Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 1

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Preparations for Mary's Presentation

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 without bleeding hands. But thou wilt never be called upon for such services, since thy parents are able to maintain thee at the Temple."

But Mary quickly replied that she was ready even for this work, were she esteemed worthy to perform it. At this speech, Joachim again betrayed his emotion.

During these holy ceremonies, I beheld Mary becoming at times so tall that she even rose above the heads of the priests. This was for me a sign of her wisdom and grace. The priests were filled with amazement, at once solemn and joyful.

At last, Mary was blessed by the priests. I saw her radiant with light as she stood on the little altar throne, two priests on either side of her and one opposite. They held rolls of writing, and prayed over the child, their hands outstretched above her. At that moment, I saw a wonderful vision in the child Mary. She seemed, by virtue of the blessing, to become transparent. In her was a glory, a halo of unspeak­able splendor, and in that halo appeared the Mys­tery of the Ark of the Covenant, as if in a glittering crystal vessel. I saw Mary's heart open like the doors of a temple, and the Holy Thing of the Ark of the Covenant, around which a tabernacle of precious stones of multiplied signification had been formed like a heavenly throne, going into her heart through that opening, like the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies, like the ostensorium into the taber­nacle. I saw that by this the child Mary was glori­fied; she hovered above the earth. With the entrance of this Sacrament into Mary's heart, which immedi­ately closed over It, the vision faded, and I saw the child all penetrated by glowing fervor. During this wonderful vision, I saw that Zachary received an in­terior assurance, a heavenly monition that Mary was the chosen vessel of the Mystery. From it he had received a ray that had appeared figuratively in Mary.

And now the priests led the child to her parents. Anne caught her child to her breast and kissed her,

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 but Joachim—deeply affected—reverenced Mary and only took her hand. The elder sister Mary Heli embraced the favored child with much more gaiety than did Anne, who was a very serious, practical, moderate, and self-possessed woman. The little niece, Mary Cleophas, acted as any child would, and fondly embraced the little Mary.

Then the priests took the child again, disrobed her, and led her forth in her customary dress. I saw them standing drinking out of a cup, and then departing.

9. The Journey to the Temple

I saw Joachim, Anne, and their elder daughter busied during the night packing and preparing for a journey. A lamp with several wicks was burning, and I saw Mary Heli busily going about with a light. Some days before, Joachim had sent his servants up to the Temple with offerings of cattle, five of the finest of every kind. They made a nice herd. Now he saddled two of the beasts of burden, and loaded them with all kinds of baggage: clothes for the child and presents for the Temple. A broad package was laid on the back of each beast, and formed a comfortable seat. The baggage was all in bundles. On both sides of one of the beasts platter-shaped baskets with arched covers were fastened. In them were birds as large as partridges. There were also oval baskets containing fruit. A cover with heavy tassels was thrown over the whole load.

Two of the priests were still present. One was very old. He wore a cap pointed on the forehead and with lappets over the ears. His upper garment was shorter than the under one, and over it was a kind of stole. He had much to do with the child. The other priest was younger.

I saw also two boys present. They were not human. They appeared there supernaturally and with a spir­itual signification. They carried long standards rolled

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 upon staffs furnished with knobs at both ends. The larger of the two boys came to me with his standard unfurled, read, and explained it to me. The writing appeared entirely strange to me, the single, golden letters all inverted. One letter represented a whole word. The language sounded unfamiliar, but I under­stood it all the same. He showed me in his roll the passage referring to the burning thornbush of Moses. He explained to me how the thornbush burned, and yet was not consumed; so now was the child Mary inflamed with the fire of the Holy Spirit, but in her humility she knew nothing of it. It signifies also the Divinity and Humanity in Jesus, and how God's fire united with the child Mary. The putting-off of the shoes, he explained thus: "The Law will now be ful­filled. The veil is withdrawn and the essence appears." By the little standard on his staff was signified, as he told me, that Mary now began her course, her career, to become the Mother of the Redeemer. The other boy seemed to be playing with his standard. He jumped about and ran around with it. By this was signified Mary's innocence. The great Promise is to be fulfilled in her, rests upon her, and yet she plays like a child in this holy destiny. I cannot express the loveliness of those boys. They were different from all others present, and these latter did not appear to see them.

There were besides Anne about six female rela­tives with their children and some men who accom­panied them. Joachim guided the beast, upon which the child Mary sometimes rode. He carried a light, for it was still dark when they set out. A servant led the other. The little procession was also accom­panied by the other apparitions of the Prophets. As Mary hastened from the house, they pointed out to me a place in their rolls, wherein it was declared that, although the Temple was indeed magnificent, yet Mary contained in herself still greater magnifi­cence. Mary wore the little yellowish gown and the

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 large veil so fastened around her that her arms could rest in it. When she rode, the Prophet boys followed behind her; but when she walked, they were at her side, singing the Psalms 44 and 49. I knew that the same would be sung at her reception in the Temple. The child Mary saw those boys, but she said noth­ing about it. She was perfectly silent, wholly recol­lected in self.

The journey was difficult, over mountain and val­ley. In the latter lay chilling mists and dew. Once I saw the travelers resting at a fountain under some balsam trees, and again stopping overnight at an inn at the foot of a mountain.

Twelve leagues from Jerusalem, they came up at an inn with the herd that had been sent on in advance as an offering, and which was just about starting anew. Joachim was well known here, and was quite at home. When taking his offerings up to Jerusalem, he had always stopped at this inn; and when, from his penitential stay among the shepherds he returned to Nazareth, he had also put up here.

I again saw the holy travelers in the city Bethoron, six leagues from Jerusalem. They had crossed a rivulet, had passed Gophna and Ozensara, and were still distant about two leagues from a road whence Jerusalem could be descried. At Bethoron, they put up at a Levitical school. Relatives of Joachim and Anne from Nazareth, Sephoris, Zabulon, and the co un - try around, had come hither with their daughters, and there was quite a little festival in Mary's honor. She was conducted with many other children to a hall in which a special place had been prepared for her on an elevated seat like a throne. She was then crowned. The teachers questioned her, and were struck with all her answers. Mention was made of the wisdom of another maiden who not long since had returned from the Temple to her home at Gophna. She was called Susanna, and I think that it was her place Mary was going to take in the Temple. Susanna

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 was then fifteen; later, she joined the holy women that followed Jesus.

Mary rejoiced at being now so near to the Tem­ple. Joachim embraced her, weeping and saying, "I shall never see thee again!" During the repast, Mary went here and there. Several times she reclined by Anne's side at table, or stood behind her with her arm around her neck.

On the following day, accompanied by the teacher of the Levitical school and his family, they started very early for Jerusalem. The young girls carried beautiful fruits and garments as presents for the child. It looked to me as if there was going to be a real feast in Jerusalem. The nearer they approached the Holy City, the more eager and desirous became Mary. She generally ran on before her parents.

I saw the arrival of the procession in Jerusalem, and also beheld the roads and paths and buildings more distinctly than I had done for a long time. Jerusalem was a very singular-looking city. We must not represent it to ourselves with its streets thronged as the great cities of the present day. Many steep and hilly streets ran around behind the city walls, from which no gates led. The houses lying high behind those walls faced the opposite side, for many parts of the city were built at subsequent periods, new ridges of hills being taken in accordingly. The old city walls, however, were always allowed to remain standing. Many of the deep valleys were spanned by massive stone arches. The courtyards and rooms of the houses all opened toward the back of the build­ing' the entrance only being on the street. The walls were surmounted by terraces or balconies. The houses were kept closed the greater part of the time. When the inhabitants had no affairs to call them to the public places of the city or to the Temple, they remained for the most part in their own houses and courts. It was tolerably quiet on the streets, except­ing in the neighborhood of the markets and palaces

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 where there was much going to and fro of soldiers and travelers. On certain days, at the time when all were gathered in the Temple for worship, the city in many localities was entirely deserted. On this account and the seclusion of the people in their houses, Jesus and His disciples were enabled to go undisturbed through the solitary streets and deep valleys. Water was not plentiful in the city; one often sees high buildings to and from which it was conveyed, also towers in which it was pumped. They were very care­ful of water at the Temple where such quantities were needed for washing and purifying the various vessels, etc. They had great engines for pumping it up. There were numbers of shopkeepers and mer­chants in the city; they had their booths all together in the markets and open squares. So stood, for instance, not far from the sheep gate, many dealers in all kinds of gold trinkets and shining stones. Their booths were round and light, and quite brown as if streaked with something, pitch or resin, probably. Though light, they were very strong. There they car­ried on their business and, under tents stretched from one to another, they exposed their different wares. There were also certain localities, near the palaces for instance, where there was more life in the streets, where it was more brisk. Old Rome was indeed more pleasantly situated. It was not so steep, and its streets were more lively. On one side of the mountain upon which the Temple was situated, the declivity was more gentle. Here there were several streets upon terraces and on top of the thick walls, where some of the priests and servants of the Tem­ple dwelt, as did some laboring people who performed the lowest services, such as purifying the ditches wherein was thrown the offal of the cattle slaugh­tered for the Temple. On the other side, the moun­tain was very steep, and the ditch quite black. Around the summit of the mountain was a green ledge whereon the priests had all kinds of little gardens.

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 Even in Christ's time, there was upon certain parts of the Temple work constantly going on.

There were quantities of ore in the mountain upon which stood the Temple, and much was dug out and used in the building. Inside the meadow were num­bers of smelting vaults and furnaces. I never felt at home in the Temple, for I never could find in it a place well-suited for prayer. It was all so immensely solid, so massive, so high, the numerous courts were so narrow, dark, and obstructed by so many elevated platforms and seats, that, when the people were in it, it presented a somewhat frightful spectacle, and even looked confined with its high, massive walls and lofty pillars. The constant slaughtering going on and the quantities of blood flowing in consequence, I found most repulsive, though words cannot express the wonderful order and cleanliness that reigned in everything connected with it.

10. The Entrance into Jerusalem

I saw the caravan that conducted Mary approach­ing Jerusalem from the north, and winding toward the east around the outlying gardens and palaces of the city. They crossed the valley of Josaphat and, leaving the road to Bethania on the left, entered the city by the sheep gate leading to the cattle market. There was a pool here in which the sheep were washed. Thence their way turned to the right and ran between walls to another section of the city. Then they followed a long road through a valley, and at last reached the neighborhood of the fish market at the west side of the city. Here stood the house at which Zachary, when engaged in the service of the Temple, always put up. Out of this inn came men, women, and children with garlands to meet the car­avan and to conduct them in ceremony to the house, about a quarter of an hour's distance, at which they were to stop. Zachary was not present, but I saw a

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 very old man there, his father's brother I think; and among those that came out to welcome Mary, were relatives with their children from the country around Hebron and Bethlehem. There was a fine feast pre­pared for them in the house at which they stopped. The child Mary wore the second festival suit with the little blue mantle.

Zachary called here for them, in order to take them to the feast inn that he had hired for them. This was an inn which could be hired on festival occasions like the present. There were four such inns on the northeast side of the mountain on which stood the Temple. That hired by Zachary was very large. Four halls surrounded a large court, along whose walls were sleeping places and long, low tables. A spacious saloon and a kitchen were also prepared for the guests. On two sides of this feast inn, dwelt some of the servants of the Temple, whose duty it was to see to the animals intended for sacrifice. The court wherein was placed the herd that Joachim had brought as an offering, lay hard by.

A procession was formed when Zachary was about to lead the travelers into the inn hired for the feast. He himself walked first with Joachim and Anne; then came Mary surrounded by four little girls in white, and followed by the other children and relatives. Their way led to Herod's palace and passed that of the Roman governor, leaving the citadel of Antonia behind; at last they reached a high wall, up which there was a flight of more than fifteen steps. Mary, to the astonishment of all, mounted them without assistance. Her friends wanted to help her, but she refused. Upon their entrance into the inn, their feet were washed. Then they were shown into a large hall in the center of which a lamp was suspended from the ceiling over a large, metal basin of water. Here they washed their face and hands.

Joachim and Anne then went up with Mary to the dwelling of some of the priests. Here, likewise urged

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 by an interior spirit, the child hurried to mount the steps. The two priests cordially received them into the house. Both had been present at Mary's exami­nation in Nazareth. They called one of the women belonging to the Temple, where she executed all kinds of works common to females, and educated little girls. Her abode was at some distance from the Temple, among the added rooms forming the sleeping apart­ments of the Temple virgins. Out of these rooms, one could—unseen—look down into the sanctuary. The widow was so enveloped in her mantle that one could see only a little of her face. The priests and the par­ents delivered the child Mary over to her as her future pupil. She received her gravely, but cordially, while the child was all submission and reverence. She (the widow) accompanied the party to the feast inn, and received a package as the child's dowry.

The following day was taken up with preparations for Joachim's sacrifice and for Mary's entrance into the Temple.

Joachim went early with his offering of cattle to the Temple, in front of which the animals for the sacrifice were selected. Those not chosen were at once led back to the cattle market. Joachim had to lay his hand upon the head of each animal before it was slaughtered and he afterward received some of the flesh and blood of each. There were in this place many pillars, tables, and vessels, where the sacri­fices were cut up, divided, and arranged. The scum of the blood was put aside; the fat, the spleen, and the liver separated, and all parts were salted. The entrails of the lambs were cleaned, filled with some­thing, and again restored to the animal so that it looked like a whole lamb. The feet were bound cross­wise. A great portion of the meat was taken to a court in which were some of the Temple virgins. They seemed to have something to do connected with it; perhaps they had to prepare it either for themselves or for the priests. All was carried on with inde­scribable

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 order. The priests and Levites came and went, two and two; and during the difficult and multi­farious work, all progressed as if by line and level. The pieces prepared for sacrifice layover till the next day.

In the inn was held a feast, and there was also a repast, at which about one hundred people assisted along with the children, among them twenty-four girls of different ages. Among others, I saw Seraphia, who was called Veronica after the death of Jesus. She was already well-grown, probably from ten to twelve years old. They prepared garlands and wreaths for Mary and her companions, and ornamented for them seven scepter-shaped lamps on whose summit burned a flame. During the feast many priests and Levites went in and out of the inn, taking part also in the repast. When they expressed surprise at the greatness of Joachim's offering, he bade them recall the ignominy he had endured at the Temple when his former offerings were rejected, and the great mercy of God who had heard his supplications, and he asked them whether he should not now express his gratitude according to the extent of his power. I saw the child Mary and the other girls taking a walk in the neighborhood of the house.

11. Mary's Entrance into the Temple and her Offering

Zachary and the other men had already gone to the Temple, and now Mary was led thither by the women and the virgins. Anne and her elder daugh­ter Mary Heli, with the little daughter of the latter, Mary Cleophas, walked first; then came Mary in her second suit, the sky-blue dress and mantle, her neck and arms adorned with garlands, and the flower wreathed candlestick in her hand. On either side walked three little maidens with similarly trimmed candlesticks. They were dressed in white embroidered

Mary Enters the Temple

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 with gold, and wore bluish mantles. They were quite covered with garlands, even their arms were twined with flowers. Then followed the other virgins and lit­tle girls, about twenty in number, all dressed beau­tifully, but somewhat differently though all wore mantles. Then came the elderly females. They could not proceed straight to the Temple from this point; they had to take a circuitous route of nearly half an hour. They passed through some streets and before Veronica's house. From many of the dwellings the procession was saluted, the spectators gazing in won­der at the child and her beautiful train of atten­dants. There was something very extraordinary in Mary's appearance. At the Temple, men were busy opening a large and wonderfully beautiful gate upon which were carved grapevines, ears of wheat, and heads of various kinds. It was the Golden Gate. The priests led the Holy Virgin up numerous steps to this gate. Joachim and Zachary met them at the gate, which opened into a long archway, and led them through several passages into a hall. Here Mary was again questioned by the priests, after which she was clothed in the third holiday suit, the violet-blue, embroidered one.

And now Joachim went with the priests to offer sacrifice. He took fire from a certain place and stood between two priests at the altar. The approach to the altar from three sides was free, but not so on the fourth. At the four corners of the altar, stood small copper pillars and a pipe of the same metal, shaped like a large inverted funnel, which ended in a spiral tube. By this arrangement the smoke from the burn­ing sacrifice rose and escaped over the head of the priest. On three sides of the altar a shelf could be drawn out to receive what was to be laid on the mid­dle of it, since to reach that far would be impossible.

When the sacrifice was kindled, Mary went with the women and children to her place of prayer in the women's porch, where she and her young companions

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 stood in the front row. The porch was separated from the court of the altar of burnt offerings by a wall, in which was a gate with a grating above. Through this gate Joachim entered the subterranean passage when, upon the day of Mary's Immaculate Conception, he met Anne under the Golden Gate. The women back in the court could see the altar better, when mounted on steps raised in tiers. In another court was stand­ing a crowd of white-robed boys belonging to the Tem­ple, playing upon flutes and harps.

After the sacrifice, a portable altar was set up under the arched gateway, and before it were placed a cou­ple of steps. Zachary and Joachim, with some priests and two Levites, entered from the court of the altar of burnt offerings, carrying rolls and writing mate­rials, while Anne led Mary to the steps before the altar. Mary knelt upon the steps, while Joachim and Anne, laying their hands on her head, uttered some words bearing reference to the offering of their child, which words were written down by the two Levites. Then one of the priests cut a lock of hair from the child's head, and cast it upon a pan of live coals, after which he threw around her a brown veil. During this ceremony, the girls sang Psalm 44, Eructauit cor meum; the priests, Psalm 49, Deus deorum Dominus; and the boys played on their musical instruments.

And now the priests led the Holy Virgin up a long flight of steps in the wall that separated the sanc­tuary from the rest of the Temple. They stood her in something like a niche, from which she could see into the Temple where were ranged numbers of men who seemed to be consecrated to its service. Two priests stood at Mary's side, and several others on the steps praying and reading aloud from rolls. Behind Mary and on the other side of the wall, a priest was standing at the altar of incense, only half of his per­son visible from the point at which Mary and her attendants were placed. Through an opening con­trived for the purpose, one could cast incense upon

Mary's Presentation

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 the altar without entering the court. The priest now at the incense altar was a holy old man. While he offered sacrifice and the cloud of incense arose around Mary, I saw a vision, which grew in magnitude until at last it filled the whole Temple and obscured it.

I saw above the heart of Mary the glory and the Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant. At first it looked exactly like the Ark of the Covenant; and lastly like the Temple itself. Out of the Mystery and before Mary's breast, arose a chalice similar to that of the Last Supper; above it and just in front of her mouth appeared bread marked with a cross. Beams of light radiated around her, and in them shone her various types and symbols. The mysterious pictures of the Litany of Loretto and the other names and titles of Mary, I saw ranged up the whole flight of steps and around her.

From her shoulders, right and left, stretched an olive and a cedar branch crosswise above an elegant palm tree with a small tuft of leaves that stood directly behind her. In the intervening spaces of this verdant cross, appeared all the instruments of Christ's Passion. Over the vision hovered the Holy Spirit, a figure winged with glory, in appearance more human than dovelike. The heavens opened above Mary and the central point of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, floated over her with all the gardens, the palaces, and the dwellings of the future saints. Angels in myriads hovered around, and the glory that encir­cled her was full of angelic faces.

Ah, who can express it! Infinite variety, unceasing change, all these pictures following quickly upon and, as it were, growing out of one another. Innumerable points of this vision, I have forgotten. All the splen­dor and magnificence of the Temple, the richly orna­mented wall before which Mary was standing—all grew dark and somber. The whole Temple disappeared, for Mary and her glory alone was visible.

In this vision, symbolical of Mary's spiritual

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signification, I saw her not as a child, but full-grown. She hovered in the air. And through and through the vision, I still saw the priests, the incense offering, and everything else. Then the priest at the altar appeared to prophesy, and to call upon the people to thank God and to pray, for that great things were to come upon the child. The crowd in the Temple, greatly awed—although they had not seen the vision that I saw—maintained a solemn stillness. The vision faded away just as gradually as it had unfolded. At last, the Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant shone again in its glory over her heart, and the child once more stood there alone in her rich attire.

Then the priests, among whom Zachary was one of those standing on the lower steps, led Mary down by the hand. One of them took the light from her and the little garlands off her arms, and handed them to the other girls. Mary was then led through a door into another hall where six other Temple vir­gins, their mistress Noemi, (who was the sister of Lazarus's mother) Anna, and another female met them and scattered flowers before her. To them the priest delivered the child.

When the singing was ended, Mary look leave of her parents. Joachim was especially affected. He took the little child up in his arms, pressed her to his heart, and said weeping: "Remember my soul before God."

Mary now accompanied the women and children belonging to the Temple to their dwelling on the north side, from which passages and winding stairs led up to little chambers adjoining the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies, where they went to pray. The oth­ers (that is, Mary's relatives and friends) returned to the apartments near the entrance, and took a repast with the priests, the women apart. There were still in the Temple some devout adorers. Many had followed the procession to the entrance. There were numbers among those present who knew that Mary was a child of promise in her family. I remember,

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 though not distinctly, that Anne had dropped some such expressions to her friends as: "Now does the vessel of the Promise enter the Temple. Now is the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple." It was by a spe­cial manifestation of the Divine Will that this feast was so solemnly and magnificently celebrated.

Joachim and Anne were indeed wealthy, but they lived very frugally. They gave all to the Temple and to the poor. I do not now remember how long it was that Anne took for herself nothing but cold victuals, but she treated her domestics generously and pro­vided them with dowries. I think she and Joachim returned that same day with their whole company to Bethoron.

I saw also a feast among the Temple children. They had a meal at which Mary had to question first the mistresses and then the maidens separately as to whether they were willing to have her among them. This was the custom. Then the girls had a dance among themselves. They stood two and two opposite one another and danced, changed places across, and formed figures in and out. There was no leaping, but certain swaying movements of the whole person, which seemed somewhat expressive of the Jewish character. Some of the girls accompanied the dance with the music of flutes, triangles, chimes, and an instrument that gave forth sounds at once strange and agreeable. It consisted of a little box with oblique sides, over which were stretched strings which the players touched with their fingers. The center of the box contained bellows out of which projected several pipes, some crooked, others straight. The performer pressed sometimes here, sometimes there on the cen­ter of the bellows which mingled its sounds with those of the strings. The instrument was rested either upon the knee of the performer, or upon a stool under which the knee was placed. In the evening, Noemi took Mary to her cell, from which she could see down into the Temple. Here Mary mentioned to Noemi her

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 desire to get up more frequently in the night to pray, but Noemi refused her request for the present. The women belonging to the Temple wore white robes, long and wide, girdled at the waist. Their flowing sleeves were turned up when at work.

Far back in the Temple were numerous chambers built in the wall and connected with the dwellings of the women. Mary's cell was one of the most dis­tant, one nearest the Holy of Holies. From the pas­sage that led to it, one raised a curtain and stepped into an apartment, a sort of antechamber separated from the cell by a light, semicircular, movable screen. Here in the corners right and left, were shelves for clothing and other things. Opposite the door in the screen that led into the cell was an opening hung with gauze and tapestry, and looking down into the Temple. It was rather high in the wall; one had to mount upon steps to reach it. On the left of the cell, lay a cover rolled into a bundle, which Mary unrolled at night for a couch. A branched lamp stood in a niche of the wall. I saw the holy child standing on a stool near it and praying out of a roll with red knobs on the rod. It was indeed a touching sight. The child wore a little coarsely woven, striped dress, blue and white, with yellow flowers. A small round table like a stool stood in the room, and on it I saw Anna setting a dish of fruit the size of beans, and a little jug. The child was skillful far beyond her years. She could already work on little white cloths for the service of the Temple. The wall of her cell was inlaid with colored, triangular stones.

I often saw the child Mary seized with holy long­ing for the Messiah and saying to Anna: "Oh, will the promised Child be born soon? Oh, if I could only see that Child! Oh, if only I am living when He is born!" Then Anna would give this reply: "Think how old I am and how long I have waited for that Child! And you—you are still so young!" And Mary would shed tears of longing for the promised Saviour.

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The maidens reared in the Temple under the care of the matrons occupied themselves with embroidery, with all kinds of ornamental work, and with cleans­ing the priestly garments and the vessels belonging to the Temple. From their cells, they could see into the Temple, pray and meditate. They were, by the fact of their parents' having placed them there, entirely dedicated to the Lord. Upon reaching a cer­tain age, they were given in marriage, for there was among the more enlightened Israelites the pious, though secret hope that from such a virgin dedicated to God, the Messiah would be born.

I never saw that Herod built the Temple anew. Under him there were indeed many changes made in it; but at the time of Mary's entrance, eleven years before the Birth of Christ, the Temple itself had not been touched. The additions and changes had been made as heretofore on the outbuildings alone.

12. A Glance at the Obduracy of the Pharisees

How obdurate and obstinate the priests and the Pharisees of the Temple were, may be discovered from the small esteem in which they held the dis­tinctions bestowed upon the Holy Family.

First Joachim's offering was rejected; but after some months both his own and his wife's were, by God's command, received. Joachim was admitted even into the presence of the Holy of Holies and he, as well as Anne, was—though unknown to each other—led into the passage under the Temple. There they met, Mary was conceived, and priests awaited them at the entrance of this cave under the Temple—all that took place by God's command. I have seen that some­times, though not often, the sterile were commanded to be led in there.

Mary entered the Temple in her fourth year, and in all things was she distinguished and remarkable.

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 The sister of Lazarus's mother was her teacher and nurse. Her whole manner of acting was so remark­able, so marvelous, that I have seen great rolls writ­ten by aged priests about her. I think they still lie hidden with other writings.

Then came the wonderful manifestations at Joseph's espousals and the blossoming of his rod, the accounts of the Three Kings and of the shepherds, the Presentation of Jesus, Anna's and Simeon's tes­timony, and the teaching of Jesus at the age of twelve in the Temple.

But all this, the priests and Pharisees noticed not. Their mind was preoccupied by business and court affairs. Because the Holy Family lived in voluntary retirement and poverty, they were forgotten in the crowd. The more enlightened, however, such as Simeon, Anna, and others, knew of them.

But when Jesus appeared and John bore witness to Him, the teaching of the Pharisees was so directly contradictory that, even if the signs of His coming had not been forgotten by them, they would certainly not have made them known. Herod's reign and the Roman yoke had so involved them in quarrels and intrigues that their taste for spiritual things was weakened. They did not esteem John's testimony, and they soon forgot him after he was beheaded. They cared little for the teaching and miracles of Jesus, and their ideas of the Prophets and the Messiah were altogether erroneous. It is not surprising, there­fore, that they so shamefully treated Jesus, and put Him to death, that they disavowed His Resurrection, the wonderful signs that followed it, and even the fulfillment of His prophecy respecting the destruc­tion of Jerusalem. Nor is it to be wondered at that they neglected the signs that heralded His advent, since He had not at that time either taught or wrought miracles. Were the blindness, the obduracy of these men not so incomprehensibly great, could it have lasted even to this day?

John Promised to Zachary

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When I go over the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem of the present day, I frequently see under a certain ruined building a large vault, or many adjoining vaults, which are partly fallen in and filled with water. Standing in the midst of the water, which rises almost to a level with it, is a table. From the cen­ter of the table to the roof of the vault, rises a pil­lar around which are hung little coffers filled with rolls of writings. Under the table also I saw rolls lying in the water. Perhaps these vaults were once burial places. They lie under Mount Calvary. I think the ruined building is the house wherein Pilate once dwelt, and the treasure will after some time be dis­covered.

13. John Promised to Zachary

I saw Zachary conversing with Elizabeth. He was telling her how sad he was because his turn to offer sacrifice in the Temple was drawing near, and how he dreaded the contempt that would there await him on account of his being childless. Zachary went twice a year to the Temple. He did not live at Hebron itself, but at a place called Juta about fifteen minutes' walk from Hebron. The ruins of former buildings still lay between the two places, leading one to fancy that they had once been connected. Many such ruins were to be found on the other side of Hebron, for the place was once as large as Jerusalem. At Hebron dwelt priests of a lower degree; in Juta, those of a higher rank. Zachary seemed to be the Superior of them all. He and Elizabeth were regarded with extraordinary veneration from the fact of both having descended in a direct line from the race of Aaron.

I saw Zachary with many people of this locality, going to a little property that he owned in the neigh­borhood of Juttah.1 It consisted of a house, an orchard,

1. Juta.

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Life of Jesus Christ

 and a spring. I saw him there also with the Holy Family at the time of Mary's Visitation. At the period of which I am speaking, Zachary was teaching the people and praying with them. It seemed to be a preparation for a feast. He told them of his great dejection, and of his presentiment that something remarkable was going to happen to him.

Again I saw Zachary with the same people going to Jerusalem, where he had to wait four days before his turn to sacrifice came round. Until that time, he prayed in the forepart of the Temple. At last when his turn came, he went into the sanctuary outside the entrance to the Holy of Holies. The roof over the altar of incense was opened so that the sky could be seen. The priest offering sacrifice was not visible to those outside. A partition concealed him, but the smoke of the incense could be seen rising. I think Zachary told the other priests that he must be left alone, for I saw them leaving the sanctuary. Zachary went into the Holy of Holies where it was dark. It appeared to me that he took the Tables of the Law out of the Ark of the Covenant, and laid them upon the golden altar of incense. When he kindled the incense, I saw to the right of the altar a light com­ing down on him and in it a luminous figure. Zachary, frightened, stepped back and sank, as if in ecstasy, at the right side of the altar. The angel raised him up and spoke some words to him. Zachary replied. Then I saw something like a ladder let down from Heaven, and two angels ascending and descending to him. One took something from him; but the other—after Zachary had opened his garment—inserted a shining little body in his side. Zachary had become dumb. I saw him before leaving the Holy of Holies, writing on a little tablet that lay there. This tablet he sent at once to Elizabeth, who likewise had had a vision at that same hour.

I saw that the people outside were troubled and anxious on account of Zachary's remaining so long

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 1

This document is: ACE_1_0161

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