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IV.

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Helena.

CHAP. conducted him from one convent to another (each

striving to outdo the former in the list of in-
Supersti-
tions of the dulgences and of relics it has at its disposal),
Country.

bearing testimony to the wretched ignorance
and sometimes to the disorderly lives of a
swarm of monks, by whom all this trumpery
is manufactured. Among the early contributors
to the system of abuses thus established, no

one appears more pre-emimently distinguished Empress than the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine

the First; to whose charitable donations these
repositories of superstition were principally
indebted. No one laboured more effectually
to obliterate every trace of that which might
have been regarded with reasonable reverence,
than did this old lady, with the best possible
intentions, whenever it was in her power. Had
the Sea of Tiberias been capable of annihilation
by her means, it would have been desiccated,
paved, covered with churches and altars, or
converted into monasteries and markets of
indulgences, until every feature of the original
had disappeared; and this by way of rendering
it more particularly holy. To such a disposition
may be attributed the sort of work exhibited in
the Church and Convent of Nazareth, originally
constructed under her auspices. Pococke has
proved that the tradition concerning the dwelling.

CHAP.

IV.

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place of the parents of Jesus CHRIST existed
at a very early period; because the church,
built over it, is mentioned by writers of
the seventh century' ; and in being conducted
to a cave rudely fashioned in the natural
rock, there is nothing repugnant to the no-
tions usually entertained either of the antient
customs of the country, or the history of
the persons to whom allusion is made; but
when the surreptitious aid of architectural pil-
lars, with all the garniture of a Roman-catholic
church, above, below, and on every side of it,
has disguised its original simplicity; and when
we finally call to mind the insane reverie con-
cerning the transmigration of the said habitation,
in a less substantial form of brick and mortar,
across the Mediterranean to Loretto in Italy,
maintained upon authority very similar to that
which identifies the authenticity of this relic;

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(1) “The great church, built over the house of Joseph, is mentioned by the writers of the seventh and twelfth century.” Pococke's Description of the East, vol. II. part 1. p. 63. Lond. 1745.

(2) “ Pietro de la Valle, in the 13th Letter of his Travels, is of opinion, that the subterraneous chapel of Nazareth was part of the vanit of the Church of the Holy Virgin ; and afterwards turned, by the Christians, into a chapel, in order to preserve a remembrance of the place." Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. II. p. 20.

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CHAP.

IV.

a disbelief of the whole mummery seems best
suited to the feelings of Protestants; who, after
all, are better occupied in meditating the pur-
pose for which Jesus died, than in assisting,
by their presence, to countenance a sale of
indulgences in the place where Joseph is said to
have resided.

Other objects of re

Nazareth.

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The Church and Convent of Nazareth, in verence in their present state, exhibit superstructure of very

recent date ; having been repaired, or entirely
rebuilt, in no very distant period; when the
monks were probably indebted to some ingenious
mason for the miraculous position of the pillar
in the subterraneous chapel, whose two frag.
ments, consisting of different substances, now
so naturally give the lie to each other. The
more antient edifice was erected by the mother
of Constantine ; and its remains may be observed
in the form of subverted columns, which, with
the fragments of their capitals and bases, lie
near the modern building. The present church
is handsome, and full of pictures; most of which
are of modern date, and all of them are below
mediocrity. Egmont and Heyman mention an
antient portrait of our Saviour, brought hither
from Spain by one of the Fathers, having a
Latin inscription, purporting that it is "the

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true Image of Jesus Christ, sent to king Ab-
garus'.'

CHAP.
IV.

The other objects of superstition in Nazareth, at every one of which indulgences are sold to travellers, are: 1. The Workshop of Joseph, which

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(1) "VERA IMAGO SALVATORIS NOSTRI DOMINI JESU CHRISTI,
AD REGEM A BGARUM MISSA.” (Egmont and Heyman's Travels,
vol. II. p. 19.) I do not recollect seeing this picture, although I have
seen copies of it. There is an expression of countenance, and a set of
features, common to almost all the representations of our SAVIOUR, with
which every one is acquainted, although we know pot whence they were
derired: nor would the subject have been mentioned, but to state, fur-
ther, that the famous picture by Carlo Dolci bears no resemblance to
these features; nor to the ordinary appearance presented by the natives
of Syria. Carlo Dolci seems to have borrowed his notions for that
picture from the spurious Letter of Publius Lentulus to the Roman
Senate; which is so interesting, that, while we believe it to be false, we
perhaps wish that it were true:-

“There appeared in these our days, a man of great virtue, named
Jests CHRIST, who is yet living among us; and of the Gentiles is
accepted for a Prophet of Truth; but his own disciples call him the Son
of God. He raiseth the dead, and cureth all manner of diseases. A man
of stature, somewhat tall and comely, with a very reverend coun-
tenance, such as the beholders may both love and fear; his hair, the
colour of a flbert, full ripe, to his ears, whence downwards it is more
orient of colour, somewhat curling or waving about his shoulders ; in the
midst of his head is a seam, or partition of his hair, after the manner of
the Nazarites; his forehead plain and delicate; his face without spot or
wrinkle, beautified with a comely red; his nose and mouth exactly
formed; his beard thick, the colour of his hair, not of any great length,
but forked; his look innocent; his eyes grey, clear and quick ; in
reproring, awful; in admonishing, courteous; in speaking, very modest
and wise ; in proportion of body, well shaped. None have ever seen
him laugh, but many have seen him weep. A MAN, for his beauty, sur-
passing the children of men.”
VOL. IV.

N

CHAP.

IV.

is near the Convent, and was formerly included within its walls ; this is now a small chapel, perfectly modern, and lately whitewashed. II. The Synagogue, where Christ is said to have read the Scriptures to the Jews'; at present a church. III. A Precipice without the town, where they say the Messiah leaped down, to escape the rage of the Jews, after the offence his speech in the synagogue had occasioned?. Here they shew the impression of his hand, made as he sprang from the rock.

From the description given by St. Luke, the monks affirm, that, antiently, Nazareth stood eastward of its present situation, upon a more elevated spot. The words of the Evangelist are, however, remarkably explicit, and prove the situation of the antient city to have been precisely that which is now occupied by the modern town. Induced, by the words of the Gospel, to examine the place more attentively than we should have otherwise done, we went, as it is written, out of the city, unto the brow of the hill whereon

(1) Luke iv. 16.

(2) " And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the bill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.” Luke, iv. 28, 29, 30.

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