Egeria [Aetheria, Etheria, Eucheria]
- James W. McKinnon
[Aetheria, Etheria, Eucheria]
(fl late 4th century ce). Pilgrim nun of Spain or Gaul. Her diary, containing a detailed description of ancient Jerusalem liturgy, survives in a single 11th-century manuscript copy, which was discovered at Arezzo by G.F. Gamurrini in 1884. He attributed the work to one St Silvia, sister of the Roman prefect, Rufinus – hence its earlier title ‘Peregrinatio Silviae’ – but it is now thought to be by a Spanish or Gallican nun, Egeria (the preferred spelling), mentioned by the 7th-century abbot Valerius. From references in the text to contemporary persons and events, liturgical historians have come to date the time of Egeria's pilgrimage to between 381 and 384.
The diary begins with remarks about Egeria's visits to eastern ecclesiastical centres such as Mount Sinai, Alexandria and Constantinople, but the bulk of the text consists in a description of the liturgy at Jerusalem. First the daily and weekly Offices are depicted in great detail, providing our best knowledge of the composite monastic and ‘cathedral’ Offices of the late 4th century. There follows, after a break in the manuscript, an account of special services throughout the liturgical year, beginning with the Epiphany and including the feast of the Presentation, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and its octave and Pentecost and its octave. The document breaks off during a description of the octave of ...