The Ceremonies of the Holy-Week at Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 159 pages of information about The Ceremonies of the Holy-Week at Rome.



Having spoken of the blessing of the paschal candle at Rome, we may for a few moments turn our thoughts towards a city still more ancient, and trodden by holier and more exalted beings than even the apostles and martyrs of the eternal city.  The justly-celebrated traveller John Thevenot in his Voyage du Levant describes the ceremonies of holyweek performed at Jerusalem; the distribution of palms, the washing of the feet on Maunday-Thursday at the door of the holy Sepulchre; and the procession to the holy places or stations performed by the Catholic Christians.  Concerning this the eloquent Pere Abbe de Geramb, in his interesting Pelerinage at Jerusalem in 1832, informs us that “by means of a figure in relief of the natural size, whose head, arms, and feet are flexible, the religious represent the crucifixion, the descent from the cross, and the burial of Jesus Christ, in such manner as to render all the principal circumstances apparent to the senses and striking”.

Both these distinguished writers of different periods agree in testifying, that all the devotions of the Catholics were and are still conducted with so much order that they are admired both by Christians and Turks, whereas those of the schismatical Christians took place with much confusion, and with such a noise, that the Janissaries, who had to preserve order, were obliged to strike the persons engaged in them as well as the spectators.  This statement is confirmed by the account, which they and other travellers give, of the holy fire of the Greeks and other schismatics.  Benedict XIV observes that no mention is made of the supposed miracle of the holy fire by early Christian writers who lived at Jerusalem; as Eusebius, S. Jerome, S. Epiphanius, or S. Cyril bishop of Jerusalem.  It is however spoken of by Bernard a Frank monk of the ninth century, and in a Pontifical of the church of Poictiers of about the tenth century:  by Hugo Flaviniacensis in Chronico Virdunensi, in the discourse of Urban II in the council of Claremont, and in other documents of the middle ages mentioned by Martene (lib.  IV, c.  XXIV).  Lupi (tom. 4, Conc. gen. etc.) thinks it probable, that the custom of burning lights and the paschal candle on this day was instituted, in order to return thanks to God for a miracle (which may of old have happened at Jerusalem) and to announce it to all nations.

I shall now extract a brief account of the scene of confusion enacted in modern times at Jerusalem on such occasions from Thevenot, in whose work is a print representing it.  “After our Catholic office was ended” says he, “we prepared to enjoy the sight of the holy fire of the Greeks, Armenians and Copts, whose priests make their people believe, that on holy Saturday fire descends from heaven into the holy Sepulchre, and on that account make each

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The Ceremonies of the Holy-Week at Rome from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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