The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Ii. Constantinople

St John the Baptist Church

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On the same day the ambassadors went to see the relics in the church of St. John the Baptist, which were not shown to them before, for want of the keys. When they arrived at the church, the monks robed themselves, and lighted many candles, and took the keys, singing and chaunting all the time. They then ascended to a sort of tower, where the relics were; and with them there was a knight of the emperor's household. They then came forth chaunting very mournful hymns, with lighted tapers, and many incense bearers before them, and they placed the relics on a high table covered with a silken cloth, in the body of the church. The relics were contained in a coloured chest, which was sealed with two seals of white wax, on two plates of silver. They opened it, and took out two large silver gilt plates, which were placed on the top of the relics. They then produced a bag of white dimity, sealed with wax, which they opened, and took out a small round golden casket, in which was the bread which our Lord Jesus Christ gave to Judas at the last supper, as a sign who it was who should betray him, but he was unable to eat it. It was wrapped in a red crape cover, and sealed with two waxen seals, and the bread was about three fingers in breadth. They then took out a gold casket smaller than the first, in which there was a crystal case, which was fixed in the casket, and which contained some of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which flowed from his side, when it was pierced by Longinus. They also took out another small golden casket, the top of which was pierced like a grater, and it contained the blood which flowed from a crucifix in the city of Beirut, when a Jew once attempted to injure it. They also showed a little case of glass, which had a cover, and a little golden chain attached to it; in which was a small red crape cover containing some hairs of the beard of our Lord Jesus Christ, being those which the Jews pulled out, when they crucified him. There was also a piece of the stone on which our Lord was placed, when he was taken down from the cross. They then showed a square silver casket, two and a half palmos long, which was sealed with six seals made of six plates of silver, and it was opened with a silver key. They took out of it a board, which was covered with gold, and on it was the iron of the lance with which Longinus pierced our Lord Jesus Christ. It was as fine as a thorn, and of well tempered iron, and the handle was bored through, being about a palmo and two fingers long; and the blood on it was as fresh as if the deed which was done with it had just been committed. It was fixed on the board, which was covered with gold, and the iron was not bright, but quite dim. There was also fixed on this board, a piece of the cane which they gave our Lord Jesus Christ, when he was before Pilate. It was a palmo and a half long; and near it there was also a piece of the sponge with which Jesus Christ, our God, was given gall and vinegar, when he was on the cross. In the same case with this board, there was the garment of Jesus Christ, for which the knights of Pilate cast lots. It was folded, and sealed, that people who came to see it might not cut bits off, as had been done before, but one sleeve was left outside the seals. The garment was of a red dimity, like muslin, and the sleeve was narrow, and it was doubled to the elbow. It had three little buttons, made like twisted cords, like the knots on a doublet, and the buttons, and the sleeve, and all that could be seen of the skirt, seemed to be of a dark rose colour; and it did not look as if it had been woven, but as if it had been worked with a needle, for the strings looked twisted in network, and very tight. When the ambassadors went to see these relics, the people of the city, who knew it, came also, and they all cried very loudly, and said their prayers.