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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

LETTER xxvm   THE CHURCH OF MAEBISHU                 269

fulness. The church is said to be 850 years old—a
low, flat-roofed, windowless stone building. Either it
was always partially subterranean, or the earth has
accumulated round it, for the floor is three feet below
the ground outside. The entrance is by a heavy door
two feet six inches high. Inside it is as nearly dark as
possible. Two or three circular holes at a great height
in the enormously thick wall let in as many glimmers,
but artificial light is necessary. There are several small
ante-chapels. In two are rude and ancient tombs of
ancient bishops, plain blocks of stone, with crosses upon
them. In another is a rough desk, covered with candle
droppings, on which the Liturgy of the Apostles lay
open, and on it a cross, which it is the custom to kiss.
A fourth is used for the safe keeping of agricultural im-
plements. Two are empty, and one of these serves the
useful purpose of a mortuary chapel. The church proper
is very small and high. The stone floor has been worn into
cavities by the feet of worshippers'; the walls, where not
covered with lengths of grimy printed cotton, are black
with the candle smoke of ages. The one sign of sacred
use is a rude stone screen at the east end, at openings
in the front of which the people receive the Eucharist.
Behind this is the sanctuary, into which the priest alone,
and he fasting, may enter. Old brass lamps and cande-
labra, incrusted with blackened tallow, hang from the
roof, and strings of little bells from wall to wall, which
are plucked by each recipient of the sacred elements as
he returns to his " stand."

In this gloomy vault-like building prayers are said, as
in all Nestorian churches, at sunrise and sunset by the
priest in his ordinary clothing, the villagers being sum-
moned by the beating of a mallet on a board.1

1 Dr. Cutts, in his interesting volume, Christians Under the Crescent in
Asia, gives the following translation of one of the morning praises, which