Sunday, 5 July 2015

An Englishman's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1517 - Week 3 - Crete to Jaffa

Leaving Crete, the Venetian galley carrying the English priest, Richard Torkington, and his fellow pilgrims, sailed northwards, this unlikely (by modern standards) diversion presumably being occasioned by the wind direction.

"Sunday the v day of Julii, a bowte vj of the cloke in the morning, we made seyle from Candy towards the Rodes."

"Monday, at nyght, we passed by the Ile of Patmos wher Seynt John wrote the Apocalips."

Patmos from the sea. Photo: Lyn Gateley (licensed under CCA).

Torkington would surely have been prevailed upon by his fellow pilgrims to explain this most enigmatic and disturbing passage of scripture. He might have found this easier had he been able to take them ashore and explore the cave in which Saint John received his divine "Revelation," but Venetian sea-captains would not be distracted if favourable winds were filling their sails.

"Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos," by Hieronymous Bosch, a contemporary of Torkington. Many in Torkington's day believed that the author of the Apocalypse was also the author of the fourth gospel, but few modern scholars believe this to be the case. It is now thought unlikely that either of these authors was "John, the brother of James," and son of Zebedee.

The seven-headed beast, one of many terrifying images from the Book of the Apocalypse, from the 10th Century Beatus Escorial (image is in the Public Domain).

"The next day, Tewsday ...we sayled ryght Estwardes, towards Cypres, and left the Rodes on the left hende, not approched ny the Rodes by C myle ffor fer of the Turks."

"Wedynsday the viij Day of Julii, we came to Cypres, and ther we lay Thursday all Day."

Torkington seems not to have gone ashore on Cyprus. Presumably the crew were provisioning the ship, and the captain may have been waiting for a favourable wind. Other sources suggest that Venetian galleys of the time often lay at anchor at the entrance to the Larnaca salt-lakes, so this was, perhaps, the vessel's location at this point in time.

The entrance to the Larnaca salt-lakes (Cyprus), with the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque. Photo: Andreas Antoniou (licensed under GNU).

"Friday the xth Day of July, a bowt x or xj of the cloke, we made sayle."

"Saturday the xjth Day of Julii, a bowt iiij of the cloke at after noon, we had sight of the Holy Lande. Thanne the maryners sang the letany. And after that, all the pilgrims, with a joyful voice sung the Te Deum Lawdimus, and thanked all mighty God that he had goven us such grace to have onys the sight of the most holy lande."

Jaffa from the sea (image is in the Public Domain).

There was time, laying at anchor off Jaffa (modern Tel Aviv), for the pilgrims to reflect on the journey that they had made across the sea, and on the journey that they were about to make over land. For them, this journey of a lifetime was a preparation for an almost precisely similar journey to be made by the soul at the end of days, to the Valley of Gehenna, where Christ would make judgement between the saved and the damned.

More next week!

Mark Patton's novels, Undreamed Shores, An Accidental King and Omphalos, are published by Crooked Cat Publications, and can be purchased from Amazon.





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