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3. The Pilgrimage to Jerusalem


The time when he had thought of leaving for Jerusalem was approaching, [35] and so at the beginning of the year 1523 he left for Barcelona in order to board ship.45 Although some people were offering to accompany him, he didn’t want to go except alone: his whole aim was to have God alone as a refuge. Thus one day, when some people were really pressing him to take a companion, on the ground he didn’t know Italian or Latin, and telling him how much it would help him, and commending this to him, he told them that, even if it were the son or the brother of the Duke of Cardona,46 he wouldn’t go in his company. For he wanted to have three virtues: charity and faith and hope. And if he took a companion, whenever he was hungry, he would expect help from him, and when he fell, that he would help him get up, and thus he would be entrusting himself to him too, and attached to him, for these reasons; and he wanted to have this trust and attachment and hope with regard to God alone.

What he was thus expressing here was just how he felt it in his heart, and these thoughts were leading him to have desires to board ship, not just alone, but without any provisions. On beginning to negotiate his embarkation, he managed to get the ship’s captain to take him free of charge seeing that he had no money, but with this condition: he had to put some ship’s biscuit on the ship to feed himself. Otherwise, there was no way in the world they would take him.

[36] He wanted to arrange for this ship’s biscuit, but great scruples came to him: ‘So this is the hope and the faith you used to have in God, who wouldn’t let you down?’, etc. And this with such power that it was causing him great worry. Not knowing what to do, for he saw reasonable arguments on both sides, in the end he decided to put himself into the hands of his confessor, and so he told him how much he wanted to seek perfection and what might be more for the glory of God, and also of the things causing him to doubt whether he should take sustenance. The confessor decided he should beg what was necessary and that he should take it with him.

As he was begging this from a lady, she asked him where he wanted to sail for. He was a little doubtful whether to tell her, and in the end didn’t dare go further than to tell her he was going to Italy and to Rome. And she, as if horrified, said, ‘It’s to Rome you’re wanting to go? Well, those who go there come back in I don’t know what state’ (meaning that in Rome they didn’t get much from things of the Spirit). The reason why he didn’t dare say he was going to Jerusalem was for fear of vainglory. That fear used to trouble him so much that he never dared to say what region he came from nor who his family was. Finally he boarded ship with the ship’s biscuit obtained. But finding himself on the shore with five or six blancas47 remaining from those they had given him as he begged from door to door (because that was his normal way of living), he left them on a bench which he found there by the shore. [37] So he set sail, having been in Barcelona a little more than twenty days.

While he was still in Barcelona before setting sail, he looked, as was his custom, for all the spiritual people in order to talk to them, even if they were in hermitages far out of the city. But neither in Barcelona nor in Manresa, through all the time he was there, could he find people who could help him as much as he wanted. It was only in Manresa – that woman who was mentioned earlier,48 who told him she was asking God that Jesus Christ appear to him: only she seemed to him to have more of an insight into spiritual things. Thus after having left Barcelona, he lost completely this anxious desire to look for spiritual persons.


[38] They had such a strong wind at the stern that they arrived at Gaeta from Barcelona in five days and nights, though with considerable fear on everyone’s part because it was very stormy. Throughout that region people were afraid of the plague; but he, once he left the ship, began to make his way to Rome. From among those who had travelled in the ship a mother joined him and accompanied him, together with her daughter, whom she was bringing along in boy’s clothes, and also a young fellow. These followed his lead because they were begging too.

When they arrived at a homestead in the country they found a big fire with many soldiers beside it. These gave them something to eat, and they were also giving them a great deal of wine, encouraging them, so that it seemed their intention was to warm them up. Then they split them, putting the mother and the daughter above in a room, and the pilgrim together with the young fellow in a stable. But when midnight came he heard great shrieks being let out from above; and, on getting up to see what it was, found the mother and the daughter below very tearful, wailing that they had been wanting to rape them. At this there came over him such a powerful impulse that he began to shout, saying, ‘Does one really have to put up with this?’ and similar protests. These he delivered so effectively that everyone in the house was left terrified, without anyone doing him any harm.

The young fellow had already fled, and the three together began to travel by night, then and there; [39] and arriving at a town that was nearby, they found it shut up.49 Not being able to enter, they spent that night, all three of them, in a church just there; it was raining. In the morning they wouldn’t open the town to them, and outside they couldn’t find alms, although they went to a castle that could be seen nearby.

Here the pilgrim found himself weak, as much as a result of the hardship at sea as of the other things etc., and not being able to walk any more, he remained there, while the mother and the daughter went off towards Rome. That day many people left the city. Learning that the Lady of the area was coming, he presented himself to her, telling her that he was ill only because of his weakness: he was asking her to let him enter the city in order to find some cure. She allowed this without any problems, and as he began to beg through the city he picked up a good bit of cash. And recuperating there for two days he took up his journey again, and arrived in Rome on Palm Sunday.

[40] Everyone who spoke to him there, once they knew that he didn’t have money with him for Jerusalem, began to try and talk him out of going, assuring him on many grounds that it was impossible to find a passage without money. But he had a great conviction in his soul: he couldn’t be doubtful; rather he was meant to find a way of getting to Jerusalem. And having obtained the blessing from Pope Adrian VI,50 he then left for Venice, eight or nine days after Easter Sunday.

He still had six or seven ducats on him which they had given him for the passage from Venice to Jerusalem. He had taken them overcome to some extent by the fears they were pushing onto him, fears that he wouldn’t make the passage any other way. But two days after having left Rome, he began to realize that this had been the lack of trust which he’d had, and it weighed on him greatly that he had taken the ducats, and he thought about whether it would be good to leave them somewhere. But in the end he decided to spend them generously on whoever crossed his path, who were normally poor people, and did so, with the result that when he later arrived in Venice he didn’t have more than a few coppers on him, which that night he needed.

[41] On this journey to Venice, he was still sleeping under porticos on account of the precautions against the plague. Once as he was getting up in the morning he chanced upon a man who, seeing him look at him, began to run away in great terror, presumably because he must have perceived him as very pale. Going along in this way he arrived at Chioggia, and along with some companions who had attached themselves to him, learnt that they weren’t going to let them enter Venice. His companions decided to go to Padua to obtain a certificate of health there, and so he went off with them. But he couldn’t walk as far as they did, because they were walking very energetically, leaving him, near nightfall, in a big field. While he was there, Christ appeared to him in the way he normally appeared, the way we spoke of earlier,51 and comforted him greatly. And with this consolation, he arrived at the gates of Padua the following day in the morning, without having forged a certificate as (I think) his companions had done. And he got in without the sentries demanding anything from him. Moreover, the same thing happened to him when he left, at which his companions were quite amazed: they had just got a certificate in order to go to Venice, and he hadn’t bothered himself about it. [42] And when they arrived at Venice, the guards came to the boat to examine everybody, one by one, who was in it: only him they let be.

In Venice he supported himself by begging, and slept in St Mark’s Square. But he always refused to go to the house of the Imperial Ambassador, nor did he make any special effort to find the wherewithal for his passage. He had a great conviction in his soul that God was to give him the means of going to Jerusalem; and this was giving him so great a confirmation that no arguments or fears they were putting to him could make him doubt it.

One day a rich Spanish man came across him, and asked him what he was doing and where he wanted to go. And learning of his intention, he took him to eat at his house. Subsequently he had him to stay for a few days until things were ready for the departure. Since Manresa, the pilgrim now had this custom: when he had a meal with people, he would never speak at table unless it was to reply briefly. But he would listen to what was being said, and pick up a few things from which he might take the opportunity to speak about God. And when the meal was ended, that is what he would do, [43] and this was the reason why the good man with all his household became so fond of him that they wanted to have him as a guest, and pressed him to stay on in the house. This same host took him to the Doge of Venice so that he could talk to him: i.e. he got the Doge to give him access and audience. The Doge, once he had listened to the pilgrim, ordered that they should give him passage on the ship carrying the Governors who were going to Cyprus.

Although that year many pilgrims for Jerusalem had come, the majority of them had returned to their homelands on account of the new situation that had arisen as a result of the capture of Rhodes.52 Still, there were thirteen on the pilgrim ship, which left first, and eight or nine remained for the Governors’ ship. As this was on the point of leaving, a serious feverish illness came over our pilgrim. After it had given him a rough time for a few days, it left him. The ship was due to depart on the day he had taken a purgative; the people in the house asked the doctor if he would be able to get on the ship for Jerusalem, and the doctor replied that certainly he could get on the ship if what he wanted was to be buried there. But he did get on the ship, and left that day. And he vomited so much that he was greatly relieved and really began to make a recovery.

On that ship there was some open dirty and obscene behaviour, which he would severely criticize. [44] The Spaniards who were travelling on it were warning him not to do this, because the crew were talking of leaving him behind on some island. But Our Lord willed that they arrived quickly at Cyprus, where, having left that ship, they went overland to another port called Las Salinas,53 thirty miles away, and they boarded the pilgrim ship. Onto this ship too he brought nothing with which to feed himself beyond the hope he was placing in God, just as he had done on the other. Throughout this time Our Lord often appeared to him, which gave him great consolation and energy. Moreover, it seemed to him he repeatedly saw a large round object, apparently of gold: this began to appear to him after, having left Cyprus, they arrived at Jaffa.


As they were making their way to Jerusalem on their donkeys, following custom, two miles before arriving at Jerusalem, a Spaniard named Diego Manes, apparently a nobleman, said to all the pilgrims, with much devotion, that, since they were shortly to arrive at the place from where the holy city could be seen, it would be good were all to prepare their minds and hearts and to travel in silence. [45] This being agreeable to all, each one began to recollect himself. And a little before arriving at the place from which the city could be seen, they dismounted, because they saw the friars with the cross waiting for them. And on seeing the city the pilgrim had great consolation; moreover, from what the others were saying it was something they all had, with a joy that did not seem purely natural. And he always felt the same devotion during the visits to the holy places.

His firm intention was to remain in Jerusalem, forever visiting those holy places. And, as well as this matter of devotion, he also had the intention of helping souls.55 For this purpose he was carrying letters of recommendation for the Guardian.56 He gave him these, and told him of his intention to remain there out of devotion, but not the second part – his wish to be useful to souls – because this he wasn’t telling anybody, while the first he had often made public. The Guardian replied that he couldn’t see how his stay would be possible, because the house was in such great need that it couldn’t support the friars, and for this reason he had decided to send some of them with the pilgrims back here.57 The pilgrim replied that he didn’t want anything from the house, with the sole exception that when on occasion he came for confession they would hear it. And at this the Guardian said that on those terms it would be feasible, but that he would have to wait until the Provincial came (I think he was the highest superior of the Order in that country), who was then at Bethlehem.58

[46] With this promise the pilgrim felt assured, and he began to write letters to Barcelona to spiritual persons. When he already had one written and was in the course of writing the second – this was the day before the pilgrims departed59 – people on behalf of the Provincial and the Guardian came to summon him, because the former had arrived. And the Provincial told him, using kind words, how he had learnt of his good intention of remaining in those holy places, that he had thought a good deal about the matter, and that, from the experience that he had of others, it was his judgement that it would not be appropriate. For many people had had this desire, and then one had been taken prisoner, an other had died, and then the order had been left having to ransom the prisoners. He should therefore get ready to go the following day with the other pilgrims.

To this his reply was that he was very firm in this intention, and that in his judgement on no account should he refrain from putting it into practice; politely he made it clear that, although the Provincial did not think it a good idea, he would not abandon his intention on account of any fear unless it was a matter obliging him under pain of sin. To this the Provincial said that they had authority from the Holy See to make anyone leave there or stay there whom they saw fit, and to be able to excommunicate anyone who was not willing to obey them. And in this case, it was their judgement that he mustn’t remain etc. [47] When he wanted to show him the bulls on the strength of which they could excommunicate him, he told them that there was no need to see them: he believed their Reverences, and since this was their judgement, with the authority they had, he would obey them.

When this was over, there came over him as he was returning to where he was previously a great desire to go back and visit the Mount of Olives again before he left, now that it was not the will of Our Lord that he should remain in those holy places. On the Mount of Olives is a stone, from which Our Lord went up into heaven, and even now the footprints can be seen; this is what he wanted to go back to see. Thus, without saying a thing nor taking a guide (because those who move about without a Turk to guide them run great danger), he slipped away from the others and went off alone to the Mount of Olives. The sentries didn’t want to let him in; he gave them a knife from the writing-things he was carrying. And after he had made his prayer with considerable consolation, the desire came to him to go to Bethphage.60 And as he was there, he came to remember that on the Mount of Olives he hadn’t taken a proper look at where the right foot was or where the left was. And on returning there, I think he gave his scissors to the sentries so that they would let him in.

[48] When they found out in the monastery that he had gone off like this without a guide, the friars took vigorous steps to look for him. So, as he was coming down from the Mount of Olives he came upon a Christian of the cincture,61 who was a servant in the monastery. He had a big staff, and with a show of great anger was gesturing as if really to give it to him, and coming up to him he grabbed him roughly by the arm. He let himself be taken readily, but the good man never let him go. And as he went along this path in this fashion, grabbed by the Christian of the cincture, he had great consolation from Our Lord, in that it seemed to him he was seeing Christ always over him. And until he arrived at the monastery, this lasted all the time, in great abundance.


[49] They left the next day,62 and, having arrived at Cyprus, the pilgrims split up into different ships. There were in the port three or four ships for Venice: one belonged to Turks, another was a very small vessel, and the third was a very rich and powerful ship belonging to a rich man from Venice. Some of the pilgrims asked the master of this ship to be so kind as to take the pilgrim. But he, when he found out he had no money, refused, although many people asked this of him, praising him etc. The master replied that if he was a saint he should cross as St James had crossed, or something like that.63

From the master of the little vessel these same people making the request obtained it very easily. They left on a day with a favourable wind in the morning, but in the later part of the day a storm came upon them, with the result that the ships became separated. The big ship went lost near those same islands of Cyprus and only the people were saved; while the Turks’ ship was lost, and all the people with it, as a result of the same storm. The little vessel went through great difficulty, and finally came to make landfall at Pula.64 And this in the full force of the winter: it was very cold and snowing, and the pilgrim was wearing no clothes other than some scruffy breeches of coarse cloth down to his knees (his legs were bare), with shoes and a shirt of black cloth, open, with many tears at the shoulders, and a short, threadbare doublet.

[50] He arrived at Venice in the middle of January of the year 1524, having been at sea from Cyprus the whole month of November and of December and what had passed of January. In Venice one of the two people65 who had received him into their house before he left for Jerusalem found him, and gave him 15 or 16 giulii66 as alms, and a piece of cloth. This he folded up many times and put over his stomach on account of the great cold.

Once the said pilgrim had understood that it was God’s will he should not be in Jerusalem, he had constantly had with him thoughts about what was to be done. In the end he was inclining more towards studying for a time in order to be able to help souls, and was coming to the decision to go to Barcelona. Hence he set out from Venice for Genoa.

When he was one day in Ferrara in the main church, fulfilling his devotions, a poor person asked him for alms, and he gave him a marchetto, which is a coin worth 5 or 6 quattrini. After him another came, and he gave him another small coin that he had – a bit more. To the third, not having anything but giulii, he gave a giulio. When the poor people saw that he was giving alms, they did nothing else except to come, and so everything that he had ran out. In the end many poor people came together to ask for alms. He replied that they must forgive him for having nothing more.

[51] So he set off from Ferrara towards Genoa. He met on the road some Spanish soldiers, who treated him well for that night. They were horrified at how he was taking that road because it entailed passing between both armies as it were, French and Imperial.67They were pressing him to leave the main road and take another one, a safe one, which they were pointing out. But he did not take their advice. Instead, travelling straight on down his road, he came upon a village that had been burnt and destroyed, and thus found no one before night who would give him anything to eat. But when it was sunset he reached a village that was surrounded, and the sentries seized him straightaway, thinking he was a spy. And putting him in a hut near the gate, they began to interrogate him as one normally does when there is some suspicion, with him replying to all the questions that he knew nothing. And they stripped him and searched him right down to his shoes, and every part of his body, to see if he was carrying some letter. Not being able by any means to find anything out, they grabbed him so as to make him come before the captain: he would make him talk. When he said that they should take him wrapped in his doublet, they refused to give it to him, and so took him in the shirt and breeches mentioned above.

[52] On this journey the pilgrim had, as it were, a representation of when they took Christ, although this was not a vision like the others.68 He was taken through three big streets, and he went with no sadness, rather with happiness and contentment. It was his custom to speak, whoever the person might be, using the word vos, having this as a matter of devotion, in that Christ and the apostles etc. used to speak in this way. As he went thus through these streets it occurred to his imagination that it would be good to desist from that custom at that juncture, and address the captain as Sir69 – this together with some fears of the tortures that they could give him etc. But when he recognized it was a temptation, ‘Since that’s what it is’, he said, ‘I won’t call him Sir, nor do him any reverence, nor doff my cap at him’.70

[53] They arrived at the captain’s palace and they left him in a low room. A short while later the captain spoke to him. And he, without putting on any kind of courtesy, gave a few words in reply, with a perceptible pause between one and the other. The captain took him to be crazy, and therefore said to those who had brought him, ‘This man isn’t in his right mind. Give him what’s his, and throw him out’.

Having left the captain’s palace, he then met a Spaniard who lived there. This man took him to his house and gave him something to break his fast and all the necessary for that night. Having left in the morning, he walked till the evening, when two soldiers in a tower saw him and came down to arrest him, taking him to the captain, who was French. The captain asked him, along with the other things, what part of the world he was from, and learning he was from Guipúzcoa said, ‘I come from near there’ – apparently from near Bayonne. And at once he said, ‘Take him and give him some supper and treat him well’. He experienced many other little things on this journey from Ferrara to Genoa, and in the end he arrived at Genoa. There a Biscayan called Portundo71 recognized him, who at another period had spoken to him while he was serving at the court of King Ferdinand. This man got him embarkation on a ship which was going to Barcelona – a ship in which he ran a great danger of being taken by Andrea Doria,72 who gave them chase, he being then for the French.

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