Pilgrims at the time of the Crusades
By Fr. Cristobal Vilaroig
During the Crusader era, pilgrims continued to visit Magdala. In the year 1130 in a guide of the Holy Land, entitled De Situ Urbis Ierusalem, the anonymous author wrote: “Two miles from Gennesaret, there is Magdalum, where Mary Magdalene came from, and two miles from Magdalum, is the city of Cynereth, which is Tiberias.” A similarly succinct description is offered by a priest from Würzburg named John (Descriptio Terrae Sanctae, ca. 1165).
Another author, named Theoderic, tells in his Libellus de Locis Sanctis (1172) a very curious phenomenon: “On the western side of the Sea of Galilee, the plain of Gennesaret spreads from the cliff of a certain mountain; as it is surrounded by hills in every side, it is believed that it generates its own airflow by itself, not by the force of external winds.” It is not clear at all what our Theoderic wanted to express, but those who have been in Magdala will no doubt wonder if he could not be speaking about the torrid summer gales that blow all afternoon long.
Finally, there is the Russian hegumen Daniel Palomnik, who wrote around 1113: “Here we see today a church consecrated to the holy apostles. Nearby is the house of St. Mary Magdalene, where she was freed by Jesus from seven demons who besieged her. This place is called Magdalea.” It is hard to tell whether the abbot was confused or if, by then, Christians venerated two places (a church and the house). Anyway, in the Crusaders’ time, pilgrims passed by Magdalum, pointed at the village and said: “Look, the city of the Magdalene!”