initiator: James of Vitry
recipient: Paris masters William de Pont d’Arche, Ralph of Namur, Alexander of Courçon, Philip archdeacon of Noyon, and to the Lady [Abbess] Luitgarde of St Trudon and the community of Aywières
text: End of Mar.  Acre. Writing to the Paris masters William de Pont d’Arche, Ralph of Namur, Alexander of Courçon, Philip archdeacon of Noyon, and to the Lady [Abbess] Luitgarde of St Trudon and the community of Aywières, James of Vitry [I. Acconensis ecclesie minister humilis] recalls his eventful sea voyage from Genoa to Acre, which he reached on 4 November 1216. He describes the various Christian denominations he finds there and his relations with them: Iacobite, Suriani and Nestoriani, Georgiani, Armeni, who do not have a resident bishop or leader, and, of course, Latins, although there are communities - Genoese, Pisan and Venetian - which are exempt from his authority, which is confined to the indigenous Latins, the Pullani, called Poulains in French. There are also criminals, who have migrated from their own nations. He discourses on the wickedness of some of the clergy and of the city, and he is shocked by the reluctance of owners to allow their Muslim [Sarraceni] slaves to be baptised. He preaches the coming crusade. He refers to other Christian settlements and their need of evangelization: Tyre, Beirut, Gibelet, Crac, Tortosa, Margath, Album Castrum, Tripoli, Antioch, the island of Cyprus, Jaffa and Caesarea. He makes special mention of places of pilgrimage close to Acre - Nazareth and Mt Carmel, which he can see from his window. At the time of the writing of this section of his letter, he has not yet been able to visit them for fear of the Sarraceni. He describes his daily life in detail: the celebration of Mass, the hearing of confessions until after midday when he has his main meal, although he has lost his appetite, and then the hearing of cases. So busy is he that he has to reserve prayer and contemplation for night time. Continuing his letter, he narrates how just before Lent, in spite of the danger posed by the Assasi, he travelled on a crusade-preaching journey, visiting holy places on the way: Tyre, Sarepta Sydoniorum, Beirut, where he met the archbishop of the Suriani, Biblium, Tripoli, where he met the comes civitatis et princeps Antiochie [Bohemond IV], accompanied by many milites, and where he found the common language was Arabic [lingua saracena], Crac, from where he sent letters by pigeon post, Castrum Album of the Knights Templar, Antaradus [Tortosa], with its chapel dedicated by St Peter to the Blessed Virgin Mary and with the island of Aradus, and Margat, from where he proposed to take a boat for Antioch. Receiving a letter from the patriarch of Jerusalem calling on him to return, because of the imminent arrival by sea of crusaders [peregrini], he intended to travel in a galea to Cyprus, but was held up by the weather for 15 days. Hearing that one of the hermits of Niger Mons, called Nero, had successfully preached the cross in Cyprus and knowing that the residents of Acre wanted him to return, he went back to his diocese. He ends by maintaining that with 4000 armed milites the Christians could be successful, because, he believes, of Prester John’s Christian forces in Asia and because of the quarrels among the Sarraceni, their sectarian divisions and different practices, including the Fratres Cutellorum [Assassins], with their abbas, the Vetulus Montanus. He returns briefly to the Christian sects - Suriani, Nestoriani, Iacobite and Maronitae, who are now Uniates. He believes that there is a profitable field for missions. He ends by asking for prayers for himself and his capellanus and faithful companion Iohannes de Cameraco.
End of Mar.  Acre. Writing to the Paris masters William de Pont d’Arche, Ralph of Namur, Alexander of Courçon, Philip archdeacon of Noyon, and to the Lady [Abbess] Luitgarde of St Trudon and the community of Aywières, James of Vitry [I. Acconensis ecclesie minister humilis] recalls his... more
sources: James of Vitry, Lettres, pp. 79-97, no. 2 (RRH no. 894)