Rabban Sauma Part 9 The History of the Christian Church

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This is Episode 9 in the on-going epic tale of Rabban Sauma.Finally, Sauma has arrived in Europe. After two months aboard ship, his party arrives in Naples. Which is unusual because the trip from Constantinople ought to have taken less than a month. Here again, it’s Sauma’s account that seems to be lacking detail. Being a commercial vessel, most likely they’d used the route to further their business, so had put into port along the way for days at a time.Sauma took some time in Naples to recover from the long voyage before setting out for Rome. While there, staying at a mansion provided by the ruling family of Anjou, Sauma witnessed from the roof, the Battle of the Counts on June 23rd in the Bay of Naples. This was part of the larger War of the Sicilian Vespers between the Houses of Aragon and Anjou. Sauma says the Anjou lost 12,000 men. What surprised him was the care given by both sides to avoid harming non-combatants. Familiar with the Mongol method of war, Sauma assumed no distinction between civilians and soldiers in battle. He was deeply impressed by the caution exercised in the fighting to avoid civilian casualties.Naples had proven to be unsafe due to the conflict, so Sauma decided it was best to leave, even before having a chance to visit the city’s religious sites. An unusual move for him since that was his personal primary motivation. His unease may have been due to the sketchy political situation he sensed taking place around him. Better to ‘git’ while the ‘gitting’ was good.So they packed up and headed for Rome.The trip across Italy was yet another surprise for the Chinese monk. There was simply little landscape without some kind of settlement. Whether that was a solitary farm, hamlet, village, town, or city, the road led across a land that was, to Sauma’s thinking, filled with people. This was in sharp contrast with the territory he’d spent the previous decade in. It was possible to travel for days in Central Asia and not see another soul nor evidence of settlement. The path he now took went up and down hills, but after the towering peaks he’d traversed earlier in his pilgrimage, they were but bumps in the road.As he approached Rome, he rehearsed his speech to the Pope, asking for him to call a Crusade of Europe’s’ monarch against the Muslim Mamluks that would coincide with a Mongol attack from the East. But word was carried to Sauma that Pope Honorius IV had died in early April. Instead of being disheartened, Sauma increased his pace, hoping to be among the first to speak to the new Pope.But it was not to be. The twelve cardinals charged with the task of selecting the pope couldn’t reach a decision, largely because several of them wanted to wear Peter’s ring.Arriving in the City, he sent word to the Cardinals of his presence, requesting an audience. Surprisingly, they invited him into that sacred place where the pope is chosen, the papal palace next to the Church of Santa Sabina. No one else was allowed into their deliberations but their closest assistant. So this was an uncommon honor. Even so, Sauma was briefed on proper etiquette when meeting the Cardinals. He made a good impression and proved a welcome distraction from the grinding machinations of the would-be popes. Their task proved so stressful, half of the Cardinals died before the end of that Summer.After initial introductions and realizing how far the Rabban had traveled, the Cardinals expressed their dismay and concern for his health. They assumed it would take weeks for him to recover his strength and urged him to rest. He assured them his stay in Naples had been sufficient and that he had pressing, indeed, supremely urgent matters to share with the Pope. In this way, he hoped to impress on them the need to be quick to find Honorius’s replacement.But they would not be hurried. They insisted he get more rest and pondere

This is Episode 9 in the on-going epic tale of Rabban Sauma.Finally, Sauma has arrived in Europe. After two months aboard ship, his party arrives in Naples. Which is unusual because the trip from Constantinople ought to have taken less than a month. Here again, it’s Sauma’s account that seems to be lacking detail. Being a commercial vessel, most likely they’d used the route to further their business, so had put into port along the way for days at a time.Sauma took some time in Naples to recover from the long voyage before setting out for Rome. While there, staying at a mansion provided by the ruling family of Anjou, Sauma witnessed from the roof, the Battle of the Counts on June 23rd in the Bay of Naples. This was part of the larger War of the Sicilian Vespers between the Houses of Aragon and Anjou. Sauma says the Anjou lost 12,000 men. What surprised him was the care given by both sides to avoid harming non-combatants. Familiar with the Mongol method of war, Sauma assumed no distinction between civilians and soldiers in battle. He was deeply impressed by the caution exercised in the fighting to avoid civilian casualties.Naples had proven to be unsafe due to the conflict, so Sauma decided it was best to leave, even before having a chance to visit the city’s religious sites. An unusual move for him since that was his personal primary motivation. His unease may have been due to the sketchy political situation he sensed taking place around him. Better to ‘git’ while the ‘gitting’ was good.So they packed up and headed for Rome.The trip across Italy was yet another surprise for the Chinese monk. There was simply little landscape without some kind of settlement. Whether that was a solitary farm, hamlet, village, town, or city, the road led across a land that was, to Sauma’s thinking, filled with people. This was in sharp contrast with the territory he’d spent the previous decade in. It was possible to travel for days in Central Asia and not see another soul nor evidence of settlement. The path he now took went up and down hills, but after the towering peaks he’d traversed earlier in his pilgrimage, they were but bumps in the road.As he approached Rome, he rehearsed his speech to the Pope, asking for him to call a Crusade of Europe’s’ monarch against the Muslim Mamluks that would coincide with a Mongol attack from the East. But word was carried to Sauma that Pope Honorius IV had died in early April. Instead of being disheartened, Sauma increased his pace, hoping to be among the first to speak to the new Pope.But it was not to be. The twelve cardinals charged with the task of selecting the pope couldn’t reach a decision, largely because several of them wanted to wear Peter’s ring.Arriving in the City, he sent word to the Cardinals of his presence, requesting an audience. Surprisingly, they invited him into that sacred place where the pope is chosen, the papal palace next to the Church of Santa Sabina. No one else was allowed into their deliberations but their closest assistant. So this was an uncommon honor. Even so, Sauma was briefed on proper etiquette when meeting the Cardinals. He made a good impression and proved a welcome distraction from the grinding machinations of the would-be popes. Their task proved so stressful, half of the Cardinals died before the end of that Summer.After initial introductions and realizing how far the Rabban had traveled, the Cardinals expressed their dismay and concern for his health. They assumed it would take weeks for him to recover his strength and urged him to rest. He assured them his stay in Naples had been sufficient and that he had pressing, indeed, supremely urgent matters to share with the Pope. In this way, he hoped to impress on them the need to be quick to find Honorius’s replacement.But they would not be hurried. They insisted he get more rest and pondere

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