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

14. THE TRAIN OF THE KINGS. ARRIVAL IN MANATHEA.




[December 19 ^th to 21 ^st:] This evening I saw the kings on this side of this river. [129] Their generosity had attracted so many followers that their train must have numbered 200. They were nearing the town which was approached by Jesus on its western side on July 31 ^st in the second year of His ministry, though He did not enter it. Its name sounded like Manathea, Metanea, Medana, or Madian. [130] It had a mixed population of heathens and Jews; they were evil people, and though a high road led through the town, they would not let the kings go through. They led them outside the town, on the eastern side, to a place enclosed by walls, where there were sheds and stables. The kings put up their tents here, fed and watered their beasts, and prepared a meal for themselves.

On Thursday the 20 ^th and Friday the 21 ^st I saw the kings resting here, but they were greatly distressed because here, as in the last town, nobody knew or cared about the newborn King. I heard them telling the inhabitants in a very friendly way a great deal about the cause of their long journey and all the circumstances attending it. Of what I heard I recollect this much.

They had received the announcement about the newborn King a very long time ago. I think it must have been not long after Job's time and before Abraham went to Egypt, when an army of some three thousand Medes from Job's country (they lived in other parts as well) came as far as the region of Heliopolis in a campaign against Egypt. [131] I cannot now clearly recollect why they had advanced so far, but I think their campaign was in aid of someone. It was not, however, for a good purpose, they were attacking something holy; whether holy men or a religious mystery connected with the fulfillment of the promise, I cannot remember. Near Heliopolis an angel appeared to several of their leaders at once, warning them to go no farther. He spoke to them of a Redeemer who was to be born of a Virgin and would be worshipped by their descendants. This was connected, I cannot remember how, with a command that they should advance no farther but should go home and observe the stars. After this I saw them arranging joyful feasts in Egypt, setting up triumphal arches and altars, and decorating them with flowers. Then they went home. They were Median star-worshippers, exceptionally tall, almost like giants, of very noble stature and of a beautiful yellowish-brown color. They journeyed with their herds from place to place and imposed their will everywhere by their great strength. I have forgotten the name of their chief prophet. They were much given to prophesying and the taking of omens from animals. Often on their journeys animals would suddenly place themselves across their road, standing with outstretched legs and letting themselves be killed rather than go away. That was an omen for them, and they turned away from these roads. The kings said that these Medes, returning from Egypt, were the first to bring the prophecy and to start the watching of the stars. When they passed away, it was continued by a disciple of Balaam and renewed 1,000 years after him by the three prophetess-daughters of the three kings who founded their dynasties. Now, 500 years after them, the star had come which they were following in order to adore the newborn King. All this they explained to the inquisitive listeners with the most child-like sincerity, and were distressed that they did not seem at all to believe in what their ancestors had so patiently waited for during 2,000 years. In the evening the star was covered in mist, but when it appeared again at night large and clear between moving clouds, they rose from their camp and awoke the inhabitants living near to show them the star. These gazed in wonder at the sky, and some showed emotion; but many of them were vexed with the kings, and in general they merely sought to take advantage of their generosity.

I heard the kings saying what a long way they had traveled from their first meeting-place to here. They reckoned by day's journeys on foot, each of twelve hours. But their beasts, which were dromedaries and were faster than horses, enabled them to do thirty-six hours' journey each twenty-four hours, including the rest-hours. Thus the most distant of the three kings was able to accomplish his sixty hours' journey to the meeting-place in two days, and the two who were nearer did their thirty-six hours' journey in a day and a night. From the meeting-place to where they were now they had traveled 672 hours' journey, and had spent about twenty-five days and nights since starting off at the moment of the Birth of Christ.

[December 20 ^th and 21 ^st:] The kings and their train rested here both these days, and I heard what they told. On the evening of Friday the 21 ^st the Jews who lived here began their Sabbath and crossed a bridge leading westwards across the water to a small Jewish village with a synagogue. At the same time the kings prepared for their departure and made their farewells. I noticed that the inhabitants looked at the star (when visible) which led the kings and expressed much astonishment, but it did not make them more respectful. They were shamelessly importunate, pestering the kings like swarms of wasps. In reply to their demands the kings with great forbearance gave them little triangular pieces of their gold and also grains of some darker metal. They must have been very rich.

They were escorted by the inhabitants when they left. Skirting the wails of the town (in which I saw temples surmounted by idols), they crossed the river by a bridge, and passed through the Jewish village, hurrying on towards the Jordan by a good road. From here they still had about twenty-four hours' journey to Jerusalem.











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