Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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Silent Mary


 at Magdalum in the height of her grandeur.

On the night that Jesus went to Lazarus', I saw the Blessed Virgin, Johanna Chusa, Mary Cleophas, the widow Lea, and Mary Salome passing the night at an inn between the desert Gibea and the desert Ephraim, about five hours from Bethania. They slept under a shed enclosed on all sides by light walls. It contained two apartments. The front one was divided off into two rows of alcoves, of which the holy women took possession; the back served as a kitchen. Before the inn was an open hut in which a fire was burn­ing. Here the male attendants slept or kept watch. The innkeeper's dwelling was not far distant.

On the following day, Jesus taught walking about the courtyards and gardens of the castle. He spoke earnestly, feelingly, and lovingly, though His manner was full of dignity and He uttered no unnecessary word. All loved Him and followed Him, though not without a sentiment of awe. Lazarus approached Him the most confidently. The other men were more reserved; they gazed on in admiration.

22. Jesus' Interview with Silent Mary. His Conversation with His Mother

Accompanied by Lazarus, Jesus went also to the abode of the women, and Martha took Him to her silent sister Mary, with whom He wished to speak. A wall separated the large courtyard from a smaller one, which latter, however, was still quite spacious. In it was an enclosed garden adjoining Mary's dwelling. They passed through a gate, and Jesus remained in the little garden while Martha went to call her silent sister. The garden was highly orna­mental. In the center stood a large date tree, and all around were aromatic herbs and shrubs. On one side was a fountain or rather a kind of tiny lake with a stone seat in the center. From the opposite edge to the seat was laid a plank, upon which silent


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 Mary could cross and there sit under an awning and surrounded by the water. Martha went to her and bade her come down into the garden, for there some­one was waiting to speak to her. Silent Mary was very obedient. Without a word, she threw her veil around her and followed her sister into the garden. Then Martha retired. Mary was tall and very beau­tiful. She was about thirty years old. She generally kept her eyes fixed on Heaven. If occasionally she glanced to one side where Jesus was, it was only a side glance and vaguely, as if she were gazing into the distance. Even when speaking of herself, she never used the pronoun, “I,” but always “thou,” as if she saw herself as a second person and spoke accord­ingly. She did not address Jesus nor cast herself at His feet. Jesus was the first to salute, and they walked together around the garden. Properly speaking, they did not converse together. Silent Mary kept her gaze fixed on high and recounted heavenly things, as if passing before her eyes. Jesus spoke in the same manner of His Father and to His Father. Mary never looked at Jesus, though while speaking she some­times half turned to the side upon which He was walking. There was more a prayer, a song of praise, a contemplation, a revealing of mysteries than a con­versation. Mary appeared as if ignorant of her own existence. Her soul was in another world while her body lived on earth.

Of their speech during that interview, I can remem­ber that, glancing intuitively upon the Incarnation of Christ, they spoke as if gazing upon the Most Holy Trinity acting in that mystery. Their simple, and yet profoundly significant words I cannot recall. Mary gazing upon it, said, "The Father commissioned the Son to go down to mankind, among whom a Virgin should conceive Him." Then she described the rejoic­ings of the angels, and how Gabriel was sent to the Virgin. And so she ran through the nine angelic choirs, who all came down with the bearer of the glad tid­ings,

Silent Mary


 just as a child would joyously describe a pro­cession moving before its eyes, praising the devotion and zeal of all that composed it. Then she seemed to glance into the chamber of the Virgin, to whom she spoke words expressive of her hope that she might receive the Angel's message. She saw the Angel arrive and announce the coming of the Saviour. She saw all and repeated all, as if uttering her thoughts aloud, gazing the while into the distance. Suddenly she paused, her eyes fixed on the Virgin who appeared to be recollecting herself before replying to the Angel, and said very simply, "Then, thou hast made a vow of virginity? Ah, if thou hadst refused to be the Lord's Mother, what would have happened? Would there have been found another virgin?" Then addressing her nation, she exclaimed: "Had the Virgin refused, long wouldst thou, O orphaned Israel, still have groaned!" And now, filled with joy by the Virgin's consent, she burst forth into words of praise and thanksgiving, rehearsed the wonders of Jesus' birth and, addressing the Divine Child, said, "Butter and honey shalt Thou eat." She again repeated the Prophe­cies, recalled those of Simeon and Anna, etc., spoke with the different personages connected with them, and all this as if gazing upon those scenes, contem­porary with them. At last, descending to the present, she said, speaking as if alone: "Now goest Thou on the painful, bitter way," etc. Although she knew that the Lord was at her side, yet she acted and spoke as if He were no nearer to her than all the other visions just recounted. Jesus interrupted her from time to time with prayer and thanksgiving, praising His Father and interceding for mankind. The whole interview was inexpressibly touching and wonderful.

Jesus left her. Relapsing into her usual silence and exterior apathy, she returned to the house. When Jesus went back to Lazarus and Martha, He said to them something like the following: "She is not with­out understanding, but her soul is not of this world.


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 She sees not this world, and this world comprehends her not. She is happy. She knows no sin."

Silent Mary, in her altogether spiritual state of contemplation, was really and truly oblivious to all that happened to her or around her. She was always thus abstracted. She had never before spoken in the presence of others as she had just done in that of Jesus. Before all others she kept silence, though not from pride or reserve. No; it was because she saw not those people interiorly, saw not what they saw, but gazed upon Redemption and the things of Heaven alone. When at times accosted by a learned and pious friend of the family, she would indeed utter some words audibly, though without understanding a sin­gle word of what had been said to her. Not having reference to or connection with the vision upon which she was interiorly gazing at the time, she heard with­out hearing; consequently her reply, bearing upon what was then engrossing her own attention, mys­tified her hearers. It was for this reason that she was regarded by the family as a simpleton. Her state necessitated her dwelling alone, for her soul lived not in time. She cultivated her little garden and embroidered for the Temple. Martha brought her her work. She was skillful with her needle, which she plied in uninterrupted musing and meditation. She prayed most piously and devoutly, and endured a kind of expiatory suffering for the sins of others, for her soul was often oppressed as if the weight of the whole world was upon her. Her dwelling was com­fortably fitted up with sofas and different kinds of furniture. She ate little and always alone. She died of grief at the immensity of Jesus' Passion, which in spirit she foresaw.

Martha spoke to Jesus of Magdalen and her own great anxiety on her account. Jesus comforted her, telling her that Magdalen would certainly be con­verted, but that she must on no account weary of praying for her and exhorting her to change her life.

Jesus and His Mother


At about half-past one the Blessed Virgin arrived with Mary Chusa, Lea, Mary Salome, and Mary Cleophas. The servant had in advance announced their approach. Martha, Seraphia, Mary Marcus, and Susanna proceeded to that hall at the entrance of the castle where Jesus the day before had been received by Lazarus. They took with them refreshments and the vessels necessary for washing their guests' feet. After welcoming the newly-arrived and performing for them that duty of hospitality, the latter changed their dress, lowered their skirts, and put on fresh veils. All were clothed in undyed wool, yellowish-white or brown­ish. They partook of a light refreshment, and then accompanied Martha to her house.

Jesus and the men now presented themselves to salute the holy women, after which Jesus retired for an interview with the Blessed Virgin. He told her most earnestly and lovingly that He was about to begin His career, that He was now going to John's baptism whence He would return and once more be with her for a short time in the region of Samaria, but that then He would retire to the desert for forty days. When Mary heard Him speak of the desert, she became very uneasy. She besought Him not to go to so frightful a place where He would die of hunger and thirst. Jesus replied that henceforth she should not seek to deter Him by human considera­tions, for He must accomplish what was marked out for Him; a very different life was now about to com­mence for Him, and they who would adhere to Him must suffer with Him; that He must now fulfill His mission, and she must sacrifice all purely personal claims upon Him. He added that although He would love her as ever, yet He was now for all mankind. She should do as He said and His Heavenly Father would reward her, for what Simeon had foretold was about to be fulfilled—a sword should pierce her soul. The Blessed Virgin listened gravely. She was very much troubled, though at the same time strong in


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 her resignation to God, for Jesus was very tender and loving.

That evening Lazarus gave a feast to which Simon the Pharisee, and some others of the sect were invited. The women ate in an adjacent room, which was sep­arated by a grating from the men's dining hall, but within hearing of all that Jesus said. He taught of faith, hope, charity, and obedience. He said that they who desired to follow Him must not look back. They should practice what He taught and suffer the trials that might befall them, but that He would never abandon them. He again alluded to the thorny path before Him, to the buffetings and persecutions He would have to undergo, and impressed upon them the fact, that whoever called themselves His friends, would have to suffer with Him. His hearers, deeply touched, listened in wonder to His words, but what He said in allusion to His bitter Passion they did not rightly understand. They did not take His words in their simple and literal meaning, but looked upon them as the figurative expressions of prophecy. The Pharisees present, though less favorably disposed than the oth­ers, found nothing to carp at in Jesus' speech. This time, however, He spoke very moderately.

23. Jesus Journeys with Lazarus to the Place of Baptism

The entertainment over, Jesus rested awhile and then started with Lazarus toward Jericho to the place of baptism. One of Lazarus' servants went on ahead with a lighted torch, for it was night. After walking for about half an hour, they reached an inn belong­ing to Lazarus where at a later period the disciples often stopped. This inn must not be confounded with that other of which I have often made mention, and at which also the disciples frequently put up. That one was farther on in an opposite direction. The hall in which Jesus and Mary were received by Lazarus

Journey to the Place of Baptism


 on their arrival at his house, was the same in which Jesus was stopping and teaching before the resur­rection of Lazarus when Magdalen went to meet Him. On arriving at the inn, Jesus removed His sandals and went barefoot. Lazarus, touched with compas­sion, begged Him in consideration of the rough, stony roads not to do so. But Jesus gravely replied: "Let it be thus! I know what it behooveth Me to do," and so they entered into the wilderness. The desert, broken up by narrow chasms, stretched out before them a distance of five hours toward Jericho. Then came the fruitful vale of Jericho, also interspersed by wild tracts, about two hours' in breadth, whence to John's place of baptism was a journey of another two hours. Jesus walked more quickly than Lazarus, and was often an hour ahead of him. A multitude, among them some publicans whom Jesus had sent from Galilee to the baptism, were now on their return journey. They passed Jesus in the desert, though at some distance, on their way back to Bethania. Jesus stopped nowhere. He passed Jericho on His left and a couple of other places on the way, but paused at none.

Lazarus' friends, Nicodemus, Simeon's son, and John Marc, had spoken but little with Jesus. But to one another they were constantly interchanging words of admiration at His behavior, His wisdom, His human, yes, even His personal attractions. In His absence or when walking behind Him, they said to one another: "What a man! There never before was such a one, there never again will be another like Him! How earnest, how mild, how wise, how discerning, and yet how simple! But I cannot perfectly comprehend His words, though I accept them with the thought, 'He said it!' One cannot look Him in the face, for He seems to read one's thoughts. Look at His figure—how majestic in bearing! How swiftly He moves, and yet no undignified haste! Whoever walked like Him! How quickly He journeys from place to place, and yet shows no signs of weariness! He is always ready to


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 start again for hours. What a man He has turned out to be!" Then they went on to speak of His childhood, His teaching in the Temple, and referred to the dan­gers attendant on His first voyage when He had aided the sailors. But not one of them dreamed that he was speaking of the Son of God. They saw that He was greater than all other men, they honored Him, and stood in awe of Him; still He was to them only a man, though, indeed, a man full of prodigies. Obed of Jerusalem was an aged man, the fraternal nephew of the husband of old Anna the Prophetess. He was a pious man, one of the so-called Elders at the Tem­ple, a member of the Sanhedrin. He was one of the secret disciples of Jesus and, as long as he lived, lent assistance to the Community.



1. John Leaves the Desert

John received from On High a revelation concerning the baptism, in consequence of which shortly before leaving the desert he dug a well within reach of the inhabited districts. I saw him on the western side of a steep precipice. On his left ran a brook, perhaps one of the sources of the Jordan which rises on Libanus in a cave between two ridges. It cannot be seen from a distance. To the right lay a level space in the midst of the wilderness, and there he dug a well. I saw him kneeling on one knee and supporting on the other a long roll of bark upon which he was writing with a reed. The sun was darting hot beams upon him as he knelt facing Libanus toward the west. While thus engaged, he became like one entranced. I saw him as if in ecstasy, and standing by him was a man who drew plans and wrote upon the roll. When John returned to consciousness, he read what had been written, and at once set vigor­ously to work at the well. The bark roll lay beside him on the ground, weighted by a stone at either end to prevent it from rolling together. John often examined it. It seemed as if all he had to do was there marked down.

Side by side with his vision of the well, I beheld a scene in the life of Elias. I saw him sitting in the desert, sad and dejected, on account of some fault


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 he had committed. At last he fell asleep, and had a dream, in which it seemed to him that a little boy approached and pushed him with a stick, and that he feared falling into a well nearby. The thrusts he received from the child were so violent as to send him rolling forward some steps. At this stage of the dream an angel awoke him and gave him to drink. This took place on the same spot upon which John now dug the well.

I recognized the signification of every layer of earth through which John dug and of every step in the work until its completion. All had some relation to human obduracy and its other characteristics, which he had to overcome before the grace of the Lord could take effect upon mankind. This work of John's was, like all his actions and his whole life, a symbol, a prefiguration. By it the Holy Spirit not only instructed him what he was to do, but he really accomplished in its performance all that the work itself signified, God accepting the good intention which he had thereto associated. The Holy Ghost urged John on in his work, as formerly the inspired Prophets.

He removed the sod from a wide circumference and dug out of the hard marl a large circular basin, which he very carefully and beautifully lined with stones, excepting in the center where it was dug to a little water. With the excavated earth, he formed around the basin a rim which he divided into five sections. Opposite the openings between four of these sections and at equal distances around the basin, he planted four slender saplings whose tops were covered with luxuriant foliage. These four trees were of different kinds, each bearing its own signification. But in the center of the basin, he set a very choice tree with narrow leaves; its blossoms hung in pyramidal clus­ters surrounded by a prickly calyx. This tree had long lain partially withered before John's cave. The four little trees were more like slender berry bushes. John protected their roots by little mounds of earth.

John Prepares for Baptism


When the basin had been excavated down to the well, in which later on the central tree was planted, John hollowed out a channel from the brook near his cave to the basin. Then I saw him gathering reeds in the wilderness, inserting one into the other and, through this conduit (which he covered with earth) conducting the waters of the brook to the basin. The reed pipe could be closed at pleasure.

He had made a path through the bushes down to one of the openings in the basin's rim. It ran all around the basin between it and the four trees I have just described. Before the opening at the entrance there was no tree, and on this side alone was access to the basin free; on all the others the path was hemmed in by bushes and rocks. John planted on the mounds at the foot of the four trees an herb well known to me. I was fond of it when a child and, whenever I found it, I used to transplant it to the neighborhood of my home. It has a tall, suc­culent stalk and bears brownish-red, globular blos­soms. It is a very efficacious remedy for ulcers and such sore throats as that from which I am today suf­fering. John set around also various other plants and young trees. During his labor, he consulted from time to time the bark roll before him, and measured all off with a stick, for it seemed to me that every step of the work, even to the trees that he had planted, was therein sketched. I remember having seen in it a drawing of the middle tree.

John labored thus for several weeks and when he had finished, there was only a small quantity of water in the bottom of the basin. The middle tree, whose leaves had lately been brown and withered, had now become fresh and green. In a vessel formed of the bark of a large tree and whose sides had been smeared with pitch, John now brought water from another well and poured it into the basin. This water was from a well near one of the caves in which John had first dwelt. It had gushed from a rock upon which he


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 struck with the end of his standard. I heard that he could not have built the fountain at that earlier dwelling place of his because it was too rocky there, and that, too, had its own signification. After that he let as much water into the basin from the brook as was necessary. If the reservoir became too full, the water could flow off by the channels in the rim and refresh the vegetation of the surrounding surface.

I saw John stepping into the water up to the waist. With one hand he clasped the tree in the center while he struck the water with a little staff to the end of which he had fastened a cross and pennant. Every stroke sent the water in a spray above his head. At the same time, I saw descending upon him from above a cloud of light and, as it were, an effusion from the Holy Spirit, while angels appeared upon the rim of the basin and addressed to him some words. I saw that this was John's last labor in the desert.

That well was in use even after Jesus' death. When the Christians were obliged to flee, the sick and travelers were baptized there; it was frequented also as a place of devotion. It was at that time, that is dur­ing Peter's time, protected by a surrounding wall.

Soon after the completion of the baptismal well, John left the desert for the haunts of men. Wher­ever he went, he made a wonderful impression. Tall of stature, strong and muscular, though emaciated by fasting and corporal mortification, he presented an extraordinarily pure and noble appearance, his manner simple, straightforward, and commanding. His face was thin and haggard; his expression, grave and austere; his auburn hair in curls over his head, and his beard short. Around his waist was a tunic that reached to the knee, and his rough brown man­tle appeared to be of three pieces. The back part was fastened around the waist by a strap, but in front it was open, leaving the breast uncovered and the arms free. His breast was rough with hair almost the color of his mantle, and in his hand he carried

John Preaches Penance


 a staff bent like a shepherd's crook.

Coming down from the desert, he built first a lit­tle bridge over a brook. He took no notice of the cross­ing that lay at some distance, for he never turned out of his way, but worked straight on wherever he went. There was an old highway in those regions. He was near Cydessa here, and he instructed the people in the neighborhood. They were the first pagans that afterward went to his baptism. They lived in mud huts entirely neglected. They were the descendants of a mixed multitude who, after the destruction of the Temple, the last one before Jesus' coming, had settled here. One of the latest of the Prophets had foretold to them that they should remain in these parts until a man should come to them, a man like John, who would tell them what they should do. Later on they removed toward Nazareth.

John allowed nothing to prove an obstacle in his way. He walked boldly up to all he met, and spoke of one thing only, penance and the near coming of the Lord. His presence everywhere excited wonder and made the lightest grave. His voice pierced like a sword. It was loud and strong, though tempered with a tone of kindness. He treated all kinds of peo­ple as children. The most remarkable thing about him was the way in which he hurried on straight ahead, deterred by nothing, looking around at noth­ing, wanting nothing. It was thus I saw him has­tening on his way through desert and forest, digging here, rolling away stones there, removing fallen trees, preparing resting places, calling together the people who stood staring at him in amazement, yes, even bringing them out of their huts to help him. I saw their looks of astonishment. He tarried long nowhere, but was soon in another place. He went along the Sea of Galilee, around Tarichea, down to the valley of the Jordan, then past Salem, and on through the desert toward Bethel. He passed by Jerusalem. He had never been in the Holy City; he gazed sadly upon


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 it, and uttered lamentations over it. Entirely pos­sessed by the thought of his mission, on he went, earnest, grave, simple, full of the Holy Spirit, crying aloud the selfsame words: "Penance! Prepare! The Lord is nigh!" He entered the shepherd valley, and journeyed on to the place of his birth. His parents were dead, but some youths, his relatives on Zachary's side, resided there. They were among the first to join him as disciples. When he passed through Bethsaida, Capharnaum, and Nazareth, the Blessed Virgin did not see him, for since Joseph's death, she seldom went out of the house. But several male relatives of her family were present at his exhortations, and accompanied him some distance on his way.

During the three months immediately preceding the baptism, John twice made the circuit of the coun­try announcing Him who was to come. His progress was made with extraordinary vehemence. He marched on vigorously, his movements quick though unac­companied by haste. His was no leisurely travelling like that of the Saviour. Where he had nothing to do, I saw him literally running from field to field. He entered houses and schools to teach, and gath­ered the people around him in the streets and pub­lic places. I saw the priests and elders here and there stopping him and questioning his right to teach, but soon, astonished and full of wonder, they allowed him to proceed on his way.

The expression, "To prepare the way for the Lord," was not wholly figurative, for I saw John begin his mission by actually preparing the way and travers­ing the roads and different places over which Jesus and His disciples afterward travelled. He cleared them of stones and briars, made paths, laid planks across brooks, cleaned the channels, dug wells and reser­voirs, put up seats, resting places, and sheds to afford shade in the various places where later on the Lord rested, taught, and acted. While thus engaged, the earnest, simple-hearted, solitary man—by his rough

John Preaches Penance


garments and conspicuous figure—attracted the attention of the people, and excited wonder when he entered the huts sometimes to borrow a tool, some­times even to claim assistance from the inmates. Everywhere he was soon surrounded by a crowd whom he boldly and earnestly exhorted to penance, and to follow the Messiah of whom he announced himself the precursor. I often saw him pointing in the direc­tion in which Jesus was passing at that moment. But yet I never saw Jesus with him, although they were sometimes scarcely one hour apart. Once I saw him at the most only a short hour's distance from Jesus, crying out to the people that he himself was not the looked-for Redeemer, but only His poor precursor; but that there went the Saviour, and he pointed to Him. John saw the Saviour face to face only three times in his whole life. The first time that he did so, was in the desert when the Holy Family were journeying from Egypt. He had then been hurried by the Spirit to greet his Master whom, years before while still in his mother's womb, he had saluted. He felt the near­ness of his Saviour, and he knew that He thirsted. The boy prayed and thrust his little staff into the ground, whereupon a plentiful stream sprang forth. He then hurried further on the road and took his stand by the running water, to watch Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as they passed by. When they appeared and as long as they remained in sight, he danced about with joy, waving his little standard.

The second time that John saw Jesus was at the baptism; and third was when, at the Jordan, he ren­dered testimony to Him as He was passing at a dis­tance. I heard the Saviour speaking to His Apostles of John's great self-command; for even at the bap­tism he had restrained himself within the bounds of solemn contemplation, although his heart was almost bursting with love and desire. After the ceremony, he was more anxious to abase and humble himself than to yield to his love and seek for Jesus.


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But John saw the Lord always in spirit, for he was generally in the prophetic state. He saw Jesus as the accomplishment of his own mission, as the realization of his own prophetic vocation. Jesus was not to John a contemporary, not a man like unto himself. He was to him the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God made man, the Eternal appearing in time, therefore he could in no way dream of associ­ating with Him. John felt also that he himself was not like his fellow men, existing in time, living in the world and connected with it; for even in his mother's womb had the Hand of the Eternal touched him, and by the Holy Spirit had he in a way supe­rior to the relations of time, been brought into com­munication with his Redeemer. As a little boy he had been snatched from the world and, knowing nothing but what appertained to his Redeemer, had remained in the deepest solitude of the wilderness until, like one born anew, earnest, inspired, ardent, he went forth to begin his wonderful mission, unconcerned about aught else. Judea is now to him the desert; and as formerly he had had for companions the foun­tains, rocks, trees, and animals, as with them he had lived and communed, so now did he treat with men, with sinners, no thought of self arising in his mind. He sees, he knows, he speaks only Jesus. His word is: "He comes! Prepare ye the ways! Do penance! Receive the baptism! Behold the Lamb of God who beareth the sins of the world!" In the desert, blame­less and pure as a babe in the mother's womb, he comes forth from his solitude innocent and spotless as a child at the mother's breast. "He is pure as an angel," I heard the Lord say to the Apostles. "Never has impurity entered into his mouth, still less has an untruth or any other sin issued from it."

John baptized in different places: first, at Ainon in the neighborhood of Salem; then at On opposite Bethabara on the west side of the Jordan, and not far from Jericho. That third place was on the east

John's Baptism


 side of the Jordan, a couple of hours further north than the second. The last time he baptized was at Ainon, whither he had returned. It was there that he was taken prisoner.

The water in which John baptized was an arm of the Jordan formed by a bend of the river to the east, and of about an hour in length. At some places it was so narrow that one could leap over it; at others it was broader. Its course must have changed here and there, for in many places I saw it dry. This bend of the river encircled pools and wells which were fed by its waters. One of these pools, separated by a dam from the arm of the river, formed the baptism place of John at Ainon. Under the dam ran pipes, by means of which the pool could be emptied or filled at plea­sure. John himself had so arranged it. On one side of the pool, its waters flowed inland like a creek, and into this extended tongues of land. The aspi­rants for baptism stood in the water up to the waist between two of these tongues, supporting themselves by a railing that ran along before them. On one tongue stood John. He scooped up water in a shell and poured it on the head of the neophyte, while on the opposite tongue stood one of the baptized with his hand resting on the shoulder of the latter. John himself had laid his hand upon the first. The upper part of the body of the neophytes was not entirely nude; a kind of white scarf was thrown around them, leaving only the shoulders bare. Near the pool was a hut into which they retired for unrobing and dress­ing. I never saw women baptized here. The Baptist wore a long, white garment during the ceremony.

The region in which John baptized was an exceed­ingly charming and well-watered district called Salem. It lay on both sides of an arm of the Jordan, but Ainon was on the opposite side of the river. It was larger than Salem, further north and nearer the river. Around the numerous creeks and pools of this region were pasture grounds for cattle, and droves


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 of asses grazed in the verdant meadows. The coun­try around Salem and Ainon was, as it were, free, possessing a kind of privilege established by custom, by virtue of which the inhabitants dared not drive anyone from its borders.

John had built his hut at Ainon on the old foun­dations of what was once a large building, but which had fallen to ruins, and was now covered with moss and overgrown by weeds. Here and there arose a hut. These ruins were the foundations of the tent castle of Melchisedech. Of this place in particular, I have had visions, all kinds of scenes belonging to early times, but I can now recall only this, that Abraham once had a vision here. He pulled two stones in posi­tion, one as an altar, and upon the other he knelt. I saw the vision that was shown to him—a City of God like the Heavenly Jerusalem, and streams of water falling from the same. He was commanded to pray more for the coming of the City of God. The water streaming from the City spread around on all sides. Abraham had this vision about five years before Melchisedech built his tent castle on the same spot. This castle was more properly a tent surrounded by galleries and flights of steps similar to Mensor's cas­tle in Arabia. The foundation alone was solid; it was of stone. I think that even in John's time, the four corners where the principal stakes once stood were still to be seen. On this foundation, which now looked like a mount overgrown with vegetation, John had built a little reed hut. The tent castle in Melchisedech's time was a public halting place for travelers, a kind of charming resting place by the pleasant waters. Per­haps Melchisedech, whom I have always seen as the leader and counselor of the wandering races and nations, built his castle here in order to be able to instruct and entertain them. But even in his time, it had some reference to baptism. It was also the place from which he set out to his building near Jerusalem, to Abraham, and elsewhere. Here it was, also, that

John's Baptism


 he assembled the various races and peoples whom he afterward separated and settled in different districts.

Jacob, too, had once lived at Ainon a long time with his herds. The cistern of the baptism pool was in existence at that early time, and I saw that Jacob repaired it. The ruins of Melchisedech's castle were near the water and the place of baptism; and I saw that in the early days of Christian Jerusalem a church stood on the spot where John had baptized. I saw this church still standing when Mary of Egypt passed that way when retiring into the desert.

Salem was a beautiful city, but it was ruined dur­ing a war, I think at the destruction of the Temple before the time of Jesus. The last Prophet, also, dwelt there awhile.

John, perhaps for about two weeks, had been attracting public attention by his teaching and bap­tizing, when some messengers sent by Herod from Callirrhoe came to him. Herod was at that time liv­ing in his castle at Callirrhoe, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. There were numerous baths and warm springs in the vicinity. Herod wanted John to come to him. But John replied to the messengers: "I have much to occupy me. If Herod wishes to confer with me, let him come himself." After that I saw Herod going to a little city about five miles south of Ainon. He was riding in a low-wheeled chariot, and surrounded by a guard. From its raised seat he could command a view upon all sides as from a canopied throne. He invited John to meet him in the little city. John went to a man's hut outside the city, and thither Herod repaired alone to meet him. Of their interview, I remember only that Herod asked John why he dwelt in so miserable an abode at Ainon, adding that he would have a house built for him there. But to this John replied that he needed no house, that he had all he wanted and that he was accomplishing the will of One greater than he. He spoke earnestly and severely, though briefly, stand­ing


Life of Jesus Christ

 the while with his face turned away from Herod.

I saw that Simon, James the Less, and Thaddeus, the sons of Mary Cleophas by her deceased husband Alpheus, and Joses Barsabas, her son by her second marriage with Sabas, were baptized by John at Ainon. Andrew and Philip also were baptized by him, after which they returned to their occupations. The other Apostles and many of the disciples had already been baptized.

One day many priests and doctors of the Law came to John from the towns around Jerusalem intending to call him to account. They questioned him as to who he was, who had sent him, what he taught, etc. John answered with extraordinary boldness and energy, announced to them the coming of the Messiah and charged them with impenitence and hypocrisy.

Not long after, multitudes were sent from Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Hebron by the Elders and Pharisees to question John upon his mission. They made his having taken possession of the place chosen for bap­tism a subject of complaint.

Many publicans had come to John. He had bap­tized them and spoken to them upon the state of their conscience. Among them was the publican Levi, later called Matthew, the son of Alpheus by his first marriage, for he was a widower when he married Mary Cleophas. Levi was deeply touched by John's exhortations, and he amended his life. He was held in low esteem by his relatives. John refused baptism to many of these publicans.

2. Herod's Soldiers. Deputies From the Sanhedrin. Crowds of Neophytes Come to John

In Dothain, where Jesus had calmed the raving possessed, Jews and pagans had, since the Baby­lonian Captivity, dwelt together indiscriminately. On

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
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