A journey through the pages to the Holy Land

The code of the Florentine goldsmith Marco di Bartolomeo Rustici and the story of his journey to the Holy Land was the subject in the gathering and exhibition organized by the Library of the Custody in Jerusalem.

A Florentine goldsmith, Marco Di Bartolomeo Rustici lived in the first half of 1400 and was passionate about the Holy Land. Marco di Bartolomeo Rustici was the subject of the conference and exhibition on Thursday February 11, organized by the General Library of the Custody of the Holy Land and held in the St. Francis Hall in the St. Savior Monastery.

For the occasion, a facsimile reproduction, that is an exact photographic copy and actual size of the Rustici code was exhibited, accompanied by a book containing the critical edition of the entire text with a study of the used sources and the inserted images . In the exceptional manuscript, whose original copy is kept in the Archdiocesan Major Seminary in Cestello, Florence, the artist recounts a trip to Jerusalem and the Holy Land that he perhaps never accomplished.

Catholic University of Milan
“The value of this document is significant from three points of view: from the artistic perspective, because Marco Rustici was a goldsmith, therefore he was able to draw, leaving us exceptional illustrations of some monuments, especially of his hometown Florence. It is interesting from a historical point of view, because somehow Marco tells the entire history of the world: this trip to Jerusalem was like shaping an encyclopedia of the world, gathering the awareness of the reality around him. It is interesting from a spiritual point of view because somehow this centrality of the city of Florence is that of another Jerusalem, since the Council of Florence that had proclaimed the reunification of the Eastern Church with that of the West took place at that time and therefore a new opportunity to begin a Christian life was created then.”

Director of the Library of the Custody of the Holy Land
“The value of this book is to provide, in a sense, a missing link between the diaries of the pilgrims who actually visited the Holy Land. It was later spiritualized: the pilgrimage to these lands became a spiritual journey, rather than real. So this work provides something very important: we realize that Rustici never really visited the Holy Land, but managed to gather all the information from the other books of the past and to bring them together in a single volume.”

Next to the facsimile of the Rustici code, some valuable manuscripts and routes of different ages and languages, that addressed the journey to the Holy Land and held by the Custodial Library, were also exhibited.

During the meeting, they also discussed the hardships that a trip to the Holy Land in the fifteenth century involved:
difficulties at home and organizational complications for departure, such as the need to provide themselves with special permission granted by the Supreme Pontiff;
complications on the trip: the risk of bad weather or the danger of being attacked or being enslaved in case of shipwreck;
and finally, having to deal with different food and cultural customs and traditions.

Director of the Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
“In the texts that the pilgrims left us, it shows quite clearly that in all the centuries it was not easy to travel to the Holy Land.
However, we know from what they wrote, that they already knew about all the difficulties they would encounter; however they were ready to exercise all the patience that was required to be able to later enjoy the benefits that the pilgrimage would give them.”

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