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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Felix Fabbri's Dos & Don'ts for Christian Pilgrims [circa 1482]

Felix Fabri [or Fabbri] was a German Dominican friar who came on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the years 1480-1484, approx., and wrote an account of his journey that is of much interest for the history of the time. He recorded 27 rules of wise conduct for the pilgrim which were told to pilgrims by the abbot of the Franciscan monastery on Mount Zion [the Mt Zion of today, location of today's Zion Gate, not the original Mount Zion which was the Temple Mount]. The Franciscan Order, with its headquarters in Israel on Mt Zion, was entrusted by the Catholic Church with watching over Roman Catholic interests in the Christian holy places and caring for and guiding Catholic pilgrims, as discussed in earlier posts mentioning Francesco Suriano, one of the abbots of their monastery [called Guardian or Custos of the Holy Land].

One of the main concerns of this set of rules was to not --to never-- anger a Muslim or Muslims, regardless of who may have been right or wrong in any personal encounter. Here are some of the dos and don'ts:

-the pilgrim must not go about alone (without a Muslim guide) in the holy places, because this involves danger.
- the pilgrim must take care not to tread on Muslim graves, because this angers the Muslims who stone those who do so.
- the pilgrim who receives blows from a Muslim, even without any justification, must not strike him back.
- the pilgrim must avoid taking souvenirs by means of breaking off pieces of stone from Jesus' tomb or other buildings. [The above rules are translated from Eli Shiller's monograph referred to below]

"Eighth Article- the pilgrims must not laugh or chuckle while they are walking about in Jerusalem on their way to visit the holy places. Rather, they must display seriousness and religious devotion, both in order to serve as an example to the Muslims and because of the holy places themselves, and so that the Muslims will not suspect that they are being mocked, which annoys them exceedingly. They are always suspicious about laughter and merriment among pilgrims.

"Ninth article. Let the pilgrims beware above all of jesting with or laughing at the Saracen boys or men whom they may meet, because, however well meant this conduct may be, yet much mischief arises from it; so if anything laughable should be done by such boys, the pilgrim ought to turn himself away and remain grave, and so he will have peace.

"Tenth article. Let the pilgrims beware of gazing upon any women whom they may meet, because all Saracens are exceeding jealous, and a pilgrim may in ignorance run himself into danger through the fury of some jealous husband.

"Eleventh article. Should any woman beckon to a pilgrim or invite him by signs to enter a house, let him on no account do so, because the woman does this treacherously at the instigation of some men, In order that the Christian when he enters may be robbed, and perhaps slain. Those who are not careful in these matters incur great danger.

"Seventeenth article. Should any pilgrim form a friendship with any Saracen, he must beware of trusting him too far, for they are treacherous; and he must especially beware of laying his hand on his beard in jest, or touching his turban, even with a light touch and in jest: for this thing is a disgrace among them, and all jests are at once forgotten thereat, and they grow angry. Of this fact, I, Brother Felix Fabri, have had experience.

"Eighteenth article. Let every pilgrim carefully guard his own property, and never leave it lying about in any place where Saracens are, otherwise it will straightway vanish, whatever it may be.
Twentieth article. Let no Christian have money dealings with a Saracen except in such sort that he knows he cannot be cheated; for they strive to cheat us, and believe that they are serving God by deceiving and cheating us

"Twenty-second article. Let the pilgrim beware of entering mosques, that is, Saracen temples and oratories, because if he be found therein, he will in no case escape unharmed, even should he escape with his life. " [The rules in quotation marks are quoted from the English translation linked to below]

A full English translation of these rules is found here. The site linked to also contains a full English translation of Fabri's itinerary or travel account. A Hebrew translation of most of the rules is found in Eli Shiller, "On the Path of the Pilgrims to the Holy Land," Qardom, III, 13-14 (Sh'bat tashma'- January 1981), pp 42-43.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Coming soon: Gedaliah of Semyatich in the Land of Israel, circa 1700
Poems of Zion, etc.


  • all of this is wrong. muslims aren't crazy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12 AM  

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