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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin

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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin
page 128



thus- let him' be driven from his native country, and •wander whither the Pope shall direct him, till by long prayer he obtain the Divine mercy." The roads were crowded with these miserable wretches, limping along to their shrines. Only the more distinguished, either in rank or enormity of offence, were ordered to go to Palestine. The custom was carried on to comparatively late times, and it was not till the fourteenth century that a law was passed restraining the practice— " better is it that these criminals should remain all together in one place, and there work out the sentence imposed upon them by the Church,"—so long was it before justice was taken out of the hands of the Church. It could not have added greatly to the delights of travelling in these days occasionally to meet bands of these wretches, toiling painfully along, half naked, and dragging the weight of their chains, while they implored the prayers and alms of the passers-by. But the triumph of the pilgrim (not the criminal) was in coming home again. Bearing a palm branch in his hands, as a sign that he had seen the sacred places, he narrated his adventures, and gathered—those at least that were poor—alms in plenty. Arrived at his native village, the palm branch was solemnly offered at the altar, and the pilgrim returned to his home to spend the rest of his life in telling of the miracles he had seen wrought. Not all, however, came home. So long as the pilgrim passed the rough lands where his passport was recognised, all was easy enough. He got food to eat, and a bed to sleep in. But he sometimes came to places, if he went by way of Constantinople, where there were no monasteries, and where his passport proved useless. The ferocious Bulgarians, or the treacherous Croats, in theory friendly, and by profession Christian, sometimes proved cut-throats and robbers. The Mohammedans, though they acknowledged the harmlessness of the crowds that flocked about


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