The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Iv Trebizond and The Journey Through Armenia

Greek population

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The Greeks are also a very devout people, but they have several errors in the articles of their faith. In the first place they consecrate bread which contains leaven; and make it in this way-they take a loaf, about the size of a man's hand, and in the middle they make an impression, with certain letters, the size of a dobla {An old Spanish coin}, which they consecrate. The priest who says mass, wears an ornament before him; and when he has consecrated the bread, he puts it on his head, in a white cloth, and, singing, goes forth to the people, who all put their faces to the ground, crying, and smiting their bosoms, and saying they are not worthy to see it. The priest then returns to the altar, and consumes the impression which is in the middle of the bread. When mass is said, he takes the remainder of the bread, breaks it, as if it was consecrated, and gives it to the people. When the priests officiate at mass, they do not have either books or bells in the churches (except in St. Sophia, at Constantinople). The clergy are married, but they do not marry more than once, and with a virgin. When their wives die, they do not marry again, but remain widowers, and they are very unhappy for the rest of their lives. They only say mass twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays; and when they have to say mass, they remain in the church all the week, and do not go out, or to their houses. They have six fasts in the year, in which they do not drink wine, nor eat fish which has blood, nor oil; and the clergy do not go to their houses, during these fasts; which occur as follows: -the first is from 1st of August to St. Mary's day in the middle of August; the second, from St. Catherine's day to the Nativity; the third is the forty days of Lent, which we also keep; the fourth is for twenty-four days, in honour of the twelve Apostles; the fifth is for fifteen days, in honour of a saint, whom they call Saint Demetrius; and throughout the year, they do not eat meat, neither on Wednesdays nor on Fridays; but they eat meat on Saturdays. They keep Wednesdays very strictly, and would rather eat meat on Fridays, than on Wednesdays: for they do eat meat on the following four Fridays in the year, namely, the Friday before Christmas day, the Friday in Carnival week, the Friday after Easter, and the Friday before Pentecost. They err in their doctrine of baptism, and in other things; and when anyone dies, who has done evil in this life, and is a great sinner, they dress him in cloths, and change his name, that the devil may not know him. They hold these, and other erroneous opinions, yet they are very devout, and say long prayers. The Greeks are armed with bows and swords, and other arms like the Turks, and they have cavalry.