The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter X

Of the Pilgrimages in Jerusalem, and of the Holy Places Thereabout

AFTER, for to speak of Jerusalem the holy city: ye shall understand, that it stands full fair between hills, and there be no rivers ne wells, but water cometh by conduit from Hebron. And ye shall understand, that Jerusalem of old time, unto the time of Melchisadech, was clept Jebus; and after it was clept Salem, unto the time of King David, that put these two names together, and clept it Jebusalem; and after that, King Solomon clept it Jerosolomye; and after that, men clept it Jerusalem, and so it is clept yet.

And about Jerusalem is the kingdom of Syria. And there beside is the land of Palestine, and beside it is Ascalon, and beside that is the land of Maritaine. But Jerusalem is in the land of Judea, and it is clept Judea, for that Judas Maccabeus was king of that country; and it marcheth eastward to the kingdom of Arabia; on the south side to the land of Egypt; and on the west side to the Great Sea; on the north side, towards the kingdom of Syria and to the sea of Cyprus. In Jerusalem was wont to be a patriarch; and archbishops and bishops about in the country. About Jerusalem be these cities: Hebron, at seven mile; Jericho, at six mile; Beersheba, at eight mile; Ascalon, at seventeen mile; Jaffa, at sixteen mile; Ramath, at three mile; and Bethlehem, at two mile. And a two mile from Bethlehem, toward the south, is the Church of St. Karitot, that was abbot there, for whom they made much dole amongst the monks when he should die; and yet they be in mourning in the wise that they made their lamentation for him the first time; and it is full great pity to behold.

This country and land of Jerusalem hath been in many divers nations’ hands, and often, therefore, hath the country suffered much tribulation for the sin of the people that dwell there. For that country hath been in the hands of all nations; that is to say, of Jews, of Canaanites, Assyrians, Persians, Medes, Macedonians, of Greeks, Romans, of Christian men, of Saracens, Barbarians, Turks, Tartars, and of many other divers nations; for God will not that it be long in the hands of traitors ne of sinners, be they Christian or other. And now have the heathen men held that land in their hands forty year and more; but they shall not hold it long, if God will.

And ye shall understand, that when men come to Jerusalem, their first pilgrimage is to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where our Lord was buried, that is without the city on the north side; but it is now enclosed in with the town wall. And there is a full fair church, all round, and open above, and covered with lead; and on the west side is a fair tower and an high for bells, strongly made.

And in the midst of the church is a tabernacle, as it were a little house, made with a low little door, and that tabernacle is made in manner of half a compass, right curiously and richly made of gold and azure and other rich colours full nobly made. And in the right side of that tabernacle is the sepulchre of our Lord; and the tabernacle is eight foot long, and five foot wide, and eleven foot in height. And it is not long sith the sepulchre was all open, that men might kiss it and touch it; but for pilgrims that came thither pained them to break the stone in pieces or in powder, therefore the soldan hath do make a wall about the sepulchre that no man may touch it: but in the left side of the wall of the tabernacle is, well the height of a man, a great stone to the quantity of a man’s head, that was of the holy sepulchre; and that stone kiss the pilgrims that come thither. In that tabernacle be no windows, but it is all made light with lamps that hang before the sepulchre. And there is a lamp that hangeth before the sepulchre, that burneth light; and on the Good Friday it goeth out by himself, [and lighteth again by him self] at that hour that our Lord rose from death to life.

Also within the church, at the right side, beside the choir of the church, is the mount of Calvary, where our Lord was put on the cross; and it is a rock of white colour and a little medled with red. And the cross was set in a mortise in the same rock. And on that rock dropped the wounds of our Lord when he was pined on the cross. And that is clept Golgotha.

And men go up to that Golgotha by degrees; and in the place of that mortise was Adam’s head found after Noah’s flood, in token that the sins of Adam should be bought in that same place. And upon that rock made Abraham sacrifice to our Lord. And there is an altar; and before that altar lie Godefray de Bouillon and Baldwin, and other Christian kings of Jerusalem.

And there, nigh where our Lord was crucified, is this written in Greek:

[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]

that is to say, in Latin, —

DEUS REX NOSTER ANTE SECULA OPERATUS EST SALUTEM, IN MEDIO TERRAE;

that is to say, —

THIS GOD OUR KING, BEFORE THE WORLDS, HATH WROUGHT HEALTH IN MIDST OF THE EARTH.

And also on that rock, where the cross was set, is written within the rock these words:

[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]

that is to say, in Latin, —

QUOD VIDES, EST FUNDAMENTUM TOTIUS FIDEI MUNDI HUJUS;

that is to say, —

THAT THOU SEEST, IS THE GROUND OF ALL THE FAITH OF THIS WORLD.

And ye shall understand, that when our Lord was done upon the cross, he was thirty-three year and three months of old. And the prophecy of David saith thus: QUADRAGINTA ANNIS PROXIMUS FUI GENERATIONI HUIC; that is to say, ‘Forty year was I neighbour to this kindred.’ And thus should it seem that the prophecies were not true. But they be both true; for in old time men made a year of ten months, of the which March was the first and December was the last. But Gaius, that was Emperor of Rome, put these two months thereto, January and February, and ordained the year of twelve months; that is to say, 365 days, without leap year, after the proper course of the sun. And therefore after counting of ten months of the year, he died in the fortieth year, as the prophet said. And after the year of twelve months, he was of age thirty-three year and three months.

Also, within the mount of Calvary, on the right side, is an altar, where the pillar lieth that our Lord Jesu was bounden to when he was scourged. And there beside be four pillars of stone, that always drop water; and some men say that they weep for our Lord’s death. And nigh that altar is a place under earth forty-two degrees of deepness, where the holy cross was found, by the wit of Saint Helen, under a rock where the Jews had hid it. And that was the very cross assayed; for they found three crosses, one of our Lord, and two of the two thieves; and Saint Helen proved them by a dead body that arose from death to life, when that it was laid on it, that our Lord died on. And thereby in the wall is the place where the four nails of our Lord were hid: for he had two in his hands and two in his feet. And, of one of these, the Emperor of Constantinople made a bridle to his horse to bear him in battle; and, through virtue thereof, he overcame his enemies, and won all the land of Asia the less, that is to say, Turkey, Armenia the less and the more, and from Syria to Jerusalem, from Arabia to Persia, from Mesopotamia to the kingdom of Aleppo, from Egypt the high and the low and all the other kingdoms unto the depth of Ethiopia, and into Ind the less that then was Christian.

And there were in that time many good holy men and holy hermits, of whom the book of Father’s lives speaketh, and they be now in Paynims’ and Saracens’ hands: but when God Almighty will, right as the lands ere lost through sin of Christian men, so shall they be won again by Christian men through help of God.

And in midst of that church is a compass, in the which Joseph of Arimathea laid the body of our Lord when he had taken him down off the cross; and there he washed the wounds of our Lord. And that compass, say men, is the midst of the world.

And in the church of the sepulchre, on the north side, is the place where our Lord was put in prison (for he was in prison in many places); and there is a part of the chain that he was bounden with; and there he appeared first to Mary Magdalene when he was risen, and she wend that he had been a gardener.

In the church of Saint Sepulchre was wont to be canons of the order of Saint Augustine, and had a prior, but the patriarch was their sovereign.

And without the doors of the church, on the right side as men go upward eighteen grees, said our Lord to his mother, MULIER, ECCE FILIUS TUUS; that is to say, Woman, lo! thy Son! And after that he said to John, his disciple, ECCE MATER TUA; that is to say, Lo! behold thy mother! And these words he said on the cross. And on these grees went our Lord when he bare the cross on his shoulder. And under these grees is a chapel, and in that chapel sing priests, Indians, that is to say, priests of Ind, not after our law, but after theirs; and alway they make their sacrament of the altar, saying, PATER NOSTER and other prayers therewith; with the which prayers they say the words that the sacrament is made of, for they ne know not the additions that many popes have made; but they sing with good devotion. And there near, is the place where that our Lord rested him when he was weary for bearing of the cross.

And ye shall understand that before the church of the sepulchre is the city more feeble than in any other part, for the great plain that is between the church and the city. And toward the east side, without the walls of the city, is the vale of Jehosaphat that toucheth to the walls as though it were a large ditch. And above that vale of Jehosaphat, out of the city, is the church of Saint Stephen where he was stoned to death. And there beside, is the Golden Gate, that may not be opened, by the which gate our Lord entered on Palm–Sunday upon an ass: and the gate opened against him when he would go unto the temple; and yet appear the steps of the ass’s feet in three places of the degrees that be of full hard stone.

And before the church of Saint Sepulchre, toward the south, at 200 paces, is the great hospital of Saint John, of which the hospitallers had their foundation. And within the palace of the sick men of that hospital be 124 pillars of stone. And in the walls of the house, without the number above-said, there be fifty-four pillars that bear up the house. And from that hospital to go toward the east is a full fair church, that is clept NOTRE DAME LA GRANDE. And then is there another church right nigh, that is clept NOTRE DAME DE LATINE. And there were Mary Cleophas and Mary Magdalene, and tore their hair when our Lord was pained in the cross.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10