Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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Joseph and Aseneth


 united with Joseph, that she should be his bride, and he blessed her as Isaac had blessed Jacob and as the angel had blessed Abraham. The three lines that constituted the formula of the blessing, were drawn upon her twice, once to the pit of the stom­ach and once to the abdomen.

After this, I saw in vision Joseph going to Putiphar to demand Aseneth for his wife; but I can only remem­ber that, like the angel, he carried a lotus in his hand. Joseph knew of Aseneth's wonderful wisdom, but their mutual relationship was hidden from both.

I saw that Pharao's son likewise was in love with Aseneth, on which account she had to remain secluded. He had persuaded Dan and Gad to espouse his cause, and all three lay in ambush to slay Joseph. But Juda (obeying a divine inspiration, I think) warned Joseph to take another route. Benjamin also conducted himself nobly in this affair, and defended Aseneth. Dan and Gad were punished by the death of their children; for even before it was known to anyone, they had been warned not to enlist in the murderous design.

When Joseph and Aseneth appeared in public, like the pagan priests of Putiphar, they bore in their hand a sign regarded as sacred and emblematic of the highest authority. The upper part was a ring; the lower, a Latin cross, a T. It served as a seal, and when grain was measured and divided the heaps were marked with it. It was used in the same way for the building of granaries and canals, also for the rising and falling of the Nile. Writings were sealed with it after they had first been marked with a red vegetable juice. When Joseph discharged any official duty, this symbol of authority, the cross being clasped in the ring, lay on a cushion at his side. It seemed to me also like a distinctive sign of the mystery of the Ark of the Covenant still enclosed in Joseph.

Aseneth also had an instrument like a wand. When in vision, she followed wherever it led. Where it


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 quivered she struck the earth, and so discovered springs and water. It was made under the influence of the stars.

In the processions of high festivals, Joseph and Aseneth rode upon a glittering chariot. Aseneth wore an ancient shield which enclosed the whole person from below the arms. On it were numerous signs and figures. Her dress reached to her knees, below which the limbs were tightly laced. A wide mantle fell over the back, the sides of which were clasped together over the knees. The toes of her shoes were turned up like skates, and her headdress of colored feathers and pearls was shaped like a helmet.

Joseph wore a tight-fitting coat with sleeves, and over it a golden breastplate covered with figures. Straps with golden knots were crossed around the hips, and from his shoulders fell a mantle. His head ornament was of feathers and precious stones.

When Joseph went to Egypt, New Memphis was being built about seven leagues north of Old Mem­phis. Between the two cities, built on a dyke, was a highway with walks. Scattered among the trees were idols with grave, sad female faces and bodies of dogs. They sat upon stone slabs. There were as yet no beau­tiful buildings, only great, long ramparts and artifi­cial stone mountains (pyramids) full of vaults and chambers. The dwellings were slight with a super­structure of wood. There were still great forests and morasses all around. At the flight of Mary into Egypt, the Nile had already changed its course.

The Egyptians worshipped all kinds of animals: toads, serpents, crocodiles. They looked on quite coolly while a person was being devoured by a crocodile. At Joseph's coming, the worship of the bull had not yet come into practice. It was introduced in consequence of Pharao's dream of the seven fat and the seven lean cows. They had numerous kinds of idols; some like swaddled children, others like coiled serpents, some of which could be made longer or shorter at pleasure.

Joseph and Aseneth


 A great many of the idols were adorned with breast­plates on which the plans of cities and the course of the Nile were curiously inscribed. These shields were made in accordance with the pictures which the pagan priests traced in the stars, and after whose plan they built cities and canals. New Memphis was founded in this way.

The evil spirits at that time must have possessed a different, a more material power, for I saw that Egyptian sorcery came out of the earth, out of the abyss. When a pagan priest began his enchantments, I saw figures of all kinds of ugly animals arise out of the ground around the sorcerer and enter his mouth in a current of black vapor. He became thereby entranced and clear-sighted. It was as if, at the entrance of each spirit, a world hitherto closed was opened up to him and he saw things far and near, the abysses of the earth, countries, human beings, in fine, all things over which each particular spirit exerted an influence. Modern witchcraft always appears to me to be more under the influence of the spirits of the air. What the wizard saw by the aid of these spirits appeared like a delusion, a mirage, which they conjured up before him. I could see far beyond these pictures, for they were like shadows. It was as if one looked behind a curtain.

When the Egyptian pagan priests intended to read the stars, they fasted as a preparation, performed certain purifications, clothed themselves in sackcloth, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. While they gazed upon the stars from their tower, sacrifices were offered. The pagans of those times had a confused know ledge of the religious mysteries of the true God which had been handed down from Seth, Henoch, Noe, and the Patriarchs to the chosen people, there­fore were there so many abominations in their idol­atry. The devil made use of them, as later on of heresy, to weave the pure, unclouded, authentic revelations of God into a snare for man's destruction. Therefore


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 God enveloped the Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant in fire in order to preserve it.

The women of Egypt in Joseph's time were still clothed like Semiramis.

When Jacob went into Egypt to Joseph, he pur­sued the same route through the wilderness by which later on Moses journeyed to the Promised Land. Jacob knew that he would see Joseph again; he always had a presentiment of this in his heart. He had even on this journey to Mesopotamia at the place upon which he erected the altar (not where he saw the ladder) a vision of his future sons. One he saw, in the region where Joseph was sold, sink from sight and like a star rise again in the south. He exclaimed therefore when they brought him the bloodstained coat, the foregoing circumstance almost forgotten recurring to him: "I shall weep for Joseph until I find him again."

Jacob had, through Reuben, made many inquiries as to whom Joseph had married, but had not yet been entirely enlightened on the point that Joseph's wife was his own niece. Reuben and Putiphar were old acquaintances. Owing to the influence of the for­mer, the latter received circumcision and served the God of Jacob.

Jacob dwelt about a day's journey distant from Joseph. When he fell sick, Joseph drove in a chariot to see him. Jacob questioned him closely about Aseneth and, when he heard of the sign on her per­son, he exclaimed: "She is flesh of thy flesh. She is bone of thy bone!" and he revealed to Joseph who she was. Joseph was so deeply affected that he almost lost consciousness. On his return home, he told his wife, and both shed tears to their heart's content over the news.

Some time after, Jacob grew worse, and Joseph was again by his side. Jacob put his feet from the couch to the floor, and Joseph had to lay his hand under his father's hip, and swear to bury him in Canaan. While Joseph swore, Jacob adored the Bless­ing

Joseph and Aseneth


 hidden in him, for he knew that Joseph had received from an angel the Blessing that had been withdrawn from himself. Joseph bore this Blessing in his right side until death. Even after death, it lay enclosed in his body until the night before the depar­ture of the Israelites, when Moses took possession of it and placed it in the Ark of the Covenant, together with the remains of Joseph, as the Sacred Thing of the chosen people.

Three months after his visit, Jacob died. Both Jews and Egyptians celebrated his obsequies and sounded his praises, for he was greatly loved.

Aseneth bore to Joseph first Manasses and Ephraim, then other children, in all eighteen, among them several twins. She died three years before Joseph, and was embalmed by Jewish women. As long as Joseph lived, her body stood in his own mon­ument. But the ancients of the people had taken some part of her intestines which they preserved in a little golden figure; and as the Egyptians also aspired to its possession, it was entrusted to the Jew­ish midwives. One of these women placed it in a reed box smeared with pitch and concealed it in the bul­rushes near the canal. On the night of the Depar­ture, a nurse of the tribe of Aser brought this secret thing to Moses. The woman's name was Sara.

Joseph, at his death, was embalmed by the Jews in presence of the Egyptians. Then were placed together the remains of Joseph and Aseneth in com­pliance with the notes that the latter had made from her visions and had left to the Jews. The Egyptian priests and astrologers had placed Joseph and Aseneth among their own divinities. They had some inkling of the notes left by Aseneth and a presenti­ment of the high influence, the blessing that she and Joseph would be for Israel. But that blessing they coveted for themselves, and therefore, they sought to oppress Israel. It was on this account that the Israelites, who multiplied astonishingly after Joseph's


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 death, were so harassed by Pharao. The Egyptians knew well that the Israelites would not leave the country without the bones of Joseph; consequently at several different times they stole some of the remains of Joseph and at last got entire possession of them. The Jewish people at large knew only of Joseph's corpse, but not of the Mystery that it con­tained. That was known to only a few. But the entire nation grieved deeply when the ancients found out and made known to them that the Holy Thing upon which the Promise rested had been stolen. Moses, who had been reared at Pharao's court in all the Egyptian wisdom, visited his people and learned the cause of their grief. When he murdered the Egypt­ian, God ordained that as a fugitive he should go to Jethro, since the latter by his connection with Syble Segola would be able to help him to discover the pur­loined Mystery. Moses had, also, at the command of God, married Sephora in order to incorporate that family into the house of Israel.

Segola was the natural daughter of Pharao by a Jewish mother. Although reared in the Egyptian star worship, she was very fond of the Jews. It was she that had divulged to Moses while still at court that he was not a son of Pharao.

Aaron, after the death of his first wife, had to marry a daughter of this Segola, in order that the mother's influence with the Israelites might be increased. The children of this marriage went with the Israelites at their departure from Egypt. But Aaron was obliged to separate from his wife that the Aaronic priesthood might spring from a purely Jew­ish stock. Segola's daughter, after her separation from Aaron, married again. Her descendants, at the time of the Saviour, dwelt at Abila whither her mummy had been brought by them.

Segola was very enlightened and possessed great influence over Pharao. She had on her forehead a bump such as many of the Prophets had in olden

Joseph and Aseneth


 times. She was led by the Spirit to procure numer­ous favors and gifts for the Israelites.

On the night upon which the angel of the Lord struck the firstborn of the Egyptians, Segola, wrapped in her veil, accompanied Moses, Aaron, and three other Israelites to two sepulchral mounds which were separated by a canal over which lay a bridge. The canal flowed between Memphis and Goshen into the Nile. The entrance into the mounds was under the bridge and below the surface of the water. Steps led from the bridge down to it. Segola descended alone with Moses. She cast into the water a scrap of paper upon which was inscribed the name of God. The water retreated and left the entrance to the monument free. They struck on the stone door and it opened inward. Then they called to the others to come down. When they did so, Moses bound their hands together with his stole and made them swear to protect the Mystery. After the oath, he loosed their hands, and all entered the vault where they struck a light, which showed all kinds of passages with images of the dead standing therein.

Joseph's body, with the remains of Aseneth, lay in an Egyptian tauriform, metal coffin, which shone like polished gold. The back formed a cover. This they lifted off, and Moses took the Mystery out of the hol­low body of Joseph, wrapped it in cloths, and handed it to Segola who carried it in her arms concealed under her garments. The remaining bones were placed together upon a stone, wrapped in cloths, and car­ried away by the men. Now that they had gained pos­session of the Sacred Thing, Israel could depart from the country. Segola wept, but Israel was full of joy.

Moses concealed a relic of Joseph's body in the top of his staff. This top was in form like a medlar, or persimmon; it was yellowish and surrounded by leaves. It was different from the shepherd's staff that Moses was commanded to cast on the ground before God and which was there changed to a serpent. It


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 was a reed, the upper and the lower end could be pushed in and drawn out. With the lower point, which appeared to me to be of metal and which was in form like a sharp pencil, Moses touched the rock as if tracing words upon it. The rock opened under the point, and water gushed forth. Water flowed also from the sand wherever Moses made signs upon it with this staff. The upper part of the reed staff, in shape like a medlar, could be pushed in and drawn out; before it the Red Sea divided.

From Joseph's death to the departure of Israel from Egypt, there were about one hundred and sev­enty years according to our manner of reckoning. But they had at that time another way of reckon­ing, other weeks and years. This was often explained to me, but I cannot now recall it.

While the Israelites lived in Egypt, they had no temple, but only tents. They piled up stones, poured oil over them, sacrificed grain and lambs, sang, and prayed.

17. The Ark of the Covenant

On the same night that Moses took possession of the Holy Thing, a golden casket shaped like a coffin was prepared, in which at their departure the Israelites took it with them. It must have been large enough for a man to rest in it, for it was to become a church, a body. This was the night upon which the doorposts were signed with blood. As I witnessed the rapid working at the chest, I thought of the Holy Cross which, too, was hurriedly put together on the night before the death of Jesus. The chest was of gold plate and shaped like an Egyptian mummiform coffin, broad above and narrow below. On the upper part was a picture of a face surrounded by beams. On the sides were marked the length of the arms and the position of the ribs.

In the center of this coffin-like chest, was placed

The Ark of the Covenant


 a little golden casket wherein was contained the Holy Thing which Segola had taken out of the sepul­chral vault. In the lower part of the chest were sacred vessels, among them the chalice and cups of the Patriarchs which Abraham had received from Melchisedech and which with the Blessing had been entailed upon the firstborn. This was the first form of the Ark of the Covenant, and these were its first contents. It had two covers, the lower one red, the upper one white.

Only afterward on Mount Sinai, was made the chest inlaid with gold inside and outside, and in it the golden mummiform coffin with the Holy Thing was placed. The coffin did not fill the chest. It reached only about halfway up the chest and it was not so long; for at the head and foot there was still room for two small compartments in which were placed relics of Jacob's and Joseph's family and later on the rod of Aaron. When the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Temple upon Sion, its interior had undergone a change. The golden mummiform coffin had been removed, and in its place was a little mass of whitish substance shaped like the coffin.

Even when a child, I often saw the Ark of the Covenant. I saw it inside and outside, and I knew of all that was put into it from time to time. All the precious holy things that the Israelites preserved were kept in it, but it could not have been heavy, since it was easily carried.

The chest was longer than broad, its height being equal to its width. It had below a projecting ledge. The top was wrought skillfully in gold for about half an ell in breadth: flowers, scrolls, faces, suns, and stars, all in different colors. All was magnificent, although the ornamentation was not very much raised. The apex and leaves arose only a little above the top of the chest. At the corners below this bor­der, at either end, were the two rings through which ran the bars for carrying it. The whole chest was of


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 setim wood covered with gold and beautifully inlaid with figures of different colors.

In the middle of the Ark was a small but unno­ticeable door, by which the High Priest, when alone in the Most Holy, could take out the Holy Thing for blessing or for prophesying. It opened in two parts toward the interior right and left, and was large enough to admit of the High Priest's reaching in eas­ily. Where the bars for carrying it extended over these doors, they were slightly curved. When the doors were opened, the golden casket, in which was preserved the Holy Thing in its precious coverings, also opened like a book.

Above the top of the Ark arose the Throne of Grace. It consisted of a hollow table covered with gold-plate, and in it lay holy bones. It was as large as the roof of the Ark, but only deep enough to rise a little above it. It was fastened to the Ark by eight setim wood screws, four at either end. It did not rest exactly on the Ark; there was space enough between them to afford a sight from side to side. The heads of the screws were of gold and shaped like fruit. The four outer ones fastened the table to the four corners of the Ark, the four inner ones ran into the interior. Each end of the Throne of Grace was concave, and in each cavity was securely fastened a golden cherub about the size of a boy. In the center of the Throne was a round opening by which a tube ran through the roof of the Ark. One could see it in the space between the roof and the hollow table. This basket shaped opening was surrounded by a golden crown. Four transverse pieces fastened the crown to the rod, which from the Holy Thing in the Ark arose through the tube and the crown and, like the petals of a flower, spread out into seven points. The right hand of one of the cherubs and the left of the other clasped the rod, while their outspread wings, the right of the one and the left of the other, met behind it. The two other wings, only slightly expanded, did not meet,

The Ark of the Covenant


 but left the sight of the crown from the front of the Ark free. Under these wings, the cherubs extended their arms with warning hands. One knee only of each cherub touched the Ark; the other limb was in a hovering attitude. The cherubs turned their face a little to one side with a slightly agitated expres­sion, as if they felt a holy awe before the radiant crown. They were clothed around the middle por­tions of the body only. On long journeys, they were removed and carried separately.

I saw on the petal-like points of the rod, flames burning, which had been enkindled by the priests. The substance used for these lights was brown. I think it was a sacred resin. They kept it in boxes. But I have often seen great streams of light shoot­ing up out of the crown, and similar streams descend­ing from Heaven into it, also oblique currents breaking out of it in fine rays. These last signified the route by which the people should journey.

On the lower end of the rod inside the Ark, were hooks from which hung the two Tables of the Law and below them the Holy Thing. Below the latter, though not resting on the floor of the Ark, was a ribbed vessel of gold containing manna. When I looked sidewise into the Ark, I could not see the altar, nor the Holy Thing. I always regarded the Ark of the Covenant as a church, the Holy Thing as the altar with the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the vessel of manna as the lamp before the altar. When I entered a church in my childhood, I used to associate its dif­ferent parts with the corresponding parts of the Ark of the Covenant. The Mystery, the Holy Thing of the Ark, was to me what the Blessed Sacrament is to us, only not so full of grace, although it was some­thing full of strength and reality. It made upon me a more obscure, a more awe-inspiring impression, but still one very sacred and full of mystery. It always seemed to me that all in the Ark of the Covenant was holy, that all our salvation was in it, as if rolled


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 up in a ball, as if in a germ. The Holy Thing of the Ark was more mysterious than the Most Blessed Sacrament. The former seemed to be the germ of the latter; the latter, the fulfillment of the former. I can­not express it. The Holy Thing of the Ark was a mys­tery as hidden as is Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament to us. I felt that only a few of the High Priests knew what it was, that only the pious among them knew it by divine enlightenment and made use of it. To many it was unknown and they profited not by it, just as with us so many graces and wonders of the Church pass unheeded. They are lost as all salva­tion would be, were it founded on human will and intellect, instead of upon a rock.

I could weep over the sad state, the blindness of the Jews. They once possessed all in the germ; but the fruit, they would not recognize. First, they had the Mystery, the Holy Thing; it was the pledge, the promise. Then came the Law and afterward the grace. When I saw the Lord teaching in Sichar, the people questioned Him as to what had become of the Holy Thing of the Ark of the Covenant. He answered them that mankind had already received a great deal of it, that it was even then among them. The fact of their no longer possessing it as they once did, was a proof that the Messiah was born.

I saw the Mystery, the Holy Thing, in a form, in a kind of veil, as a substance, as an essence, as strength. It was bread and wine, flesh and blood; it was the germ of the Blessing before the Fall. It was the sacramental presence of that holy propagation of man before he fell. It was preserved to man by religion. It was possible for it to be ever more and more realized in subsequent generations by a con­tinuous purification through piety, which purifica­tion was perfected in Mary thus rendering her fit to receive through the Holy Spirit the long-looked-for Messiah. Noe, in planting the vineyard, had made the preparation; but here in the Holy Thing were

The Ark of the Covenant


 contained already the reconciliation and protection. Abraham had received it in that blessing which I saw bestowed upon him as something tangible, as a substance. It was a Mystery entrusted to one family, therefore the great prerogative of the firstborn.

Before the Departure from Egypt, Moses took possession of the Holy Thing. As before this it had been the religious Mystery of one family, so now it became the Mystery of the whole nation. It was placed in the Ark of the Covenant as the Most Holy Sacra­ment in the tabernacle and in the ostensorium.

When the children of Israel worshipped the golden calf and fell into gross errors, Moses doubted the power of the Holy Thing. For this he was punished by not being allowed to enter into the Promised Land. When the Ark fell into the hands of the enemy, the Holy Thing, the bond of union among the Israelites, was removed by the High Priest, as was always done when danger threatened. And yet was the Ark still so sacred that the enemy under the pressure of God's chastising anger were forced to restore it. Few comprehended the Holy Thing or the influence it exerted. It often happened that one man by his sins could interrupt the stream of grace, could break the direct genealogical line that was to end in the Saviour, or rather in that pure vessel that was to receive Him from God. In this way, the Redemption of the human race was long delayed. But penance could again restore continuity to that line. I do not know for certain whether this Sacra­ment were in itself divine, whether it came forth simply and purely what it was, directly from God, or whether it owed its sacred character to a kind of priestly, supernatural consecration. I think, however, that the first proposition is the true one, for I know for certain that priests often opposed its action and thus retarded Redemption. But they were heavily punished for it, yes, oftentimes even with death itself. When the Holy Thing operated, when prayer was


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 heard, it became bright and increased in size, shin­ing through the cover with a reddish glow. The bless­ing proceeding from it increased and diminished at different times according to the purity and piety of mankind. By prayer, sacrifice, and penance, it appeared to grow larger.

I saw Moses expose it before the people only twice: at the passage through the Red Sea and at the wor­shipping of the golden calf, but even then it was cov­ered. It was removed from the golden casket and veiled as the Blessed Sacrament is on Good Friday. Like It, it was carried before the breast, or raised up for a blessing or a malediction, as if exerting its influence even at a distance. By it, Moses restrained many of the Israelites from idolatry and saved them from death.

I often saw the High Priest making use of it when he was alone in the Holy of Holies. He turned it in a certain direction, as if to strengthen, to protect, to shield, sometimes to shower a blessing, to grant a petition, sometimes even to punish. He never touched it with uncovered hands.

The Holy Thing was also plunged by him into water. This he did with a religious intention, and the water was given as a sacred draught. Deborah, the Prophet­ess, Anna the mother of Samuel in Silo, and Emer­entia, the mother of St. Anne, drank of this water. By this holy drink, Emerentia was prepared for the conception of St. Anne. St. Anne drank not of this water, since the Blessing was in her.

Joachim, through an angel, received the Holy Thing out of the Ark of the Covenant, and Mary was con­ceived under the Golden Gate of the Temple. At her birth, she herself became the Ark of the Holy Thing which then reached its destination, and the wooden Ark in the Temple was deprived of its presence.

When Joachim and Anne met under the Golden Gate, they were surrounded by dazzling light, and the Blessed Virgin was conceived without original

The Ark of the Covenant


 sin. A wonderful sound was heard; it was like a voice from God.

Men cannot comprehend this mystery of Mary's sinless conception in Anne, therefore is it hidden from them.

The ancestors of Jesus received the germ of the Blessing for the Incarnation of God; but Jesus Christ Himself is the Sacrament of the New Covenant, the Fruit, the Fulfillment of that Blessing, to unite men again to God.

When Jeremias at the time of the Babylonian Cap­tivity hid the Ark of the Covenant and other pre­cious objects on Mount Sinai, the Mystery, the Holy Thing, was no longer in it; only its coverings were buried by him with the Ark. He knew, however, what it had contained and how holy it was. He wanted, therefore, to speak of it publicly and of the abomi­nation of treating it irreverently. But Malachias restrained him, and took charge of the Holy Thing himself. Through him it fell into the hands of the Essenians, and afterward was placed by a priest in the second Ark of the Covenant. Malachias was like Melchisedech an angel, one sent by God. I saw him not as an ordinary man. Like Melchisedech, he had the appearance of a man, differing from him only inasmuch as was suited to his time.

Shortly after Daniel's being led to Babylon, I saw Malachias as a boy of seven years, wearing a red­dish garment, and wandering around with a staff in his hand. He seemed to have lost his way, and he took shelter with a pious couple at Sapha of the tribe of Zabulon. They thought him a lost child of one of the captive Israelites, and they kept him with them. He was very amiable, and so extraordinarily patient and meek that everyone loved him; he could therefore teach and do what he pleased without molestation. He had much intercourse with Jere­mias, whom he assisted with advice when in the greatest perils. It was through him also that Jere­mias


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 was freed from prison in Jerusalem.

The ancient Ark of the Covenant, hidden by Jere­mias on Mount Sinai, was never again discovered.

The second one was not so beautiful as the first, and it did not contain so many precious things. Aaron's rod was in possession of the Essenians on Horeb, where also a part of the Holy Thing was pre­served. The family that Moses appointed as the imme­diate protectors of the Ark of the Covenant, existed till the time of Herod.

All will come to light on the last day. Then will the Mystery become clear, to the terror of all that have made a bad use of it.



1. Genealogy, Birth, and Marriage of St. Anne

The ancestors of St. Anne were Essenians. These extraordinarily pious people were descended from those priests who, in the time of Moses and Aaron, carried the Ark, and who received precise rules in the days of Isaias and Jeremias. They were not numer­ous in the beginning. Later on in Palestine they lived in communities occupying a tract about forty-eight miles long and thirty-six wide.1 Some time after, they migrated to the region of the Jordan where they dwelt chiefly on Mount Horeb and on Mount Carmel.

In early times, before Isaias gathered them together, the Essenians lived scattered as pious, ascetic Jews. They neither changed nor repaired their garments until they actually fell to pieces. They married, but observed great continence in the married state. With mutual consent, husband and wife frequently lived apart in distant huts. They also ate apart, first the husband and on his departure the wife. Even in those early times some of the forefathers of Anne and of other members of the Holy Family were found among them. From them sprang those that are called the children of the Prophets. They dwelt in the desert and around Mt. Horeb. There were many of them likewise in Egypt. For a long time war drove them from Mt. Horeb, but they were gathered together again by their Superiors. The Machabees belonged to this sect. They greatly revered Moses. They had a piece of his garment. He had given it to Aaron, and through

1. A German mile equivalent to four and one-half English miles.


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 the latter it came into the possession of the Esseni­ans. They preserved it as a sacred thing, and I had a vision in which I saw that fifteen of the Essenians had perished in its defense. Their Superiors knew of the Mystery, the Holy Thing, in the Ark of the Covenant. The unmarried among the Essenians formed a special congregation like a religious order. They had to undergo a probation of long years before being admitted to it, and then they were received for a longer or a shorter time as the prophetical inspi­ration of Superiors might dictate. The married Esse­nians, who exercised strict vigilance over their children and household, bore to the real Essenian Community the same spiritual relationship that the Franciscan Tertiaries do to the Franciscan Order. In all affairs they were guided by the counsel of their spiritual Superior on Horeb.

The unmarried Essenians were unspeakably chaste and devout. They wore long white garments, which they kept scrupulously clean. They received children to educate. The aspirant to their rigid life had to be fourteen years old. Postulants of advanced piety were kept only one year on probation; others, two years. They lived in perfect chastity and carried on no kind of business; they exchanged their agricultural prod­ucts for the various necessaries of life. If anyone of their number were so unfortunate as to sin griev­ously, he was excommunicated, which excommunica­tion was followed by consequences such as attended St. Peter's malediction against Ananias—he died. The Superior of the Essenians knew by divine inspiration whenever anyone had fallen into sin. I saw also some who lived only to do penance; one, for instance, stood in a sort of stiff coat, with outstretched, inflexible sleeves, lined with prickles.

They had caves on Mt. Horeb which served as cells. Attached to them by wicker-work was a large cave for general assembly. At the eleventh hour all met here for a meal. Each had before him a small loaf

Genealogy of St. Anne


 and cup. The Superior went around and blessed the loaf of each. The meal over, all returned to their own cells. In the large hall was an altar upon which lay blessed loaves. They were covered and intended for distribution to the poor. There were numbers of tame pigeons around which fed out of the hand. The Esse­nians used these doves for food, also for religious cer­emonies. They uttered some words over them, and they let them flyaway. I saw them also performing the same ceremony over lambs; they spoke some words over them and then let them run into the wilderness.

I saw that they went three times every year to the Temple of Jerusalem. They had among them priests, whose special care was the preservation of the sacred vestments; they cleaned them and prepared new ones, to the purchase of which they had contributed. I saw these people engaged in agriculture, in cattle rais­ing, and especially in gardening. That part of Mt. Horeb which lay around their cells was covered with gardens and fruit trees. I saw many of them engaged likewise in weaving and platting, and in embroider­ing the sacerdotal garments. I saw that they did not manufacture the silk themselves. It came in bundles for sale, and they exchanged their products for it.

In Jerusalem, they had a special dwelling place, also a particular part of the Temple assigned to them. They were objects of dislike to the other Jews. I saw them sending offerings to the Temple for sacrifice, huge bunches of grapes that two men carried between them on a pole, and lambs. But these lambs were not slaughtered; they were allowed to run. I never saw them bringing offerings for slaughter. Before going up to the Temple, they prepared themselves by prayer, rigid fasting, disciplines, and other penitential exer­cises. He who, with unatoned sins, ventured to the Temple, might fear a sudden death; and indeed, this happened to some. If on their way to the Temple they met a person sick or helpless, they paused and went no further until they had in some manner assisted


Life of Jesus Christ

 him. I saw them gathering herbs and preparing teas. They healed the sick .by the imposition of hands, or by stretching themselves upon them with extended arms. I saw them also exerting their healing power at a distance. If a sick person could not go himself to the Essenians, he sent to them another as his rep­resentative. All that would have been done for the sick person himself, had he really been present, was done for his representative, and the sick man was cured at the same hour.

The Superior at the time of Anne's grandparents was a Prophet named Archos. He had visions in the cave of Elias on Horeb, which visions referred to the coming of the Messiah. Archos knew from what fam­ily the Messiah would come and, when he prophe­sied to Anne's grandparents concerning their posterity, he saw that the time was drawing near. He knew not exactly how far off it was nor how it might still be retarded by sin; but he exhorted to penance and sacrifice.

Anne's grandfather, an Essenian, was before his marriage called Stolanus; but by his wife and in con­sideration of her dowry, he received the name Garescha, or Sarziri. Anne's grandmother was of Mara in the desert. Her name was Moruni, or Emorun, that is, noble mother. She married Stolanus upon the advice of Archos, the Prophet, who was the Superior of the Essenians for about ninety years. He was a very holy man with whom counsel was always taken by those intending to enter upon the married state, that they might make a good choice. It seemed to me strange that this divinely enlightened Superior always proph­esied respecting the female descendants, and that the ancestors of Anne, as well as Anne herself, always had daughters. It was as if the religious education of the pure vessels that were to conceive the holy children destined to be the precursors of the disci­ples, of the Apostles, and of the Lord Himself, devolved upon them.

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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