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E00412: The Piacenza Pilgrim mentions offerings and miracles in the house in Sarepta (biblical Zarephath, Phoenicia), in which *Elijah (Old Testament prophet, S00217) had stayed. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 22.04.2015, 00:00 by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 2

First recension
De Sidona uenimus Sarapta, quae ciuitas modica christiana nimis est, in qua est cenaculus ille, qui factus fuerat Heliae, et ipsum lectum ibi est, ubi recubuit, et alueus marmoreus, ubi illa uidua infermentauit. In quo loco multa offeruntur; multae uirtutes illic fient.

'From Sidon we came to Sarepta, a small city full of Christians. The chamber which was made for Elijah is there, and in it is the very bed on which he lay, and the marble vessel in which the widow made her bread. Many offerings are made there, and many miracles take place.'

The second recension follows the text of the first without important modifications.


Text Geyer 1898, 160 and 196. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 131.

History

Evidence ID

E00412

Saint Name

Elijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217

Saint Name in Source

Helias

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

551

Evidence not after

614

Activity not before

551

Activity not after

614

Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia Syria with Phoenicia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Piacenza

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Piacenza Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia Thabbora Thabbora Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Places

Place associated with saint's life

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - other object closely associated with saint Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes

Source

This Itinerary was written by an anonymous pilgrim to Palestine who started and finished his journey in Placentia. He visited the East probably not long after the earthquake in 551, since he presents the destruction of Berytus (modern Beirut) in this year as a relatively recent event. He certainly visited Palestine before the Persian invasion in 614, since in his account Jerusalem is under Roman administration. The Itinerary is extant in two recensions. The first one is shorter and generally closer to the original, but sometimes it is the second recension which preserves the original text. Moreover, the additions that can be found in the second recension, unfortunately difficult to date, bear an interesting witness to the development of the cult of saints. The Itinerary can be compared with an earlier pilgrim's diary written in the 380s by another western pilgrim, Egeria. The Piacenza Pilgrim's itinerary is less detailed than her account, but shows the development of the cultic practices and infrastructure which had taken place in the course of two hundred years: there are more places to visit, more objects to see, and more saints to venerate.

Discussion

This refers to the story in 1 Kings 17, in which during a severe drought the prophet Elijah goes to Sarepta and is received by a poor widow who willingly feeds him her last loaf of bread; God then ensures her bread and oil never run out. Later the prophet heals her dying son by laying him on his bed and placing himself over him three times while invoking God. The bed of the prophet and the vessel the widow used to make bread were therefore very appropriate relics of Elijah's stay. The nature of the miracles mentioned by our pilgrim is not explained; probably the bed and the vessel were considered sources of healing power.

Bibliography

Edition: Geyer, P. (ed.), Antonini Placentini Itinerarium, in Itineraria et alia geographica (Corpus Chistianorum, series Latina 175; Turnholti: Typographi Brepols editores pontificii, 1965), 129-174. [Essentially a reprinting of Geyer's edition for the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 39, Wien 1898.] English translations: Stewart, A., Of the Holy Places Visited by Antoninus Martyr (London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1887). Wilkinson, J., Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (2nd ed.; Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 2002).

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