صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

out. Numberless writers might be cited to prove the current belief in the existence of the rock within the casing, but as they might all have been mere dupes, I confine myself to those who declare that they have seen it. They are, from the nature of the case, comparatively few ; for implicit faith needed not, nor sought for ocular demonstration, and it were very illogical to argue against the existence of the rock, because the unquestioning belief of pilgrims has prevented express notices of the sight; for the incrustation of marble, which concealed it from view, seems never to have been removed until the 16th century. The Russian pilgrim Daniel visited Jerusalem during the reign of King Baldwin II., and as he is the first to describe the tomb after its adornment by the Franks, his account is important and interesting”. “Under this same open Roof (of the Rotunda) is the Lord's Sepulchre, after the following fashion –as it were a small cave cut out in the rock, having small doors. One can creep in by bending down on the knees. The height is that of a short man, and all beautiful; four cubits in length and in breadth. But when you have crept into that cave by those small doors, on the right-hand side there is a ledge cut out in the very rock of the cave. On that ledge lay the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that ledge is now covered with a marble casing: and there are made on the front three circular apertures", and by those apertures you may see that sacred rock; and there all Christians kiss. The sacred ledge where

* This writer was present at the * These three apertures are noticed ceremony of the Holy Fire on Easter again by other writers, as e.g. WilliEve Ald. 1130, and repeated his visit brand de Oldenberg (A.D. 1211) ap. at a more quiet time. | Leonis Allatii Opuscula, p. 147.

the body of Christ lay is in length four cubits, and in breadth two cubits, and in height a cubit and a half.” Then, after some further account of its adornment, he concludes: “Such is the Lord's Sepulchre; this cave such as I have described it, after having diligently inquired from those who have been on the spot from of old, and have thoroughly known the holy places.” This may be said to represent only the popular belief of the time; but he had ingratiated himself with the Latin guardian of the Sepulchre; “and he, having seen my love for the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord, and for himself, and having moved the slab which was on the top of the Holy Sepulchre, broke off a small piece of the sacred Rock for a blessing for me, and charged me with adjuration to tell it to no one in Jerusalem.” I think that this passage alone, coupled with the fact that many pilgrims from this period downwards adopt the very language of Adamnan or Bede in describing the Holy Sepulchre, might suffice to establish the identity of the Sepulchre of the 12th century with that of earlier times, as regarded its outward features; and it would be equally tedious and unnecessary to accumulate proof of what has not even yet been questioned, viz. that the Sepulchre of the Crusaders is the same as that which is now shown. But one witness, who had ocular proof of the existence of the rock in the 16th century, must be cited for the very curious particulars which his narrative contains. Father Boniface of Ragusa was Guardian of the Holy Sepulchre from A. D. 1550 to 1559; and again from A. D. 1563 to 1565. During his former presidency, in A. D. 1555, he superintended considerable repairs about the Sepulchre, of which he afterwards wrote a full account,

when Bishop of Ragusa, in A. D. 1570. From this I extract the following particulars". The fabric of St Helena, which enclosed the Sepulchre of our Lord, was threatening to fall, when Pope Julius III., at the instigation of the Emperor Charles V. and his son Philip, ordered Boniface, then Superior of the Franciscan Convent, to undertake its restoration. The necessary funds were supplied by the Emperor, a firman was obtained from the Sultan Sulimán, and the work commenced. “In order that the new structure might prove firmer and more durable, it was judged expedient to level the ancient one with the ground; on the demolition whereof, the Holy Sepulchre of our Lord, cut in the rock, offered itself plainly to our eyes; whereon two angels were seen depicted, one of whom said, in writing, “He has risen, He is not here;’ the other, pointing with his finger to the Sepulchre, ‘Behold the place where they laid Him;’ which pictures, when first they felt the influence of the air, in great part vanished. But when it became necessary to move one of the slabs of alabaster with which the Sepulchre was covered, there clearly appeared to us that ineffable place whereon the Son of Man rested for three days.” The discovery of relics, and other circumstances, are not to my purpose; but the remark that “many Christians, both of the West and of the East, were present on this occasion,” is important as a guarantee for the truth of the narration. The rock was then again concealed from sight, both to prevent, it is said, the superstitious devotion of the Orientals, and the injury which it would otherwise have sustained from mutilation"; but some favoured pilgrims were occasionally gratified with small fragments, on the same condition as the Monk Daniel in the 12th century. The last evidence that I shall adduce for the existence of the native rock within the marble casing, is that furnished by the fire of 1808; which is the more satisfactory, because the writers from whom I quote had themselves no doubt of its existence, and consequently never thought of the bearing of their statements on this question*. I need not enter into the details of that fire. It will be sufficient for my purpose to state, that the heat was so excessive that the marble columns which surrounded the circular building, in the centre of which stood the sacred grotto, were completely pulverized. The lamps and chandeliers, with the other vessels of the Church,-brass, and silver, and gold,—were melted like wax; the molten lead from the immense dome which covers the Holy Sepulchre poured down in torrents; the Chapel erected by the Crusaders on the top of the monolith was entirely consumed; half the ornamental hangings in the ante-chapel of the Angel were scorched; but the Cave itself, though deluged with a shower of lead, and buried in a mountain of fire, received not the slightest injury internally; the silk hangings and the painting of the Resurrection remaining, in the midst of the volcanic eruption", unscathed by the flame, the smell of fire not having passed upon them". Thus were disappointed the expectations of Dr Clarke, who some years after his visit heard of this accident with peculiar satisfaction, expecting that the imposture would be thereby unmasked. Neither was it considered superstitious, at that time, to regard the escape of the Holy Sepulchre as an indication of the existence of the rocky cave within the marble casing impervious to the eye"; and there are modern travellers

* This curious document, first edited by Gretser, is cited by Quaresmius, Tom it. p. 512.

* So Sir John Maundevile, cir. A. D. 1350. “And it is not longe sithen the Sepulcre was alle open, that Men myghte kisse it and touche it. But for Pilgrymes, that comen thidre, peyned hem to breke the Ston in peces or in poudre, therfore the Soudan hathe do make a Walle about the Sepulcre, that no man may towche it.” Voiage,

&c. p. 91. Lond. 1727.

* The Latin account of this fire written by an eye-witness, is given by Géramb, Pélerinage à Jérusalem, &c. Tome 1. p. 125, &c. The Greek account is contained in Mouravieff's History of Jerusalem, Chap. xlv. Vol. 11. p. 366, &c. The agreement is complete.

* I borrow the expressions of the Latin's account, p. 129: “L'église ressemble à une fournaise...le saint Sépulcre est inondé d'une pluie deplomb ...se trouve enseveli sous une montagne de feu qui semble devoir l'aneantir à Jamais; l'église offre le spectacle d'un volcan en fureur,” &c., &c. • Mr Wilde, however, declares that the marble slab which covers the proper sepulchre, was cracked by the heat at this time, Travels, Vol. 11. p. 201, 2; and I am charged with obstinate stupidity or wilful dishonesty, for not knowing, or suppressing this fact. Dublin Univ. Mag. Vol. xxvi. p. 277. I can only say, that never having elsewhere heard this story, I cannot believe it without authority; and Mr Wilde, who travelled in A.D. 1838, gives none. Quaresmius (A. D. 1639) declares it to be only the semblance of a fracture, made purposely, to save the marble from the rapacity of the infidels. Elucid. T. S. Tom. 11. p. 510. * As I have been much misunder

stood on this subject, it is right to say, that I never intended to convey the impression that the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre was prevented by miI adduced the fact in proof of a rocky cave, as I do in the text, and considered this natural cause sufficient to explain its preserva

raculous intervention.

tion, which others, perhaps, have ascribed to miracle. I quote from the Gentleman's Magazine of November, 1809, p. 1000 : “Of the identity of the Sepulchre, no doubt is entertained; and surely a spot so remarkable may be contemplated with religious awe, without the imputation of enthusiasm. Amid the conflagration of the Church, which happened Oct. 12, 1808, the Sepulchre, though under its roof, was perfectly preserved; which indeed from its nature, as being hewn out of a rock, might have been expected. But may we not innocently indulge the idea, that it is under especial protection from on high 2"

« السابقةمتابعة »