Waves Sharon PilgrimagePilgrimagePilgrimage

  • Issue: June 1999
  • Designer: H. Khoury
  • Stamps Size: 40 mm x 30.8 mm
  • Plate nos.: 371, 372, 373
  • Sheets of 10 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

The roots of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Lane most probably originate in the Jewish pilgrimage tc the Temple of Jerusalem during the days of the
Second Temple. As part of these pilgrimages Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. The Christian pilgrimage movement expanded following the rise of Emperor Constantine to power and the embracing of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century CE. The Emperor's mother, Helena, arrived in the Land of Israel in the year 326 for a pilgrimage considered to be the first of its kind, and many followed suit. A few accounts have remained of pilgrimages from the 4th century, such as the anonymous pilgrim from Bordeaux in France in the year 333. Another was Egeria and her entourage who most probably arrived from Spain around the year 385. Accounts of pilgrimages have survived from the Byzantine and the Early Arabic periods, including: Antoninos of Placentia in Italy (570), the Bishop Arculf who came from France (670) and Willibald from England (754).

The pilgrimage movement continued under the Crusaders' rule and even during the Islamic rule. A prominent pilgrim was Felix Fabri who came from Bavaria in the 15th Century. After Napoleon's campaigns, which reopened the East to the peoples of Europe, and with improvement of security and travel conditions in the 19th century, the pilgrimage movement reached unprecedented peaks. Researchers of the travel literature have counted over 3500 travel accounts written since the beginning of pilgrimages in the 4th century and up until the end of the 19th century.

The travel descriptions of pilgrimages, known as "Itineraria", constitute a unique form of literature, featuring repeated set formulae.

Pilgrimages encompassed people from all levels of society, from kings and noblemen to the poor and lowly, from priests, scholars, researchers and writers to the simplest of men. Pilgrims arrived on their own or in groups from all over Christendom - Orthodox, Catholic, Protestants. Of the 19th century pilgrims, prominent were those who came from Russia.

The motives for pilgrimage were the sense of adventure and cultural interest in the remains of ancient civilizations, but most of all religious belief and the desire to be as close as possible to the scenery and heroes of the holy scriptures. The pilgrimage would reinforce their religious belief, and they were subject to experiences of spiritual exaltation which they shared with the readers of their accounts. They arrived in the Holy Land after a treacherous journey, to visit the places mentioned in the Bible. Their major haunts were Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee and its sites, the river Jordan, the Dead Sea area, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and their surroundings. The high point of the pilgrim's journey was at the church-of the Holy Sepulchre-in Jerusalem, - the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Most of the journey was on foot or on horse back, and accommodation was in monasteries and inns. At the various sites they were generally guided by monks from their home countries who lived in the Land. They would cite and read passages from the Holy Scriptures relating to the sites visited and, at times they would play scenes based on events from the scriptures. They would visit monasteries and burials of saints, baptized In the waters of the river Jordan and collected various souvenirs. This was a direct encounter with the ancient scenes of the Old and New Testaments accompanied by learning and introversion, spiritual uplifting and great excitement. Travel literature is accompanied with illustrations, drawings, lithographs and copper etchings, and as of the 19th century - photographs. The most renowned of the artists who visited the Holy Land was Scottish painter David Roberts, who toured the country in 1839. Most paintings and etchings were adapted after the pilgrims returned home, based on sketches made in the Holy Land. They were sometimes done by professionalartists, and sometimes contained additional details to create a dramatic effect in describing the landscapes and sites. Artists added details of flora, such as palm trees, or architectural fragments, such as pillar capitals and even figures in typical Eastern attire. These details contributed to the creation of a holy and romantic oriental ambiance, which were foreign and appealing to Christians from the West. The paintings provide a picture of the past scenery and of the sites, although they are not always realistic; they were designed to create a direct link between the landscapes of the Holy Land in the 19th century and those of biblical times.

Pilgrimages and pilgrims' travel accounts have contributed greatly to the study of the land of Israel and its history, the development of sites and a network of roads, and to the creation of ties between the land of Israel and its inhabitants and the countries of the world.

Dr. Gabriel Barkay

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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (I)