Saladin and the Holy Light (1192 AD)

From Richard’s Chronicle

Richard’s Chronicle (Itenerarium Peregrinorum Ricardi) consists of six books and survives in nine manuscripts.  German Professor Hans Mayer has expressed the view that the initial period of Richard had been written by an unknown English military priest who participated in the Third Crusade.  Richard asserts that he participated in the crusade and that many of the events he describes he has experienced himself. About the Holy Saturday ceremony of 1192, the English chronicler reports the following:

“On Easter eve, Saladin, accompanied by his entourage, travelled to the venerable Tomb of the Lord in Jerusalem in order to discover the truth about the Holy Fire which persistently descends every year through Divine Power and lights the votive candle within the Tomb.  For some time Saladin and other Turks observed the reverence of their Christian prisoners, tied in chains and praying for God’s mercy with tears.  Suddenly, before their eyes, the Holy Fire descended and lighted the votive candle.  Immediately it began to burn and shimmer.  When they saw this, they  were very moved.

The Christians rejoiced and praised the greatness of God with loud voices, while the Muslims, surprised by such an obvious miracle, denied that they had ever seen it and they claimed that the fire was a crafty scam invented to outsmart them.  Wanting to satisfy himself about the issue, Saladin ordered that the votive candle be extinguished which had been lighted by Divine Power.  However, the candle was immediately relit by Divine Power.  The infidel ordered that it be extinguished a second time and it again re-ignited.  They extinguished it a third time and it was lit on its own a third time.

How great the power of God!  Who can resist it?  Nothing can go against the Lord. No one can resist His will.  The Sultan was amazed and painfully touched by the sight of this miracle and by the faith and devotion of the Christians.  Inspired by a prophetic spirit, he said forcefully:  “Without a doubt, I will soon lose my life, or will I lose the ownership of the city”.  He was not deceived by this omen, because during the next Great Lent, he died.

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