DRAMA OF THE LOST DISCIPLES #10
by Georage Jowett (1961)
DID THE VIRGIN MARY LIVE AND DIE
IN the meantime what about Mary, the mother of Jesus?
Once again we are faced with drama as exciting as it is
intriguing. Off hand, one feels tempted to ask the doubtful
question, Is it true that the Virgin Mary finished her earthly
travail in Britain? It seems almost incredible to give an
affirmative answer. Circumstance, rather than evidence, would
appear to be to the contrary. Yet when one stops to think one
quickly realizes how little is generally known about her and how
silent the scriptural record is concerning her existence
following the Crucifixion of Jesus. One can easily be forgiven
for thinking it is too wonderful to be true. Yet the information
presented herein appears to provide sufficient evidence to
discount any doubt. However, we are entitled to our own personal
reservations. In this case it could easily be one of those
amazing examples in which truth is stranger than fiction.
Documentary testimony, by no means British, informs us with
conviction that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was an occupant of the
castaway boat that arrived at Marseilles with the others before
mentioned. Other reports take up the story in Gaul, attesting to
the fact that Mary was a member of the Josephian Mission that
arrived in Britain A.D.36. Testimony will be advanced giving a
special valid reason for her being with Joseph, her uncle. Other
writers take up the theme in Britain, referring to her presence
at Avalon with Joseph, Mary Magdalene, the Bethany sisters and
others, as unconcernedly as though it were a common matter of
fact that should be well understood by all; her life, death and
final resting-place is described with a nonchalance that is
But, we ask, did not Jesus entrust His mother, with His
dying breath, to the care of His beloved disciple, John?
Yes, He did.
The scriptural record tells us that as Jesus hung on the
Cross He tenderly committed His mother into John's safekeeping.
John, accepting the charge led Mary away from the tragic scene
before her Son expired.
Scripture states: "From that hour that disciple took her to
his own." 1
As we ponder the text we can read in it a qualifying
difference over what is commonly understood by general
assumption. The point of importance in the text is the statement
that John 'took her to his own'. Most critics have defined the
text to imply that John took her as his own, thereby meaning he
took Mary to his own home to remain there under his care.
This qualification does not stand up even under a casual study.
At that time John, like all followers of 'The Way', was a hunted
man. For many years to come, long after the death of Mary, he had
no home. The intention, as stated in the text, seems quite plain.
John took Mary 'to his own'. His own were the intimate disciples
of Jesus, of whom Joseph was the protecting shield, and the
Bethany sisters, whose home had been a common meeting-place for
Jesus and His disciples.
There is a world of difference between entrusting the care
of a person 'to his own', and one requiring the care to be ever
personal. The latter is restricted only to the individual. 'To
his own' implies a broader meaning, which recorded events
corroborate. If it did not it would indeed be strange that such
an auspicious trust was not frequently mentioned by John in his
writings during his extremely long lifetime. He died at the age
The facts are that at no time does John ever refer to Mary,
nor even in his report of that first greater Easter morning. This
omission of his trust is strange and lack of reference to her by
John could only mean one thing: the beloved Mary was not with
Jesus definitely entrusted His mother to the care of John
but the request did not mean she was to be always in John's
personal care as much as it meant that John would see her safely
provided for. In this case it seems quite reasonable to expect
John to turn to Joseph of Arimathea for the necessary protection.
We know how greatly his family responsibilities had increased
from the time of the infamous trial. Since his lot was henceforth
indubitably cast in with that of the apostles and disciples of
Christ, there is every reason to believe that Joseph would
continue his guardianship of the Nazarene family with a keen
awareness. That all the faithful depended on the protection of
Joseph while they remained at Jerusalem is well established.
Therefore we can reasonably concur that John would entrust his
charge to a safekeeping more secure
1 John 19:2'7, 'eis to idia' (idia is possessive pronoun. The
word 'home' is not on the text).
none of the faithful could guarantee their future with any degree
than his own. In those turbulent days, with persecution rampant,
of assurance. At that time it is quite doubtful if John knew that
his selected field of teaching at Ephesus would be less dangerous
than the places in which other disciples were to labour.
It must be remembered that despite the hatred borne towards
him by the Sanhedrin and possibly dissatisfaction in the local
Roman Senate, Joseph remained in a position too powerful for
either to contend with. Up to the time of his banishment from
Judea, A.D.36, he continued to retain his official status as a
legislative member of the Sanhedrin, a Provincial Roman Senator,
and Noblis Decurio. So important was this office considered
within the Roman Empire that Cicero remarked ironically, it was
easier to become a Senator of Rome than a Decurio in Pompeii.
Consequently the intrepid Joseph could be the only choice. There
are several early documents which bear this out. One reads: "St.
John, while evangelizing Ephesus, made Joseph Paranymphos." 1
(Paranymphos means to be 'the Guardian'.)
We read in pp.42 and 7I, the statement that St. John and St.
Joseph were alone called 'Paranymphos' to the Blessed Virgin. The
"Cotton. MS. Titus" also relates the same facts. British
testimony is supplied by Capgrave.
From this we can safely judge that, in the first place,
Joseph was the protector of all the faithful band, and later he
was officially appointed by St. John to be the guardian of Mary,
in which case the mother of Jesus could be ever in his custody
and go wherever he went until the end, which the records affirm.
In the last account given of Mary in the New Testament,
after the Ascension, we find her 'dwelling among the disciples'
in Jerusalem. This would indicate that Mary lived among the
families of the faithful, moving from one to the other as safety
required. Undoubtedly the watchful eyes of her uncle would know
when a change should be made to safeguard her person. As we shall
see in the stirring events that followed, Joseph, her
Paranymphos, was faithful to the end when he personally laid her
to rest, as he had formerly done with the tortured body of Jesus.
Capgrave, in "Novo Legende Anglia," particularly informs us
that John gave Mary into the trust of Joseph, under the peculiar
title of being her 'brides man'; that he was present at her
death, as were other apostles and disciples who came at her
bidding to be by her side as Mary breathed her last.
1 "Magna Glastoniensis Tabula," at Naworth Castle.
Many are the places claimed for her resting-place,
particularly the one in more modern times by the Roman Catholic
Church, at a spot near Jerusalem named the Chapel of the
Dormiton. For many years the priests have pointed out to visitors
a ledge, stating that was where Mary's Koimesis, falling asleep,
took place. However, none of the places in the East have
withstood the probe of investigation. None of the disciples
mention her tomb. St. Jerome, recording the sacred places of the
East during the fourth century, by special commission of the
Church at Rome, makes no reference to the resting-place of Mary,
Joseph, or many others, for no other reason than that he knew
they were not interred in Judea, or in Rome.
We can be sure that Mary, of her own desire, would never
have wished to be left all alone in the land that held for her
nothing but danger and memories of stark tragedy. The only
happiness left to her on earth was in being associated with those
who had been near and dear to her beloved Son. It is impossible
to believe that Joseph, her uncle and guardian, would have left
her alone in Judea at the mercy of the hateful Sanhedrin. Equally
so, it is impossible to believe that the Sanhedrin, when it
expelled all the faithful from Judea in the exodus of A.D.36,
would have allowed Mary to remain. Thus it is only reasonable to
believe that the bond of association that held Joseph with Mary
and her family since the childhood of Jesus, would be a natural
continuance. It gives strength to the documentary evidence which
definitely states that Mary remained with Joseph and lived out
her life among her dearest friends. Only among them would one
expect to find her.
On the other hand, if Mary had wished for her remains to be
taken back to Judea for burial, St. Jerome would have known and
recorded the fact. He would never have overlooked the important
memorial of one held in such affectionate memory, who years later
was to become so glorified by the Roman Catholic Church, as to
almost overshadow the glory of her Son, Jesus. The Virgin Mary
was deified by the Roman Catholic Church in A.D.600. She was
never deified by the British Church. Christ alone, from the
beginning and to date, is the only deity of the Church.
Further contradiction is given to the claim that Mary
remained and died in Jerusalem, in the Glastonbury tradition of
'Our Lady's Dowry', bequeathed to her by Jesus Himself, the
'Dowry' being the little wattle temple Jesus built with His own
hands at Avalon, wherein He communed with the Father, and which
He dedicated to the affectionate memory of His mother. It was to
this hallowed spot that Joseph led Mary with his missionary band,
when they first embarked in Britain. When Joseph built the first
church at Avalon he continued the dedication, as did St. David
when he erected the first stone church, A.D.540, over the
hallowed wattle temple of Christ, which he had encased in lead
for preservation. These points are important to know because the
dedications of churches to the Virgin Mary began during the
twelfth century, the memorial to Mary at Avalon being the only
exception. It could only have been so for a very special reason,
particularly since the British never officially deified Mary. It
had to be for a specific record.
Actually there is far more substantial evidence to support
the Marion residence and demise in Britain than there is to prove
Jesus once dwelt on the Sacred Isle, and this in spite of the
strength of opinion. Nevertheless the antagonists of the Marion
story base their denials on the premise that Jesus was never in
Britain; in consequence they claim He could not have erected the
wattle temple for her 'dowry'. How the critics can claim
intelligence in reasoning to this conclusion is not
understandable. The fact is that neither the absence or the
presence of Jesus in Britain has a bearing on the subject. Mary's
going to Britain with Joseph was a matter of valid circumstances.
The atheistical mind jeers in its final challenge, 'Why should
Jesus go to Britain? Why should He go to a barbarian country?'
The bigotry of the critic is always the same. They never provide
an answer to substantiate their challenge. Never once have they
attempted to fill in the eighteen-year gap in the life of Jesus,
from the age of twelve when He confounded the Pharisees in the
Temple, to the age of thirty when He began His ministry. The
destructive critic ever assumes that what he does not know about
could not have happened. Their minds are cluttered with
Let us dwell for a moment on those silent years of Jesus,
and see if we can rationalize the circumstances of His life to
fit into this unique relationship in Britain, 'twixt mother and
Jesus is frequently referred to as the Carpenter of
Nazareth. Being a carpenter, as the Bible infers He was, He must
have served an apprenticeship, which likely began at an early
age. Apprenticeships in Europe and Britain, well within the last
one hundred years, often began at the age of fourteen. How long
He worked plying His trade is unknown, but we can safely assume
that, being aware of His destiny, He must have abandoned His
trade early in order to prepare Himself for His great Mission.
This being the case He would naturally be attracted to the
foremost centres of religious wisdom of His day. One may
rightfully inquire why He did not study under the Rabbis of the
Sanhedrin. Jesus provides the answer in the contemptuous manner
in which He accused them of 'knowing not the Law'.
The facts are readily conceived.
The Pharisees were a sect founded by Pharez, who created the
School of Predestination. The Sadducees were founded by Sadoc, a
disciple of Antigonus Scohaeus, known as the School of Infidels.
These are the fanatics who ruled the Sanhedrin of Jesus's day -
those whom Jesus called 'whited sepulchres', full of dead men's
bones. He could find no wisdom among them. Where He could find
wisdom there He would be certain to go.
The Rig-Vedas, the ancient religious books of India, were
written 1500 B.C. and the Druidic religion antedated that of
India, circa 1800 B.C. The wise men of India record the visit of
Jesus among them, stating that He dwelt at Nepal. They also make
several references to Britain as a great centre of religious
learning; therefore, on several scores, Jesus would know of the
eminence of Druidic religious wisdom. He would know from His
uncle Joseph, who frequently visited Britain on his tin-mining
excursions. It was popular knowledge among the Greeks and Romans
who heavily populated Judea. He would know from His association
with the wise men of India and, if tradition is true, He would
know from personal contact with Britain, made when His uncle
Joseph took Him on his seafaring trips to that country. Eastern
and western tradition claim Jesus completed His studies in
Britain. This could be possible. At that time the Druidic
universities were the largest in the world, both in size and in
attendance, with a listing of sixty large universities and an
average attendance of over sixty thousand students. 1 This is
affirmed by Greek and Roman testimony which states that the noble
and wealthy of Rome and other nations sent their children to
study law, science and religion in Britain.
One can well pause to grasp the fact that ancient Britain
then had acquired a stature with institutions of learning and
attendance rivalling that of the U.S.A. today, in its principal
universities. Consequently one, is not left in doubt as to why
Jesus might have elected to have studied in Britain.
That Jesus had been absent from Judea for more than an
ordinary length of time is proven by the tax incident related in
Matthew 17:24. The tax collector accosts Jesus and Peter on their
1 Gildas, "Cottonian MS.;" also Morgan, "History of Britain," pp.
arrival at Capernaum, and asks Peter if his Master has paid His
tax, indicating Jesus to be a stranger subject to tax. Actually
Jesus did not need to pay tax. Capernaum was His domicile, to
which the family of Jesus had moved from Nazareth early in His
life. Jesus put up no argument, advising Peter to pay the
'stranger' tax, thereby inferring He had been absent for so long
that He could be regarded as a stranger. By this act Jesus admits
an absence of years from His homeland.
Tradition and written testimony assert that Jesus did abide
in Britain, and whilst there created a Temple of loving testimony
to His mother. This was 'Our Lady's Dowry', to which Joseph, the
'Paranymphos' - 'Bridesman', led her and where she lived her life
out in its sanctity. A wealth of ancient writers, ecclesiastical
and secular, affirms it. For over a thousand years it was
commonly spoken of as 'the church built not by human art'. St.
Augustine, during his presence in Britain, was quite familiar
with the facts and the existence at that time of this hallowed
memorial. Of it he writes with delight and at great length to
Pope Gregory, in a letter still extant. He writes with devout
acceptance, a part of which reads as follows, from Epistolae ad
"In the Western confines of Britain there is a certain 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 beforehand acquainting them, found
a church constructed by no human art, but divinely constructed,
or by the hands of Christ Himself, for the salvation of His
people. The Almighty has made it manifest by many miracles and
mysterious visitations that He continues to watch over it as
sacred to Himself, and to Mary, the Mother of God."
In this brief extract St. Augustine assembles and declares
all the salient facts. He identifies it as the royal island,
Silurian, where the first disciples of Christ, declaring the
Catholic law (Universal Law, not Roman) found a sacred Temple
built by the hands of Jesus, and that it was held sacred to
Himself and the memory of Mary. This alone is trenchant testimony
and written nearly six hundred years after Joseph, Mary and the
Bethany group arrived in Britain.
The hallowed sanctity of 'Our Lady's Dowry' is descriptively
corroborated by the Saxon historian, William of Malmesbury, who
wrote his outstanding works in the twelfth century. He wrote two
histories covering the religious subject-matter related herein.
His last work, "De Antiquitate Glastoniae," is most authentic. He
was specially commissioned by the Abbot of Glastonbury to write
the complete history of the famous church from its beginning at
Avalon and was invited to live at the Abbey where he had full
access to the world-famous Glastonbury Library. Therein were
contained all the original documents from Druidic times,
consequently he wrote his history with the benefit of first-hand
material, long before the great fire completely destroyed the
Abbey and its wonderful library, then considered one of the
largest in the world. Consequently, his historic literary work
completed at the Abbey, under his commission, is probably the
most precious document of the British Christian Church in
existence. There are other outstanding works on this subject one
can refer to with profit, such as "De origine Ecclesiae
Britannicae" by Elvan of Avalon, an illustrious British scholar
who had been educated in the School of Joseph of Arimathea at
Avalon, A.D.180. He is referred to by the eminent Roman Catholic
ecclesiastic Pitsaeus, and Cardinal Baronius. "Relat. Hist. de
rebus Anglicis Act," by Pitsaeus; Capgrave's "De Sancto Joseph at
Aramathia;" The Magna Tabula of Glastonbury, at Haworth Castle;
Heame's "John of Glastonbury;" Bede's "Ecclesiastical History;"
Gildas and Geoffrey of Monmouth, among many others, particularly
"Glastonbury, The Mother of Saints," by the Rev. L. Smithett
Lewis; Hewin's "Royal Saints of Britain;" Rees' "Welsh Saints, of
our own times."
The most interesting reading in William of Malmesbury's
great work as it concerns this story is where he recites the
authentic, well-known story of St. David, A.D.540, when he came
to Glastonbury to rededicate the new church and his mind was
changed by a dream. During the first night St. David slept at
Glastonbury, the vision of Jesus appeared to him in a dream
telling David that rededication was unnecessary, saying, "He
Himself had long before dedicated the church in honour of His
mother and the sacrament ought not to be profaned by human
repetition." St. David obeyed and the original consecration to
In order to perpetuate the historic beginnings of the church
and that no mistake should be made at any future time as to its
exact site, St. David, A.D.546, erected a new stone addition to
the old church, over the grave of Mary, and enclosed the original
wattle church encased in lead. He caused a pillar to be erected
on the site with a brass tablet bearing record to the fact. At
the time of the Dissolution, under the edict of Henry VIII, it
was still standing. The edict robbed this ancient church, as well
as many others, of its ancient privileges, and later, during the
Puritan desecrations, the historic Abbey fell into disrepair and
decay. Fortunately the brass tablet was recovered in an excellent
state of preservation and, according to Archbishop Ussher, 1639,
it was treasured in the possession of Sir D. Thomas Hugo at
Wells. Later it came into the possession of Sir Henry Spelman,
who describes it in his book "Concilia." The tablet reads:
"The first ground of God, the first ground of the saints in
Britain, the rise and foundation of all religion in Britain, and
the burial place of the Saints."
Dean Armitage Robinson excavated the base of the original
pillar in 1921. Thus the memorial erected by St. David is today
preserved for all to see and to read.
The Rev. Lionel Smithett Lewis, Vicar of Glastonbury, was
indefatigable in his research to prove the validity of Jesus and
His mother Mary residing in Britain, and painstaking in
disclosing the history of Glastonbury from its saintly beginnings
at Avalon. In the spring of 1953 he wrote to the writer stating
that in the past few years he had recovered much more
authoritative information from rare old documents he had
discovered concerning Jesus and Mary that would prove revelatory
on the subject, his one wish then being that he would be
privileged to publish this, his last and best work, before he
died. He stated, once and for all, that he would prove the
validity of the old traditions with incontestable evidence.
Unfortunately he died suddenly, a week after writing to the
writer, at the age of eighty-six. However, his widow, and
co-helper and Curate, the Rev. Stacey, have carried out his last
This redoubtable researcher for the truth points out the
unique place of honour occupied by the Virgin Mary in the Roman
Catholic Church from earliest times to date, and states:
"No one better than they (the Roman Catholic Church) know the
facts of her (Mary's) life, and no one better than they espouse
them. And over the ages the holy ground at Glastonbury has been
constantly referred to by them as "Our Lady's Dowry". As such it
has always been recognized by the Roman Catholic Sisterhood, who
never ceased to pray daily for this hallowed spot at Glastonbury
- Our Lady's Dowry."
This was the spotless legacy Jesus left to His mother Mary,
1 This is now published under the title "St. Joseph of Arimathea
at Glastonbury," by James Clarke, and is available from Covenant
inheritance bequeathed and built by His own hands and sanctified
by his prayers. It was here that Joseph finally laid her to rest,
A.D,48, while the Claudian campaign was still raging in Britain,
four years before the historic events began to happen at Rome at
the Palatium Britannicum.
From the earliest times, ecclesiastical and secular
chronicles substantiate the story, long before the Roman Catholic
Church was founded. It has been carried on through the ages and,
apparently, more particularly by the Roman Catholic Church, to
present times, as the Lewis relates above, not only in England
but also in France. E. Hutton, in his "Highways and Byways in
Wiltshire," states that it is so referred to in Italy at Assisi.
An old English lady, Mrs. Cottrell, of Penwerris, Cornwall,
educated at a French convent in Alexandria conducted by nuns who
were members of the old French nobility, was taught that St.
Joseph of Arimathea took the Blessed Virgin with him to Britain
and that she died there. Why would this story persist through the
ages if it were not true? The fact that modern Roman Catholics
continue to espouse it is rather amazing under present
circumstances. Why should they declare the historic facts and
daily pray for her resting-place at Glastonbury as 'Our Lady's
Dowry' and at the same time show pilgrims and sightseers the
stone ledge in the Chapel of the Dormitron? Then, nearly nineteen
hundred years after, they decided her death to have been a
physical translation so celebrated by the Roman Catholics
throughout the world in declaring 1954 as the Marion year? To
Christians, other than Roman Catholics, this intense
glorification of the Virgin Mary seems strange. It is so great in
the South American countries that this continent is commonly
named 'The Land of Mary'.
The Christian faith of the Celto-Anglo-Saxon Protestants
remains firmly entrenched in its original fountain-head - Jesus
Christ. The Virgin Mary is regarded as but an instrument in the
Divine purpose. There is no passage in the Bible that shows that
Jesus regarded His mother as Divine. On the occasion when His
disciples told Him that His mother and brethren were present, He
asks, 'Who is My mother', and gives the explanation. Naturally He
regarded her dearly, as proven by the dedication and heritage He
bequeathed to her at Avalon and, consequently, any evidence
brought forth to substantiate her life and death in Britain is of
prime interest to all Christians.
When printing was invented, the first book to come off the
press was the Bible, and then Wynkyn De Worde printed the life
story of St. Joseph. At the same time Pynson printed two accounts
of the Arimathean story, copying from old documents, one of which
carried these interesting lines:
"Now here how Joseph came into Englande; But at that tyme it was
called Brytayne. Then XV yere with our lady, as I understande.
Joseph wayted styll to serve hyr he was fayne."
The intriguing feature of this verse is contained within the
last two lines. The chronicler states that Joseph came to
Britain, then clearly informs us that Mary was with him and that
he cared for her for fifteen years. This length of time closely
approximates the number of years Joseph was Mary's Paranymphos,
or Bridesman, from A.D.32 to A.D.48. The old ecclesiastical
records of Glastonbury, confirmed by many other ancient writers,
state that the Virgin Mary departed this life in the year A.D.
48. Coinciding with this, the Abbey records officially declare
that St. Mary's Chapel, erected by St. David, was built over her
Melchinus, a native of Avalonia, known also as Maelgwyn,
Celtic bard, historian and philosopher, who lived circa A.D.450,
"Ye ealde chyrche was built over the grave of the Blessed Mary."
William of Malmesbury wrote in his "Acts of the Kings of the
English" (bk. I, ch. 2):
"The church of which we are speaking (Glastonbury) from its
antiquity called by the Angles, by way of distinction, 'Ealde
Chiche', that is the 'Old Church' of wattle work at first,
savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity even from its very
foundation, and exhaled it over the whole country, claiming
superior reverence, though the structure was mean.... Men of that
province had no oath more frequent, or more sacred than to swear
by the Old Church, fearing the swiftest vengeance on their
perjury in this respect. In the meantime it is clear that the
depository of so many saints may be deservedly called an heavenly
sanctuary upon earth ... who there more especially chose to await
the day of resurrection under the protection of the Mother of
In these words the writer shows the deep veneration in which
St. Mary's Church of Glastonbury was held by all, in the fact
that they swore the most fervent oath by the Old Church just as
we today, in court, swear our oath on the Holy Bible. The plain
meaning in the last passage is that the Blessed Mary was buried
From the time of her death and for centuries after we are
constantly confronted with the desire of holy men and women,
disciples, pilgrims, kings and princes from all parts of the
world who sought interment in the ancient cemetery at Glastonbury
to, as phrased, "await the day of resurrection under the
protection of the Mother of God".
The list of recorded names, still extant, buried at
Glastonbury, is the most illustrious and unique, superior to any
other cemetery in the world. This in itself is the greatest
testimony to the sacred remains enclosed in that hallowed ground.
This ground has always, from time immemorial, been called "the
most holiest ground on earth"; "the most hallowed spot in
Christendom"; "the burial place of the Saints".
The mass of testimony supporting this historic incident
appears to overwhelm any argumnt to the contrary. One finds it
difficult to believe all this is but a prayerful tribute to a
legend without substance. Where there is smoke there is always
There are other historic facts to be considered to support
this amazing record that can be seen to this day, irrefutable
evidence. One of the most unique monuments that remain from olden
times is the ancient stone that silently stares down on the
beholder from the standing outside wall of the Lady Chapel. It
bears but two names, "Jesus - Maria". This time-and-weather-warn
tablet has puzzled scholars for centuries. Devoid of any other
inscription it has ever been recognized as a significant marking,
with a definite meaning.
It is commonly asked, "Why was it put there?" "What does it
It has all the hallmarks of a very ancient piece of masonry
preserved from the original stone church and replaced in the
second new stone church after the disastrous fire of A.D.1184.
The late L. Smithett Lewis, Vicar of Glastonbury, declared that
the meaning those two noble names is no riddle. 1 It represents
the signature of Jesus, naming the Dowry He had provided for His
mother Mary. Truly an amazing document in stone, revealing for
all time and to all peoples the ancient title to this hallowed
spot at Avalon.
Centuries before Avalon was renamed Glastonbury, by the
1 St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, p.59.
Saxons, two names were frequently found documented in the
writings of the old scribes, definitely referring to something of
great importance. Usually no explanation was given, indicating
that titles and place were as commonly known to the people of
those years as today. Confederation is known to Canadians and the
Statue of Liberty to Americans. To the Priesthood and historians
of those enthralling years, the two names employed designating
the particular place were 'Secretum Domini' and 'Domes Dei'. The
first title means 'The Secret of Our Lord' and the second, 'The
House, or Home of God'. The explanation given is that the little
wattle Temple was the House, or Home of God, because therein He
dwelt, and the Secret of the Lord was the Dowry and dedication of
the same to His mother. In substance, the ancient stone registers
the record and site of 'Our Lady's Dowry'.
This is not myth, legend or unsupported tradition. The title
is officially recorded in the ancient names in the famous
Domesday Book, A.D.1086, which reads as follows:
"The Domus Dei, in the great monastery of Glastonbury, called The
Secret of Our Lord. This Glastonbury Church possesses in its own
ville XII hides of land which have never paid tax." 1
Not only is this particular evidence officially recorded in
the historic Domesday Book, it also corroborates the original
deed of the twelve hides of land - 1,920 acres - and its tax-free
grant as given to St. Joseph of Arimathea and his companions by
the British Prince Arviragus of the royal Silurians when the
Bethany group first landed in Britain.
It should be borne in mind that the date given above, A.D.
1086, is not the date in which the Domesday Book was first
written. It represents the date in which the Norman King William
had all the historic events recorded within the ancient book
rechecked and brought up to date to his reign as King of England.
The original date and name of this great book is "The Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle," 2 preserved in the British Museum. It was created by
King Alfred the Great, A.D.871, who commissioned monastic
scholars to translate into the Saxon tongue the ancient British
history from documentary evidence ... The British historians
Capgrave and Kemble both wrote that Alfred was given great credit
in history for creating
1 Domesday Survey Folio, p.249B.
2 Parts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle overlap the period of the
Domesday Book, the four manuscripts ending with the following
dates: A-1001, B-977, C-1066, and D-1079. The later Laud MS. ends
in 1154. Domesday Book could be a continuation of the Anglo-Saxon
laws, institutions and reform. What he did was to restore and
enforce the ancient British practices of law, order and religion
in existence many centuries before his time. This is borne out by
an old record in which it states that Alfred ordered the ancient
laws of Dunwal to be codified into the Saxon tongue. Dunwal, or
Dunwallon, was the greatest of early British kings and certainly
the greatest law maker in British history. 1 He is recorded as
Dunwal, the Law Maker. He lived and reigned 500 B.C.
However, one cannot help but be impressed by the act of
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, hostile to the Saxons by
his claim to priority to the British crown, in recognizing the
validity of the record of this ancient church and causing the
facts to remain perpetuated in the famous historic Domesday Book.
Not only this, but he openly declared his respect for the sacred
Abbey by endowing the church with another Charter, and his royal
Over fifty years before this act of William, another foreign
invader, the Danish King Canute, had journeyed to Glastonbury
Abbey, 'with a great entourage', and knelt beside the tomb of the
former British king, Edmund Ironside, whom he so greatly admired.
The historic record is lavish in detail, telling us that the
pilgrimage of the Danish king was conducted in splendour, and
with 'peacock feathers'. He bestowed on the church munificent
gifts and gave to it his enlarged Charter, A.D.1032.
It is an astonishing fact to remember that, despite the
bitter determination of the Roman Empire to persecute and uproot
and destroy everything that was Druidic and Christian in Britain,
despite the pillaging and ravishing of monasteries, churches and
libraries by Roman, Saxon, Dane and Norman, not once was the
sanctity of the Abbey defiled. Excepting the Romans, the leaders
of the Saxons, Danes and Normans held the old church in awed
respect. Under pain of punishment they forbade any of the
soldiery to defile its sacred precincts or molest its occupants.
Sad as it is to relate, what defilement this hallowed British
institution was to suffer was done by its own countrymen and a
royal descendant of the famed Christian warrior, Arviragus, none
other than King Henry VIII. This despotic monarch not only stole
all its precious possessions but robbed it of all its ancient
privileges and brutally murdered the last Abbot.
Abbot Whiting was hung, his body quartered and his head
stuck on the spike of the church gate and his other parts stuck
1 E. O. Gordon, "Prehistoric London," pp.101-104; Morgan,
"History of Britain," pp.42-46.
a dire threat to all who dared challenge the king's despotic
will. The Puritans performed the final desecration.
Strange as it may seem, when we consider the unbridled
despoiling during the Dissolution, A.D.1539-40, and the
fanaticism of Cromwell's Puritans, A.D.1653-58, the ancient
tablet escaped mutilation.
No church in the world has been favoured so many times by
Royal Charters as Glastonbury Abbey. Each regal seal declared its
sacred historic beginning, attesting to the world-wide reverence
held for this sacred memorial to Christ, each a magnificent
testimonial to the great truth.
We know that this ancient tablet bearing those two immortal
names was hewn by the builders of the first stone church,
replacing the one built by Joseph and his saintly companions.
Five years before Mary died she saw the shadow of the persecuting
hand of Rome which cast its baleful maw over the Sacred Isle of
Britain in the Claudian invasion of A.D.43. This time the Bethany
family viewed the rising tide of Roman oppression from behind the
fearless barricade of British Christian faith and valour. She saw
the British army led by its British Pendragons, Guiderius,
Caractacus and Arviragus, meet the Roman challenge with the
greatest Christian crusading spirit in history, one that has
never since been repeated. She heard the clarion call of the
British Arch Priests exhort the people to rise in the defence of
righteousness. Like the Levites of old, the British Arch Priests,
according to ancient Druidic custom, marched in the front ranks
of the soldiery, without arms. On their white-shirted breasts
they wore the ancient sign of Aaron, the three golden rods, the
insignia of the Trinity. Meeting the foe with their deathless
slogan, "The Truth against the world", they were, as even Julius
Caesar had said of them a century before, "careless of death". 1
In all probability Mary saw the Christian Mission rise at
Avalon, like a fruitful tree, with converts pouring in in an
ever-rising wave, and saw them, as well as members of the
original Bethany band that came with Joseph to Britain, stem out
into other lands to preach the Word, and in many cases die the
death of martyrs. At Avalon she would frequently meet the beloved
in Christ as they convened with Joseph and his companions to plan
their crusading campaigns to Christianize the Gentile world. What
a glorious privilege was hers!
1 Tacitus also, Agricola xi: "The Britons, however, not yet
enfeebled by a long peace, are possessed of superior courage."
It is interesting to know that this sacred burial spot that
was to inter a multitude of holy men, kings and martyrs, has been
called the British Vale of Jehoshaphat. 1 To the Biblical people
the Valley of Jehoshaphat was the valley of final judgment. What
is more interesting is that Avalon was earlier known as Avilion.
This Celtic word has the same word meaning as Jehoshaphat - "The
Isle of Departed Spirits."
With all the mass of tradition and documentary evidence from
Gaul, Brittany, Normandy, Spain, Italy, Constantinople, Rome and
Britain, and the great number of name places associating Mary and
Jesus with Britain, one feels in his heart it is not possible for
it all to be only a beatiful legend without foundation.
How tenderly and lovingly the inspired British poet William
Blake 1757-1872, asks the appealing question in his magnificent
poem, "Jerusalem", so popularly sung in Christian communities.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
William Blake was born in London in 1757, but was familiar
with the stories associated with Glastonbury and steeped in its
ancient history. He expressed his heartfelt prayers for this,
"the Holiest Ground on Earth", in his beautiful poem, which
immediately became adopted as a hymn, familiar to us all.
1 Lewis, "St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury," p.44 (6th
This hymn was a great favourite of King George V. On special
occasions of national significance he would ask for it to be
played and sung. He was familiar with the historic story. The
Royal Library contains many ancient treasures, including the
extraordinary genealogical chart showing the British Royal line
to be in direct descent from the royal kings of ancient Israel.
To be continued with "Simon Zelotes martyred in Britain during
the Boadicean war"