Monday, May 01, 2006

Day 19 - 1st May 1483

"THE delightful and joyous month of May offers for our devout worship on its first day the holy Apostles St. Philip and St. James. Wherefore, very early in the morning, when the lords and the rest of our company had risen and were making themselves ready for going to church and hearing Mass, they asked me in which church we should hear divine service to-day. I replied, 'Lo, now, my lords, we have set out upon a pilgrimage in the name of God, and it is not fitting that a pilgrim should stand idle. Now we must remain in this city for a whole month longer. And seeing that we are set about on every side by waters, we cannot solace ourselves and pass our time by visits to flowery gardens or smiling plains, to shady woods, green meadows, or delightful plantations of trees and flowers, roses and lilies; nor can we employ our leisure in hunting, while it would not befit us to attend tournaments or dances; therefore my advice is that, while we remain here, we should every day make a pilgrimage to some church, and visit the bodies and relics of the saints, whereof there is a great multitude in this city, and that thus throughout this month of May we may be plucking flowers, the roses and lilies of virtues, of graces and indulgences.' When they heard this, my advice was approved by all, and it was unanimously agreed that we should row or walk every day to one of the churches; and if not all of us together, that at least some of our company should do so, that they might afterwards tell the rest what they had seen. So on that first day of May we hired a boat and rowed to the church of the holy Apostles St. Philip and St. James, and attended service there. After service we went up to the altar and kissed the holy head of St. Philip, which is kept there, and the holy arm of St. James. There was a great crush of people to see and kiss the holy relics. When service was over the people went away, but we waited until we could have a better view of the relics without being jostled, and could touch them with our jewellery. For pilgrims to the Holy Land are wont to carry with them to the holy places choice rings of gold or silver, and beads of precious stones for 'paternosters' or rosaries, or the rosaries themselves, little gold or silver crosses, or any of the like precious and easily carried trinklets, which are entrusted to them by their parents or friends, or which they buy at Venice or in parts beyond the sea for presents to those who are dear to them; and whenever they meet with any relics, or come to any holy place, they take those jewels and touch the relics or the holy place with them, that they may perchance derive some sanctity from the touch; and thus they are returned to the friends of the pilgrims dearer and more valuable than before.

I myself was the least of all, and the poorest of all our company, yet had I many precious jewels which had been lent me by my friends, patrons and patronesses, in order that I might touch with them the relics and holy places to which I came, and bring them back to them, receiving a reward for so doing. Among others, his worship, Master John Echinger, at that time Mayor of Ulm, entrusted me with his most cherished ring, which ring his father, James Echinger, had drawn from his thumb in his last moments and given to his son, even as he himself had received it from his father before him: I verily believe it was of more value to him than a hundred ducats, and that now he values it at more than two hundred. So, after the people had retired, we drew near and, as I have described, touched the relics of the holy Apostles. It was my duty to take all the jewels belonging to the secular pilgrims at holy places, or places where relics were kept, and with my hands I touched the holy things with each of them, and then gave them back to their owners. But some of the nobles left their jewels in my hands throughout the pilgrimage. Thus we did at all the holy places and with all the relics which we found during our whole pilgrimage, beginning with the holy child Simeon at Trent. So when we had done all this we went home to our inn for dinner."

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