Unraveling The Mysteries of Glastonbury
To embark upon a project of this magnitude is daunting yet exciting as further research uncovers more and more of the potential facts that show a distinct possibility that not only Joseph of Arimathea, but the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ lived at Glastonbury, Joseph and Mary being buried there.
In the search for the answers to the mysteries that surround Glastonbury the reader will be taken on voyages of historic discovery, not just in Glastonbury and England, but in the Holy Land, Rome and Egypt. I firmly believe that what I have written and what I will write is true and I hope that the reader will also be able to come to that realization.
The Family Tree of Jesus
In order to make a logical start the family tree of Jesus needs to be studied. It is not generally known that in the Herald's Office at the English College of Arms there is a family tree of Jesus from the time of Adam. Part of this family tree is sufficient for what is needed here.
ANN (Mother of the Virgin Mary) married
JOACHIM CLEOPHAS SALOME
(1st Husband) (2nd Husband) (3rd Husband)
Virgin Mary Mary Alphaeus Mary Zebedee
Jesus & James Simon Jude
John The Divine Joseph Barsabast James
From this document we learn that Ann, mother of the Virgin Mary, was married three times. Her first husband was Joachim by whom she had the Virgin Mary, her second husband was Cleophas and her third was Salome. (In Hachette's guide "Bleu Bretagne" there is an ancient Breton tradition that Anna, mother of the Virgin Mary, was born in Cornouaille (Cornwall?) of Royal blood. When she was pregnant with the Virgin Mary, her husband (Joachim), ill treated her and she fled from Europe to Jaffa and settled in Nazareth where Mary was born.) Ann or Anna, had a sister called Bianca who was the mother of Joseph, the Virgin Mary's husband, thus showing that he was also her first cousin.
(Aunt of the Virgin Mary)
(Husband of Mary)
Jesus John The Baptist
In the British Museum there is the Harl Manuscript which confirms the above information. Another manuscript, held at Jesus College, shows the family tree of Joseph of Arimathea and gives confirmation that Penardin, granddaughter of Joseph of Arimathea married King Lear of Britain. Notice that far from being confined to Palestine, the Holy Family seem, through Joseph of Arimathea, to have intermarried into British royalty and to have left Palestine to live in Britain.
Ann Bianca Joseph of Arimathea
Virgin Mary Elizabeth Anna
Jesus John The Penardin
Baptist (Married King Lear)
The preceding genealogies are important because of the totally different perspective of the interrelationship of the nations at the time of Jesus. It is interesting to note that the traditionally "poor" family of Jesus might not have been so "poor" after all. It appears to be difficult for most people to think of Mary and Jesus as real people who lived in a real world. Sadly, this is due to the religious artists through the centuries, as well as the general apostasy of Christianity from the original gospel taught by Jesus and his apostles. Victor Dunstan puts the point across most succinctly in his excellent book, "Did the Virgin Mary Live and Die in England?"
It is almost impossible to see the traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary, the ever placid expression, the ever clean robes, the ever young and virginal face and the ever present halo without losing all realization that this was a woman who actually lived on this planet. The religious desire to honor the Virgin Mary has resulted in her "public image" being such as does not cause one to believe in the reality of the woman. Superstition and myth are concepts that have been writ large over the story of the mother of Jesus.
Similarly, how can anyone appreciate as a historic flesh‑and‑blood reality, a man who is ridiculously depicted as always standing at doors knocking, balefully waiting for someone, who never does, to open them? Jesus too, has that ever present halo hovering over his head and the fact that he seems effeminate and always to be in danger of bursting into tears may be one of the reasons why there are fewer men than women in many of our churches.
How can anyone believe, as a reality, in someone who is depicted as being so hygienic that his white robes, even after forty days in the wilderness, did not become dirty and look as though they had just been brought washing powder advert white and stiffly starched from the airing cupboard?
Let us look more closely now at some of the life of Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea.
Jesus - Threat to The Jews
It would appear that troubling people was to be the pattern for Jesus' career. We are told that King Herod was troubled at his birth and Jesus went on bothering people, especially those in authority, for the rest of his life. However, it was not just during his life that Jesus annoyed people, but after his death as well. This worry was not a superficial one, it was a deep fear which bred an almost psychopathic antipathy deep enough for political careers to be put at risk and deep enough to cause the Sanhedrin to break it's own laws as well as the laws of Rome.
There is an old saying that "actions speak louder than words" and the actions that were taken against Jesus before, during and after his trial speak volumes about the fear of the Sanhedrin. Many of the Jewish hierarchy saw Jesus and his followers as a threat. Remember, Herod was convinced enough that the "King of Kings" had been born to murder hundreds of innocent children in order to keep his position safe. The hatred of Jesus and his followers was an almost insane hatred that led the Sanhedrin to behave in ways they would never have thought possible.
No religious group is ever proud of any treachery from within its ranks and the Jews are no different, and, true to their heritage as Satan’s children, subterfuge has ever played a large part in the history of their nation and some of the most influential leaders of the time of Christ, recognizing this, behaved in a way akin to the Gestapo in order to send Jesus to his death and erase every trace of him from the pages of history. It would appear that the lengths that the Sanhedrin went to were quite out of proportion to the threat that Jesus would have seemed to have posed. Why?
Jesus did not give politically exciting speeches, nor did he try to engender feelings of hatred towards the Romans, in fact his messages were normally to exhort the people to love one another. True, he did become cross at the Temple and whipped and threw out the money changers, but this was not a crucifiable offence. Granted, Jesus likened the Pharisees to a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7) but he had a right to say this under the law and could not be legally punished for saying it. We am sure that the Pharisees had been called much worse than that by other people! The people that Jesus healed showed no real gratitude, in fact, of the ten lepers that Jesus healed only one came to offer his thanks. It would seem that the genuine followers of Jesus were not very many so the Sanhedrin could not accuse him of setting up bands of people for demonstrations etc. In fact, even the integrity of some of Jesus closest followers has to be called into question. It is interesting to note that even Hitler in his death bunker received more personal loyalty from his friends at the time of his death than did Jesus. Goebells, Goebell's wife, their children and Eva Braun were all willing to pay the supreme sacrifice for their beloved leader; yet, the disciples slept while Jesus sweated as it were "great drops of blood" in Gethsemene, a foreigner had to help him carry his cross, Peter denied him three times, all the other apostles abandoned him and Judas Iscariot betrayed him for money.
There was no demonstration against the crucifixion nor any tribute to Jesus after his death. It could be argued that Jesus' followers were afraid for their own lives, yet if you look through the history books you will find countless stories of people who were prepared to sacrifice themselves for the people to whom they were devoted. So why then did the Jews fear him so much?
Despite Jesus' apparent lack of offenses, Caiaphus manipulated the trial proceedings to such an extent that even with a majority vote for the release of Jesus, he took over the proceedings himself allowing no recourse to the defense and went to the extremity of sending Jesus to Pontius Pilate on a charge of treason against Rome. Pilate said "I find no fault in this man" and washed his hands of the whole affair after pronouncing Jesus innocent on four occasions! It is of note that some of the first words Pilate said to Jesus were "What is Truth?" These three words were passwords used by the British Druids at the beginning of their debates. There are authorities who say that Pilate finished his education in a Druid College in England. Could it possibly be that Caiaphus, knowing of Pilate's education in Britain and knowing that Jesus had spent a considerable amount of his life in Britain, thought that Jesus might instigate a total change of religion to that of Druidism and hence "do away with" Judaism? It is an interesting thought to which there is no concrete answer, but it would explain the fanatascism of the Sanhedrin.
There was a legal requirement at that time that a civilian must identify an arrested person. This then was the sole purpose of the Sanhedrin paying Judas to identify Jesus, after all, Jesus was a well known figure around Jerusalem. After Judas' kiss of identification the priest's guard, with authority from the Sanhedrin, arrested Jesus, not the Roman guard as is so often assumed. It was ILLEGAL for the priest's guard to arrest a citizen, this right lay solely with the Romans by order of the court. This would not have escaped the defenders of Jesus in his trial. Could the answer be that the arrest was legal because Jesus had not lived in Palestine long enough to be classified as a citizen? Remember that John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin did not recognize him when he baptized him, yet, as devout followers of the Jewish religion they would have met together at least three times a year to celebrate the main festivals of their religion. We can only suppose that Jesus must have been elsewhere. Where?
Joseph of Arimathea - Nobilis Decurio
It is not our purpose to delve into all the problems of Jesus' trial though it does make fascinating reading. We are sure that you are curious as to how Glastonbury fits into all of this. In order to show this we need to look at who Joseph of Arimathea was, as he is the link between Palestine, the Holy Family and Britain. His relationship to Mary is important because the proof of that makes it probable that she and the boy Jesus would have been under his guardianship after the death of Joseph (Mary's Husband) when Jesus was approximately twelve or thirteen years old. As rules of guardianship were very strictly adhered to it would be a reasonable assumption to say that Mary and Jesus would have traveled with Joseph of Arimathea.
It is interesting to note that Joseph of Arimathea was known as Joseph de Marmore as he lived in Marmorica in Egypt before he moved to Arimathea. This could well explain the ease with which Mary, Joseph and Jesus were able to flee to Egypt during Herod's "slaughter of the innocents." Without some sort of contact in Egypt to supply accommodation etc., it would have been a very perilous journey to have undertaken.
Joseph of Arimathea was referred to by the Romans as "Nobilis Decurio" or Minister of Mines to the Roman Government, he was also, as previously mentioned, the sire of a Queen of the ancient British Royal Family. Not only all this, he was also an eminent member of the Sanhedrin and worked for the defense in Jesus' trial. It is a fact that only relatives of a crucified person could request the removal of the body from the cross, consequently Joseph of Arimathea must have been related to Jesus and was possibly Jesus' closest living male relative, hence the use of Joseph's tomb.
As just previously mentioned Joseph of Arimathea was a Minister of Mines for the Romans. It is a well documented fact that Britain led the world at this time with its tin. Herodotus, as far back as 450 BC writes of the British Isles as the "Cassiterides" or "Tin Islands." In the "History of England" by Sir Edward Creasy we are told that, "The British Mines mainly supplied the glorious adornment of Solomon's Temple." There are other references to be found about tin in the British Isles in many early history books. At Ostia, the seaport of Rome, an archaeological dig produced an ancient Roman drain‑pipe that had been bonded with tin. A section of this tin was sent to England for analysis by a Professor Forbes who declared it to be metal from the Mendip Hills which are near to Glastonbury. In Cornwall, as late as the middle 1800's, tin miners sang songs as they worked and the chorus of one such song ran "Joseph was in the tin trade". It is worthy of mentioning that mention of Joseph Of Arimathea in England is restricted to Cornwall and Somerset these being the only two counties that were involved in the tin trade. There are many traditions, stories etc., abounding in these two counties but nowhere else, not even in Devon which is only "next door". It would appear that Joseph traveled only where his work took him before finally settling in Glastonbury.
Most people who have read the New Testament will be aware of the acute silence about the life of Jesus from the age of twelve when he was teaching in the temple to when he began his ministry in his 30's. Cornwall and Somerset are full of traditions that Jesus and Mary went there. Remember, it is suggested that Ann, the Virgin Mary's mother had lived in Cornwall and as Joseph was her brother chances are he knew people, or even had family there. We know for a fact that Joseph's granddaughter Penardin married King Lear so she and her family must have been moving in royal circles. What more logical place for Jesus to spend years of study and preparation for his forthcoming ministry in Jerusalem than in a country where a) he had visited before as a young boy, b) where he probably had some relatives and c)where the religion of the time was similar to his own teachings.
The Missing Years in The Life of Christ
The four gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell of the life and ministry of Yahshua the Christ. The gospel of Matthew traces Him from His birth through His short sojourn in Egypt, then back to Nazareth, still as a baby. He next appears in this gospel in chapter 3, at the time of His baptism, just before His 40 days of temptation at the beginning of His ministry. In Mark, the baptism, temptations and the beginning of His ministry, are all in Chapter 1. In John, as in Mark, His childhood is not covered; chapter 1 covers His baptism and the beginning of His ministry.
In Luke we have been given more details. Chapters 2 and 3 trace Him from the return to Nazareth through His baptism, temptations and the beginning of His ministry. Luke 3:23 tells us Yahshua's ministry started at the age of thirty. Luke 2:41‑52 traces Him on one visit to Jerusalem when He was 12 years old. All four gospels are silent on the 18 years between His 12th and 30th years. Where was He, what was He doing during those years? It can be well demonstrated that He was absent from Palestine for at least part of this period, let's trace this absence.
Luke 1:36, 39‑56 tells us that Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, was a cousin of Mary the mother of Yahshua the Christ. There was a very close, friendly relationship between the two families. Immediately after the angel told Mary she was to bear Yahshua, she went to the home of her cousin Elizabeth and stayed in Elizabeth's home for about 3 months. It is only natural that this close friendship would endure throughout the years thereafter.
The law required that all the men and male children must come to Jerusalem at three feasts each year. Deuteronomy 16:16 states,
"Three times in a year shall all the males appear before Yahweh thy God in the place which He shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread and in the feast of weeks and in the feast of tabernacles."
The feast of weeks was held 50 days after Passover, in our day is called Pentecost. The feast of tabernacles was a week long feast, the last of the fall festivals. The families of Yahshua and John the Baptist, had to bring them both to Jerusalem three times every year. The families, being such good friends, surely met and the children must have played together on those occasions. So, Yahshua and John the Baptist were very well acquainted. Between Yahshua's 12th and 30th years, the Scriptures nowhere even hint Yahshua was in Palestine. We find evidence He was absent from Palestine throughout the greater part of that period.
John 1:29‑33 records the event of Yahshua being baptized by John the Baptist, in these words.
"The next day, John seeth Yahshua coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of Yahweh, which taketh away the sins of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for He was before me. And John bare record saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on Him. And I knew Him not."
John had received the vision by which he identified Yahshua as the Lamb of Yahweh. However, he didn't recognize him as a person, a relative of his for he says, I knew Him not. If John the Baptist had seen his cousin Yahshua 3 times each year to that time, he certainly would have recognized Him. If Yahshua had been in Palestine during those 18 years, John surely would have seen Him. Therefore Yahshua must have been absent during those years.
This is not the only evidence of Yahshua's absence, for He was required to pay the stranger's tax. In the original Greek, Matthew 17:24‑27 reads,
"And they having arrived at Capernaum, the collectors of the didrachmas came to Peter and said, Does not your teacher pay the didrachma? He saith yes. And when they had come into the house, Yahshua anticipated him saying, Which to thee seems right Simon? The kings of the earth: from whom do they take custom or head tax? From their sons or from the aliens? To him said Peter, From the aliens. Yahshua said to him, Then the sons are exempt. But that we may not offend them, going to the sea cast thou a hook, and the first fish ascending take up; and opening the mouth of him, thou wilt find a stater; taking that, give it to them for Me and thee."
Here is clear proof that Yahshua was regarded as a stranger in the land. Remember, this took place at Capernaum, in His home district of Galilee. Note that the tax, which He was called upon to pay, the didrachma, was a head tax levied by the Romans on all strangers. This tax of a didrachma, a Greek silver coin, was not the Jewish temple tax of a half shekel, paid by all who were of the Jewish religion. Merely to ask if He paid the temple tax would have been an insult as doubting His citizenship. If this tax had been the temple tax, this was not levied on any alien, only on the Judeans. If this were the case Yahshua could not have said that this tax was levied on the aliens and the sons are exempt. Therefore it was clearly the Roman didrachma head tax, levied only on strangers. Also notice how Yahshua said to pay it. A fish would be caught, having in its mouth a stater, which was another Greek coin. The Jewish temple tax could only be paid with a Jewish half‑shekel coin, not a coin issued by pagans.
Yahshua spoke of the kings of the earth collecting the tax. The priests, not by a king, collected the temple tax. So we see that Yahshua had been gone so long that, in His own home district of Galilee, He was not recognized as a local resident. He was asked to pay the stranger's tax, the didrachma.
If Yahshua was absent from Palestine for many years, between the age of 12 and 30, where was He during this time? The various enemies of Christianity have originated many legends about this. Some of the various forms of devil worship of Asia claim that He spent these years in their lamaseries in Tibet and in the ancient oasis in the Gobi desert, learning their teachings. Of one thing we can be sure, He who was Yahweh in the flesh did not waste His time studying devil worship among the pagans! He didn't borrow any of His teachings from them!
Where did He spend these years? Before we can go into this, we must lay a foundation for it. We must learn some facts, as background, which will show how likely our explanation is the true one.
A fairly prominent character in the New Testament is Joseph of Arimathea. Arimathea was 8 miles north of Jerusalem, the first stopping off place of northbound caravans and an important commercial center in its day. Matthew 27:57 tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy, while Mark 15:43 and Luke 23:50‑51 tell us that he was an honorable counselor or member of the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem.
All four gospels praise him as a good man and Matthew and John further tell us that he was one of Yahshua's disciples. However, during Yahshua's life he remained a secret disciple, for fear of the Jews. The Jews would have persecuted Joseph much more savagely than just a poor nobody, had they known he was a follower of Yahshua the Christ.
This tradition is evidently well founded, for Matthew 27:57‑60 records that Joseph of Arimathea went to Pontius Pilate, asked for the body of Yahshua and was given it. He then buried Yahshua in his own tomb. This seems like a highly dangerous thing to have done. This showed reverence for the remains of one who was so bitterly hated by the Jews and who had been condemned to be killed as a criminal, and whom they executed in the Romans style of execution, by hanging Him on a Stake.
There were two cemeteries outside Jerusalem reserved for the bodies of condemned criminals. Here was a man who, during Yahshua's lifetime, had not dared to openly admit that he was Yahshua's disciple. He now openly shows reverence and affection for the remains of the One the Jews had killed that very day.
Pontius Pilate had consented to the murder of Yahshua, after officially adjudging Him completely innocent of any crime at all. He had done this astonishingly evil act to avoid offending the Jews. It was unlikely that he would have authorized an honorable private funeral for Yahshua, if the leaders of the Jews had not consented to it. Only one explanation of this can be found. Under both Jewish and Roman law, it was the duty of the nearest relatives to provide burial for anyone, regardless of how they died. Despite all their hatred, the Jewish authorities could hardly refuse permission to the uncle to bury his nephew. The Palestinian tradition of this relationship was probably correct.
What if Joseph of Arimathea was our Savior's uncle? Palestinian tradition is that his wealth came from being an importer of tin, from mines that he owned in Cornwall in the British Isles. Naturally he would have frequently gone with his ships to Cornwall, to inspect his properties there. What would be more natural than he would take this wonderful nephew of his along. If this did occur, there must be some record or tradition of it in the place to which they went. Next, let us look for such evidence.
First, a little review of what was then known about the tin trade. The ancient writers agree that the Phoenicians were the earliest traders who brought tin from the islands beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. Without tin, it was impossible to make bronze. Copper alone, without tin to harden and strengthen it, was not good enough, so tin was very valuable. Ships of many other nations tried to follow the Phoenician galleys, to find where they were able to get tin. The Phoenicians were such expert sailors; they were usually able to get away from their pursuers.
Other records tell of one who could not shake off a Roman ship which followed him and who finally wrecked his own ship to avoid being traced to the source of the tin. This record tells how his countrymen reimbursed him for the loss of his ship, being grateful to him for his having protected the valuable secret at so great a cost.
Ezekiel 27:12, written about 595 B.C., mentions the tin trade of the ancient city of Tyre.
"Tarshish (Britain) was thy merchant, by reason of the multitude of all kinds fiches: with silver, iron, tin and lead, they traded in thy fairs."
This tin trade originating in Britain was very ancient, going back to at least 1500 B.C. A tremendous amount of bronze (mistranslated brass in the King James Bible) was used in the construction and equipment of King Solomon's temple. The tin mines of Cornwall probably supplied most of the tin for this bronze. Remember that Ezekiel mentioned tin and lead. Both of these metals as well as some copper were mined in Britain in those days. An ancient pig of lead has been found, bearing the stamp of Britannicus, the son of Claudius. This shows that the mining of lead in Britain was in progress during the time of Yahshua.
Despite all Phoenician efforts to keep it secret, the Greeks discovered the source of tin in Britain in the year 330 B.C. The Phoenician monopoly was broken. So in Yahshua's lifetime, his uncle Joseph of Arimathea was the owner of tin mines in Cornwall. Did he take the young Yahshua there?
The first tradition that he did so is found in Cornwall. In Baring Gould's Book of Cornwall he writes,
"Another Cornish tradition is to the effect that Joseph of Arimathea came in a boat to Cornwall and brought the boy Yahshua with him. The latter taught him how to extract tin and purge it of the wolfram. When the tin is flashed, then the tinner shouts Joseph was in the trade."
We find it again at Priddy, a little village lying at the top of the Mendip Hills, right in the center of the ancient lead and copper mines.
We next find the tradition that Yahshua was brought to Britain, at Somerset, by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. The tradition says,
"They came in a ship of Tarshish to the Somerland, and sojourned in a place called Paradise."
The Summerland is Somerset. At the mouth of the Brue river, which runs down from Glastonbury, lies Burnham and Godney. Old ordinance survey maps give the name of the area around Burnham, Paradise. It is still known by that name. Ancient writings have said that Glastonbury was once known as Paradise. About a mile from Glastonbury lies the village of Godney. Godney means God's marshlands. The Glastonbury traditions are more concerned with Yahshua's visit during His manhood.
Tradition also attests that much of Yahshua's sojourn in Britain was spent at or near Glastonbury. Later there was built at Glastonbury a great Abbey. For almost a thousand years the greatest kings, bishops, saints and heroes of the British race were buried there. In its day it was the greatest abbey in Britain. Royal charters were signed in the church. King Cnut still in existence, the one signed by King Ina in 704 A.D. and one signs two of these there, in 1032 A.D. In 1184 A.D., the abbey buildings and the famous library of Glastonbury, covering a thousand years of history, was burned. Therefore, today we only have scattered references to these things in the works of various historians of the early days. However, there were many of these.
Taliesin the Druid, the great Welsh prince and Bard of the sixth century wrote,
"Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the beginning our teacher, and we never lost His teachings."
The great church historian, Hugh Paulinus de Cressy, writing in 1668 A.D. said,
"This, our land of Brittany, though called by the Romans another world, as being divided from the whole then discovered habitable earth, yet the riches of Divine mercy received the beams of the Son of Righteousness before many other countries nearer approaching to the place where He first rose."
Further support is lent to these ancient reports by what happened later, after Yahshua's crucifixion. The Jews bitterly persecuted the Christians, as we know. John 12:10‑11 tells how even during Yahshua's lifetime, the Jews plotted to murder Lazarus, because Yahshua had raised him from the dead.
Cardinal Baronius, a very careful church historian who was librarian to the Vatican, quotes a Vatican manuscript dated 35 A.D. This manuscript reports that in that year the Jews had arrested Joseph of Arimathea, the Virgin Mary, Martha, and two other Christians. They were put in a boat and were set adrift in the Mediterranean without oars or sails. They finally reached land and went to Britain. Many early historians confirm this.
St. Gregory of Tours, in his history of the Franks written shortly before 600 A.D., Haleca, Archbishop of Saragossa and the Chronicon of Pseudo Dexter, all agree that Joseph of Arimathea was the first to preach the gospel of Christianity in Britain. Hugh Paulinius de Cressy says,
"Now the most eminent of the primitive disciples and who contributed most to this heavenly building, was St. Joseph of Arimathea and eleven of his companions along with him, among whom is reckoned his son of the same name. These, toward the latter end of Nero's reign and before St. Peter and St. Paul were consummated by a glorious martyrdom. By the testimony of ancient records they were said to have entered this island because of its isolation, the benevolence of the British princes and freedom from Roman tyranny. This place was more opportune and better prepared for entertaining and learning the gospel of the kingdom, than almost any country under the Romans."
Various historians, of these early times, such as Gildas and William of Malmesbury, record that the British King Arviragus granted to Joseph of Arimathea a considerable area at Glastonbury. This was to be held forever, free from all taxes, as a site for a church and its accessory buildings and fields.
That this is no mere legend is proven by one of the greatest official records of all British history. After conquering England in the year 1066 A.D., William the Conqueror had a survey made of all the lands of the kingdom, as to what taxes had been paid. This record called Domesday Booke was completed in 1088 A.D. and it contains this record.
"The Domus Dei, in the great monastery of Glastonbury, called the secret of Yahweh. This Glastonbury church possesses in its own villa XII hides of land which have never paid tax."
Note that this official record names this early church Domus Dei, the home of God, and the secret of Yahweh.
Joseph of Arimathea and his companions erected a mud and wattle church at Glastonbury. Among their first converts were members of the royal family, children of Aractious, cousin of King Arviragus of South Wales. Still existing royal charters granted by King Ina, dated 704 A.D., and by King Cnut dated 1032 A.D., attest that these kings in this church signed them.
Ancient records tell of its being preserved by a shell built around it of boards covered with lead. Later a stone building was erected, enclosing the original church. St. David erected a large stone church as an addition to this in 546 A.D. A record he made of this on a bronze tablet was still in place at the time of the seizure and dissolution of the monastery under orders from King Henry VIII.
Even in Ireland is found the tradition of Joseph of Arimathea having founded the Glastonbury church. St. Patrick, who had spent considerable time at Glastonbury and who returned there for the last years of his life, no doubt brought the record to Ireland.
This great abbey was the one destroyed by fire in 1184 A.D. Immediately thereafter, King Henry II of England issued a royal charter for the rebuilding of Glastonbury Abbey. The charter called the abbey,
"The mother and burying place of the saints, founded by the very disciples of our Lord."
Well‑substantiated ancient records tell of the death and burial of Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury. The epitaph on his tombstone read,
"I came to the Britons after I buried the Christ. I taught, I rest."
Between 1345 A.D. and 1367 A.D., the body was placed in a silver casket with a beautiful stone sarcophagus, which was still in position in the year 1662 A.D., when the St. Joseph chapel containing it had become partially ruined.
Later, out of fear that Puritan fanaticism would result in it being destroyed as an object of idolatry, the sarcophagus was secretly removed by night to the parish churchyard. Saying that the initials J.A. carved on it stood for John Allen concealed its identity. Thus it escaped destruction.
In 1928, it was found nearly buried in the soil. It was removed into the church, in the north transept of the ancient St. Katherine's Chapel. Its construction indicates it was made to fit the silver casket. It bears the initials J.A., with a dacuceus between the initials. The caduceus, a winged staff with two serpents twined around it, is used today as the emblem of physicians. Originally it was the badge of Mercury, the messenger of the Gods. Even today it has been assimilated into the symbolism of some Christian churches. In our own times, the patriarchs of the eastern churches have a caduceus, not a crozier, carried before them in official processions. It was an official badge, which would not have been put on a mere common person's grave.
Therefore we see that not only ancient legends and ancient historical records, but the official acts and records of the kings of the middle ages, have recognized the close connection of Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Yahshua the Christ, with Cornwall and Glastonbury in Britain. All of these lend strong support to the ancient legends and records of these places that it was here that Yahshua spent those 18 years of His life, which the Bible does not account for. Where else would we expect Him to go, but to what was to become the principal home of His own people Israel. (Taken, in part, from an article entitled “The Missing Years in The Life of Christ,” By Bertrand L. Comparet)
Joseph of Arimathaea
VATICAN CONFIRMATION that JOSEPH of ARIMATHAEA (the VIRGIN's uncle) went to ENGLAND and continued the Conversion of the BRITISH. (It had already been STARTED by Jesus ‑ Himself).
Joseph de Marmore (Marmorica in Egypt) from Arimathaea, was
(according to a manuscript at Jesus College Oxford) brother to
Bianca and Ann (V. Mary's mother); uncle to Virgin Mary and
great‑uncle to Jesus, whose body he claimed from Pontius Pilate, as,
by law, only a relative could.
The Catholic priest Polydore Vergil who was born in Italy in 1470;
studied at Bologna and Padua; was so renowned for his literary talents
that catholic Henry 7th (NOT the Protestant 8th) asked him to write
an English History. As an Italian and a Catholic proxy Bishop;
Prebendary and Archdeacon who became Chamberlain to Pope
Alexander VII, he had no axe to grind on behalf of Britain or the
British Church. It would no doubt have suited him much better if he
could have written of Rome as being the first Christian church but he
could not and did not. He wrote:‑
"Britain, partly through Joseph of Arimathaea, partly through Fugatus
and Damianus, was of all kingdoms FIRST TO RECEIVE THE
GOSPEL." (Even before Palestine).
The antiquity of the British church had been challenged by the
ambassadors of Spain and France before the Roman Catholic
Council of Pisa (A.D. 1417). The British (catholic) delegates Robert
Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, Henry Chichele, a former Archbishop of
Canterbury and Thomas Chillendon, won the day, the council
affirmed that the British church (not the Church of England and not
catholic because it was pre‑catholic) was the first Christian church
The ambassadors appealed to the Roman Catholic Council of
Constance, also in A.D. 1417, and that council confirmed the findings
of the Council of Pisa.
A third decision by the Roman Catholic Council at Sienna 1424
again confirmed the antiquity of the British church and, finally at the
Council at Basle in 1434 it was laid down that the churches of Spain
and France had to accept the precedence of the British Church,
which it was affirmed, was founded by Joseph of Arimathaea
(Mary's uncle) "immediately after the passion of Christ."
The VATICAN MANUSCRIPT quoted by Baronius in his
"Ecclesiastical Annals A.D. 35", (the same year in which the Acts of
the Apostles state that all, except the Apostles, were scattered abroad
from Judaea) records that in this year Lazarus, Maria Magdalene,
Martha, her handmaiden Marcella, Maximin a disciple, Joseph the
Decurion (Roman Minister for Mines) of Arimathaea, against all of
whom the Jewish people had special reasons for hatred, were exposed
to the sea in a vessel without sails or oars. The vessel drifted finally to
Marseilles, and they were saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his
company passed into Britain, and after preaching the Gospel there,
died (and was buried). Other sources report that there were a total of
14 people in the vessel.
John had been made guardian of Virgin Mary, by Jesus, from the
cross, but John became a fugitive and so passed the guardianship over
to Mary's uncle Joseph of Arimathaea who, being the Roman
Minister of Mines (and having become rich by trading with mines in
Britain for years), was the least vulnerable and Mary could therefore
not be any safer than she was with him.
The fact that Mary was NOT with John is proved by his second letter
which was written to her saying that he hoped to be able to visit her;
but he became exiled on the Island of Patmos, where Christ gave him
the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse, so Mary went with Joseph of
Arimathaea to England (where they are BOTH buried, as USED to
be taught by the early Catholic Church). Britain was the ONLY
place they COULD go to, that was SAFE from Roman Persecution,
because the Romans had already conquered and subjugated
everywhere, except for Britain.
2 John (John's Second Letter ‑ in The Holy Bible ‑ New
1:1 The "Elder" unto the elect lady (Mary) and her CHILDREN
(Matt. 13:55‑56), whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all
they that have known the Truth (Heb. Nazir ‑ Jesus Nazir);
1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father, and
from the Lord Jesus+Christ, (Christ the spirit‑Being) the Son of the
Father (not the son of Mary), in truth and love.
1:12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not [write] with
paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face,
that our joy may be full.
Jesus grew up safely in England (the city of Nazareth did not exist
until the fourth century A.D.) and started his ministry in England
with the "Lost sheep of the House of Israel" (10 lost tribes) before
going to Palestine. That is why there is no mention in the Gospels of
his being in Israel except for on one occasion at age twelve when he
visited The Temple, as was the custom.
God tells us, through the Prophet Daniel*, that the Messiah will
confirm The Covenant for one week (7 days ‑ 7 years in Prophecy)
and we know that his ministry in Palestine was not one week nor
seven years in duration. The British people (the "House of Israel") in
England were already accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah and
were being converted by Him in the beginning of that "week", before
He left to fulfill His mission and complete the "week" in Palestine,
Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you (the Jews), The Kingdom of
God shall be taken from you, and given to a NATION (NOT a
church) bringing forth (already) the fruits thereof (the "10 lost tribes"
‑ the "House of Israel", in Britain).
Matthew 10:5 These TWELVE (including PETER ‑ 10:2) Jesus sent
forth, and COMMANDED them, saying, Go NOT into the way of
the Gentiles (ROME, etc.), and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter
10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the "House of Israel"
(NOT the "House of Jewdah").
* Daniel 9:27 "And he shall CONFIRM The Covenant with many
for one week: and in the midst of the week (WEDNESDAY NOT
Friday) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for
the overspreading of abominations He shall make [it] desolate, even
until the consummation (the "Lake of Hell‑Fire"), and that determined
shall be poured upon the desolate."
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the
Scriptures, The "Stone" which the builders* REJECTED, the same
is become the Head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is
marvellous in our eyes? (Psalm 2)
21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken
from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (the
"10 lost tribes"‑ the "House of Israel").
21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this "Stone" shall be broken: but
on whomsoever it shall fall, it (the "Stone") will grind him to
powder. (Daniel 2:34‑35)
21:45 And when the *chief priests and politicians had heard his
parables, they perceived that he spoke about them.
21:46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the
multitude, because they took him for a Prophet. ‑ JAH
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The British Druids
It is vital to look at the religion of the day in the British Isles at this time in order to further establish reasons why Joseph, Mary and Jesus would have come here. I quote from Victor Dunstan's "Did the Virgin Mary Live and Die in England?"
Where other than Britain could Jesus have gone? Would it have been edifying for him to dwell in Pagan Rome with it's obscenities and cruelties? Could he have felt at home in Greece with it's multiplicity of Gods and perversions?
The whole of Europe, from the Rhine to Spain and from the Euphrates to Calais was tainted with the depraved paganism of Rome. Even the Druidism of Gaul had become bastardized by Roman paganism and had adopted that which was abominated by every Israelite ‑ human sacrifice.
Only in Britain was there a fountain of pure religion flowing, a religion which was uncannily similar in character to the religion of Israel.
R.W. Morgan in his excellent work "St. Paul in Britain" writes of the British Druids:
"Westward of Italy, embracing Hispania, Gallia and the Renish frontiers, portions of Germany and Scandinavia, with it's HEADQUARTERS and GREAT SEATS OF LEARNING fixed in Britain, extended the Druidic religion. There can be no question that this was the primitive religion of mankind, covering at one period in various forms the whole surface of the ancient world.
“The ramifications of Druidism penetrated, indeed, into Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor; nor did Plato hesitate to affirm that all the streams of Greek philosophy were to be traced, not to Egypt, but to the fountains of the West. The pre‑historic poets of Greece anterior to the mythological creations of Homer and Hesiod, were, as their names imply, Druids...
“Theologically Jesus would have been stifled in the legalistic attitude adopted in the Temple and Synagogues of his day. When he returned to Palestine and commenced his ministry we see how far he had departed from the traditions of his fathers whilst still adhering to the divine Revelation of the books we now know as the Old Testament."
There are many books that can be read about Druidism and they will all reveal that Britain was a center of learning in the world even before the time of Christ. As far as culture and learning went, the British eclipsed both the Greeks and the Romans. Isabel Hill Elder writes:
"Concerning the educational Editor l facilities available to the so‑called barbarous people of these islands, there were at the time of the Roman invasion FORTY DRUIDIC CENTERS OF LEARNING...The students of these colleges numbered at times sixty thousand of the youth and young nobility of Britain and Gaul. Caesar comments on the fact that the Gauls sent their youth to Britain to be educated."
Knowing that Jesus had to grow in knowledge and learn the same ways that an ordinary man did would lead us to presume that he probably attended one of these great seats of learning. The way that Jesus was able to confound the Pharisees and Sadducees, themselves excellent practitioners of the art of debate, indicates that Jesus must have had a considerable education. When a Roman went to arrest Jesus he came back without having arrested him and said "Never man spake like this man."
We now have three reasons as to why Jesus and Mary would have come to Britain.
1). Convenience. Easy transport was available through Joseph of Arimathea and there were probably relatives to stay with.
2). Education. Britain was the only land with extremely high standards of education.
3). Religion. The Druid religion was so like the religion of the Hebrews.
This third factor would have been the most important of the three as far as Jesus and Mary were concerned. The similarities between the ancient faith of Israel and that of Druidism are quite startling. Yes, there are recorded instances of human sacrifice but this must be taken in context. All religions have their bastard offshoots and Druidism was no exception. Imagine if you will what the world would teach about the religion of Israel if some archaeologists dug up the Golden Calf and nobody had written the Biblical record that we have!
We do not wish to digress into a discussion on Druidism but we feel it is essential to mention just a few points to further show why Jesus would have come to Britain.
1). For hundreds of years the Druids had looked forward to the time when their savior would come whose name would be Hesus.
2). Druids believed in the immortality of the soul and in the resurrection of the body.
3). Israelites were not allowed to hew stone for their altars as they had been instructed;
"And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." (Exodus 20:25, see also Deuteronomy 27:5)
Druids were not allowed to hew stone for their altars either.
4). It was at Bethel that Jacob slept with his head on a stone. The central stone in the Druid circle was called Bethel.
5). Druids believed in a Godhead of three main personages but also believed in a multiplicity of gods.
6). It is believed that Druidism was founded by Gwyddon Ganhebon, supposedly Seth of the Mosaic genealogy, in Asia and was brought to Britain by Hu Gadarn a contemporary of the Patriarch Abraham.
7). Druids believed in the great law of atonement. Caesar wrote of the Druid's belief,
"The Druids teach that by no other way than the ransoming of man's life by the life of man, is reconciliation with the divine justice of the immortal gods possible."
It can be seen quite easily how this statement could be construed to mean human sacrifice, but if you bear in mind that the Druids were awaiting Hesus who would redeem them through his death, we believe the statement drops into context. It is also a documented fact that there is no evidence of any human sacrifice by Druids having taken place in this country. Even the mysterious "Bog‑Man" uncovered in peat a few years ago was proved to have come from Ireland where a separate form of Druidism was practiced.
When Jesus arrived in Britain, He was in a land where the people already worshiped somebody called Hesus and which had received it's faith from Seth and taught many of the doctrines which he would himself be later teaching although in a more correct form.
To fully understand how the Druid religion came to be in Britain after having been established in Asia would mean writing another article many pages long. Suffice it to say that when the tribes of Israel scattered some of the tribe of Ephraim made it to Britain. This is a subject that must, because of it's enormity, be approached separately. An article about the Tribes of Israel and where they went will be written for "Truth Seeker" and I hope that it will help to tie in why Druidism was being practiced in Britain so far from it's origins.
What Happened to Jesus?
In the previous article we mentioned briefly about the fact that Jesus did not appear to be known by his family when he began His ministry in and around Jerusalem. We also said that there was a possibility that Jesus' arrest could have been legal if he had not lived in Palestine long enough to be classified as a citizen. So, if Jesus had not been in Palestine for very long, then where had He been?
There is a biblical period of silence that spans the time from when the Holy Family left Egypt and the time that Jesus was left behind at the Passover when He was twelve years old. This is approximately ten years of Jesus' life of which there are no Palestinian legends or traditions. There is also another period which spans from the Passover incident at the Temple until the commencement of Jesus' ministry. After the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, the Passover incident is the only one recorded about their life until Jesus' ministry.
The incident at the temple during the Passover is not all that important or profound and does not carry any great gospel message. I feel that it would be safe to assume that this incident was written about because it was the ONLY incident that the author of the account knew about. Both Jesus and Mary must have said some things worthy of note yet they do not appear to be recorded.
From the Bible we learn that many of the disciples of Jesus were either his family or his friends and as such should have been conversant with Mary and Jesus, yet we know that they did not recognize Him when He called them to join His ministry.
Bearing in mind the miraculous circumstances of Jesus' birth and the ensuing events immediately afterwards, one would assume that the Palestinians would not have forgotten such a thing. Even King Herod recognized that the Messiah must have been born as so many prophecies were fulfilled at the time of Jesus' birth. So, where are the records, stories or legends that you would expect to find about the family? You would expect Jesus to be the center of attention and many people coming to Him for healing etc. After all, millions of people have gone to Lourdes to be healed by water which they believe to be divinely blessed by the Virgin Mary, many, many years after the actual vision of St. Bernadette. Human nature being what it is I would have expected queues of people every day lining up to at least "gawk" at the miracle child if not to be healed or blessed by Him.
We are left to assume that the total absence of documentary evidence about Jesus and His family during these periods must be because He was not there. Where was He?
The First Christian Church
There is much documentation and many legends and traditions that exist regarding Jesus and Mary being in Britain. could fill pages relating old stories and legends about the two of them being in this country, particularly at Glastonbury, but it is not our purpose to spend time writing what has already been written.
Knowing the somewhat "high‑handed" opinion of itself that the Roman Catholic Church has, and also knowing that they would like to consider themselves the founder of Christianity, it is interesting to note that even today in the grand Church Councils that take place where each country is placed around a table in the order that they received Christianity, first and foremost sits Great Britain. The Catholics have tried in the past to prove this inaccurate but have never been able to prove their case. As long ago as 597 AD when it was not in the best interests of either the Roman Catholic Church or St Augustin to admit that the Roman Church was not the first church in Britain, we find St Augustin writing to Pope Gregory:
"In the Western confines of Britain there is a royal island of large extent, surrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and necessaries of life. In it the first Neophites of Catholic Law, God hath beforehand acquainted them, found a Church constructed by no human art, BUT BY DIVINE CONSTRUCTION BY THE HANDS OF CHRIST HIMSELF, for the salvation of His people.”
One is led to wonder what St Augustin meant when he referred to the "church constructed by no human art, but by the hands of Christ Himself, for the salvation of His people"? Should we take this literally? It certainly seems to make clear that there was a Church already standing when Joseph of Arimathea and his companions arrived at Glastonbury. I would suggest that the word "constructed" shows that it was a material Church and not a spiritual one that had been built. The building had been erected from wattle and was considered so sacred that it is recorded that Paulinus, the companion of St Augustin, covered the old church with a protective covering of boards, with the purpose of its preservation. It is possible that it could also mean that the Glastonbury Christian community was established on a "foundation" laid by Christ Himself.
Remember that St Augustin arrived in 597 AD with the belief that the whole island was pagan. He actually found that it was only the Eastern parts which had been invaded and settled by the Saxons that were pagan, and that in the Western parts where the Britons had been driven there was a very powerful British Church which even had its own Bishops.
The royal island referred to is, without doubt, the Isle of Avalon, that is Glastonbury. I believe the first Neophites (i.e. converts of ministers) were Joseph of Arimathea and his companions. They were granted land under the Royal Patronage of King Arviragus when they first arrived and never had to pay any taxes on the twelve hides of land that they were given.
The Isle of Avalon
Now we know that we are repeating some of what Mr. Compret stated above, but it bears to be repeated again because of all the false teachings that the Judeo-Christian clergy has done for so many years.
Have you walked along the Mendips
Where His weary feet have gone,
When He climbed the Tor and looked out
O'er the Isle of Avalon?
Have you seen the Holy Thorn tree
Standing in the evening sun,
Full of blooms and scented perfume
On the Isle of Avalon?
And the lead mines on the hill‑tops
I have often gazed upon,
Where He walked ‑ a lonely figure
On the Isle of Avalon.
Up the Cheddar Gorge to Priddy,
In the rain and snow and sun,
Just to give His simple message
To the Isle of Avalon.
Near the Chalice Well His hut stood;
When the day of work was done
He would watch the golden sunset,
O'er the Isle of Avalon.
You may walk there, in His footsteps,
And your eyes will rest upon
Glastonbury's sacred mountains,
On the Isle of Avalon.
In the beautiful countryside of Somerset in the West of England lies the town and Abbey of Glastonbury. All that is left of the Abbey are some magnificent ruins but the signs of all of it's former glory remain. We have not had the privilege of standing in the grounds at Glastonbury and feeling the stillness and the hush that appears to pervade the area. We have been moved to tears as I stand at the site reputed to be where Mary, the mother of Jesus was buried. In this world that we live in where there is so much hatred and crime and filth, it is a relief to know that there are places that you can go to receive a re‑vitalisation. To us, the grounds of the Abbey at Glastonbury and the grounds of the Chalice Well are two such places. The many traditions that have grown up in and around Glastonbury are what help to contribute to the feelings of peace and beauty.
Probably the most hallowed of the traditions that surround Glastonbury is the story that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was buried there. It is said that she was interred in its sacred ground to become the first of a long line of saints buried at Glastonbury.
After Mary's death, a wattle construction building was built over her home. It measured sixty feet in length and was twenty‑six feet wide/ This building became known as the "Vetusta Ecclesia" or the "Lignea Basilica" and the "Ealdechurche" or "Old Church."
An assumption has been made by several authors who have written about Glastonbury that Joseph, after the death of Mary, decreed that the place where she was buried should be dedicated as a place of worship of Christ. Not long after Mary's death Joseph and his disciples lived together as a community around the Vetusta Ecclesia. Perhaps this was so that they could help perpetuate the continuing worship of Jesus Christ at a spot that would have been considered very sacred.
"The Isle of Avalon greedy of burials...received thousands of sleepers, among whom Joseph de Marmore from Aramathea by name, entered his perpetual sleep. And he lies in a bifurcated line next the southern angle of the oratory made of circular wattles by 13 inhabitants of the place over the powerful adorable Virgin."
He also wrote concerning the other saints buried at Glastonbury:
"who there awaited the day of resurrection under the protection of the Mother of God."
The implications are obvious and help to explain why the Vetusta Ecclesia later became known as "Mary's Chapel" as well as "St Joseph's Chapel."
Glastonbury can boast of having the most superior cemetery in the world. There is a list that is still extant that records the names of those buried at Glastonbury and it is truly illustrious. The old cemetery, along side the Mary's Chapel, has been called "the most holiest ground in earth;" "the most hallowed spot in Christendom;" "the burial place of the Saints." William of Malmesbury describes it as "held in great reverence, on account of the number of Saints, Martyrs and Confessors, who had found a resting place, either by ending their days here, or whose bones, owing to its character for superior sanctity, had been translated hither...For it seems to have been the custom at Glastonbury, in early ages, to place the relics of some saint in a magnificent shrine, to attract a multitude of worshipers...It, with the venerated Vetusta Ecclesia, was called the "Tomb of the Saints." As well as Mary and Joseph of Arimathea, Philip, plus twelve of his disciples, St Patrick of Ireland, St David, King Coel, or Hoel, (the father of Queen Helena and grandfather of Constantine), were laid to rest there. There is also evidence to suggest that the remains of King Arthur and Queen Guinivere were found not far from the cemetery and the body of the great martyr Thomas a Beckett was laid to rest here also. Is it any wonder that one can feel so at peace when standing in close proximity to such a sacred place?
Gradually, over a period of many years there was the inevitable falling away from the original teachings of Jesus Christ and Joseph of Arimathea. As the Catholic Church became more and more involved in religion so many of the earlier teachings became lost and the simplicity of the Gospel was lost in the profound "mysteries" of Catholicism. "Bigger and Better" seemed to be the motto for several centuries after about 900 ‑1000 AD and the simple wattle church was replaced eventually with an Abbey Church that was, without doubt, one of the finest examples of 12th Century architecture. The Mary's Chapel was built over, destroyed and then rebuilt in the same style as the Abbey Church. Some of the most learned men in the country came there to study and the vast library of books was unequaled anywhere in the world.
In 1184 AD there was a fire which consumed the greater part of the Glastonbury Abbey including the original Wattle Church. The lead that had encased it melted and destroyed it. No real reason was ever put forward as to why the fire started but it was generally circulated at the time that candles had ignited some curtains during a wind storm.
This fire resulted in the loss of beautiful treasures of gold and silver, silk and ornaments, the value of which could not have been replaced at that time. The greatest loss of all was the famous library, considered the finest collection of books of the period, including records covering a thousand years of Glastonbury Abbey history. To most people the loss of the books that the monks worked on that were illuminated on vellum (parchment) bound in richly tooled leather and mounted with silver and gold was and still is a catastrophe; to me the greatest loss would have been the writings of those people who personally knew Joseph of Arimathea and perhaps even Jesus.
Gradually, over many years, the monks undertook the restoration of their beloved Abbey. After a little over 100 years the work on the great Church had been completed and then in 1275 AD years of work was destroyed by an earthquake that severely damaged much of the stone work. Again, the monks undertook restoration work under the supervision of the various Abbots and the Abbey was again became a building of splendor. Finally, in 1539, the Abbey came into the possession of the King, Henry VIII, and so came about its final dissolution.
E Raymond Capt writes:
"Today, having endured the weather, the storms, and the violence of many generations, Glastonbury Abbey still stands. Pilgrims from all corners of the world have visited and continue to visit this holy shrine. There can be no doubt that the Glastonbury Abbey is the oldest, continuous Christian foundation in the world. Since the time when Joseph built his first church on the Sacred Isle of Avalon, men have worshiped Christ on that site. The buildings may have changed, the ecclesiastical orders may have changed, but worship of the Lamb of God has never ceased at Glastonbury Abbey."
The Holy Thorn Tree
The Little Thorn Tree
The little thorn tree cried and cried
When men's hands stripped it bare,
They made a rough and cruel crown,
To put on Jesus' hair.
He died upon the rugged cross,
From sin to set us free,
The little Thorn tree cried with shame
That day on Calvary.
Then Joseph laid His body down,
The scripture to obey,
And from the Thorn he chose a branch
To carry far away.
To Glastonbury's hilly land,
Upon its sacred mound
He took the little Thorn tree twig
And put it in the ground.
It grew into a stately tree,
The pilgrims loved the sight,
To glory our dear Savior's name,
It blooms each Christmas night.
(Kirsten Parsons )
The legend of the Holy Thorn is one that most people are able to accept and believe as there are still several Thorns that do flower at Christmas around Glastonbury. Of course these are trees that have been grown from graftings that were grown from graftings etc., etc., but with a little imagination you can believe the trees to be the ones that grew from the staff that Joseph of Arimathea planted.
When Joseph of Arimathea arrived at Glastonbury it is said that he thrust into the ground the staff that he had carried with him from the Holy Land. Experts have declared that a staff of wood that had relatively recently been cut from a tree could take root in moist ground and begin to grow. It is said that this is what happened and that eventually a cutting was taken from the tree and grown in the grounds near the original Wattle Church.
The Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree is somewhat unique because it has no exact parallel among native English trees. It actually blooms twice a year which no other English tree does. The natural blooming period of the Levatine (Palestine) thorn is during the month of December whilst British ones bloom in May. The Glastonbury Thorn, of which there is one in the grounds of the Abbey ruins, one at the Chalice Well and one in the grounds of the Parish Church of St John on the Glastonbury High Street, blooms in May along with all the English trees and then again in December along with all the Palestinian trees. Cuttings from the trees have been sent to a variety of places around the world and the subsequent trees grown from the cuttings have continued to bloom twice a year.
Whether the Thorn truly came from Palestine and was planted by Joseph of Arimathea, perhaps we will never know for sure, I do not really feel that this is of great importance albeit very interesting. I do, however, feel that there is significance in the sacredness of the land around the ruins of the Abbey. I do believe that Mary the mother of Jesus was buried there and also Joseph of Arimathea. I hope that one day some form of indisputably documented proof will come to light so that the world as a whole will be able to believe if they wish to. At the moment we have to rely on documents that evolved after the great fire in the 12th Century and our own personal feelings.
The Chalice Well
At the foot of Chalice Hill in Glastonbury there is a well that actually runs as a spring. For as long as can be remembered this well has been called either the "Chalice Well" or the "Holy Well." The Well is fed by an underground river that is believed to originate somewhere to the north in the Mendip Hills. It is of interest to note that after excavations near to the Well in 1961 which uncovered the stump of a yew tree nearly twelve feet below the present surface, it is now generally recognized that the Well only became a well after several centuries of rainfall and then earthquakes in the 13th Century. Originally the water would have come out as a surface spring.
It is in the writings of William of Malmesbury that we find the earliest records of the Chalice Well. He said that sometimes the waters were blue and at other times they were red. Due to this statement some people have called the Chalice Well the "Blood Spring."
The legend of the "Blood Spring" is related to the tradition that when Joseph came to Britain with the Cup of the Last Supper, he brought with him two cruets, one holding the blood and the other holding the sweat of Jesus Christ. The blood and sweat were supposedly washed from his body after the Crucifixion and prior to His entombment. It is recorded that buried with Joseph of Arimathea are the two white and silver cruets filled with the blood and sweat of the Prophet Jesus. Up to this time these cruets have never been found.
Referring back now to the Cup of the Last Supper; according to legend Joseph of Arimathea planted the Cup in the Chalice Well and after doing this the waters streamed forth blood. It is true that the water does leave a crimson deposit on the stones that it flows over and it is also true that at times the water appears very red in color, however, I believe this to be due (as do scientists and historians) to the large levels of iron in the water. I have actually drunk from the water coming from the Well and to me it tasted like an iron bar!
Anybody who has the opportunity to visit Glastonbury should make an effort to go to the Chalice Well. Thanks to a trust fund that was set up several years ago, the grounds have been turned into beautiful gardens. There are seats scattered about and people can stay for as long as they wish. The water has been channeled from the Well and flows through the gardens forming pools. There is one section where a glass is permanently left by the water so that if you should wish to you may have a drink. The healing power of the waters is a well‑documented fact stretching back hundreds of years. There is an aura of peacefulness and tranquillity in these gardens.
In the year 1345 Edward III, King of England, gave permission to one John Bloom of London, to dig for the body of Joseph of Arimathea. Up to this time the grave had been undisturbed. John Bloom had to obtain permission from the Abbot and monks at Glastonbury Abbey and also from the Glastonbury Community. Permission was granted and apparently the remains of Joseph were found. A monk, R. de Boston, from his Lincolnshire Monastery, recorded the following: "The bodies of Joseph of Arimathea and his companions were found in Glastonbury."
Joseph's bones were placed in a silver casket which was then placed into a stone sarcophagus which in turn was placed at the east end of the crypt under St. Mary's Chapel. From then on the chapel was often referred to as St. Joseph's Chapel as well. Originally the crypt was reached by a staircase that passed the ancient Norman well of St. Joseph and this is purported to be near where John Bloom actually found the tomb of Joseph. On visiting the Abbey now, you can go into the St. Joseph's Chapel and actually climb what is left of the original staircase by the well and emerge on the outside of the building. (Not recommended for young children, the stairs are dangerous).
By putting Joseph's bones into a silver casket they could be easily removed and shown to the many pilgrims who came to the Abbey. It would appear from several historical documents that the stone sarcophagus of Joseph of Arimathea was still in place in the St. Joseph's Chapel as late as 1661. One John Ray records that on June 22 1661; "we saw Joseph of Arimathea's tomb and chapel at the end of the Church." Later, in the same year, the same man returned to Glastonbury and records seeing the sarcophagus of St. Joseph in the ruined Chapel. (Ruined because of the earlier dissolution of the monasteries under Oliver Cromwell in 1539). John Ray was afraid that there might be another wave of Puritanical fanaticism such as had destroyed the original Thorn Tree, and fearing that Joseph's tomb might be desecrated he removed it secretly and buried it unmarked in the church yard, adjoining the east end of St. Mary's chapel. (I assume that he had some help in this venture as I should think that the tomb would need at least eight to ten men to lift it!)
It was two hundred and twenty‑six years later that the Rev Lionel Smithett Lewis (late Vicar of Glastonbury) accidentally stumbled, quite literally, on a corner of the sarcophagus in the grave yard. The stone sarcophagus now sits under the Arthurian window of St Katherine's Chapel in the Parish Church of St John the Baptist in the High Street of Glastonbury. The silver casket holding the bones of Joseph of Arimathea was never found.
The Cup of The Last Supper
"The cup, the cup, itself, from which our Lord
Drank at the last sad supper with His own.
This, from the blessed land of Aromat‑
After the day of darkness, when the dead
Went wandering o'er Moriah ‑ the good saint,
Arimathean Joseph, journeying brought
To Glastonbury, where the winter thorn
Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord.
And there awhile it bode; and if a man
Could touch or see it, he was heal'd at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappear'd.”
For over one thousand years there has been a belief that the original cup of the Last Supper was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea and that he buried it in the Chalice Hill near to the opening of the Chalice Well. As time ran its course so more and more legends grew up around the Cup of the Last Supper. The most famous of all these legends have to be those surrounding Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their inevitable quests for the "Holy Grail." Even Indiana Jones, along with Hollywood and Sean Connery, has succeeded to further the legend and bring it to our television screens.
Whilst many romantic stories picture the Cup of the Last Supper as being made of gold or silver and encrusted with precious jewels, it is far more likely that the Cup was made of plain wood and was just an ordinary drinking vessel. (Luckily Indiana Jones made the right choice, did you see what happened to the bad guy who chose the fancy cup?!!!)
It is reported that at the time of the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting, the last Abbot, entrusted a wooden cup to his monks to carry away to safety. This cup was described as "the most precious treasure of our Abbey". The monks fled into Wales and took sanctuary in the remote Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida (now ruined). However, with the continual approach of King Henry's men they had to flee even further west and they ended up at Nanteus Manor which is in a secluded valley about three miles from Aberystwyth. Over the years the monks remained safely at Nanteus Manor until eventually they began to die of old age. At that time the last surviving monk supposedly gave the Cup to the Lord of the Manor and charged him that the Cup would remain at Nanteos Manor "until the church claims her own."
Since that time the Cup has built up a reputation of being a Healing Cup and many miraculous cures have been claimed by those afflicted who drank from the Cup. Are the remnants of the Nanteos Cup the remnants of the Cup used for the Sacrament at the Last Supper? Does it really have healing powers? The owner of the Cup now will testify in no uncertain terms of the healing power of the Cup as her daughter lay dying from a broken skull after a ladder fell on her head. The owner of the cup took it from its box and prayed that her child might live. Within minutes the hospital telephoned to say that the bleeding had stopped and her child would live. Not only did Jean (the child) live, but she completely recovered to live a perfectly normal life.
It is a moot point as to whether the cup has extraordinary healing powers or whether it is just a vehicle to motivate people's faith. There are many who believe that this humble wooden vessel is the Cup of the Last Supper. Until we receive further light and knowledge on a subject that is so surrounded by myth, we shall never know for sure. Until that time comes we have no real reason to disbelieve the stories surrounding the Nanteos Cup.
We have tried in all that I have written to give as clear a picture of Glastonbury, Joseph of Arimathea and all the surrounding legends as we can. To some they will always remain just stories and legends, to others they will be actual events. The traditions of Glastonbury cannot be dismissed as mere fables," for legend is not fiction, nor is truth confined only to that which can be established by documentary evidence." It is a fact that even the "hardest" sceptics will acknowledge that legends and traditions are rooted in some basis of truth.
To those who have had the privilege to visit Glastonbury we hope that these articles have enhanced what you already knew, to those who have never visited we can only say that irrespective of whether you believe that Jesus Christ and His mother Mary lived there, or Joseph of Arimathea came there after the Crucifixion, or any of the legends and traditions, the place itself is beautiful and instills a hush upon the inner soul that it is difficult to find anywhere else. For that reason alone I would recommend a visit.
We hope that as time goes on I will be able to discover more and more about Glastonbury and its history. It would be nice to be able to authenticate some of the traditions and legends. Watch this space!!! (Contributed by Teresa Williams)