend Father who officiated blessed the palms: he then took one for himself, adorned with flowers, so wreathed as to form at top the pontifical crown, and gave one, nearly similar, to the Father Procuratore. He afterwards distributed a number of others among the monks and the principal catholics. I had the honour to receive from his hands a very handsome branch, six feet high, which I hope to bring back with me to Europe, and which I shall preserve as one of the favourite memorials of my pilgrimage.
The remaining palms were distributed among the numerous congregation, by which they were received with religious eagerness. Notwithstanding the precautions taken by the good Fathers, it is rarely the case that enough are provided to satisfy the piety of all; and it too frequently happens that those who cannot obtain a share vent their dissatisfaction in loud complaints, or even in violent quarrels. Fortunately, on this occasion, nothing of that kind took place to interrupt or disturb this touching ceremony.
After the benediction and the distribution of the palms, the Father who performed the functions of deacon gave the signal by these words, pronounced in a loud voice :Procedamus in pace – “Let us go in peace” — and the procession immediately began to move. It went thrice round the Holy Sepulchre in perfect order. The magnificence of the ornaments, the harmony of the singing,
the devotion of the congregation, the gravity and modesty of the monks, all concurred to produce a lively and powerful impression; but nothing so deeply touched my soul as the thoughts awakened within me by the chanting of the following words, which express, with such admirable simplicity, the triumph of Jesus when entering Jerusalem :
Pueri Hebræorum fc. « The children of the Jews took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried Hosanna in the highest !”
I could not dwell upon the idea that I was there, on the very spot, perhaps, where had stood one of those children of the Jews, carrying like them in my hand a palm-branch, brought from the same place, shouting like them, saying like them :-“ Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to the Son of David !” treading like them in the footsteps of the Saviour — I could not, I say, dwell upon this idea, without a feeling of tender, lively, and profound gratitude to my God.
Formerly, in order to give a still more accurate representation of the triumphal procession of Jesus Christ, all the Fathers of St. Francis went to Bethphage. On their arrival there, the Father warden dispatched two of the monks to the place which tradition points out as the spot whither Christ sent two of his disciples, saying : “Go into the village over against you,” &c. The monks brought back a she-ass with her colt. Then, throwing their garments on the back of the animal, they placed the most reverend Father upon it, and thus led him to the city by a road which the attendant catholics strewed with leaves of the palm or olive-tree, loudly singing : Hosanna ! In this manner the procession
reached Jerusalem, passing through the gate by which Christ entered the city. The principal reason for the discontinuance of this ceremony is, that it cost a considerable sum to obtain the pacha's permission ; and, for some time past, the small amount of the donations from Europe prevents the Fathers from giving to Mussulman greediness so much as it would demand.
The procession was followed by the mass, which was performed with great solemnity. Were I here to repeat to you, my friend, all that my preceding letters have told you of the lively, soothing, tender, sad, painful, heartrending impressions produced in me by the sight of the most holy places in Palestine, I could not convey to you any idea of the emotions which overpowered my soul, while the passion was chanted in the very tomb of our divine Saviour. No language can express them; and it is not sufficient to have a heart, you must be at Jerusalem, in the church, in presence of that tomb, in order to feel them.
After the procession of the catholics, I had an opportunity of seeing that of the Armenians. Considered merely with reference to the splendour of the sacerdotal ornaments and the number of the persons, it presented a more remarkable scene than that which I had attended. It was certainly a magnificent sight that this immense multitude of Christians displayed, bearing the tall palms beneath which they were hidden, and thus exhibiting the appearance of a moving forest, gradually changing its ground, and affording a view, at intervals, of bishops glittering with silver and gold, priests arrayed in richly embroidered garments, and young Levites sending up
into the air the smoke of incense and other perfumes. But, in spite of this outward pomp, what a difference in all that concerns the regularity of the procession, the gravity of the chanting, the majesty of the ceremonies, the piety of the congregation, the dignity of the priests, the modesty, the devotion, of the monks, &c. The Mussulmans themselves were so struck with it, that several of them have been heard to say, that if they could believe that their religion is not the true one, they would not hesitate to turn catholics. Of the service of the Greeks and the Armenians they speak only with contempt.
Holy-Wednesday, the anniversary of the day on which the Jews held council upon the means by which they might make themselves masters of the person of Jesus, and deliver him up to Pilate, is considered by the churches of the East as a day of stations. At three in the morning, the Fathers of the Holy Land went to the grotto of Gethsemane, where our Lord sweated blood, and was seized through the treachery of Judas. It requires a special permission for laymen and strangers to enter it with them. From half past three till seven, they performed eight masses; after which they recited prime, tierce, and sexte. Agreeably to a custom, already very ancient, a Spanish monk chanted the solemn mass. The station concluded with the litanies of the Blessed Virgin ; and the Fathers returned to the monastery.
At three in the afternoon, the monks of St. Saviour assembled in the church, and, having taken their seats on benches placed before the Holy Sepulchre, they commenced the service of the Darkness, according to the
OFFICE OF THE DARKNESS.
Romish liturgy. This service, which is of very high antiquity, has such a resemblance in its arrangement to that of the Dead, that it cannot fail to remind one of the latter. Without invitatory, without hymn, without benediction, it is stamped with a particular character, which excites in the soul feelings of deep sadness; while, on the other hand, most of the psalms, the prophecies, and the lessons which compose the different parts of it, at the same time that they touch and melt the heart, elevate, expand, and console it.
The office of the Darkness, on Holy-Wednesday, opens with the chanting of the second psalm :
“ Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing ?
“ The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their cords far from us.
“ He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.
“ Then shall he speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
“ Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth !”
Is it not a strange thing, my dear friend, a thing that must produce astonishment not less than admiration, to hear such words around that very tomb into which the hatred of the raging people precipitated its victim, thinking to bury him there for ever? And when one considers that these words were written some thousands of