The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary
 The Life Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Clemens Brentano was a well-known and well-to-do German poet and writer. After he had met the German nun and mystic, Anna Emmerich, on September 24, 1818, he was so amazed, he decided to be her stenographer. He later wrote, "I feel that I must stay here, that I must not leave this admirable creature before her death. I feel that my mission is here, and that God has heard the prayer I made when I begged him to give me something to do for His glory that would not be above my strength. I shall endeavor to gather and preserve the treasures of grace that I have here before my eyes." So, daily, for six years, this writer sublimated his career to take dictation. Why? Because he could see that this was God's work.


Beginning in 1818, Anna Katharina Emmerich dictated to Clemens Brentano over a period of 6 years various details about the life of Jesus Christ in chronological order. She had additional visions of "celebrated" events such as Christmas, Easter, and Saints Holidays when those feast days occurred in the Catholic Church. Anna's visions, as the reader will see, are quite detailed. Internal biblical "contradictions" are often straightforwardly explained away, though Anna, appears unaware that she does so. For example, the genealogy of Jesus is given both in Luke 3:28-38 and Matthew 1:1-16, and they obviously differ. However, by compiling the relationships that Anna relates in this text, it can be seen that one gospel is stating Jesus' genealogical descent through Jesus' foster-father, Joseph, and the other, through Mary.

Last night there came again before my soul everything that I had so often seen as a child concerning the life of the ancestors of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I saw it all in a series of pictures just as I did then. If only I could tell it all as I know it and have it before my eyes, it would certainly give great joy to the Pilgrim. [1] In my miserable state I was greatly revived by contemplating these pictures. As a child I was so certain of all I saw that if anyone told me any of the stories differently, I would say straight out: No, this is how it is.' And, indeed, I would have let myself be killed rather than deny that it was thus and not otherwise. Later on, life in the world confused me, and I kept silence. The inner certainty has, however, always remained with me, and last night I once more saw everything even to the smallest details.

When I was a child, my thoughts were always taken up with the Crib and the Child Jesus and with the Mother of God, and I often wondered very much why people told me nothing about the family of the Blessed Virgin. I could not understand at all why so little had been written down about her ancestors and relations. In the great longing which I had, I then received a multitude of visions of the Blessed Virgin's ancestors. I must have seen them back to the fourth or fifth generation. I saw them always as wonderfully pious and simple people inspired by a quite extraordinary secret longing for the coming of the promised Messiah. I saw them always living amongst other men who, compared to them, seemed to me rough and barbarous. They themselves, I saw, were so quiet, gentle and kindly, that I often said to myself in great anxiety about them: O where can these good people find a refuge, how are they to escape from those rough, wicked men? I will seek them out and will be their servant, I will fly with them into a wood where they can hide themselves; I am sure I shall still be able to find them!' So clearly did I see them and believe in them, that I was always afraid and full of anxiety about them.

I always saw these people leading a life of great self-denial. I often saw that those among them who were married bound themselves mutually to observe continence for a time; and this gave me much joy, though why this was I could not clearly say. They practiced these separations chiefly when they were occupied with all kinds of religious ceremonies, accompanied by incense and prayers. [2] From these I perceived that there were priests among them. I often saw them moving from one place to another, leaving large homesteads and retiring to smaller ones, in order to lead their lives undisturbed by wicked people.

They were so devout and so full of longing towards God that I often saw them alone in the field by day, and by night, too, running about and crying to God with such intense desire that, in the hunger of their hearts, they tore open their garments at their breasts, as if God were about to burn Himself into their hearts with the hot rays of the sun, or to quench with the moonlight and starlight their thirst for the fulfillment of the Promise.

I remember pictures like these came to me when, as a child or as a young girl, I was kneeling and praying to God, alone with the flock in the pastures, or at night on the high fields above our farm; or when, in Advent, I walked through the snow at midnight to the Rorate [3] devotions in St. James's Church at Coesfeld, three-quarters of an hour away from our cottage at Flamske. The evening before, and in the night, too, I prayed much for the poor souls in purgatory. I thought that in their lives they had perhaps not been eager enough for grace; perhaps they had given way to other desires for the creatures and goods of the world, had fallen into many faults, and were now yearning to be released. So I offered up my prayer and my longing to God our Savior for them, trying as it were to pay their debt for them. I got a little benefit, too, for myself, for I knew that the kind Holy Souls, in gratitude to me and because of their constant desire for help by prayers, would wake me at the right time and would not let me oversleep. And so they did; they floated round my bed like little flames, little dim, quiet flames, and woke me just in time for me to be able to offer up my morning prayer for them. Then I sprinkled myself and them with holy water, put on my clothes, and started on my way. I saw the poor little lights accompanying me in a regular procession; and on the way I sang with true heart's desire: Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.' And as I sang, I saw here and there, in the wilderness and in the fields, the beloved ancestors of Our Blessed Lady running about and crying for the Messiah; and I did as they did, and came to Coesfeld always in time for the Rorate [4] Mass, even when the Holy Souls led me, as they sometimes did, a very long way round past all the Stations of the Cross.


Now, in my visions of these beloved ancestors of the Blessed Virgin praying so hard in their hunger for God, they seemed to me strange indeed in their dress and in their way of living, and yet so near and so clear to me, that I still know and have before my eyes all their features and figures. And I kept asking myself: What manner of people are these? Everything is different from nowadays, yet there these people are, and all that I see has really happened!' And so I always used to hope that I might go to them.

In all they did and in all they said and in their religious services, these good people were very decided and exact; and they made no lamentations except over the sufferings of their neighbors.

The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich


1. THE ANCESTORS OF ST. ANNE [5] --ESSENES.

I had a detailed vision of the ancestors of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. They lived at Mara in the region of Mount Horeb, and were connected spiritually with a kind of very devout Israelites of whom I have seen a great deal. I will relate as much as I can recall about them. I was with these people almost the whole of yesterday, and if I had not been oppressed by so many visits, I should not have forgotten nearly all of what I saw.

These devout Israelites who were connected with the ancestors of St. Anne were called Essenes or Essaees. They have, however, changed their name three times, for they were first called Eskarenes, then Chasidaees, and finally Essenes. Their first name, Eskarenes, came from the word Eskara or Azkara, which is the name for the part of the sacrifice belonging to God, and also for the sweet-smelling incense at the offering of wheaten flour. [6] The second name, Chasidaees, means merciful. [7] I cannot remember what the name Essenes comes from. [8] The way of life of these devout people is an inheritance from the time of Moses and Aaron and in particular from the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant; but it was not until the period between Isaiah and Jeremiah that their way of life was regularly established. At the beginning there were not many of them; later on, however, their settlements in the Promised Land occupied a space twenty-four hours' journey long and thirty-six hours' journey broad. They did not come to the region of the Jordan until later; they lived mostly on the slopes of Mount Horeb and Mount Carmel, the home of Elijah.

In the lifetime of St. Anne's grandparents, the Essenes had a spiritual head who lived on Mount Horeb. He was an aged prophet called Archos or Arkas. [9] Their organization was very like that of a religious order. All who wished to enter it had to undergo a year's tests, and the length of time for which they were accepted was decided by prophetic inspirations from above. The real members of the Order, who lived in a community, did not marry but lived in chastity; but there were others (who had formerly been in the Order or were attached to it) who married and carried out in their families, and with their children and household, something similar in many ways to the traditional discipline of the real Essenes. Their relation ship with these was like that between the lay members of a Catholic Third Order, or Tertiaries, and the professed priests of the Order. In all important matters, especially as to the marriages of their relations, these married Essenes always sought instruction and counsel from the aged prophet on Mount Horeb. St. Anne's grandparents belonged to this kind of married Essenes.

Later there arose a third kind of Essenes who exaggerated everything and fell into great errors, and I saw that the others would have no dealings with them.

The real Essenes were specially concerned with prophetic matters, and their head on Mount Horeb was often vouchsafed divine revelations in the cave of Elijah respecting the coming of the Messiah. He had knowledge of the family from which the mother of the Messiah was to come, and at the time that he gave prophetic advice to the grandparents of St. Anne in matters of marriage, he saw that the day of the Lord was approaching. He did not, however, know how long the birth of the Savior's mother might still be prevented or delayed by sin, and so he was always preaching penance, mortification, prayer, and inner sacrifice for this intention--pious exercises of which all Essenes had ever given the example.

Until Isaiah assembled these people together and gave them a more regular organization, they were scattered about the land of Israel, leading lives of piety and intent on mortification They wore their clothes without mending them till they fell off their bodies. They fought particularly against sexual immorality, and often by mutual consent lived in continence for long periods, living in huts far removed from their wives. When they lived together as husband and wife, it was only with the intention of producing a holy offspring which might bring nearer the coming of the Savior. I saw them eating apart from their wives; the wife came to take her meal after the husband had left the table. There were ancestors of St. Anne and of other holy people among these early Essenes.

Jeremiah too was connected with them, and the men called Sons of the Prophet' came from them. They often lived in the desert and round Mount Horeb and Carmel, and later I saw many of them in Egypt. I also saw that for a time they were driven away from Mount Horeb by war and were reassembled by new leaders. The Maccabees also belonged to them. They had a great devotion to Moses, and possessed a sacred piece of his clothing given by him to Aaron, from whom it had come down to them. This was their most precious relic, and I had a vision of some fifteen of them being killed in defending it. Their prophet leaders had knowledge of the secret mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant.

The real Essenes who lived in chastity were indescribably pure and devout. They adopted children and brought them up to lead a very holy life. To be accepted as a member of the regular Order, a boy had to have reached the age of fourteen. Those who had been already tested had to undergo a year's novitiate, others two years. They did not carry on any form of trade, but exchanged the produce of their agriculture for whatever else they needed. If one of them had committed a grave sin, he was expelled from among them and excommunicated by their head. This excommunication had the force of that pronounced by Peter against Ananias, who was struck dead by it. Their head knew by prophetic inspiration who had committed sin. I also saw some Essenes undergoing penitential punishment; they were obliged to stand in a stiff robe with their arms extended immovably in sleeves lined with thorns.

Mount Horeb was full of little caves, which formed the cells where they lived. An assembly hall of light wattlework had been built onto the mouth of one of the large caves. Here they came together at eleven o'clock in the morning and ate. Each had a small loaf of bread in front of him with a goblet. The head went from place to place and blessed each one's bread. After the meal they returned to their separate cells. In this assembly hall there was an altar on which stood little blessed loaves covered up; they were in some way sacred, and were, I think, distributed among the poor.

The Essenes had a great number of doves, which were tame and ate out of their hands. They ate doves, but also used them in their ritual ceremonies. They said something over them and let them fly away. I saw, too, that they released lambs in the desert after saying something over them, as if they were to take their sins on them. [10]

I saw them go three times a year to the Temple in Jerusalem. They had also priests among them whose special duty was the care of the sacred vestments; they cleaned them, contributed money for them, and also made new ones. I saw them engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture, but specially in gardening. Mount Horeb was full of gardens and fruit trees in the spaces between their huts. I saw many of them weaving and plaiting, and also embroidering priests' vestments. I did not see them producing silk; that came in bundles to be sold to them, and they exchanged other produce for it.

In Jerusalem they had a quarter of their own to live in and a separate place in the Temple as well. The other Jews rather disliked them because of their austerity. I saw, too, that they sent presents to the Temple; for example, great bunches of grapes, carried by two people on a pole. They also sent lambs, but not to be slaughtered; I think they just let them run into a garden. I did not see the real Essenes offering bloody sacrifices in these later times. I saw that before they journeyed to the Temple they made a very rigorous preparation by prayer, fasting, and penance, including even scourgings. If one laden with sins went to the Temple and to the Holy of Holies without having made atonement by penance, he usually died on the spot. If on their journey, or in Jerusalem itself, they found anyone who was ill or in any way helpless, they did not go to the Temple until they had given him all the aid in their power.

I saw that, in general, they employed themselves in healing. They gathered herbs and prepared potions. I saw also that those holy people whom I had seen some time before laying sick folk down on a bed of healing plants were Essenes. [11] I saw, too, that the Essenes healed the sick by the laying on of hands, or by stretching themselves on them with arms extended. I saw them also healing at a distance in a wonderful way, for the sick who could not come themselves sent a representative to whom everything was done as it would have been to the sick person. The time was noted, and the distant sick person was cured at that very hour.

I saw that the Essenes on Horeb had in their caves recesses in the walls where bones, carefully wrapped in cotton and silk, were kept as sacred relics behind gratings. They were bones of prophets who had lived here, and also of the children of Israel who had died near here. There were little pots of green plants standing beside them. The Essenes used to light lamps and pray before the bones in veneration of them.

ll the unmarried Essenes who lived together in communities on Mount Horeb and elsewhere observed the greatest cleanliness. They wore long white robes. The head of the Essenes on Horeb wore wonderful priestly vestments during solemn religious services, after the manner of the high priest in Jerusalem, only shorter and not so magnificent. When he prayed and prophesied in the cave of Elijah on Mount Horeb, he always wore these sacred vestments, which consisted of about eight pieces. Amongst them was a very sacred relic, a sort of dalmatic or scapular, covering the breast and shoulders, which Moses had worn next to his body and had given to Aaron, from whom it had later descended to the Essenes. The prophet Archos, their head on Mount Horeb, always wore this dalmatic next his body when he was clothed in all his vestments and was praying for prophetic enlightenment. The lower part of his body was wrapped in a loincloth, while breast and shoulders were covered with this sacred garment, which I will describe as exactly as I can remember. It will probably be clearer if I cut out a sort of pattern of it in paper. [She then quickly cut the shape, shown in Figure 1, out of paper put together, saying:] This sacred scapulary had more or less this shape when spread out. Its stuff was woven as stiff as haircloth. On the middle of the breast and back was a triangular place of double thickness and as it were quilted. I cannot now say for certain what was between the layers. At the neck hole, part I, of the scapulary, a triangular piece was cut from A to B, and a ribbon or little strap ran across the top of the opening. Its lower point, B, was still attached to the scapulary, and the triangle could be let down to hide completely another opening over the breast. This other opening was cut from C to D, and below triangle E, was the place of the double thickness mentioned above. It was ribbed or quilted, and letters were fastened into it with little pins and on the inside with sharp little hooks sticking out and pricking the breast. On the cut-out triangle (which was also of double thickness) at the neck there was also something like letters. I do not now know what was inside these triangles. When the priest put on this sacred vestment, the upper triangle exactly covered the lower one. In the middle of the back there was another place, F, where the stuff was quilted and of two thicknesses, and here, too, there were letters and sharp pins.

Over his scapulary the head of the Essenes wore a gray woolen tunic, and on this again a large full tunic made of white twisted silk, girt with a broad belt inscribed with letters. He had a kind of stole round the neck, crossed over the breast, and it was held fast under the girdle and hung down below his knees. The stole was fastened with three straps above and below the place where it was crossed. On this he put a vestment not unlike a chasuble, which was also made of white twisted silk. [She cut out a pattern of this vestment, shown in Figure 2, as it looked when spread out. Please refer to Figure 2, part II.] The back side, A, was narrow and came down to the ground; it had two bells attached to the lower hem, which tinkled with the priest's movements and called the people to the service. The front side, B, was shorter and broader and open from the neck hole, C, downwards. This front part had large openings, E, on the breast and below it, through which the stole and undergarment could be seen. These openings were held together in places by fastenings ornamented with letters and precious stones, D. The front and back of this vestment were held together by strips of stuff under the arms. [These were not shown in the pattern which she cut out.] Round the neck was an upright collar, hooked together in front. The priest's beard, divided in the middle of the chin, fell down over this collar.

Over all this he finally put on a little cloak [Figure 2, part III] of white twisted silk. [Please refer to Figure 3 for a depiction of the full outfit.] It shimmered and shone and was fastened in front with three clasps ornamented with precious stones on which something was engraved. From both shoulders of his cloak there were fringes, tassels, and fruits hanging. Besides all this, he wore a short maniple on one arm. The headdress was, as far as I can remember, also of white silk, twisted into a round shape and padded, like a turban, yet resembling our priests' birettas to a certain extent, for at the top it had ridges like theirs and also a tuft of silk. A little plate of gold set with precious stones was fastened over the forehead.

The Essenes were very austere and frugal in their way of living. They generally ate only fruit, which they often cultivated in their gardens. I saw that Archos usually ate a bitter yellow fruit. About 200 years before Christ's birth I saw near Jericho a very devout Essene called Chariot.

Archos or Arkas, the old prophet on Mount Horeb, ruled over the Essenes for ninety years. I saw how St. Anne's grandmother questioned him about her own marriage. It is remarkable that it was always about female children that these prophets made predictions, and that Anna's ancestors and Anna herself had mostly daughters. It was as if the object of all their devotion and prayers was to obtain from God a blessing on pious mothers from whose descendants the Blessed Virgin, the mother of the Savior Himself, should spring, as well as the families of His precursor and of His servants and disciples.

The place where the head of the Essenes on Mount Horeb prayed and prophesied was the cave where Elijah had dwelt. Many steps led to it up the mountain-side, and one entered the cave through a small cramped opening and down a few steps. The prophet Archos went in alone. For the Essenes this was as if the high priest in the Temple went into the Sanctissimum, for here was their Holy of Holies. Within there were several mysterious holy things, difficult to describe. I will tell what I can remember of them. I saw Anna's grandmother seeking counsel from the prophet Archos.

Anna's grandmother came from Mara in the desert, where her family, which belonged to the married Essenes, owned property. Her name sounded to me like Moruni or Emorun. It was told me that this means something like good mother' or noble mother'. [12] When the time came for her to be married, she had several suitors, and I saw her go to the prophet Archos on Horeb for him to decide whom she was to accept. She went into a separate part of the large assembly hall and spoke to Archos, who was in the hall, through a grating, as if she were making her confession to him. It was Only in this way that women approached the place. I then saw Archos put on his ceremonial vestments, and ascend thus arrayed the many steps to the top of Mount Horeb, where he entered the cave of Elijah by the little door and down the steps. He shut the little door of the cave behind him, and opened a hole in the vaulting dimly illuminating the cave, the interior of which had been carefully hollowed out. Against the wall I saw a little altar carved out of the rock, and noticed, though not quite clearly, several sacred objects on it. On the altar were several pots with low-growing bushes of herbs. They were the herbs which grow as high as the hem of Jesus' garment. [13] I know this herb; it grows with us but less vigorously. The plants gave Archos some sort of indication in his prophetic knowledge according to whether they faded or flourished. In the middle between these little bushes of herbs I saw something like a little tree, taller than them, with leaves that looked yellowish and were twisted like snail shells. There seemed to me to be little figures on this tree. I cannot now say for certain whether this tree was living or was artificial, like the Tree of Jesse. [On the next day she said:] On this little tree with the twisted leaves could be seen, as on a tree of Jesse or genealogical table, how soon the coming of the Blessed Virgin was to be expected. It looked to me as if it were living and yet it seemed also to be a receptacle, for I saw that a blossoming branch was kept inside it. I think it was Aaron's rod, which had once been in the Ark of the Covenant. When Archos prayed in the cave of Elijah for a revelation on the occasion of a marriage among the Blessed Virgin's ancestors, he took this rod of Aaron into his hand. If the marriage was destined to take its place in the Blessed Virgin's ancestry, the rod put forth a bud which produced one or more flowers, among which single flowers were sometimes marked with the sign of the elect. Certain buds represented particular ancestors of Anna, and when these came to be married, Archos observed the buds in question and uttered his prophecies according to the manner in which they unfolded.

The Essenes of Mount Horeb had, however, another holy relic in the cave of Elijah; nothing less than a part of the most holy mystery of the Ark of the Covenant which came into their possession when the Ark fell into the hands of enemies. [She spoke here uncertainly of a quarrel and of a schism among the Levites.] This holy thing, concealed in the Ark of the Covenant in the fear of God, was known only to the holiest of the high priests and to a few prophets, but I think that I learnt that it is in some way mentioned in the little-known secret books of the old Jewish thinkers. [14] It was no longer complete in the new Ark of the Covenant in the Temple as restored by Herod. It was no work of man's hands, it was a mystery, a most holy secret of the divine blessing on the coming of the Blessed Virgin full of grace, in whom by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost the Word became Flesh and God became Man. Before the Babylonian captivity this holy thing had been whole in the Ark of the Covenant; I now saw part of it here in the possession of the Essenes. It was kept in a chalice of shining brown, which seemed to me to be made of a precious stone. They prophesied, too, with the help of this holy thing, which seemed sometimes to put forth as it were little buds.

Archos, after entering the cave of Elijah, shut the door and knelt down in prayer. He looked up to the opening in the vaulting and threw himself face downwards on the ground. I then saw the prophetic knowledge that was given to him. He saw that from under the heart of Emorun, who was seeking his counsel, there grew as it were a rose tree with three branches, with a rose on each of them. The rose on the second branch was marked with a letter, I think an M. He saw still more. An angel wrote letters on the wall; I saw Archos rise up as if awaking and read these letters. I forget the details. He then went down from the cave, and announced to the maiden who was awaiting his answer that she was to marry and that her sixth suitor was to be her husband. She would bear a child, marked with a sign, who was chosen out as a vessel of election in preparation for the coming of the Savior.

Hereupon Emorun married her sixth suitor, an Essene called Stolanus; he did not come from Mara, and as a result of his marriage and of his wife's possessions he was given another name, which I can no longer remember distinctly; it was pronounced in different ways and sounded like Garescha or Sarziri. [15] Stolanus and Emorun had three daughters, called, I remember, Ismeria and Emerentia, and a younger one whose name, I think, was Enue. They did not remain long at Mara, but moved later to Ephron. I saw that their daughters Ismeria and Emerentia both married in accordance with the prophetic counsels of the prophet on Horeb. (I can never understand why I have so often heard that Emerentia was the mother of Anna, for I always saw that it was Ismeria.) I will tell in God's name what I still have in my mind about these daughters of Stolanus and Emorun. [16]

Emerentia married one Aphras or Ophras, a Levite. Of this marriage was born Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. A second daughter was named Enue like her mother's sister. At the time of Mary's birth she was already a widow. There was a third daughter, Rhoda, one of whose daughters was Mara, whom I saw present at the death of the Blessed Virgin.

Ismeria married Eliud. They lived after the manner of the married Essenes in the region of Nazareth. They had inherited from their parents the tradition of discipline and continence in married life. Anna was one of their children. The firstborn of Ismeria and Eliud was a daughter called Sobe. Because this child did not bear the sign of the promise, they were much distressed and again went to the prophet on Mount Horeb to seek counsel. Archos exhorted them to betake themselves to prayer and sacrifice, and promised them consolation. After Sobe's birth, Ismeria remained barren for some eighteen years. When she again became pregnant by God's blessing, I saw that Ismeria was given a revelation at night. She saw an angel beside her bed writing a letter on the wall. It seems to me that it was again that letter M. Ismeria told her husband of it; he also had seen it in his sleep, but now, while awake, they both saw the sign on the wall. After three months Ismeria gave birth to St. Anne, who came into the world with that sign upon her body.

In her fifth year Anna was, like the Blessed Virgin, taken to the school in the Temple, where she remained twelve years. She was brought home again in her seventeenth year, to find two children there--her little sister Maraha, who had been born while she was away, and a little son of her elder sister Sobe called Eliud. A year after this Ismeria fell mortally ill. As she lay dying she spoke to all her relations and presented Anna to them as the future mistress of the house. Then she spoke once more with Anna alone, telling her that she was a chosen vessel of grace, that she must marry, and must seek counsel from the prophet on Mount Horeb. Then she died.

Sobe, Anna's elder sister, was married to Salomo. Besides her son Eliud she had a daughter, Mary Salome, who married Zebedee and was the mother of the apostles James and John. Sobe had a second daughter who was an aunt of the bridegroom of Cana and the mother of three disciples. Eliud, the son of Sobe and Salomo, was the second husband of the widow Maroni of Naim and the father of the boy raised by Jesus from the dead.

Maraha, Anna's younger sister, was given the homestead in Sephoris when her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon. She married and had a daughter and two sons, Arastaria and Cocharia, who became disciples. Anna had yet a third sister who was very poor and was the wife of a shepherd on Anna's pastures. She was often in Anna's house.

Enue, the third daughter of Stolanus, married and lived between Bethlehem and Jericho. One of her descendants was with Jesus.

Anna's great grandfather was a prophet. Eliud, her father, was of the tribe of Levi; her mother Ismeria was of the tribe of Benjamin. [17] Anna was born at Bethlehem, but afterwards her parents moved to Sephoris, four hours from Nazareth, where they had a house and land. They also owned land in the beautiful valley of Zabulon, one and a half hours from Sephoris and three hours from Nazareth. In the fine season of the year Anna's father was often with his family in the valley of Zabulon, [18] and after his wife's death he moved there altogether. This led to the connection with the parents of Joachim, whom Anna married. Joachim's father was called Matthat [19] and was the stepbrother of Jacob (father of St. Joseph) and of Joses. Matthat had settled in the valley of Zabulon.

I saw Anna's ancestors helping to carry the Ark of the Covenant with great devotion and piety, and I saw also that they received from the holy thing therein rays of light which extended to their descendants, to Anna and the Blessed Virgin. Anna's parents were rich. This was clear to me because of their possessions; they had many oxen; but they kept nothing for themselves alone, they gave everything to the poor. I saw Anna as a child; she was not particularly beautiful, but yet more so than others. She was far less beautiful than Mary, but remarkably simple and childlike in her piety; I have always seen her like that, whether as girl, mother, or old, old woman. Indeed, whenever I saw a real childlike old peasant woman, it always made me think she is like Anna'. She had several other brothers and sisters, all married, but she did not wish to marry. She was particularly fond of her parents, and though she had at least six suitors, she rejected them all. After taking counsel, like her ancestors with the Essenes, she was directed to marry Joachim, whom she did not yet know, but who sought her in marriage when her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon, the home of Joachim's father Matthat.

2. ST. ANNE AND ST. JOACHIM.


Joachim was far from handsome. St. Joseph, though no longer young, was in comparison a very handsome man. Joachim was short and broad and at the same time thin, and though he was a wonderfully pious, holy man, I can't help laughing when I think of his appearance. Joachim was poor. He was related to St. Joseph in the following way: Joseph's grandfather was descended from David through Solomon and was called Matthan. He had two sons, Jacob and Joses. Jacob was the father of Joseph. When Matthan died, his widow married as her second husband Levi (descended from David through Nathan), and by him had Matthat, the father of Heli, also called Joachim. [20]

Wooing was in those days a very simple affair. The suitors were quite awkward and bashful, and when the young people spoke to each other, they accepted the idea of marriage as something that had to be. If the bride-to-be said yes, the parents were glad, but if she said no and had reason for it, they were just as satisfied. If everything was settled between the parents, the betrothal followed in the synagogue of the place. The priest prayed at the holy place where the scrolls of the Law lay, the parents in their usual place. Meanwhile the betrothed couple went together into a room and discussed their plans and their marriage contract; if they were in agreement, they told their parents, and their parents told the priest, who came towards them and received their declaration. On the next day the wedding took place in the open air and with many ceremonies.

Joachim and Anna were married in a little place with only a small school. Only one priest was present. Anna was about nineteen years old. They lived with Eliud, Anna's father. His house belonged to the town of Sephoris, but was some distance away from it, among a group of houses of which it was the largest. Here I think they lived for several years. There was something very distinguished about both of them; they were completely Jewish, but there was in them, unknown to themselves, a wonderful seriousness. I seldom saw them laugh, but they were certainly not sad when they began their married life. They had a serene and even character, and even in their young days they seemed a little like sedate old people. Often in my youth I have seen similar sedate young couples, and even then I used to say to myself, they are just like Anna and Joachim.

Their parents were well-to-do; they had many flocks and herds, beautiful carpets and household things, and many manservants and maidservants. I never saw them cultivating the fields, but often saw them driving cattle out to pasture. They were very pious, devout, charitable, simple, and upright. They often divided their herds and everything else into three parts, and gave a third of the beasts to the Temple, driving them there themselves and handing them over to the Temple servants. The second part they gave to the poor or in answer to the requests of their relations, some of whom were generally there to drive the beasts away. The remainder, which was generally the worst, they kept for themselves. They lived very frugally and gave to all who asked. As a child I often used to think, Giving brings plenty; he who gives, receives twice in return', for I saw that their third always increased and that soon everything was in such abundance that they were able to make the three divisions again. They had many relations who were assembled in their house on all festive occasions, but I never saw much feasting. I saw them giving food to the poor now and then, but I never saw them having real banquets. When the family were together I generally saw them lying on the ground in a circle, speaking of God in eager expectation. I often saw bad men from their neighborhood watching them with ill will and bitterness as they spoke together, looking up to heaven so full of longing. They were kindly disposed towards these ill-wishers, however, and lost no opportunity of asking them to their house, where they gave them double shares of everything. I often saw these men violently and angrily demanding what the good people gave them in love and charity. There were poor people in their own family, and I often saw them being given a sheep or even several.

The first child born to Anna in her father's house was a daughter, but she was not the child of promise. The signs which had been predicted were not present at her birth, which was attended by some trouble. I saw that Anna, when with child, was distressed about her servants. One of her maidservants had been led astray by a relation of Joachim. Anna, in great dismay at this infringement of the strict discipline of her house, reproached her somewhat severely for her fault, and the maidservant took her misfortune so to heart that she was delivered prematurely of a stillborn child. Anna was inconsolable over this, fearing that it was her fault, with the result that her child was also born too soon. Her daughter, however, did not die. Since this child had not the signs of the promise and was born too early, Anna looked upon this as a punishment of God, and was greatly distressed at what she believed to be her own sin. She had, however, great joy in her newborn little daughter, who was called Mary. She was a dear, good, gentle child, and I always saw her growing up rather strong and fat. Her parents were very fond of her, but they felt some uneasiness and distress because they realized that she was not the expected holy fruit of their union. They therefore did penance and lived in continence for a long time. Afterwards Anna remained barren, [21] which she looked upon as the result of her having sinned, and so redoubled all her good works. I saw her often by herself in earnest prayer; I saw, too, how they often lived apart from each other, gave alms, and sent sacrifices to the Temple.

Anna and Joachim had lived with Anna's father Eliud for some seven years (as I could see by the age of their first child), when they decided to separate from their parents and settle in a house with land in the neighborhood of Nazareth that had come to them from Joachim's parents. There they intended in seclusion to begin their married life anew, and to bring down God's blessing on their union by a way of life more pleasing to Him. I saw this decision being taken in the family, and I saw Anna's parents making the arrangements for their children's new home. They divided their flocks and herds, setting apart for their children oxen, asses, and sheep, all much bigger than we have at home. All the household goods, crockery, and clothes were packed upon asses and oxen standing before the door. All the good people were so clever at packing the things up, and the beasts so intelligent in the way they took their loads and carried them off. We are not nearly so clever in packing things into carts as these people were in loading them onto beasts. They had beautiful household things; all the vessels were more delicate than nowadays, as if each had been made by the craftsman with special love and intention. I watched them packing the fragile jugs, decorated with beautiful ornamentation; they filled them with moss, wrapped more moss round them, and made them fast to both ends of a strap, so that they hung over the animal's backs, which were covered with bundles of colored rugs and garments. I saw them, too, packing up costly rugs heavily embroidered with gold; and the parents gave their departing children a heavy little lump in a pouch, no doubt a piece of precious metal.

When everything was ready, the menservants and maidservants joined the procession, and drove the flocks and herds and the beasts of burden before them to the new home, which was some five or six hours' journey distant. I think it had belonged to Joachim's parents. After Anna and Joachim had taken leave of all friends and servants, with thanks and admonitions, they left their former home with much emotion and with good resolutions. Anna's mother was no longer alive, but I saw that the parents accompanied the couple to their new home. Perhaps Eliud had married again, or perhaps it was only Joachim's parents who were there. Mary Heli, Anna's elder daughter, who was about six or seven years old, was also of the party.

Their new home lay in a pleasant hilly country; it was surrounded by meadows and trees, and was one and a half hours, or a good hour, to the west of Nazareth, on a height between the valley of Nazareth and the valley of Zabulon. A ravine with an avenue of terebinth trees led from the house in the direction of Nazareth. In front of the house was an enclosed courtyard, the floor of which looked to me like bare rock. It was surrounded by a low wall of rocks or rough stones, with a wattle hedge growing either on it or behind it. On one side of this court there were small, not very solid buildings for the workpeople and for storing tools of various kinds; also an open shed had been put up there for cattle and beasts of burden. There were several gardens, and in one near the house was a great tree of a strange kind. Its branches hung down to the ground, took root there, and threw up other trees which did the same, until it was encircled by a whole series of arbors. There was a door opening on hinges in the center of the rather large house. The inside of the house was about as big as a moderate-sized village church, and was divided into different rooms by more or less movable wickerwork screens which did not reach to the ceiling. The door opened into the first part of the house, a big anteroom running the whole breadth of the building and used for banquets, or, if necessary, it could be divided up by light movable screens to make small bedrooms when there were many guests. Opposite the house door was a less solid door in the middle of the back wall of this anteroom, leading to the middle part of the house through a passage with four bedrooms on each side of it. These rooms were partitioned off by light wickerwork screens of a man's height and ending at the top in open trellis-work. From here this passage led into the third or back part of the house, which was not rectangular, as it ended in a semicircular curve like the apse of a church. In the middle of this room, opposite the entrance, the wall of the fireplace rose up to the smoke-opening in the roof of the house; at the foot of this wall was the hearth where cooking was done. A five-branched lamp hung from the ceiling in front of this fireplace. At the side of it and behind it were several rather large rooms divided off by light screens. Behind the hearth, divided off by screens of rugs, were the rooms used by the family--the sleeping places, the prayer alcove, the eating and working rooms. Beyond the beautiful orchards round the house were fields, then a wood with a hill behind it.

When the travelers arrived in the house they found everything already in order and in its place, for the old people had sent the things on ahead and had them arranged. The men-servants and maidservants had unpacked and settled all the things just as beautifully and neatly as when they were packed up, for they were so helpful and worked so quietly and intelligently by themselves that one did not have to be giving them orders all the time about every single thing as one must do today. Thus everything was soon settled and quiet, and the parents, having brought their children into their new home, blessed and embraced them in farewell, and set off on their journey home, accompanied by their little granddaughter, who went back with them. I never saw feasting going on during such visits and on similar occasions; they often lay in a circle and had a few little bowls and jugs on the carpet before them, but their talk was generally of divine things and holy expectations.

I now saw the holy couple beginning an entirely new life here. It was their intention to offer to God all that was past and to behave as though their marriage had only then taken place, endeavoring to live in a manner pleasing to God, and thus to bring down upon them His blessing which they so earnestly desired beyond all else. I saw both of them going amongst their flocks and herds and following the example of their parents (as I have described above) in dividing them into three portions between the Temple, the poor, and themselves. The best and choicest portion was driven off to the Temple; the poor were given the next best one, and the least good they kept for themselves. This they did with all their possessions. Their house was quite spacious; they lived and slept in separate little rooms, where I saw them very often praying by themselves with great devotion. I saw them living in this way for a long time, giving generous alms, and each time they divided their herds and goods I saw that everything quickly increased again. They lived very abstemiously, observing periods of self-denial and continence. I saw them praying in penitential garments, and I often saw Joachim kneeling in supplication to God when he was with his herds far away in the pastures.

For nineteen years after the birth of their first child they lived thus devoutly before God in constant yearning for the gift of fruitfulness and with an increasing distress. I saw ill-disposed neighbors coming to them and speaking ill of them, saying that they must be bad people since no children were born to them, that the little girl with Anna's parents was riot really her daughter, but had been adopted by her because of her barrenness, otherwise she would have had her at home, and so forth. Each time they heard such words, the distress of the good couple was renewed.

Anna's steadfast faith was supported by an inmost certainty that the coming of the Messiah was near, and that she herself was among His human relations. She prayed for the fulfillment of the Promise with loud supplications, and both she and Joachim were always striving after more perfect purity of life. The shame of her unfruitfulness distressed her deeply. She could hardly appear in the synagogue without affront. Joachim, though short and thin, was robust, and I often saw him going to Jerusalem with the beasts for sacrifice. Anna was not tall either, and very delicately formed. Her grief so consumed her that her cheeks, though still slightly tinged with red, were quite hollow. They continued to give portions of their herds to the Temple and to the poor, while the portion they kept for themselves grew ever smaller and smaller.

After having besought God's blessing on their marriage for so many years in vain, I saw that Joachim was minded to offer another sacrifice at the Temple. He and Anna prepared themselves for this by penitential devotions. I saw them lying on the hard earth in prayer during the night, girt in penitential garments; after which Joachim went at sunrise across the country to where his herds were pasturing, while Anna remained at home by herself. Soon after this I saw Anna sending him doves, other birds and many different things in cages and baskets. They were all taken to him by menservants to be offered up in the Temple. He took two donkeys from the pasture, and loaded them with these baskets and with others into which he put, I think, three very lively little white creatures with long necks. I cannot remember whether they were lambs or kids. He had with him a staff with a light on the top of it, which looked as if it were shining inside a hollow gourd. I saw him arriving with his menservants and beasts of burden at a beautiful green field between Bethany and Jerusalem, a place where later I often saw Jesus stay. They journeyed on to the Temple, and stabled the donkeys at the same Temple inn, near the cattle market, where Joachim and Anna afterwards lodged at Mary's Presentation. They then took the sacrificial offerings up the steps, and passed through the dwellings of the Temple servants as before. [22] Here Joachim's servants went back after handing over the offerings.

Joachim himself entered the hall, where stood the basin of water in which all the sacrifices were washed. He then went through a long passage into a hall on the left of the place in which were the altar of incense, the table of the shewbreads and the seven-branched candlestick. [23] There were several others assembled there to make sacrifices, and it was here that Joachim had to bear his hardest trial. I saw that one of the priests, Reuben [24] by name, disdained his offerings, and did not put them with the others on the right-hand of the hall, where they could be seen behind the bars, but thrust them on one side. He reproached the unfortunate Joachim loudly and before the others for his unfruitfulness, refused to admit him and sent him, in disgrace, to an alcove enclosed with gratings.

I saw that upon this Joachim left the Temple in the greatest distress and betook himself to an assembly house of the Essenes near Machaerus, passing Bethany on the way. Here he sought counsel and consolation. (In this same house, and earlier in a similar one near Bethlehem, lived the prophet Manahem, [25] who prophesied to the young Herod about his kingdom and his crimes.) From here Joachim betook himself to his most distant herds on Mount Hermon. His way led him across the Jordan through the desert of Gaddi. Mount Hermon is a long narrow mountain, beautifully green and rich with fruit trees on the sunny side, but covered with snow on the other


Joachim was so grieved and ashamed at having been rejected with scorn at the Temple that he did not even send to tell Anna whither he had betaken himself. She heard, however, of the humiliation he had suffered from others who had witnessed it, and her distress was indescribable. I saw her often lying weeping with her face to the earth, because she had no knowledge of where Joachim was. I believe that he remained hidden among his flocks on Mount Hermon for as long as five months. During the end of that time Anna's distress was much increased by the rudeness of one of her maidservants, who kept reproaching her for her misfortunes. Once, however, when this maidservant asked to be allowed to go away for the Feast of Tabernacles (which was just beginning), Anna, remembering how her former maidservant had been led astray, refused permission out of vigilant care for her household. Whereupon this maidservant attacked her so violently, declaring that her barrenness and Joachim's desertion of her was God's punishment for her severity, that Anna could not bear to have her in her house any more. She sent her back to her parents with presents and accompanied by two menservants, with the request that they would take back their daughter who had been entrusted to her, as she could not keep her in her house any longer. After sending away this maid, Anna went sadly into her room to pray. Towards evening she threw a large shawl over her head, wrapping herself in it completely, and went with a shaded light to the great tree in the courtyard which I have described before as forming an arbor. Here she lit a lamp hanging on this tree in a sort of box, and prayed from a scroll. This tree was a very large one, there were arbors and seats arranged under it, for its branches reached over the wall to the ground, where they took root and shot up and again sank to the ground and took root, so that a whole series of arbors encircled it. This tree was like the tree in the Garden of Eden which bore the forbidden fruit. Its fruits hung from the ends of the branches generally in bunches of five. They are pear-shaped, and their flesh has blood-colored streaks; there is a hollow in the center, round which are the seeds embedded in the flesh. The leaves are very large, resembling, I think, those with which Adam and Eve covered themselves in the Garden of Eden. The Jews used these leaves specially for the Feast of Tabernacles. They decorated the walls with them, because they could be fitted together beautifully one behind the other like fishes' scales. Anna remained under this tree for a long time, crying to God and begging that even though He made her barren, yet He might not keep her pious companion Joachim far from her. And lo, there appeared to her an Angel of God, he seemed to step down before her from the top of the tree, and spoke to her, telling her to be of good heart, for the Lord had heard her prayer [26] ; she was to journey next day to the Temple with two maidservants, taking with her doves as a sacrifice. Joachim's prayer, too, he said, had been heard, and he was on his way to the Temple with his offerings; she would meet him under the Golden Gate. Joachim's sacrifice would be accepted, and they would be blessed and made fruitful; soon she would learn the name by which their child was to be called. He told her, too, that he had given a like message to her husband. Then he disappeared.

Anna, full of joy, thanked God for His mercies. She then went back into the house and gave her maidservants the necessary orders for their journey to the Temple next morning. I saw her afterwards lying down to sleep after praying. Her bed was a narrow blanket with a pillow under her head. (In the morning her blanket was rolled up.) She took off her upper garments, wrapped herself from head to foot in an ample covering, and lay down at full length on her right side, with her face to the wall against which was the bed. After she had slept for a short time, I saw a brightness pouring down towards her from above, which on approaching her bed was transformed into the figure of a shining youth. It was the angel of the Lord, who told her that she would conceive a holy child; stretching his hand over her, he wrote great shining letters on the wall which formed the name MARY. Thereupon the angel dissolved into light and disappeared.

During this time Anna seemed to be wrapped in a secret, joyful dream. She rose half-waking from her couch, prayed with great intensity, and then fell asleep again without having completely recovered consciousness. After midnight she awoke joyfully, as if by an inner inspiration, and now she saw, with alarm mixed with joy, the writing on the wall. This seemed to be of shining golden-red letters, large and few in number; she gazed at them with unspeakable joy and contrite humility until day came, when they faded away. She saw the writing so clearly, and her joy thereat became so great, that when she got up she appeared quite young again. In the moment when the light of the angel had enveloped Anna in grace, I saw a radiance under her heart and recognized in her the chosen Mother, the illuminated vessel of the grace that was at hand. What I saw in her I can only describe by saying that I recognized in her the cradle and tabernacle of the holy child she was to conceive and preserve; a mother blessed indeed. I saw that by God's grace Anna was able to bear fruit. I cannot describe the wonderful manner in which I recognized this. I saw Anna as the cradle of all mankind's salvation, and, at the same time, as a sacred altar-vessel, opened, yet hidden behind a curtain. I recognized this after a natural manner, and all this knowledge of mine was one and was natural and sacred at the same time. (Anna was at that time, I think, forty-three years old.)

She now got up, lit the lamp, prayed, and then started on her journey to Jerusalem with her offerings. All the members of her household were full of strange joyfulness that morning, though none but Anna knew of the coming of the angel. At the same time I saw Joachim among his flocks on Mount Hermon beyond the Jordan constantly praying God to grant his supplications. As he watched the young lambs bleating and frolicking round their mothers, he felt sorely distressed at having no children, but did not tell his shepherds why he was so sad. It was near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and he and his shepherds were beginning to put up the tabernacles. Remembering his humiliation at the Temple, he had abandoned the idea of going tip as usual to Jerusalem for the feast and offering sacrifices, but as he was praying I saw an angel appear to him, telling him to be of good courage and to journey to the Temple, for his sacrifice would be accepted and his prayers granted. He would meet his wife under the Golden Gate. Thereupon I saw Joachim joyfully dividing his flocks and herds once more into three portions--and what numbers of fine beasts he had! The least good he kept for himself, the next best he sent to the Essenes, and the best of all he drove to the Temple with his herdsmen. He arrived in Jerusalem on the fourth day of the feast, and stayed in his usual lodgings near the Temple.

Anna arrived in Jerusalem also on the fourth day of the feast and stayed with Zechariah's relations by the fish market. She did not meet Joachim until the end of the feast.

Although on the previous occasion it was by a sign from above that Joachim's offerings were rejected, I saw that the priest who had treated him so harshly instead of comforting and consoling him was in some way (I cannot remember how) punished by God. Now, however, the priests had received a divine warning to accept his offerings, and I saw that some of them, on being told of his approach with the sacrificial beasts, went out of the Temple to meet him and accepted his gifts. The cattle which he had brought as a gift to the Temple were not his actual offering. The sacrifice he brought to be slaughtered consisted of two lambs and three lively little animals, kids, I think. I saw, too, that many of his acquaintances congratulated him on his sacrifice being accepted. I saw that because of the feast the whole Temple was open and decorated with garlands of fruit and greenery, and that in one place a Tabernacle had been set up on eight detached pillars. Joachim went from place to place in the Temple exactly as he did before. His sacrifice was slaughtered and burnt at the usual place. Some part of it was, however, burnt at another place, to the right, I think, of the entrance hall with the great teaching pulpit. [27] I saw the priests making a sacrifice of incense in the Holy Place. Lamps, too, were lighted and lights burned on the seven-branched candlestick, but not on all seven branches at once. I often saw that on different occasions different branches of it were lighted. As the smoke arose from the offering, I saw as it were a beam of light falling upon the officiating priest in the Holy Place and at the same time on Joachim without in the hall. There came a sudden pause in what was going on, it seemed from astonishment and the realization of something supernatural. Thereupon I saw that two priests went out into the hall to Joachim as though by God's command, and led him through the side rooms up to the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place. The priest then laid something on the altar. This was not, I could see, separate grains of incense; it looked like a solid lump, but I cannot remember what it was. [28] This lump gave out a powerful and sweet smell of incense as it was burnt upon the altar of incense before the veil of the Holy of Holies. Then I saw the priest going away, leaving Joachim alone in the Holy Place. While the incense-offering was being consumed I saw Joachim in a state of ecstasy, kneeling with outstretched arms. I saw approaching him a shining figure of an angel, such as later appeared to Zechariah when he received the promise of the Baptist's birth. The angel spoke to Joachim, and gave him a scroll on which I recognized, written in shining letters, the three names Helia, Hanna, Miriam. [29] Beside the last of these names I saw the picture of a little Ark of the Covenant or tabernacle. Joachim fastened this scroll to his breast under his garment. The angel told him that his unfruitfulness was no disgrace for him, but on the contrary, an honor, for the child his wife was to conceive was to be the immaculate fruit of God's blessing upon him and the crowning point of the blessing of Abraham. Joachim, being unable to grasp this, was led by the angel behind the veil hanging in front of the Holy of Holies. Between this veil and the bars of the screen before the Holy of Holies was a space large enough to stand in. I saw the angel approach the Ark of the Covenant, and it seemed to me as if he took something out of it, for I saw him hold towards Joachim a shining globe or circle of light, bidding him breathe upon it and look into it. (When he held the circle of light so near his face, it made me think of a custom at our country weddings where the sacristan gives one a little board to kiss with a head painted on it, and makes one pay three halfpence for doing so.) Then I saw as if all kinds of pictures appeared in the circle of light when Joachim breathed on it and that these were visible to him. His breath had in no way dimmed the circle of light, and the angel told him that the conception of Anna's child would be as untarnished as this globe, which had remained shining in spite of his having breathed on it. Thereupon I saw as if the angel lifted the globe until it stood like an encircling halo in the air, in which I saw, as through an opening in it, a series of pictures starting with the Fall and ending with the Redemption of mankind. The whole course of the world passed before my eyes as one picture merged into another. I knew and understood it all, but I cannot reproduce the details. Above, at the very summit, I saw the Blessed Trinity, and below and on one side of the Trinity, I saw the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, the Fall, the promise of Redemption and all its prototypes--Noah, the Flood, the Ark, the receiving of the blessing through Abraham, its handing on to his firstborn Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, how it was taken from Jacob by the angel with whom he struggled, how the blessing came to Joseph in Egypt and increased in glory in him and in his wife. I saw how the sacred presence of the blessing was removed by Moses from Egypt with relics of Joseph and his wife Asenath, and became the Holy of Holies of the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of the living God among His people. Then I saw the reverence paid by God's people to this sacred thing and their ceremonies respecting it; I saw the relationships and marriages which formed the sacred genealogy of the Blessed Virgin's ancestry, as well as all the prototypes and symbols of her and of Our Savior in history and in the prophets. All this I saw in encircling symbols and also rising from the lower part of the ring of light. I saw pictures of great cities, towers, palaces, thrones, gates, gardens, and flowers, all strangely woven together as it were by bridges of light; and all were being attacked and assaulted by fierce beasts and other figures of might. These pictures all signified how Our Blessed Lady's ancestral family, from which God was to take Flesh and be made Man, had been led, like all that is holy, by God's grace through many assaults and struggles. I remember, too, having seen at a certain point in this series of pictures a garden surrounded by a thick hedge of thorns, which a host of serpents and other loathsome creatures attempted in vain to penetrate. I also saw a strong tower assaulted on all sides by men-at-arms, who were falling down from it. I saw many pictures of this kind, relating to the history of the ancestry of the Blessed Virgin; and the bridges and passages which joined all together signified the victory over all attempts to disturb, hinder, or interrupt the work of salvation. It was as if by God's compassion there had been poured into mankind, as into a muddy stream, a pure flesh and a pure blood, and as if this had, with great toil and difficulty, to reconstitute itself out of its scattered elements, the whole stream striving the while to draw it into its troubled waters; and then, as if by the countless mercies of God and the faithful cooperation of mankind, it had at last issued forth, after many pollutions and many cleansings, in an unfailing stream out of which rose the Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.

Among the pictures that I saw in the globe of light there were many which occur in the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Whenever I say that litany, I see them and recognize them and venerate them with great devotion. The pictures in the globe unfolded themselves still further till they reached the fulfillment of all God's compassion towards mankind, so divided and dispersed in its fallen state, and ended, on the side opposite the Garden of Eden, with the heavenly Jerusalem at the foot of the Throne of God. After I had seen all these pictures, the globe (which was really a series of pictures passing in and out of a circle of light) disappeared. I think that all this was a communication to Joachim of a vision revealed to him by the angel and also seen by me. Whenever I receive such a communication, it appears in a circle of light like a globe

I saw now that the angel touched or anointed Joachim's forehead with the tip of his thumb and forefinger, and that he gave him a shining morsel to eat and a luminous liquid to drink from a gleaming little chalice which he held between two fingers. It was of the shape of the chalice at the Last Supper, but without a foot. It seemed to me, too, that this food which he put in his mouth took the form of a little shining ear of corn and a little shining cluster of grapes, and I understood that thereafter every impurity and every sinful desire left Joachim. Thereupon I saw that the angel imparted to Joachim the highest and holiest fruit of the blessing given by God to Abraham, and culminating, through Joseph, in the holy thing within the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God among His people. He gave Joachim this blessing in the same form as I had been shown before, except that while the angel of benediction gave Abraham the blessing from himself, out of his bosom as it were, he seemed to give it to Joachim from out of the Holy of Holies. [30]

The blessing of Abraham was as it were the beginning of God's grace given in blessing to the father of His future people so that from him might proceed the stones for the building of His Temple. But when Joachim received the blessing, it was as though the angel were taking the holy benediction from the tabernacle of this Temple and delivering it to a priest, in order that from him might be formed the holy vessel in which the Word was to be made Flesh. All this cannot be expressed in words, for I speak of that Holy of Holies inviolate, yet violated in man when he sinned and fell. From my earliest youth I have very often, in my visions from the Old Testament, seen into the Ark of the Covenant, and have always had the impression of a complete church, but more solemn and awe-inspiring. I saw therein not only the Tables of the Law as the written Word of God, but also a sacramental presence of the Living God, [31] like the roots of the wine and wheat and of the flesh and blood of the future sacrifice of our redemption.

The grace given by this blessed presence produced, with the cooperation of God-fearing men under the Law, that holy tree whose final blossoming was the pure flower in which the Word became flesh and God became Man; thus, giving us, in the New Covenant, His humanity and His divinity by instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, without which we cannot attain eternal life. I have never known the Ark of the Covenant without the sacramental presence of God except when it had fallen into the hands of the enemy, at which times the holy presence was safe in the hands of the high priest or of one of the prophets. When only the Tables of the Law were present in the Ark of the Covenant, without the holy treasure, it seemed to me like the Temple of the Samaritans on Mount Garizim, or like a church of our own time which is without the Blessed Sacrament and, instead of the Tables of the Law written by God's hand, contains only the books of Holy Scripture imperfectly understood by mankind.

In the Ark of the Covenant made by Moses, which stood in the Temple and Tabernacle of Solomon, I saw this most Holy Thing of the Old Covenant in the form of a shining circle crossed by two smaller rays of light intersecting each other; but now, when the angel imparted the blessing to Joachim, I saw this blessing being given to him in the form of something shining, like a shining seed or bean in shape, which he laid in the open breast of Joachim's garment. When the blessing was imparted to Abraham, I saw grace being conveyed to him in the same manner, and its virtue and efficacy remaining with him in the degree ordained by God until he handed it over to his firstborn son Isaac, from whom it passed to Jacob and from him, through the angel, to Joseph, and from Joseph and his wife, with increased virtue, to the Ark of the Covenant. I perceived that the angel bound Joachim to secrecy, and I understood why it was that later Zechariah, the Baptist's father, had become dumb after he had received the blessing and the promise of Elizabeth's fruitfulness from the Angel Gabriel at the Altar of Incense. [ St. Luke 1.9-22.] It was revealed to me, that with this blessing Joachim received the highest fruit and the true fulfillment of Abraham's blessing, namely the blessing for the immaculate conception of the most Holy Virgin who was to bruise the head of the serpent. The angel then led Joachim back into the Holy Place and disappeared, upon which Joachim sank to the ground in an ecstasy as though paralyzed. The priests who re-entered the Holy Place found him radiant with joy. They lifted him up reverently, and placed him outside in a seat generally used only by priests. Here they washed his face, held some strong-smelling substance to his nostrils, gave him to drink and in general treated him as one does someone who has fainted. When he had recovered, he looked young and strong, and was beaming with joy.

It was a warning from on high that had led Joachim into the Holy Place, and it was by a similar inspiration that he was brought into a subterranean passage which belonged to the consecrated part of the Temple and ran under it and under the Golden Gate. I have been told what was the meaning and origin of this passage when the Temple was built, and also what it was used for, but I have no clear recollection of this. Some religious observance relating to the blessing and reconciliation of the unfruitful was, I think, connected with this passage. In certain circumstances people were brought into it for rites of purification, expiation, absolution, and the like. [32] Joachim was led by priests near the slaughtering-place through a little door into this passage. The priests turned back, but Joachim continued along the passage, which gradually sloped downwards. Anna had also come to the Temple with her maidservant, who was carrying the doves for sacrifice in wicker baskets. She had handed over her offering and had revealed to a priest that she had been bidden by an angel to meet her husband under the Golden Gate. I now saw that she was led by priests, accompanied by some venerable women (among whom I think was the prophetess Anna), through an entrance on the other side into the consecrated passage, where her companions left her. I had a very wonderful view of what this passage was like. Joachim went through a little door; the passage sloped downwards, and was at first narrow but became broader afterwards. The walls were of glistening gold and green, and a reddish light shone in from above. I saw beautiful pillars like twisted trees and vines. After passing through about a third of the passage Joachim came to a place in the midst of which stood a pillar in the form of a palm tree with hanging leaves and fruits. Here he was met by Anna, radiant with happiness. They embraced each other with holy joy, and each told the other their good tidings. They were in a state of ecstasy and enveloped in a cloud of light. I saw this light issuing from a great host of angels, who were carrying the appearance of a high shining tower and hovering above the heads of Anna and Joachim. The form of this tower was the same as I see in pictures, from the litany of the Blessed Virgin, of the Tower of David, the Tower of Ivory, and so forth. I saw that this tower seemed to disappear between Anna and Joachim, who were enveloped in a glory of brightness. I understood that, as a result of the grace here given, the conception of Mary was as pure as all conceptions would have been but for the Fall. I had at the same time an indescribable vision. The heavens opened above them, and I saw the joy of the Holy Trinity and of the angels, and their participation in the mysterious blessing here bestowed on Mary's parents. Anna and Joachim returned, praising God, to the exit under the Golden Gate: towards the end the passage sloped upwards. They came into a kind of chapel under a beautiful and high arch, where many lights were burning. Here they were received by priests who led them away. The part of the Temple above which was the hall of the Sanhedrin lay over the middle of the subterranean passage; above this end of it were, I think, dwellings of priests whose duty it was to look after the vestments. Joachim and Anna now came to a kind of bay at the outermost edge of the Temple hill, overlooking the valley of Josaphat, where the path could no longer go straight on but branched to right and left. After they had visited another priest's house, I saw Joachim and Anna and their servants starting on their journey home. On their arrival at Nazareth, Joachim, after a joyful meal, gave food to many poor people and distributed generous alms. I saw how full he and Anna were of joy and fervor and gratitude to God when they thought of His compassion towards them; I often saw them praying together with tears.

It was explained to me here that the Blessed Virgin was begotten by her parents in holy obedience and complete purity of heart, and that thereafter they lived together in continence in the greatest devoutness and fear of God. I was at the same time clearly instructed how immeasurably the holiness of children was encouraged by the purity, chastity, and continence of their parents and by their resistance to all unclean temptations; and how continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses. In general, I was given an overflowing abundance of knowledge about the roots of deformity and sin

Here follow various visions which Catherine Emmerich communicated at different times in the course of her yearly meditations during the octave of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Though they do not directly continue the story of the Blessed Virgin's life, yet they throw a remarkable light on the mystery of her election, preparation, and veneration as the vessel of grace. As these visions were related by Catherine Emmerich in the midst of much suffering and many interruptions, it is not surprising if they are somewhat fragmentary in character.]

I saw in a wonderful picture that God showed the angels how it was His will to restore mankind after the Fall. At first sight I did not understand this picture, but soon it became quite clear to me. I saw the Throne of God and the Holy Trinity, and at the same time a movement within that Trinity. I saw the nine choirs of angels, and how God announced to them in what manner it was His will to restore the fallen human race. I saw an inexpressible joy among the angels over this. I was now shown in a number of symbolic pictures the unfolding of God's designs for the salvation of mankind. I saw these pictures appearing among the nine choirs of angels and following each other in a kind of historical sequence. I saw the angels helping to make these pictures, protecting and defending them. I cannot now remember for certain the order in which they appeared, but will tell in God's name what I can still recollect. I saw a mountain as of precious stones appear before the Throne of God; it grew and spread. It was in terraces, like a throne; then it changed into the shape of a tower--a tower which enshrined every treasure of the spirit and every gift of grace and was surrounded by the nine choirs of angels. At one side of this tower vine tendrils and ears of corn, intertwined like the fingers of folded hands, seemed to be streaming down from the edge of a golden cloud. I cannot remember at what exact moment in the whole picture I saw this. I saw in the sky a figure like a virgin which passed into the tower and as it were melted into it. The tower was very broad and was flat at the top; it seemed to have an opening at the back through which the virgin passed into it. This was not the Blessed Virgin as she is in time, but as she is in eternity, in God. I saw the appearance of her being formed before the face of the Holy Trinity, just as when one breathes, a little cloud is formed before one's mouth. [33] I also saw something going forth from the Holy Trinity towards the tower. At this moment of the picture I saw a vessel like a ciborium being formed among the choirs of angels. The angels all joined in giving this vessel the form of a tower surrounded by many pictures full of significance. Beside it stood two figures joining hands behind it. This spiritual vessel went on increasing in size, beauty, and richness. Then I saw something proceed from God and pass through all nine choirs of angels; it seemed to me like a little shining holy cloud which became more and more distinct as it approached the sacramental vessel which it finally entered. But in order that I should recognize this to be a real and essential blessing of God, conferring the grace of a pure and sinless line from generation to generation (like the cultivation of some plant in all its purity), I finally saw this blessing in the shape of a shining bean, enter the ciborium, which then passed into the tower. [34] I saw the angels actively taking part in the showing forth of these visions. There rose, however, from the depths below a series of what seemed to be false visions, for I saw the angels combating these and thrusting them aside. Many of these false visions I have forgotten, but here is what I still remember about them.

I saw a church rise up from below, almost in the same form in which the holy universal Church always appears to me when I see it not as a particular building but as the Holy Catholic Church in general. There was, however, this difference, that the latter has a tower over the entrance and the church rising from the depths had not. It was a very large church but a false one. The angels thrust it aside so that it stood all crooked. I also saw a great bowl, with a lip on one side; which tried to enter the false church but was also thrust aside. I then saw the angels preparing a chalice, of the shape of the Chalice of the Last Supper, which passed into the tower entered by the virgin. I also saw a lower tower or building appear, with many doors, through which I saw crowds of people passing, among them figures like Abraham and the Children of Israel. I think this had reference to the slavery in Egypt. I saw a round terraced tower arise, which also had reference to Egypt. This was thrust back and made to stand crooked. I also saw an Egyptian temple arise, like the one on the ceiling of which I had seen the Egyptian priests, idolaters, fastening the image of a winged virgin after receiving from Elijah' messenger communications of a prophetic vision of the Blessed Virgin. I will speak of his vision later; it was seen by the prophet on Mount Carmel. This temple, too, was thrust back and made to stand crooked.

I then saw between the choirs of angels, to the right of the holy tower, a branch which put forth buds, making a whole ancestral tree of little male and female figures holding each other's hands. This family tree ended with the appearance of a little crib with a little child in it. The crib was of the same shape as the one I had seen exposed in the temple of the Three Kings. [35] Then I saw a beautiful great church appear.

The way in which all these pictures were united with each other and yet melted one into the other was very wonderful. The whole vision was indescribably rich and full of significance. Even the hateful, evil, false appearances of towers, chalices, and churches, which were thrust aside, were made to assist in the unfolding of the scheme of salvation.

[When recounting these scattered visions, she came back again and again to the unspeakable joy of the angels. There was no real conclusion to these fragmentary visions, which seem to have been a series of symbolic pictures of the history of our salvation. She added: First of all I saw the emblems of the work of redemption among the choirs of angels, and then a series of pictures from Adam down to the Babylonian captivity.']

I saw something happening in Egypt very long ago which had a symbolic application to the Blessed Virgin. It must have been long before the days of Elijah. I also saw something in Egypt, in his lifetime, which I will tell later.

I saw a place in Egypt, much farther away from the Promised Land than On or Heliopolis, where on an island in the river an idol stood. This idol had a head which was something between that of a man and of an ox, with three horns, one in the middle of the forehead. The figure was hollow, and had openings in its body in which sacrifices were burnt as in an oven. Its feet were like claws, and in one hand it held a plant like a lily which grows out of the water and opens and shuts with the sun. In the other hand the idol held a plant like ears of corn with quite thick grains; I think it grows out of the water too, but am not quite sure of this. After a great victory a temple had been built in honor of this idol, which was now to be consecrated, and all preparations had been made for the sacrifice. But as the people were on their way to the island I saw something wonderful happen. Near the idol I saw a dark and dreadful apparition, and then I saw a great angel descending upon it from heaven like the one who appeared to St. John the Evangelist in the Apocalypse. This angel struck the dark figure in the back with his staff. The demon, writhing, was forced to speak out of the mouth of the idol, warning the people to consecrate the temple, not in honor of it but of a virgin who was to appear upon earth and to whom thanks for their victory were due. I cannot remember the exact circumstances, but I saw that the people set up in the new temple the image of a winged virgin, which was fixed to the wall. The virgin as she flew was bending down over a little ship in which lay a child in swaddling clothes. The ship stood on a little pillar, with a leafy top like a tree. One of her outstretched hands had a balance hanging from it, and I saw two figures beside her on the wall who were putting something into each scale of the balance. The little ship in which the child lay was like that in which Moses lay on the Nile, but it was uncovered, whereas Moses' one was entirely closed in except for a small opening at the top.

I saw the whole Promised Land withered and parched with drought, and I saw Elijah ascending Mount Carmel with two servants to beseech God to give rain. First they climbed over a high ridge, then up steps of rock to a terrace, then up many more rock steps, and so reached a great open space with a hill of rocks in its midst in which was a cave. Elijah climbed up steps to the top of this rocky hill. He left the servants at the edge of the open space and bade one of them look towards the Sea of Galilee, which had, however, a terrible aspect, for it was quite dried up and was full of hollows and caverns with rotting bodies of animals in the swampy ground. Elijah crouched down on the ground with his head sunk between his knees, and covering himself in his mantle prayed fervently to God and cried seven times to his servant to know whether he did not see a cloud rising out of the lake. At his seventh call I saw the cloud rise up, and saw the servant announce it to Elijah, who sent him to King Ahab. I saw a white eddy form itself in the middle of the lake; out of this eddy rose a little black cloud like a fist, which opened and spread itself out. In this little cloud I saw from the first a little shining figure like a virgin. I saw, too, that Elijah perceived this figure in the spreading cloud. The head of this virgin was encircled with rays; she stretched her arms out in the form of a cross, and had a triumphal wreath hanging from one hand. Her long robe seemed to be tied beneath her feet. She appeared as if hovering above the whole Promised Land in the cloud as it spread ever farther. I saw how this cloud divided into different parts and fell in eddying showers of crystal dew on certain holy and consecrated places inhabited by devout men and those who were praying for salvation. I saw these showers edged with the colors of the rainbow and the blessing taking shape in their midst like a pearl in its shell. It was explained to me that this was a symbolic picture, and that the favored places watered by the showers from the cloud were in fact those which had had their share in contributing to the coming of the Blessed Virgin.

I saw as well a prophetic vision of how Elijah, while the cloud was rising, discerned four mysteries relating to the Blessed Virgin. Unfortunately I have forgotten the details, and much else, as a result of disturbances and interruptions. Elijah discerned in the cloud, among other things, that Mary would be born in the seventh age of the world; hence his sevenfold call to his servant. He saw, too, from what family she was to come. On one side of the country he saw a low but very broad family tree, and on the other a very high one, broad at the base but tapering towards its top, which bent down into the first tree. He understood all this, and discerned in this way four mysteries relating to the future mother of the Savior. Hereupon I had a vision of how Elijah enlarged the cave above which he had prayed and how he made the Sons of the Prophets into a more regular organization. Some of these were always praying in this cave for the coming of the Blessed Virgin and paying her honor in anticipation of her future birth. I saw that this devotion to the Blessed Virgin continued here uninterrupted, that the Essenes carried it on during Mary's earthly life, and that subsequently it was perpetuated up to our time by hermits and the Carmelite Order which eventually succeeded them. [36]

[When Catherine Emmerich communicated later her visions of the time of John the Baptist, she saw the same vision of Elijah with reference to the state of the country and of mankind which prevailed in St. John's time. We therefore reproduce from this what follows as explanatory of what she has said above.]

I saw a great commotion in the Temple at Jerusalem, much consultation, much writing with reed pens, and messengers being sent about the country. Rain was besought from God with cries and supplications, and search was made everywhere for Elijah. I saw Elijah receiving food and drink in the wilderness from the angel, who held a vessel like a little shining barrel with white and red diagonal stripes. I saw all Elijah' dealings with Ahab, the sacrifice on Mount Carmel, the slaughter of the priests of Baal, Elijah' prayer for rain and the gathering of the clouds. I saw as well as the dryness of the earth, a great dryness and failing of good fruit amongst men. I saw that by his prayer Elijah called forth the blessing of which the cloud was the form, and that he guided and distributed its showers in accordance with inner visions; otherwise it might perhaps have become a destroying deluge. He asked his servant seven times for news of the cloud; this signifies the seven generations or ages of the world which must go by before the real blessing (of which this cloud of blessing was but a symbol) took root in Israel. Elijah himself saw in the ascending cloud an image of the Blessed Virgin, and discerned several mysteries relating to her birth and descent. [37]

I saw that Elijah' prayer called down the blessing at first in the form of dew. Layers of cloud sank down which formed themselves into eddies with rainbow edges; these finally dissolved into falling drops. I saw therein an association with the manna in the desert, but the manna lay thick and crisp on the ground in the morning like fleeces, and could be rolled up and taken away. I saw this whirling eddy of dew floating along the banks of the Jordan, but dropping down only at certain notable places, not everywhere. In particular at Ainon, opposite Salem, and at the places where baptisms took place later, I clearly saw these shining eddies floating downwards. I asked what the colored edges of these dew eddies portended, and was given as an explanation the example of the mother-of-pearl shells in the sea which also bore edges of shining color; they expose themselves to the sun, absorbing the light and cleansing it of color until the pure white pearls take form in their centers. It was shown to me, too, that this dew and the rain that followed it was something much more than the ordinary refreshing of the earth by moisture. I was given clearly to understand that, without this dew, the coming of the Blessed Virgin would have been delayed by more than a hundred years; whereas, after this softening and blessing of the earth, nourishment and refreshment were imparted to the human beings who lived on the fruits of the soil; the blessing communicated itself to their bodies and ennobled them. This fructifying dew was associated with the coming of the Messiah, for I saw its rays penetrating generation after generation until they reached the substance of the body of the Blessed Virgin. I cannot describe this. Sometimes, on the colored edge that I have mentioned I saw emerge one or more pearls having the likeness of a human figure which disappeared in a breath to unite itself with others of these pearls. The picture of the pearl shell was a symbol of Mary and Jesus.

I saw, too, that just as the earth and mankind were parched and panting for rain, so, at a later time, was the spirit of man thirsting for the baptism of John; so that the whole picture was not only a prophecy of the coming of the Blessed Virgin, but also of the state of the people at the time of the Baptist. In the first instance there was the alarm of the people, their longing for rain and their search for Elijah, followed, nevertheless, by their persecution of him; and later there was a like yearning of the people for baptism and penance, and again the lack of comprehension by the synagogue and its messages to John.

In Egypt I saw the message of salvation being announced in the following manner. I saw that by God's command Elijah sent messages to summon devout families scattered about in three regions to the east, north, and south. For this purpose he sent forth three of the sons of the prophets, but only after asking a sign from God that he had decided rightly, for it was a difficult and dangerous mission, and he had to choose messengers whose prudence would lessen the danger of their being murdered. One traveled northwards, one eastwards, and the third southwards. This last one had to pass through a considerable part of Egyptian territory, where the Israelites were in particular danger of being killed. This messenger took the way followed by the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt. I think, too, that he passed near On, where the Child Jesus took refuge. I saw him come to an idolatrous temple on a great plain; in this temple, which was surrounded by a meadow and by many other buildings, they adored a living bull. They had an image of a bull and many other idols in their temple; their sacrifices were gruesome and they slaughtered deformed children. They seized the son of the prophet and brought him before the priests. Fortunately, the latter were very inquisitive; otherwise, they might easily have murdered him. They questioned him as to whence he came and what brought him there, and he answered without hesitation, telling them how a virgin would be born from whom the salvation of the world was to come, and that then all their idols would fall in pieces. [38]

They were amazed at his announcement, seemed greatly moved thereby, and let him go unharmed. I saw them taking counsel together thereafter, and having the image of a virgin constructed and fixed in the middle of the temple roof. This image [See Figure 4], represented as floating downwards at full length, had a headdress like the idols, so many of which lie in rows there, half like a woman, half like a lion. On the top of the head was something like a little high vessel or bushel of fruit; the elbows were close to the body, while the forearms were held out in a gesture as it were of withdrawal and repulse. In her hands were ears of corn. She had three breasts; a large one in the middle, with two smaller ones on each side of it but lower down. The lower part of the body was clothed in a long dress, and from the feet, which were comparatively small and pointed, hung tassels or something of the sort. She had as it were wings on her arms both above and below the elbows; these wings seemed to be made of delicate feathers spreading out on each side like rays and intertwined with each other. Feathers ran crosswise down both thighs and over the middle of the body to the feet. The dress had no folds. They venerated this image and sacrificed to it, begging it not to destroy their God Apis and their other gods. At the same time they continued their gruesome idolatry as before, except that they always began by invoking this virgin. In making this image they had, I believe, followed the indications given them by the son of the prophet in his account of the vision which Elijah had seen.

I saw also that by the great mercy of God it was announced to certain God-fearing heathens that the Messiah was to be born from a virgin in Judea. The ancestors of the three holy kings, the star-worshippers of Chaldea, received this message by the appearance of a picture in a star or in the sky, by which they made prophecies. I saw traces of these prophetic images of the Blessed Virgin in the pictures in their temple, which I have described in my account of Jesus' visit to them after the raising of Lazarus in the last quarter of the third year of His ministry.

[On the feast of the Archangel Michael in September 1821, Catherine Emmerich recounted, amongst other fragments of a vision of the holy angels, the following fragment of the story of Tobias, whom she had seen with the Archangel Raphael as his guide.]

I saw many things from the life of Tobias, which is an allegory of the history of the coming of salvation in Israel; not an imaginative allegory, but one which actually happened and was lived. It was shown to me that Sarah, the wife of the young Tobias, was a prototype of St. Anne. I will relate as much as I can remember of the many things that happened, but shall not be able to reproduce them in their right order. The elder Tobias was an emblem of the God-fearing branch of the Jewish race, those who were hoping for the Messiah. The swallow, the messenger of spring, indicated the near approach of salvation. The blindness of old Tobias signified that he was to beget no more children, and was to devote himself entirely to prayer and meditation; it signified also the faithful, though dim, longing and waiting for the light of salvation and the uncertainty as to whence it was to come. Tobias' quarrelsome wife represented the empty and harassing forms into which the Pharisees had converted the Law. The kid which she had brought home in lieu of wages had, as Tobias warned her, really been stolen, and had for that reason been handed on to her in return for very little. Tobias knew the people concerned and all about it, but his wife only mocked him. This mockery also indicated the contempt of the Pharisees and formalists for the devout Jews and Essenes and the relationship between the two groups, but I cannot now remember how this was.

The Archangel Raphael was not telling an untruth when he said that he was Azarias, the son of Ananias, for the general meaning of these words is: The help of the Lord out of the cloud of the Lord'. [40] This angel, the companion of young Tobias, represented God's watchfulness over the Blessed Virgin's descent through her ancestors and His preservation and guidance of the Blessing through the generations which preceded her conception. In the prayer of the Elder Tobias, and of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel (I saw both these prayers being brought by the angels at one and the same time before the Throne of God and there granted), I recognized the supplications of the God-fearing Israelites and of the Daughters of Sion for the coming of salvation, as well as the simultaneous prayers of Joachim and Anna, separated from each other, for the promised offspring. The blindness of the elder Tobias and his wife's mockery of him also symbolized Joachim's childlessness and the rejection of his sacrifice at the Temple. The seven husbands of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, who were destroyed by Satan, came to their end through sensuality; for Sarah had made a vow to give herself only to a chaste and God-fearing man. These seven men symbolized those whose entry into Jesus' ancestry according to the flesh would have hindered the coming of the Blessed Virgin, and thus the advent of salvation. There was also a reference to certain unblessed periods in the history of salvation and to the suitors whom Anna had to reject that she might be united to Joachim, the father of Mary. The maidservant's reviling of Sarah ( Tob. 3.7) symbolized the reviling by the heathen and by the godless and unbelieving among the Jews against the expectation of the Messiah, for whose coming all God-fearing Jews were, like Sarah, inspired to pray with ever-increasing fervor. It was also an image of the reviling of Anna by her maidservant, whereafter that holy mother prayed with such fervor that her prayer was granted. The fish which was about to swallow young Tobias symbolized the powers of darkness, heathendom, and sin striving against the coming of salvation, and also Anna's long barrenness. The killing of the fish, the removal of its heart, liver, and gall, and the burning of this by Tobias and Sarah to make smoke--all these symbolized the victory over the demon of fleshly lusts who had strangled Sarah's seven husbands, as well as the good works and continence of Joachim and Anna, by which they had obtained the blessing of holy fruitfulness. I also saw therein a deep significance relating to the Blessed Sacrament, but can no longer explain this. The gall of the fish, which restored the sight of Tobias' father, symbolized the bitterness of the suffering through which the chosen ones among the Jews came to know and share in salvation; it indicated also the entry of the light into the darkness brought about by Jesus' bitter sufferings from His birth onwards.

I received many explanations of this kind, and saw many details of the history of Tobias. I think the descendants of young Tobias were among the ancestors of Joachim and Anna. The elder Tobias had other children who were not godly. Sarah had three daughters and four sons. Her first child was a daughter. The elder Tobias lived to see his grandchildren.

I saw now that the angel touched or anointed Joachim's forehead with the tip of his thumb and forefinger, and that he gave him a shining morsel to eat and a luminous liquid to drink from a gleaming little chalice which he held between two fingers. It was of the shape of the chalice at the Last Supper, but without a foot. It seemed to me, too, that this food which he put in his mouth took the form of a little shining ear of corn and a little shining cluster of grapes, and I understood that thereafter every impurity and every sinful desire left Joachim. Thereupon I saw that the angel imparted to Joachim the highest and holiest fruit of the blessing given by God to Abraham, and culminating, through Joseph, in the holy thing within the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God among His people. He gave Joachim this blessing in the same form as I had been shown before, except that while the angel of benediction gave Abraham the blessing from himself, out of his bosom as it were, he seemed to give it to Joachim from out of the Holy of Holies. [30]

The blessing of Abraham was as it were the beginning of God's grace given in blessing to the father of His future people so that from him might proceed the stones for the building of His Temple. But when Joachim received the blessing, it was as though the angel were taking the holy benediction from the tabernacle of this Temple and delivering it to a priest, in order that from him might be formed the holy vessel in which the Word was to be made Flesh. All this cannot be expressed in words, for I speak of that Holy of Holies inviolate, yet violated in man when he sinned and fell. From my earliest youth I have very often, in my visions from the Old Testament, seen into the Ark of the Covenant, and have always had the impression of a complete church, but more solemn and awe-inspiring. I saw therein not only the Tables of the Law as the written Word of God, but also a sacramental presence of the Living God, [31] like the roots of the wine and wheat and of the flesh and blood of the future sacrifice of our redemption.

The grace given by this blessed presence produced, with the cooperation of God-fearing men under the Law, that holy tree whose final blossoming was the pure flower in which the Word became flesh and God became Man; thus, giving us, in the New Covenant, His humanity and His divinity by instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, without which we cannot attain eternal life. I have never known the Ark of the Covenant without the sacramental presence of God except when it had fallen into the hands of the enemy, at which times the holy presence was safe in the hands of the high priest or of one of the prophets. When only the Tables of the Law were present in the Ark of the Covenant, without the holy treasure, it seemed to me like the Temple of the Samaritans on Mount Garizim, or like a church of our own time which is without the Blessed Sacrament and, instead of the Tables of the Law written by God's hand, contains only the books of Holy Scripture imperfectly understood by mankind.

In the Ark of the Covenant made by Moses, which stood in the Temple and Tabernacle of Solomon, I saw this most Holy Thing of the Old Covenant in the form of a shining circle crossed by two smaller rays of light intersecting each other; but now, when the angel imparted the blessing to Joachim, I saw this blessing being given to him in the form of something shining, like a shining seed or bean in shape, which he laid in the open breast of Joachim's garment. When the blessing was imparted to Abraham, I saw grace being conveyed to him in the same manner, and its virtue and efficacy remaining with him in the degree ordained by God until he handed it over to his firstborn son Isaac, from whom it passed to Jacob and from him, through the angel, to Joseph, and from Joseph and his wife, with increased virtue, to the Ark of the Covenant. I perceived that the angel bound Joachim to secrecy, and I understood why it was that later Zechariah, the Baptist's father, had become dumb after he had received the blessing and the promise of Elizabeth's fruitfulness from the Angel Gabriel at the Altar of Incense. [ St. Luke 1.9-22.] It was revealed to me, that with this blessing Joachim received the highest fruit and the true fulfillment of Abraham's blessing, namely the blessing for the immaculate conception of the most Holy Virgin who was to bruise the head of the serpent. The angel then led Joachim back into the Holy Place and disappeared, upon which Joachim sank to the ground in an ecstasy as though paralyzed. The priests who re-entered the Holy Place found him radiant with joy. They lifted him up reverently, and placed him outside in a seat generally used only by priests. Here they washed his face, held some strong-smelling substance to his nostrils, gave him to drink and in general treated him as one does someone who has fainted. When he had recovered, he looked young and strong, and was beaming with joy.

At the same time I saw Joachim among his flocks on Mount Hermon beyond the Jordan constantly praying God to grant his supplications. As he watched the young lambs bleating and frolicking round their mothers, he felt sorely distressed at having no children, but did not tell his shepherds why he was so sad. It was near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and he and his shepherds were beginning to put up the tabernacles. Remembering his humiliation at the Temple, he had abandoned the idea of going tip as usual to Jerusalem for the feast and offering sacrifices, but as he was praying I saw an angel appear to him, telling him to be of good courage and to journey to the Temple, for his sacrifice would be accepted and his prayers granted. He would meet his wife under the Golden Gate. Thereupon I saw Joachim joyfully dividing his flocks and herds once more into three portions--and what numbers of fine beasts he had! The least good he kept for himself, the next best he sent to the Essenes, and the best of all he drove to the Temple with his herdsmen. He arrived in Jerusalem on the fourth day of the feast, and stayed in his usual lodgings near the Temple.Anna arrived in Jerusalem also on the fourth day of the feast and stayed with Zechariah's relations by the fish market. She did not meet Joachim until the end of the feast.

Although on the previous occasion it was by a sign from above that Joachim's offerings were rejected, I saw that the priest who had treated him so harshly instead of comforting and consoling him was in some way (I cannot remember how) punished by God. Now, however, the priests had received a divine warning to accept his offerings, and I saw that some of them, on being told of his approach with the sacrificial beasts, went out of the Temple to meet him and accepted his gifts. The cattle which he had brought as a gift to the Temple were not his actual offering. The sacrifice he brought to be slaughtered consisted of two lambs and three lively little animals, kids, I think. I saw, too, that many of his acquaintances congratulated him on his sacrifice being accepted. I saw that because of the feast the whole Temple was open and decorated with garlands of fruit and greenery, and that in one place a Tabernacle had been set up on eight detached pillars. Joachim went from place to place in the Temple exactly as he did before. His sacrifice was slaughtered and burnt at the usual place. Some part of it was, however, burnt at another place, to the right, I think, of the entrance hall with the great teaching pulpit. [27] I saw the priests making a sacrifice of incense in the Holy Place. Lamps, too, were lighted and lights burned on the seven-branched candlestick, but not on all seven branches at once. I often saw that on different occasions different branches of it were lighted. As the smoke arose from the offering, I saw as it were a beam of light falling upon the officiating priest in the Holy Place and at the same time on Joachim without in the hall. There came a sudden pause in what was going on, it seemed from astonishment and the realization of something supernatural. Thereupon I saw that two priests went out into the hall to Joachim as though by God's command, and led him through the side rooms up to the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place. The priest then laid something on the altar. This was not, I could see, separate grains of incense; it looked like a solid lump, but I cannot remember what it was. [28] This lump gave out a powerful and sweet smell of incense as it was burnt upon the altar of incense before the veil of the Holy of Holies. Then I saw the priest going away, leaving Joachim alone in the Holy Place. While the incense-offering was being consumed I saw Joachim in a state of ecstasy, kneeling with outstretched arms. I saw approaching him a shining figure of an angel, such as later appeared to Zechariah when he received the promise of the Baptist's birth. The angel spoke to Joachim, and gave him a scroll on which I recognized, written in shining letters, the three names Helia, Hanna, Miriam. [29] Beside the last of these names I saw the picture of a little Ark of the Covenant or tabernacle. Joachim fastened this scroll to his breast under his garment. The angel told him that his unfruitfulness was no disgrace for him, but on the contrary, an honor, for the child his wife was to conceive was to be the immaculate fruit of God's blessing upon him and the crowning point of the blessing of Abraham. Joachim, being unable to grasp this, was led by the angel behind the veil hanging in front of the Holy of Holies. Between this veil and the bars of the screen before the Holy of Holies was a space large enough to stand in. I saw the angel approach the Ark of the Covenant, and it seemed to me as if he took something out of it, for I saw him hold towards Joachim a shining globe or circle of light, bidding him breathe upon it and look into it. (When he held the circle of light so near his face, it made me think of a custom at our country weddings where the sacristan gives one a little board to kiss with a head painted on it, and makes one pay three halfpence for doing so.) Then I saw as if all kinds of pictures appeared in the circle of light when Joachim breathed on it and that these were visible to him. His breath had in no way dimmed the circle of light, and the angel told him that the conception of Anna's child would be as untarnished as this globe, which had remained shining in spite of his having breathed on it. Thereupon I saw as if the angel lifted the globe until it stood like an encircling halo in the air, in which I saw, as through an opening in it, a series of pictures starting with the Fall and ending with the Redemption of mankind. The whole course of the world passed before my eyes as one picture merged into another. I knew and understood it all, but I cannot reproduce the details. Above, at the very summit, I saw the Blessed Trinity, and below and on one side of the Trinity, I saw the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, the Fall, the promise of Redemption and all its prototypes--Noah, the Flood, the Ark, the receiving of the blessing through Abraham, its handing on to his firstborn Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, how it was taken from Jacob by the angel with whom he struggled, how the blessing came to Joseph in Egypt and increased in glory in him and in his wife. I saw how the sacred presence of the blessing was removed by Moses from Egypt with relics of Joseph and his wife Asenath, and became the Holy of Holies of the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of the living God among His people. Then I saw the reverence paid by God's people to this sacred thing and their ceremonies respecting it; I saw the relationships and marriages which formed the sacred genealogy of the Blessed Virgin's ancestry, as well as all the prototypes and symbols of her and of Our Savior in history and in the prophets. All this I saw in encircling symbols and also rising from the lower part of the ring of light. I saw pictures of great cities, towers, palaces, thrones, gates, gardens, and flowers, all strangely woven together as it were by bridges of light; and all were being attacked and assaulted by fierce beasts and other figures of might. These pictures all signified how Our Blessed Lady's ancestral family, from which God was to take Flesh and be made Man, had been led, like all that is holy, by God's grace through many assaults and struggles. I remember, too, having seen at a certain point in this series of pictures a garden surrounded by a thick hedge of thorns, which a host of serpents and other loathsome creatures attempted in vain to penetrate. I also saw a strong tower assaulted on all sides by men-at-arms, who were falling down from it. I saw many pictures of this kind, relating to the history of the ancestry of the Blessed Virgin; and the bridges and passages which joined all together signified the victory over all attempts to disturb, hinder, or interrupt the work of salvation. It was as if by God's compassion there had been poured into mankind, as into a muddy stream, a pure flesh and a pure blood, and as if this had, with great toil and difficulty, to reconstitute itself out of its scattered elements, the whole stream striving the while to draw it into its troubled waters; and then, as if by the countless mercies of God and the faithful cooperation of mankind, it had at last issued forth, after many pollutions and many cleansings, in an unfailing stream out of which rose the Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.

Among the pictures that I saw in the globe of light there were many which occur in the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Whenever I say that litany, I see them and recognize them and venerate them with great devotion. The pictures in the globe unfolded themselves still further till they reached the fulfillment of all God's compassion towards mankind, so divided and dispersed in its fallen state, and ended, on the side opposite the Garden of Eden, with the heavenly Jerusalem at the foot of the Throne of God. After I had seen all these pictures, the globe (which was really a series of pictures passing in and out of a circle of light) disappeared. I think that all this was a communication to Joachim of a vision revealed to him by the angel and also seen by me. Whenever I receive such a communication, it appears in a circle of light like a globe

I saw now that the angel touched or anointed Joachim's forehead with the tip of his thumb and forefinger, and that he gave him a shining morsel to eat and a luminous liquid to drink from a gleaming little chalice which he held between two fingers. It was of the shape of the chalice at the Last Supper, but without a foot. It seemed to me, too, that this food which he put in his mouth took the form of a little shining ear of corn and a little shining cluster of grapes, and I understood that thereafter every impurity and every sinful desire left Joachim. Thereupon I saw that the angel imparted to Joachim the highest and holiest fruit of the blessing given by God to Abraham, and culminating, through Joseph, in the holy thing within the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God among His people. He gave Joachim this blessing in the same form as I had been shown before, except that while the angel of benediction gave Abraham the blessing from himself, out of his bosom as it were, he seemed to give it to Joachim from out of the Holy of Holies. [30]

The blessing of Abraham was as it were the beginning of God's grace given in blessing to the father of His future people so that from him might proceed the stones for the building of His Temple. But when Joachim received the blessing, it was as though the angel were taking the holy benediction from the tabernacle of this Temple and delivering it to a priest, in order that from him might be formed the holy vessel in which the Word was to be made Flesh. All this cannot be expressed in words, for I speak of that Holy of Holies inviolate, yet violated in man when he sinned and fell. From my earliest youth I have very often, in my visions from the Old Testament, seen into the Ark of the Covenant, and have always had the impression of a complete church, but more solemn and awe-inspiring. I saw therein not only the Tables of the Law as the written Word of God, but also a sacramental presence of the Living God, [31] like the roots of the wine and wheat and of the flesh and blood of the future sacrifice of our redemption.

The grace given by this blessed presence produced, with the cooperation of God-fearing men under the Law, that holy tree whose final blossoming was the pure flower in which the Word became flesh and God became Man; thus, giving us, in the New Covenant, His humanity and His divinity by instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, without which we cannot attain eternal life. I have never known the Ark of the Covenant without the sacramental presence of God except when it had fallen into the hands of the enemy, at which times the holy presence was safe in the hands of the high priest or of one of the prophets. When only the Tables of the Law were present in the Ark of the Covenant, without the holy treasure, it seemed to me like the Temple of the Samaritans on Mount Garizim, or like a church of our own time which is without the Blessed Sacrament and, instead of the Tables of the Law written by God's hand, contains only the books of Holy Scripture imperfectly understood by mankind.

In the Ark of the Covenant made by Moses, which stood in the Temple and Tabernacle of Solomon, I saw this most Holy Thing of the Old Covenant in the form of a shining circle crossed by two smaller rays of light intersecting each other; but now, when the angel imparted the blessing to Joachim, I saw this blessing being given to him in the form of something shining, like a shining seed or bean in shape, which he laid in the open breast of Joachim's garment. When the blessing was imparted to Abraham, I saw grace being conveyed to him in the same manner, and its virtue and efficacy remaining with him in the degree ordained by God until he handed it over to his firstborn son Isaac, from whom it passed to Jacob and from him, through the angel, to Joseph, and from Joseph and his wife, with increased virtue, to the Ark of the Covenant. I perceived that the angel bound Joachim to secrecy, and I understood why it was that later Zechariah, the Baptist's father, had become dumb after he had received the blessing and the promise of Elizabeth's fruitfulness from the Angel Gabriel at the Altar of Incense. [ St. Luke 1.9-22.] It was revealed to me, that with this blessing Joachim received the highest fruit and the true fulfillment of Abraham's blessing, namely the blessing for the immaculate conception of the most Holy Virgin who was to bruise the head of the serpent. The angel then led Joachim back into the Holy Place and disappeared, upon which Joachim sank to the ground in an ecstasy as though paralyzed. The priests who re-entered the Holy Place found him radiant with joy. They lifted him up reverently, and placed him outside in a seat generally used only by priests. Here they washed his face, held some strong-smelling substance to his nostrils, gave him to drink and in general treated him as one does someone who has fainted. When he had recovered, he looked young and strong, and was beaming with joy.

It was a warning from on high that had led Joachim into the Holy Place, and it was by a similar inspiration that he was brought into a subterranean passage which belonged to the consecrated part of the Temple and ran under it and under the Golden Gate. I have been told what was the meaning and origin of this passage when the Temple was built, and also what it was used for, but I have no clear recollection of this. Some religious observance relating to the blessing and reconciliation of the unfruitful was, I think, connected with this passage. In certain circumstances people were brought into it for rites of purification, expiation, absolution, and the like. [32] Joachim was led by priests near the slaughtering-place through a little door into this passage. The priests turned back, but Joachim continued along the passage, which gradually sloped downwards. Anna had also come to the Temple with her maidservant, who was carrying the doves for sacrifice in wicker baskets. She had handed over her offering and had revealed to a priest that she had been bidden by an angel to meet her husband under the Golden Gate. I now saw that she was led by priests, accompanied by some venerable women (among whom I think was the prophetess Anna), through an entrance on the other side into the consecrated passage, where her companions left her. I had a very wonderful view of what this passage was like. Joachim went through a little door; the passage sloped downwards, and was at first narrow but became broader afterwards. The walls were of glistening gold and green, and a reddish light shone in from above. I saw beautiful pillars like twisted trees and vines. After passing through about a third of the passage Joachim came to a place in the midst of which stood a pillar in the form of a palm tree with hanging leaves and fruits. Here he was met by Anna, radiant with happiness. They embraced each other with holy joy, and each told the other their good tidings. They were in a state of ecstasy and enveloped in a cloud of light. I saw this light issuing from a great host of angels, who were carrying the appearance of a high shining tower and hovering above the heads of Anna and Joachim. The form of this tower was the same as I see in pictures, from the litany of the Blessed Virgin, of the Tower of David, the Tower of Ivory, and so forth. I saw that this tower seemed to disappear between Anna and Joachim, who were enveloped in a glory of brightness. I understood that, as a result of the grace here given, the conception of Mary was as pure as all conceptions would have been but for the Fall. I had at the same time an indescribable vision. The heavens opened above them, and I saw the joy of the Holy Trinity and of the angels, and their participation in the mysterious blessing here bestowed on Mary's parents. Anna and Joachim returned, praising God, to the exit under the Golden Gate: towards the end the passage sloped upwards. They came into a kind of chapel under a beautiful and high arch, where many lights were burning. Here they were received by priests who led them away. The part of the Temple above which was the hall of the Sanhedrin lay over the middle of the subterranean passage; above this end of it were, I think, dwellings of priests whose duty it was to look after the vestments. Joachim and Anna now came to a kind of bay at the outermost edge of the Temple hill, overlooking the valley of Josaphat, where the path could no longer go straight on but branched to right and left. After they had visited another priest's house, I saw Joachim and Anna and their servants starting on their journey home. On their arrival at Nazareth, Joachim, after a joyful meal, gave food to many poor people and distributed generous alms. I saw how full he and Anna were of joy and fervor and gratitude to God when they thought of His compassion towards them; I often saw them praying together with tears.

It was explained to me here that the Blessed Virgin was begotten by her parents in holy obedience and complete purity of heart, and that thereafter they lived together in continence in the greatest devoutness and fear of God. I was at the same time clearly instructed how immeasurably the holiness of children was encouraged by the purity, chastity, and continence of their parents and by their resistance to all unclean temptations; and how continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses. In general, I was given an overflowing abundance of knowledge about the roots of deformity and sinHere follow various visions which Catherine Emmerich communicated at different times in the course of her yearly meditations during the octave of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Though they do not directly continue the story of the Blessed Virgin's life, yet they throw a remarkable light on the mystery of her election, preparation, and veneration as the vessel of grace. As these visions were related by Catherine Emmerich in the midst of much suffering and many interruptions, it is not surprising if they are somewhat fragmentary in character.]

I saw in a wonderful picture that God showed the angels how it was His will to restore mankind after the Fall. At first sight I did not understand this picture, but soon it became quite clear to me. I saw the Throne of God and the Holy Trinity, and at the same time a movement within that Trinity. I saw the nine choirs of angels, and how God announced to them in what manner it was His will to restore the fallen human race. I saw an inexpressible joy among the angels over this. I was now shown in a number of symbolic pictures the unfolding of God's designs for the salvation of mankind. I saw these pictures appearing among the nine choirs of angels and following each other in a kind of historical sequence. I saw the angels helping to make these pictures, protecting and defending them. I cannot now remember for certain the order in which they appeared, but will tell in God's name what I can still recollect. I saw a mountain as of precious stones appear before the Throne of God; it grew and spread. It was in terraces, like a throne; then it changed into the shape of a tower--a tower which enshrined every treasure of the spirit and every gift of grace and was surrounded by the nine choirs of angels. At one side of this tower vine tendrils and ears of corn, intertwined like the fingers of folded hands, seemed to be streaming down from the edge of a golden cloud. I cannot remember at what exact moment in the whole picture I saw this. I saw in the sky a figure like a virgin which passed into the tower and as it were melted into it. The tower was very broad and was flat at the top; it seemed to have an opening at the back through which the virgin passed into it. This was not the Blessed Virgin as she is in time, but as she is in eternity, in God. I saw the appearance of her being formed before the face of the Holy Trinity, just as when one breathes, a little cloud is formed before one's mouth. [33] I also saw something going forth from the Holy Trinity towards the tower. At this moment of the picture I saw a vessel like a ciborium being formed among the choirs of angels. The angels all joined in giving this vessel the form of a tower surrounded by many pictures full of significance. Beside it stood two figures joining hands behind it. This spiritual vessel went on increasing in size, beauty, and richness. Then I saw something proceed from God and pass through all nine choirs of angels; it seemed to me like a little shining holy cloud which became more and more distinct as it approached the sacramental vessel which it finally entered. But in order that I should recognize this to be a real and essential blessing of God, conferring the grace of a pure and sinless line from generation to generation (like the cultivation of some plant in all its purity), I finally saw this blessing in the shape of a shining bean, enter the ciborium, which then passed into the tower. [34] I saw the angels actively taking part in the showing forth of these visions. There rose, however, from the depths below a series of what seemed to be false visions, for I saw the angels combating these and thrusting them aside. Many of these false visions I have forgotten, but here is what I still remember about them.

I saw a church rise up from below, almost in the same form in which the holy universal Church always appears to me when I see it not as a particular building but as the Holy Catholic Church in general. There was, however, this difference, that the latter has a tower over the entrance and the church rising from the depths had not. It was a very large church but a false one. The angels thrust it aside so that it stood all crooked. I also saw a great bowl, with a lip on one side; which tried to enter the false church but was also thrust aside. I then saw the angels preparing a chalice, of the shape of the Chalice of the Last Supper, which passed into the tower entered by the virgin. I also saw a lower tower or building appear, with many doors, through which I saw crowds of people passing, among them figures like Abraham and the Children of Israel. I think this had reference to the slavery in Egypt. I saw a round terraced tower arise, which also had reference to Egypt. This was thrust back and made to stand crooked. I also saw an Egyptian temple arise, like the one on the ceiling of which I had seen the Egyptian priests, idolaters, fastening the image of a winged virgin after receiving from Elijah' messenger communications of a prophetic vision of the Blessed Virgin. I will speak of his vision later; it was seen by the prophet on Mount Carmel. This temple, too, was thrust back and made to stand crooked.

I then saw between the choirs of angels, to the right of the holy tower, a branch which put forth buds, making a whole ancestral tree of little male and female figures holding each other's hands. This family tree ended with the appearance of a little crib with a little child in it. The crib was of the same shape as the one I had seen exposed in the temple of the Three Kings. [35] Then I saw a beautiful great church appear.The way in which all these pictures were united with each other and yet melted one into the other was very wonderful. The whole vision was indescribably rich and full of significance. Even the hateful, evil, false appearances of towers, chalices, and churches, which were thrust aside, were made to assist in the unfolding of the scheme of salvation.[When recounting these scattered visions, she came back again and again to the unspeakable joy of the angels. There was no real conclusion to these fragmentary visions, which seem to have been a series of symbolic pictures of the history of our salvation. She added: First of all I saw the emblems of the work of redemption among the choirs of angels, and then a series of pictures from Adam down to the Babylonian captivity.'] I saw something happening in Egypt very long ago which had a symbolic application to the Blessed Virgin. It must have been long before the days of Elijah. I also saw something in Egypt, in his lifetime, which I will tell later.

I saw a place in Egypt, much farther away from the Promised Land than On or Heliopolis, where on an island in the river an idol stood. This idol had a head which was something between that of a man and of an ox, with three horns, one in the middle of the forehead. The figure was hollow, and had openings in its body in which sacrifices were burnt as in an oven. Its feet were like claws, and in one hand it held a plant like a lily which grows out of the water and opens and shuts with the sun. In the other hand the idol held a plant like ears of corn with quite thick grains; I think it grows out of the water too, but am not quite sure of this. After a great victory a temple had been built in honor of this idol, which was now to be consecrated, and all preparations had been made for the sacrifice. But as the people were on their way to the island I saw something wonderful happen. Near the idol I saw a dark and dreadful apparition, and then I saw a great angel descending upon it from heaven like the one who appeared to St. John the Evangelist in the Apocalypse. This angel struck the dark figure in the back with his staff. The demon, writhing, was forced to speak out of the mouth of the idol, warning the people to consecrate the temple, not in honor of it but of a virgin who was to appear upon earth and to whom thanks for their victory were due. I cannot remember the exact circumstances, but I saw that the people set up in the new temple the image of a winged virgin, which was fixed to the wall. The virgin as she flew was bending down over a little ship in which lay a child in swaddling clothes. The ship stood on a little pillar, with a leafy top like a tree. One of her outstretched hands had a balance hanging from it, and I saw two figures beside her on the wall who were putting something into each scale of the balance. The little ship in which the child lay was like that in which Moses lay on the Nile, but it was uncovered, whereas Moses' one was entirely closed in except for a small opening at the top.

I saw the whole Promised Land withered and parched with drought, and I saw Elijah ascending Mount Carmel with two servants to beseech God to give rain. First they climbed over a high ridge, then up steps of rock to a terrace, then up many more rock steps, and so reached a great open space with a hill of rocks in its midst in which was a cave. Elijah climbed up steps to the top of this rocky hill. He left the servants at the edge of the open space and bade one of them look towards the Sea of Galilee, which had, however, a terrible aspect, for it was quite dried up and was full of hollows and caverns with rotting bodies of animals in the swampy ground. Elijah crouched down on the ground with his head sunk between his knees, and covering himself in his mantle prayed fervently to God and cried seven times to his servant to know whether he did not see a cloud rising out of the lake. At his seventh call I saw the cloud rise up, and saw the servant announce it to Elijah, who sent him to King Ahab. I saw a white eddy form itself in the middle of the lake; out of this eddy rose a little black cloud like a fist, which opened and spread itself out. In this little cloud I saw from the first a little shining figure like a virgin. I saw, too, that Elijah perceived this figure in the spreading cloud. The head of this virgin was encircled with rays; she stretched her arms out in the form of a cross, and had a triumphal wreath hanging from one hand. Her long robe seemed to be tied beneath her feet. She appeared as if hovering above the whole Promised Land in the cloud as it spread ever farther. I saw how this cloud divided into different parts and fell in eddying showers of crystal dew on certain holy and consecrated places inhabited by devout men and those who were praying for salvation. I saw these showers edged with the colors of the rainbow and the blessing taking shape in their midst like a pearl in its shell. It was explained to me that this was a symbolic picture, and that the favored places watered by the showers from the cloud were in fact those which had had their share in contributing to the coming of the Blessed Virgin.

I saw as well a prophetic vision of how Elijah, while the cloud was rising, discerned four mysteries relating to the Blessed Virgin. Unfortunately I have forgotten the details, and much else, as a result of disturbances and interruptions. Elijah discerned in the cloud, among other things, that Mary would be born in the seventh age of the world; hence his sevenfold call to his servant. He saw, too, from what family she was to come. On one side of the country he saw a low but very broad family tree, and on the other a very high one, broad at the base but tapering towards its top, which bent down into the first tree. He understood all this, and discerned in this way four mysteries relating to the future mother of the Savior. Hereupon I had a vision of how Elijah enlarged the cave above which he had prayed and how he made the Sons of the Prophets into a more regular organization. Some of these were always praying in this cave for the coming of the Blessed Virgin and paying her honor in anticipation of her future birth. I saw that this devotion to the Blessed Virgin continued here uninterrupted, that the Essenes carried it on during Mary's earthly life, and that subsequently it was perpetuated up to our time by hermits and the Carmelite Order which eventually succeeded them. [36]

[When Catherine Emmerich communicated later her visions of the time of John the Baptist, she saw the same vision of Elijah with reference to the state of the country and of mankind which prevailed in St. John's time. We therefore reproduce from this what follows as explanatory of what she has said above.]

I saw a great commotion in the Temple at Jerusalem, much consultation, much writing with reed pens, and messengers being sent about the country. Rain was besought from God with cries and supplications, and search was made everywhere for Elijah. I saw Elijah receiving food and drink in the wilderness from the angel, who held a vessel like a little shining barrel with white and red diagonal stripes. I saw all Elijah' dealings with Ahab, the sacrifice on Mount Carmel, the slaughter of the priests of Baal, Elijah' prayer for rain and the gathering of the clouds. I saw as well as the dryness of the earth, a great dryness and failing of good fruit amongst men. I saw that by his prayer Elijah called forth the blessing of which the cloud was the form, and that he guided and distributed its showers in accordance with inner visions; otherwise it might perhaps have become a destroying deluge. He asked his servant seven times for news of the cloud; this signifies the seven generations or ages of the world which must go by before the real blessing (of which this cloud of blessing was but a symbol) took root in Israel. Elijah himself saw in the ascending cloud an image of the Blessed Virgin, and discerned several mysteries relating to her birth and descent. [37]I saw that Elijah' prayer called down the blessing at first in the form of dew. Layers of cloud sank down which formed themselves into eddies with rainbow edges; these finally dissolved into falling drops. I saw therein an association with the manna in the desert, but the manna lay thick and crisp on the ground in the morning like fleeces, and could be rolled up and taken away. I saw this whirling eddy of dew floating along the banks of the Jordan, but dropping down only at certain notable places, not everywhere. In particular at Ainon, opposite Salem, and at the places where baptisms took place later, I clearly saw these shining eddies floating downwards. I asked what the colored edges of these dew eddies portended, and was given as an explanation the example of the mother-of-pearl shells in the sea which also bore edges of shining color; they expose themselves to the sun, absorbing the light and cleansing it of color until the pure white pearls take form in their centers. It was shown to me, too, that this dew and the rain that followed it was something much more than the ordinary refreshing of the earth by moisture. I was given clearly to understand that, without this dew, the coming of the Blessed Virgin would have been delayed by more than a hundred years; whereas, after this softening and blessing of the earth, nourishment and refreshment were imparted to the human beings who lived on the fruits of the soil; the blessing communicated itself to their bodies and ennobled them. This fructifying dew was associated with the coming of the Messiah, for I saw its rays penetrating generation after generation until they reached the substance of the body of the Blessed Virgin. I cannot describe this. Sometimes, on the colored edge that I have mentioned I saw emerge one or more pearls having the likeness of a human figure which disappeared in a breath to unite itself with others of these pearls. The picture of the pearl shell was a symbol of Mary and Jesus.I saw, too, that just as the earth and mankind were parched and panting for rain, so, at a later time, was the spirit of man thirsting for the baptism of John; so that the whole picture was not only a prophecy of the coming of the Blessed Virgin, but also of the state of the people at the time of the Baptist. In the first instance there was the alarm of the people, their longing for rain and their search for Elijah, followed, nevertheless, by their persecution of him; and later there was a like yearning of the people for baptism and penance, and again the lack of comprehension by the synagogue and its messages to John.

In Egypt I saw the message of salvation being announced in the following manner. I saw that by God's command Elijah sent messages to summon devout families scattered about in three regions to the east, north, and south. For this purpose he sent forth three of the sons of the prophets, but only after asking a sign from God that he had decided rightly, for it was a difficult and dangerous mission, and he had to choose messengers whose prudence would lessen the danger of their being murdered. One traveled northwards, one eastwards, and the third southwards. This last one had to pass through a considerable part of Egyptian territory, where the Israelites were in particular danger of being killed. This messenger took the way followed by the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt. I think, too, that he passed near On, where the Child Jesus took refuge. I saw him come to an idolatrous temple on a great plain; in this temple, which was surrounded by a meadow and by many other buildings, they adored a living bull. They had an image of a bull and many other idols in their temple; their sacrifices were gruesome and they slaughtered deformed children. They seized the son of the prophet and brought him before the priests. Fortunately, the latter were very inquisitive; otherwise, they might easily have murdered him. They questioned him as to whence he came and what brought him there, and he answered without hesitation, telling them how a virgin would be born from whom the salvation of the world was to come, and that then all their idols would fall in pieces. [38]They were amazed at his announcement, seemed greatly moved thereby, and let him go unharmed. I saw them taking counsel together thereafter, and having the image of a virgin constructed and fixed in the middle of the temple roof. This image [See Figure 4], represented as floating downwards at full length, had a headdress like the idols, so many of which lie in rows there, half like a woman, half like a lion. On the top of the head was something like a little high vessel or bushel of fruit; the elbows were close to the body, while the forearms were held out in a gesture as it were of withdrawal and repulse. In her hands were ears of corn. She had three breasts; a large one in the middle, with two smaller ones on each side of it but lower down. The lower part of the body was clothed in a long dress, and from the feet, which were comparatively small and pointed, hung tassels or something of the sort. She had as it were wings on her arms both above and below the elbows; these wings seemed to be made of delicate feathers spreading out on each side like rays and intertwined with each other. Feathers ran crosswise down both thighs and over the middle of the body to the feet. The dress had no folds. They venerated this image and sacrificed to it, begging it not to destroy their God Apis and their other gods. At the same time they continued their gruesome idolatry as before, except that they always began by invoking this virgin. In making this image they had, I believe, followed the indications given them by the son of the prophet in his account of the vision which Elijah had seen.

I saw also that by the great mercy of God it was announced to certain God-fearing heathens that the Messiah was to be born from a virgin in Judea. The ancestors of the three holy kings, the star-worshippers of Chaldea, received this message by the appearance of a picture in a star or in the sky, by which they made prophecies. I saw traces of these prophetic images of the Blessed Virgin in the pictures in their temple, which I have described in my account of Jesus' visit to them after the raising of Lazarus in the last quarter of the third year of His ministry. [On the feast of the Archangel Michael in September 1821, Catherine Emmerich recounted, amongst other fragments of a vision of the holy angels, the following fragment of the story of Tobias, whom she had seen with the Archangel Raphael as his guide.]I saw many things from the life of Tobias, which is an allegory of the history of the coming of salvation in Israel; not an imaginative allegory, but one which actually happened and was lived. It was shown to me that Sarah, the wife of the young Tobias, was a prototype of St. Anne. I will relate as much as I can remember of the many things that happened, but shall not be able to reproduce them in their right order. The elder Tobias was an emblem of the God-fearing branch of the Jewish race, those who were hoping for the Messiah. The swallow, the messenger of spring, indicated the near approach of salvation. The blindness of old Tobias signified that he was to beget no more children, and was to devote himself entirely to prayer and meditation; it signified also the faithful, though dim, longing and waiting for the light of salvation and the uncertainty as to whence it was to come. Tobias' quarrelsome wife represented the empty and harassing forms into which the Pharisees had converted the Law. The kid which she had brought home in lieu of wages had, as Tobias warned her, really been stolen, and had for that reason been handed on to her in return for very little. Tobias knew the people concerned and all about it, but his wife only mocked him. This mockery also indicated the contempt of the Pharisees and formalists for the devout Jews and Essenes and the relationship between the two groups, but I cannot now remember how this was.

The Archangel Raphael was not telling an untruth when he said that he was Azarias, the son of Ananias, for the general meaning of these words is: The help of the Lord out of the cloud of the Lord'. [40] This angel, the companion of young Tobias, represented God's watchfulness over the Blessed Virgin's descent through her ancestors and His preservation and guidance of the Blessing through the generations which preceded her conception. In the prayer of the Elder Tobias, and of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel (I saw both these prayers being brought by the angels at one and the same time before the Throne of God and there granted), I recognized the supplications of the God-fearing Israelites and of the Daughters of Sion for the coming of salvation, as well as the simultaneous prayers of Joachim and Anna, separated from each other, for the promised offspring. The blindness of the elder Tobias and his wife's mockery of him also symbolized Joachim's childlessness and the rejection of his sacrifice at the Temple. The seven husbands of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, who were destroyed by Satan, came to their end through sensuality; for Sarah had made a vow to give herself only to a chaste and God-fearing man. These seven men symbolized those whose entry into Jesus' ancestry according to the flesh would have hindered the coming of the Blessed Virgin, and thus the advent of salvation. There was also a reference to certain unblessed periods in the history of salvation and to the suitors whom Anna had to reject that she might be united to Joachim, the father of Mary. The maidservant's reviling of Sarah ( Tob. 3.7) symbolized the reviling by the heathen and by the godless and unbelieving among the Jews against the expectation of the Messiah, for whose coming all God-fearing Jews were, like Sarah, inspired to pray with ever-increasing fervor. It was also an image of the reviling of Anna by her maidservant, whereafter that holy mother prayed with such fervor that her prayer was granted. The fish which was about to swallow young Tobias symbolized the powers of darkness, heathendom, and sin striving against the coming of salvation, and also Anna's long barrenness. The killing of the fish, the removal of its heart, liver, and gall, and the burning of this by Tobias and Sarah to make smoke--all these symbolized the victory over the demon of fleshly lusts who had strangled Sarah's seven husbands, as well as the good works and continence of Joachim and Anna, by which they had obtained the blessing of holy fruitfulness. I also saw therein a deep significance relating to the Blessed Sacrament, but can no longer explain this. The gall of the fish, which restored the sight of Tobias' father, symbolized the bitterness of the suffering through which the chosen ones among the Jews came to know and share in salvation; it indicated also the entry of the light into the darkness brought about by Jesus' bitter sufferings from His birth onwards.

I received many explanations of this kind, and saw many details of the history of Tobias. I think the descendants of young Tobias were among the ancestors of Joachim and Anna. The elder Tobias had other children who were not godly. Sarah had three daughters and four sons. Her first child was a daughter. The elder Tobias lived to see his grandchildren. I saw now that the angel touched or anointed Joachim's forehead with the tip of his thumb and forefinger, and that he gave him a shining morsel to eat and a luminous liquid to drink from a gleaming little chalice which he held between two fingers. It was of the shape of the chalice at the Last Supper, but without a foot. It seemed to me, too, that this food which he put in his mouth took the form of a little shining ear of corn and a little shining cluster of grapes, and I understood that thereafter every impurity and every sinful desire left Joachim. Thereupon I saw that the angel imparted to Joachim the highest and holiest fruit of the blessing given by God to Abraham, and culminating, through Joseph, in the holy thing within the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God among His people. He gave Joachim this blessing in the same form as I had been shown before, except that while the angel of benediction gave Abraham the blessing from himself, out of his bosom as it were, he seemed to give it to Joachim from out of the Holy of Holies. [30]

The blessing of Abraham was as it were the beginning of God's grace given in blessing to the father of His future people so that from him might proceed the stones for the building of His Temple. But when Joachim received the blessing, it was as though the angel were taking the holy benediction from the tabernacle of this Temple and delivering it to a priest, in order that from him might be formed the holy vessel in which the Word was to be made Flesh. All this cannot be expressed in words, for I speak of that Holy of Holies inviolate, yet violated in man when he sinned and fell. From my earliest youth I have very often, in my visions from the Old Testament, seen into the Ark of the Covenant, and have always had the impression of a complete church, but more solemn and awe-inspiring. I saw therein not only the Tables of the Law as the written Word of God, but also a sacramental presence of the Living God, [31] like the roots of the wine and wheat and of the flesh and blood of the future sacrifice of our redemption.

The grace given by this blessed presence produced, with the cooperation of God-fearing men under the Law, that holy tree whose final blossoming was the pure flower in which the Word became flesh and God became Man; thus, giving us, in the New Covenant, His humanity and His divinity by instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, without which we cannot attain eternal life. I have never known the Ark of the Covenant without the sacramental presence of God except when it had fallen into the hands of the enemy, at which times the holy presence was safe in the hands of the high priest or of one of the prophets. When only the Tables of the Law were present in the Ark of the Covenant, without the holy treasure, it seemed to me like the Temple of the Samaritans on Mount Garizim, or like a church of our own time which is without the Blessed Sacrament and, instead of the Tables of the Law written by God's hand, contains only the books of Holy Scripture imperfectly understood by mankind.In the Ark of the Covenant made by Moses, which stood in the Temple and Tabernacle of Solomon, I saw this most Holy Thing of the Old Covenant in the form of a shining circle crossed by two smaller rays of light intersecting each other; but now, when the angel imparted the blessing to Joachim, I saw this blessing being given to him in the form of something shining, like a shining seed or bean in shape, which he laid in the open breast of Joachim's garment. When the blessing was imparted to Abraham, I saw grace being conveyed to him in the same manner, and its virtue and efficacy remaining with him in the degree ordained by God until he handed it over to his firstborn son Isaac, from whom it passed to Jacob and from him, through the angel, to Joseph, and from Joseph and his wife, with increased virtue, to the Ark of the Covenant. I perceived that the angel bound Joachim to secrecy, and I understood why it was that later Zechariah, the Baptist's father, had become dumb after he had received the blessing and the promise of Elizabeth's fruitfulness from the Angel Gabriel at the Altar of Incense. [ St. Luke 1.9-22.] It was revealed to me, that with this blessing Joachim received the highest fruit and the true fulfillment of Abraham's blessing, namely the blessing for the immaculate conception of the most Holy Virgin who was to bruise the head of the serpent. The angel then led Joachim back into the Holy Place and disappeared, upon which Joachim sank to the ground in an ecstasy as though paralyzed. The priests who re-entered the Holy Place found him radiant with joy. They lifted him up reverently, and placed him outside in a seat generally used only by priests. Here they washed his face, held some strong-smelling substance to his nostrils, gave him to drink and in general treated him as one does someone who has fainted. When he had recovered, he looked young and strong, and was beaming with joy.

After seeing at night in my sleep the fearful picture of the murdered child on my right hand, I turned over in horror in my bed, but saw it again on my left hand. I begged God most earnestly to free me from this dreadful sight. I woke up and heard the clock strike. My heavenly Bridegroom said to me, pointing round Him as He spoke: See far more evil that befalls Me every day at the hands of many throughout the whole world.' And as I looked about me into the distance, many things came before my soul which were indeed still more dreadful than that sacrifice of children; for I saw Jesus Himself cruelly sacrificed on the Altar by unworthy and sinful celebrations of the Holy Mysteries. I saw how the blessed Host lay on the altar before unworthy degenerate priests like a living Child Jesus, whom they cut and terribly mutilated with the paten. Their sacrifice, though an efficacious celebration of the Holy Mysteries, appeared like a cruel murder. [49]The same cruelty was shown to me in the heartless treatment of the members of Christ, His followers, and God's adopted children. I saw at the present time countless good, unhappy men being everywhere oppressed, tormented, and persecuted; and I always saw that it was Jesus who suffered this ill-treatment. The times are terrible; a refuge is no longer anywhere to be found; a dense cloud of sin lies over the whole world, and I see men giving way to the worst crimes with complete indifference and unconcern. I saw all this in many visions while my soul was being led through many lands over the whole earth. At last I came back to the visions of the Feast of Mary's Conception.

I am quite unable to tell in what a wonderful way I journeyed last night in dream. I was in the most different parts of the world and in the most different ages, and very often saw the Feast of Mary's Conception being celebrated in the most different places. I was in Ephesus, and saw this feast being celebrated in the house of the Mother of God, which was still standing there as a church. It must have been at a very early time, for I saw the Way of the Cross set up by Mary herself still in perfect preservation. [The second Way of the Cross was set up in Jerusalem and the third in Rome.]The Greeks kept this feast long before the schism. I still remember something of this, but am not quite sure what led up to it. I saw how a saint, Sabbas, I think, had a vision relating to the Immaculate Conception. He saw the picture of the Blessed Virgin on the globe, crushing the head of the serpent under her feet, and recognized that the Blessed Virgin alone was conceived unwounded and unstained by the serpent. [50] I saw, too, that one of the Greek churches or one of the Greek bishops refused to accept this truth unless the picture came to them across the sea. Then I saw the appearance of the picture float over the sea to their church and appear on the altar, whereupon they began to keep the feast. That church possessed a life-size picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke just as she was in her earthly life, in a white robe and veil. (I have an idea that this picture had been sent from Rome, where they have only a half-length portrait.) They had placed the picture above the altar in the place where the vision of the Immaculate Conception had appeared. I think it was in Constantinople, or perhaps I have seen it venerated there in earlier times.

I was in England, too, and saw the feast being introduced and celebrated there in olden times. In this connection I saw the day before yesterday, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, the following miracle. I saw an abbot, coming from England, in great danger in a ship in a storm. They prayed very fervently for the protection of the Mother of God, and I saw an apparition of the holy bishop Nicholas of Myra floating over the sea to the ship and telling the abbot that he had been sent by Mary to announce to him that he was to cause the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to be kept in England on December 8 ^th, and that then the ship would arrive safely. In reply to the abbot's question as to what prayers should be used for this feast, he answered, the same as those for Mary's nativity. The name of Anselm [51] was also associated with the introduction of this feast, but I have forgotten the details.

I also saw the introduction of this feast into France, and how St. Bernard wrote in opposition to it because its introduction had not come from Rome. [52] All that has so far been recorded of the blessing given to Joachim and Anna is compiled from visions and reminiscences of Catherine Emmerich during the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 ^th. She explained, however, on that day in the year 1821 that the meeting of Joachim and Anna under the Golden Gate did not occur in December but in the autumn, at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (which lasted from the 15 ^th to 23 ^rd of the month Tisri, i.e. in September or October). [53] Thus she saw Joachim building tabernacles with his shepherds (see p. 22 ) before going to the Temple, and Anna receiving the promise of fruitfulness while she was praying under a tree which formed a tabernacle. In the previous year, 1820, she had, however, stated that she remembered Joachim having gone up to Jerusalem with his offerings on the occasion of a dedication festival. This cannot be the usual Jewish dedication feast in the winter (the 25 ^th day of the month, Kislev), but must doubtless be a memorial festival of Solomon's dedication of the Temple. According to Catherine Emmerich's daily accounts of the three years of Jesus' ministry, Our Lord was in Aruma (a few hours' distant from Salem) at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles in the second year of His ministry, and taught there about the approaching destruction of the Temple.

This feast is, it is true, not mentioned in the works about Jewish antiquities which we commonly consult, but its existence cannot, I think, be doubted, apart from Catherine Emmerich's statements, if it is remembered that Solomon celebrated the consecration of his Temple in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles (3 Kings 8.2-66, and 2 Chronicles 7.10), and that the Masora on 3 Kings 8.2 and 54 appoints the account of the consecration of Solomon's Temple as festival lessons for the second and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Although Catherine Emmerich saw the meeting of Joachim and Anna happening at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles, and thus two months earlier than the Church's celebration of Mary's conception, it was always on the occasion of that feast on December 8 ^th that she was impelled to communicate visions about the Blessed Virgin's conception. She said, too, that it was on that day, not at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the autumn, that the remembrance of this grace-bringing event was already being celebrated by the three holy kings when Christ visited them in Arabia after the raising of Lazarus.

Here end the additional communications by Catherine Emmerich about the conception of Mary: the story of the Blessed Virgin's life is now resumed. I had a vision of the creation of Mary's most holy soul and of its being united to her most pure body. In the glory by which the Most Holy Trinity is usually represented in my visions I saw a movement like a great shining mountain, and yet also like a human figure; and I saw something rise out of the midst of this figure towards its mouth and go forth from it like a shining brightness. Then I saw this brightness standing separate before the Face of God, turning and shaping itself-- or rather being shaped, for I saw that while this brightness took human form, yet it was by the Will of God that it received a form so unspeakably beautiful. I saw, too, that God showed the beauty of this soul to the angels, and that they had unspeakable joy in its beauty. I am unable to describe in words all that I saw and understood.

When seventeen weeks and five days after the conception of the Blessed Virgin had gone by (that is to say, five days before Anna's pregnancy was half accomplished), I saw the Blessed Virgin's holy mother lying asleep in her bed in her house near Nazareth. Then there came a shining light above her, and a ray from this light fell upon the middle of her side, and the light passed into her in the shape of a little shining human figure. In the same instant I saw the Blessed Virgin's holy mother raise herself on her couch surrounded by light. She was in ecstasy, and had a vision of her womb opening like a tabernacle to enclose a shining little virgin from whom man's whole salvation was to spring. I saw that this was the instant in which for the first time the child moved within her. Anna then rose from her couch, dressed herself, and announced her joy to the holy Joachim. They both thanked God, and I saw them praying under the tree in the garden where the angel had comforted Anna. It was made known to me that the Blessed Virgin's soul was united to her body five days earlier than with other children, and that her birth was twelve days earlier. Several days before the Blessed Virgin's birth Anna had told Joachim that the time was approaching for her to be delivered. She sent messengers to Sephoris, where her younger sister Maraha lived; to the widow Enue (sister of Elizabeth) in the valley of Zabulon; and to her niece Mary Salome at Bethsaida, asking these three women to come to her. I saw them on their journeys. The widow Enue had a serving lad with her; the other two women were accompanied by their husbands who, however, went back on approaching Nazareth. I saw that on the day before Anna was delivered Joachim sent his many menservants out to the herds, and among Anna's new maidservants he kept in the house only those who were needed. He, too, went out into his nearest pasture. I saw that Anna's firstborn daughter, Mary Heli, looked after the house. She was then about nineteen years old and was married to Cleophas, one of Joachim's chief shepherds, by whom she had a little daughter, Mary Cleophas, now about four years old. After praying, Joachim chose out his finest lambs, kids, and cattle, sending shepherds to take them to the Temple as a thank-offering. He did not return home until nightfall.

I saw the three cousins arriving at Anna's house in the evening. They went to her in her room behind the hearth and embraced her. After Anna had told them that the time was near for her to be delivered, they stood up and sang a hymn together: Praise the Lord God; He has shown mercy to His people, and has redeemed Israel, and has fulfilled the promise which He gave to Adam in Paradise that the seed of the woman should crush the head of the serpent,' and so on. I can no longer recite it all by heart. Anna prayed as though in ecstasy. She introduced into the hymn all the prophetic symbols of Mary. She said: The seed given by God to Abraham has ripened in me.' She spoke of the promise to Sarah of Isaac's birth and said: The blossoming of Aaron's rod is perfected in me.' At that moment I saw her as though suffused with light; I saw the room full of radiance, and Jacob's ladder appearing above it. The women were overcome with astonishment and joy, and I think that they also saw the vision. When the prayer of welcome was over, the travelers were refreshed with a slight meal of bread and fruit, and water mixed with balsam. They ate and drank standing up, and then lay down till midnight to rest from their journey. Anna did not go to bed, but prayed, and at midnight woke the other women to pray with her. They followed her to her praying-place behind a curtain. Anna opened the doors of a little cupboard in the wall which contained a casket with holy objects. On each side were lights--perhaps lamps, but I am not sure. They had to be pushed up in their holders, and then little bits of shavings put underneath to prevent them from sinking down. After this the lights were lit. There was a cushioned stool at the foot of this sort of little altar. The casket contained some of Sarah's hair (Anna had a great veneration for her), some of Joseph's bones (brought by Moses from Egypt), and something belonging to Tobias, I think a relic of his clothing; also the little shining, white, pear-shaped goblet from which Abraham had drunk when blessed by the angel. (This had been given to Joachim from the Ark of the Covenant when he was blessed in the Temple. I now know that this blessing took the form of wine and bread and was a strengthening and sacramental food.)

Anna knelt before the little cupboard with one of the women on each side and the third behind her. She recited another hymn; I think it mentioned the burning bush of Moses. Then I saw the room filled with supernatural light which became more intense as it wove itself round Anna. The women sank to the ground as though stunned. The light round Anna took the exact form of the burning bush of Moses on Horeb, and I could no longer see her. The whole flame streamed inwards; and then I suddenly saw that Anna received the shining child Mary in her hands, wrapped her in her mantle, pressed her to her heart, and laid her naked on the stool in front of the holy relics, still continuing her prayer. Then I heard the child cry, and saw that Anna brought out wrappings from under the great veil which enveloped her. She wrapped the child first in gray and then in red swaddling bands up to her arms; her breast, arms, and head were bare. The appearance of the burning bush around Anna had now vanished.The women stood up and received the newborn child in their arms with great astonishment. They shed tears of joy. They all joined in a hymn of praise, and Anna lifted her child up on high as though making an offering. I saw at that moment the room full of light, and beheld several angels singing Gloria and Alleluia. I heard all their words. They announced that on the twentieth day the child was to be called Mary.

Anna now went into her bedroom and lay down on her couch. The women in the meantime unwrapped the child, bathed it, and wrapped it up again, and then laid it beside its mother. There was a little woven wicker basket which could be fastened beside the bed or against the wall or at the foot of the bed, whichever was wanted, so that the child could always have its place near its mother and yet separate.The women now called Joachim, the father. He came to Anna's couch and knelt down weeping, his tears falling on the child; then he lifted it up in his arms and uttered his song of praise, like Zechariah at John's birth. He spoke in this hymn of the holy seed, implanted by God in Abraham, which had continued amongst God's people by means of the covenant ratified by circumcision, but had now reached its highest blossoming in this child and was, in the flesh, completed. I also heard how this song of praise declared that now was fulfilled the word of the prophet: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse.' He said, too, in great humility and devoutness, that he would now gladly die. It was only then that I noticed that Mary Heli, Anna's elder daughter, did not have sight of the child until later. Although she had become the mother of Mary Cleophas several years before, she was not present at the Blessed Virgin's birth--perhaps because, according to Jewish rules, it was not considered seemly for a daughter to be with her mother at such a time.Next morning I saw the serving men and maids and many people from nearby gathered round the house. They were allowed to enter in groups, and the child was shown by the women to them all. Many were greatly moved, and some led better lives thereafter. The neighbors had come because they had seen in the night a glowing light above the house, and because the birth of Anna's child after long unfruitfulness was looked upon as a great favor from heaven.

In the moment when the newborn child lay in the arms of her holy mother Anna, I saw that at the same time the child was presented in heaven in the sight of the Most Holy Trinity, and greeted with unspeakable joy by all the heavenly host. Then I understood, that there was made known to her in a supernatural manner her whole future with all her joys and sorrows. Mary was taught infinite mysteries, and yet was and remained a child. This knowledge of hers we cannot understand, because our knowledge grows on the tree of good and evil. She knew everything in the same way as a child knows its mother's breast and that it is to drink from it. As the vision faded in which I saw the child Mary being thus taught in heaven through grace, I heard her weep for the first time. I often see pictures like this, but for me they are inexpressible and probably for most people not quite comprehensible; therefore I do not relate them.

In the moment of Mary's birth I saw the tidings brought to the patriarchs in limbo. I saw them all, especially Adam and Eve, filled with inexpressible joy at the fulfillment of the promise given in Paradise. I also perceived that the patriarchs advanced in their state of grace, that the place of their sojourn became brighter and more spacious, and that it was given to them to have more influence on earth. It was as if all their labor and penance, all the struggling, crying and yearning of their lives had matured into its destined fruit. At the time of Mary's birth I saw a great and joyful agitation in nature, in the animal world, in the hearts of all good men, and I heard the sound of sweet singing. Sinners, however, were overwhelmed by fear and sorrow. I saw, specially near Nazareth, but also in the rest of the Promised Land, many who were possessed break out at that time into violent ravings. They were hurled from side to side with loud cries, and the devils shrieked from within them, We must surrender, we must go out!'


In Jerusalem I saw how the aged priest Simeon, who lived in the Temple, was startled at the moment of Mary's birth by loud shrieks coming from the madmen and those possessed of the devil, of whom many were shut up in a building in one of the streets on the Temple Hill. Simeon lived near them and was partly responsible for looking after them. About midnight I saw him go to the open space before the house of those possessed and inquire of one of them who lived nearest as to the cause of the loud cries with which everyone had been roused from their sleep. The man cried still louder that he must go out. Simeon opened the door; the possessed one rushed out, and Satan cried from within him: I must go out. We must all go out! A virgin has been born! There are so many angels on earth who torment us! We must now go out and may nevermore enter into men!' I saw Simeon praying fervently; the wretched man was flung back and forth on the open space, and I saw the devil go out of him. It gave me great pleasure to see the aged Simeon. I also saw the prophetess Anna and Noemi wakened and informed by visions of the birth of a chosen child. [Noemi was the sister of Lazarus' mother; she was in the Temple and later became Mary's teacher.] They met and told each other of what they had seen. I think they knew Anna, the Blessed Virgin's mother. In the night of Mary's birth I saw in a city of the Chaldeans that five sibyls, or virgin prophetesses, were granted visions. I saw them hastening to the priests, who then made known in many places that these prophetesses had seen that a virgin had been born and that many gods had come down to earth to greet her, while other spirits fled before her lamenting. I saw, too, that the picture of a Virgin holding scales evenly balanced with corn and grapes, which the watchers of the stars had seen since Mary's conception, was no longer visible to them. In the hour of Mary's birth it seemed to move out of the star, in which it left a gap, and to sink down and away from it in one particular direction. They now made and set up in their temple the great idol which I saw there in my visions of the life of Jesus; it had some connection with the Blessed Virgin. [54]

Later they set up in their temple another symbolic image of the Blessed Virgin, the closed garden. I saw live animals lying in this temple and being cared for. I am not sure whether they were dogs. They were fed with the flesh of other animals. Within the temple of the three holy kings I had till now always seen a wonderful illumination at night. It was as if one looked up into a starry sky set with all the constellations. They used to make alterations in this artificial sky in their temple according to the visions they saw in the heavens. Thus after the birth of Mary the illumination which had previously come from outside now came from within. When the Blessed Virgin was born, I saw that image of a winged woman with a balance in her hand (bending down over a child in a little ship lying in the top of a tree) cast into the sea from its place in the temple on an island in a river. I had seen the image placed there long ago, before the time of Elijah, in accordance with the forced utterance of an idol. The little tree on which lay the child in the ship, remained in its place. A church was built there later. At the moment of Mary's birth I saw falling from the temple ceiling pieces of that winged female figure with three breasts which I had seen fixed to the ceiling of a temple when a messenger from Elijah announced his master's prophecy of a coming Virgin. The face, the three breasts, and the lower part of the body all fell down and were broken to pieces. The bushel-shaped crown, the arms with the ears of corn, the upper part of the body and the wings did not fall down.

On the 9 ^th of September, the day after Mary's birth, I saw in the house several other relations from the neighborhood. I heard many names but have forgotten them again. I also saw many of Joachim's menservants arriving from the more distant pastures. All were shown the newborn child, and all were filled with great joy. The meal in the house was accompanied by much rejoicing. On the 10 ^th and 11 ^th of September I again saw many visiting the child Mary. Among them were relations of Joachim's from the valley of Zabulon. On these occasions the child was brought into the front part of the house in its little cradle and put on a high stand (like a sawing bench) to be shown to the people. The child was wrapped in red, covered with transparent white stuff, up to its bare arms, and had a transparent little veil round its neck. The cradle was covered with red and white stuff. I saw Mary Cleophas (the two- or three-year old child of Anna's elder daughter and of Cleophas) playing with the child Mary and caressing her. Mary Cleophas was a fat, sturdy child, and wore a sleeveless white dress, with a red hem hung with red buttons like tiny apples. Round her bare arms she wore little white wreaths, which seemed to be made of feathers, silk, or wool.  [September 22 ^nd-23 ^rd] Today I saw great preparations for a feast in Anna's house. All the furniture was moved aside, and in the front part of the house the dividing screens had been taken away to make one large hall instead of a number of small rooms. Along each side of this hall I saw a long, low table set out for a meal with many things that I had not noticed before. Fragile vases with openwork tops like baskets stood on the table; they may have been for flowers. On a side-table I saw many little white sticks, apparently made of bone, and spoons shaped like deep shells, with handles ending in a ring. There were also little curved tubes, perhaps for sucking up liquid.


In the center of the hall, a kind of altar table had been set up, covered in red and white. On it lay a little trough-shaped basket-cradle, of red and white wickerwork, covered with a sky-blue cloth. Beside this altar stood a lectern draped in a cloth on which lay parchment prayer scrolls. Five priests from Nazareth stood before the altar, one of them wearing grander vestments than the others; Joachim stood near them. In the background near the altar were several men and women belonging to the families of Anna and Joachim, all in festal attire. I remember seeing Anna's sister Maraha from Sephoris, and Anna's elder daughter and others. Anna herself, though no longer in bed, remained in her room behind the hearth and did not appear at the ceremony. Enue, Elizabeth's sister, brought out the child Mary, wrapped to the arms in red swaddling clothes covered with transparent white stuff, and laid her in Joachim's arms. The priests approached the altar where the scrolls lay and prayed aloud. Two of them held up the train of the principal one. Joachim then laid the child in the hands of the high priest, who, lifting her up in offering as he prayed, laid her in the cradle on the altar. He then took a pair of scissors which, like our snuffers, had a little box at the end to hold what was cut off. With this he cut off three little tufts of hair from the child's head (one from each side and one from the top) and burnt them in a brazier. Then he took a vase of oil and anointed the child's five senses, touching with his thumb her ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and breast. He also wrote the name Mary on a parchment and laid it on the child's breast. She was then returned to Joachim, who gave her to Enue to be taken back to Anna. Hymns were sung and after that the meal began, but I saw no more.

[On the evening of September 7 ^th, the vigil of the Feast of Mary's Nativity, Catherine Emmerich was unwontedly-- as she said, supernaturally--gay, although she felt ill at the same time. She was in an unusually lively and confidential mood. She spoke of extraordinary joy in all nature because of Mary's approaching birth, and said that she felt as if a great joy was awaiting her next day, if only this did not turn to sorrow. [55] ] There is such jubilation in nature: I hear birds singing, I see lambs and kids frolicking, and where Anna's house once stood the doves are flying about in great flocks as if drunk with joy. Of the house and its surroundings nothing now remains; it is now a wilderness. I saw some pilgrims, holding long staffs and their garments girt about them, with cloths wrapped round their heads like caps. They are going through this part of the country on their way to Mount Carmel. A few hermits from Mount Carmel live here, and the pilgrims asked them in amazement what was the meaning of this joy in nature? They were told that it was ever thus in that country on the eve of Mary's birth, and that it was probably there that Anna's house had stood. A pilgrim who had passed that way before had, they said, told them that this was first noticed a long time ago by a devout man, and that this had led to the celebration of the feast of Mary's Nativity.

I now saw this institution of the feast myself. [56] Two hundred and fifty years after the death of the Blessed Virgin I saw a very devout man journeying through the Holy Land in order to seek out and venerate all the places connected with the life of Jesus upon earth. I saw that this holy man was given guidance from above, and often remained for several days in prayer and contemplation at different places, enjoying many visions and full of interior delight. He had for many years felt, in the night of the 7 ^th to the 8 ^th of September, a great joyfulness in nature and heard a lovely singing in the air; and at last, in answer to his earnest prayer, he was told by an angel in a dream that this was the birthnight of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He received this revelation on his journey to Mount Sinai or Horeb. It was told him at the same time that in a cave of the Prophet Elijah on that mountain was a walled-up chapel in honor of the Mother of the Messiah, and that he was to inform the hermits living there of both these things. Thereupon I saw him arriving at Mount Sinai. The place where the monastery now stands was already at that time inhabited by isolated hermits, and just as precipitous on the side facing the valley as it is now, when people have to be hoisted up by means of a pulley. I saw now that upon his announcement the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin was first celebrated here by the hermits on September 8 ^th about A.D. 250, and that its celebration spread later to the Universal Church. I saw, too, how he and the hermits looked for the cave of Elijah and the chapel in honor of the Blessed Virgin. These were, however, very difficult to find among the many caves of the Essenes and of other hermits. I saw many deserted gardens here and there near these caves, with magnificent fruit trees in them. After praying, the devout man was inspired to take a Jew with them when they visited these caves, and was told that they might recognize as the cave of Elijah the one that he was unable to enter. I saw thereupon how they sent an aged Jew into the caves, and how he felt himself thrust out of the narrow entrance of one of them, however much he tried to force his way in. In this way they recognized it as the cave of Elijah. They found in it a second cave, walled-up, which they opened; and this was the place where Elijah had prayed in veneration of the future mother of the Savior. The big, beautifully patterned stones which made the wall were used later for building the church. They also found in the cave many holy bones of patriarchs and prophets, as well as many woven screens and objects of earlier worship. All these were preserved in the church. I saw much of Mount Horeb on this occasion, but have forgotten it again. I still remember that the place where Moses saw the burning bush is called in the language of the place The Shadow of God', and that one may walk on it only with bare feet. I also saw a mountain there entirely of red sand, on which, however, very fine fruit trees grew.

After seeing at night in my sleep the fearful picture of the murdered child on my right hand, I turned over in horror in my bed, but saw it again on my left hand. I begged God most earnestly to free me from this dreadful sight. I woke up and heard the clock strike. My heavenly Bridegroom said to me, pointing round Him as He spoke: See far more evil that befalls Me every day at the hands of many throughout the whole world.' And as I looked about me into the distance, many things came before my soul which were indeed still more dreadful than that sacrifice of children; for I saw Jesus Himself cruelly sacrificed on the Altar by unworthy and sinful celebrations of the Holy Mysteries. I saw how the blessed Host lay on the altar before unworthy degenerate priests like a living Child Jesus, whom they cut and terribly mutilated with the paten. Their sacrifice, though an efficacious celebration of the Holy Mysteries, appeared like a cruel murder. [49] The same cruelty was shown to me in the heartless treatment of the members of Christ, His followers, and God's adopted children. I saw at the present time countless good, unhappy men being everywhere oppressed, tormented, and persecuted; and I always saw that it was Jesus who suffered this ill-treatment. The times are terrible; a refuge is no longer anywhere to be found; a dense cloud of sin lies over the whole world, and I see men giving way to the worst crimes with complete indifference and unconcern. I saw all this in many visions while my soul was being led through many lands over the whole earth. At last I came back to the visions of the Feast of Mary's Conception. I am quite unable to tell in what a wonderful way I journeyed last night in dream. I was in the most different parts of the world and in the most different ages, and very often saw the Feast of Mary's Conception being celebrated in the most different places. I was in Ephesus, and saw this feast being celebrated in the house of the Mother of God, which was still standing there as a church. It must have been at a very early time, for I saw the Way of the Cross set up by Mary herself still in perfect preservation. [The second Way of the Cross was set up in Jerusalem and the third in Rome.]

The Greeks kept this feast long before the schism. I still remember something of this, but am not quite sure what led up to it. I saw how a saint, Sabbas, I think, had a vision relating to the Immaculate Conception. He saw the picture of the Blessed Virgin on the globe, crushing the head of the serpent under her feet, and recognized that the Blessed Virgin alone was conceived unwounded and unstained by the serpent. [50] I saw, too, that one of the Greek churches or one of the Greek bishops refused to accept this truth unless the picture came to them across the sea. Then I saw the appearance of the picture float over the sea to their church and appear on the altar, whereupon they began to keep the feast. That church possessed a life-size picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke just as she was in her earthly life, in a white robe and veil. (I have an idea that this picture had been sent from Rome, where they have only a half-length portrait.) They had placed the picture above the altar in the place where the vision of the Immaculate Conception had appeared. I think it was in Constantinople, or perhaps I have seen it venerated there in earlier times. I was in England, too, and saw the feast being introduced and celebrated there in olden times. In this connection I saw the day before yesterday, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, the following miracle. I saw an abbot, coming from England, in great danger in a ship in a storm. They prayed very fervently for the protection of the Mother of God, and I saw an apparition of the holy bishop Nicholas of Myra floating over the sea to the ship and telling the abbot that he had been sent by Mary to announce to him that he was to cause the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to be kept in England on December 8 ^th, and that then the ship would arrive safely. In reply to the abbot's question as to what prayers should be used for this feast, he answered, the same as those for Mary's nativity. The name of Anselm [51] was also associated with the introduction of this feast, but I have forgotten the details.

I also saw the introduction of this feast into France, and how St. Bernard wrote in opposition to it because its introduction had not come from Rome. [52]  All that has so far been recorded of the blessing given to Joachim and Anna is compiled from visions and reminiscences of Catherine Emmerich during the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 ^th. She explained, however, on that day in the year 1821 that the meeting of Joachim and Anna under the Golden Gate did not occur in December but in the autumn, at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (which lasted from the 15 ^th to 23 ^rd of the month Tisri, i.e. in September or October). [53] Thus she saw Joachim building tabernacles with his shepherds (see p. 22 ) before going to the Temple, and Anna receiving the promise of fruitfulness while she was praying under a tree which formed a tabernacle. In the previous year, 1820, she had, however, stated that she remembered Joachim having gone up to Jerusalem with his offerings on the occasion of a dedication festival. This cannot be the usual Jewish dedication feast in the winter (the 25 ^th day of the month, Kislev), but must doubtless be a memorial festival of Solomon's dedication of the Temple. According to Catherine Emmerich's daily accounts of the three years of Jesus' ministry, Our Lord was in Aruma (a few hours' distant from Salem) at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles in the second year of His ministry, and taught there about the approaching destruction of the Temple.

This feast is, it is true, not mentioned in the works about Jewish antiquities which we commonly consult, but its existence cannot, I think, be doubted, apart from Catherine Emmerich's statements, if it is remembered that Solomon celebrated the consecration of his Temple in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles (3 Kings 8.2-66, and 2 Chronicles 7.10), and that the Masora on 3 Kings 8.2 and 54 appoints the account of the consecration of Solomon's Temple as festival lessons for the second and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Although Catherine Emmerich saw the meeting of Joachim and Anna happening at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles, and thus two months earlier than the Church's celebration of Mary's conception, it was always on the occasion of that feast on December 8 ^th that she was impelled to communicate visions about the Blessed Virgin's conception. She said, too, that it was on that day, not at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in the autumn, that the remembrance of this grace-bringing event was already being celebrated by the three holy kings when Christ visited them in Arabia after the raising of Lazarus. Here end the additional communications by Catherine Emmerich about the conception of Mary: the story of the Blessed Virgin's life is now resumed.

I had a vision of the creation of Mary's most holy soul and of its being united to her most pure body. In the glory by which the Most Holy Trinity is usually represented in my visions I saw a movement like a great shining mountain, and yet also like a human figure; and I saw something rise out of the midst of this figure towards its mouth and go forth from it like a shining brightness. Then I saw this brightness standing separate before the Face of God, turning and shaping itself-- or rather being shaped, for I saw that while this brightness took human form, yet it was by the Will of God that it received a form so unspeakably beautiful. I saw, too, that God showed the beauty of this soul to the angels, and that they had unspeakable joy in its beauty. I am unable to describe in words all that I saw and understood. When seventeen weeks and five days after the conception of the Blessed Virgin had gone by (that is to say, five days before Anna's pregnancy was half accomplished), I saw the Blessed Virgin's holy mother lying asleep in her bed in her house near Nazareth. Then there came a shining light above her, and a ray from this light fell upon the middle of her side, and the light passed into her in the shape of a little shining human figure. In the same instant I saw the Blessed Virgin's holy mother raise herself on her couch surrounded by light. She was in ecstasy, and had a vision of her womb opening like a tabernacle to enclose a shining little virgin from whom man's whole salvation was to spring. I saw that this was the instant in which for the first time the child moved within her. Anna then rose from her couch, dressed herself, and announced her joy to the holy Joachim. They both thanked God, and I saw them praying under the tree in the garden where the angel had comforted Anna. It was made known to me that the Blessed Virgin's soul was united to her body five days earlier than with other children, and that her birth was twelve days earlier.


Several days before the Blessed Virgin's birth Anna had told Joachim that the time was approaching for her to be delivered. She sent messengers to Sephoris, where her younger sister Maraha lived; to the widow Enue (sister of Elizabeth) in the valley of Zabulon; and to her niece Mary Salome at Bethsaida, asking these three women to come to her. I saw them on their journeys. The widow Enue had a serving lad with her; the other two women were accompanied by their husbands who, however, went back on approaching Nazareth. I saw that on the day before Anna was delivered Joachim sent his many menservants out to the herds, and among Anna's new maidservants he kept in the house only those who were needed. He, too, went out into his nearest pasture. I saw that Anna's firstborn daughter, Mary Heli, looked after the house. She was then about nineteen years old and was married to Cleophas, one of Joachim's chief shepherds, by whom she had a little daughter, Mary Cleophas, now about four years old. After praying, Joachim chose out his finest lambs, kids, and cattle, sending shepherds to take them to the Temple as a thank-offering. He did not return home until nightfall. I saw the three cousins arriving at Anna's house in the evening. They went to her in her room behind the hearth and embraced her. After Anna had told them that the time was near for her to be delivered, they stood up and sang a hymn together: Praise the Lord God; He has shown mercy to His people, and has redeemed Israel, and has fulfilled the promise which He gave to Adam in Paradise that the seed of the woman should crush the head of the serpent,' and so on. I can no longer recite it all by heart. Anna prayed as though in ecstasy. She introduced into the hymn all the prophetic symbols of Mary. She said: The seed given by God to Abraham has ripened in me.' She spoke of the promise to Sarah of Isaac's birth and said: The blossoming of Aaron's rod is perfected in me.' At that moment I saw her as though suffused with light; I saw the room full of radiance, and Jacob's ladder appearing above it. The women were overcome with astonishment and joy, and I think that they also saw the vision. When the prayer of welcome was over, the travelers were refreshed with a slight meal of bread and fruit, and water mixed with balsam. They ate and drank standing up, and then lay down till midnight to rest from their journey. Anna did not go to bed, but prayed, and at midnight woke the other women to pray with her. They followed her to her praying-place behind a curtain.

Anna opened the doors of a little cupboard in the wall which contained a casket with holy objects. On each side were lights--perhaps lamps, but I am not sure. They had to be pushed up in their holders, and then little bits of shavings put underneath to prevent them from sinking down. After this the lights were lit. There was a cushioned stool at the foot of this sort of little altar. The casket contained some of Sarah's hair (Anna had a great veneration for her), some of Joseph's bones (brought by Moses from Egypt), and something belonging to Tobias, I think a relic of his clothing; also the little shining, white, pear-shaped goblet from which Abraham had drunk when blessed by the angel. (This had been given to Joachim from the Ark of the Covenant when he was blessed in the Temple. I now know that this blessing took the form of wine and bread and was a strengthening and sacramental food.)Anna knelt before the little cupboard with one of the women on each side and the third behind her. She recited another hymn; I think it mentioned the burning bush of Moses. Then I saw the room filled with supernatural light which became more intense as it wove itself round Anna. The women sank to the ground as though stunned. The light round Anna took the exact form of the burning bush of Moses on Horeb, and I could no longer see her. The whole flame streamed inwards; and then I suddenly saw that Anna received the shining child Mary in her hands, wrapped her in her mantle, pressed her to her heart, and laid her naked on the stool in front of the holy relics, still continuing her prayer. Then I heard the child cry, and saw that Anna brought out wrappings from under the great veil which enveloped her. She wrapped the child first in gray and then in red swaddling bands up to her arms; her breast, arms, and head were bare. The appearance of the burning bush around Anna had now vanished.

The women stood up and received the newborn child in their arms with great astonishment. They shed tears of joy. They all joined in a hymn of praise, and Anna lifted her child up on high as though making an offering. I saw at that moment the room full of light, and beheld several angels singing Gloria and Alleluia. I heard all their words. They announced that on the twentieth day the child was to be called Mary. Anna now went into her bedroom and lay down on her couch. The women in the meantime unwrapped the child, bathed it, and wrapped it up again, and then laid it beside its mother. There was a little woven wicker basket which could be fastened beside the bed or against the wall or at the foot of the bed, whichever was wanted, so that the child could always have its place near its mother and yet separate. The women now called Joachim, the father. He came to Anna's couch and knelt down weeping, his tears falling on the child; then he lifted it up in his arms and uttered his song of praise, like Zechariah at John's birth. He spoke in this hymn of the holy seed, implanted by God in Abraham, which had continued amongst God's people by means of the covenant ratified by circumcision, but had now reached its highest blossoming in this child and was, in the flesh, completed. I also heard how this song of praise declared that now was fulfilled the word of the prophet: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse.' He said, too, in great humility and devoutness, that he would now gladly die.

It was only then that I noticed that Mary Heli, Anna's elder daughter, did not have sight of the child until later. Although she had become the mother of Mary Cleophas several years before, she was not present at the Blessed Virgin's birth--perhaps because, according to Jewish rules, it was not considered seemly for a daughter to be with her mother at such a time. Next morning I saw the serving men and maids and many people from nearby gathered round the house. They were allowed to enter in groups, and the child was shown by the women to them all. Many were greatly moved, and some led better lives thereafter. The neighbors had come because they had seen in the night a glowing light above the house, and because the birth of Anna's child after long unfruitfulness was looked upon as a great favor from heaven. In the moment when the newborn child lay in the arms of her holy mother Anna, I saw that at the same time the child was presented in heaven in the sight of the Most Holy Trinity, and greeted with unspeakable joy by all the heavenly host. Then I understood, that there was made known to her in a supernatural manner her whole future with all her joys and sorrows. Mary was taught infinite mysteries, and yet was and remained a child. This knowledge of hers we cannot understand, because our knowledge grows on the tree of good and evil. She knew everything in the same way as a child knows its mother's breast and that it is to drink from it. As the vision faded in which I saw the child Mary being thus taught in heaven through grace, I heard her weep for the first time.

I often see pictures like this, but for me they are inexpressible and probably for most people not quite comprehensible; therefore I do not relate them. In the moment of Mary's birth I saw the tidings brought to the patriarchs in limbo. I saw them all, especially Adam and Eve, filled with inexpressible joy at the fulfillment of the promise given in Paradise. I also perceived that the patriarchs advanced in their state of grace, that the place of their sojourn became brighter and more spacious, and that it was given to them to have more influence on earth. It was as if all their labor and penance, all the struggling, crying and yearning of their lives had matured into its destined fruit. At the time of Mary's birth I saw a great and joyful agitation in nature, in the animal world, in the hearts of all good men, and I heard the sound of sweet singing. Sinners, however, were overwhelmed by fear and sorrow. I saw, specially near Nazareth, but also in the rest of the Promised Land, many who were possessed break out at that time into violent ravings. They were hurled from side to side with loud cries, and the devils shrieked from within them, We must surrender, we must go out!'

In Jerusalem I saw how the aged priest Simeon, who lived in the Temple, was startled at the moment of Mary's birth by loud shrieks coming from the madmen and those possessed of the devil, of whom many were shut up in a building in one of the streets on the Temple Hill. Simeon lived near them and was partly responsible for looking after them. About midnight I saw him go to the open space before the house of those possessed and inquire of one of them who lived nearest as to the cause of the loud cries with which everyone had been roused from their sleep. The man cried still louder that he must go out. Simeon opened the door; the possessed one rushed out, and Satan cried from within him: I must go out. We must all go out! A virgin has been born! There are so many angels on earth who torment us! We must now go out and may nevermore enter into men!' I saw Simeon praying fervently; the wretched man was flung back and forth on the open space, and I saw the devil go out of him. It gave me great pleasure to see the aged Simeon. I also saw the prophetess Anna and Noemi wakened and informed by visions of the birth of a chosen child. [Noemi was the sister of Lazarus' mother; she was in the Temple and later became Mary's teacher.] They met and told each other of what they had seen. I think they knew Anna, the Blessed Virgin's mother.  In the night of Mary's birth I saw in a city of the Chaldeans that five sibyls, or virgin prophetesses, were granted visions. I saw them hastening to the priests, who then made known in many places that these prophetesses had seen that a virgin had been born and that many gods had come down to earth to greet her, while other spirits fled before her lamenting. I saw, too, that the picture of a Virgin holding scales evenly balanced with corn and grapes, which the watchers of the stars had seen since Mary's conception, was no longer visible to them. In the hour of Mary's birth it seemed to move out of the star, in which it left a gap, and to sink down and away from it in one particular direction. They now made and set up in their temple the great idol which I saw there in my visions of the life of Jesus; it had some connection with the Blessed Virgin. [54]

Later they set up in their temple another symbolic image of the Blessed Virgin, the closed garden. I saw live animals lying in this temple and being cared for. I am not sure whether they were dogs. They were fed with the flesh of other animals. Within the temple of the three holy kings I had till now always seen a wonderful illumination at night. It was as if one looked up into a starry sky set with all the constellations. They used to make alterations in this artificial sky in their temple according to the visions they saw in the heavens. Thus after the birth of Mary the illumination which had previously come from outside now came from within.  When the Blessed Virgin was born, I saw that image of a winged woman with a balance in her hand (bending down over a child in a little ship lying in the top of a tree) cast into the sea from its place in the temple on an island in a river. I had seen the image placed there long ago, before the time of Elijah, in accordance with the forced utterance of an idol. The little tree on which lay the child in the ship, remained in its place. A church was built there later.

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