Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 4

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Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus


 it was brought in for the first time and laid before the closed doors of the tomb. It was large and some­what rounded on the side that was to lie next the doors, because the wall near them was not at right angles. To open the doors, the immense stone was not first rolled out of the vault, for that, owing to the confined space, would have been attended with the greatest difficulty. But a chain let down from the roof was fastened to rings fixed in the stone. Then the chain being drawn up by the aid of sev­eral men exerting all their strength, the stone was swung to one side of the grotto, leaving the doors of the tomb free.

In the garden opposite the entrance to the grotto there was a stone bench. If one mounted to the roof of the grotto, which was covered with grass, he could descry the heights of Sion and some of the towers above the city walls. The Bethlehem gate, an aque­duct, and the Well of Gihon also could be seen from here. The rock inside was white veined with red and brown. The grotto was finished very neatly.

60. The Descent From the Cross

While there were only a few guards around the cross, I saw about five men coming through the val­ley from Bethania. They drew near the place of exe­cution, looked up to the cross, and then stole away again. I think they must have been disciples. Three times I saw two men in the vicinity as if making examinations and anxiously deliberating together. They were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The first time was during the Crucifixion. (Perhaps it was then that they sent to buy Jesus' garments from the soldiers). The second was when they came to see whether the crowd had dispersed. After look­ing around, they went to the tomb to make some preparations. The third time was when they returned from the tomb. They went right up to the cross,


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 looked up and all around, as if watching for a good opportunity, consulted as to the best plan of action for the task before them, and then went back to the city.

And now began the transport to Calvary of all that was necessary for the embalming. Besides the instru­ments to be used in taking the Sacred Body down from the cross, the servants took with them two lad­ders from a shed near Nicodemus' dwelling. Each of these ladders consisted of a single pole in which pieces of thick plank were so fitted as to form steps. They were provided with hooks, which could be hung higher or lower at pleasure, either to steady the lad­der itself in some particular position or to hang on it the tools and other articles necessary for the work that was being done.

The good women from whom they had received the spices for the embalming packed everything nicely for them. Nicodemus had brought one hundred pounds of spices, equal to thirty-seven pounds of our weight, as has more than once been explained to me. They carried these spices around the neck in little kegs made of bark. One of the kegs contained some kind of powder. In bags made of parchment, or leather, were bunches of aromatic herbs. Joseph had with him also a box of ointment. Of what the box was composed I know not, but it was red with a blue rim. The servants, as already mentioned, carried in a hand­barrow various kinds of vessels, leathern bottles, sponges, and tools. They took with them likewise fire in a closed lantern.

The servants left the city before their master and by another gate (I think the Bethlehem gate) and went out to Mount Calvary. On their way through the city, they passed a house to which the Blessed Virgin with the other women and John had retired, in order to make some preparations for the Lord's burial. They joined the servants, whom they followed at a little distance. There were about five women,

Preparations for Jesus' Burial


 some of whom carried large bundles of linen under their mantles. It was a custom among the women, whenever they went out toward evening or upon any secret mission of piety, to envelop their whole per­son in a long strip of linen at least a yard in width. This they did very skillfully. They began with one arm, and then wound the linen so closely about the lower limbs that they could not take a long step. I have seen them entirely enveloped in this way, the linen brought up cleverly around the other arm and even enveloping the head. On this occasion there was something striking in the dress, for it looked to me like a robe of mourning.

Joseph and Nicodemus also were in mourning attire: false sleeves, maniples, and wide girdles of black, and their long and flowing mantles which they had drawn over their head were of a dark gray color. Their wide mantles covered all that they were carrying. Both directed their steps toward the gate of execution.

The streets were quiet and lonely. General terror kept the inhabitants in their homes. Many were pros­trate in penance, and only a few were observing the prescriptions for the festival. When Joseph and Nicodemus arrived at the gate, they found it closed, and the streets and walls around beset by soldiers. They were those for whom the Pharisees asked after two o'clock when they were fearing a tumult, and they had not yet been remanded. Joseph presented them Pilate's written order to be allowed to pass. The soldiers expressed their readiness to comply with it, but explained at the same time that they had already vainly tried to open the gate, that probably it had received some damage from the earthquake shock, and that the executioners sent out to break the bones of the crucified had to return through the corner gate. But as soon as Joseph and Nicodemus grasped the bolt, the gate opened of itself with per­fect ease.


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It was still cloudy and foggy when they reached Mount Calvary, where they found their servants and the holy women, the latter sitting in front of the cross and in tears. Cassius and several converted soldiers stood like changed men, timidly and rever­ently, at some distance. Joseph and Nicodemus told the holy women and John of all that they had done to save Jesus from the ignominious death inflicted upon the thieves, and heard from them in return with what difficulty they had warded off the break­ing of the Lord's bones, and how the Prophecy had been fulfilled. They told also of how Cassius had pierced the Sacred Body with his lance. As soon as the Centurion Abenadar arrived, they began sadly and reverently that most holy labor of love, the tak­ing down from the cross and preparing for burial of the Sacred Body of their Master, their Lord, their Redeemer.

The most holy Virgin and Magdalen were seated upon the right side of the little mound between the cross of Dismas and that of Jesus. The other women were busied arranging the spices and linens, the water, the sponges, and the vessels. Cassius also drew near when he saw Abenadar approaching, and imparted to him the miracle wrought on his eyes. All were extremely touched. Their movements were marked by an air of solemn sadness and gravity. They worked with hearts full of love, but without many words. Sometimes the silence in which the sacred duties were quickly and carefully being ren­dered was broken by a deep sigh or a vehement excla­mation of woe. Magdalen gave way unrestrainedly to her grief. Her emotion was violent. No considera­tion, not even the presence of so many around her, could make her repress it.

Nicodemus and Joseph placed the ladders behind the cross and mounted, carrying with them a very long strip of linen, to which three broad straps were fastened. They bound the body of Jesus under the

Jesus Taken Down from the Cross


 arms and knees to the trunk of the cross, and the arms they fastened in the same way at the wrists. Then by striking upon strong pegs fixed against the points of the nails at the back of the cross, they forced out the nails from Jesus' hands, which were not very much shaken by the blows. The nails fell easily out of the wounds, for they had been enlarged by the weight of the body which, supported now by means of the linen band, no longer rested upon them. The lower part of the body, which in death had sunk down on the knees, rested now in a sit­ting posture upon a linen band that was bound up around the hands on the arms of the cross. While Joseph was striking out the left nail and allowing the left arm to sink down gently on the body, Nicode­mus was binding the right arm in the same way to the cross, also the thorn-crowned head, which had fallen upon the right shoulder. The right nail was then forced out, and the arm allowed to sink into the band that supported the body. Abenadar the Centurion had meanwhile, though with great effort, been driving out the enormous nail from the feet.

Cassius reverently picked up the nails as they fell out, and laid them down together by the Blessed Vir­gin. Next, removing the ladders to the front of the cross and close to the Sacred Body, they loosened the upper band from the trunk of the cross, and hung it on one of the hooks of the ladder. They did the same to the two other bands, which they hung on two of the lower hooks. Thus with the gently lowered bands, the Sacred Body sank by degrees to where the Cen­turion Abenadar, mounted on portable steps, was wait­ing to receive it. He clasped the limbs below the knees in his arms and descended slowly, while Nicode­mus and Joseph, holding the upper part in their arms, gently and cautiously, as if carrying a beloved and very severely wounded friend, came down the ladders step by step. In this way did that most sacred,


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 that most terribly maltreated body of the Redeemer reach the ground.

This taking down of Jesus from the cross was inexpressibly touching. Everything was done with so much precaution, so much tenderness, as if fear­ing to cause the Lord pain. Those engaged in it were penetrated with all the love and reverence for the Sacred Body that they had felt for the Holy of Holies during His life. All were looking up with eyes riv­eted, and accompanying every movement with rais­ing of hands, tears, and gestures of pain and grief. But no word was uttered. When the men engaged in the sacred task gave expression to their reverent emotion it was as if involuntary, as if they were per­forming some solemn function; and when necessary to communicate directions to one another, they did it in few words and a low tone. When the blows of the hammer by which the nails were driven out resounded, Mary and Magdalen, as well as all that had been present at the Crucifixion, were pierced with fresh grief, for the sound reminded them of that most cruel nailing of Jesus to the cross. They shuddered, as if expecting again to hear His pierc­ing cries, and grieved anew over His death proclaimed by the silence of those blessed lips. As soon as the Sacred Body was taken down, the men wrapped it in linen from the knees to the waist, and laid it on a sheet in His Mother's arms which, in anguish of heart and ardent longing, were stretched out to receive it.

61. The Body of Jesus Prepared For Burial

The Blessed Virgin was seated upon a large cover spread upon the ground, her right knee raised a lit­tle, and her back supported by a kind of cushion made, perhaps, of mantles rolled together. There sat the poor Mother, exhausted by grief and fatigue, in

Jesus' Body Prepared for Burial


 the position best suited for rendering love's last, sad duties to the remains of her murdered Son. The men laid the Sacred Body on a sheet spread upon the Mother's lap. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon her slightly raised knee, and His body lay out­stretched upon the sheet. Love and grief in equal degrees struggled in the breast of the Blessed Mother. She held in her arms the body of her beloved Son, whose long martyrdom she had been able to soothe by no loving ministrations; and at the same time she beheld the frightful maltreatment exercised upon it, she gazed upon its wounds now close under her eyes. She pressed her lips to His blood-stained cheeks, while Magdalen knelt with her face bowed upon His feet.

The men meanwhile had retired to a little cave that lay deep on the southwestern side of the mount. There they completed their preparations for the bur­ial and set all things in order. Cassius and a num­ber of soldiers who had been converted to the Lord remained standing at a respectful distance. All the ill-disposed had returned to the city, and those now present served as a guard to prevent the approach of anyone likely to interrupt the last honors being shown to Jesus. Some of them, when called upon, rendered assistance here and there by handing dif­ferent articles.

The holy women helped in various ways, present­ing when necessary vessels of water, sponges, tow­els, ointments, and spices. When not so engaged, they remained at a little distance attentively watching what was going on. Among them were Mary Cleophas, Salome, and Veronica, but Magdalen was always bus­ied around the Sacred Body. Mary Heli, the Blessed Virgin's elder sister, and who was already an aged matron, was sitting apart on the earth wall of the circle, silently looking on. John lent constant assis­tance to the Blessed Virgin. He went to and fro between the women and the men, now helping the


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 former in their task of love, and afterward assisting the latter in every way to prepare all things for the burial. Everything was thought of. The women had leathern water bottles, which they opened, and pressed the sides together to pour out their con­tents, also a vessel nearby on burning coals. They gave Mary and Magdalen clear water and fresh sponges according as required, squeezing into leath­ern bottles those that had been used. I think the round lumps that I saw them squeezing out must have been sponges.

The Blessed Virgin's courage and fortitude, in the midst of her inexpressible anguish, were unshaken.1 Her sorrow was not such as could cause her to per­mit the marks of outrage and torture to remain upon the Sacred Body, and so she immediately began earnestly and carefully to wash and purify it from every trace of ill-usage. With great care she opened the crown of thorns in the back and, with the assis­tance of others, removed it from Jesus' head. Some of the thorns had penetrated deeply, and that the removal of the crown might not by disturbing them enlarge the wounds, they had first to be cut off. The crown was deposited near the nails. Then with a pair of round, yellow pincers,2 Mary drew from the wounds the long splinters and sharp thorns still sunken in

1. As Sister Emmerich, in her yearly contemplation of the Passion, was toward evening contemplating the Descent from the Cross, Good Fri­day, March 31, 1820, she suddenly fell in presence of the writer into a deathlike faint. On returning to consciousness, though still in great suffering, she related what follows: "When I gazed on the body of Jesus in the lap of the Blessed Virgin, I thought: 'See, how coura­geous she is! She has not fainted even once!' My guide instantly rebuked me for this thought—in which there was more of admira­tion than compassion—and said: 'Suffer then what she endured!' and on the instant, sharp anguish like a sword cut through my soul. I became like one in death agony, and I still feel the pain of it." She did indeed suffer that pain for a long time, and it brought on an ill­ness that well-nigh ended in death.

2. Sister Emmerich said: "I remember these pincers by their likeness to the scissors with which Samson was robbed of his hair." Once before she related what follows: "Dalila had a singular-looking pair of scissors in her hand. They were round and as large as the segment of a large apple. When pressed together, they opened of them­selves. They looked like a kind of instrument for pinching, like squeez­ing-pincers. They consisted of two broad, thin, rounded blades of metal whose sharp ends crossed each other when closed for cutting, and separated when not in use." In her meditations upon the third year of Jesus' public life, Saturday, the 21st Sivan (June the 7th), Sister Emmerich saw Jesus keeping the Sabbath in the Levitical city of Misael, in the tribe of Aser, and in consequence of some extracts from the Book of Judges read on that occasion, she had visions on the life of Samson.

The Blessed Virgin Anoints the Sacred Wounds


 the Lord's head, and showed them sadly to the com­passionate friends standing around. The thorns were laid by the crown, though some of them may have been kept as tokens of remembrance.

The face of the Lord was hardly recognizable, so greatly was it disfigured by blood and wounds. The torn hair of the head and beard was clotted with blood. Mary washed the head and face and soaked the dried blood from the hair with sponges. As the washing proceeded, the awful cruelties to which Jesus had been subjected became more apparent, and roused emotions of compassion, sorrow, and ten­derness as she went from wound to wound. With a sponge and a little linen over the fingers of her right hand, she washed the blood from the wounds of the head, from the broken eyes, the nostrils, and the ears. With the little piece of linen on the fore­finger, she purified the half-opened mouth, the tongue, the teeth, and the lips. She divided into three parts the little that remained of His hair.3 One part fell on either side of the head, and the

3. Let us here make the following remark. Sister Emmerich, when speak­ing of important historical personages, was accustomed to mention into how many parts their hair was divided; and she appeared to attach certain significance to the words: "Eve divided her hair into two parts; but Mary, into three." No opportunity presented itself for an explanation of these words, which probably would have thrown some light upon the hair in relation to sacrifices, vows, funerals, con­secrations, etc. She once said in speaking of Samson: "He wore his thick, long, yellow hair in seven braids wound around his head, like a burganet, or kind of helmet. Above his forehead and temples, they formed a roll which was confined in a net or bag. His strength did not indeed lie in his hair as such, but his hair was a witness of the sacred vow he had made to let it grow in God's honor. The powers that depended upon those seven braids, or tresses, were the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. He must have already broken his vow and lost many graces, when he allowed this sign of the Nazarites to be cut. I saw, however, that Dalila did not cut off all his hair. I think the roll above his forehead was left. He retained the grace to repent and do penance, which he did most earnestly and thereby received strength to destroy his enemies. Samson's life is prophetic and figurative."


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 third over the back. The front hair, after disengag­ing and cleansing it, she smoothed behind His ears. When the sacred head had been thoroughly cleansed, the Blessed Virgin kissed the cheeks and covered it. Her care was next directed to the neck, the shoul­ders, the breast, and the back of the Sacred Body, the arms and the torn hands filled with blood. Ah, then was the terrible condition to which it had been reduced displayed in all its horror! The bones of the breast, as well as all the nerves, were dislocated and strained and thereby become stiff and inflexi­ble. The shoulder upon which Jesus had borne the heavy cross was so lacerated that it had become one great wound, and the whole of the upper part of the body was full of welts and cuts from the scourges. There was a small wound in the left breast where the point of Cassius' lance had come out, and in the right side was opened that great, wide wound made by the lance, which had pierced His heart through and through. Mary washed and purified all these wounds, while Magdalen, kneeling before her, fre­quently lent assistance, though for the most part she remained at Jesus' feet, bathing them for the last time, more with her tears than with water, and wiping them with her hair.

The head, the upper part of the body, and the feet of the Lord had now been cleansed from blood. The Sacred Body still lay in Mary's lap, bluish white, glistening like flesh drained of blood, with here and there brown stains of coagulated blood that looked like red moles, and red places where the skin had been torn off. The Blessed Virgin covered the parts as they were washed, and began to embalm the wounds, commencing with those of the head. The

Preparations for the Lord's Burial


 holy women knelt by her in turn, presenting to her a box from which, with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand, she took out something like salve, or precious ointment, with which she filled and anointed all the wounds. She put some upon the hair also, and I saw her taking the hands of Jesus in her own left hand, reverently kissing them, and then filling the wide wounds made by the nails with the ointment, or sweet spices. The ears, nostrils, and wound of Jesus' side, she likewise filled with the same. Magdalen was busied principally with the feet of Jesus. She repeatedly wiped and anointed them, but only to bedew them again with her tears, and she often knelt long with her face pressed upon them.

I saw that the water used was not thrown away, but poured into the leathern bottles into which the sponges had been squeezed. More than once I saw fresh water brought by some of the men, Cassius or some other soldier, in the leathern bottles and jugs that the women had brought with them. They pro­cured it at the well of Gihon, which was so near that it could be seen from the garden of the sepulcher.

When the Blessed Virgin had anointed all the wounds, she bound up the sacred head in linen, but the covering for the face, attached to that of the head, she did not as yet draw down. With a gentle pres­sure, she closed the half-broken eyes of Jesus, and kept her hand upon them for a little while. Then she closed the mouth, embraced the Sacred Body of her Son, and weeping bitter tears, allowed her face to rest upon His. Magdalen's reverence for Jesus did not permit her to approach her face to His. She pressed it to His feet only.

Joseph and Nicodemus had already been stand­ing awhile at some distance waiting, when John drew near the Blessed Virgin with the request that she would permit them to take the body of Jesus, that they might proceed in their preparations for


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 the burial, as the Sabbath was near. Once more Mary closely embraced Jesus, and in touching words took leave of Him. The men raised the Most Sacred Body in the sheet upon which it was resting in the lap of His Mother, and carried it down to the place where the burial preparations were to be made. Mary's grief, which had been somewhat assuaged by her loving ministrations to Jesus, now burst forth anew, and, quite overcome, she rested with covered head in the arms of the women. Magdalen, as if fearing that they wanted to rob her of her Beloved, with outstretched hands ran some steps after the Sacred Body, but soon she turned back again to the Blessed Virgin.

They carried the body of Jesus a little distance down from Calvary's summit to a cave on the side of the mount in which there was a beautiful flat rock. It was here that the men had prepared the place for embalming. I saw first a linen cloth, open worked something like a net. It looked as if it had been pierced with a sharp instrument, and was like the large so-called hunger cloth (Hungertuch) that is hung up in our churches during Lent. When as a child I saw that cloth hanging up, I used to think it was the same that I had seen at the prepara­tions for the Lord's burial.4 Perhaps it was pierced like a net in order to allow the water used in wash­ing to flow through it. I saw another large cloth opened out. They laid the body of the Lord on the open worked one, and some of them held the other over it. Nicodemus and Joseph knelt down and, under cover of this upper cloth, loosened from the

4. Hungertuch, or hunger cloth, is a large white linen cloth which, in the diocese of Münster, is suspended during Lent from the ceiling of the churches. It is hung in a zigzag way on cords either between the choir and the nave, or before the high altar. Some parts of it are made of net upon which are embroidered representations of the Five Wounds, or the instruments of the Passion, etc. It makes upon souls capable of receiving it a deep and noble impression that gives rise to aspirations after the virtues of chastity, mortification, abstinence, and leads to the practice of holy meditation.

A Touching Miracle


 lower part of Jesus' body the bandage that they had bound around it from the knees to the hips when taken down from the cross. They removed likewise that other covering which Jonadab, the nephew of His foster father Joseph, had given Him before the Crucifixion. Thus with great regard to modesty, they sponged, under cover of the sheet held over it, the lower part of the Lord's body. Then, linen bands being stretched under the upper part of the Sacred Body and the knees, it was raised, still under cover of the sheet, and the back treated in the same way without turning the body over. They washed it until the water squeezed from the sponges ran clean and clear. After that they poured water of myrrh over the whole body, and I saw them laying it down and reverently, with their hands, stretching it out at full length, for it had stiffened in the position in which, when in death it had sunk down upon the cross, the knees bent. Under the hips they laid a linen strip, one ell in width and about three in length, almost filled the lap with bunches of herbs and fine, crisp thread­like plants, like saffron, and then sprinkled over all a powder, which Nicodemus had brought with him in a box. The bunches of herbs were such as I have often seen on the celestial tables5 laid upon little green and gold plates with blue rims. Next

5. In a certain kind of interior and figurative consolation and refresh­ment vouchsafed Sister Emmerich, she often felt as if transported to the heavenly banquet and, with childlike delight, she described the wonderfully beautiful arrangement of the dishes, the sparkling bril­liancy of the vessels. She often spoke of the vegetables served up, describing their species and form even to the stamens of their blos­soms and the number of their leaves. She frequently mentioned, as having been set before herself, delicate herbs placed in an upright position side by side on golden plates rimmed with blue; and said more than once how greatly she had been strengthened in her intense sufferings, both of soul and of body, by partaking of such herbs, some of them like bitter cress and others like myrrh. Sometimes also it was fruit of various kinds that produced that effect. By frequent observation, it was discovered that these figurative consolations some­times signified the efforts she was to make at overcoming, con­quering, renouncing self, and they were sent her under the form and nature that best symbolized those efforts: namely, herbs and fruits. Or again, they were meant as refreshment and rewards. The color, material, and form of the vessels also had their proper signification. "The partaking of these viands," she said, "does not consist in eating as in ordinary life, and yet in a far higher degree do they nourish and satisfy. The whole grace and strength of God, of which the fruit set before me is the type and perfect expression, passes over into the receiver." Of such herbs Sister Emmerich was reminded by the sight of the aromatic plants and spices used at the burial of Jesus.


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 they tightly bound the linen strip around the whole, drew the end up between the sacred limbs, and stuck it under the band that encircled the waist, thus fastening it securely. After this they anointed the wounds of the thighs, scattered sweet spices over them, laid bunches of herbs between the limbs all the way down to the feet, and bound the whole in linen from the feet up.

John once more conducted the Blessed Virgin and the other holy women to the sacred remains of Jesus. Mary knelt down by Jesus' head, took a fine linen scarf that hung around her neck under her mantle and which she had received from Claudia Procla, Pilate's wife, and laid it under the head of her Son. Then she and the other holy women filled in the spaces between the shoulders and the head, around the whole neck and up as far as the cheeks with herbs, some of those fine threadlike plants, and the costly powder mentioned before, all of which the Blessed Virgin bound up carefully in the fine linen scarf. Magdalen poured the entire contents of a lit­tle flask of precious balm into the wound of Jesus' side, while the holy women placed aromatic herbs in the hands and all around and under the feet. Then the men covered the pit of the stomach and filled up the armpits and all other parts of the body with sweet spices, crossed the stiffened arms over the bosom, and closely wrapped the whole in the large white sheet as far as the breast, just as a child is swathed. Then having fastened under one of the armpits the end of a broad linen band, they wound it round the arms, the hands, the head, and down

A Touching Miracle


 again around the whole of the Sacred Body until it presented the appearance of a mummy. Lastly, they laid the Lord's body on the large sheet, six ells long, that Joseph of Arimathea had bought, and wrapped it closely around it. The Sacred Body was laid on it crosswise. Then one corner was drawn up from the feet to the breast, the opposite one was folded down over the head and shoulders, and the sides were doubled round the whole person.

While all were kneeling around the Lord's body, taking leave of it with many tears, a touching mir­acle was exhibited before their eyes: the entire form of Jesus' Sacred Body with all its wounds appeared, as if drawn in brown and reddish colors, on the cloth that covered it. It was as if He wished gratefully to reward their loving care of Him, gratefully to acknowledge their sorrow, and leave to them an image of Himself imprinted through all the cover­ings that enveloped Him. Weeping and lamenting, they embraced the Sacred Body, and reverently kissed the miraculous portrait. Their astonishment was so great that they opened the outside wrap­ping, and it became still greater when they found all the linen bands around the Sacred Body white as before and only the uppermost cloth marked with the Lord's figure.

The cloth on the side upon which the body lay received the imprint of the whole back of the Lord; the ends that covered it were marked with the front likeness. The parts of this latter, to produce the per­fect form, had to be laid together, because the cor­ners of the cloth were all crossed over the body in front. The picture was not a mere impression formed by bleeding wounds, for the whole body had been tightly wrapped in spices and numerous linen bands. It was a miraculous picture, a witness to the cre­ative Godhead in the body of Jesus.

I have seen many things connected with the sub­sequent history of this holy winding sheet, but I


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 cannot recall them in their precise order. After the Resurrection it, along with the other linens, came into the possession of Jesus' friends. Once I saw a man carrying it off with him under his arm when he was starting on a journey. I saw it a second time in the hands of the Jews, and I saw it long in ven­eration among the Christians of different places. Once a dispute arose about it, and for its settlement, the holy winding sheet was thrown into the fire; but ris­ing miraculously above the flames, it flew into the hands of the Christians.

At the prayer of holy men, three impressions of the holy image were taken off, both the back and the picture formed on the folds of the front. These impres­sions were consecrated by contact with the original and the solemn intention of the Church. They have even effected great miracles. I have seen the origi­nal, somewhat damaged, somewhat torn, held in ven­eration by some non-Catholic Christians of Asia. I have forgotten the name of the city, but it is situ­ated in a large country near the home of the Three Kings. In those visions I also saw something con­nected with Turin and France and Pope Clement I, as well as something about the Emperor Tiberius, who died five years after the death of Christ, but I have forgotten it.

62. The Sepulture

The men now laid the Sacred Body on the leath­ern litter, placed over it a brown cover, and ran two poles along the sides. I thought right away of the Ark of the Covenant. Nicodemus and Joseph carried the front ends on their shoulders; Abenadar and John, the others. Then followed the Blessed Virgin, her elder sister Mary Heli , Magdalen, and Mary Cleophas. The group of women that had been seated at some distance, Veronica, Johanna Chusa, Mary

The Funeral Procession


 Marcus; Salome, the wife of Zebedee; Mary Salome, Salome of Jerusalem, Susanna, and Anna, a niece of St. Joseph. She was the daughter of one of his brothers, and had been reared in Jerusalem. Cas­sius and his soldiers closed the procession. The other women, namely, Maroni of Naim, Dina the Samari­tan, and Mary the Suphanite were at the time with Martha and Lazarus in Bethania.

Two soldiers with twisted torches walked on ahead, for light was needed in the grotto of the sepulcher. The procession moved on for a distance of about seven minutes singing Psalms in a low, plaintive tone, through the valley to the garden of the tomb. I saw on a hill on the other side of the valley James the Greater, the brother of John, looking at the pro­cession, and then going off to tell the other disci­ples, who were hiding in the caves.

The garden of the sepulcher was not laid out with any view to regularity. The rock in which the sep­ulcher was cut lay at one end, entirely overgrown with verdure. The front of the garden was protected by a quickset hedge, inside of which at the entrance was a little enclosure formed of stakes, upon which rested long poles held in place by iron pegs. Out­side the garden and also to the right of the sepul­cher stood some palm trees; the other vegetation consisted chiefly of bushes, flowers, and aromatic plants.

I saw the procession halt at the entrance of the garden. It was opened by removing some of the poles, which were afterward used as levers for rolling away the stone from the door of the grotto. Before reach­ing the rock, they took the cover from the litter, raised the sacred body, and placed it upon a narrow board which had previously been covered with a linen cloth. Nicodemus and Joseph took one end of the board; the other two, the upper end, which was covered. The grotto, which was perfectly new, had been cleaned out and fumigated by Nicodemus'


Life of Jesus Christ

 servants. It was very neat inside and was ornamented by a beautifully carved coping. The funereal couch was broader at the head than at the foot. It was cut out in the form of a body swathed in its bands and winding sheet, and slightly elevated at the head and foot.

The holy women sat down upon a seat opposite the entrance of the grotto. The four men carried the Lord's body down into it, set it down, strewed the stone couch with sweet spices, spread over it a linen cloth, and deposited the sacred remains upon it. The cloth hung down over the couch. Then, having with tears and embraces given expression to their love for Jesus, they left the cave. The Blessed Virgin now went in, and I saw her sitting on the head of the tomb, which was about two feet from the ground. She was bending low over the corpse of her Child and weeping. When she left the cave, Magdalen hur­ried in with flowers and branches, which she had gathered in the garden and which she now scattered over the Sacred Body. She wrung her hands, and with tears and sighs embraced the feet of Jesus. When the men outside gave warning that it was time to close the doors, she went back to where the women were sitting. The men raised the cloth that was hanging over the side of the tomb, folded it around the Sacred Body, and then threw the brown cover over the whole. Lastly, they closed the brown doors, probably of copper or bronze, which had a perpendicular bar on the outside crossed by a trans­verse one.1 It looked like a cross. The great stone, intended for securing the doors and which was still lying outside the cave, was in shape almost like a chest2 or tomb, and was large enough for a man to lie at full length upon it. It was very heavy. By

1. Sister Emmerich does not say whether these bars were separate from the doors and were placed against them when closed. or whether they were panelings which formed the figure of which she speaks.

2. Very likely Sister Emmerich meant by this those large, old-time chests, or trunks, in which the peasants of her country kept their clothes. In shape these chests slope downward, the bottom being smaller than the lid; and it was on this account, no doubt, that the Sister was led to the comparison of a monument, for they are indeed not unlike the form of a tomb. She herself had a similar box, which she called her chest. It was in this way she frequently described that stone, with­out, however, rendering its appearance perfectly clear to the mind of her hearer.

The Return from the Burial


 means of the poles brought from the garden entrance, the men rolled it into place before the closed doors of the tomb. The outside entrance was secured by a light door of wickerwork.

All that took place in the grotto was by torchlight, for it was dark in there. I saw during the burial sev­eral men lurking around in the neighborhood of the garden and of Mount Calvary. They looked timid and sorrowful. I think they were disciples who, in conse­quence of Abenadar's account of what was going on, had ventured forth from their caves and come hither. They now appeared to be returning.

63. The Return From the Burial. The Sabbath

It was now the hour at which the Sabbath began. Nicodemus and Joseph returned to the city by a lit­tle private gate which, by special permission I think, Joseph had been allowed to make in the city wall near the garden. They had previously informed the Blessed Virgin, Magdalen, John, and some of the women, who wanted to return to Mount Calvary to pray and to get some things they had left there, that this gate, as well as that of the Coenaculum, would be opened to them whenever they would knock. Mary Heli, the Blessed Virgin's aged sister, was conducted back to the city by Mary Marcus and some other women. The servants of Nicodemus and Joseph went back to Mount Calvary for the tools and things they had left here.

The soldiers went to join the guard at the gate


Life of Jesus Christ

 of execution, while Cassius rode to Pilate with the lance. He related all that had happened to him, and promised to bring him an exact account of all that might still take place, if he would give him com­mand of the guard which the Jews, as had already been reported, would not fail to ask of him. Pilate listened with secret dismay, but treated Cassius as an enthusiast, and impelled by disgust and super­stition, ordered him to put the lance outside the door.

When the Blessed Virgin and her companions were returning with their vessels and other things from Mount Calvary, where they had again poured out their tears and prayers, they espied coming toward them a troop of soldiers headed by a torch­bearer. The women halted on both sides of the road until the crowd passed. The soldiers were going up to Calvary, perhaps to take away and bury the crosses before the Sabbath. When they had passed, the holy women continued their way to the little private gate.

Peter, James the Greater, and James the Less met Joseph and Nicodemus in the city. All wept. Peter was especially vehement in his expressions of grief. He embraced Joseph and Nicodemus with tears, accused himself, lamented that he had not been present at the death of the Lord, and thanked them for bestowing upon Him a tomb. All were quite beside themselves with sorrow. They agreed that the door of the Coenaculum should be opened upon their knocking, and then separated, in order to seek the other disciples who were scattered in various directions.

Later I saw the Blessed Virgin and her compan­ions knocking at the Coenaculum and being admit­ted, then Abenadar, and by degrees most of the Apostles and several of the disciples entered. The holy women retired to the apartments occupied by the Blessed Virgin. They took some refreshment and

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 4

This document is: ACE_4_0321

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