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Across those stones, that pave
King Robert, who was standing near the throne,
THE sanctity of the Holy Land, the scene of the Saviour's life and death, untraceable in the first records of the religion, had grown up, as the faith became the mistress of the whole inward nature of man, of the imagination as well as the moral sentiment, into almost a part of the general, if undefined, creed. Pilgrimage may be considered as belonging to the universal religion of man. Some sacred spots, connected either with the history of the faith or with some peculiar manifestation of the Deity, have ever concentrated the worshippers within their precincts, or drawn them together at periodical intervals to revive their pious emotions, to partake in the divine influences still supposed to be emanating from the holy ground, or to approach nearer to the present and locally - indwelling Godhead. From the lowest Fetichism up to Christianity itself, this general and unconquerable propensity has either been sanctioned by the religion, or sprung up out of it. Like the other more sublime and purely spiritual truths of the Gospel, the impartial ubiquity of God, the equable omnipresence of the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit throughout the whole universe and in the soul of every true believer, became too vague and unsubstantial, at least for the popular faith. It might seem an inevitable consequence of the Incarnation of the Godhead in human nature, that man should lean, as it were, more strongly on this kindred and comprehensible Saviour than on the same Saviour when retired into his remoter divinity. Everything which approximated the human Saviour to the heart and understanding was cherished with deep reverence. Even in the coldest and most unimaginative times the traveller to the Holy Land seems to enjoy a privilege enviable to the Christian, who, considering the natural effects on the religious emotions, will not venture to disdain the blameless at least, if not beneficial, excitement. The objective reality which arises from the actual places where the Saviour was born, lived, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, works back upon the inward or subjective faith in the heart of the believer. Where the presence, the being of the Redeemer, is more intensely felt, there it is thought to dwell with greater power.
The Holy Land was very early visited by Christian pilgrims. The supposed discovery of the sacred sepulchre, with all the miraculous legends of the Emperor's vision, the disinterment of the true cross, the magnificent church built over the sepulchre by the devout Helena and her son Constantine, were but the consequences and manifestations of a pre-existent and dominant enthusiasm. This high example immeasurably strengthened and fed the growing passion.
During the following centuries pilgrimage became the ruling passion of the more devout. The lives of saints teem with accounts of their pious journeys. Itineraries were drawn up by which pilgrims might direct their way from the banks of the Rhine to Jerusalem. It was a work of pious munificence to build and endow hospitals along the roads for the reception of pilgrims. These pilgrims were taken under the protection of the law; they were exempt from toll, and commended by kings to the hospitality of their subjects. Charlemagne ordered that through his whole realm they were to be supplied at least with lodging, fire, and water. In some religious houses the statutes provided for their entertainment. In Jerusalem there were public caravansaries for their reception. Gregory the Great sent money to Jerusalem to build a splendid hospital. The pilgrim set forth amid the blessings and prayers of his kindred and community, with the simple accoutrements which announced his design--the staff, the wallet, and the scallop-shell : he returned a privileged, in some sense a sanctified being. Pilgrimage expiated all sin. The bathing in Jordan was, as it were, a second baptism, and washed away all the evil of the former life. The shirt which he had worn when he entered the holy city was carefully laid by as his windingsheet, and possessed, it was supposed, the power of transporting him to heaven. Palestinė was believed to be a land not merely of holy reminiscences, and hallowed not only by the acts of the Saviour, but by the remains also of many saints. Places had already, by the pious invention and belief of the monks, been set apart for every scene in the Gospels or in early Christian history—the stable in Bethlehem, the garden of Gethsemane, the height where the Ascension took place ; the whole land was a land of miracle, each spot had its wonders to confirm its authenticity.
Down to the conquest of Jerusalem by Chosroes the Persian, the tide of pilgrimage flowed uninterrupted to the Holy Land. The victory of Heraclius and the recovery of
the true Cross from the hands of the fire-worshippers reestablished the peaceful communication ; and throughout this whole period the pilgrims had only to encounter the ordinary accidents, privations, and perils of a long journey.
Nor did the capture of Jerusalem by the Mohammedans at first break off this connection between Christendom and the birth and burial-place of the Redeemer. To the Mohammedans Jerusalem was no indifferent possession ;
it was sacred, if in a less degree than Mecca. It had been visited by their Prophet ; once, according to their legend, in a mysterious and supernatural manner. The Prophet had wavered between Jerusalem and Mecca as the Kebla of prayer for his disciples. The great religious ancestor of the Jews was also that of the Arabs; the holy men and prophets of Israel were held in honour by the new faith ; the Korân admitted the supreme sanctity, though not the divinity, of Jesus. On the surrender of Jerusalem to the Caliph Omar, Christianity was allowed to perform all its rites, though shorn of their pomp and publicity. Their bells might no longer peal over the city ; their processions were forbidden ; they were to allow, without resistance, the conversion of Christians to Islamism ; to keep themselves distinct by name, dress, and language ; to pay tribute, and to acknowledge the sovereign power of the Caliph. They were constrained to behold the mosque of Omar usurp the site of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. Yet pilgrimage was not as the worship of images to those stern iconoclasts. It was a part of religion so common with their own belief, that they were rather disposed to respect than to despise this mark of attachment in the Christians to their own prophet. The pious, therefore, soon began to flock again in undiminished numbers to Mohammedan as to Christian Jerusalem.
The wars which followed the fall of the Caliphate had towards this time made Syria less secure ; more than once it had been the field of battle to contending parties ; and in the year 1010 there was a fierce persecution of the Christians by
Hakim, the fanatic Sultan of Egypt. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other Christian buildings in Jerusalem and the neighbourhood, were razed to the ground. Hakim, however, himself repented or grew weary of the persecution, or perhaps dreaded the vengeance of the maritime powers of Italy, now becoming formidable to all the coasts of the Mediterranean. The pilgrims were permitted to resume their interrupted devotions; they had no great peril to encounter, and no degrading indignity to undergo, except the payment of a toll on the entrance to Jerusalem, established soon after this time by the Mohammedan rulers. This might sometimes be a grievous affliction to the poorer pilgrims, but it gave an opportunity for the more wealthy to display their pious munificence by defraying the cost of their admission.
Throughout the earlier half of the century, men of all ranks, princes like Robert of Normandy, lordly bishops like those of Germany, headed pilgrimages. Humble monks, and even peasants, found their way to the Holy Land, and returned to awaken the spirit of religious adventure by the account of their difficulties and perils—the passionate enthusiasm by the wonders of the Holy Land.
Now, however, the splendid, polished, and more tolerant Mohammedanism of the earlier Caliphs had sunk before the savage yet no less warlike Turks. This race, of the Mongol stock, had embraced all that was enterprising, barbarous, and aggressive, rejecting all that was humane or tending to a higher civilisation in Mohammedanism. They were more fanatic Islamites than the followers of the Prophet, than the Prophet himself. The Seljukians became masters of Jerusalem, and from that time the Christians of Palestine, from tributary subjects, became despised slaves; the pilgrims, from respected guests, intruders whose hateful presence polluted the atmosphere of pure Islamism. But neither the tyranny nor the outrages perpetrated by these new lords of Jerusalem arrested the unexhausted passion for pilgrimage, which became to some even a more praiseworthy and noble