A young Christian Nazarene afterwards conducted me to the House of Joseph, the Carpenter, which is now inclosed in a little chapel. It is merely a fragment of wall, undoubtedly as old as the time of Christ, and I felt willing to consider it a genuine relic. There was an honest roughness about the large stones, inclosing a small room called the carpenter’s shop, which I could not find it in my heart to doubt. Besides, in a quiet country town like Nazareth, which has never knows such vicissitudes as Jerusalem, much more dependence can be placed on popular tradition. For the same reason, I looked with reverence on the Table of Christ, also inclosed within a chapel. This is a large, natural rock, about nine feet by twelve, nearly square, and quite flat on the top. It is said that it once served as a table for Christ and his Disciples. The building called the School of Christ, where he went with other children of his age, is now a church of the Syrian Christians, who were performing a doleful mass, in Arabic, at the time of my visit. It is a vaulted apartment, about forty feet long, and only the lower part of the wall is ancient. At each of these places, the Nazarene put into my hand a piece of pasteboard, on which was printed a prayer in Latin, Italian, and Arabic, with the information that whoever visited the place, and made the prayer, would be entitled to seven years’ indulgence. I duly read all the prayers, and, accordingly, my conscience ought to be at rest for twenty-one years.
The Country of Galilee.
Departure from Nazareth—A Christian Guide—Ascent of Mount Tabor—Wallachian Hermits—The Panorama of Tabor—Ride to Tiberias—A Bath in Genesareth—The Flowers of Galilee—The Mount of Beatitude—Magdala—Joseph’s Well—Meeting with a Turk—The Fountain of the Salt-Works—The Upper Valley of the Jordan—Summer Scenery—The Rivers of Lebanon—Tell el-Kadi—An Arcadian Region—The Fountains of Banias.
“Beyond are Bethulia’s mountains
And the desolate hills of the wild Gadarene;
And I pause on the goat-crags of Tabor to see
The gleam of thy waters, O dark Galilee!”—Whittier.
Banias (Caesarea Philippi), May 10, 1852.
We left Nazareth on the morning of the 8th inst. My companion had done so well under the care of Fra Joachim that he was able to ride, and our journey was not delayed by his accident. The benedictions of the good Franciscans accompanied us as we rode away from the Convent, past the Fountain of the Virgin, and out of the pleasant little valley where the boy Jesus wandered for many peaceful years. The Christian guide we engaged for Mount Tabor had gone ahead, and we did not find him until we had travelled for more than two hours among the hills. As we approached the sacred mountain, we came upon the region of oaks—the first oak I had seen since leaving Europe last autumn. There are three or four varieties, some with evergreen foliage, and in their wild luxuriance and the picturesqueness of their forms and groupings, they resemble those of California. The sea of grass and flowers in which they stood was sprinkled with thick tufts of wild oats—another point of resemblance to the latter country. But here, there is no gold; there, no sacred memories.