‘Did Joseph of Arimathea live out his last days in Somerset?’

October 22, 2018

FACT OR FICTION? This is the stain glass window at St John’s Church Glastonbury that features the figures of Joseph of Arimathea, St Aristobolus, St Colin the Exorcist and Arivagus, the King who allegedly sold land to Joseph of Arimathea and his companions.

ANNUAL CUSTOM: The thorn tree here in the grounds of St John’s Church is said to be from a cutting taken at the time Joseph of Arimathea placed his staff in Wearyall Hill. The custom of sending a sprig of the thorn to the Royal Family as a decoration at Christmas was re-introduced by the current monarch’s father, George V.

HEALING PROPERTIES: My companion for this trip, Karl, known also by his Orthodox name of Aristobolos, claims the waters from the Chalice Well has helped him recover from a recurring back problem and  he has not been experiencing any recent discomfort since using the water. Here he is replenishing supplies from his last visit.

HISTORIC FOUNDATIONS: This is the Wattle Church of St Mary, originally made out of reeds, wattle and daub said to be dedicated by Joseph of Arimathea and his 11 companions and these can be found in Glastonbury Abbey.


DOES Glastonbury Abbey hold the remains of one of the first Christian missionaries linked to the discipleship of Jesus and thereby proof of the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage?

This is one of the unsolved mysteries that lie behind a stain glass window in St John’s Church in the town’s High Street. There are images of Joseph of Arimathea, Aristobolos, St Colin (pronounced Coff-lin), a saint from Wales and King Arviragus.

According to the book Clouds of Witnesses; A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Sites of Glastonbury and written by Orthodox priest Fr John Ives, St Colin (the Exorcist) lived as a hermit at the bottom of the Tor and the story goes he encountered the pagan god Gwyn, king of the Fairies at the Tor’s summit.

‘Jerusalem is 2nd English national anthem’

Jerusalem is often called the “English Second National Anthem” and it stirs the soul during the Last Night of the Proms. It words were written by William Blake and the music by Sir Hubert Parry, a former parishioner of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on Richmond Hill, Bournemouth.

Blblical accounts show that his own tomb was used as the burial chamber for Jesus after the Crucifixion. Tradition in the Orthodox and Catholic churches say that Joseph was a trader of tin from Cornwall and lead from Somerset’s Mendip Hills.

‘Alternative folk believe Jesus came to Glastonbury’

Some believe Jesus accompanied Joseph as a boy on his commercial trips, as do some of the alternative community do in the town, who would not necessarily believe in Jesus’s divinity as described in the Bible.

Why do I say this? I took part in a survey in 2000 in Glastonbury to find what people in the town felt the Millennium meant to them. One of the questions asked was whether Jesus visited Glastonbury, as suggested in William Blake’s famous hymn, and some who answered who were alternative and not practicing Christians, were convinced he had been there.

Some people I got to know at the time there from the alternative community felt a real need or urge to come to the town but were not absolutely sure why, so perhaps the history explained below give some the reasons why for the pull factor.

According to this video clip, it is alleged that there are two manuscripts in the British Museum and another in Jesus College, Cambridge, that support this theory.

At the time of the first persecution of the Church after the martyrdom of Stephen, Joseph of Arimathea fled with Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalene via Caesarea to the south of Gaul (modern-day France).

‘Joseph’s staff morphed into the Holy Thorn’

At the direction of the Apostle Philip, Joseph and 11 companions travelled to the West of ancient Britain coming to the Isle of Innis Writrin (Glastonbury) in AD63 and on their arrival by sea, Joseph planted his staff on Wearyall Hill which would grow into the Holy Thorn blossoming at Christmas. This place is the inspiration behind the hymn Jerusalem written by poet William Blake.

‘Was the land given recorded in Domesday Book?’

Arviragus was a King of the area in the First Century and the 12 early Christians and given “12 hides of land” and a church was built of reeds, wattle and daub and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has been called by many the “Wattle Church”, the remains of which are in Glastonbury Abbey. A “hide of land” was approximately 120 acres. It is thought these new pilgrims from the Middle East may have made a positive impression the King Aviragus.

In the Domesday Book, it is recorded in Latin and translated into English as “Domus Dei – The great Monastery at Glastonbury called the Secret of the Lord’. This Glastonbury Church hath in its own Villa XII hides of land that have never paid tax.

This solitary place was surrounded by fens and meers and there they lived out their days “in watching, fasting and prayer”. Joseph’s body was said to have been buried on a two-forked line next the south corner of an oratory made of wattles”.

Saint Aristobolos, An Apostle of the Seventy, is said to have brought the Orthodox Christian faith to ancient Britain and had Jewish Cypriot roots. He preached the Gospel as its first Bishop and is said to have been the brother of the apostle Barnabas. Before reaching Britain, he brought to the Gospel to the Celts of Northern Spain.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paul Trevenna November 11, 2018 at 9:51 pm

I think you’ll find that St Piran’s oratory in Cornwall is older!


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