The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
While these things were taking place, deep shadows and darkness were falling on the world, as Isaias had said: " Behold the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation, and of wrath, and fury, to lay the land desolate and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and their brightness shall not display their light, the sun shall be darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not shine with her light." "Fear and trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath covered me." (Psalm liv, 6.) "I will clothe the heavens with darkness, and will make sackcloth their covering." (Isaias 1. 3.) "We looked for light and behold darkness, brightness arid we have walked in the dark." (Isaias lix. 9.) " For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people ; but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." (Isaias lx. 2.) "I will make all the lights of heaven to mourn over thee, and I will cause darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God, when thy wounded shall fall in the midst of the land, saith the Lord God." (Ezechiel xxxii. 8. Joel 11-31. Isaias xxiv. 20.)
The Gospels tell us the darkness covered the whole earth. (Matt, xxvii. 45. Luke xxiii. 44. Mark xv. 33.) The Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth moon, and this was the fifteenth day from the full moon, when the moon was on the other side of the earth from the sun, and therefore it could not have been caused by an eclipse of the sun. No author ever claimed that. Nearly all writers hold that it was supernatural, that as man was reviling his Creator, nature testified to his Divinity.
Dionysius, with his friend Apollophanes, both of Athens, went to Egypt, as was then the custom, to study in the Nile land. They were stopping at Heliopolis, where stood the temple of the sun, and Dionysius tells us what they saw that day of the crucifixion.
"We Dionysius and Apollophanes were there, both at Heliopolis, a city in Egypt, and we both saw the moon advance and come over the sun's face in a miraculous manner, for it was not the time of their conjunction, and at the ninth hour of the day. (This was the Greek way of counting the hours of the day, and corresponded with three o'clock when Christ died.) We saw the moon miraculously restored to its place at the opposite hemisphere of the heavens." When Dionysius saw the darkness he exclaimed : "Either the unknown God suffers, on which account the universe is darkened." Another form states his words were: " Either the Deity suffers, or he is moved to pity one who suffers." The Roman Breviary states the day of Christ's death, seeing the sun darkened, Dionysius exclaimed: " Either nature's God suffers, or the world is being destroyed." In his letter to Apollophanes, Dionysius gives a variation of the phenomena they saw in Egypt. This Apollophanes remained and became a philosopher of Egypt, while Dionysius returned to Athens where St. Paul converted him. lie established the church at Lutitia, as ancient Paris was then called, and there with Rusticus and Eleutherius he suffered martyrdom.
Africanus, a writer of the third century, quotes Phlegont (Lib. Hist. III. Olymp. Chron.) who gives the following regarding the darkness over the world and the earthquake at the moment Christ died. " In the fourth year of the 202d Olympiad, there was a great darkness of the sun, more wonderful than any before in the daytime, at the sixth hour, so that day was turned into night, and the stars of heaven were seen, and there was an earthquake in Bythania, so that many cities of Nice were destroyed." This Phlegont was a pagan writer who lived at the time of Christ, and thus bears testimony to the wonders which took place at the crucifixion.
As the darkness deepened over the world, the people of Jerusalem groped their way through the gloomy streets, sat on the ground with heads covered, or went up to the tops of the houses to see the heavens with the sun as a dark opaque body hanging over the sky. Many broke forth in lamentations, or fell in fear. The animals moaned, birds flew low, all nature mourned their Creator. Pilate went over to see Herod in his apartments of the northern Antonia, near by, and said to him: " These events are not in the common course of nature; they must be caused by the anger of the gods, who are displeased at the cruelty which has been exercised towards Jesus of Nazareth."
Pilate was frightened He sent for some of the religious leaders of the people, and asked them what the astonishing darkness meant. He said, that he thought it was a terrible proof of the anger of their God at the crucifixion of the Galilean, who was certainly their prophet and king. He added that he had nothing to reproach himself with, for he had washed his hands of the whole affair, was innocent of his death, and that he had condemned him at the request of the whole Jewish people. The leading Jews, with vehemence and steadfastness to a purpose, shown either in selling a suit of clothes or ruling an empire, replied that there was nothing unnatural in the darkness, that it could be explained by philosophers, and that they did not repent, nor were they sorry they had put him to death.
But many Jews began to think seriously on the phenomena, returned into themselves after the excitement had passed away, and became converts. A rabble formed before Pilate's palace crying out: " Crucify him, crucify him: " "Down with the unjust judge: " "May the blood of the just man fall on his murderers," etc., and Pilate sent for additional guards and laid the blame on the Jewish people.
A great throng of people assembling in the Temple for the afternoon sacrifice of the lamb, when the darkness became so dense they could not see each other, men were seized with dread and horror, which they expressed by cries and lamentations. The priests tried to quiet them. All the lamps and candles were lighted, but burned dimly. They groped along the walls of city and Temple while the Lord was hanging on the mountain in the darkness as had been foretold. " Upon the dark mountain lift ye p a banner, exalt the voice, lift up the hand and let the rulers into the gates." (Isaias xiii. 2.) "Therefore judgment is far from us, and justice shall not overtake us. We looked for light and behold darkness, brightness and we have walked in the dark. We have groped for the wall, and like the blind we have groped, we have stumbled at noon day as in darkness, we are in dark places as dead men." (Isaias lix. 9, 10.)