Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Manner in Which Brother Felix Fabri Prepared for his Second Wandering or Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jerusalem, Sion, and Mount Sinai

What follows below is Felix's introduction to how he managed to wangle his way onto a second pilgrimage. It fills in the time between the account of his first pilgrimage and his setting out on the second. Its well worth the read as it gives a good insight into the man as he did his best to get out to the Holy Land again. He was extremely well read in classical texts and its a theme that will come through again and again. Apart from this, imagine if you put a cake in front of Felix, there is no doubt he would have to have it and eat it too. I'm going to experiment over the next few weeks with online maps like those through Google to see if I can replicate a map of the route he took. But that's for when the journey starts:

"HAVING accomplished my first wandering, as I have partly described, I came back to Ulm healthy in body, and appeared to be happy and cheerful, but in my heart and spirit I was sorrowful and disquieted on account of the anxiety which I felt I should endure about another pilgrimage, and returning to the Holy Land and Jerusalem, according as I had determined to do when I left the Holy Land, which determination, however, I had communicated to no one. For I was by no means satisfied with my first pilgrimage, because it was exceeding short and hurried, and we ran round the holy places without understanding and feeling what they were. Besides this, we were not permitted to visit some of the holy places, both within Jerusalem and without. Nor were we allowed to walk over the Mount of Olives and its holy places more than once; and we only visited Bethlehem and Bethany once, and that in the dark.

So after I had returned to Ulm and began to think about the most holy sepulchre of our Lord, and the manger wherein He lay, and the holy city of Jerusalem and the mountains which are round about it, the appearance, shape, and arrangements of these and of other holy places escaped from my mind, and the Holy Land and Jerusalem with its holy places appeared to me, shrouded in a dark mist, as though I had beheld them in a dream; and I seemed to myself to know less about all the holy places than I did before I visited them, whence it happened that when I was questioned about the holy places I could give no distinct answers, nor could I write a clear description of my journey. Wherefore I was grieved beyond measure that I had undergone such sufferings, toils, and perils, and had spent such great sums of money and so much time, without receiving any fruit, consolation, or knowledge.

Oftentimes when I tried to solace myself by turning my thoughts to Jerusalem and the holy places, and was only able to conjure up a vague image of them, I have said to myself in a rage: 'I prithee cease from thinking about those places, for you have only been there in imagination.' From this I used to conceive a burning desire to return and prove the truth of this. But this wrought new sorrow in me, for that I could not see any way of returning thither-nay, I thought that to return was impossible.

Thus I remained troubled in mind, nor did I dare to speak of this matter to anyone. I was afraid to mention this to the Reverend Father Lord Ludwig Fuchs, even though he was my familiar friend, the sharer of all my secrets, to whom I did not hesitate to tell all the hidden things that were on my conscience; nevertheless, I did not dare to reveal to my Father in God my scheme for returning to Jerusalem, lest I might trouble his spirit, and lest both he and others when they heard it might be scandalized at me, judging me to be light-minded and impatient of the quiet of the cloister, or perhaps suffering from temptations of the devil, or guilty of the sin of idle curiosity, or moved by frivolity. So I remained undecided, and made no sign of what I felt, save that when questioned about Jerusalem and the Holy Land, I could not speak without sighing, and sometimes said that I did not know whether I had really seen Jerusalem or no. And when they asked me whether I had any wish to go back again, I simply answered that I had.

Meanwhile my wish to return threw me into a fever, so that no study, no writing gave me any pleasure, except the stories in the Bible and elsewhere which make mention of Jerusalem. So I read with care everything on this subject which came into my hands; moreover, I collected all the stories of the pilgrimages of the crusaders, the tracts written by pilgrims, and descriptions of the Holy Land, and read them with care; and the more I read the more my trouble increased, because by reading the accounts of others I learned how imperfect, superficial, irregular and confused my own pilgrimage had been. In these labours of reading and writing I passed one year; but after this year of disquietude was over, there came into our province the General of the whole of my Order of Preaching Friars, to wit, Salvus de Casseta of Palermo, sent by the Holy Father, Pope Sixtus IV., to oppose - the Lord Andrew, Archbishop of Carniola, who, moved by I know not what spirit, was trying to assemble a General Council at Basle, and who dwelt there under the protection-of the Emperor Frederick III. Now, in order that the aforesaid Master of the Order of Preaching Friars might act more effectually against the archbishop, he invited all the best-known preachers of our province to meet him at the convent at Colmar. Among these I was sent, and came to the aforesaid convent to hear and obey his orders. So, while I was in the presence of the Master of the Order, among the other things which I had to speak of with that Father I told his reverence about my desire to return to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. He straightway, without making any difficulties, gave me leave to go, and gave me a testimonial letter, signed with the seal of the Order, wherein he even forbade anyone of lower degree to throw any hindrance in the way of my accomplishing that pilgrimage. Having obtained leave I joyfully returned to Ulm, and kept the Master's letter secret, awaiting the longed-for opportunity of making it known.

Not many days after this there came to Ulm our Reverend Lord in Christ, Udalricus Gislinus, Bishop of Adramyttium, and suffragan bishop to my Lord Bishop of Augsburg, who was acquainted with me and honoured me with his favour. With him there came a certain Doctor of Divinity, a friar of the Minorite Order, who desired to go to Rome to receive consecration as a bishop because the Lord Bishop of Frisia had created him his suffragan. I visited these lords, and begged the aforesaid Doctor to be so good as to obtain from our Holy Father the Pope a license for me to visit the holy places beyond the sea, which also the aforesaid Reverend Father Lord Udalricus begged him to do for my sake. So he promised to do it, and kept his promise, and sent me the letter containing the leave to travel. When I had obtained this I still kept silence and hoped for a more convenient occasion, hoping that the desired chance would present itself and gratify my longing without my asking for it, as indeed happened.

There was at that time at Ulm one Conrad Locher, a respectable man, the Bailiff-in-Ordinary of the Holy Roman Empire in that place, who was well known to many noblemen, and who regarded me with especial favour. To him as to a trustworthy friend I first opened my heart, and revealed to him my desire and the licenses which I had obtained, begging him, if he knew any of the nobles of the country who wished to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, who was in need of a servant and chaplain, that he would recommend me to such a person as being a man of experience and helpful on such a pilgrimage both in temporal and spiritual matters. The aforesaid man therefore looked over the list of the nobles of the country and found that the nobly-born Lord John Truchsess von Waldpurg was preparing to make a pilgrimage beyond seas together with several other barons and nobles. He visited these gentlemen and most loyally recommended me to them, as the event proved.

For directly after this-and it was in the year 1483, on the day of St. Gertrude the Virgin-the aforesaid noble Lord Truchsess van Waldpurg came to Ulm together with many other noblemen, his friends, and straightway sent a messenger and summoned me from the convent. When I was come to him at the inn where he lodged he began to question me as though he would ask my advice about how those who wished to cross the sea and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem ought to set about the matter. 'I have heard,' said he, 'that you have been in the parts beyond seas: advise me, I pray you, what I ought to do in order that I may return home safe. I intend,' said he, 'to visit the Holy Land, and the famous city of Jerusalem, and the most-sweet manger of the Lord, and the most glorious sepulchre of the Lord. Tell me, I prithee, what are the difficulties in my way, and how to surmount them.' While I was answering each of his questions he looked at me very earnestly, and, ceasing to question me as he had begun, he asked me whether I still had any wish to return to Jerusalem. I replied that there was nothing in this world at the present time which I longed for more ardently than a second view of those holy places. Having thus learned my willingness to go, this nobleman made me return to my convent, assuring me that I should go to Jerusalem in company with him and his friends. For the following noble lords had sworn to make the pilgrimage together: to wit, the Lord John Wernher, Baron von Cymbern, Lord Henry Baron van Stoefel, Lord Ursus van Rechberg von Hohenrechberg, and the aforesaid Lord John Truchsess von Waldpurg, who was, as it were, the father of all the aforesaid, and from whom they all received the impulse which sent them on their pilgrimage. And straightway, in the same hour that I returned to my convent, the aforesaid nobleman sent a respectable man, escorted by his own retainers, to make a speech, begging the Reverend Master Prior, on behalf of the aforesaid noble barons, that he would have the goodness to grant to that brother who had already been in parts beyond sea, and whom they had all unanimously chosen as their chaplain and confessor, a license to depart, and permission to leave the country with them. It was for this purpose, added the Lord John Truchsess, that he and his friends the other noblemen were come even now into the city.

When the Prior heard this he made a great many difficulties, and took time to consider the answer he should give. The Lord John, seeing this, and fearing that perhaps a long deliberation would end in something opposed to his wish, straightway on the following day brought with him all the noblemen, his friends, and also the noble Countesses van Kyrchberg, who had come with him, and, accompanied by them, went into the court wherein the civic magistrates and all the municipality of the city of Ulm were assembled, and begged that he might be heard. When this request was granted he begged the Consuls to use their influence with the Prior of the Dominicans that he should let Brother Felix, whom he and his comrades had chosen as their chaplain during their pilgrimage beyond seas, depart without hindrance, more especially as they knew that he was willing to go. Wherefore the mayor and some of the judges entered the convent and begged the Father, for the sake of the municipality, to agree to the prayer of those noblemen. When he said that he had no power to grant me a license to travel to Jerusalem, but that this business lay in the hands of our holy Father the Pope, and of the General of our Order, I straightway produced my letters, both from the Pope and from the General of the Order. When he saw them, he at once gave his consent in the name of the Lord.

I therefore called upon the Lord John, the Truchsess, and arranged with him the day and the place where I was to meet him, and my three other masters. He decided upon a particular day, and for a place the town of Innspruck, the seat of the Duke of Austria. After arranging this, his lordship went home with his company.

So I from this day forth let my beard grow,and adorned both my cap and my scapular with red crosses, which crosses were sewn on to my clothes for me by virgins, dedicated to God, spouses of Him crucified; and I assumed all the other outward signs of that holy pilgrimage, as I had a right to do. There are five outward badges of a pilgrim, to wit, a red cross on a long gray gown, with the monk's cowl sewn to the tunic-unless the pilgrim belong to some order which does not permit him to wear a gray gown. The second is a black or gray hat, also marked in front with a red cross. The third is a long beard growing from a face which is serious and pale on account of his labours and dangers, for in every land even heathens themselves when travelling let their beards and hair grow long until their return home; and this, they say, was first done by Osiris, a very ancient King of Egypt, who was reputed to be a God, and who travelled throughout the whole world. The fourth is the scrip upon his shoulders, containing his slender provisions, with a bottle-sufficient, not for luxury, but barely for the necessaries of life. The fifth, which he assumes only in the Holy Land, is an ass, with a Saracen driver, instead of his staff. So in my heart I looked forward with great longing to the day of my departure, and silently and calmly equipped myself for my holy pilgrimage, because of the trouble shown by those who were anxious for my safety and who kept disquieting me."

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