Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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Mary's Purification


The whole of the next day, I still saw the Holy Family with the old people outside Jerusalem. The Blessed Virgin was almost all the time alone in her room with the Child which lay upon a low, covered projection of the wall. She was always in prayer, and appeared to be preparing herself for the sacrifice. I received at that moment an interior instruction as to how we should prepare for the Holy Sacrifice. I saw in her room myriads of angels adoring the Child Jesus. Mary was wholly absorbed in her own inte­rior. The old people did out of pure love all they could for the Mother of God. They must have had some presentiment of the Child's holiness.

I had a vision also of the priest Simeon. He was a very aged, emaciated man with a short beard. He had a wife and three grown sons, the youngest of whom was already twenty years old. Simeon dwelt at the Temple. I saw him going through a narrow, dark passage in the wall of the Temple to a little cell which was built in the thick walls. It had only one opening, from which he could look down into the Temple. Here I saw the old man kneeling and praying in ecstasy. The apparition of an angel appeared before him, telling him to notice particu­larly the first Child that would, early the next morn­ing, be brought for presentation, for that It was the Messiah whom he had now awaited so long. The angel added that, after seeing the Child, he would die. Oh, what a beautiful sight that was to me! The little cell was so bright, and the old man radiant with joy! He went home full of gladness, announced to his wife the good tidings of the angel, and then returned to his prayer. I have seen that the pious priests and Israelites of those times did not sway to and fro so much when at prayer as the Jews of our days; but I saw them scourging themselves. Anna in her Temple cell was also rapt in prayer; and she, too, had a vision.

Early in the morning while it was still quite dark,


Life of Jesus Christ

 I saw the Holy Family accompanied by the two old people going into the city and to the Temple. The ass was laden as if for a journey, and they had with them the basket of offerings. They first entered a court that was surrounded by a wall, and there the ass was tied under a shed. The Blessed Virgin and Child were received by an old woman and conducted along a covered walk up to the Temple. The old woman carried a light, for it was still dark. Here in this pas­sage came Simeon full of expectation to meet Mary. He spoke a few joyous words with her, took the Child Jesus, pressed Him to his heart, and then hurried to another side of the Temple. Since the preceding evening, when he had received the announcement of the angel, he had been consumed by desire. He had taken his stand in the women's passage to the Tem­ple, hardly able to await the coming of Mary and her Child.

Mary was now led by the woman to a porch in that part of the Temple in which the ceremony of presentation was to take place. Anna and another woman (Noemi, Mary's former directress) received her. Simeon came out to the porch and conducted Mary with the Child in her arms into the hall to the right of the women's porch. It was in this porch that the treasure box stood by which Jesus was sitting when the widow cast in her mite. Old Anna, to whom Joseph had handed over the basket of fruit and doves, followed with Noemi, and Joseph retired to the stand­ing place of the men.

It was understood at the Temple that several women were coming today to offer sacrifice, and preparations had been made accordingly. Numerous pyramidal lamps were burning round the walls, the little flames rising out of a disk supported upon an arm in the form of an arch, which shone almost as brightly as the light itself. On the disk hung extin­guishers which, when struck together above the flame, put it out. Before the altar, from whose cor­ners

Mary's Purification


 projected horns, was placed a chest, the doors of which opened outward and afforded supports for a tolerably large slab, the whole forming a table. This surface was covered first with a red cloth and over that a white transparent one, both of which fell to the floor. On the four corners burned lamps with several branches; in the center of the table was a cradle-shaped basket, and near it two oval dishes and two small baskets. All these objects, as also the priests' vestments, which were lying on the horned altar, were kept in the chest whose open doors formed the table. A railing enclosed the whole. On both sides of this hall were rows of seats in tiers where priests were sitting in prayer.

Simeon conducted Mary through the altar rail and up to the table of sacrifice. The Infant Jesus, wrapped in His sky-blue dress, was laid in the basket cradle. Mary wore a sky-blue dress, a white veil, and a long, yellowish mantle. When the Child had been placed in the cradle, Simeon led Mary out again to the standing place of the women. He then proceeded to the altar proper, whereon lay the priestly vestments and at which, besides himself, three other priests were vesting. And now one of them went behind, one before, and two on either side of the table, and prayed over the Child, while Anna approached Mary, gave her the doves and fruit in two little baskets, one on top of the other, and went with her to the altar rail. Anna remained there while Mary, led again by Sim­eon, passed on through the railing and up to the altar. There upon one of the dishes she deposited the fruit, and into the other laid some coins; the doves she placed upon the table in the basket. Simeon stood before the table near Mary while the priest behind it took the Child from the cradle, raised It on high and toward the different parts of the Temple, pray­ing all the while. Simeon next received the Child from him, laid It in Mary's arms, and, from a roll of parchment that lay near him on a desk, prayed over


Life of Jesus Christ

 her and the Child.

After that Simeon again led Mary to the railing, whence Anna accompanied her to the place set apart for the women. In the meantime, about twenty moth­ers with their firstborn had arrived. Joseph and sev­eral others were standing back in the place assigned to the men.

Then two priests at the altar proper began a reli­gious service accompanied by incense and prayers, while those in the rows of seats swayed to and fro a little, but not like the Jews of the present day.

When these ceremonies were ended, Simeon went to where Mary was standing, took the Child into his arms and, entranced with joy, spoke long and loud. When he ceased, Anna also filled with the Spirit, spoke a long time. I saw that the people around heard them indeed, but it caused no interruption to the other ceremonies. Such praying aloud appeared not to be unusual. But all were deeply impressed, and regarded Mary and the Child with great rever­ence. Mary shone like a rose. Her public offerings were indeed the poorest; but Joseph in private gave to Simeon and to Anna many little, yellow, triangu­lar pieces to be employed for the use of the Temple, and chiefly for the maidens belonging to it who were too poor to meet their own expenses. It was not everyone that could have his children reared in the Temple. Once I saw a boy in Anna's care. I think he was the son of a prince, or king, but I have forgot­ten his name.

I did not witness the purification ceremonies of the other mothers; but I had an interior conviction that all the children offered on that day would receive special grace, and that some of the martyred inno­cents were among them. When the Most Holy Child Jesus was laid upon the altar in the basket cradle, an indescribable light filled the Temple. I saw that God was in that light, and I saw the heavens open up as far as the Most Holy Trinity.

Feast Picture


Mary was now led back into the court by Anna and Noemi. Here she took leave of them, and was joined by Joseph and the old people with whom she and Joseph had lodged. They went with the ass straight out of Jerusalem, and the good, old people accompanied them a part of the way. They reached Bethoron the same day, and stayed overnight in the house which had been Mary's last stopping place on her journey to the Temple thirteen years before. Here some of Anne's people were waiting to conduct them home.

18. Feast Picture

I saw the festival of the Purification celebrated also in the spiritual church. It was filled with angelic choirs and in the center above them, I saw the Most Holy Trinity and in It something like a void. In the middle of the church stood an altar and on it a tree with broad, pendent leaves, similar to the trees in Paradise by which Adam fell.

I saw the Blessed Virgin with the Child Jesus in her arms floating up from the earth to the altar, while the tree on the same inclined low before her and began to wither. A magnificent angel in priestly garments, a halo round his head, approached Mary. She gave him the Child, and he laid It upon the altar. At that instant I saw the Most Holy Trinity as ever before in Its fullness. I saw the angel give to Mary a little shining ball whereon was the figure of a swathed Child, and I saw her with this gift hov­ering over the altar. From all sides, I saw crowds of poor people approaching Mary with lights. She reached those lights to the Child on the ball into which they seemed to pass, and then to reappear. I saw that all these lights united into one, which spread over Mary and the Child, and illumined all things. Mary had extended her wide mantle over the whole earth. And now there was a festival.


Life of Jesus Christ

I think that the withering of the Tree of Knowl­edge at Mary's appearance and the offering of the Child to the Most Holy Trinity signified the reunit­ing of the human race with God, and through Mary those scattered lights became one light in the light of Jesus, and illumined all things.

19. Death of Holy Simeon

I saw that Simeon, after prophesying in the Tem­ple, returned home and fell sick. I saw him on his couch giving his last advice to his wife and sons, and imparting to them his joy. Then I saw him die. There were several old Jews and priests praying around him.

When he had breathed his last, they carried the body into another room where, without stripping it, it was washed. The body was laid on a board pierced with holes, under which was a copper basin to receive the water as it fell. A large sheet was thrown over the corpse, and under that the washing was per­formed. Green leaves and herbs were then strewn plentifully over it and a wide cloth bound firmly around it, as is done in the swathing of a child. The corpse was so stiff and straight that I was tempted to think it was bound to a board. The burial took place in the evening. Six men with lights carried the corpse on a board with low, curved sides to the sep­ulcher hewn in a hill not far from the Temple. It was entered through an oblique door; the interior walls were ornamented with stars and various figures like the Blessed Virgin's cell at the Temple. I noticed the same kind of ornamentation in St. Benedict's first cloister. The corpse was deposited in the center of the little cave, the passage around it being left free; then some religious rites were solemnized. They laid all kinds of things around the corpse: coins and lit­tle stones and leaves, I think. I do not now remem­ber all distinctly. Simeon was related to Veronica

The Return to Nazareth


 and, through his father, with Zachary also. His sons served in the Temple, and were always, though in secret, on terms of friendship with Jesus and His relatives. Some of them before and some after the Ascension of Our Lord, joined the disciples. At the time of the first persecution they did much for the Community.1

20. Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth

I saw the Holy Family returning to Nazareth by a much more direct route than that by which they had gone to Bethlehem. On their first journey, they had shunned the inhabited districts and seldom put up at an inn; but now they took the straight route, which was much shorter.

Joseph had in his cloak pocket some little rolls of thin, yellow, shining leaves on which were letters. He had received them from the Holy Kings. The shekels of Judas were thicker, and in the form of a tongue.

I saw the Holy Family arrive at Anne's, in Nazareth. The eldest sister of Mary, Mary Heli, with her daugh­ter Mary Cleophas, a woman from Elizabeth's place, and that one of Anne's maids who had been with Mary in Bethlehem were there. A feast was held such as had been celebrated at the departure of the child Mary for the Temple. Lamps burned above the table, and there were some old priests present. Things went on quietly. Though there was great joy over the Child Jesus, yet it was a calm, inward joy. I have never seen much excitement among those holy souls. They par­took of a slight repast, the women as usual eating apart from the men. I can remember no more of this vision, although I must have been present in a very real way, for I had to accomplish in it a work of prayer.

1. The early Christians.


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 In Anne's garden, notwithstanding the season, I saw numbers of pears, plums, and other fruits still on the trees, although the leaves had already fallen.

I have always forgotten to say a word about the weather in Palestine during the winter season, because being so accustomed to it myself, I think that everyone else knows it, too. I often see rain and fog, and sometimes snow, but it soon melts away, and I see many trees upon which fruit is still hanging. There are in the year several harvests, the first in what corresponds to our spring. In the present sea­son, winter, I see the people on the roads wrapped up in mantles which are thrown over the head also. On the sacred night of Christmas, I always see every­thing green, blossoming, and full of flowers, the ani­mals frolicsome, the vineyards laden with luscious grapes, and I hear the sweet caroling of birds; but immediately after, it is again quiet and just as it usually is there at this season. The tree outside of Bethlehem and under which Mary stood while Joseph was seeking an inn was, as long as she remained under it, quite green. It afforded ample shelter. But when she left it, it resumed its wintry nakedness. This was perhaps only a mark of reverence; but the Blessed Virgin was fully conscious of it. The shep­herd field was, however, already green at this sea­son, for they watered it.

The road from Anne's house to Joseph's in Nazareth was about one half-hour's distance, and ran between gardens and hills. I saw Joseph at Anne's loading two asses with many different things, and going on before with Anne's maid to Nazareth. Mary followed with Anne, who carried the Child Jesus.

Mary and Joseph had no care of the housekeep­ing. They were provided with all things by Anne, who often went to see them. I saw her maid carry­ing provisions to them in two baskets, one on her head, the other in her hand.

I saw the Blessed Virgin knitting, or crocheting

The Return to Nazareth


 little robes. To her right side was fastened a ball of wool and she had in her hands two short needles of bone, I think, with little hooks at the end; one was about half an ell long, the other shorter. The stitches were arranged on the needles above the hooks, over which in doing the work the thread was thrown, and the stitch thus formed. The finished web hung between the two needles. I saw Mary thus working, either standing or sitting by the Child Jesus, who lay in His little basket cradle.

I saw St. Joseph, out of long strips of bark—yel­low, brown, and green—platting screens, large sur­faces, and covers for ceilings. He had a stock of this woven board-like work piled under a shed near the house. He wove into them all kinds of patterns, stars, hearts, etc. I thought as I looked at them that he had no idea how soon he would have to leave all.

I saw the Holy Family while at Nazareth visited also by Mary Heli. She came with St. Anne, bring­ing with her her grandson, a boy of about four years, the child of her daughter Mary Cleophas. I saw the holy women sitting together, caressing the Child Jesus, and laying It in the little boy's arms; they acted just as people do nowadays. Mary Heli lived in a little town about three hours east of Nazareth. She had a house almost as large as her mother's. It had a courtyard surrounded by a wall, and in it a well with a pump. On pressing with the foot at the base of the pump, the water flowed out into a stone basin before it. Mary Heli's husband was named Cleophas. Their daughter Mary Cleophas, who had married Alpheus, lived at the other end of the town.

That evening I saw the holy women praying together. They were standing in front of a little table, which was fastened to the wall and covered with red and white. On it lay a roll which Mary unfolded and hung up on the wall. A figure was embroidered on it in pale colors; it was like a corpse entirely enveloped in a long, white mantle. It had something in its arms.


Life of Jesus Christ

 I saw a picture like it at Anne's during the festival before Mary's departure for her Presentation in the Temple. A lamp was burning during their prayer. Mary stood a little in front of the table with Anne and Mary Heli on either side. At certain times, they crossed their hands upon their breast, folded them together, or stretched them forth. Mary read out of a roll that lay before her. They prayed in measured and steady tones; it reminded me of choir chanting.

21. The Flight into Egypt

When Herod saw that the Kings did not return, he thought they had failed to find Jesus, and the whole affair seemed to be dying out. But after Mary's return to Nazareth, Herod heard of Simeon's and Anna's prophecies at the Presentation of the Child in the Temple, and his fears were reawakened. I saw him in as great disquietude as at the time of the Kings' stay in Jerusalem. He was conferring with some aged Jews who read to him from long rolls of writings mounted on rods. He had given orders for a number of men to be gathered together in a large court, and there provided with weapons and uni­forms. Things went on as they do with us when sol­diers are recruited. I saw that he sent these troops to various places around Jerusalem, from which the mothers were to be summoned to the Holy City. He caused their numbers to be everywhere ascertained. He took these precautions in order to prevent the tumult that would necessarily follow if the news of the projected slaughter of the children was spread. I saw those soldiers in three different places, in Beth­lehem, in Gilgal, and in Hebron. The inhabitants were in great consternation, because not able to divine why a garrison was placed in their towns. The sol­diers remained about nine months in those places, and the murder of the little ones began when John was about two years old.

The Flight into Egypt


Anne and Mary Heli were still at the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Mary, with her Child, slept in the apartment to the right behind the fireplace; Anne, to the left; and between hers and that of St. Joseph, Mary Heli. These rooms were not so high as the house itself, and were cut off from one another only by wicker partitions. The ceiling also was of wickerwork. Mary's couch was surrounded by a cur­tain, or screen. At her feet, in His own little bed, lay the Infant Jesus within Mary's reach when she sat upright. I saw a radiant youth standing at the side of Joseph's couch and speaking to him. Joseph sat up, but overcome by sleep, again lay down. Then the youth caught him by the hand and raised him up. Joseph, now thoroughly aroused, stood up and the youth vanished. Then I saw Joseph going to the lamp that burned in the center of the house, and getting a light. He proceeded to Mary's chamber, knocked, and asked permission to enter. I saw him going in and speaking to Mary who, however, did not open her screen. After this he went out to the stable for the ass, and returning, went into a room wherein were stored all kinds of household goods. He was getting things ready for a journey. Mary arose, quickly clothed herself for travelling, and went to arouse Anne, who got up at once along with Mary Heli and the little boy. I cannot express how touch­ing was the trouble of Anne and the sister. Anne embraced Mary over and over again with many tears, clasping her to her heart as if she were never again to see her. The sister threw herself flat on the floor, and wept. Only just before setting out, did they take the Infant Jesus from His little bed. They all pressed the Child to their heart, and It was given to the lit­tle boy to embrace. Mary then took the Child upon her breast, resting It in a strip of stuff that fas­tened over her shoulders. A long mantle enveloped both Mother and Child, and Mary wore over her head a large veil, which hung down on both sides


Life of Jesus Christ

 of her face. She made but few preparations for the journey, and all she did was done quietly and quickly. I did not see her even swathing the Child afresh. The holy travelers took only a few things with them, far fewer than they had brought from Bethlehem, only a little bundle and some coverings. Joseph had a leathern bottle filled with water and a basket with compartments in it, in which were loaves, little jugs, and live birds. There was a cross seat for Mary and the Child on the ass, also a little footboard. They went forward a short distance with Anne, for they took the road in the direction to her house, only somewhat more to the left. When Joseph approached with the ass, Anne again embraced and blessed Mary, who then mounted and rode off. It was not yet mid­night when they left the house. The Child Jesus was twelve weeks old. I had seen three times four weeks.

I saw Mary Heli going to her mother's house in order to send Eliud with a servant to Nazareth, after which she returned with the boy to her own home. I next saw Anne in Joseph's house packing every­thing up for Eliud and the servant to remove to her own house.

The Holy Family passed by many places that night, and not till morning did I see them resting under a shed and taking a little refreshment.

I saw them taking their first night's lodgings in the little village of Nazara, between Legio and Mas­saloth. The poor, oppressed people of this place who lodged the Holy Family were not, properly speaking, Jews. They had to go far over a mountainous road to Samaria to worship, for their temple was on Mt. Garizim, and they always had to work like slaves on the Temple of Jerusalem and other public buildings. The Holy Family could go no further. They were well received by these outcasts with whom they remained the whole of the following day. On their return from Egypt, they again visited those poor people. They did the same both going and returning from the Temple

The Flight into Egypt


 the first time that the Child Jesus made the jour­ney to it. The whole family at a later period was baptized by John, and they afterward joined the dis­ciples of Jesus.

The Holy Family on their flight met only three inns at which to spend the night: here, at Nazara; again at Anim, or Engannim, among the camel deal­ers; and lastly, among the robbers. At other times, they rested during their tiresome wanderings in val­leys and caves and the most out-of-the-way places. Further on from Nazara, I saw them hidden under the great pine tree near which Mary, on her journey to Bethlehem, had been so cold. The persecution of Herod was known in these parts and it was, conse­quently, unsafe for them. The Ark of the Covenant had once rested under this tree, when Joshua assem­bled the people and made them renounce their idols.

Later, I saw the Holy Family by a well and bal­sam bush resting and refreshing themselves. The branches of the bush were notched, and out of them oozed the balsam in drops. The Child Jesus lay on Mary's lap, His little feet bare. To the left behind them, lay Jerusalem far up above the level of the country in which they then were.

When the Holy Family had passed the walls of Gaza, I saw them in the wilderness. No words can depict the difficulties of this journey. They always travelled a mile eastward of the ordinary highway and, as they shunned the public inns, they suffered the want of all necessaries. I saw them quite exhausted with not a drop of water (the little jug was empty) drawing near to a low bush some dis­tance from the road. The Blessed Virgin alighted from the ass and sat down upon the dry grass. Sud­denly there jetted high before them a spring of water, which spread over the plain. I witnessed their joy. Joseph dug a hole at a little distance, and led the ass to it. The poor beast gladly drank from it as it filled. Mary bathed the Child in the spring, and


Life of Jesus Christ

 refreshed herself. The sun shone out beautifully for a short time, and the weary travelers were strength­ened and full of grateful emotion. They tarried here for two or three hours. On the sixth night, I saw them in a cave near the mount and city of Ephraim. The cave was in a wild ravine, about one hour's dis­tance from the grove of Mambre. I saw the Holy Fam­ily arrive, worn-out and dejected. Mary was very sad; she wept, for they were in want of everything. They rested here a whole day and many wonders were vouchsafed them for their refreshment. A spring gushed forth in the cave, a wild goat came running to them and allowed itself to be milked, and they were visibly consoled by an angel. One of the Prophets had often prayed in this cave. Samuel had once sojourned in it, David had guarded his father's sheep around it, and to it had often retired to pray. He had in this cave, received through angels, the divine com­mands, among them that to slay Goliath.

The last stopping place of the Holy Family in Herod's dominion was near its confines. The innkeep­ers appeared to be camel dealers, for I saw a num­ber of camels in an enclosed pasture ground. The people were rude and wild, and they enriched them­selves by thieving; still they received the Holy Fam­ily most graciously. This place was distant a couple of hours from the Dead Sea.

Once I saw Mary sending a messenger to Eliza­beth, who then brought her child to a very concealed place in the desert. Zachary accompanied her only a part of the way. When they reached a certain body of water, Elizabeth and the child crossed over on a raft, while Zachary went on to Nazareth by the same route taken by Mary on her visit to Elizabeth. I saw him on his journey. Perhaps he was going to make some inquiries, for there were some friends at Nazareth distressed at Mary's departure.

On a starry night, I saw the Holy Family going through a sandy wilderness covered with low thick­ets.

The Flight into Egypt


 The scene was as vivid before me, as if I were really crossing the desert with them. Here and there under the copse wood, venomous snakes lay coiled. With loud hissing, they approached the path and darted their heads angrily toward the Holy Family. But they, shielded by the light that environed them, stepped securely along. I saw other animals with immense fins like wings on their blackish body, with short feet, and a head like that of a fish. They darted along, flying over the ground. At last, the Holy Fam­ily came behind the bushes to a deep fissure in the ground, like the walls of a narrow defile, and here they rested.

The last place in Judea by which they passed, had a name that sounded like Mara. I thought of Anne's ancestral place, but it was not it. The people were very rude and uncivilized, and the Holy Family could get nothing from them by way of refreshment.

Leaving this last place and scarcely knowing how to proceed, they pressed on through a desolate region. They could find no road, and a dark, pathless moun­tain-height stretched out before them. Mary was exhausted and very sad. She knelt with Joseph, the Child in her arms, and cried to God. And behold! Several large, wild beasts, like lions, came running around them, exhibiting friendly dispositions. I under­stood that they had been sent to show the way. They looked toward the mountain, ran thither and then turned back again, just like a dog that wants some­one to follow it. At last the Holy Family followed them and, after crossing the mountain, arrived at a very dismal region.


Life of Jesus Christ

22. The Holy Family Among Robbers

At some distance from the road by which they were travelling, a light glimmered through the dark­ness. It proceeded from a hut belonging to a gang of robbers, who had hung a light on a neighboring tree, thus to allure travelers. The road too, here and there, was broken by pits over which cords with little bells were stretched. The ringing of these bells gave notice to the robbers of the presence of luck­less wayfarers. All on a sudden, I saw a man with about five comrades surrounding the Holy Family. All were actuated by wicked intentions. But when they looked at the Child, I saw a glittering ray like an arrow penetrating the heart of the leader, who straightaway commanded his comrades to offer no injury to the strangers. Mary also saw the ray. The robber now took the Holy Family to his home, and told his wife how strangely his heart had been moved. The people were at first shy and shamefaced, some­thing very unusual for them; still they approached, little by little, and gathered around the Holy Fam­ily, who had seated themselves in a corner on the ground. Some of the men went in and out, while the woman brought to Mary little rolls, fruits, honey­comb, and cups containing something to drink. The ass also was placed under shelter. The woman cleared out a small room for Mary and brought her a little tub of water in which to bathe the Child. She also dried the swathing bands for her at the fire. The husband was deeply impressed by the demeanor of the Holy Family, and especially the appearance of the Child. He said to his wife, "This Hebrew Child is no ordinary child. Beg the Lady to allow us to wash our leprous child in His bathing water. It may, perhaps, do it some good." The wife went to request the favor of the Blessed Virgin; but before she had time to speak, Mary bade her take the water she had used for Jesus' bath, wash the sick child in it,

The Holy Family among Robbers


 and it would become cleaner than it was before at­tacked by the disease. The boy was about three years old and stiff from leprosy. His mother carried him in and put him into the bath. Wherever the water touched him, the leprosy fell like scales to the bot­tom of the tub; the boy became clean and well. The mother was out of herself with joy; she wanted to embrace Mary and the Child Jesus. But Mary, stretching out her hand, warded her off; she would allow neither the Child nor herself to be touched by her. She told her to dig a hole deep down to a rock, and pour the water just used into it, that she might always have it for similar purposes. Mary spoke with her long, and exacted from her a promise to embrace the first opportunity of escape from her present abode. The people were all delighted; they stood around the Holy Family gazing at them in wonder. During the night, other members of their band came to the hut, and to them the boy's cure was related. The robbers' reverential bearing toward the Holy Family was so much the more remarkable, since I saw that night many travelers, attracted to their hut by the light, immediately taken prisoner and carried deep into the forest to an immense cave that served for their special storehouse. It lay under a thicket, the entrance closely concealed. In it were clothes, carpets, meat, goats, sheep, and innumer­able other stolen things, all in profusion. I saw also boys about seven or eight years old whom the rob­bers had kidnapped. They were cared for by an old woman who lived in the cave.

Mary slept none that night; she sat upon her couch on the floor perfectly still. At early dawn the Holy Family started again on their journey in spite of the robber and his wife, who wanted them to stay longer. They took with them a supply of provisions put up by their grateful host and hostess who also accom­panied them a part of the way, that they might escape the snares.


Life of Jesus Christ

The robber and his wife took leave of the Holy Family with expressions of deep feeling, uttering these remarkable words: "Remember us wherever you go!" Upon hearing them, I had a vision in which I saw that the cured boy afterward turned out to be the Good Thief who on the cross said to Jesus: "Remem­ber me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." The robber's wife, after some time, joined those that dwelt around the balsam garden.

The Holy Family went from here further on into the desert. When they had again lost all trace of anything like a path, they were a second time sur­rounded by all kinds of animals, among them huge winged lizards and even serpents, which pointed out the way to them.

At a later period, when unable to advance through the sandy plain in which they were, I saw a very lovely miracle. On either side of the road sprouted up the plant Rose of Jericho, with its crisped branches, its tiny flowers in the center, and its straight root. On they went now right joyously, watching as far as the eye could see these plants springing up, and so across the whole plain. I saw that it was revealed to the Blessed Virgin that, at some future day the people of the country would gather these roses and sell them to travelers in exchange for bread. The name of this region sounded like Gaza, or Goze.

I saw the Holy Family arrive at a town and dis­trict called Lepe or Lape, in which were numerous canals and ditches with high dams. I saw them cross­ing the water on a raft. Mary sat on a log, and the ass was standing in something like a trough, or tub. Two ugly, brown-complexioned, half-naked men with flat noses and protruding lips, ferried them over. Our holy travelers came now to the house on the out­skirts of the town; but the occupants were so rough and pitiless that, without saying a word, Mary and Joseph moved further on. I think this was the first pagan Egyptian city they had yet reached. They had

The Holy Family among Robbers


 made, up to this time, ten days' journey in the Jew­ish country and then in the wilderness.

I next saw the Holy Family on Egyptian territory, in a level, green country full of pasture grounds. In the trees were stationed idols like swathed dolls, or like fishes wrapped in broad bands upon which were figures or letters. Occasionally, I saw people fat, but short in stature, approaching these idols and ven­erating them. The Holy Family sought a little rest under the cattle shed, the cattle going out of their own accord to make room for them. They were in want of food, having neither bread nor water. Mary no longer had nourishment for her Child, and no one gave them anything. Every species of human misery was experienced by them during this flight.

At last, some shepherds drew near to water their cattle. They, too, would have gone away without giv­ing them anything, had not Joseph's entreaties moved them to unlock the well and allow them to have a little water.

Again, I saw the Holy Family weary and exhausted in a forest, at whose egress stood a slender date tree, the fruit all clustered on top. Mary approached the tree, the Child Jesus on her arm, prayed and raised the Child up to it. Instantly the tree bowed down its top as if kneeling, so that Mary could gather all its fruit. It afterward remained in that position. I saw Mary dividing a quantity of the fruit among the naked children who had run after them from the last village.

At a quarter of an hour's distance from this tree, stood another unusually large one of the same kind, very high, and hollow like an old oak. In it the Holy Family lay concealed from the people that followed them. That evening I saw them taking shelter within the walls of a ruined place, where they stayed overnight.


Life of Jesus Christ

23. The Balsam Garden

On the next day, the Holy Family continued their journey through a sandy, desolate wilderness. Fam­ishing for water and exhausted by weariness, they sat down on one of the sand hills, and the Blessed Virgin sent up a cry to God. Suddenly, a stream of pure water gushed forth at her side. Joseph removed the sand hill that was over it, and a clear, beautiful, little fountain jetted up. He made a channel for it, and it flowed over quite a large space, disappearing again near its source. Here they refreshed them­selves, and Mary bathed the Child Jesus, while Joseph gave drink to the ass and filled the water bottles. I saw all kinds of animals like turtles drink­ing at the gushing waters. They did not appear at all afraid of the Holy Family.

The soil over which the water had flowed soon began to clothe itself with verdure, and numbers of balsam trees afterward grew there. When the Holy Family returned from Egypt, those trees were large enough to furnish balsam for their refreshment. The place soon grew into a little settlement. Wherever the heathens planted these trees they withered. They thrived only when the Jews whom the Holy Fam­ily had known in this country went to live there. I think the wife of that robber whose boy had been cured of leprosy by the bath of the Child Jesus went there, too, for she soon escaped from the robbers. Her boy, however, remained with them some time longer.

A balsam hedge surrounded the garden, and in its center were several large fruit trees. At a subsequent period, another large well was dug, out of which quantities of water were raised by means of a wheel turned by oxen. This water mingled with that of Mary's spring and watered the whole garden; unmixed, it would have proved injurious. I have seen that the oxen employed in turning the wheel could

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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