Getting by the Resort of the Pilgrims The Franciscan Friars of Jerusalem and their Anglican Guests (1600-1612)

Questo articolo esamina l’ospitalità offerta nel monastero di S. Salvatore (Gerusalemme) a viaggiatori inglesi e scozzesi tra il 1600 e il 1612. Nel descrivere la loro permanenza nel monastero francescano i viaggiatori manifestano un’ostilità nei confronti del cattolicesimo che rispecchia i sentimenti anticattolici diffusi in Inghilterra nel periodo in esame. Attraverso l’analisi e il confronto tra i racconti dei viaggiatori (Biddulph: 1609; Sanderson: 1931; Timberlake: 1603; Lithgow: 1632. Sandys: 1615) e le cronache e i documenti francescani (Navis Peregrinorum, ed. Zimolong: 1938; Vernniero and Serino: 1929-39; Calahorra: 1694), l’articolo analizza la funzione svolta dall’anticattolicesimo nei racconti dei viaggiatori anglicani. La tesi dell’articolo è che l’incontro tra cattolici e protestanti a Gerusalemme dava spesso luogo a situazioni amichevoli e che l’anticattolicesimo nei racconti di viaggio aveva la funzione di testimoniare la fedeltà dei viaggiatori anglicani alla propria fede e al proprio paese e di negare ogni contaminazione con il cattolicesimo, punto quest’ultimo che acquisiva una particolare importanza nel momento in cui i viaggiatori descrivevano la loro permanenza nel monastero francescano.

In Ottoman Jerusalem Anglican travellers came into close contact with the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. This article examines the hospitality given to Scottish and English travellers in the S. Saviour monastery between 1600 and 1612. When describing their stay at the monastery, travellers show a hostility toward the Catholics that is linked to the anti-Catholicism that was becoming more and more virulent in Great Britain. Through the analysis of both British (Biddulph: 1609; Sanderson: 1931; Timberlake: 1603; Lithgow: 1632. Sandys: 1615) and Franciscan documentation (Navis Peregrinorum, ed. Zimolong: 1938; Vernniero and Serino: 1929-39; Calahorra: 1694), the article investigates the function of anti-Catholicism in travellers’ accounts. The article argues that in spite of the anti-Catholic assumptions, the encounters between the Franciscans and the Anglican visitors gave rise to a variety of situations that were mostly amicable, and that the travellers’ anti-Catholic discourse was designed to testify to the travellers’ loyalty to their own faith and country and to deny any contamination by the Catholics. This became even more necessary when travellers described their stay at the Franciscan monastery.

When recounting his visit to Jerusalem in 1601, the clergyman of the Aleppo Levant Company, William Biddulph, warned those of his countrymen who wanted to travel to Palestine about the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. In his words the friars are:

[for the most part] very kinde and courteous to strangers in all things, liberty of conscience only excepted, wherein they seeke to make others like unto themselves, and to seduce them from their faith, and to win them to the Church of Rome.

As Biddulph himself had found out, travellers in Palestine often came into contact with the reformed Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. The presence of the Franciscans in Jerusalem dates back to the 13th century. After the defeat of the Franks, the Franciscans with all the other religious orders had to leave the Holy City, but in the following decades they were allowed by the Mamluk authorities to go back to Jerusalem. When the Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered Jerusalem in 1517, the monks were confirmed as the guardians of the Holy Sepulchre but after a while they were forced to leave Mount Zion and moved to the Saint Saviour Monastery. In the 17th century, in addition to this, the friars owned houses and monasteries in places that were meaningful for the Christian tradition, such as Nazareth and Bethlehem, or for the European trade, such as Sidon. They were headed by a Guardian, generally Italian, who was in charge for three years and were supported by the alms that arrived from “Christendom” and the Catholic kings, especially the Kings of France.