1. Item in nomine Dei, transacto aliquanto tempore, cum iam tres anni pleni essent, a quo in Ierusolimam venisse, visis etiam omnibus locis sanctis, ad quos orationis gratia me tenderam, et ideo iam revertendi ad patriam animus esset: volui iubente Deo, ut et ad Mesopotamiam Syriae accedere ad visendos sanctos monachos, qui ibi plurimi et tam eximiae vitae esse dicebantur, ut vix referri possit; nec non etiam et gratia orationis ad martyrium sancti Thomae apostoli, ubi corpus illius integrum positum est, id est apud Edessam, quem se illuc missurum, posteaquam in caelis ascendisset, Deus noster Iesus testatus est per epistolam, quam ad Aggarum regem per Ananiam cursorem misit, quae epistolam cum grandi reverentia apud Edessam civitatem, ubi est ipsud martyrium, custoditur.
2. Nam mihi credat volo affectio vestra, quoniam nullus Christianorum est, qui non se tendat illuc gratia orationis, quicumque tamen usque ad loca sancta, id est in Ierusolimis, accesserit; et hic locus de Ierusolima vicesima et quinta mansione est.
3. Et quoniam de Antiochia propius est Mesopotamiam, fuit mihi iubente Deo oportunum satis, ut, quemadmodum revertebar Constantinopolim, quia per Antiochiam iter erat, inde ad Mesopotamiam irem, sicut et factum est Deo iubente.
1 Having spent some time there in the Name of God, when three full years had passed since I came to Jerusalem, and having seen all the holy places which I had visited for the sake of prayer, my mind was to return to my country. I wished, however, at God's bidding, to go to Mesopotamia in Syria, to visit the holy monks who were there in great number, and who were said to be of such holy life as could hardly be described, and also for the sake of prayer at the memorial of S. Thomas the Apostle, where his body is laid entire. This is at Edessa. For Jesus our God by a letter which He sent to Abgar the king by the hand of Ananias the courier, promised that He would send S. Thomas thither, after that He Himself had ascended into Heaven. The letter is kept with great reverence at the city of Edessa, where the memorial is.
2 Now your affection may believe me that there is no Christian who having arrived at the holy places that are at Jerusalem, does not go on thither for the sake of prayer; it is at the twenty-fifth station from Jerusalem.
3 And since from Antioch it is nearer to Mesopotamia, it was very convenient for me at God's bidding that as I was returning to Constantinople, and my way lying through Antioch, I should go thence to Mesopotamia. This then, at God's bidding, I did.
1. Ac sic denuo faciens iter per mansiones aliquot perveni ad civitatem, cuius nomen in scripturis positum legimus, id est Batanis, quae civitas usque in hodie est. Nam et ecclesia cum episcopo vere sancto et monacho et confessore habet et martyria aliquanta. Ipsa etiam civitas abundans multitudine hominum est; nam et miles ibi sedet cum tribuno suo.
2. Unde denuo proficiscens, pervenimus in nomine Christi Dei nostri Edessam. Ubi cum pervenissemus, statim perreximus ad ecclesiam et ad martyrium sancti Thomae. Itaque ergo iuxta consuetudinem factis orationibus et cetera, quae consuetudo erat fieri in locis sanctis, nec non etiam et aliquanta ipsius sancti Thomae ibi legimus.
3. Ecclesia autem, ibi quae est, ingens et valde pulchra et nova dispositione, ut vere digna est esse domus Dei; et quoniam multa erant, quae ibi desiderabam videre, necesse me fuit ibi stativa triduana facere.
4. Ac sic ergo vidi in eadem civitate martyria plurima nec non et sanctos monachos, commanentes alios per martyria, alios longius de civitate in secretioribus locis habentes monasteria.
5. Et quoniam sanctus episcopus ipsius civitatis, vir vere religiosus et monachus et confessor, suscipiens me libenter ait mihi: «quoniam video te, filia, gratia religionis tam magnum laborem tibi imposuisse, ut de extremis porro terris venires ad haec loca, itaque ergo, si libenter habes, quaecumque loca sunt hic grata ad videndum Christianis, ostendimus tibi». Tunc ergo gratias agens Deo primum et sic ipsum rogavi plurimum, ut dignaretur facere, quod dicebat.
6. Itaque ergo duxit me primum ad palatium Aggari regis et ibi ostendit mihi archiotypam ipsius ingens, simillimam, ut ipsi dicebant, marmoream, tanti nitoris ac si de margarita esset; in cuius Aggari vultu parebat de contra vere fuisse hunc virum satis sapientem et honoratum. Tunc ait mihi sanctus episcopus: «ecce rex Aggarus, qui antequam videret Dominum, credidit ei, quia esset vere filius Dei». Nam erat et iuxta archiotypa similiter de tali marmore facta, quam dixit filii ipsius esse Magni, similiter et ipsa habens aliquid gratiae in vultu.
7. Item perintravimus in interiori parte palatii; et ibi erant fontes piscibus pleni, quales ego adhuc nunquam vidi, id est tantae magnitudinis et vel tam perlustres aut tam boni saporis. Nam ipsa civitas aliam aquam penitus non habet nunc nisi eam, quae de palatio exit, quae est ac si fluvius ingens argenteus.
8. Et tunc retulit mihi de ipsa aqua sic sanctus episcopus dicens: «quodam tempore, posteaquam scripserat Aggarus rex ad Dominum et Dominus rescripserat Aggaro per Ananiam cursorem, sicut scriptum est in ipsa epistola: transacto ergo aliquanto tempore superveniunt Persi et girant civitatem istam.
9. Sed statim Aggarus epistolam Domini ferens ad portam cum omni exercitu suo publice oravit. Et post dixit: «Domine Iesu, tu promiseras nobis, ne aliquis [h]ostium ingrederetur civitatem istam, et ecce nunc Persae inpugnant nos». Quod cum dixisset tenens manibus levatis epistolam ipsam apertam rex, ad subito tantae tenebrae factae sunt, foras civitatem tamen ante oculos Persarum, cum iam prope plicarent civitati, ita ut usque tertium miliarium de civitate essent: sed ita mox tenebris turbati sunt, ut vix castra ponerent et pergirarent in miliario tertio totam civitatem.
10. Ita autem turbati sunt Persae, ut nunquam viderent postea, qua parte in civitate ingrederentur, sed custodirent civitatem per giro clusam hostibus in miliario tamen tertio, quam tamen custodierunt mensibus aliquod.
11. Postmodum autem, cum viderent se nullo modo posse ingredi in civitatem, voluerunt siti eos occidere, qui in civitate erant. Nam monticulum istum, quem vides, filia, super civitate hac, in illo tempore ipse huic civitati aquam ministrabat. Tunc videntes hoc Persae averterunt ipsam aquam a civitate et fecerunt ei decursum contra ipso loco, ubi ipsi castra posita habebant.
12. In ea ergo die et in ea hora, qua averterant Persae aquam, statim hii fontes, quos vides in eo loco, iusso Dei a semel eruperunt: ex ea die hi fontes usque in hodie permanent hic gratia Dei. Illa autem aqua, quam Persae averterant, ita siccata est in ea hora, ut nec ipsi haberent vel una die quod biberent, qui obsedebant civitatem, sicut tamen et usque in hodie apparet; nam postea nunquam nec qualiscumque humor ibi apparuit usque in hodie.
13. Ac sic iubente Deo, qui hoc promiserat futurum, necesse fuit eos statim reverti ad sua, id est in Persida. Nam et postmodum quotienscumque voluerunt venire et expugnare hanc civitatem hostes, haec epistola prolata est et lecta est in porta, et statim nutu Dei expulsi sunt omnes hostes».
14. Illud etiam retulit sanctus episcopus: «eo quod hii fontes ubi eruperunt, ante sic fuerit campus intra civitatem subiacens palatio Aggari. Quod palatium Aggari quasi in editiori loco positum erat, sicut et nunc paret, ut vides. Nam consuetudo talis erat in illo tempore, ut pabtia, quotiensque fabricabantur, semper in editioribus locis fierent.
15. Sed postmodum quam hii fontes in eo loco eruperunt, tunc ipse Aggarus filio suo Magno, id est isti, cuius archiotypa vides iuxta patre posita, hoc palatium fecit in eo loco, ita tamen, ut hii fontes intra palatium includerentur».
16. Postea ergo quam haec omnia retulit sanctus episcopus, ait ad me: «eamus nunc ad portam, per quam ingressus est Ananias cursor cum illa epistola, quam dixeram». Cum ergo venissemus ad portam ipsam, stans episcopus fecit orationem et legit nobis ibi ipsas epistolas et denuo benedicens nos facta est iterato oratio.
17. Illud etiam retulit nobis sanctus ipse dicens: «eo quod ex ea die, qua Ananias cursor per ipsam portam ingressus est cum epistolam Domini, usque in praesentem diem custodiatur, ne quis immundus, ne quis lugubris per ipsam portam transeat, sed nec corpus alicuius mortui eiciatur per ipsam portam».
18. Ostendit etiam nobis sanctus episcopus memoriam Aggari vel totius familiae ipsius valde pulchra, sed facta more antiquo. Duxit etiam nos et ad illum palatium superiorem, quod habuerat primitus rex Aggarus, et si qua praeterea loca erant, monstravit nobis.
19. Illud etiam satis mihi grato fuit, ut epistolas ipsas sive Aggari ad Dominum sive Domini ad Aggarum, quas nobis ibi legerat sanctus episcopus, acciperem mihi ab ipso sancto. Et licet in patria exemplaria ipsarum haberem, tamen gratius mihi visum est, ut et ibi eas de ipso acciperem, ne quid forsitan minus ad nos in patria pervenisset; nam vere amplius est, quod hic accepi. Unde si Deus noster Iesus iusserit et venero in patria, legitis vos, dominae animae meae.
1 Then, journeying through certain stations, I came to a city whose name we read recorded in the Scriptures--Batanis, which city exists to-day: it has a church with a truly holy bishop, both monk and confessor, and certain martyr-memorials. The city has a teeming population, and the soldiery with their tribune are stationed there.
2 Departing thence, we arrived at Edessa in the Name of Christ our God, and, on our arrival, we straightway repaired to the church and memorial of saint Thomas. There, according to custom, prayers were made and the other things that were customary in the holy places were done; we read also some things concerning saint Thomas himself.
3 The church there is very great, very beautiful and of new construction, well worthy to be the house of God, and as there was much that I desired to see, it was necessary for me to make a three days' stay there.
4 Thus I saw in that city many memorials, together with holy monks, some dwelling at the memorials, while others had their cells in more secluded spots farther from the city.
5 Moreover, the holy bishop of the city, a truly devout man, both monk and confessor, received me willingly and said: "As I see, daughter, that for the sake of devotion you have undertaken so great a labour in coming to these places from far-distant lands, if you are willing, we will show you all the places that are pleasant to the sight of Christians." Then, first thanking God, I besought the bishop much that he would deign to do as he said.
6 He thereupon led me first to the palace of King Abgar, where he showed me a great marble statue of him--very much like him, as they said--having a sheen as if made of pearl. From the face of Abgar it seemed that he was a very wise and honourable man. Then the holy bishop said to me: "Behold King Abgar, who before he saw the Lord believed in Him that He was in truth the Son of God." There was another statue near, made of the same marble, which he said was that of his son Magnus; this also had something gracious in the face.
7 Then we entered the inner part of the palace, and there were fountains full of fish such as I never saw before, of so great size, so bright and of so good a flavour were they. The city has no water at all other than that which comes out of the palace, which is like a great silver river.
8 Then the holy bishop told me about the water, saying: " At some time, after that King Abgar had written to the Lord, and the Lord had answered King Abgar by Ananias the courier--as it is written in the letter itself--when some time had passed, the Persians came against the city and surrounded it.
9 And straightway Abgar, bearing the letter of the Lord to the gate, with all his army, prayed publicly. And he said: "O Lord Jesus, Thou hadst promised us that none of our enemies should enter this city, and lo! the Persians now attack us." And when the king had said this, holding the open letter in his uplifted hands, suddenly there came a great darkness outside the city before the eyes of the Persians, as they were approaching the city at a distance of about three miles, and they were so baffled by the darkness that they could hardly form their camp and surround the whole city about three miles off.
10 So baffled were the Persians that they could never afterwards see the way to enter the city, but they surrounded it and shut it in with their hostile forces, at a distance of about three miles, for several months.
11 Then, when they saw that they could by no means enter, they wished to slay those within the city by thirst. Now that little hill which you see, my daughter, over against the city, supplied it with water at that time, and the Persians, perceiving this, diverted the water from the city and made it to run near that place where they had made their camp.
12 And on that day and at that hour when the Persians diverted the water, the fountains which you see in this place burst forth at once at God's bidding, and by the favour of God they remain here from that day to this. But the water which the Persians had diverted was dried up at that hour, so that they who were besieging the city had nothing to drink for even one day; which thing is plain to the present time, for no moisture of any sort has ever been seen there from that day to this.
13 So, at God's bidding, Who had promised that this should come to pass, they were obliged to return to their own home in Persia. Moreover afterwards, as often as enemies determined to come and take the city, this letter was brought out and read in the gate, and straightway all enemies were driven back by the will of God.
14 The holy Bishop also told me that the place where these fountains broke forth had previously been open ground within the city, lying under the palace of King Abgar, which same palace had been situated on somewhat higher ground, as was plainly visible. For the custom was at that time that, whenever palaces were built, they should always stand on higher ground.
15 But after that these fountains had burst forth here, then Abgar built this palace for his son Magnus, whose statue I saw near that of his father, so that the fountains should be included in the palace.
16 And when the holy bishop had told me all these things, he said to me: "Let us now go to the gate by which Ananias the courier entered with the letter of which I spoke." So when we had come to the gate, the bishop, standing, made a prayer and read us the letters; then, after he had blessed us, another prayer was made.
17 Moreover the holy man told us that from the day on which Ananias the courier entered it with the letter of the Lord, the gate is kept to this day, that no one who is unclean, nor any mourner, should pass through nor should any dead body be borne out through it.
18 The holy bishop also showed us the memorial of Abgar and of his whole family, very beautiful, but made in the ancient style. He took us also to the palace which King Abgar had at first, on the higher ground, and if there were any other places he showed them to us.
19 It was very pleasant to me to receive from the holy man himself the letters of Abgar to the Lord and of the Lord to Abgar, which the holy bishop had read to us there. For although I have copies at home, yet it seemed to me more pleasant to receive them from him, lest perhaps something less might have reached us at home, and indeed that which I received here is fuller. So if Jesus our God bids it, and I come home, you too shall read them, ladies, my own souls.