Early Travels in Palestine: Comprising the Narratives of Arculf

By Thomas Wright | Go to book overview

THE VOYAGE OF BERNARD THE WISE.

A.D. 867.

IN the year from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ 867, in the name of the Lord wishing to visit the holy places at Jerusalem, I, Bernard, having taken for my companions two brother monks, one of whom was of the monastery of St. Vincent at Beneventum, and named Theudemund, and the other a Spaniard, named Stephen, we went to Rome, to Pope Nicholas, and obtained the desired licence to go, along with his benediction and assistance.

Thence we went to Mount Gargano, in which is the Church of St. Michael, under one stone, covered above with oak trees; which church is said to have been dedicated by the archangel himself. Its entrance is from the north, and it is capable of containing sixty men. In the interior, on the east side, is the image of the angel; to the south is an altar on which sacrifice is offered, and no other gift is placed there. But there is suspended before the altar a vessel in which gifts are deposited, which also has near it other altars. Benignatus is abbot of this place, and presides over a numerous brotherhood.

Leaving Mount Gargano, we travelled a hundred and fifty miles, to a city in the power of the Saracens, named Bari*, which was formerly subject to Beneventum. It is seated on the sea, and is fortified to the south by two very wide walls; but to the north it stands exposed to the sea. Here we obtained from the prince of the city, called the sultan, the necessary arrangements for our voyage, with two letters of safe conduct, describing our persons and the object of our

____________________
*
The Saracens had established themeselves at Bari in the early part of the century, and it was now the head seat of their power on the coast of Italy. Their predatory excursions into the territory of Beneventum caused the emperor Louis II to prepare an expedition against them, and he took Bari after a siege of four years, and returned to Beneventum in 871, while his troops laid siege to Tarentum, which, however, was not taken from the Saracens till a somewhat later period. The Christian captives mentioned by Bernard, as carried in such numbers into slavery in Africa and Egypt, had been carried off in the incursions into the territory of Beneventum. To judge from the numbers embarked in one ship, they must have been packed up almost as close as negroes in a slave-ship.

-23-

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