The Hodoeporicon of Willibald:

The Englishman who Lived For Two Years in C8th Constantinople #Byzantium #England
It's nt written by Willibald himself (WHO'S A SAINT BTW). Author remained anon for long time. Not til Bischoff discovered interpretation of a cryptogram inserted into a manuscript between the bios of Willibald & Wynnebald was it clear the name was Huneberc, a nun of Heidenheim.
It’s the only English extant narrative of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the C8th. In 670 we had the Frankish Arculf and in 865 we had the equally Frankish Bernardus Monarchus. But only WILLIBALD in C8th.
1. Departure: Catch a ship at Hamblemouth (near Hamwih i.e. Southampton) maybe where Hamble le Rice or Warsash is today.
2. Sail up the River Seine to Rouen (Normandy). Pitch our tents for the night. Have a gander at the market goods.
3. Walk to Lucca where dad dies. Bury him at Church of St Frigidian.
4. Walk to Rome & (after climbing the Scala Sancta) manage to catch the plague. “The breath of life practically left my body” W recalled. Bounced back with this verse on his lips: “He who perseveres unto the end shall be saved.”
5. Hop on ships between Gaeta to Naples to Reggio where W notes “These cities belong to the Romans… they owe allegiance to the Romans [even when their hinterlands are possessed by the Lombards].”
6. End up in Catania (Sicily) where the locals ingeniously whack out the body of St Agatha whenever Etna erupts in order to stop the lava flows from engulfing their towns (in her Acta this is reported to have taken place for first time in AD 252).
7. Syracuse -> Monemvasia “in Slavnia [Slav Land]”. Presume W incorrect as the city was founded as a refuge by Romans fleeing Avars & Slavs. Perhaps somebody told him the mainland was Slavic & he misinterpreted the remark.
8. Chios -> Ephesos to see the Seven Sleepers & then walk to the Tomb of St John the Evangelist.
9. Sail to Miletus to have a natter with two wonderful Stylites. Get them to pray with you. Then sail on to Salamis (Cyprus), where the body of St Epiphanius of Salamis rests.
10. Sail to Emesa (Homs) where, after a twelve-mile walk, there is a large church “built by St Helena in honour of St John the Baptist.” The Church was also mentioned by Eusebius (VC, iii, 47).
11. Get arrested by Saracens for being strangers without credentials. Get arraigned before a wealthy, knowledgeable old man who informs officers “I know this race. I have seen their fellow countrymen. They cause no mischief and are simply anxious to fulfil their law.”
12. Get taken to court anyway. Malicious Governor throws you in prison but a Christian merchant takes pity & takes you out for baths and food. The people are inquisitive “because [W and companions] are young, handsome & clothed in beautiful garments.”
13. A Spaniard visits us. He has a brother at the sultan’s court. He tells ruler “These men come from where the sun sets, beyond them is nothing but water.” The sultan agrees to let all captives go, saying “They have done no harm.” Leave for Damascus.
15. Visit Lydda’s Church of St George. The remains of the church are still to be seen: they have been restored in an Orthodox church. Arculf also gave an account of St George that’s known to have circulated Britain.
16. En route from Damascus to Jerusalem (it’s a long story), we meet an Ethiopian who silences a roaring lion that’s ready to devour us by saying “have no fear” and cold-staring it down.
17. Try your hand at smuggling in Tyre by hollowing out gourds & filling them with herbs and spices. Get arrested but when the guards smell your produce, you’re all good coz you took a hollow reed & filled it with petroleum (so he hates the smell of your veg).
18. Arrive at Constantinople & make a beeline for Holy Apostles to pray at the altar of Andrew, Timothy & Luke. Then pray before the remains of Chrysostom in another altar. Find an alcove there where you can sit and pray for TWO years.
19. Sail bk to Italy with imperial envoys. Visit the “Hell of Theoderic” & peer into it. “Sailing to Sicily” was a euphemism for dying. Indeed, the volcano’s name (in Lipari Islands) came from legend that ghosts of Pope John V & patrician Symmachus threw the Gothic King in one.
20. Tell your mate Tidbercht that it’s time to settle down at St Benedict’s under the abbot Petronax. Do your time there as a) sacristan b) porter c) porter at neighbouring monastery d) and another.
21. Go to Rome to help a Spanish priest who’s requested your presence at St Peter’s basilica. When the Pope [Gregory III] hears you’re in town, he comes down to hear about your incredible journey/tall tales. He revels in what an amazingly strong & pious Christian you are.
22. Pope stops listening and being nice. Suddenly he’s like leave your monastery, leave Rome, go to shitty Germany. And you’re like woah wtf? The Germanix? Can’t believe this. But you’re super obedient. You shall go the barbarians, an Athlete of Christ.
23. En route to Frankia you stop off at Lucca (remember your dad’s buried there?), then to Pavia, Brescia and Lake Garda where you do a “Patrick Leigh Fermor” & stay with Duke Odilo, one of the Alemanni. Course you do.
24. YOU ARRIVE AT EICHSTATT. My Lord, there is nothing here. Basically have to build a village. Then get made a priest. After a year your compatriot St Boniface calls you to visit him. You do. He makes you A BISHOP at 41 years old. Consecrated at Salzburg.
25. RIP WILLIBALD: “HE WHO GLORIES MAY GLORY IN THE LORD” (1 COR 1:31). Died in the 787th year after our Lord was born. Amen.
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