Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

338

THE FOOT-WASHING.

door of the Holy Sepulchre with great solemnity. Twelve monks had been appointed beforehand to represent the twelve apostles ; I had the happiness to be one of them. Assisted by a deacon and a sub-deacon, the most reverend Father warden, dressed in an alb, came to us, and, kneeling down, washed our feet with water which he took from a silver basin. He wiped them, made the sign of the cross upon them with his thumb, humbly kissed them, and then gave to each a small crucifix of motherof-pearl, as a memorial.

I had formed the design of washing on that day the feet of twelve poor persons, at the same hour and in the same place where our Lord had performed that office for his disciples; and for this purpose to go to the hall of the Last Supper. I expected to meet with the less difficulty, as my dragoman and I were acquainted with the owner, and I hoped that money would accomplish the rest. To my great regret, he came and told me that he could not grant the favour which I solicited, and that if I had not already visited the hall of the Last Supper, I should have been obliged to make up my mind to leave Jerusalem without seeing it. “ The Egyptian government,” he added, in a positive tone, “ has given me the most precise orders on this subject.” It would not have been prudent to express dissatisfaction or to complain : I insisted no further. Besides, I had been present at a very animated conversation between him and an officer of the pacha's on the same subject, which gave me reason to think that my Turk told the truth.

At half-past three, as on the preceding day, the Fathers came and chanted the service of the Darkness at the

[blocks in formation]

entrance of the Holy Sepulchre. Again I heard the pro. phetic voice of David relating the passion of the Saviour making atonement for the sins of men ; again I heard the plaintive accents of Jeremiah, which the nakedness of the church, stripped of all its ornaments, rendered still more melancholy; and again my tears flowed abundantly.

It is a rule, confirmed by long custom, for the Latin Fathers not to give up the sanctuaries to the professors of the schismatic creeds till the conclusion of the offices, that is to say, till the host has been removed from the Holy Sepulchre. Till then the church is kept shut. This year, a serious altercation had arisen between the Armenians and the Greeks; and the latter, accustomed to pick a quarrel with the Catholics, had not been sparing of abuse of the latter, though they had not interfered at all in the dispute. As this state of things excited some apprehensions for the following day, the Turkish police kept a strict watch at the door, with a view to prevent disturbance.

On Good-Friday, the morning service was performed at Calvary with the most touching ceremonies by the Franciscan Fathers. I was present. About nine o'clock, loud cries, coming from about the church, suddenly interrupted the prayers : the uproar kept increasing, and we soon learned the cause of it. A violent conflict had taken place between the Armenians and the Greeks. Tired of waiting, both insisted furiously that the door should be opened ; and pushing, thrusting, shouting, they reciprocally strove to keep off their opponents, that they might get in first themselves. A few minutes

340

OFFICE OF THE DARKNESS.

afterwards, we learned, not without alarm, that force or treachery had opened the door, and that the crowd was rushing in from all sides. “Good God! and the most holy Sacrament !” exclaimed Father Perpetuus, secretary of the Holy Land, who was next to me. At these words, I dashed down Calvary, forced my way with some difficulty through the crowd, and penetrated into the Holy Sepulchre, determined to lose my life rather than suffer a sacrilegious profanation. I found myself alone : luckily the Turkish guard succeeded in its efforts to keep back the most headstrong, and by its energetic resistance afforded time to finish the holy ceremonies. The host was carried back in procession to the church of the Franciscan Fathers, and the sanctuaries were not given up to the Greeks till all the Catholics had retired.

At dinner, the whole community, the father warden at their head, ate upon their knees: bread, water, and a few leaves of salad constituted the whole repast.

At half-past three, the Fathers went to the office of the Darkness, as on the two preceding days. It was the last time that I should hear at Jerusalem the voice of the prophet of Anathoth, and that idea caused me to feel more sensibly the vehemence and the tenderness of his lamentations. You may sometimes have had occasion to remark how much deeper an impression is made by the words and wishes of those we love when the hour of parting arrives, especially when we are thoroughly convinced that we shall never meet again : then the heart is more than ever oppressed ; sighs escape us; the eyes are moistened with tears; it is a kind of suffering which differs but little from that produced by the rupture of

THE CRUCIFIXION.

341

ties which death has just broken. Such, and even more painful, were my feelings, when Jeremiah pronounced those words so perfectly in harmony with the doleful mystery of Good-Friday and with the thoughts that filled

my soul :

“The joy of our hearts is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from our head : wo unto us that we have sinned. For this our heart is faint, for these things our eyes are dim. Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate; the foxes walk upon it. Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time? Turn thou us to thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned ; renew our days as of old.”

In order to impress the more deeply upon the mind the remembrance of the passion and death of our Saviour, and to excite more forcibly in the heart the feelings of compunction, gratitude, and love, which they ought to produce, the Fathers perform every year, on Good Friday, a ceremony entirely harmonizing with the spirit of the Orientals, and examples of which we find only in the missions in Asia, which probably borrowed it from the practice adopted in Palestine.

By means of a figure in relievo, of the natural size, the head and limbs of which are flexible, they represent the crucifixion, the taking down from the cross, and the burial of Jesus Christ, in such a manner as to render all the principal circumstances perceptible and striking.

This ceremony, at once touching and awful, took place towards the close of day, amidst an immense

342

THE CRUCIFIXION.

concourse of men, women, and children, drawn together, some by sincere piety, others by a curiosity wholly profane.

The Fathers of the Holy Land, assembled in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin, left it about six, having at their head one of their number, who, escorted by the young Arabs of the monastery, bore the great crucifix. The monks and the Catholics, walking slowly in two lines, with torches in their hands, recited, in a shrill and plaintive tone, sometimes the Miserere, at others, the Stabat.

The procession stopped, first at the altar of the Division of the Garments, and next at that of the Impropere, where a short, simple address, but full of unction, on the painful scenes of the Passion commemorated by those two places, was delivered by a Spanish Father. It then pursued its course, without interruption, to the top of Golgotha.

There, the monk who carried the crucifix set it down with reverence at the foot of the altar, and the Spanish Father, resuming his discourse, continued, in presence of the multitude, deeply affected and melting into tears, the melancholy account of the sufferings and ignominy endured by our Saviour till the moment when he was crucified.

He then ceased speaking, and the image of Jesus, having been nailed to the wood, this crucifix was set up on the same spot where had been erected the real cross, on which the salvation of the human race was consummated. The good friar, in a voice broken and almost stifled by sobs, then recounted the last words and the last moments of the august victim, giving himself up a sacrifice on this spot to atone for our sins and to

« ForrigeFortsæt »