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each fraternity had their own altar and sanctuary, at which they had a peculiar right to celebrate divine service and to exclude all other nations. But, says he, that which has always been the great prize contended for by the several sects, is the command and appropriation of the Holy Sepulchre; a privi. lege contested with so much unchristian fury and animosity, especially between the Greeks and Latins, that, in disputing which party should go in to celebrate their mass, they have sometimes proceeded to blows and wounds, even at the very door of the Sepulchre, mingling their own blood with their sacrifices. The King of France interposed about the end of the seventeenth century, and obtained an order from the grand vizier to put that holy place into the possession of the Western Church ; an arrangement which was accomplished in the year 1690, and secured to the Latins the exclusive privilege of saying mass in it. : “ And though it be permitted to Christians of all nations to go into it for their private devotions, yet none other may solemnize any public office of religion there."*
The daily employment of these recluses is to trim the lamps, and to make devotional visits and processions to the several sanctuaries in the church. Thus they spend their time, many of them for four or six years together; nay, so far are some transported with the pleasing contemplation in which they here en. tertain themselves, that they will never come out to their dying day; burying themselves, as it were, alive in our Lord's grave.t
It was at the holy season of Easter that Mr Maun
* Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 71.
drell visited Jerusalem, when he witnessed the annual service performed by the monks; rather too minutely descriptive, perhaps, of the great event to which it refers. “ Their ceremony begins on Good Friday night, which is called by them the Nox Tenebrosa, and is observed with such an extraordinary solemnity that I cannot omit to give a particular description of it:-As soon as it grew dark, all the friars and pilgrims were convened in the Chapel of the Apparition, in order to go in a procession round the church. But before they set out one of the friars preached a sermon in Italian. He began his discourse thus :-In questa notte tenebrosa ,—at which words all the candles were instantly put out, to yield a livelier image of the occa_ sion. And so we were held by the preacher for near half an hour, very much in the dark. Sermon being ended, every person present had a large lighted taper put into his hand, as if it were to make amends for the former darkness; and the crucifixes and other utensils were disposed in order for beginning the procession. Amongst the other crucifixes there was one of a very large size, which bore upon it the image of our Lord as big as the life. The image was fastened to it with great nails, crowned with thorns, and besmeared with blood; and so exquisitely was it formed, that it represented, in a very lively manner, the lamentable spectacle of our Lord’s body as it hung upon the cross. This figure was carried all along in the head of the procession ; after which the company followed to all the sanctuaries in the church, singing their appointed hymn at every one.
“ The first place they visited was that of the Pil. lar of Flagellation, a large piece of which is kept in
a little cell just at the door of the Chapel of the Apparition. There they sang their proper hymn; and another friar entertained the company with a ser. mon in Spanish, touching the scourging of our Lord. From hence they proceeded in solemn order to the prison of Christ, where they pretend he was secured whilst the soldiers made things ready for his crucifixion; here likewise they sang their hymn, and a third friar preached in French. From the prison they went to the altar of the Division of our Lord's garments, where they only sang their hymn without adding any sermon. Having done here, they advanced to the Chapel of the Division ; at which, after their hymn, they had a fourth sermon as I remember—in French.
“ From this place they went up to Calvary, leaving their shoes at the bottom of the stairs. Here are two altars to be visited; one where our Lord is supposed to have been nailed to the cross,—another where his cross was erected. At the former of these they laid down the great crucifix upon the floor, and acted a kind of resemblance of Christ's being nailed to the cross; and after the hymn another friar preached a sermon in Spanish upon the Cruci. fixion. From hence they removed to the adjoining altar, where the cross is supposed to have been erected, bearing the image of our Lord’s body. At this altar is a hole in the natural rock, said to be the very same individual one in which the foot of our Lord's cross stood. Here they set up their cross with the bloody crucified image upon it; and leaving it in that posture, they first sang their hymn, and then the Father Guardian, sitting in a chair before it, preached a Passion-sermon in Italian.
:56 At about one yard and a half distant from the hole in which the foot of the cross was fixed is seen that memorable cleft in the rock, said to have been made by the earthquake which happened at the suffering of the God of nature; when, as St Matthew witnesseth, the rocks rent and the very graves were opened. This cleft, or what now appears of it, is about a span wide at its upper part, and two deep; after which it closes. But it opens again below, as you may see in another chapel contiguous to the side of Calvary, and runs down to an unknown depth in the earth. That this rent was made by the earthquake that happened at our Lord's Passion there is only tradition to prove; but that it is a natural and genuine breach, and not counterfeited by any art, the sense and reason of every one that sees it may convince him ; for the sides of it fit like two tallies to each other, and yet it runs in such intricate windings as could not well be counterfeited by art, nor arrived at by any instruments.
“ The ceremony of the Passion being over, and the Guardian's sermon ended, two friars, personating, the one Joseph of Arimathea, the other Nicodemus, approached the cross, and with a most solemn, concerned air, both of aspect and behaviour, drew out the great nails, and took down the feigned body from the cross. It was an effigies so contrived that its limbs were soft and flexible, as if they had been real flesh; and nothing could be more sur. prising than to see the two pretended mourners bend down the arms which were before extended, and dispose them upon the trunk in such a manner as is usual in corpses. The body being taken down from the cross was received in a fair large winding
sheet, and carried down from Calvary; the whole company attending as before to the Stone of Unction. This is taken for the very place where the precious body of our Lord was anointed and prepared for the burial. Here they laid down their imaginary corpse; and casting over it several sweet powders and spices, wrapped it up in the windingsheet. Whilst this was doing they sang their proper hymn, and afterwards one of the friars preached in Arabic a funeral-serinon. These obsequies being finished, they carried off their fancied corpse and laid it in the Sepulchre, shutting up the door till Easter morning. And now after so many sermons, and so long, not to say tedious, a ceremony, it may well be imagined that the weariness of the congregation, as well as the hour of the night, made it needful to go to rest.”*
Easter-eve passed without any remarkable observance,-a period of leisure which was employed by many of the pilgrims in having their arms marked with the usual ensigns of Jerusalem. « The artists who undertake the operation do it in this manner; they have stamps of wood of any figure that you desire, which they first print off upon your arm with powder of charcoal, then taking two very fine needles tied close together, and dipping them often, like a pen, in certain ink compounded, as I was informed, of gunpowder and ox-gall, they make with them small punctures all along the lines of the figure which they have printed ; and then, washing the part in wine, conclude the work. The punctures they make with great quickness and dexterity,
* Journey, p. 74.