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The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

5. THE TRAIN OF THE THREE HOLY KINGS RESTS AT A SPRING.




[November 28 ^th:] It was not, I think, until a half-day's journey from the deserted city with its many columns and statues that I first really joined the three kings and their train. It was in a more fertile region. One could see shepherds' dwellings here and there, with walls of black and white stones. The travelers came to a spring of water in the plain near which there were several large sheds, open at the side. Three stood in the middle with others round them. This seemed to be a customary halting-place for caravans. I saw that the whole procession was divided into three separate parties; each had five leaders, one being the chief or king, who, like a master of the house, saw to everything, gave orders, and apportioned the work. The members of each of these three parties had faces of different colors. Mensor's tribe was of a pleasing brownish color, Seir's was brown, and Theokeno's a bright yellow. I saw none shining black in color except some slaves, who were in all three parties. The leaders sat on their high-loaded beasts between bundles covered with carpets. They had staffs in their hands. They were followed by other beasts, almost as big as horses and ridden by servants and slaves with luggage. When they arrived at the halting-place they dismounted, unloaded the beasts completely and watered them at the spring, which was surrounded by a little rampart on which was a wall with three openings in it. The cistern was at the bottom of this enclosure; it had a fountain with three water-pipes closed by pegs. The cistern was covered with a lid, which a man who had come with them from the deserted city opened in return for a fee. They had leather vessels, which could be folded up quite flat, with four partitions. These were filled with water, and four camels always drank from them at the same time. They were very careful with the water, and not a drop was allowed to be wasted. After drinking, the camels were led into open enclosures near the spring, each in a separate compartment. Fodder which had been brought with them was shaken out into the stone troughs in front of them; it consisted of grains of the size of acorns (perhaps beans). Amongst the baggage there were also big square bird-cages, narrow and high, hanging by the sides of the camels under the larger packages. In these were birds, single or in couples, according to their size; they were as big as pigeons or liens, and were kept in separate compartments as food on the journey. They carried their loaves of bread, which were all of the same size, in leather cases, packing the slabs tightly together and taking out only so much as they needed each time. They had with them very costly vessels of yellow metal, some of them ornamented with precious stones. These were almost exactly like our chalices and incense-boats in shape; they drank from them and handed round food on them. The rims of most of these vessels were set with red jewels.

The three tribes differed somewhat in their clothing. [Please refer to Figure 18.] Theokeno, the yellow-skinned, and his family, as well as Mensor, the light-brown one, wore high hoods embroidered in colors with a strip of thick white stuff wound round them. Their coats, which were very simple, with few buttons or ornaments on the breast, reached almost to their ankles. They wrapped themselves in light cloaks, very full and flowing, so that they trailed on the ground behind them. Seir, the brown-skinned one, and his family wore caps with little white pads and round hoods embroidered in colors on which was a disc of another color. Their cloaks were shorter than the others', but longer at the back than in front; their coats were buttoned to the knee and were decorated at the breast with braid and tinsel and thickly set with shining buttons. On one side of the breast they wore a shining little shield like a star. All wore sandals, the soles of which were fastened round their bare feet with cords. The more important ones had short swords or long knives in their girdles, with many pouches and boxes hanging from their waists. Amongst the kings and their families were men of fifty, forty, thirty, and twenty years of age. Some had long and some short beards. The servants and camel-drivers were dressed much more simply, some wearing only one piece of stuff or an old blanket.

Figure 18. Two of the three kings: Theokeno and Seir.

When the camels had been watered, fed, and stabled, the travelers, after drinking, made a fire in the middle of the shed under which they had camped. The firewood consisted of pieces some two and a half feet long brought by poor people from near by in very neat bundles; they seemed to have a store of it ready for travelers. The kings made a triangular fireplace and piled up the long pieces round it, leaving an opening on one side for the draught. It was very cleverly arranged. I am not sure how they made fire: I saw that one of them kept turning one piece of wood in another, as if in a box, and then pulled it out alight. They then lit the fire, and I saw them kill some of the birds and roast them. Each of the three kings acted towards his tribe like the head of a family: he distributed the food, laying the carved-up birds and little loaves of bread on small howls or plates standing on short feet, and handed them round. In the same way he filled the goblets and gave drink to each. The lower servants, among whom there were Moors, lie on a blanket on the ground at one side of the fire, patiently awaiting their turn. They, too, receive their due share. I think that these are slaves.

O, how touching is the good temper and childlike simplicity of these beloved kings! They give to those who come to them a share of all they have; they even hold the golden vessels to their lips and let them drink out of them, like children.











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