Igumena Daniel in the Orthodox culture is also often called Daniel Pilgrim. And it is quite natural: it was thanks to his trip to the holy places that the monk entered the national history. Little is known about the life of Daniel both before and after the pilgrimage. It is believed that he was the abbot of Chernigov, and as a monk he took the haircut at the Kiev-Pechersk monastery. However, for several centuries, these theses remain only assumptions. Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin, for example, thought otherwise: he suggested that "this traveler could have been the bishop of St. George of Daniel, set in 1113."
Ideas about exactly when Daniel made his significant pilgrimage, also repeatedly changed. Now the version that the monk visited the Holy Land in 1104 - 1106 is dominant.
Following the trip, the igumen compiled a detailed description of all the places and artifacts he had seen. His work was called "Life and Circulation of Abbot Daniel from the Russian Land." It became the first example of such a genre in Russia - at least, of the surviving ones. All Old Russian writings on pilgrimages and trips to other countries subsequently became known as “Walkings”: the most perfect example of the genre, “Walking Beyond Three Seas” by Afanasy Nikitin, appeared in the 15th century.
Fragment of one of the “Walking” lists
First of all, of course, Daniel described religious shrines in his work - it could not be otherwise. He spoke about the altar of Abraham, about the pillar of David, about the places where Christ was betrayed and crucified, and about the Holy Sepulcher. “The coffin of the Lord is this: it’s like a small cave, carved in stone, with small doors, through which a man can, kneeling, enter. It is small in height, but four cubits in length and in width. And when you enter this cave through the small doors, on your right hand, it’s like a bench carved in the same cave stone: the body of our Lord Jesus Christ lay on that bench, ”wrote the igumen.
It is interesting that Daniel paid attention to all the details, scrupulously fixed the approximate dimensions of the shrines, their distance from each other. The hegumen, probably unwittingly, created travel notes of the most curious for his time, which also help the modern reader to reproduce in his imagination the landscapes of the Holy Land.
An incredible impression made on the pilgrim the appearance of the Holy Fire: “The light of the saints is not like the fire of the earth, but it is wonderful, it glows differently, it is unusual; and its flame is red as cinnabar; and absolutely inexpressibly shines ". This event, which hit Daniel, is devoted to the most extensive chapter of "Walking." The monk dispels the myths associated with this miracle: “Many of the pilgrims speak wrong about the descent of the holy light: one says that the Holy Spirit falls to the Holy Sepulcher with a dove, while others say: lightning descends from heaven, and there are lit lamps over the Holy Sepulcher. And that is a lie and a lie, for nothing is visible then - neither a pigeon nor a thunderbolt. But so, invisibly, comes down from heaven by the grace of God and lights the lamps in the Tomb of the Lord. ”
Holy Sepulcher. Thumbnail from the illustrated list of "Walking", XVII century
However, not only shrines and wonders tells the hegumen Daniel in his work. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of his writings are descriptions of the life, the way of life of the Palestinians. From “Walking” you can learn about the agriculture of that time, as well as how Russian people perceived territories with a completely different, unfamiliar climate. “Jerusalem is a big city with strong walls; its walls are equal to each other; He built about four corners in the form of a cross. The gorges abound around it and the mountains are stone. The place is without water: neither the river, nor the well, nor the source is near Jerusalem, but only one Siloam font. But rainwater live all the people and cattle in the city of Tom. And good bread will be born near Jerusalem in those stones without rain, but so, by God's command and favor. Wheat and barley will be born fairly: after all, one caddy is sown, they take ninety cadets, and the other time a hundred cadei per cadius. Is this not the blessing of God on that holy land! Many vineyards near Jerusalem and fruit trees, fruit trees, figs, mulberries, olives, horns; and all other different trees without number all over the land grow, ”the monk shared his impressions with potential readers.
“Walking” of Abbot Daniel in Russia became very popular: there were about 150 lists of this work, which at that time was considered to be quite a considerable “circulation”. And in the XIX century, there were even translations of the "Walking" into European languages: French, German and English.