My great-grandfather, John Joseph Whyte (1826-1916), visited the Holy Land on a pilgrimage in 1858, and his journal of the trip is preserved in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, as is his other correspondence. The journal covers 90-odd pages of a small notebook, and is transcribed here pretty much as he wrote it, including unusual spellings (“untill”, “sight” for site, the odd “where” for were, and I’ve kept the “long s” ſ where it is used) though I haven’t noted the scribbled out bits. I have also added two notes on the text, one to clear up an ambiguity about the altars on Mount Calvary and the other to indicate a place name I found impossible to interpret.
The pilgrimage appears to have been carefully organised. We repeatedly read of the party arriving at their next stop to find tents already pitched, and there never seems to be a problem turning up at Franciscan convents – and this around Easter, surely the peak period for pilgrims – so presumably they were anticipated. Apart from that, we get very few details from John Joseph Whyte about the group – there were 22 of them, including a Father O’Carroll who is mentioned in the account of Nazareth, and there seems to have been at least one other priest as well (there are two references to “our priests”).
I would be very interested to know how common such pilgrimages were. The only relevant book I own is F.E. Peters’ Jerusalem, which quotes commentators of fifty years previously to the effect that there were very few Latin pilgrims at that time. But in 1858, just a few years after the Crimean War, things were obviously opening up. One doesn’t have to google very long to find more substantial accounts on-line of visits to the Holy Land of about that time period: John L. Stephens in 1834; Alexander Kinglake in 1835; J.P. Newman in 1861; most famously Mark Twain in 1867. But only Mark Twain went as part of an organised group.
John Joseph Whyte was an upper-class Irish Catholic, firmly loyal to the British Empire (with the inevitable prejudices of such a background, frequently on display in his remarks about Arabs below). His father was one of eight brothers, six of whom died fighting on the British side on the Napoleonic wars; JJW himself had nine sons, of whom four died as children but the other five all served in the British army – including the seventh, my grandfather, who oddly enough himself ended up fighting in the Holy Land towards the end of the first world war, sixty years after his father had visited it.
I can only speculate, but I know that JJW married his first wife in 1855 and she then died in 1857, leaving just one daughter, so in 1858 he was 31 and newly widowed, which perhaps is answer enough to the question of why he would undertake such an unusual and arduous journey. His own father had died when he was 18, leaving him in charge of the estate with two younger brothers and three sisters; it could be that this was the first chance he had ever had to leave Ireland since his schooldays in Oscott and Ampleforth, and probably the only chance in his long life (he was 31, and would live almost 60 more years) to pause for serious spiritual reflection.
Apart from Biblical personalities, two other historical figures are mentioned several times in the journal. The first, not surprisingly, is the Empress Helena (248-329), mother of the Emperor Constantine, whose mark was still visible 1500 years after she went around the Holy Land ordering churches to be built to commemorate the Holy Places (and indeed little has changed in that respect in the last 150 years). The other was someone I had not previously heard of, Joseph Valerga (1813-1872), the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem – the first holder of that office to actually reside in Jerusalem since the Crusaders were finally kicked out in the 13th century. He was obviously a man of energy, setting up colleges, chivvying the Franciscans, trying to reform the Holy Week ceremonies. (And the account below of the Franciscans’ Good Friday ceremony, which my great-grandfather found rather naff and unconvincing, is the only one of that particular ritual I have been able to find.)
There are other bits and pieces as well – I had no idea about the Samaritans, for instance, and I’m intrigued that JJW frequently remarks on the fertility of the countryside, in contrast to most observers then or since. But I’ll leave you to read the account below, which mainly speaks for itself, prejudices and all; with the idea that I may come back to it in the future for further annotations. As always, comments to firstname.lastname@example.org are most welcome.
This map has my best attempt to follow the pilgrims’ route.
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Reached Jaffa 17th of March. Not having any harbour, Jaffa is a difficult place to land at. Exposed to westerly winds and is at times quite unapproachable. Although fine weather, we had a great deal of toſsing about, & no little difficulty in getting ourselves & baggage into the small boats to convey us to the shore. Having at length got all and everything safe to land, with the exception of a ducking to one of our  party who in descending sliped between the steamer and the boat, we adjourned to the Franciscan Convent close by. The monks received us most kindly handed round lemonade wine & water &c, most refreshing after the heat and bustle, Under the guidance of the Pére Felix we proceeded to see the town. The first place he brought us to was the house of Simon the tanner where St Peter dwelt some time  having raised Dorcas to life. See Acts 9th, 36 and 43, 10th, 11th . After inspecting the town which is not large, exceedingly dirty, narrow & ill-paved streets we went to a garden outside the walls belonging to the Franciscans. Here we had a feast of oranges, picking them from the trees, actually laden with fruit and in all stages from the beautiful bloſsom to the ripe fruit.
18th. Our Dragoman Mr Schambri having  completed his arrangements we this morning started under his guidance, and in fact put ourselves entirely into his hands for the rest of our Pilgrimage.
We were each provided with an Arab horse and about 16 mules conveyed the baggage so between ourselves (23 in number) and attendants we formed no inconsiderable force quite sufficient at least to insure our peacable transit amongst the wandering Bedouins.
On our leaving Jaffa we traveled for a  considerable distance through gardens, enclosed lots, & fields surrounded by the Indian fig, or as it is sometimes called prickly pear, making a capital hedge.
Many of these gardens were filled with trees, fig, lemon, orange, pomegranate, palm, having a pleasing appearance as well as giving a most delicious perfume.
We then came out on the magnificent plain of Sharon, rich and fertile but thinly inhabited. Mentioned in scripture 1 Chron 27th c 29th v & Cant 2nd c & p v.
 About three hours riding over this beautiful plain brought us to Lydda or Ludd, celebrated as the scene of St Peter’s miracle in healing Eneas (see Acts 9th 32 38. It is also the birth place of the Saint and Martyr St George. It is a considerable village at present and contains the ruins of a large church dedicated to St George.
An hours ride from Lydda brought us to Ramla, the ancient Arimathea. Matt 27.57 Mark & c. Here we put up at the Franciscan Convent.
 Before retiring to rest we went to see some old ruins of which there are a considerable number, Ramla being on the direct line between Jerusalem and the nearest harbour (Jaffa) was in ancient times a place of no small importance.
19th. Left Ramla at 6 a.m.. Most charming morning continued on our route for 4 hours along the plain of Sharon before arriving in the “Hilly district  of Judea”. After leaving the plain our road followed the windings of a valley for a considerable distance, two ruined villages were pointed out as being Beth-horon Upper and Nether (see Joshua 10th 10 & 12th Joshua 16th 5 Chronicles 8th 5th The road or rather path now became very bad & in fact was nothing but the bed of a water torrent, amongst the stones and rocks of which our Arab horses picked their way in the most ingenious manner. Being now quite amongst the hills the scenery  became very picturesque. The hills are not in ranges but more or leſs isolated and bear a strong resemblance one to the other so much so it would be no difficult matter to loſse ones way. The fig tree and olive flourish. As we approached Jerusalem the verdure became more scanty. At 12 o’clock we halted under the ruins of a church for breakfast. The last 3 hours of our journey had been disagreeable enough. We had left Ramla  with a bright sun & not a cloud to be seen of course all cloaks and outside coats were not for a moment thought requisite in this climate and had been carefully packed up & put on with the baggage.
About 9 o’clock the rain came down in torrents, in buckets full, such rain as is only to be seen falling in tropical climates. A very few minutes sufficed to wet us through in which state we remained until our arrival at Jerusalem 5 p.m. None of our party however suffered in the  least from it.
We croſsed the river from which David supplied his sling with a stone before killing Goliath – about 4.30 p.m., having been gradually ascending since leaving the plain we came in sight of Jerusalem. Each man descended from his horse. Our chaplain entoned the  “Laudate Dominum” in which all joined, in 25 minutes we entered the Holy City by the Jaffa gate and took up our quarters at the Latin Convent (Franciscans).
Jerusalem is built upon 4 distinct hills Zion, Moria, Acra, Bezetha, although built upon hills 2000 feet above the Mediterranean yet it is encompaſsed by mountains still higher of which the Mount of Olives is the highest. It is surrounded by a wall 40 ft high and about 3 miles in circumference.  This wall has towers battlements & loopholes and is sufficiently wide to enable one to walk on it all round the city. There are 4 gates. viz: Jaffa gate towards the west Damascus gate north, Porte St Etienne or St Stephen’s gate east. and the Zion gate on the south. The streets are narrow, dirty, and ill paved, in hot weather the olfactory nerves are sadly tried, in wet you are up to your ankles in mud. The chief and I may say only scavengers of the  city are dogs. You occasionally see some rubbish or dust carried in baskets on the backs of donkeys outside the walls. This however is rather too laborious a labour for an Arab or Turk who find it much more convenient to deposit all filth in an old ruin or empty chamber.
There being no roads nor wheeled vehicles in Palestine the transit of heavy goods is of course most laborious  All neceſsaries are brought on the backs of camels, stones for building &c are all carried by these animals. You may frequently meet 10 or 15 of them in a line (one fastened to the tail of the other) to your no small inconvenience for the streets being so narrow you are obliged to retreat altogether or keep ducking your head under the pannier of each beast as he paſses.
There are some tolerable Bazaars where most things wanted by travelers can be obtained, but dear.  An interpreter is requisite, as few speak Italian, and French, but if they do, the purchaser must beg for their knowledge. They always ask a very great deal more than they purpose taking smoke their Narguleh and drink coffee from morning to night sitting with their legs croſsed under them in which position a Turk spends a great part of his life. A large number of the inhabitants have sore eyes, many have but one eye, others are quite blind. It is most painful to  see them, and I observed the same disease throughout Syria. It is accounted for in this way. ‘The heat being so great in this country during so many months, every precaution is taken to avoid the rays of the sun the most effectual means of doing so is to go under ground. The houses (I speak of the poorer claſs) consequently resemble more a rabbit warren than any thing else. The only light, or air, comes from  the door or hole by which they enter consequently the great glare and light on coming from these habitations, together with the filthy state of the interior causes their disease.
20th . this day visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the façade or entrance to which is striking. Having entered the church the first object that attracts your attention, is a flat stone with several lamps hanging  over it. This is said to be the stone on which the body of our Lord was washed and anointed, previous to being placed in the tomb, we all kiſsed it, & proceeded. On turning to our left we found ourselves in a circular building with a dome supported by 16 large columns. In the center stands the Holy Sepulchre around which there is an oblong building capable of holding 4 people together.
Around the outer Church are small arcades or places for prayer appropriated  to the Copts, the Abyſsinians, the Maronites, the Armenians, the Greeks and the Latins. The Greeks have by far the best portion and indeed theirs forms a handsome church of itself.
On entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre I was shocked to find so much noise and confusion in so Holy a Place. Each of these sects above mentioned were praying around the Holy Sepulchre, each in their own language and peculiar rights, singing, reciting, organs,  cymbals, all going on together formed a chaos of sound which to me was not edifying, and with all this, crowds of people walking about and to all appearance unconscious of the sanctity of the spot.
Near the tomb stands a polished stone, on which sat the angel who announced the glad tidings of the Resurrection of our Saviour to Mary Magdalene & Mary the Mother of James. I succeeded after some delay and no small pushing in making my way into the interior of the small  oblong building containing the tomb. I entered by a low narrow door into a small circular chamber, exactly opposite another low small entrance brought me to the tomb itself. I kiſsed it and was obliged to retire at once from the number preſsing outside to do the same. The tomb is a sarcophagus of white marble without ornament. There are many lamps the gifts of Kings constantly burning over it. It takes up about half of the chamber and allows room for about 4 visiters at a time.
 To the right after you enter the Church stands Mount Calvary. We ascended by 18 steps. I saw the spot where our Redeemer was nailed to the croſs. The hole into which the croſs was afterwards placed, and the rock close by with a rent from top to bottom. On Mount Calvary there are three altars belonging to the Greek Church. I had the honour of serving and hearing maſs on several occasions at these altars. [In fact two of the three altars belong to the Latin Church rather than the Greeks, and it was presumably at these that JJW acted as an altar server.]
At the tomb of our Saviour I on one occasion  had the same happineſs.
Descending from Mount Calvary and turning to the right we found ourselves on going down a few dark steps in the Chapel of St Helena in which vault the true croſs was found.
Returning to the level of the Church we followed a semicircular paſsage in which altars are erected in commemoration of the paſsion & sufferings of our Saviour.
This paſsage brought  us to the Church of the Apparition which belongs to the Latins and where the monks recite their office. In this Church a piece of the pillar of flagellation is kept.
21st. We this morning took a walk outside and round the city. Paſsing along the valley of Gahenna we mounted the hill of Evil counsel – where the rulers took counsel against our Saviour and on this hill stood the palace of Caiaphas, continuing along this hill we came to the Aceldama  or Potters field, here also Judas hung himself. The valleys of Gahenna (or Hinnom) and Jehoshaphat meet at the South East point of Mt Zion. Before leaving the hill of Evil counsel we examined some tombs formed out of the rock and on the most precipitous part of the mountain. Most of the rocks have been made into sepulchers cut with considerable skill and are supposed to have been the tombs of the ancient Jews.
 We ascended the valley of Jehoshaphat untill we arrived at the pool of Siloam or Siloe the waters from which now descend and refresh numerous gardens. These gardens are the remains of “the King’s Garden”.
Leaving the pool we continued to ascend the valley with the village of Siloam and the Mount of Offence on our right until we reached the Fountain of the Bleſsed Virgin where she is supposed to have frequently come  for water. The brook Kedron runs along the valley of Jehoshaphat but indeed it has no right to be called a brook, it was when we saw it nothing more than the dry bed of a wintry torrent. The Mount of Olives bounds the valley of Jehoshaphat on one side, Mt Zion and Jerusalem on the other. On the Mt Olivet side as we continued our walk 4 tombs were pointed to us. The tombs of Zachary, St James, Absalom and Josophat.
 We continued on to the garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mt of Olives. The Monks have enclosed a part with a wall in which there are 8 Olive trees said to be the same as stood there in the time of our Saviour. We returned to the City by St Stephen’s gate previously seeing the tombs of our B. Lady & St Joseph, Sts Joachim and Anne.
On 23rd March we left Jerusalem for the Dead sea and Jordan. We started at 1 o’clock, after dinner, 12 being the hour for dinner  during our stay with the Franciscans.
All mounted on Arab horses we left the city by the Jaffa gate, turning to our left we descended along the valley of Ghion [sic] until it joins that of Jehoshaphat, turning to our right we followed the brook Cedron during the rest of that day as far as Mar Saba. The scenery wild, and at times very grand. Mar Saba is a Greek convent beautifully situated  on a perpendicular precipice overhanging the valley of the Cedron. It was founded by St Saba in the 4th century, during the frequent revolutions of Palestine it has been frequently stormed, and its inmates more than once maſsacred. This Glen was a favourite spot for anchorites. You may still see numerous grottoes & caves, the retreats of these holy men.
We slept in a large room or hall on our camp beds. This convent only gives  the traveller shelter, we supplied ourselves with all else and enjoyed our sojourn much.
[24th March] Next morning we were up at 3.30 a.m. had a cup of coffee, and proceeded on our journey. Over mountains and hills, but still descending until we reached the Dead Sea which is 3000 feet below Jerusalem and 1300 ft below the Mediterranean. The road or rather path from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea is highly interesting in point of scenery, winding  through valleys, over heights, and along the brink sometimes of fearful precipices, the ground however is sterile and vegetation gradually ceases as you approach the sea. As we descended from these hills we had a very fine perspective view of the valley of the Jordan Dead Sea Arabian Mountains, and barren cliffs of Moab.
We skirted the shores for a short distance amongst quantities of wood branches & c drifted by the Jordan. The sea itself  looked like any other large body of water, there was a nice breeze blowing and none of the tremendous heat we had been told to expect. Some of our party bathed, and described the buoyancy of the water as being so great they floated without any exertion. I tasted the water and never tasted anything so bitter it was the eſsence of bitterneſs.
We continued on, leaving the Dead Sea, and making an angle acroſs the valley to the place on the Jordan where  it is said our Saviour “came from Galilee unto John to be baptized.” And here also the waters were cut off for the paſsage of the Children of Israel.
We spent about 3 hours resting, took our breakfast under the trees, which grow most luxuriantly all along the bank The river is a muddy and fast flowing stream banks steep and covered with tall reeds bushes &c the haunt of wild boars tigers &c. Having filled the bottles we had brought for  the purpose, we continued for about 2 hours acroſs the plain or valley of the Jordan to Jericho. Here we found our tents pitched close to the now wretched village the remains of the ancient city; we had a view of the hill Quarantania where our Saviour fasted 40 days & nights, and from whose summit the Devil tempted him. This hill is perforated with caverns the dwelling places of monks and hermits in Former ages.
For Scripture notices of the Dead Sea (See Genesis 13th 10th  Genesis 14th 3 10 Gen 19th 24 28 &c &c &c Scripture notices of the Jordan (see Genesis 13th 10 12 Deuteronomy 3rd 23rd Joshua 2nd 7 Joshua 3rd &c 2nd Kings 2nd to 5th Matthew 3rd 15th Scripture notices of Jericho (See Deuteronomy 34th 1 4 Judges 1.16 Joshua 2nd 3rd 5th and 6th chpt 1st Kings 16th 34, 2nd Kings 2nd and 25th Mark 10th.
After supper a number of Arabs came to our camp from the village close by, commenced dancing to the music of a kind of fife dancing and music however were of the most savage description. Had we not been well armed as well as having both Turkish soldiers and about 8  strong Arabs from a friendly tribe as our escort, this near approach of the dancers might not have been pleasant for this neighbourhood, and indeed all the country between Jericho and Jerusalem has not by any means a good reputation. We spent a pleasant evng & had no trouble whatsoever.
Next morning the 25th of March the Annunciation we had maſs before starting on our return to Jerusalem. Our return was by a different track,  amongst gorges, and lofty barren mountains, paſsing the spot of the Parable relating the robbery of the traveller, and charity of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10th 30 34 The road being quite as insecure now as then. Breakfasted at the Fountain of the Apostles, paſsed on to Bethany which is now a dirty Arab village of some 20 or 30 small huts and about 2 miles from Jerusalem. We here dismounted in order to see the tomb of Lazarus to which you descend by a number of dark steps there is nothing remarkable about the tomb. Scripture notices (see John 11th and 12th chpt Matt 21st & 16th chpts  Luke 24th 50 52 &c &C
We were pointed out the supposed place where the house of Mary & Martha stood, & the place where our Saviour wept on hearing of the death of Lazarus. Here numerous demands were made for Backshese to be given by the Hadji, with both of these words the traveller in the East will be well acquainted before many days, the first means money the second Pilgrim. We got back to Jerusalem about 5 p.m.
Friday March 26th This evng we went to see  the Jews weeping over the remains of their temple. It is approached by a narrow lane and is a portion of the wall of Solomon’s temple it now formally a part of the wall surrounding the garden in which stands the Mosque of Omar.
Every Friday the Jews aſsemble here about 3 o’clock in considerable numbers young and old. I saw unmistakable signs of grief, and great grief, amongst many of them. We afterwards visited Pilates Palace, now a barrack for the Turks got up to the roof which commands  the best view of the interior of the garden or square upon which the Mosque of Omar stands.
28th Palm Sunday. Aſsisted at the bleſsing and proceſsion of the Palms in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was presented with one over 6 ft high by his grace the Patriarch. After dinner we left Jerusalem for St John in the Desert. Here there is a Convent belonging to the Franciscans, their Church is built over the spot where St John was born. St Elizabeth previous to the birth of St John  lived higher up the valley we went to this spot it was here she was visited by the B Virgin. The situation is very beautiful surrounded on three sides by overhanging hills and more distant hills filling up the remaining part of the view. A ruined Church now marks the sight of St Elizabeth’s house.
29th Left the Convent of St John at 7 this morning and proceeded on to the desert where he spent his life, we there saw the cave in which he  dwelt. Having rested here a short time we continued on to Beth Jhala, paſsing on our way the fountain at which St Philip baptized the Eunuch. At Beth Jhala the Patriarch with the aſsistance of the Propagandum has erected a very fine college for ecclesiastical students so much wanted in this Land, we saw upwards of 30 young boys and men from all countries & strange to say one Irishman amongst the number. We dined in the College and  continued on to Bethlehem half an hours ride. Arrival in time to join the proceſsion to our Saviour’s crib, which is a part of the monks daily duty here, and about Jerusalem in commemoration of our Saviour’s sufferings. We each received a bleſsed candle for attending these two proceſsions. At Bethlehem the stations were the altars of St Jerome, Paula and Eustacium, Catherine of Alexandria, St Eusebius and the crib in which our Saviour was laid. The Greeks & Armenians have also the right of visiting the Holy crib. We descended by a few steps into a  subterranean grotto. The spot on which our Saviour was born is marked by a silver star. Hic natus est Jesus Christus de Virga inscribed round it. Opposite this is the altar of the manger, Gold and silver lamps burn day and night in this holy place.
30th This morning visited the Grotto of the Holy Milk. The sisterns of Solomon about an hours ride situated at the end of a wild valley, the ruins of an old castle the only sign of human habitation. These sisterns  consist of 3 magnificent reservoirs, the water flows from one to the other, and is conveyed to Jerusalem by an aqueduct. They are in perfect preservation. Returned to Bethlehem and went to the field and grotto (now surrounded by a low wall) from which the shepherds came to adore our Saviour on Xmas night.
Returned to Jerusalem about 1 ½ hours ride, paſsing on our way the tombs of Sts Elias and Rachel.
31st Ascended the Mt of Olives commanding a magnificent view  of the Dead Sea valley of the Jordan Mountains of Moab from one of which Mt Nebo, Moses first saw the promised land. The best view of Jerusalem is from Mt Olivet. The print of a foot in the rock is here shown as being that left by our Saviour as he ascended into Heaven. Lower down a spot is pointed out as that on which our Saviour sat and wept over the destruction of Jerusalem. Attended Tenebræ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
April 1st Maundy Thursday We (Latins) had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to ourselves for some hours this morning. Ceremonies very long.
April 2nd Good Friday This afternoon we in a body made the stations of the paſsion along the Via Dolorosa supposed to be the same road our Saviour walked & suffered on before arriving at Mt Calvary. We were attended by a secular priest of Jerusalem, who at each station  addreſsed a few words to us relative to the particular suffering of our Lord at that spot. The Via Dolorosa is now quite within the city and part of it, is a leading thoroughfare the astonishment of both Turks and Arabs, seeing our proceedings was great, we did not mind them in the least & had no obstruction shown us, a few years since such would not have been the case.
The stations 14 in number commence at Pilates house  which is perhaps a little more than ¼ mile from the Holy Sepulchre and are as follows.
1st Our Saviours condemnation to death at Pilates house.
2nd The croſs is placed on his wounded shoulders.
3rd Jesus: falls 1st time
4th Jesus: meets his Mother
5th Jesus meets Simon of Syrene
6th St Veronica wipes our Saviour’s face
7th Jesus falls 2nd time
8th Jesus meets & consoles the daughters of Jerusalem
9th Jesus falls 3rd time
10th Jesus is stripped of his clothes
11th Jesus is fastened to the croſs
12th Jesus dies;
 13th Jesus is taken from the croſs
14th Jesus is buried.
In the evng we attended the proceſsion in the church of the Holy Sepulchre 7 Sermons in as many different languages where preached and all finished with the representation of our Saviours death and sufferings and burial, a figure nearly as large as life was taken from a croſs on Mt Calvary each nail taken out from hand & foot the body let down into a sheet and carried in proceſsion  to the Holy Sepulchre.
This representation did not inspire much devotion, certainly not to me. I was sorry to see our most sacred commemoration made use of in that manner. Such however has been the custom of the Franciscan monks year after year and old customs cannot be easily got rid of. The Patriarch I understand was also opposed to this annual scene and it is to be hoped will yet do away with it.
3rd Holy Saturday. This day we went to the gallery  belonging to the Franciscans in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to witneſs the proceſsion of the Greeks previous to their receiving the Holy Fire. The proceſsion attended by their Patriarch proceeded several times round the church with banners and music, The Patriarch entered the Holy Sepulchre alone where he is supposed to receive fire to his torch direct from Heaven. He had been shut in a few seconds, when a light was seen coming from a small circular window – Then commenced  the rush to obtain the fire each man supplied with a torch did his utmost to light it, as the sooner they succeed the purer the fire is supposed to be, consequently such a source of pushing fighting yelling as took place cannot be adequately described and is only to be witneſsed amongst such fanatics.
4th Easter Sunday. High Maſs and proceſsion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the evng attended a meeting of the Society of St V. de Paul at the house of the Patriarch.
5th Walked to Mt Zion on which the Cenaculum or house in which our Saviour eat his last supper stands, it is a large arched room. Close to this is pointed the place on which the house our B Lady died in, stood.
The Armenian Church and Convent very handsome.
7th Saw the Sepulchres of the Kings outside the Damascus gate. Hewn from the solid rock, these tombs have been formed with great labour and expence, the entrance  is greatly obstructed with stones. Having crept in you arrive in a chamber excavated from the rock so exactly square an architect could form no better.
There are 6 other similar chambers.
The waters or Pools in and near Jerusalem of most interest each of which we visited are as follows. The Pool of Bethesda is perhaps the most perfect specimen now remaining of the days of Solomon. Close to St Stephen’s Gate and near one of the entrances to Mosque of Omar this  reservoir is about 150 ft in length by 40 broad. It is composed of immense blocks of stones fastened together by new joinings. The arabs are gradually filling it with rubbish. The well of Job or En Rogel is near the Valley’s of Hinnom & Jehoshaphat is is the most fertile spot about Jerusalem. The upper and lower pools of Gihon to the west of the City.
April 8th Thursday Left Jerusalem for our Journey North at 3 p.m. To the right of the northern road  and close to the gate of Damascus, you see the grotto of Jeremiah, here he is supposed to have written his Lamentations. 2 hours ride brought us to Emmaus now a village on the top of a hill commanding an extensive view. [There are several possible sites of Emmaus, but even the closest to Jerusalem, Abu Ghosh, would be a substantial detour to the west of the direct route to Nazareth.]
Paſsed a tomb said to be that of Samuel encamped that night at Ram Alagh or the Ramagh of Benjamin. A village of Arab huts on a hill and commanding a fine view. Found it cold under Canvas. Had some rain during the night.
 April 9th Started early this morning a long days march before us to Nablous the ancient Shechem. The first village of any importance is Beer it stands on a hill and may be seen from a considerable distance. It also is called in scripture Beeroth. “Now the Cities of the tribe of Benjamin … were Gibeon, Ramah, and Beeroth” (see Joshua 18th chpt Judges 9th
[footnote] Here also our Saviour was first miſsed by his parents on their return to Nazareth from Jerusalem. A ruined church now marks the spot.
On a hill to our left was [looks like “Einbroot”, which would fit with Ein Yabrud] beautifully situated amidst olives, gardens  and corn fields. Village of Silo. Valley of Michmash. See 1 of Sam 13th & 14th chpt where Jonathan fled from his brother Abimelech.
Breakfasted at Kan Leban where there was a plentiful supply of water and the ruins of an old Kan. Valley very fertile. Called Lebonah in the Bible. After breakfast we paſsed the ancient Bethel where Jacob had his dream. Bethel mentioned frequently in Genesis Chpts 12 28 31 35 Judges 4th 1st of Kings 13 16th
The heat this day was very great.  The country very rich we saw some wheat not to be surpaſsed. Jacobs well was the next object of attraction it is a little to the right of the path. Over it has been erected a large building by the Empreſs Helena of which little now remains but the foundation. This was the scene of our Saviours conference with the woman of Samaria.
The tomb of Joseph was pointed out to us some distance  off on the plain.
Shortly after we entered the valley of Sechem with the Mountains of Gerizim on one side Ebal on the other. On these mountains was pronounced the sanction of the Divine law. The bleſsing on Mount Gerizim the curse on Mt Ebal. Nablous is in the center of the valley between these two mountains, the situation is beautiful. Amongst rich gardens groves of olives &c &c There are six mosques  a covered bazaar and a manufactory for soap. We paſsed through the town and found our tents ready for us just outside the gate leading to Nazareth.
April 10th Saturday This being the Sabbath of the Samaritans, we this morning went to their synagogue it is not a large building nor remarkable in any way. They showed us however their Pentateuch in the original character,  and of which they are justly proud. It is said to be 3500 years old written on vellum and mounted upon strong parchment wound within tin rollers. They keep up their ancient customs and go three times a week to Mt Gerizim. There are not more than 40 now remaining. Genesis 12th 33rd 34 35 36 37 chpts Deut 11th 27th chpts Joshua 20th 24th chpts Judges 9th John 4th chpts &c &c.
Continued our Journey through beautifully green valleys to Samaria now called Sebaste, a  name given it by Herod in honour of Augustus. The situation is extremely beautiful, on the summit of a hill surrounded by a deep valley, and capable of being strongly fortified. This ancient and at one time splendid city is now a small poor village. The remains of its former grandeur may be still traced amidst the ruins. In one spot there are about 60 Ionic columns and poſsibly this is the site of Herods own palace.  The remains of a church of course said to have been built by the Empreſs Helena marks the spot where St John the Baptist was beheaded.
Paſsed through the villages of Bourga and Bethamareen at the first place we were pelted with stones, we kept close together fearing this attack might not end with stones only. The natives where however satisfied and showed no further sign of their disapprobation  for our invasion of their village.
We continued our course winding thorough most delicious valleys, saw two Jackals, several Gazelles and some large birds of the eagle kind.
About sunset reached Jennin situated on the slope of a hill which bounds the southern extremity of the plain of Esdraelon. The ancient name was Ginoa it was the frontier  town between Samaria and Galilee. This neighbourhood has a very bad name on account of the many robberies. To guard against being robbed travelers generally pay so much a head, to have a sufficient number of guards placed around the camp during their sojourn. This much must however be said in favor of the Arabs of Jennin that once this agreement for protection is concluded no further trouble is  ever experienced.
From us they demanded an exorbitant price, our Dragoman refused to give it, about 25 prs per head, consequently a night attack was expected, our party divided into watches for each hour of the night, prepared pistols guns &c to give them a warm reception should they attempt to visit us. About 10 p.m. the chief of the tribe attended by two others returned to our camp and  accepted the terms of 3 pr per head thinking something was better than nothing. Had our party been leſs numerous we should have been obliged to submit to their first demand or have perhaps lost more. Two days after two parties of 3 & 5 were eased of all they had about them between Jennin and Nablous.
[11 April] The frogs, and our Arab guard kept up such a row this night few of us could  sleep. Next morning Sunday April 11th all our priests said maſs previous to our departure for Nazareth. We started about 9 a.m. acroſs the Plain of Esdraelon covered with the most luxuriant herbage. Paſsed several tribes of Bedouin with theur flocks grazing round their camps and who migrate from place to place as the graſs becomes scanty. Great numbers of Pelicans so tame that they permitted several of our party  to approach within shot and stood for numerous discharges, but without their number being leſsened by even one. To the East of the plain stands Mount Gilboa on which Saul and his sons fell fighting against the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 32st & 28th chpts Mount Hermon (or little Hermon) on which stands Shunem where Elisha lodged in the house of the Shunamitish woman and afterwards raised her son to live (see 2 Kings &c Hermon lies on the  declivity of the mountain opposite to Jezreel.
Nain, near this is the “Naim” where our Lord raised the widows son to life (see Luke 7 Chpt Endor where Saul went to consult the sorcereſs on the eve of the battle of Gilboa see 1st Samuel 28th Chpt Joshua 17 &c These places were pointed to us as we rode along the plain and were distinctly visible, Mount Thabor made its appearance as we advanced but at a considerable distance. We this day  suffered a good deal from heat having started late were obliged to ride during the warmest part from 12 to 3 o’clock. We at last approached the hill country about Nazareth and one cannot conceive a more lovely spot. From the plain we ascended by a rugged narrow gorge and presently found ourselves surrounded by hills & valleys continuing to ascend. Nazareth at length opened to our view at the end of a small green valley  with hills of considerable height and variety of form filling up the view. Took up our quarters at the Latin Convent.
April 12th Visited the superior of the Convent, an Italian with splendid beard, and kind benevolent expreſsion of face he spied my Cigar case in the breast pocket of my coat deliberately took it out and helped himself. Visited the Church of the Annunciation attached to the  Convent and built over the sight of our bleſsed ladys house from the church we descended by about a dozen stone steps to the spot on which the house stood, and here it was that the Angel Gabriel announced the joyful meſsage to our B. Lady. There are two stone pillars to the left of the altar one of which separated from its base has a very extraordinary appearance. It is said to have been broken by a pasha in search of treasure. Joined in  the daily proceſsion in honour of the Annunciation.
Visited the workshop of St Joseph not far from the Convent, it is now a small chapel with a very good picture of the Holy Family over the altar. A Chapel has also been built over the stone which saved our Saviour and his disciples as a table, and on which they and he eat, both before and after his resurrection. An inscription  on the wall implies such to have been the tradition among all Eastern Churches and that an indulgence of 7 years and as many 40 days is granted to the faithful upon reciting a Pater and an Ave.
Visited the Mount of Precipitation about 20 mints walk from Nazareth. Here the Jews took our Saviour after his preaching in the synagogue to cast him down headlong (see Luke 4th 20 It is a precipitous and rocky mount and suitable for their intentions.
Took a walk with  Father O’Carroll about the hills and saw Nazareth from various points of view, the situation is most Romantic, and the scenery such as one can well imagine our Saviour to have delighted in. We wandered along paths, the same paths he followed, silent and solem, with rocks shutting out all intrusion, just such as suited meditation and where no doubt his future sufferings were not seldom brought to his mind.
 In a valley near the town is a fountain called the Bleſsed Virgins fountain, and where she no doubt often went for water. Now as in days of old women with pitchers on their heads paſs to and fro for water. This custom of repairing to the well has been continued for ages, and leaves little doubt but that this is the same spring.
13th Left Nazareth at 6 a.m. for mount Thabor to ride there through a beautiful  undulating wooded country. Mt Thabor resembles “a cone” it is one of the highest in the country and quite isolated from all others, its appearance consequently is striking in the extreme. We rode to the top through trees and the most luxuriant verdure. The ascent took us very nearly an hour When arrived at the summit the view was very grand and extensive.
Beneath us lay the  plains of Esdraelon and Galilee. To the East the sea of Gennasereth West (south & north) the Mediterranean and the range of hills extending to Mount Carmel, Mount Hermon & part of the chain of Anti Libanus covered with snow lay to the North and to the South the hills of Samaria, forming together a view for extent and variety seldom to be surpaſsed. Our priests said maſs in a Grotto supposed to be the spot on which three altars  originally stood in honour of the Transfiguration. There are remains of considerable buildings to be seen on all sides proving it once to have been numerously inhabited, at present one solitary being is the only inhabitant of the mountain.
Wild boars are said to be numerous, we did not however see any. We breakfasted under the shade of a large oak, and afterwards proceeded to Tiberias, 5½ hours riding brought us  to our tents pitched on the border of the lake outside the walls of the city.
The view as we descended upon the lake was very fine extending in length about 18 miles by 5 or 6 in breadth it appeared like a large looking glaſs reflecting the steep hills, which descend on each side to the water; the sun through a deep shade on the opposite side while it marked with a strong light the hill we were on and the city of Tiberias  with its walls and turrets immediately underneath us.
14th Went to see the Jews’ Synagogue. Tiberias was for several centuries the central point of Jewish learning. Visited the Latin Convent the church is built on the spot where our Saviour gave the Keys of his Kingdom to St Peter the Convent and church are both poor. Capernaum is supposed to have been a little to the North of Tiberias, once a great city from the words of our Saviour  Matt 11th 20 21 23 “Woe unto thee Chorazin! Woe unto thee Bethsaida. And thou Capernaum shalt thou be exalted unto heaven, thou shalt go down even unto hell &c &c/” These cities as well as Gennesareth have disappeared, even the situations they occupied cannot be satisfactorily determined, Tiberias is the only place on this holy “sea” which has still any remains of its ancient greatneſs.
Some of our party took advantage of an old leaky boat (the only one on the lake) to visit Magdala, the native  town of Mary Magdalene, and reported a miserable ruined Arab village as the only remains to be seen. This day was the warmest we had as yet experienced and indeed I may say the warmest throughout our tour. In the evng about sunset several of us bathed found it very refreshing.
After dinner adjourned to the outside of our tents and sat there enjoying the view looking upon that lake so connected  with our Saviours life, on which he had walked, from which he had preached, worked miracles, there it was before us the same now as then. Mountain and sea the same he looked upon, but the cities & towns paſsed away. All felt more or leſs impreſsed by the recollections brought to our minds by this holy sea.
15th Left Tiberias early this morning on our return to Nazareth by a different route from that by which  we came. We visited the mount to which Jesus retired accompanied by the people and where he fed 4000 with 7 loaves & two fishes (see Matthew 15th A little further on we ascended the Mountain of the Beatitudes and at 11 a.m. we reached Cana of Galilee erected our altar under the shade of a magnificent Carruba tree, maſs was celebrated, we then proceeded to breakfast. A number of Arabs aſsembled  round us during maſs & were no doubt astonished at our proceedings, but gave us no annoyance. There is a small Greek Church in the village where they show the pots made from the rock of the country and which are said to be the original veſsels that contained the water afterwards converted into wine. Reached Nazareth in about 2 hours from Cana
16th April Nazareth rested here this day.
17th April Left Nazareth for  Mt Carmel taking Cepporis ([footnote:] The ancient Dioceseria) in our way the birth place of our B. Lady the place in which Sts Anne and Joachim lived. A Ruined church marks the exertions of the Empreſs Helena. A filthy Arab village is all that now remains of a once fine city. Continued our journey along beautiful valleys enclosed by richly wooded hills reminding one of some beautiful park scenery twice croſsed the ancient river  Kishon, called a halt for breakfast at 11 a.m. in a lovely little valley. After breakfast found a scorpion under one of the stones used as a seat during the repast. It was a small black animal 5 or 6 in long a bite or rather sting from which is most dangerous.
Continued on through the little town of Caiffa to Mount Carmel having had a long and hot ride of 9 hours the latter part through the vale of Zabulon.  Mount Carmel forms one of the most remarkable headlands along this coast advancing considerably into the sea and about 1500 ft in height. The view from it is most extensive. The bay and town of St Jean d’Acre to the North the mountains of Lebanon forming a fine background.
The Convent is modern with a handsome church built over the Grotto of St Elias. I spent a week in this Convent and during that time visited the Fountain  of Elias about an hours ride, a monastery stood here at one tome of which the ruins now remain.
Sunday 25th April Left Carmel for the little port of Caiffa at the foot of the mount, here an Austrian Loyd’s steamer calls once a week and about 9 hours coasting brought us to Beyrout. Paſsing close to St Jean D’Acre, Tyre, and Sidon.
26th Beyrout is built on a neck of land running into the sea. Country houses with plantations of mulberry trees  all around the town give it a very pleasant appearance, and with the Lebanon mountains hanging over it as it were forms a very picturesque view particularly when seen from the sea.
Left Beyrout on the 29th April, reached Marseilles 11th May.