While examining graffiti on the walls surrounding David’s Tomb on Mount Zion by the Israel Antiquities Authority, more than forty cryptic medieval messages in different languages were uncovered.
In the days of the Mamluk Empire, Christians from West Europe made pilgrimage to Jerusalem and stayed at a hostel in a Franciscan monastery near King David’s Tomb. Many of the knights who came left their signatures alongside emblems of their knighthood on the stone walls.
New technologies developed in the preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls has allowed these inscriptions which have worn out over the centuries to be deciphered.
One inscription in particular surprised researchers. On one of the walls was a message written in carbon with the name and family shield of Knight Adrian von Bubenberg, considered one of Switzerland’s national heroes.
Bubenberg, born in 1424 to one of Switzerland’s noble families, was a military man and statesman. His heroic stature in Swiss history is due to his tenacious defense during the siege of Murten. The city was besieged during 12 days by troops of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and Bubenberg managed to hold out until he was relieved by confederate forces, leading to the decisive defeat of Charles.
After his death in 1479, he was buried in the cathedral in Bern, where his statue adorns that city’s square. Many streets across Switzerland are named after Bubenberg.
His insignia on the walls of David’s Tomb is an additional witness to Bubenberg’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Jerusalem in 1466. His son Adrian II also made a similar pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and it is possible the he is the one who left the greetings to Jerusalem.
Either way, this highlights an ongoing relationship between Switzerland and Israel since days of old.
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