In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Franciscan Pilgrimage Guides to Real and Virtual Jerusalem: The Holy Land versus San Vivaldo
  • Yvonne Friedman (bio) and Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi (bio)

…Not without a providential design, the historical events of the thirteenth century led to the Holy Land, the Order of Friars Minor. The Sons of St. Francis have since then remained in the land of Jesus … to continuously serve the local Church and to preserve, restore, protect the holy places, and their loyalty to the wishes of the Founder and the mandate of the Holy See was often sealed by acts of extraordinary virtue and generosity…

(Paul VI, “Nobis in Animo,” 1974)


Holy Land guides mediate between pilgrims and multiple Jerusalems. This article focuses on the roles played in this process of mediation by Franciscan human guides in two contexts: actual Jerusalem and the virtual Jerusalem of San Vivaldo.1 The longstanding, special relationship between the Franciscans and the Holy Land is exemplified not just by their role as custodians of the holy sites in the Holy Land but also by the construction of virtual Jerusalems, such as San Vivaldo, to substitute for actual pilgrimage. Although modern scholarship has addressed these topics,2 the functions of Franciscan human guides in each of these settings [End Page 197] have to date remained largely unexplored.3 This article surveys the roles of historical and present-day Franciscan pilgrimage guides in both Holy Land and virtual Jerusalems,4 in this case the less-known site at the sacred mountain of San Vivaldo.

Drawing on anthropological scholarship, the discussion relates mainly to the Franciscan guides to Jerusalem and San Vivaldo in terms of their role as mediators between the pilgrims and the locus of pilgrimage.5 This mediation has both material and spiritual aspects: the guide is on the one hand a pathfinder, who also fosters human relationships and provides practical aid. He is in addition a commentator on the holy sites in the case of actual Jerusalem and on visual text in the case of San Vivaldo, which demands a high level of preparation and study on the guides’ part. Consideration of the two contexts shows some shared roles that have remained almost stable over time, such as encouraging pilgrims to imitate the passion of Christ and drawing comparisons between Jerusalem in the past and the present, or between virtual and actual Jerusalem. As we shall see, there are, however, differences between the guiding and the pilgrim experience in the two contexts. Significantly, “following the route under [End Page 198] Franciscan guidance ensured that the experience as well as the meaning and values of pilgrimage in Jerusalem were shared and internalized by all pilgrims, resulting in a common memory in a form approved and promoted by the Franciscan order,” as Tsafra Siew notes.6 This was true both in Jerusalem, where the Via Dolorosa was constructed by the Franciscans who also for many centuries had a monopoly on Holy Land guiding, and in San Vivaldo, which is exclusively Franciscan. Finally, we see continued interaction between San Vivaldo and Jerusalem.

A range of sources—historical and contemporary, written, artistic and oral—has been consulted, including participation in actual pilgrimages and conversations with their guides. With regard to primary sources: for Holy Land pilgrimage the main sources are the historical itineraria, from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries, which highlight the role of the guide directly or indirectly;7 for pilgrimage to the Jerusalem of San Vivaldo we have access mainly to written sources from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the initial period during which the site was constructed and began functioning as a pilgrimage destination; for example, the grant of indulgences in 1516, as well as memoirs of Franciscan friars who resided in the San Vivaldo convent throughout the centuries, such as Mariano da Firenze, Dionisio Pulinari, and Antonio da Terrinca.8 However, for San Vivaldo perhaps the most important aspect is the interaction between the physical architectural and artistic construct of Jerusalem [End Page 199] of San Vivaldo and the guide, who essentially invites the observer to become a participant in pilgrimage. Although it has undergone changes and fewer chapels now remain, it is still possible to visit, examine, and...


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pp. 197-224
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