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E00489: The Piacenza Pilgrim describes the basilica at Mamre, with the tombs of the Old Testament Patriarchs *Abraham (S00275), *Isaac (S00276), *Jacob (S00280) and *Joseph (S00277), and of Abraham's wife Sarah (S00278), which is frequented by both Jews and Christians; he also mentions the feast of the deposition of *Jacob and of *David (king of Israel and psalmist, S00269), celebrated on the day after Christmas by large numbers of Jews. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 11.05.2015, 00:00 by dlambert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 30

First recension
De Bethlem autem usque ad ilicem Mambre sunt milia xxiv, in quo loco iacent Abraham et Isaac et Iacob et Sarra, sed et ossa Ioseph, basilica aedificata in quadriporticus, in medio atrio discopertus, per medio discurrit cancellus et ex uno latere intrant christiani et ex alio latere Iudaei, incensa facientes multa. Nam et depositio Iacob et Dauid in terra illa alio die de natale Domini deuotissime celebratur, ita ut ex omni terra illa Iudaei conueniant, innumerabilis multitudo, et incensa offerentes multa uel luminaria et munera dantes ad seruientes ibidem.

'From Bethlehem it is twenty-four miles to the Oak of Mamre, the resting-place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah, and also Joseph's bones. The basilica has four porticoes and no roof over the central court. Down the middle runs a screen. Christians come in on one side and Jews on the other, and they use much incense. The Deposition of Jacob and David are celebrated in this area, on the day after Christ's Birthday, with much devotion, and Jews from all over the country congregate for this, too great a crowd to count. They offer much incense and lights, and give presents to those who minister there.'


Second recension
De Bethleem usque ad ilicem mambres milia xxiiii. In quo loco requiescunt Abraham, Isaac, Iacob, et Sarra, simul et Ioseph ossa. Est basilica in quadriporticus, atrium in medio discoopertum et per medio cancellum; ex uno latere intrant christiani, ex alio uero Iudaei, incensa facientes multa. Nam depositio Iacob et Dauid in terra illa die primo post natale Domini deuotissime ab omnibus celebratur, ita ut ex omni terra Iudaeorum conueniat innumerabilis multitudo, incensa ferentes uel luminaria et dantes numera ac seruientes ibidem.

'From Bethlehem it is twenty-four miles to the Oak of Mamre, the resting-place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah, and also Joseph's bones. The basilica had four porticoes and no roof over the central court. Down the middle runs a screen. Christians come in on one side and Jews on the other, and they use much incense. On the day following Christ's Birthday the Deposition of Jacob and David is celebrated in this area by everybody with much devotion, and Jews from all over the country congregate for this, too great a crowd to count. They offer much incense and lights, and give presents to those who minister there.'


Text: Geyer 1898, 178 and 209. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 143, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00489

Saint Name

David, Old Testament king of Israel : S00269 Abraham, Old Testament patriarch : S00275 Isaac, Old Testament patriarch : S00276 Sarah, Old Testament personnage : S00278 Jacob, Old Testament Patriarch : S00280 Joseph, Old Testament patriarch : S00

Saint Name in Source

David Abraham Isaac Sarra Iacob Ioseph

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 Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Piacenza

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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Pilgrim of Piacenza

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Pilgrimage

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Jews

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

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

The Piacenza pilgrim runs together, as if they were a single shrine, the basilica built by Constantine around Abraham's oak at Mamre, and the nearby graves of the Patriarchs. This confusion suggests that he may not have visited this site, and depended on second-hand information. The tombs of the patriarchs were evidently a place of Christian cult, but it is not obvious whether the patriarchs themselves were also venerated. It is also difficult to say what status these tombs had for the Jews. The second recension follows the text of the first with one exception. It claims that the feast of the deposition of David and Jacob was celebrated by everybody in the country, which may suggest that the Christians did it as well as the Jews, but since the rest of the text concerns only the latter, the participation of the former is dubious. For a tomb of Joseph recorded on the mosaic map of Madaba, see E02524.

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).

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Licence

Exports