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E00589: The Piacenza Pilgrim mentions the monastery of *Elisha (Old Testament prophet, S00239) at the foot of Mount Carmel (Palestine) and the stones which prevent miscarriage. Account of an anonymous pilgrim, written in Latin, probably in Placentia (northern Italy), c. 570.

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posted on 08.06.2015, 00:00 by robert
Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium 3

First recension
Castra Samaritanorum a Sucamina miliario subtus monte Carmelo. Super ipsa castra miliario semis monasterium sancti Helisaei, ubi ei occurrit mulier, cuius filium suscitauit. In Carmelo monte inuenitur petra modica rotunda, quam dum exagitas sonat, quae solida est. Talis autem est uirtus petrae: si suspensa fuerit mulieri uel cuicumque animali, iactum numquam faciet.

'The Camp of the Samaritans is one mile from Sycamina, below Mount Carmel, and half a mile above this camp is the monastery of saint Elisha, where the woman met him, whose son he brought back to life. On Mount Carmel is found a small round rock which rattles when you shake it, though it is solid. It has the virtue that any woman or animal to whom it is attached will never miscarry.'

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

Text: Geyer 1898, 160 and 195. Translation: Wilkinson 2002, 131, modified.

History

Evidence ID

E00589

Saint Name

Elisha, Old Testament prophet : S00239

Saint Name in Source

Helisaeus

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 - Places

Place associated with saint's life

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Pilgrimage

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Fertility- and family-related miracles (infertility, marriages)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women

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 story of Elisha referred to here is told in 2 Kings 4: the prophet first gives a woman of Shunem a son; but later he sickens and dies, so the woman goes to find Elisha, meeting him on Mount Carmel; Elisha is able to bring the boy back to life. It is not clear whether the virtue of the stones that the pilgrim describes is attributed to the site's association with the Elisha, but the link is probable in our author's mind, particularly because the story told in 2 Kings 4 begins as one of successful childbirth.

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). Further reading: Maraval, P., Lieux saints et Pèlerinages d'Orient: Histoire et géographie, des origines à la conquête arabe (Paris: Cerf, 1985), 332.

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