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when his fever increasing, he died, much lamented; the people flocking to attend his sick-bed, though it was winter, the weather exceedingly severe, and the ways, after an immense fall of snow, almost impassable.
Luke had directed Gregory, a Presbyter, to dig beneath where he lay, and bury him; adding, that God would glorify the spot, and occasion it to be visited by multitudes of the faithful. He obeyed, and depositing the sacred body publicly, as a common treasure, with the usual ceremonies, replaced the brick pavement. After six months, a monk and eunuch named Cosmas, stopping on his passage to Italy, was conducted, as by a divine hand, to the hermitage and cell of Luke, which pleased him so much, that he vowed never to leave it; and seeing his grave neglected, he raised the holy coffin above the ground, and inclosed it in a tomb, encompassed with rails to prevent any from touching it, but those who were disposed to approach with devotion.
The pious care of Cosmas was not unrewarded. Two years after, some of his followers perceived a fragrant oil flowing plentifully from the holy coffin. This incited them to erect cells; to decorate, as well as they were able, the rude church of St. Barbara; and to provide small houses for the accommodation of strangers; believing, it may be presumed, with the editor of the life, that this property, for which several sanctified carcasses have been renowned, was not bestowed by God but as a testimony that the body should prove an invaluable fountain of medicine. Many miraculous cures were performed. The fame of the saint was propagated. His cell was converted into a handsome oratory in the shape of a cross; and numbers repaired to his tomb, as to another Siloe.
The monastery of St. Luke--The founder The church—The re
liques of St. Luke—The tombs of the emperor Romanus and his queen--The hermitage.
The monastery of St. Luke is a barbarous edifice, and of an ordinary appearance. Near it, by the road-side, is erected a wooden cross. It is reckoned two hours from the sea, and four west of Lebadea. The apartments or cells are very mean. The number of monks was then a hundred and twenty, most of them absent, keeping flocks or employed in agriculture. We were entertained by the hegumenos, or abbot, who told us that the convent was greatly in debt, and that they suffered much from exactions, besides paying to the amount of a hundred and seventy-five pounds sterling yearly tribute to the Turks. The air is bad, and water distant. It is likely they go to the fountain, which supplied the inhabitants of Stiris.
In the church is a copy of Iambic verses in two columns, in an antiquated hand, hung up in a frame, and containing a panegyric, on the monastery, written soon after it was built. I copied them from a transcript, produced by the abbot, which had a prose-exposition in more modern Greek, placed opposite. The author informs us, that Romanus Porphyrogennetus was the founder. This emperor was the son of Constantine Porphyrogennetus, who was descended from Flavius Basilius, a Macedonian, of Armenian origin, and of the race of the Arsacidæ. He was crowned in 945, or about the time when Luke died, by his father, and, at the instigation of his wife, endeavoured to destroy him by poison, but he survived until 960. Romanus died in 963, about two years after the taking of Crete. Theophano was made regent for her sons, and lived several years. A firm attachment to Romanus is recommended in the lambics. St. Luke was said to have foretold, that Crete would be subdued under an emperor of that name. His biographer observes, that this prophesy had been fulfilled, but, it is remarkable, does not mention the regard shown by Romanus to his favourite saint.
The monastery of St. Luke is styled by its panegyrist the glory of Hellas, and the queen of all monasteries, on account of its church, which for magnificence and the grandeur of its proportions, is 'not equalled perhaps in all Greece. This sumptuous fabric within retains the shape of the oratory, into which the cell of Luke was changed. It has suffered greatly, as might be expected, from age and carthquakes ; and the outside is much encumbered, and deformed by the addition of huge buttresses to support the walls, and by the stopping up of several windows, particularly those of the principal dome. The inside is lined with polished marble, impannelled ; but some of the chapels have been stripped. The pavement is inlaid with various colours artfully disposed. The domes are decorated with painting and gilding in Mosaic, well executed ; representing holy personages and scriptural stories. The gallery is illuminated with pieces of the transparent marble, called Phengites, fixed in the wall in square compartments, and shedding a yellow light; but without, resembling common stone and rudely carved. A fabric thus splendid in decay, must have been, when recently finished, exceedingly glorious. The encomiast extols it as the rival
of St. Sophia at Constantinople, and the crown of the beauties of Hellas.
The precious reliques of the thrice blessed Luke were the important treasure, which once ennobled this church. Among the cures effected by them and recorded by his biographer, one is of a Dæmoniac. In a distich in the Menology, it is affirmed, he had filled Hellas with miracles, and continued them, though dead. In the service of the day, to omit other eulogiums, he is addressed as repelling evil affections ; as healing lepers and all diseases; as giving sight to the blind; restoring the use of limbs; and dispensing an universal panacèum. The abbot showed us a small sarcophagus, or coffin, with a wooden lid, and a cover before it, in a chapel or recess. This was the casket, but he could not inform us what portion of the saint it had contained, or by whom.or whither removed. He related, that the marble pannel on each side formerly exuded an ointment of prodigious virtue; a tale received by some of our company with much reverence and crossing. The entire body, it is probable, was deemed early too rich a jewel to be possessed by one spot; for in a catalogue of the reliques, which belonged to the great church of the monastery of St. Laura at Mount Athos, is mentioned a part of St. Luke Stiriotes. He produced likewise some old pictures of the Panagia, or Virgin Mary, painted on wood, with a fine portrait of St. Luke the evangelist, which had been procured from Muscovy.
Beneath the church is an extensive vault, in which mass is celebrated on certain festivals. There is the cemetery of the monks. The body is inclosed in an horizontal niche on a bier, which is taken out when wanted. The bones, are washed with wine, and thrown on a heap. In the area
are two flat tombs raised above the floor. The marble slab on the top of one of them is plain, except a Greek cross engraved on the right side. In the other a plate of brass or metal has been fixed, with an inscription. They were erected, as the abbot informed us, over the founder Romanus and the empress his wife.
The spot cultivated by Luke was possessed in 1676, by a hermit, whom Wheler visited. The way from the monastery was down the hill to the south; across a small river in a pleasant plain, planted with vines and olive-trees; and then up a steep rock, cut wide enough for two carts to pass, the ascent easy. On the top were ruins of a town and castle ; and beneath, a metochi or farm near a port, in which the caloyers, or monks fish, and vessels load with corn. He turned to the left over a craggy ridge, and arrived at the hermitage, situated on the south-east side of a rock, and distant a mile and a half from the monastery. The garden was large, with a cell and a pretty oratory at the upper end. Below was a fountain of good water; and beyond it, a river, which descended in a cascade from the high cliffs of Mount Zagara or Helicon ; and passed by, murmuring among the vast rocks and stones in its channel. The hoary head of the hermit, who was clothed in a long brown garment, resembled the snowy summits. He carved scriptural stories on crosses with admirable art, and was esteemed a saint. An humble companion ministered to him, as Luke to Stylites. Two caloyers, or monks, who lived in a hut beneath, produced bread and olives, white honeycomb, and excellent wine, for the refreshment of our traveller; who was so charmed with the harmony of birds, and the natural beauties of the place, and so soothed with the