Author: bigstepper12 (Page 2 of 2)

The Wanderings of Felix Fabri: The Landing of the Pilgrims from the Galley, and Their Entrance into the Holy Land (Travel Annotation #3)

This section of Felix Fabri’s account discusses his and the other pilgrims’ experiences, both positive and negative, during their time spent in The Holy Land. His description begins with their arrival in The Holy Land, which they all revere as “sacred earth” worthy of their kisses and adoration. Felix Fabri claims that their mere contact with The Holy Land grants him absolute remission of sin, and he says that “where there is a double cross, it means a plenary indulgence remitting both penance and sin…” Felix Fabri goes on to describe the difficulty the Saracens experienced when attempting to pronounce his name, saying that even an Italian-speaking Saracen could not properly pronounce the name ‘Felix.’ Fabri then recounts his stay in St. Peter’s Cellars, which he ultimately describes as extremely unpleasant. According to Fabri, the cellars were filthy and smelled rancid, but he copes with the poor living conditions by imagining what Jesus would say in response to a pilgrim’s bickering about such living conditions. Ultimately, he concludes that if Jesus could live his entire life as an outcast in unpleasant living conditions, a mere pilgrim should not expect or be entitled to anything better. He then recounts the arrival of merchants to the cellars, all of which sold pleasant fragrances and cleaning products that could be used to improve the cleanliness of his abode.

Despite its new-found cleanliness, however, St. Peter’s Cellars were unprotected and provided an entryway for anyone who wanted to enter for whatever reason. As a result of this, Felix Fabri and his roommates were extorted by an individual whom they believed was the land’s owner, but whose true identity remains unproven.

Felix Fabri goes on to describe other events that occurred during his time in The Holy Land, and he ends his account with a violent encounter that leaves him hostage in his cave for an entire day.

In this section, Felix Fabri makes fewer references to the Bible, biblical stories or other tales, presumably because he experienced many things whose descriptions are more enticing to his audience. This leads me to believe that much of Felix Fabri’s biblical rambling found throughout his account is used as filler in scenarios in which he did not have much experiential description to offer to his readers.

The double cross concept he mentions when describing his arrival in The Holy Land is confusing. Are the crosses he speaks of the same crosses that are used for crucifixion throughout the Bible? If so, does Felix Fabri actually witness posts of the same exact crosses that were used to crucify biblical figures, or do the people of Felix Fabri’s time continue the practice of crucifying criminals?

Felix Fabri’s disdain for black people is evident in his vile description of the Ethiopian intruders who enter his cave. He describes these particular intruders as “mischievous and vicious,” and he says that “they sat down before the door and sang all night long–howling, barking, and grunting like beasts, dogs, and pigs.” These are the only intruders whom Felix Fabri likens to animals. This description is comparable to the description of the extortionist, whom he describes as a “(hu)man” bearing arms, and he even assumes that he rules over the land upon which they were staying.

Was the term “Ethiopian” used to describe all people of African heritage, regardless of their country of origin?

The Book of Wanderings of Felix Fabri: The Holy Land (Jerusalem)

In his description of his second pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Felix Fabri focuses primarily on the landscape and its correlation to events detailed in the Holy Bible. Fabri says that he and the other pilgrims on the ship “began to see peaks and mountain-tops rising as it were out of the sea.” He recognizes Mount Carmel, which he associates with the prophet Elisha from the Bible who “prayed to God upon that mountain for rain, when it had not rained for three years and six months and how, while he prayed, there arose a little cloud like the print of a man’s foot from this sea, whence there came forth a great rain, as we read in the Third Book of Kings, chapter 18.” Fabri continues to describe the significance of Mount Carmel to biblical history, and he mentions other important historical landmarks that ultimately relate to the Bible, God, or Jesus Christ. Felix Fabri is clearly writing this narrative for an audience that is interested in understanding the landscape of Jerusalem from a religious perspective. While some Christians from medieval Europe had been exposed to the Bible to some capacity, most had not traveled to the land in which the setting of the New Testament is based. Felix Fabri’s description of the mountainous terrain of Jerusalem does not serve as an illustration of recreational beauty, but rather sacred landmarks that mark the life of Jesus Christ. For Fabri and his audience, landmarks like Mount Carmel and Mount Sinai are demonstrative of the physical paths that Jesus Christ and other saints of the New Testament took during their lifetimes.

Felix Fabri describes a fantastical encounter with abnormal fish: “…the fishes swam on the top of the sea and showed themselves on the surface more than their wont. There we beheld wondrous fishes. Some were large and quite round, like a winnowing-fan. Some had heads like dogs, with long ears hanging down, and we saw many dolphins that morning, and saw them more plainly them ever before.” The fish that “had heads like dogs” were probably from a group whose name is unbeknownst to him or the other European pilgrims. I believe that Felix Fabri included this excerpt about the fish in his narrative because of the importance of fish to the narrative of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus goes fishing with some of his disciples on several occasions, and he feeds fish to a large group of civilians. Fabri’s encounter with this particular fish probably allowed him to feel a physical connection to Jesus Christ, and he wanted to impart this experience to his audience so they could witness the powerful nature of such a parallel.

Felix Fabri’s subscription to the Christian faith and its values is stark, allowing for very little tolerance or acceptance of ideologies from other faiths. When he and the other pilgrims meet Moorish inhabitants of the land who express their belief in Prophet Muhammad’s divine connection, Fabri calls it a “falsehood,” discrediting the accounts known to those who subscribe to the Islamic faith. Fabri’s tone-deaf response to such an account further proves that he did not take this pilgrimage to learn about other faiths or practices in other parts of the world but to further affirm his own belief and loyalty to Christianity as a minister.

The Book of the Wanderings of Felix Fabri: The Alps

Felix Fabri was a Swiss theologian of the Dominican Order, a Catholic society of traveling ministers whose ultimate goal was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Europe and its surrounding areas. Fabri’s recounts of his multiple pilgrimages to The Holy Land include a plethora of information about the terrain through which he traveled and the religious figures whom he encountered on the way. Fabri began each discussion of his pilgrimages with Ulm, Germany as a starting point, and he travels south to Italy, covering the lands of Austria and Switzerland along. the way.

His acute focus on the terrain of The Alps indicates that much of his pilgrimage was spent in the mountainous area. Fabri describes the land of the Rhaetic Alps, as “very bad for traveling” after rainy weather (58). The Rhaetic Triangle includes the regions of what we know today as Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, so Felix Fabri seemed to be traveling south from Germany towards Italy in hopes of getting access to Jerusalem, presumably via boat. Fabri’s journey was evidently no walk in the park, as he had to travel through dry, cold, rainy, and mountainous conditions to reach the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

The Alps is not necessarily a “stop” that Felix Fabri makes, but rather a continuous landscape that he must travel through to get to Italy. I find it interesting that Fabri travels south in Europe instead of traveling East to Asia, where he would have more immediate access to The Holy Land. In addition, he could share Jesus Christ and the Christian faith with non-believers in the area instead of feasting and praying with other Europeans who already identify with the Christian doctrine. His failure to do so makes me wonder if traveling east posed more danger to Europeans. If so, how?

Fabri dedicates much of his recounting to the time he spent partaking in religious practices throughout his pilgrimage. He gives a very specific description of the monasteries in which he prayed as well as the people with whom he prayed and offered alms. His food and drink are only mentioned briefly throughout the entire book; he makes passing mentions of food and red wine that he ingests on the journey, but he specifically recalls figures such as Father Nicolaus Munchberger and other religious officials. Felix Fabri’s goal on this journey is beyond clear–he wants to share his intimate religious experiences with like-minded individuals from other regions of Europe under the guise of ‘spreading the word of the Bible’.

Felix Fabri’s culture is evidently parallel with those of the people whom he encountered while traveling south of Germany to Italy. He comes from a very strict religious background and is able to relate to other religious figures of the Christian faith in different regions of Europe because of the shared experience of Catholicism.

What I found most interesting about Felix Fabri’s recount of the pilgrimage is his brief description of people who behaved in violation of the Christian code of conduct. Fabri calls Mameluke an “accursed brute” for being drunk and passing out, not just because it’s unflattering, but also because his behavior is “contrary to the law of Mahomet”, an Arab-Muslim religious figure.

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