2 AUTOGRAPH] Robles /restitution Holy Place / Virtual Fair 106


Description: Significant document concerning the custody of the Holy Places

[AUTOGRAPH]. ROBLES, Alonso de, Fray.
[Letter concerning the restitution of the Holy Places to the custody of the Franciscans from the Greek Orthodox Church].

[Palestine?, ca. 1680/90?]. Folio (30 x 21 cm). Written in brown ink on laid paper with a Genoa coat of arms watermark, most likely a preliminary draft, with corrections. Text in Spanish, in a legible Latin hand. With some contemporary or near contemporary corrections in text, and marginal notes. [4] pp.

An historically significant letter, probably a preliminary draft, written by Fray Alonso de Robles, "Comisario General de Jerusalem", showing the rivalry between the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Churches for the custody of the Holy Places in the 17th century. It was written after a long period of hostilities in the 17th century when at first the Orthodox Church became the only custodian of the Golgotha (1634) and ousted the Catholics from the Sepulchre (1676), but eventually the Roman Church recovered its exceptional rights to the Sepulchre and Golgotha (1691).
The author praises God who acted in favor of the "Religion Serafica" (Franciscans) and returned the Holy Places to the "ancient possession of the true faith". At the same time he points out to his addressee to the necessity of dealing with Greeks with "Grande moderacion". [Rough translation]: "We should show them kindness and friendship and give them places where they could have their service, by shortening ours. We should focus on the mission in Cypress and teach the Greek language to some of our brothers, so that we can understand them in Jerusalem. It will help with the conservation of the Holy Places instead of fueling disputes about them".
He then discusses the necessity of expanding the Franciscans' presence in the Hebron area, so that the local Christians could be protected from the Muslims; construction of "hotels" and hospitals on the way from Constantinople to Jerusalem; setting up a convent on Monte Libano, so that Franciscans could learn the Arabic language, etc. A large part of the letter is devoted to the "conquista spiritual de los Drusos": the author gives a brief description of the Druze spiritual movement (it derived from the Ismailism school of Shia Islam), and notes that "they consider themselves Christians and they want to remain so". Then follows a lengthy description of the Druze's history in the 17th century, including a story of "Emir Frekedrin" (Fakhreddine), who "was beheaded by the Grand Turco in 1635", and certain "De Sidonia Joseph Maronita … hombre docto y piadosissimo" who visited Druzes many times in the 1650-1660s and "was welcomed with great love".
The paper is watermarked: -- = Genoa arms (with initials in the two circles below the arms: reversed N and P[?] in the first and Z (? with a reversed "3" shape) in the second. We found no close match, but the nearest in Heawood (items 738-748) date from 1665 to 1678.
The letter has a contemporary or near contemporary manuscript title (summary) at the end, written in another hand: "Carta del P[adr]e Fr[ay] Alonso de Robles Comisario gen[era]l de Jerusalem al P[adr]e guardiary […?], y […?] religios de aquella Custodia, en la occasion de […?] restitucio los Santo Lugares y usurpacion los Griegos Scismaticos".
  • Number: 1060295 (FBLCVK1MQ1GR)
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum

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