Msgr. Jacques Mislin

Les saints lieux, pèlerinage à Jérusalem, Paris, 1858

Msgr. Jacques Mislin (Porrentruy 1807- Vienna 1878), of Alsatian origin, visited the Holy Land in 1848 and again in 1855. The latter voyage was described in his book (“The Holy Places, Pilgrimage to Jerusalem”) published three years later, which earned him numerous distinctions and was subsequently translated from the original French into a number of other languages (although not English). He was accompanied on this voyage by Leopold, Duke of Brabant and future King of Belgium, and his wife.

 “Having arrived at the Jaffa (or Pilgrim’s) Gate, several Turkish soldiers wanted us to submit to some sort of formality. While our dragoman argued with them, we passed into the city and headed towards St. Saviour’s Monastery, where we arrived at four in the afternoon. The Franciscan Fathers received us warmly, extending all possible courtesies and attention. They gave rooms at the monastery to Msgr. Pompallier and myself, while our companions were lodged in the Casa Nova, which also belongs to the monastery and is separated from it only by a narrow street. Two Fathers were placed at our disposition, Father Lorenzo, a Piedmontese, and Father Joseph, a Spaniard.”

“As soon as I was installed in my little cell, I wanted to go immediately to the Holy Sepulchre. Father Lorenzo informed me that it was necessary to receive permission from the Turks, and this could only be obtained on the following day.”

“With what avidity my gaze fell on those objects that had interested me so greatly, that I had seen in my imagination my entire life, and that now I was seeing in reality! I was really in Jerusalem! I told myself: here is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, here are the Garden of Olives, Jeremiah’s Grotto, the Brook of Cedron! My heart had divined all these places even before they were pointed out to me: had I been alone, how long I would have stayed to contemplate them! Returning to the monastery, I was informed that I could now go to the Holy Sepulchre. I left immediately with Father Lorenzo, and five minutes later I was kneeling down alongside the tomb of my Savior. Here was the place where they laid him! Ecce locus ubi posuerunt eum (Mark 16: 9). To find oneself, after a life of restlessness, after having been involved for so long in so many things that consume the soul and turn one away from God, to find find oneself, I say, all at once so strongly in the service of God, with the pure and fresh emotions of childhood; this is the sweetest pleasure that can be experienced.”

“I returned to the monastery to write to those in Europe who, in their thoughts, had accompanied me on this holy pilgrimage. I had achieved the goal of my wishes, now I had to help my friends participate in my happiness. I then made myself ready to visit, on the following days, in a systematic and fruitful manner, all that interested me in Jerusalem.”

Mislin, Les saints lieux, pèlerinage à Jérusalem, Paris, 1858 – Chapter XXI, pp. 181-185.