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Arculf

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A Frankish Bishop of the latter part of the seventh century. According to some, e.g. Alexis de Gourgues (Le saint Suaire, Périgueux, 1868), he was Bishop of Périgueux ; but it is generally believed that he was attached to some monastery. St. Bede relates (Hist. Eccles. Angl., V, 15) that Arculf, on his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land about the year 670 or 690, was cast by a tempest on the shore of Scotland. He was hospitably received by Adamnan, the abbot of the island monastery of Iona, to whom he gave a detailed narrative of his travels in the Holy Land, with specifications and designs of the sanctuaries so precise that Adamnan, with aid from some extraneous sources, was able to produce a descriptive work in three books, dealing with Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the principal towns of Palestine, and Constantinople. Adamnan presented a copy of this work to Aldfrith, King of Northumbria in 698. It aims at giving a faithful account of what Arculf actually saw during his journey. As the latter "joined the zeal of an antiquarian to the devotion of a pilgrim during his nine months' stay in the Holy City, the work contains many curious details that might otherwise have never been chronicled." Bede makes some excerpts from it (op.cit., V, c. xv-xvii), and bases upon it his treatise "De locis sanctis." It was first edited by Father Gretser, S.J. (Ingolstadt, 1619). Mabillon gives an improved text in "Acta SS. Ord S. Bened.," IV, 502-522, (reprinted in P.L., LXXXIII, 779) and by Delpit, "Essai sur les anciens pelerinages a Jerusalem" (Paris, 1870).


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