An Easter Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 380 CE

The day will explore the diaries of Egeria, a Spanish nun who visited Jerusalem in about 380 CE and left a vivid description of the great churches and the services of Holy Week and Easter, and the teaching given to the newly baptised in the week after Easter by Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, a few years before Egeria visited the city.

Egeria spent three years traveling to Egypt, Israel and Syria, and she wrote an account of her travels for her sisters back home. In 1884 a partial manuscript of her narrative was found in the library of the Brotherhood of St. Mary in Arezzo, Italy. The eleventh century manuscript had been copied by monks at the monastery of Monte Cassino.

The most interesting portion of Egeria’s narrative is her account of the worship practices of the Jerusalem Christians. At least six churches in Jerusalem were all established on places associated with major events in the life of Christ.

Daily and Sunday services at the churches focused on the particular importance of each site in Jesus’ life, but the close proximity of all the churches soon led to a seasonal, annual series of celebrations, with each church playing a specific part in the yearly liturgy. Egeria described this pattern of worship in detail.

What made worship at the Jerusalem churches so unique was that the churches were at the geographical locations where the most important events of Jesus’ life, and in all of human history, had occurred. A pattern of retracing, reliving, and re-enacting the last week of Jesus’ life naturally grew up in association with these churches. Large crowds from throughout Jerusalem, as well as pilgrims from elsewhere, gathered to participate.

In Egeria’s account of her pilgrimage, we have a detailed account of worship in Jerusalem during the early centuries of the church, a pattern of worship that continues to influence the Church down to our own day.

The seminar will run from 9.30am to 4.00pm during which time Margaretwill lead four sessions titled:

  1. The story of pilgrims to the Holy Land
  2. Building the churches and Bishop Cyril
  3. Egeria’s pilgrimage
  4. Easter baptism and teaching