“The primary fact, never to be forgotten when one thinks of
life in Palestine then (at the time of Christ) is that it was an
occupied country …… Europeans know from experience what
the word ‘occupation’ means, what it implies in the
way of constraint and even of bondage and coercion. The Romans held
the country in the fullest sense of the term, either directly or
by means of their (Jewish) servants.”
(‘Daily Life in Palestine at the Time of Christ’ –
“…It seemed not improbable that there might be more
scrolls, and certainly fragments, since apparently some of the documents
found were in a fragile condition with pieces missing …”
(The Dead Sea Scrolls- J. M. Allegro)
The above two quotes inspired the writing of the story 'PROCULA’S
DREAM'. The book is fictional and draws from sources that are historical
facts, myths and Biblical dreams. Dreams dreamt in the holy city
of Jerusalem brought in their wake not only mystic aftershocks,
but also the shadow of doom to the existence of Judea. Against the
background of the hard Roman imperial presence, the ephemeral character
of dreams takes on a historical reality.
At the heart of the narrative is MARY'S family drama of the impending
danger that threatens her son JESUS, with the prospect of his arrest,
trial and the Crucifixion. The book 'PROCULA’S DREAM' adds
a totally new and original insight into the Passion Story –
it enlarges the perspective to include Mary's role and her share
in the unfolding drama.
The writers of the four Gospels give scanty information about MARY,
beyond attributing a few mystic dreams and her regal lineage. The
richness of her personality is obliterated. Her vitality, intelligence,
healing talents and the influence it had on Jesus was sacrificed
at the altar of creating an archetypal icon to Holy Motherhood,
the Mother of the Redeemer, a perfect and a pure vessel through
which God could pour his Divine Will.
'PROCULA’S DREAM' establishes MARY as an earthly, corporeal
presence. She was the mother of a large family- Jesus had four brothers
called James, Joses, Juda and Simon. Also mentioned by Mark (6;
3) and Matthew (13; 55) are two sisters who remained nameless.
The time of the story is set during the month of preparation for
the Passover Festival when the Jerusalem Temple becomes the magnet
for pilgrims from Judea and the various centres of Jewish Diaspora.
The approaching Passover Festivities are also the time that brings
PONTIUS PILATE - the Roman proconsul who survived for posterity
as the key to the Crucifixion tragedy - and his wife PROCULA. Surprisingly
nowadays nobody recognises the name PROCULA, despite the fact that
Roman history if filled with vivid descriptions of wives of famous
Romans and even of courtesans. Yet, there is no official record
of the wife of the man who had ruled Judea with an iron fist for
fourteen years! There is one exception - the author of ST. MATHEW
mentions her by name and describes a dream she supposedly has had,
relating to Jesus, on the eve of the Crucifixion. Matthew (27:19)
At some point, the paths of JESUS and MARY, PILATE, and PROCULA,
cross in Jerusalem, where the Roman rulers and its military cohorts
converge for the Jewish Festivities.
Also on the way to Jerusalem Temple is Mary's rich uncle from Alexandria,
( a kind of ancient Onassis figure), a well connected man with spies
in Rome, who has sent a warning to Mary's family. He warned that
on no account must Jesus appear in Jerusalem with his disciples.
In spite of the disapproval of her own family and from the elders
of the Nazarene community that it's not a woman's task, Mary sets
out to find her son Jesus to stop him from proceeding to Jerusalem.
Jesus ignores her warning, determined to carry out his mission at
the Jerusalem Temple. He proceeds on his way, accompanied by his
disciples and followers.
Also flocking to reach Jerusalem are numerous Jewish rebels, plotting
In despair, Mary makes her way to Jerusalem to seek help from influential
officials of the TEMPLE as well as Jews employed by Roman administration.
Most of all she is aiming to find access to PROCULA, the power behind
the proverbial throne. The encounter between the two women is central
to the story - it illuminates the drama of the collision of the
two cultures: Pagan Rome and Monotheistic Judaism.
JERUSALEM is the cross road where the lives of Jesus and Pilate,
Procula and Mary become knotted together. In the valley where Jews
were crucified and where Jesus earned through his agony the Crown
of Thorns and the title 'The King of the Jew', is Mary, cradling
the dead body of her tortured son. She became the symbol of sorrow,
a MATER DOLOROSA of the PIETA.
The novel 'PROCULA'S DREAM' was begun a few years ago, written in
sections, in between filming projects. It awaits completion.
(The above story was originally commissioned by David Rose, FILM
ON FOUR as a film script in 1999)