Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

found requisite to assert its supernatural growth and vegetation, which the writer already quoted, St. Cyril, compares to the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes." Of the Jerusalem fragment, however, I shall not here in any detail pursue the history. Suffice it to say that when, in the year 614 of our era, the Holy City WaS besieged and taken by the Persians, this relic was carried away. It remained in Persia fourteen years, being then restored, in a treaty of peace, to the Emperor Heraclius, who with his own hands replaced it on Mount Calvary. But only eight years afterwards Jerusalem had again to yield to hostile arms. It became the spoil of the Moslem, and the relic in question appears to have been destroyed by orders of the Caliph Omar.” At Constantinople, on the other hand, the remaining moiety was preserved with the utmost veneration in the metropolitan church of St. Sophia, and the honours paid to it are attested and described by the father of English historians—the Venerable Bede.” Never, but on the three most solemn festivals of the year, was its costly case unclosed. On the first day it received the adoration of the Emperor and principal officers of state; on the next, the Empress and chief ladies repeated the same ceremony; and the bishops and clergy were admitted on the third. While exposed to view on the altar, a grateful odour pervaded the whole

St. Cyril ap. Baronium, Annal. * Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. Eccles. A.D. 326, No. 50. One 643. No. 1–4. whole epistle also of St. Paulinus | * Bede, Op. vol. iii., p. 370. Ed. of Nola (the eleventh) is devoted | Colon. Agripp. 1688. to this subject.

church, and a fluid resembling oil distilled from the knots in the wood, of which the least drop was thought sufficient to cure the most inveterate disease. This precious fluid is also mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great in one of his letters. “I have received your present,” writes the Pope to Leontius, “some oil of the Holy Cross, which can confer a blessing by its very touch.” In a period of several centuries, during which this relic remained at Constantinople, we find it occasionally mentioned in the annals of the time. It was on the Holy Cross that Heracleonas swore to cherish and defend his nephews;" it was to the same fragment that the son of Justinian the Second clung for protection, in the revolution which hurled his father from the throne;” and we might entertain more respect for the devout ardour of the Greeks, if the supposed sanctity of this relic had produced either the observance of the oath or the safety of the suppliant. At length, in the year 1078, the object of my narrative recommenced its travels. A wealthy citizen of Amalfi, whose name is not recorded, had long felt a wish to exchange active life for the cloister, and had selected the monastery of Monte Casino as the place of his future retirement. Being present in the Eastern capital during the tumultuous deposition of Michael the Seventh, he perceived in the general confusion a favourable opportunity for appropriating this precious fragment to himself. Nor did he forget at the same time to secure the golden case, richly embossed with jewels, which contained it, and both were laid as a welcome offering before the shrine of St. Benedict, at Monte Casino." The good Fathers must have felt no little pride when strangers beheld, in their secluded and obscure retreat, a relic which a long succession of the most illustrious princes had gloried in possessing. The next place to which we can trace the Cross is Palestine, during the Crusades, to which it had doubtless been conveyed for the purpose of restoring it to its more ancient and appropriate station at Jerusalem. In that country it was exposed to frequent hazards, as the Crusaders appear to have been in the habit of bearing it in the van of their armies, when marching against the Moslem, hoping by its presence amongst them to secure the victory. One of their battles against the forces of Saladin by no means fulfilled their expectations, and in the course of it the sacred relic itself was again severed; one half of it being captured by the enemy, and most probably destroyed. This untoward accident, however, by no means impaired their veneration for the still remaining fragment, and at the commencement of the thirteenth century it is again recorded as taking the field with the King of Hungary and the Duke of Austria.” From these it passed into the hands of their brother Crusaders the Latin Sovereigns of Constantinople; and thus, by a singular train of circumstances, a change of dynasty

* Epist. lib. vii., indict. i., ep. 34. * Nicephor. Constantinopolit. p. 20. * Theophanes, Chronograph. p. 318.

* Chronicon Casinense, lib. iii., A.D. 1217, No. 39, and Pagi, Critic, c. 55. A.D. 1187, No. 4. * See Raynaldus, Annal. Eccles,

restored this precious relic to the people which had so long enjoyed its possession. In the year 1238 the pressure of poverty and impending ruin compelled the Emperor Baldwin the Second to sell what the piety of St. Louis, King of France, induced him as eagerly to purchase." A very considerable sum was given in exchange for the holy wood, and on its arrival in Paris it was deposited by King Louis in a splendid shrine, which he built on this occasion— the celebrated Sainte Chapelle. There the Cross remained for above three hundred years, until at length, on the 20th of May, 1575, it disappeared from its station. The most anxious researches failed in tracing the robber, or recovering the spoil; and the report which accused King Henry the Third of having secretly sold it to the Venetians may be considered as a proof of the popular animosity, rather than of the royal avarice.” To appease in some degree the loud and angry murmurs of his subjects, Henry, next year, on Easter day, announced that a new Cross had been prepared for their consolation, of the same shape, size, and appearance as the stolen relic. “The people of Paris,” says Estoile, an eye-witness of this transaction, “being very devout, and of easy faith on such subjects” (he is speaking of the sixteenth century), gratefully hailed the restoration of some tangible and immediate object for their prayers. Of the original fragment I can discern no further authentic trace, and here then it seems to have ended its long and adventurous Career.

* See Dupleix, Hist. de France, * See L’Estoile, Journal de vol. ii. p. 257, ed. 1634. The ori- | Henri III., vol. i., p. 125, 161, ed. ginal authority is Nangis (Annales 1744, de St. Louis, p. 174, ed. 1761).

On a Fabulous Conquest of England by the Greeks.

Read November 22, 1832. Archaeologia, vol. xxv.

A NATION fallen into disaster and disgrace will often
seek consolation in the records of former glory, or even
of fabulous achievements. Such was the case with the
Byzantine Greeks in the last period of their history,
and, amongst other extravagant fictions, we may observe
with some surprise and amusement, a poem on a sup-
posed conquest of England by themselves.
The poem in question is to be found in the Royal
Library at Paris, and is marked 2909 in the Catalogue
of Greek Manuscripts. From its style, as well as from
its characters, it is believed to have been written in the
fourteenth century. It is the same in metre as the
Chiliads of John Tzetzes, and selects Belisarius as the
General for the conquest of England. To that island
it gives the modern name of Eyk\mtepa, and to its
King the title of Pmé, which, it is well known, was often
borrowed from the Latin by the Byzantine writers.
The poem states that Belisarius, after landing in Eng-
land, ordered his ships to be burnt, in order to cut off
all hope of retreat from his army and inspire it with
courage. After an obstinate resistance the Pm3 is de-
feated, and the island entirely subdued. Belisarius
then builds a fresh fleet, and sails back to Constanti-
nople, where, we are informed, with most laudable

d

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »