Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 4

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The Cross

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37. Jesus Carries His Cross to Golgotha

When Pilate left the judgment seat, part of the soldiers followed him and drew up in file before the palace. A small band remained near the condemned. Twenty-eight armed Pharisees, among them those six furious enemies of Jesus who had assisted at His arrest on Mount Olivet, came on horseback to the forum in order to accompany the procession. The exe­cutioners led Jesus in to the center. Several slaves, dragging the wood of the cross, entered through the gate on the western side, and threw it down noisily at His feet. The two arms, which were lighter and provided with tenons, were bound with cords to the trunk, which was broader and heavier. The wedges, the little foot-block, and the board just finished for the inscription were carried along with other things by boys who were learning the executioners' trade.

As soon as the cross was thrown on the ground before Him, Jesus fell on His knees, put His arms around it, and kissed it three times while softly utter­ing a prayer of thanksgiving to His Heavenly Father for the Redemption of mankind now begun. Pagan priests were accustomed to embrace a newly erected altar, and in like manner the Lord embraced His cross, the eternal Altar of the bloody Sacrifice of expi­ation. But the executioners dragged Jesus up to a kneeling posture; and with difficulty and little help (and that of the most barbarous kind) He was forced to take the heavy beams upon His right shoulder and hold them fast with His right arm. I saw invis­ible angels helping Him, otherwise He would have been unable to lift the cross from the ground. As He knelt, He bent under the weight. While Jesus was praying, some of the other executioners placed on the back of the two thieves the arms of their crosses (not yet fastened to the trunk), and tied their upraised hands upon them by means of a stick around which

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 they twisted the cord. These crosspieces were not quite straight, but somewhat curved. At the moment of crucifixion they were fastened to the upper end of the trunk, which trunk—along with the other imple­ments of execution—was carried after the condemned by slaves. Pilate's horsemen were now ready to start, and the trumpet sounded. Just then one of the mounted Pharisees approached Jesus, who was still kneeling under His load, and exclaimed: "It is all over with fine speeches now! Hurry up, that we may get rid of Him! Forward! Forward!" They jerked Him to His feet, and then fell upon His shoulder the whole weight of the cross, of that cross which, according to His own sacred words of Eternal Truth, we must carry after Him. And now that blessed triumphal procession of the King of Kings, so ignominious upon earth, so glorious in the sight of Heaven, began. Two cords were tied to the end of the cross, and by them two of the executioners held it up, so that it could not be dragged on the ground. Around Jesus, though at some distance, walked the four executioners hold­ing the cords fastened to the fetter-girdle that bound His waist. His mantle was tied up under His arms. Jesus, with the wood of the cross bound on His shoul­der, reminded me in a striking manner of Isaac car­rying the wood for his own sacrifice on the mountain. Pilate's trumpeter gave the signal for starting, for Pilate himself with a detachment of soldiers intended to go into the city, in order to prevent the possibil­ity of an insurrection. He was armed and on horse­back, surrounded by his officers and a troop of cavalry. A company of about three hundred foot soldiers fol­lowed, all from the frontier between Switzerland and Italy.

The procession of the Crucifixion was headed by a trumpeter, who sounded his trumpet at every street corner and proclaimed the execution. Some paces behind him came a crowd of boys and other rude fel­lows, carrying drink, cords, nails, wedges, and bas­kets

The Procession of the Crucifixion

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 of tools of all kinds, while sturdy servant men bore poles, ladders, and the trunks belonging to the crosses of the thieves. The ladders consisted of mere poles, through which long wooden pegs were run. Then followed some of the mounted Pharisees, after whom came a lad bearing on his breast the inscrip­tion Pilate had written for the cross. The crown of thorns, which it was impossible to leave on during the carriage of the cross, was taken from Christ's head and placed on the end of a pole, which this lad now carried over his shoulder. This boy was not very wicked.

And next came Our Lord and Redeemer, bowed down under the heavy weight of the cross, bruised, torn with scourges, exhausted, and tottering. Since the Last Supper of the preceding evening, without food, drink, and sleep, under continual ill-treatment that might of itself have ended in death, consumed by loss of blood, wounds, fever, thirst, and unutter­able interior pain and horror, Jesus walked with tot­tering steps, His back bent low, His feet naked and bleeding. With His right hand He grasped the heavy load on His right shoulder, and with the left He wearily tried to raise the flowing garment constantly impeding His uncertain steps. The four execution­ers held at some distance the cords fastened to His fetter girdle. The two in front dragged Him forward, while the two behind urged Him on. In this way He was not sure of one step, and the tugging cords con­stantly prevented His lifting His robe. His hands were bruised and swollen from the cords that had tightly bound them, His face was covered with blood and swellings, His hair and beard were torn and matted with blood, the burden He carried and the fetters pressed the coarse woolen garment into the wounds of His body and the wool stuck fast to those that had been reopened by the tearing off of His clothes. Jeers and malicious words resounded on all sides. He looked unspeakably wretched and

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 tormented, though lovingly resigned. His lips moved in prayer, His glance was supplicating, forgiving, and suffering. The two executioners behind Him, who held up the end of the cross by means of ropes fastened to it, increased the toil of Jesus, for they jerked the ropes or let them lie slack, thus moving His burden from side to side. The procession was flanked by soldiers bearing lances.

Then came the two thieves, each led by two execu­tioners holding cords fastened to their girdles. They had the curved crosspieces belonging to the trunk of their crosses fastened on their backs, with their out­stretched arms bound to the ends of them. They wore only a short tunic around their loins; the upper part of their body was covered with a loose, sleeveless jacket open at the sides, and on their head was the cap of twisted straw. They were partly intoxicated by the drink that had been given them. The good thief, however, was very quiet; but the bad one was insolent and furious, and he cursed continually. The executioners were dark complexioned, short, thick­set fellows, with short, black hair, crisp and scrubby. Their beard was sparse, a few little tufts scattered over the chin. The shape of their face was not Jew­ish. They were canal laborers, and belonged to a race of Egyptian slaves. They wore only a short tunic like an apron, and on their breast was a leathern cover­ing without sleeves. They were, in every sense of the word, beastly. Behind the thieves rode one-half of the Pharisees closing the procession. Sometimes they rode together, and again singly along the whole line of the procession, urging them on and keeping order. Among the mob that led the way, carrying the imple­ments of execution, were some lowborn Jewish lads who, of their own accord, had pushed themselves into the crowd.

At a considerable distance followed Pilate, his party preceded by a trumpeter on horseback. Pilate, in mil­itary costume, rode among his officers followed by a

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 troop of cavalry and three hundred foot soldiers. His train crossed the forum, and then passed out into a broad street.

The procession formed for Jesus wound through a very narrow back street, in order not to obstruct the way of the people going to the Temple, as well as to prove no hindrance to Pilate and his escort.

Most of the people had dispersed immediately after the sentence was pronounced, either to return to their own homes or to go to the Temple. They had already lost a great part of the morning, and so they had to hurry their preparations for the slaughtering of the Paschal lamb. The crowd of loiterers was nev­ertheless very great. It was a mixed company con­sisting of strangers, slaves, workmen, boys, women, and all kinds of rough people. They rushed headlong through the streets and byways, in order here and there to catch a glimpse of the mournful procession. The Roman soldiers in the rear kept them from swelling its numbers, and they were obliged conse­quently to plunge down the next bystreet and head off the procession again. Most of them, however, made straight for Golgotha. The narrow alley through which Jesus was first conducted was scarcely two paces wide, and it was full of filth thrown from the gates of the houses on either side. He had much to suffer here. The executioners were brought into closer contact with Him, and from the gates and windows the servants and slaves there employed threw after Him mud and kitchen refuse. Malicious rascals poured black, filthy, bad-smelling water on Him; yes, even children, running out of their houses, were incited by the rabble to gather stones in their aprons and, darting through the crowd, throw them at His feet with words of mockery and reviling. Thus did chil­dren do unto Him who had pronounced the children beloved, blessed, and happy.

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38. Jesus’ First Fall Under the Cross

Toward the end of that narrow street, or alley, the way turned again to the left, becoming broader and somewhat steep. Under it was a subterranean aque­duct extending from Mount Sion. I think it ran along the forum, where flowed a covered gutter down to the sheep pool near the sheep gate. I could hear the gurgling and rippling of the water in the pipes. Just here where the street begins to ascend, there was a hollow place often filled, after a rain, with mud and water. In it, as in many such places in the streets of Jerusalem, lay a large stone to facilitate crossing, Poor Jesus, on reaching this spot with His heavy bur­den, could go no farther. The executioners pulled Him by the cords and pushed Him unmercifully. Then did the Divine Cross-bearer fall full length on the ground by the projecting stone, His burden at His side. The drivers, with curses, pulled Him and kicked Him. This brought the procession to a halt, and a tumult arose around Jesus. In vain did He stretch out His hand for someone to help Him. "Ah! It will soon be over!" He exclaimed, and continued to pray. The Phar­isees yelled: "Up! Raise Him up! Otherwise He'll die in our hands." Here and there on the wayside weep­ing women might be seen, and children whimpering from fear. With the aid of supernatural help, Jesus raised His head, and the terrible, the diabolical wretches, instead of alleviating His sufferings, put the crown of thorns again upon Him. When at last, with all kinds of ill-treatment, they dragged Him up again, they laid the cross once more upon His shoul­der. And now with the greatest difficulty He had to hang His poor head, racked with thorns, to one side in order to be able to carry His heavy load on His shoulder, for the crown was broad. Thus Jesus tot­tered, with increased torture, up the steep and grad­ually widening street.

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39. Jesus, Carrying His Cross, Meets His Most Holy and Afflicted Mother.

His Second Fall Under the Cross

The Blessed Mother of Jesus, who shared every suffering of her Son, had about an hour previously—when the unjust sentence was pronounced upon Him—left the forum with John and the holy women to venerate the places consecrated by His cruel Pas­sion. But now when the running crowd, the sound­ing trumpets, and the approach of the soldiers and Pilate's cavalcade announced the commencement of the bitter Way of the Cross, Mary could no longer remain at a distance. She must behold her Divine Son in His sufferings, and she begged John to take her to some place that Jesus would pass. They left, in consequence, the vicinity of Sion, passed the judg­ment seat, and went through gates and shady walks which were open just now to the people streaming hither and thither, to the western side of a palace which had an arched gateway on the street into which the procession turned after Jesus' first fall. The palace was the residence of Caiaphas; the house on Sion was his official tribunal. John obtained from the com­passionate porter the privilege of passing through and of opening the opposite gate. I was terrified when I saw the Blessed Virgin so pale, her eyes red with weeping, wrapped from head to foot in a bluish-green mantle, trembling and shuddering, going through this house with the holy women, John, and one of the nephews of Joseph of Arimathea. They could already distinguish the tumult and uproar of the ap­proaching multitude only some houses off, the sound of the trumpet and the proclamation at the corners that a criminal was being led to execution. When the servant opened the gate, the noise became more dis­tinct and alarming. Mary was in prayer. She said to John: "Shall I stay to behold it, or shall I hurry away?

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Oh, how shall I be able to endure it?" John replied: "If thou dost not remain, it will always be to thee a cruel regret." They stepped out under the gateway and looked to the right down the street, which was here somewhat rising, but which became level again at the spot upon which Mary was standing. The pro­cession at this moment may not have been more than eighty paces distant from them. It was preceded by none of the rabble, though they were still following on the side and in the rear. Many of them, as I have said, were running through the neighboring street, to get other places from which they could obtain a look.

And now came on the executioner's servants, inso­lent and triumphant, with their instruments of tor­ture, at sight of which the Blessed Mother trembled, sobbed, and wrung her hands. One of the men said to the bystanders: "Who is that woman in such dis­tress?" And someone answered: "She is the Mother of the Galilean." When the miscreants heard this, they jeered at the sorrowing Mother in words of scorn, pointed at her with their fingers; and one of the base wretches, snatching up the nails intended for the crucifixion, held them up mockingly before her face. Wringing her hands, she gazed upon Jesus and, in her anguish, leaned for support against one of the pillars of the gate. She was pale as a corpse, her lips livid. The Pharisees came riding forward, then came the boy with the inscription—and oh! a couple of steps behind him, the Son of God, her own Son, the Holy One, the Redeemer! Tottering, bowed down, His thorn-crowned head painfully bent over to one shoul­der on account of the heavy cross He was carrying, Jesus staggered on. The executioners pulled Him for­ward with the ropes. His face was pale, wounded, and blood-stained, His beard pointed and matted with blood. From His sunken eyes full of blood He cast, from under the tangled and twisted thorns of His crown, frightful to behold, a look full of earnest ten­derness

The Most Sorrowful Mother

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 upon His afflicted Mother, and for the sec­ond time tottered under the weight of the cross and sank on His hands and knees to the ground. The most sorrowful Mother, in vehemence of her love and anguish, saw neither soldiers nor executioners-saw only her beloved, suffering, maltreated Son. Wring­ing her hands, she sprang over the couple of steps between the gateway and the executioners in advance, and rushing to Jesus, fell on her knees with her arms around Him. I heard, but I know not whether spo­ken with the lips or in spirit, the words: “My Son!”—“My Mother!”

The executioners insulted and mocked. One of them said: "Woman, what dost thou want here? If thou hadst reared Him better, He would not now be in our hands." I perceived, however, that some of the soldiers were touched. They obliged the Blessed Vir­gin to retire, but not one of them laid a finger on her. John and the women led her away, and she sank, like one paralyzed in the knees by pain, on one of the cornerstones that supported the wall near the gateway. Her back was turned toward the proces­sion, and her hands came in contact with the obliquely projecting stone upon which she sank. It was a green veined stone. Where Mary's knees touched it, shal­low hollow places were left, and where her hands rested, the impression remained. They were not very distinct impressions, but such as might be made by a stroke upon a surface like dough, for the stone was very hard. I saw that, under Bishop James the Less, it was removed into the first Catholic church, the church near the Pool of Bethsaida. As I have before said, I have more than once seen similar impressions in stone made by the touch of holy persons on great and remarkable occasions. This verifies the saying: "It would move the heart of a stone," and this other: "This makes an impression." The Eternal Wisdom, in His mercy, needed not the art of printing in order to leave to posterity a witness to holy things.

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When the soldiers flanking the procession drove it forward with their lances, John took the Blessed Mother in through the gate, which was then closed.

The executioners meanwhile had dragged Our Lord up again, and laid the cross upon His shoulder in another position. The arms of the cross had become loose from the trunk to which they had at first been bound, and one had slipped down and become entan­gled in the ropes. Jesus now took them in His arms, and the trunk dragged behind a little more on the ground.

Here and there among the rabble following the procession with jeers and laughter, I saw the veiled figures of weeping women moving along with uneven steps.

40. Simon of Cyrene

Jesus' Third Fall Under the Cross

After going some distance up the broad street, the procession passed through a gateway in an old inner wall of the city. In front of this gate was a wide open space at which three streets met. There was a large stepping stone here, over which Jesus staggered and fell, the cross by His side. He lay on the ground, lean­ing against the stone, unable to rise. Just at this instant, a crowd of well-dressed people came along on their way to the Temple. They cried out in com­passion: "Alas! The poor creature is dying!" Confu­sion arose among the rabble, for they could not succeed in making Jesus rise. The Pharisees leading the pro­cession cried out to the soldiers: "We shall not get Him to Calvary alive. You must hunt up someone to help Him carry the cross." Just then appeared, com­ing straight down the middle of the street, Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, followed by his three sons. He was carrying a bundle of sprigs under his arm, for he was a gardener, and he had been working in the gardens

Simon of Cyrene and His Sons

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 toward the eastern wall of the city. Every year about the time of the feast, he was accustomed to come up to Jerusalem with his wife and children, to trim the hedges. Many other laborers used to come for the same purpose. The crowd was so great that he could not escape, and as soon as the soldiers saw by his dress that he was a poor pagan laborer, they laid hold on him and dragged him forward to help carry the Galilean's cross. He resisted and showed great unwill­ingness, but they forcibly constrained him. His little boys screamed and cried, and some women that knew the man took charge of them. Simon was filled with disgust and repugnance for the task imposed upon him. Poor Jesus looked so horribly miserable, so awfully disfigured, and His garments were covered with mud; but He was weeping, and He cast upon Simon a glance that roused his compassion. He had to help Him up. Then the executioners tied one arm of the cross toward the end of the trunk, made a loop of the cords, and passed it over Simon's shoulder. He walked close behind Jesus, thus greatly lightening His burden. They rearranged the crown of thorns, and at last the dolorous procession resumed its march.

Simon was a vigorous man of forty years. He had no covering on his head. He wore a short, close-fit­ting jacket; his loins were bound with lappets, his legs with leathern straps, and his sandals turned up in sharp beaks at the toes. His little boys were dressed in tunics of colored stripes. Two of them were almost grown. They were named Rufus and Alexander, and later on they joined the disciples. The third was younger, and I have seen him still as a child with Stephen. Simon had not borne the cross long after Jesus when he felt his heart deeply touched.

41. Veronica and Her Veil

The street through which Jesus was now going was long and somewhat winding, and into it several side

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 streets ran. From all quarters respectable-looking people were on their way to the Temple. They stepped back, some from a pharisaical fear of becoming legally impure, others moved by a feeling of compassion. Simon had assisted the Lord with His burden almost two hundred paces when, from a handsome house on the left side of the street, up to whose forecourt (which was enclosed by a low, broad wall surmounted by a railing of some kind of shining metal) a flight of terraced steps led, there issued a tall, elegant looking woman, holding a little girl by the hand, and rushed forward to meet the procession. It was Seraphia, the wife of Sirach, one of the members of the Council belonging to the Temple. Owing to her action of this day, she received the name of Veron­ica from vera (true) and icon (picture, or image).

Seraphia had prepared some costly spiced wine with the pious design of refreshing the Lord on His dolorous journey. She had been waiting in anxious expectation and had already hurried out once before to meet the procession. I saw her veiled, a little girl (whom she had adopted as her own child) by the hand, hurrying forward at the moment in which Jesus met His Blessed Mother. But in the disturbance that followed, she found no opportunity to carry out her design, and so she hastened back to her house to await the Lord's coming.

As the procession drew near, she stepped out into the street veiled, a linen cloth hanging over her shoul­der. The little girl, who was about nine years old, was standing by her with a mug of wine hidden under her little mantle. Those at the head of the proces­sion tried in vain to keep her back. Transported with love and compassion, with the child holding fast to her dress, she pressed through the mob running at the side of the procession, in through the soldiers and executioners, stepped before Jesus, fell on her knees, and held up to Him the outspread end of the linen kerchief, with these words of entreaty: "Permit

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 me to wipe the face of my Lord!" Jesus seized the kerchief with His left hand and, with the flat, open palm, pressed it against His bloodstained face. Then passing it still with the left hand toward the right, which was grasping the arm of the cross, He pressed it between both palms and handed it back to Seraphia with thanks. She kissed it, hid it beneath her man­tle, where she pressed it to her heart, and arose to her feet. Then the little girl timidly held up the mug of wine, but the brutal soldiers and executioners would not permit her to refresh Jesus with it. This sudden and daring act of Seraphia caused a stoppage in the procession of hardly two minutes, of which she made use to present the kerchief. The mounted Pharisees, as well as the executioners, were enraged at the delay, and still more at this public homage rendered to the Lord. They began, in consequence, to beat and pull Jesus. Veronica meanwhile fled back with the child to her house.

Scarcely had she reached her own apartment when, laying the kerchief on a table, she sank down un­conscious. The little girl, still holding the mug of wine, knelt whimpering by her. A friend of the fam­ily, entering the room, found her in this condition. She glanced at the outspread kerchief and beheld upon it the bloody face of Jesus frightfully, but with wonderful distinctness, impressed. It looked like the face of a corpse. She roused Seraphia and showed her the Lord's image. It filled her with grief and con­solation, and casting herself on her knees before the kerchief, she exclaimed: "Now will I leave all, for the Lord has given to me a memento!"

This kerchief was a strip of fine wool about three times as long as wide. It was usually worn around the neck, and sometimes a second was thrown over the shoulder. It was customary upon meeting one in sorrow, in tears, in misery, in sickness, or in fatigue, to present it to wipe the face. It was a sign of mourn­ing and sympathy. In hot countries, friends presented

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 them to one another. Seraphia ever after kept this kerchief hanging at the head of her bed. After her death, it was given by the holy women to the Mother of God, and through the Apostles at last came into the possession of the Church.

Seraphia was a cousin of John the Baptist, her father being the son of Zachary's brother. She was from Jerusalem. When Mary, a little girl of four years, was placed among the young girls at the Temple, I saw Joachim, Anne, and some that had accompanied them going into Zachary's paternal house not far from the fish market. A very old relative of the fam­ily now occupied it, Zachary's uncle, perhaps, and Seraphia's grandfather. At the time of Mary's espousals with Joseph, I saw that Seraphia was older than the Blessed Virgin. She was related also to the aged Simeon who had prophesied at Jesus' Presen­tation in the Temple, and from early youth she was brought up with his sons. Simeon had inspired these young people with a longing after the Messiah. This waiting for salvation was, for a long time, like a secret affection among many good people; others at that time had no idea of such things. When Jesus at the age of twelve remained behind in Jerusalem to teach in the Temple, I saw Seraphia older than the Mother of Jesus and still unmarried. She sent Jesus food to a little inn outside of Jerusalem, where He put up when He was not in the Temple. It was at this same inn, a quarter of an hour from Jerusalem and on the road to Bethlehem, that Mary and Joseph, when going to present Jesus in the Temple after His birth, spent one day and two nights with the two old people. They were Essenians, and the wife was related to Johanna Chusa. They were acquainted with the Holy Family and Jesus. Their inn was an establish­ment for the poor. Jesus and the disciples often took shelter there; and in His last days, when He was preaching in the Temple, I often saw food sent thither by Seraphia. But at that time there were other

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 occupants in it. Seraphia married late in life. Her husband Sirach, a descendant of the chaste Susanna, was a member of the Council belonging to the Tem­ple. He was at first very much opposed to Jesus, and Seraphia, on account of her intimate connection with Jesus and the holy women, had much to suffer from him. He had even on several different occasions con­fined her for a long time in a prison cell. Converted at last by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, he became more lenient, and allowed his wife to follow Jesus. At Jesus' trial before Caiaphas, both last night and this morning, he had, in company with Nicode­mus, Joseph of Arimathea, and all well-disposed peo­ple, declared himself for Our Lord, and with them left the Sanhedrim. Seraphia was still a beautiful, majestic woman, although she must have been over fifty years old. At the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday, I saw her among the other women with a child on her arm. She took her veil from her head and spread it joyfully and reverently in the Lord's path. It was this same veil with which she now went forward to meet the Lord in His dolorous, but victorious and triumphant procession, and remove in part the traces of His sufferings-this same veil that gave to its pos­sessor the new and triumphant name of Veronica, and this same veil that is now held in public vener­ation by the Church.

In the third year after Christ's Ascension, the Roman Emperor sent officials to Jerusalem to col­lect proofs of the rumors afloat in connection with Jesus' death and resurrection. One of these officials took back with him to Rome Nicodemus, Seraphia, and a relative of Johanna Chusa, the disciple Epaphras. This last-named was merely a simple servant of the disciples, having formerly been engaged in the Temple as a servant and messenger of the priests. He was with the Apostles in the Coenaculum dur­ing the first days after Jesus' Resurrection, when

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 he saw Jesus as he frequently did afterward. I saw Veronica with the Emperor, who was sick. His couch was elevated a couple of steps, and concealed by a large curtain. The room was four-cornered, and not very large. I saw no window in it, but light entered from the roof in which there were valves that could be opened or closed by means of hanging cords. The Emperor was alone, his attendants in the antecham­ber. I saw that Veronica had brought with her, besides the veil, one of the linens from Jesus' tomb. She unfolded the former before the Emperor. It was a long, narrow strip of stuff, which she had once worn as a veil around her head and neck. The impression of Jesus' face was on one end of it, and when she held it up before the Emperor, she grasped the whole length of the veil in one hand. The face of Jesus was not a clean, distinct portrait, for it was impressed on the veil in blood; it was also broader than a painted likeness would have been, for Jesus had pressed the veil all around His face. On the other cloth that Veronica had with her, I saw the im­pression of Jesus' scourged body. I think it was one of the cloths upon which Jesus had been washed for sepulture. I did not see that these cloths made any impression on the Emperor, or that he touched them, but he was cured by merely looking upon them. He wanted to keep Veronica in Rome, and to give her as a reward a house, goods, and faithful servants, but she longed for nothing but to return to Jerusalem and to die where Jesus had died. I saw that she did return, with the companions of her journey. I saw in the persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, when Lazarus and his sisters were driven into exile, that Seraphia fled with some other women. But being overtaken, she was cast into prison where, as a mar­tyr for the truth, for Jesus, whom she had so often fed with earthly bread, and who with His own Flesh and Blood had nourished her to eternal life, she died of starvation.

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42. The Weeping Daughters of Jerusalem. Jesus' Fourth and Fifth Falls Beneath the Cross

The procession had still a good distance to go before reaching the gate, and the street in that direction was somewhat declining. The gate was strong and high. To reach it, one had to go first through a vaulted arch, then across a bridge, then through another arch­way. The gate opened in a southwesterly direction. The city wall at this point of egress ran for a short distance, perhaps for some minutes, southward, then turned a little toward the west, and, finally, took a southerly direction once more around Mount Sion. On the right of the gate, the wall extended north­ward to the corner gate, and then turned eastward along the northern side of Jerusalem.

As the procession neared the gate, the execution­ers pressed on more violently. Close to the gate there was a large puddle of muddy water in the uneven road, cut up by vehicles. The barbarous execution­ers jerked Jesus forward; the crowd pressed, Simon of Cyrene tried to step sideways for the sake of con­venience, thereby moving the cross out of its place, and poor Jesus for the fourth time fell so heavily under His burden into the muddy pool that Simon could scarcely support the cross. Jesus then, in a voice interrupted by sighs, though still high and clear, cried out: "Woe! Woe, Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou dost cast Me so cruelly out of thy gate!" The Lord was troubled and in sorrow. The Pharisees turned toward Him and said mockingly: "The Dis­turber of the peace has not yet had enough. He still holds forth in unintelligible speeches," etc. They beat Him and pushed Him, and raising Him to His feet, dragged Him out of the rut. Simon of Cyrene mean­while had become very much exasperated at the

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 barbarity of the executioners, and he exclaimed: "If you do not cease your villainy, I will throw down this cross even if you kill me also!"

Just outside the gate there branched from the high­road northward to Mount Calvary a rough, narrow road several minutes in length. Some distance far­ther, the highroad itself divided in three directions: on the left to the southwest through the Vale of Gihon toward Bethlehem; westward toward Emmaus and Joppa; and on the right, off to the northwest and running around Mount Calvary toward the corner gate which led to Bethsur. Through this gate by which Jesus was led out, one could see off toward the south­west and to the left the Bethlehem gate. These two gates of Jerusalem were next to each other.

In the center of the highroad and opposite the gate where the way branched off to Mount Calvary, stood a post supporting a board upon which, in white raised letters that looked as if they were done in paste, was written the death sentence of Our Saviour and the two thieves. Not far from this spot, at the corner of the road, a large number of women might be seen weeping and lamenting. Some were young maidens, others poor married women, who had run out from Jerusalem to meet the procession; others were from Bethlehem, Hebron, and the neighboring places, who, coming up for the feast, had here joined the women of Jerusalem.

Jesus again sank fainting. He did not fall to the ground, because Simon, resting the end of the cross upon the earth, drew nearer and supported His bowed form. The Lord leaned on him. This was the fifth fall of Jesus while carrying His cross. At sight of His countenance so utterly wretched, the women raised a loud cry of sorrow and pity and, after the Jewish manner of showing compassion, extended toward Him kerchiefs with which to wipe off the perspiration. At this Jesus turned to them and said: "Daughters of Jerusalem" (which meant, also, people from other

The Sixth and Seventh Falls

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Jewish cities), "weep not over Me, but weep for your­selves and for your children. For behold, the days shall come wherein they will say: 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck!' Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills: 'Cover us!' For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?" Jesus said some other beautiful words to the women, but I have forgotten them. Among them, however, I remember these: "Your tears shall be rewarded, Henceforth, ye shall tread another path," etc.

There was a pause here, for the procession halted awhile. The rabble bearing the instruments of tor­ture went on ahead to Mount Calvary, followed by a hundred Roman soldiers detached from Pilate's corps. He himself had, at some distance, accompanied the procession as far as the gateway, but there he turned back into the city.

43. Jesus on Golgotha. The Sixth and The Seventh Falls of Jesus. His Imprisonment

The procession again moved onward. With blows and violent jerking at the cords that bound Him, Jesus was driven up the rough, uneven path between the city wall and Mount Calvary toward the north. At a spot where the winding path in its ascent turned toward the south, poor Jesus fell again for the sixth time. But His tormentors beat Him and drove Him on more rudely than ever until He reached the top of the rock, the place of execution, when with the cross He fell heavily to the earth for the seventh time.

Simon of Cyrene, himself fatigued and ill-treated, was altogether worn out with indignation and com­passion. He wanted to help poor Jesus up again, but the executioners with cuffs and insults drove him

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Life of Jesus Christ

 down the path. He soon after joined the disciples. All the lads and workmen that had come up with the procession, but whose presence was no longer necessary, were driven down also. The mounted Phar­isees had ridden up by the smooth and easy wind­ing path on the western side of Mount Calvary, from whose top one could see even over the city wall.

The place of execution, which was on the level top of the mount, was circular, and of a size that could be enclosed in the cemetery of our own parish church. I t was like a tolerably large riding ground, and was surrounded by a low wall of earth, through which five pathways were cut. Five paths, or entrances, of this kind seemed to be peculiar to this country in the laying out of different places; for instance, bathing places, baptismal pools, and the Pool of Bethsaida. Many of the cities also were built with five gates. This arrangement is found in all designs belonging to the olden times, and also in those of more mod­ern date built in the spirit of pious imitation. As with all other things in the Holy Land, it breathed a deeply prophetic signification, which on this day received its realization in the opening of those five ways to salvation, the five Sacred Wounds of Jesus.

The Pharisees on horseback drew up on the west­ern side beyond the circle, where the mountain sloped gently; that toward the city, up which the criminals were brought, was steep and rough. About one hun­dred Roman soldiers from the confines of Switzer­land were stationed, some on the mountain, some around the circular wall of the place of execution. Some, too, were standing on guard around the two thieves. As space was needed, they were not at once brought up to the top of the mount, but with their arms still bound to the crosspieces were left lying on a slope where the road turned off to the south, and at some distance below the place of execution. A great crowd, mostly of the vulgar class, who had no fear of defilement, strangers, servants, slaves,

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 4

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