What I Saw

25 Aug 2023

Felix Faber

Felix Faber, a Dominican monk of Ulm, made and recorded two pilgrimages to the Holy Land. He started on the first and shorter of these on April 14, 1480, and touched Cyprus twice: on the second occasion, he left Ulm on April 14, 1488, landed in Cyprus on June 26, and again on his return, November 7 of the same year.

"In the whole realm of Cyprus are four bishoprics or dioceses. The first is in Nicosia, which is the capital, now a great city, not on the sea but five German miles away in the heart of the island; surrounded by fertile and pleasant hills. A large torrent runs through its midst, which at certain seasons rushes down in a mighty stream: when I was there it had not a drop of water. Here are merchants from every part of the world, Christians and infidels. There are stores, great and precious, for the aromatic herbs of the East are brought here raw, and are prepared by the perfumer's art. The island itself abounds in dyes and perfumes so that the stores of Nicosia are a source from which such drugs flow over the world.

There are many churches in the city, both Greek and Latin. The Latin have belfries and bells and clergy who officiate according to the Latin rite. The Greeks have towers (pinnacula) and wooden instruments with which they summon the people to divine service, and they sing and read in Greek. The metropolitan church is Latin, dedicated to S. Sophia. It is pretty large and well decorated, and maintains an archbishop, canons and clergy. On the right of the church is a chapel dedicated to S. Thomas Aquinas, in which the legends of the holy doctor are exquisitely painted, while a gilt plaque on the altar sets forth his acts. In this chapel I saw a remarkable monument, which I will describe. For at the side there stood, and still stands, a large and beautiful tomb, of great value, made of precious jasper. I measured it with my own hands, and found it twelve palms or spans in length, seven in depth and five broad, and one in thickness, the whole of solid stone. It has a cover of the same dimensions,"a dos d' ane” in the usual form, of the same stone and price. The colour is generally green, but the stone which is polished is spotted with other colours, which add to the beauty of such marble. It is said to have as many virtues as it has spots, and these spots, which are innumerable, are red or rosy as though the stone had been sprinkled with blood. Those who carry it about chastely will find in it these virtues. It drives away phantoms, checks fevers, cures dropsy, helps women in childbed, preserves a man in danger, allays inward heat, stanches blood, represses passion and its consequences, cures inveterate ulcers, purges the eyes, and strengthens and comforts their use, is proof against witchery and spells, and more efficacious set-in silver than in gold. "

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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