* Transfig. 1
* Transfig. 2
* Transfig. 3
* Mk 9:2-10 A
* Mk 9:2-10 B
* Old Test.
* Post Crus.
* Pictures 1
* Pictures 2
* Pictures 3
* Pictures 4
The Post-Crusader period
(by Teresa Petrozzi - translated by Raphael Bonanno ofm)
the other hand, Tabor was not forgotten: the tradition of the gospel incident
continued to attract the pilgrims. In the section "the Cult on Tabor" we
reported the chronicles relevant to the devotions; now we will give general
information on the surviving ruins.
Burchard, who climbed Tabor twenty years after Baibars, saw the ruins of three
tabernacles or cloisters, palaces, towers and buildings that had become
shelters for wild beasts. Ricoldo of Monte Croce in 1294 read the gospel and
wept over such desolation.
Some visitors, trusting in inexperienced guides or gathering ancient beliefs
that had become so fantastic as to be unrecognizable, placed the most disparate
events on Tabor.
Maundeville and Boldensel, in the Holy Land
in 1322 and 1332 respectively, both speak of the school of the Lord, the Schola
Domini, where Jesus taught his disciples the secrets of heaven. The Grotto of
the Teachings, also called the grotto of the Our Father, is found on the Mt of
Olives. Maundeville adds:
"On that mount and on the place of the Transfiguration, on the day of judgment,
four angels will sound their trumpets and will raise up to new life all the
people who have died since the creation. And they will come in body and soul to
the judgment in the presence of the face of God , in the Valley of Josaphat.
And it will be on Easter day, the day of the Resurrection of our Lord." The
spaniard Oliver (1464) saw from the Mt of Olives "the road to Mt Tabor which is
the place where Adam was created and where Abraham and Sarah are buried". Von Harff, at the end of the 15th c., also
says: "The Christians who live in the region and are Syrians, Jacobites,
Georgians, Abyssinians and others, maintain that Adam the first man disobeyed
God on this Mt Tabor and that at the end of time four angels will announce the
day of judgment from this mountain top"
The first pilgrim to give some solid information about the ruins was
Niccol´o of Poggibonsi in 1345. Sources contemporary to the constructions
which have come down to us unfortunately do not describe the structures or the
decorations. The recent finds of archaeology are based only on the foundations
and floors that remain. The pilgrim chronicles that mention the buidlings have
a special importance inasmuch as they put us in contact with the reality and
vicissitudes of the past.
We read in Poggibonsi: "This mountain is very high and large, and almost round;
and on top there is a flat surface, which once was a farmland but now is a
wasteland; and in the middle there is a church, and, in the middle of said
church, there is a tomb (round-shaped), elevated inside the whole building. And
there, our Lord Jesus Christ, wanting to show his glory to his apostles, there
where the tomb is, he was transfigured, and appeared suddenly with Moses and
Elijah, and they spoke with him; and the voice was heard from heaven, and thus
was written in golden letters on the said tomb, and they read thus: Hic est
filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui, ipsum audite (This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased, hear him). And on the earth there are
forms, like the confused St Peter, St James and St John, fallen on the ground
before the divine glory; and where St Peter fell, there is the inscription:
Domine, bonum est nobis hic esse, etc. (Lord, it is good for us to be here).
The church is almost destroyed except for the tomb." There remained the crypt
then, with paintings and relevant graffiti on a wall and on the floor, whereas
the upper part of the edifice was destroyed.
The ruins of the buildings still survived for a century and a half. In 1485
Suriano adds some architectural detail: "On Zebel Tubar [...} a church was
built with three tribunes, with three tents pitched together. And where Christ
was transfigured there was a stairway of fine marble, of eight steps, four
yards wide, and at the top of this staircase there was a stone placed to serve
as an altar."
What so many past pilgrims had experienced here and elsewhere also happened to
Suriano:"And once the Mass was over, we were attacked by thieves who were
hidden in those carob trees, because they had seen the new chalice and chasuble
of chremisin damascus material. Tamen (Latin for however), it was not a
disaster because we were well-accompanied: but we did eat bread and salt
Sixty-seven years passed by without any important information and then Boniface
of Ragusa (1552) wrote: "On the summit of the mountan [...] there is a church
with three chapels. On the spot where the Christ was seen in glory there is the
largest chapel, with a chapel on the right to Moses and another on the left to
Elijah [...} In the main chapel, by the grace of God, there is kept a statue of
the Transfigured Savior [...] which is very elegant. Moses, the bearer of the
Law, is painted on the right wall and Elijah on the left."
Zuallart explains why the rigors of the climate did not complete the
destruction begun by Baibars: "Nothing else remains except the three chapels
which the infidel occupy, and as mosques they keep a roof to preserve them from
the rain and rough weather."
But while the roof protected the walls, the
infidel had ruined the "very ancient paintings" of the central chapel. Zuallart
saw only the remains. He wrote in 1586; Castela, who sixteen years later
visited Tabor confirms the change of the three chapels into mosques. Levaillant noted also the edgings of the
decorations left in 1613.
The Roman traveler Della Valle in 1616 found: "many ruins of a great church and
a monastery, for as I imagine, they were constructed in the place, where our
Lord was transfigured ", and he was surprised by the hay cultivated on top of
the mountain. "But I saw later, that the mountain was inhabited on top; and
that among the ruins of the ancient churches, there lived some few, very poor
families, segregated from the rest of the world, some of which did the
planting, which I certainly had compassion to see them in such a place;
especially the half-nude young women and the little 4-5 year old children, whom
I saw running among the trees, like wild cats." Della Valle is the only
chronicler who, as far as we know, mentions a permanent settlement on the
The situation worsened in the immediately following years. Quaresmi, in his
monumental work on the Holy Land (1626), dedicates only a few lines to
Tabor:" Currently almost everything has been destroyed: one sees many ruins of
buildings and gates in the walls; from these it is easy to conclude that there
used to be a strong fortress and other noble buildings. On the summit, on the
side, besides the foundations of the buildings, one sees some underground rooms."
 Guilielmus de Boldensel, cf ELS--518.
 Guillem Oliver, Romiatge de la casa sancta
de Jherusalem, fet per mestre G.O., cuitad'a de Barcelona (1464), Barcelona
 H. Castela, Le sainct voyage de Hierusalem
et Mont Sinay, faict en l'an du grand Iubil'e,1600, Bordeaux 1603.
 Levaillant, Le pèlerin véritable,
Paris 1613, 407.