Egeria's Description of the Encaenia: Translation


Selecting the links will take you to the latin text

XLVIII Those are called the days of dedication when the holy church which is in Golgotha, and which they call the martyrium, was consecrated to God; the holy church also which is at the Anastasis, that is, in the place where the Lord rose after His Passion, was consecrated to God on that day. The dedication of these holy churches is therefore celebrated with the highest honour, because the Cross of the Lord was found on this same day.

2. And it was so ordained that, when the holy churches above mentioned were first consecrated, that should be the day when the Cross of the Lord had been found, in order that the whole celebration should be made together, with all rejoicing, on the self-same day. Moreover, it appears from the Holy Scriptures that this is also the day of dedication, when holy Solomon, having finished the House of God which he had built, stood before the altar of God and prayed, as it is written in the books of the Chronicles.

XLIX. So when these days of dedication are come, they are kept for eight days. And people begin to assemble from all parts many days before; not only monks and apotactitae from various provinces, from Mesopotamia and Syria, from Egypt and the Thebaid (where there are very many monks), and from every different place and province--for there is none who does not turn his steps to Jerusalem on that day for such rejoicing and for such high days--but lay people too in like manner, both men and women, with faithful minds, gather together in Jerusalem from every province on those days, for the sake of the holy day.

2. And the bishops, even when they have been few, are present to the number of forty or fifty in Jerusalem on these days, and with them come many of their clergy. But why should I say more? for he who on these days has not been present at so solemn a feast thinks that he has committed a very great sin, unless some necessity, which keeps a man back from carrying out a good resolution, has hindered him.

3. Now on these days of the dedication the adornment of all the churches is the same as at Easter and at Epiphany, also on each day the procession is made to the several holy places, as at Easter and at Epiphany. For on the first and second days it is to the greater church, which is called the martyrium. On the third day it is to Eleona, that is, the church which is on that mount whence the Lord ascended into heaven after His Passion, and in this church is the cave wherein the Lord used to teach his Apostles on the Mount of Olives. But on the fourth day . . .

[The rest of the manuscript is sadly lost]

A Select Bibliography

You may also go from here to the full text of Egeria's description of the Jerusalem liturgical year (still under construction):