Friday, March 11, 2011

Early Christian Pilgrims to the Holy Land

Early Christian Pilgrims to the Holy Land

It all starts with Saint Helena (Latin: Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta) also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople (ca. 246/50 – 18 August 330) was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I. She is traditionally credited with finding the relics of the True Cross, with which she is invariably represented in Christian iconography and the locations of many of the sites of Jesus' life.

Anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux 333-34 AD
"the Bordeaux itinerary", also known as the Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum, "the Jerusalem inventory") is the oldest known Christian itinerarium, written by an anonymous pilgrim from Burdigala (present-day Bordeaux).[1] It tells of the writer's journey to the Holy Land in 333 - 334,[2] by land through northern Italy and the Danube valley to Constantinople, then through Asia Minor and Syria to Jerusalem, and then back by way of Macedonia, Otranto, Rome, and Milan. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The report of his journey outside Palestine is little more than a dry enumeration of the cities through which he passed, and of the places where he stopped or changed horses, with their respective distances. For the Holy Land he also briefly notes the important events which he believes to be connected with the various places. In this he falls into some strange blunders, as when, for instance, he places the Transfiguration on Mount Olivet. Such errors, however, are also found in subsequent writers. His description of Jerusalem, though short, contains information of great value for the topography of the city.

Another reader, Jaś Elsner, notes that, a brief twenty-one years after Constantine legalised Christianity, "the Holy Land to which the pilgrim went had to be entirely reinvented in those years, since its main site— ancient Jerusalem— had been sacked under the Emperor Hadrian and refounded as Aelia Capitolina". Elsner found to his surprise "how swiftly a Christian author was willing implicitly to re-arrange and redefine deeply entrenched institutional norms, while none the less writing on an entirely traditional model," the established Greco-Roman genres of travel writing.[3]

Egeria (AKA St. Sylvia) 381-84
St. Paula and her virgin daughter Eustochium 404
Archdeacon Theodosius 518–520
Anonymous Pilgrim of Piacenza 570

Bishop Arculf 670
He was shipwrecked on the shore of Iona, Scotland on his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was hospitably received by Adamnan, the abbot of the island monastery of Iona from 679 to 704, to whom he gave a detailed narrative of his travels, from which Adamnan, with aid from some further sources, was able to produce a descriptive work in three books, dealing with Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and other places in Palestine, and briefly with Alexandria and Constantinople, called De Locis Sanctis ("Concerning the sacred places"). Many details about Arculf's journeys can be inferred from this text.

St. Willibald itinerary manuscript Hodoeporicon 760

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