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From Holy Land to Holy Russia: The Origins of the Pilgrimage Literature of the Rus’

Marcello Garzaniti, University of Florence, Summer Fellow 2004

After analyzing various witnesses of pilgrimage literature from Rus’ and Muscovy, and reviewing previous research whose results are already published or in print, I propose to write a monograph on the pilgrimage and journey tale in medieval Rus’ and Muscovy. Prior to the final draft of the book, my sojourn at Dumbarton Oaks has given me the possibility to use the rich library and especially to study the relations between Greek proskynetaria, Latin pilgrimage literature of the Crusader period, and East Slavic pilgrimage tales.

Today one hears repeated, uncritically, the notion that East Slavic pilgrimage tales depend on Byzantine literature. The influence of pilgrimage literature of the Latin world in the period of the Crusades was also not excluded. On this question see K. D. Seemann, Die altrussische Wallfahrtsliteratur. Theorie und Geschichte eines literarischen Genres (Munich, 1976) and A. Külzer, Peregrinatio graeca in Terram Sanctam. Studien zu Pilgerführern und Reisebeschreibungen über Syrien, Palästina und den Sinai aus byzantinischer und metabyzantinischer Zeit (Vienna, 1994). After comparing Greek and Latin pilgrimage literature with the Pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Hegumen Daniil (Itinerario in Terra santa, trans. M. Garzaniti) (Rome, 1991), I did not find any direct textual dependence of the Slavic tale upon Greek and Latin pilgrimage tales. But this does not mean that the Pilgrimage of Daniil represents an original model. The first Slavic pilgrimage tale has in common with the Greek proskynetaria the Sitz im Leben, the liturgical and monastic tradition of the Byzantine world: the Palestinian guide of Hegumen Daniil, a monk of Mar Saba, played an important role in the creation of Daniil's work. From the other side, however, together with Latin pilgrimage literature, Daniil's Pilgrimage reflects the same social phenomenon of European pilgrimage. The Rus’ shows a more open approach to the historical reality of the Latin Kingdom in comparison with the Byzantine world.