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PILGRIMS AT JERUSALEM.
He perceives not that he exists much less for his own sake than for the sake of others; that he is there, carefully keeping and guarding, but as a blind man, the books in which is written the degree of his condemnation, to show it to every one who chooses to read it; like, let me tell him, a criminal who, by the sentence of his judges, is to be conducted to the place of ignominy, where he has deserved to live, carrying before him a label, inscribed with the judgment, which he alone cannot see, but which strikes the eye of every passenger!
What a strange people !
Jerusalem is, at this moment, thronged with pilgrims of all nations, attracted thither by the approaching solemnities. Most of them are poor, ill clad, and come from infected countries. If we escape the plague, it will be miraculous. The mere idea of the risks we run makes one shudder, and I perceive that the aların is extending to all persons who reflect. I am, nevertheless, resigned ; and, not only does my faith support me, but it shows me a real happiness in dying on the spot where Jesus my Saviour expired. Then do I exclaim with Tasso :
Chi sia di noi esser sepulto schivi
Ove i membri di Dio fur gia sepulti !* and I adore the blessed will of God. These holy places have, moreover, such a charm for me, that I cannot tell, especially at this moment, whether I should not determine to stay and defy the disease. Already, though my departure is still far distant, I feel an indescribable oppression of heart; how will it be when the hour has arrived ?
“Which of us would refuse to be buried where the body of the incarnate God was buried !"
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
Farewell, my dear friend. To-morrow I remove to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where I shall pass the last fortnight of Lent. I shall not fail to write to you.
SECLUSION IN THE CAURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCARE - Cell- GAL
LBRY—PUGRIMS-WINDING-Sheets DISTRIBUTED BY THE ARMENIAN PRIESTS — TURKS AT THE DOOR OP THE CHURCA CRUEL Mode or PRESERVING ORDER--Palm-SUNDAY- PROCESSION OF THE CATHOLICS; OF THE ARMENIANS – WEDNESDAY IN Passion-Week — OPPice OP THE DARKNESS—Maundy-THURSDAY-SOLEMN Mass-PROCESSIONFoot-WASHING-Good-FRIDAY-The DOOR OP THE CHURCH PORCED BY THE GREEK AND ARMENIAN PILGRIMS - DINNER OF THE COMMUNITY-DARKNESS-PROCESSION TO CALVARY-SOLEMN SERVICE ON HOLY-SATURDAY - CONTRAST BETWEEN THE CATHOLICS AND THB GREEKS-NIGHT BETWEEN HOLY-SATURDAY AND EASTER-SUNDAYASSEMBLAGE OP Ten ThousaXD PILGRIMS-EASTER-SUNDAY.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, April 23, 1832. OnSaturday, the day before Palm-Sunday, I entered the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Every nook and corner of the buildings occupied by the Fathers of the Holy Land were crowded with monks of the monastery of St. Saviour, who are accustomed to come with the Father warden every week in Lent, to pass the night between Saturday and Sunday, and to remain here the last four days of the Passion week.
The cell in which I have been placed has no window : it receives no light but by the door, and, as this door opens into the gallery which is rather dark, I am obliged to burn a candle continually, even at noon-day. Of course I shut myself up there as little as possible.
My furniture consists of a bed, a broken table, and a
CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.
chair ; and this latter article I had a good deal of trouble to procure.
The gallery leading to my cell is upwards of two hundred paces in length, and of proportionate width. Facing it is the Holy Sepulchre, from which it is but twenty feet distant, or thereabout. A special permission is required to tarry in it; but this the Fathers never refuse. I pass almost all my time there, and very happily. I walk, read the service, and say my prayers there ; and, frequently, leaning over the parapet, I enjoy in silence the felicity of contemplating the spot where the body of Jesus was buried, or I survey with emotion the crowd of pilgrims thronging thither, and undulating - a living flood-around the sacred tomb.
The noise caused by the incessantly increasing influx during the past fortnight, and the continual singing of the Christians of various nations, who successively repair to the church to perform the service, render it almost impossible to get any rest. Your sleep, when you can sleep, is unquiet, disturbed, and broken twenty times in an hour. To this inconvenience is to be added the dampness of the buildings, which alone would seem suf. ficient cause to keep away from them : but piety deems itself happy to dwell there, and the delightful feelings which it there experiences leave no room for any other consideration.
The moment when my soul most enjoys itself near the tomb of our Saviour is that hour of the night when the Franciscan Fathers come to it to recite their service. The crowd of pilgrims has then retired; even those who have obtained special permissions keep aloof : so that, for
DISTRIBUTION OF SHROUDS.
more than an hour, I can pray, adore, enjoy, alone, without molestation, and without disturbance. Afterwards I visit Calvary, and the other sacred places enclosed within the monastery, and there I frequently tarry till day-break.
I was returning, the other day, from Golgotha, when, on approaching the Holy Sepulchre, I saw some Armenian priests engaged in cutting, by the light of the lamps, pieces of white linen cloth into stripes of a certain length. These they laid upon the sacred tomb, pronounced a blessing over them, wrote upon each some words in their own language, and then distributed them among the pilgrims, who received them with great
I could not comprehend either the object or the aim of this ceremony: though it strongly excited my curiosity, I durst not disturb the devotion of the actors in it by soliciting an explanation. But, presently afterwards, perceiving at the door of the church some of those who had participated in the distribution made by the priests, I asked them a few questions, and learned that what I had seen offered and received with such piety, with such religious reverence, was ... a shroud !
A shroud ! and the poor pilgrims appeared more delighted to carry home with them this garment of death than ever was ambitious man, driven by the desire of wealth across the seas, when, after a long exile, he returns to his country, laden with treasures : this was to be for each of them, when the last hour should arrive, a pledge of peace and blessing.
I went back to my cell, reflecting on the scene which I had beheld, and, full of the thoughts which it sug
DISTRIBUTION OF SHROUDS.
gested, I could not help acknowledging that, for the man who feels that he is mortal, it was fraught with a grand and salutary lesson. To me it appeared scarcely possible to contemplate a shroud, to attach an importance to its possession, to look at that which is to cover our remains without its exercising a powerful influence upon our moral actions. More than once, indeed, in the world in which I lived but too long, I have met with pretended sages, on whom a shroud would, at the moment, have made no impression. These would have shrugged their shoulders with pity, at the mere idea of a pilgrim leaving his country to travel hither, to see nothing but a tomb, to fetch nothing but a winding-sheet. But then wealth, the flower of life, robust health, and the sophistries of an entirely pagan philosophy, caused them to forget that they were born but to die and to pass to another world, whither they should carry none of those things to which their shallow wisdom gave the prefer
And if they have not already been overtaken by nights of pain, of anguish, of agony, when they do come, what will be left them ? - a shroud! a shroud, whose lessons they will probably be sorry that they have not learned ! a shroud, meaner perhaps and poorer than that of the Armenian, whose folly they had deplored !
It is the Turks, as I have told you in one of my former letters, (Letter XV.) who keep the keys of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and sell to pilgrims permission to enter. For this fortnight past, ten or twelve of them have been continually on guard at the door ; while some of them, seated on a divan, are calmly smoking their pipes, the others stand sentry, armed with whips, which