Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 3

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Jesus in Gathepher


 parents, and who His brethren. The sick might assem­ble in front of the synagogue and allow themselves to be cured, but noise and excitement would not be tolerated. Such were the directions given by the Phar­isees, who had likewise arranged the sick around the synagogue as they thought proper, just as if it were theirs by right to order Jesus' actions. When, however, they reached the city with Jesus, to their intense chagrin they beheld the streets filled with mothers surrounded by their little ones, and some with infants in their arms. The children were stretch­ing out their hands to Jesus and crying: "Jesus of Nazareth! Son of David! Son of God! Holiest of Prophets!" The Pharisees tried to drive the women and children back, but all in vain. They came pour­ing out of the neighboring streets and houses, while the Pharisees, eaten with vexation, withdrew from Jesus' escort. The disciples too, who were surrounding Jesus, were somewhat timorous and frightened. They would have desired a less demonstrative entrance into the city, one attended by less danger, and so they remonstrated with Jesus while attempting to drive the children back. But Jesus reproached them with their faint-heartedness. He restrained them, allowed the children to press around Him, and showed Himself all love and affection for them. And thus they proceeded to the court before the syna­gogue amid the uninterrupted shouts of the little ones: "Jesus of Nazareth! Holiest of Prophets!" Even the sucklings that never yet had spoken, cried out after Him. They were witnesses to Jesus. They bore convincing testimony before all the people. In front of the synagogue the children halted, the boys on one side, the girls on the other, the mothers with their infants in the rear. Jesus blessed the children and addressed some words of instruction to the moth­ers and their domestics who likewise had made their way thither. He said to the mothers that they should regard these last as their children. He spoke to the


Life of Jesus Christ

 disciples also of the high value God sets on the child. The Pharisees were annoyed at these delays, and the sick were impatient for their cure. At last Jesus went to the latter, cured many of them, and then entered the synagogue, where He taught about the Patriarch Joseph. During His discourse He took occa­sion to return to the dignity of children. Jesus did so because the Pharisees were complaining of what they called the disturbance.

When Jesus was leaving the synagogue, three women presented themselves before Him, request­ing a private interview. When He withdrew with them from the crowd, they cast themselves on their knees before Him, and made their laments over their husbands, whom they begged Jesus to help. Their husbands, they said, were tormented by evil spirits, by whom they themselves were sometimes attacked. They had heard, they said, that He had helped Mag­dalen, and they hoped that He would likewise have pity on them. Jesus promised to visit their homes. He went first, however, with His disciples to the house of a certain Simeon, a simple-hearted man belonging to the married Essenians. He was of mid­dle age and the son of a Pharisee of Dabereth on Thabor. Jesus and the disciples partook, in this house, of refreshments standing. Simeon was desirous of bestowing all his goods upon the Community, and he spoke with Jesus to that effect.

On leaving Simeon's Jesus went as He had promised to the homes of the women, and had an interview with them and their husbands. Affairs were not just as the wives had stated, for they had thrown upon their husbands the blame of which they were themselves deserving. Jesus exhorted both parties to live in harmony, to pray, to fast, and to give alms. After the Sabbath these infirm women followed Jesus to a mountain a little to the north of Thabor where He was going to deliver a discourse. He did not remain long there, He went southward toward

Jesus' Playmates in Egypt


 Kisloth, which city the holy women passed on their road to Naim, Magdalen also, when journeying with her party. On the way Jesus again instructed the Apostles upon what was in store for them. He told them how they should behave when they arrived in Judea, where they would not be so well received. He gave them new directions as to their conduct, also for the imposition of hands and the driving out of the demon, and as an additional source of strength and increase of grace, He again conferred upon them His benediction.

Three youths from Egypt came to Jesus in this place. He received them as disciples, though pic­turing to them at the same time the hardships that awaited them. One was named Cyrinus. They had been playmates of Jesus in Egypt, and they were now about thirty years old. Their parents had ever revered the dwelling and the fountain used by the Holy Family as sacred memorials. The young men had visited Bethlehem and Bethania, and had gone to Dothain, to see Mary, to whom they delivered their parents' greeting.

Some Pharisees of Nazareth came to Jesus at Kisloth to invite Him to His native city. Those Phar­isees who, on a former occasion, wanted to hurl Him from the rock, were no longer in Nazareth. The envoys told Jesus that He ought to go to His native city and there exhibit some of His signs and wonders. The people, they said, were eager to hear His doc­trine; then too He could cure His fellow countrymen that were sick. But they laid down as a condition that He would not heal on the Sabbath day. Jesus replied that He would go and keep the Sabbath with them. He warned them, however, that they would be scandalized on His account, and as to the cures, He would condescend to their desires even if it proved to their own detriment. Upon receiving this answer, the Pharisees returned to Nazareth, whither Jesus soon followed with His disciples, whom He instructed


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 on the way. It was noon when they arrived. Many from curiosity, others really well intentioned people, came forth from the city to meet Him. They washed the feet of the newcomers and offered them some refreshments. Jesus had two disciples from Nazareth, Parmenas and Jonadab. With the widowed mother of the latter, Jesus and His companions took up their quarters. These disciples had been friends of Jesus in early youth, and had accompanied Him on His first journey to Hebron after Joseph's death. He now employed them frequently in discharging commis­sions and errands of all kinds.

Jesus went to some sick who had implored His assistance. He knew that they believed in Him and had need of His aid. But He passed by many who wanted only to test His power or who, under the pretence of a cure, were desirous only of getting a sight of Him. An Essenian youth, paralyzed on one side from his birth, was brought to Him. He implored Jesus to cure him, and He did so on the street, as also two blind men. Then He entered certain houses wherein He cured many aged sick people, men and women. Some of them were afflicted with dropsy in its worst form; one woman in particular was fright­fully swollen. Jesus cured, altogether, fifteen peo­ple.¹ After that He went to the synagogue where also some sick were gathered; but He passed with­out curing them, and celebrated the Sabbath with­out interruption. The reading for this Sabbath was about God's speaking to Moses in Egypt, also some chapters from Ezechiel.

Next morning Jesus again taught in the syna­gogue, but healed no one. At noon I saw Him walk­ing with the disciples and some good people on the road between Nazareth and Sephoris. They entered

1. Before giving this number, Sister Emmerich reflected a moment. Then counting on her fingers, she said: "So many lame, so many blind, so many dropsical; in all, fifteen." (From Father Schrnöger's first edition of Leben Jesus, Vol. II).

Jesus Visits Nazareth


 one of the neighboring villages, as was usual on the Sabbath. The road from Nazareth to Sephoris extended toward the north and was tolerably level, but when within about a quarter of an hour from the latter place, it began to rise. I saw Jesus on this road instructing separate groups of people. The mem­bers of some households in which reigned strife and disunion cast themselves at His feet. He made peace between man and wife and reconciled neighbors, but performed no cures. The two young men who had so often desired to be received among the disciples met Jesus on this road. He asked them again whether they were willing to forsake home and parents, dis­tribute their goods to the poor, obey blindly, and suf­fer persecution for His sake. Their only answer was a shrug of the shoulders as they turned away.

When returned to Nazareth, Jesus visited His par­ents' house. It was in perfect order, but unoccupied. He visited likewise Mary's elder sister, the mother of Mary Cleophas, who took care of the house, though she did not live in it. Jesus then went with the dis­ciples to the synagogue, preached in sharp and severe terms, called God His Heavenly Father, pronounced judgment upon Jerusalem and upon all that would not follow Him, openly addressed His disciples, alluded to the persecution that awaited them, and exhorted them to fidelity and perseverance. When the Pharisees found that He did not intend to remain and that He would perform no more cures in Nazareth, they began to give utterance to their vexa­tion, and to ask, first this one, then that one: "Who is He, then? Who does He pretend to be? Where did He get His learning? Is He not of Nazareth? His father was the carpenter. His relatives, His broth­ers and sisters-all belong here?" By these last words, they meant Anne's elder daughter, Mary Heli and her sons James, Heliachim, and Sadoch, all disci­ples of John, Mary Cleophas and her sons and daugh­ters. Jesus made them no answer, but went on quietly


Life of Jesus Christ

 instructing His disciples. Then another Pharisee, a stranger from the region of Sephoris, more insolent than the rest, cried out: "Who, then, art Thou? Hast Thou forgotten that only some years before Thy father's death, Thou didst help him to put up par­titions in my house?" Still Jesus deigned no answer. Then the Pharisees all began to shout: "Answer! Is it good manners not to answer an honorable man?" At these words, Jesus addressed His bold questioner in terms like the following: "I did indeed work on wood belonging to thee. At the same time I cast a glance upon thee, and I grieved at not being able to free thee from the hard rind of thine own heart. Thou hast now proved thyself to be what I then sus­pected. Thou shalt have no part in My Kingdom, although I have helped thee to build up thy dwelling place upon earth." Jesus said likewise that nowhere was a Prophet without honor, excepting in his own city, in his own house, among his own relatives.

But what especially irritated the Pharisees were Jesus' words to His disciples; for instance, "I send ye as lambs among wolves"; "Sodom and Gomorrha will be less severely condemned on the last day than they that refuse to receive you"; "I am not come to bring peace, but the sword."

The close of the Sabbath found many waiting to be healed, but, to the great vexation of the Phar­isees, Jesus cured none. Some of the people, imitat­ing the insolence of the Pharisees in the synagogue, cried out to Jesus: "Don't you remember this? Don't you remember that?" And they recalled circumstances in which they had formerly seen Him. The Pharisees remarked to Him that this time He had come with fewer followers than on the preceding occasion, and they inquired whether He was not again going to take up His quarters among the Essenians. As a gen­eral thing, the Essenians did not much frequent Jesus' public instructions, and He rarely spoke of them. The enlightened among them at a later period joined the

Jesus Leaves Nazareth


 Community. They never opposed His doctrine, but looked upon Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus did, in effect, again visit those Essenians with whom He had been the last time He was in Nazareth. He and the disciples took with them a light repast, after which He taught during a part of the night. Toward ten o'clock, Peter, Matthew and James the Greater returned from the Apostles in Upper Galilee. They had left the rest in the region around Seleucia to the east of Lake Merom. Andrew, Thomas and Saturnin, who had lately arrived, and another Apostle, immediately started to replace those just come.

Jesus left Nazareth that night with His follow­ers. He journeyed about two hours toward Thabor to the little place where recently, on His return to Capharnaum after raising the youth of Naim, He had cured the leprous property holder. An instruc­tion had been announced for the following day, which was to be delivered on a height southwest of Tha­bor, about half an hour from the mountain itself. Jesus stopped again with the schoolmaster of the place. The latter, counting upon Jesus' coming, had received many sick into his house. Jesus restored speech to one dumb. The boy that had so cleverly delivered to Jesus the message sent by his leprous master was among the schoolmaster's pupils. Jesus spoke to him. His name was Samuel, and he after­ward became a disciple.

3. Jesus' Instruction on the Height Near Thabor, in Sunem

The lord of the place, he whom Jesus had healed of leprosy, came to Him and renewed his acts of grat­itude. He pleaded for several other lepers for whom he had caused a tent to be erected on the road by which Jesus was to pass, and he likewise made over­tures for applying a part of his fortune to defray­ing


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 the expenses of Jesus' apostolic journeys.

It was still dawn when Jesus left the house and went out on the road where were awaiting Him about five men and women. From a retired spot, a little off from the road, they cried to Him for assistance. Jesus stepped to them, and they cast themselves at His feet. One of the women addressed Him: "Lord, we are from Tiberias, and until now we have hesi­tated to implore Thy help. The Pharisees told us that Thou art hard and pitiless toward sinners. But we have heard of Thy merciful compassion to Mag­dalen whom Thou didst free from her miseries, and whose sins Thou didst also forgive. All this gave us courage, and we have followed Thee thither. Lord, have mercy on us! Thou canst heal us and purify us. Thou canst likewise forgive us our sins." The men and women were standing apart from one another. They were afflicted with leprosy and other maladies. One woman was possessed by a wicked spirit who threw her into convulsions.

Jesus took them aside, one by one, to hear the particulars of their confession, inasmuch as the detailed account would serve to increase their sor­row and repentance. He did not exact this from all, unless it was necessary. He cured those of whom we are now speaking, and forgave them their sins. They melted into tears of gratitude, and begged Him to say what they should henceforth do. In reply, Jesus commanded them not to return to Tiberias, but to go to another place. I understood at that moment that Jesus Himself would not go to Tiberias, and indeed I never saw Him there. These people now went to the mountain to hear His instructions.

Jesus, however, turned off to the tent of the lep­ers, about four or five in number. He cured them, addressed to them words of admonition, commanded them to go to Nazareth and show themselves to the priests.

Jesus never lingered long over such cures, though

Jesus Cures


 there was never anything like precipitation in His manner. All was done with dignity and moderation, and especially without a superfluity of words. All was striking and appropriate whether He consoled or exhorted, whether He was gentle or severe. His manner was overflowing with patience and love. He went straight on with His work, but without the least hurry. Many of those that needed His help, Jesus went to meet; yes, even turning out of His way, He hastened to them, like a loving friend of men who sought to save them. From others, again, He turned away, permitting them to follow Him, to sigh after Him, a long time.

The spot upon which Jesus now taught was a beautiful plateau where, from the stone chair, the Prophets of bygone days had taught. From it one could see across the valley of Esdrelon and into the country around Mageddo. Crowds were gathered from the surrounding cities, and there were very many sick from Nazareth also, whom Jesus had not cured there, but who now were restored to health. There were some possessed, who testified to Him as usual and whom He delivered. He again taught upon the first four of the Eight Beatitudes, and related some parables referring to penance and the coming of the Kingdom. Then in most touching terms, He begged His hearers to profit by the grace offered them while still they had time. The Apostles listened attentively, because each in his own peculiar way was to repeat this instruction on his next mission.

Toward noon I saw Jesus gathering the Apostles and disciples around Him in a sequestered spot at the foot of the mountain. He sent them all out, two and two, with the exception of Peter, John, and some of the disciples who were to remain with Him. They were to go in three different directions: one set into the valley of the Jordan, another into that near Dothan, and a third to the west, into the country around Jerusalem. It was on this occasion that I


Life of Jesus Christ

 heard Jesus telling the Apostles that they should go without purse, without scrip, girded with one gar­ment only, and a staff in their hand. They were not to go to the heathens nor to the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of Israel. He indicated to them how they might be received, told them where to shake the dust from their feet, and commanded them to preach penance.¹ Jesus thus particularized because He was sending the Apostles into a hostile part of the country, and because persecution threatened Himself after the death of John, which was now drawing nigh. Many of the private inns had been established in this part of the Holy Land, therefore it was that the Apostles had no need of money. But they that were sent to Upper Galilee and beyond the Jordan, had received some, though very little, money. And now began a new era in their apostolic career, and new regions were visited by them.

Jesus blessed them before their departure, and gave them some further instructions upon curing the sick and driving out demons. He blessed the oil also that was to be used for the sick. He notified some where they should again meet Him.

After healing many more sick, Jesus bade farewell to the multitude, and accompanied by Peter, John and the disciples, journeyed southward about three hours to Sunem. Many of the people followed Him, among others a man who, the last time that Jesus went from Samaria to Galilee, had entreated Him to visit his sick children who were at an inn not far from Endor. This man again proffered his request to Jesus, and now it was granted.

The two demoniacal women of Gathepher had fol­lowed Jesus to the instruction given on the mount, and had been delivered by the imposition of His hands. When He reached the brook Cison, before crossing He healed a poor leper whose condition was

1. Matt. 10:9 et seq.; Mark. 6:10, 11; Luke 9:1-5.

Jesus Cures Sick Children


 truly forlorn and despised. He had for twenty years been reduced to this pitiable state, and someone had built him a tent hut here on the roadside. Jesus has­tened to him, healed him, and told him to join the others that were going to Jerusalem to show them­selves to the priests.

It was dusk when Jesus arrived in Sunem. With Peter and John, He put up at the house of the man that had invited Him to visit his sick children, all of whom were in a most miserable state. One son, sixteen years old and very tall for his age, was deaf and dumb. He lay flat on the ground in convulsions with contortions of the body so frightful that his head and heels met. He was perfectly lame and unable to walk. Another son was a poor idiot afraid of everything, and his two daughters also were tim­orous and simple. Jesus cured the deaf mute that evening. Peter and John had gone into the city. Jesus with the parents went alone into the sick boy's cham­ber, knelt by his bed, prayed, and supporting Him­self on His hands, inclined over the boy's face. He did this either to breathe into or to say something into his mouth. Then He took the boy by the hand and raised him up. The boy stood upright on his feet, and Jesus led him a few steps backward and forward. Then He took him alone into another room, made a salve out of His saliva and a little earth, took some upon His fingers and anointed his ears, and ran the first two fingers of His right hand under his tongue. Then began the boy in an unwonted, lively voice to cry: "I hear! I can speak!" The par­ents and servants rushed in at the sound and embraced him, weeping and shouting for joy. They cast themselves with their child on the ground before Jesus, sobbing and rocking to and fro for joy. Dur­ing the evening Jesus had a private interview with the father, upon whom a great crime committed by his own father was still resting. The man asked Jesus whether the chastisement was to fall even to


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 the fourth generation. Jesus answered that if he did penance and atoned for the crime, he might blot out its consequences.

In the morning Jesus cured the other son and the two daughters of their idiocy. He performed the cure by the imposition of hands. When restored to sense, the children appeared to be perfectly amazed, and as if awaking from a dream. They had always thought that people wanted to kill them, and had in partic­ular a great dread of fire. When on the day before Jesus healed the elder boy, He told (very unusual for Him) the father to go out and relate to all what had taken place. The consequence was a great concourse of people, among them numbers of sick, and that morning I saw Jesus instructing the people on the street, and curing and blessing many of the children.

After that I saw Him with Peter and John jour­neying rapidly the whole day and night through the plain of Esdrelon in the direction of Ginnim. They seldom paused to rest. I heard Jesus saying on the way that John's end was approaching, and after that, His enemies would begin their pursuit of Himself. But it was not lawful to expose one's self to one's enemies. I think I understood that they were going to Hebron, to console John's relatives and prevent any imprudent manifestation.

The holy women, Mary, Veronica, Susanna, Mag­dalen, and Mary the Suphanite, were now in Dothan near Samaria. They were stopping with Issachar, the sick husband, whom Jesus had lately healed. The holy women never went to the public inns. Martha, Dina, Johanna Chusa, Susanna Alpheus, Anna Cleophas, Mary Johanna Marcus, and Maroni went, two by two, to look after the inns and supply what was wanting. There were about twelve of these women.

Early the next morning, I saw Jesus and the two Apostles to the south of Samaria, where He met the two Egyptian disciples and the son of Johanna Chusa coming to Him from the East. These Egyptian dis­ciples

The Holy Women


 had already been over a year in Hebron, where they were studying. They had also been a long time in Bethlehem with Lazarus and other disciples that were on intimate terms with Jesus. They were in consequence very well instructed.

Jesus and His companions some time afterward arrived at the shepherd houses where the holy women had met Him after His conversation with the Samaritan at Jacob's well, and where He had cured the landlord's sick son. They here partook of some refreshment and rested a little.

Some time after I had a vision of Jesus' instruct­ing, near a well, the laborers gathered together from the neighboring fields. He was relating to them the parable of the treasure hidden in a field, also that of the lost drachma found again. Some of His hear­ers laughed at the latter, saying that they had often lost more than one drachma, but they had never taken the trouble to sweep the whole house on that account. But when Jesus reproached them for their levity, and explained to them what the drachma sig­nified and the virtue implied by that general sweep­ing, they became confused and laughed no more.

These laborers were occupied in threshing the grain which was lying in heaps in the fields. This they did with wooden mallets which rose and fell by means of a cylinder. Several men were employed in pushing the grain under the mallets and in sweep­ing it away again. The operation was carried on in a pure rocky basin hewn out of solid stone, streaked with colored veining. A large tree shaded the spot.

Jesus continued to teach here and there in the fields, and accompanied some of the laborers to their home in Thanath-Silo, which was not far off. The inhabitants received Him very cordially outside the city, presented refreshments, and washed His feet. They wanted to give Him also a change of raiment, but He declined. He related in their synagogue the parable of the king who made a great feast.


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4. The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

For the last two weeks Herod's guests had been pouring into Machaerus, most of them from Tiberias. It was one succession of holidays and banqueting. Near the castle was an open circular building with many seats. In it gladiators struggled with wild ani­mals for the amusement of Herod's guests, and dancers male and female performed all kinds of voluptuous dances. I saw Salome, the daughter of Herodias, practicing them before metallic mirrors in presence of her mother.

Zorobabel and Cornelius of Capharnaum were not among the guests. They had excused themselves.

For some time past, John had been allowed to go around at large within the castle precincts, and his disciples also could go and come as they pleased. Once or twice he gave a public discourse at which Herod himself was present. His release had been promised him if he would approve Herod's marriage, or, at least, never again inveigh against it. But John had always most forcibly denounced it. Herod, nev­ertheless, was thinking of setting him free on his own birthday, but his wife was secretly nourishing very different thoughts .. Herod would have wished John to circulate freely during the festival, that the guests might see and admire the leniency of the prisoner's treatment. But scarcely had the games and banqueting begun, scarcely had vice commenced to run riot in Machaerus, when John shut himself up in his prison cell and bade his disciples retire from the city. They obeyed and withdrew to the region of Hebron, where already many were assembled.

The daughter of Herodias had been trained entirely by her mother, whose constant companion she had been from her earliest years. She was in the bloom of girlhood, her deportment bold, her attire shame­less. For a long time Herod had looked upon her

The Daughter of Herodias


 with lustful eyes. This the mother regarded with complacency, and laid her plans accordingly. Hero­dias herself had a very striking, very bold appear­ance, and she employed all her skill, made use of every means, to set off her charms. She was no longer young, and there was something sharp, cunning, and diabolical in her countenance that bad men love to see. In me, however, she excited disgust and aver­sion as would the beauty of a serpent. I can find no better comparison than this, that she reminded me of the old pagan goddesses. She occupied a wing of the castle near the grand courtyard, somewhat higher than the hall opposite in which the birthday feast was to be celebrated. From the gallery around her apartments, one could look down into that open, pillared hall. Before the latter and in Herod's court­yard, a magnificent triumphal arch had been raised. Steps led up to it, and it opened into the hall itself, which was so long that from the entrance the other end could not be descried. Mirrors and gold sparkled on all sides, flowers and green bushes everywhere met the eye. The splendor almost blinded one, for far, far back halls, and columns, and passages were blazing with flambeaux and lamps, with transpar­ent glittering sentences, pictures, and vases.

Herodias and her female companions, arrayed in magnificence, stood in the high gallery of her apart­ments, gazing upon Herod's triumphal entrance into the banqueting hall. He came attended by his guests, all arrayed in pomp and splendor. The courtyard through which he passed to the triumphal arch was carpeted and lined with choirs of singers, who saluted him with songs of joy. Around the arch were ranged boys and girls waving garlands of flowers and play­ing upon all kinds of musical instruments. When Herod mounted the steps to the arch of triumph, he was met by a band of dancing boys and girls, Salome in their midst. She presented him with a crown which rested on a cushion covered with sparkling ornamentation


Life of Jesus Christ

 and carried by some of the children of her suite under a transparent veil. These children were clothed in thin, tightly fitting garments, and on their shoulders were imitations of wings. Salome wore a long, trans­parent robe, caught up here and there on the lower limbs with glittering clasps. Her arms were orna­mented with gold bands, strings of pearls, and cir­clets of tiny feathers; her neck and breast were covered with pearls and delicate, sparkling chains. She danced for a while before Herod who, quite daz­zled and enchanted, gave expression to his admira­tion, in which all his guests enthusiastically joined. She should, he said to her, renew this pleasure for him on the next morning.

And now the procession entered the hall, and the banquet began. The women ate in the wing of the castle with Herodias. Meantime I saw John in his prison cell kneeling in prayer, his arms outstretched, his eyes raised to Heaven. The whole place around him was shining with light, but it was a very dif­ferent light from that which glared in Herod's hall. The latter, compared with the former, appeared like a flame from Hell. The whole city of Machaerus was illuminated by torches and, as if on fire, it cast a reflection far into the surrounding mountains.

Herod's banquet-hall opened toward that of Hero­dias which, as I have said, was opposite, though a little more elevated than the former. From this open side, the women feasting and enjoying themselves were reflected in one of the inclined mirrors of Herod's hall. Between pyramids of flowers and fra­grant green bushes, a playing fountain jetted up in fine sprays. When all had eaten and wine had flowed freely, the guests requested Herod to allow Salome to dance again, and for this purpose, they cleared sufficient space and ranged around the walls. Herod was seated on his throne surrounded by some of his most intimate associates, who were Herodians. Salome appeared with some of her dancing com­panions



 clothed in a light, transparent robe. Her hair was interwoven in part with pearls and pre­cious stones, while another part floated around her in curls. She wore a crown and formed the central figure in the group of dancers. The dance consisted of a constant bowing, a gentle swaying and turning. The whole person seemed to be destitute of bones. Scarcely had one position been assumed when it glided into another. The dancers held wreaths and scarves in their hands, which waved and twined around one another. The whole performance gave expression to the most shameful passions, and in it Salome excelled all her companions. I saw the devil at her side as if bending and twisting all her limbs in order to produce that abominable effect. Herod was perfectly ravished, perfectly entranced by the changing attitudes. When at the end of one of the figures Salome presented herself before the throne, the other dancers continued to engage the attention of the guests, so that only those in the immediate vicinity heard Herod saying to her: "Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it to thee. Yes, I swear to thee, though thou askest the half of my kingdom, yet will I give it to thee!" Salome left the hall, hur­ried to that of the women, and conferred with her mother. The latter directed her to ask for the head of John on a dish. Salome hastened back to Herod, and said: "I will that thou give to me at once the head of John on a dish !" Only a few of Herod's most confidential associates who were nearest the throne heard the request. Herod looked like one struck with apoplexy, but Salome reminded him of his oath. Then he commanded one of the Herodians to call his exe­cutioner, to whom he gave the command to behead John and give the head on a dish to Salome. The executioner withdrew, and in a few moments Salome followed him. Herod, as if suddenly indisposed, soon left the hall with his companions. He was very sad. I heard his followers saying to him that he was not


Life of Jesus Christ

 bound to grant such a request; nevertheless they promised the greatest secrecy, in order not to inter­rupt the festivities. Herod, exceedingly troubled, paced like one demented the most remote apart­ments of his palace, but the feast went on undis­turbed.

John was in prayer. The executioner and his ser­vant took the two soldiers on guard at the entrance of John's prison in with them. The guards bore torches, but I saw the space around John so bril­liantly illuminated that their flame became dull like a light in the daytime. Salome waited in the entrance hall of the vast and intricate dungeon house. With her was a maidservant who gave the executioner a dish wrapped in a red cloth. The latter addressed John: "Herod the King sends me to bring thy head on the dish to his daughter Salome." John allowed him little time to explain. He remained kneeling, and bowing his head toward him, he said: "I know why thou hast come. Thou art my guest, one for whom I have long waited. Didst thou know what thou art about to do, thou wouldst not do it. I am ready." Then he turned his head away and contin­ued his prayer before the stone in front of which he always prayed kneeling. The executioner beheaded him with a machine which I can compare to noth­ing but a fox trap. An iron ring was laid on his shoulders. This ring was provided with two sharp blades, which, being closed around the throat with a sudden pressure given by the executioner, in the twinkling of an eye severed the head from the trunk. John still remained in a kneeling posture. The head bounded to the earth, and a triple stream of blood springing up from the body sprinkled both the head and body of the saint, as if baptizing him in his own blood. The executioner's servant raised the head by the hair, insulted it, and laid it on the dish which his master held. The latter presented it to the expec­tant Salome. She received it joyfully, yet not with­out

The Baptist Beheaded


 secret horror and that effeminate loathing which those given to sin always have for blood and wounds. She carried the holy head covered by a red cloth on the dish. The maid went before, bearing a torch to light the way through the subterranean passages. Salome held the dish timidly at arm's length before her, her head still laden with its ornaments turned away in disgust. Thus she traversed the solitary pas­sages that led up to a kind of vaulted kitchen under the castle of Herodias. Here she was met by her mother, who raised the cover from the holy head, which she loaded with insult and abuse. Then tak­ing a sharp skewer from a certain part of the wall where many such instruments were sticking, with it she pierced the tongue, the cheeks, and the eyes. After that, looking more like a demon than a human being, she hurled it from her and kicked it with her foot through a round opening down into a pit into which the offal and refuse of the kitchen were swept. Then did that infamous woman together with her daughter return to the noise and wicked revelry of the feast, as if nothing had happened. I saw the holy body of the saint, covered with the skin that he usu­ally wore, laid by the two soldiers upon his stone couch. The men were very much touched by what they had just witnessed. They were afterward dis­charged from duty and imprisoned that they might not disclose what they knew of John's murder. All that had any share in it were bound to the most rigorous secrecy. The guests, however, gave John no thought. Thus his death remained a long time con­cealed. The report was even spread that he had been set at liberty. The festivities went on. As soon as Herod ceased to take part in them, Herodias began to entertain. Five of those that knew of John's death were shut up in dungeons. They were the two guards, the executioner and his servant, and Salome's maid who had shown some compassion for the saint. Other guards were placed at the prison door, and they in


Life of Jesus Christ

 turn were at regular intervals replaced by others. One of Herod's confidential followers regularly car­ried food to John's cell, consequently no one had any misgiving of what had taken place.

5. Jesus in Thanath-Silo and Antipatris

During the feast in Machaerus and the behead­ing of the Baptist, Jesus was in Thanath-Silo. There He heard from those that had returned from Jerusalem the catastrophe which had just occurred in the Holy City. A crowd of laborers lately engaged on a great building near the mount upon which stood the Temple, along with eighteen master workmen sent thither by Herod, had been buried under the falling walls. Jesus expressed compassion for the innocent sufferers, but said that the sin of the mas­ter workmen was not greater than that of the Phar­isees, the Sadducees, and all those that labored against the Kingdom of God. These latter would like­wise be one day buried under their own treacher­ous structures.

The aqueduct that had cost the lives of so many was probably a quarter of an hour in length. It was intended to conduct the water flowing from the Pool of Bethsaida up to the mount on which the Temple stood, thus to wash down from the court to the lower ravine the blood of the slaughtered animals. Higher up on the mountain was the Pool of Bethsaida, which discharged the waters received from its source, the Gehon. Three vaulted aqueducts ran far in under the Temple mount, and long arcades extended north­ward across the valley and up to the mount. Nearby stood a high tower in which, by means of wheel­work machinery, water was raised in great leathern vessels from the reservoir far below. The work had long been in progress. Being now in want of good building stone and master workmen, Pilate, acting on the advice of a member of the Sanhedrin, a Hero­dian

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 3

This document is: ACE_3_0131

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