An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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(or Etheria or Aetheria), Pilgrim. Egeria's personal account of her journey to holy places in the Sinai, Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor around the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. She was likely an abbess or nun from northern Spain or southern Gaul. An incomplete copy of Egeria's chronicle of her pilgrimage was discovered in 1884 in an eleventh-century manuscript. It was written in a curious Latin dialect. Egeria was a keen observer. She provided a detailed account of what she saw. The last half of the Peregrinatio Aetheriae describes the liturgical celebrations in and around Jerusalem. Her work is especially prized by liturgists for her descriptions of the daily and weekly services at Jerusalem and for her chronicle of the major celebrations of the church year. She describes the Palm Sunday procession to the top of the Mount of Olives and a later procession down from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. The people waved palms as they walked. They also sang psalms, including Ps 118, and shouted the antiphon, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Egeria recalls that on Maundy Thursday the Eucharist was celebrated at 2 p.m. in the Martyrium. This church was a large basilica built by Helena, the mother of Constantine. After the Eucharist, a cross was erected in the courtyard of the church at the supposed site of Jesus' crucifixion. Egeria also describes the veneration of the supposed true cross in the courtyard behind the Martyrium during the morning of Good Friday. A service of psalms, readings, hymns, and prayers lasted from noon until three o'clock in the courtyard. Marion J. Hatchett dates Egeria's accounts of the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday celebrations in Jerusalem at about 381-384. Egeria's account has also been useful in the study of the architecture of the early church.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.