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

15. ST. ANNE JOURNEYS TO BETHLEHEM.




[December 19 ^th to 22 ^nd:] On the evening of December 19 ^th, I saw Anna, accompanied by her second husband, Mary Heli, a maid, and a manservant with two donkeys, stopping for the night not far from Bethany on their way to Bethlehem.

Joseph has finished the arrangements which he has been making in the Cave of the Nativity and in the side-caves in order to receive both the guests from Nazareth and the kings, whose arrival Mary had foreseen a short while ago when they were at Causur. Joseph and Mary had moved with the Infant Jesus into the other cave. The Cave of the Nativity had been entirely cleared out, and only the donkey, I saw, had been left in it. Even the fireplace and the things for preparing food had been moved out. Joseph had, if I remember rightly, already paid his second tax. There were again many inquisitive visitors coming to Mary from Bethlehem to see the Child. Some He allowed to take Him in their arms, from others He turned away crying. I saw the Blessed Virgin calm and peaceful in the new dwelling, which had now been arranged very comfortably. Her couch was against the wall. The Infant Jesus lay beside her in a long basket woven from broad strips of bark; it had a shelter for the head and stood on trestles. The Blessed Virgin's couch with Jesus' cradle was separated from the rest of the room by a wicker screen. In the daytime, except when she wished to be alone, she sat in front of this screen with the Child beside her. Joseph's resting-place was some way off at the side of the cave, and was divided off in the same way. A vessel holding a lamp stood on a piece of wood projecting from the wall high enough to light both these screened-off partitions. I saw Joseph bringing the Blessed Virgin a bowl of food and a jug of water.

[December 20 ^th:] This evening was the beginning of a fast. All the food for the next day was prepared beforehand, the fire was covered over, the openings of the cave hung with curtains, and all the household utensils put away. (The 8 ^th and 16 ^th days of the month Shebat are Jewish fast days.) Anna has come to the cave with her second husband, Mary's elder sister, and a maidservant. I had seen Anna on her journey several days before. These visitors were to sleep in the Cave of the Nativity; this was why the Holy Family had moved into the side-cave, though the donkey had remained behind. Today I saw Mary lay the Infant in her mother's arms; Anna was greatly moved. She had brought with her coverlets, clothes, and provisions. Anna's maidservant was strangely dressed. [Please refer to Figure 20.] Her hair was plaited and hung down to her girdle in a net; she had on a short dress reaching only to the knees. Her pointed bodice was fastened tightly round her hips and breast; it came high up above the latter as if to make a place for hiding something. She carried a basket hanging on her arm. The old man (Anna's husband) was very shy and humble. Anna slept where Elizabeth had slept, and Mary told her everything, as she had Elizabeth, in happy intimacy. Anna wept with the Blessed Virgin; they often interrupted their talk to caress the Infant Jesus.

[December 21 ^st:] Today I saw the Blessed Virgin once more in the Cave of the Nativity and little Jesus once more in the crib. When Joseph and Mary are alone with the little Child, I often see them adoring Him; and now I see Anna and the Blessed Virgin standing by the Crib with bowed heads, and gazing at the Infant Jesus with great devotion. I am not quite sure whether Anna's companions slept in the other cave or whether they had gone away. I almost think they had gone. Today I saw that Anna had brought the Mother and Child various things such as coverlets and swaddling-bands. Since she came here, Mary has been given a good many things; but she has very little of anything, because she at once gives away anything that is not absolutely necessary. I heard her telling Anna that the kings out of the East would soon be coming, bringing great gifts, and that this would cause a great sensation. I think that while the kings are on their way here, Anna will go to her sister, three hours' distance from here, and come back later.

[December 22 ^nd:] This evening, after the Sabbath had ended, I saw Anna and her companions going away from the Blessed Virgin for a little time. She went three hours' journey away from here, to the Tribe of Benjamin, to a younger married sister who lived there. I do not remember the name of the village, which consisted only of a few houses and a field. It is half an hour away from the last resting-place of the Holy Family on their journey to Bethlehem, where Joseph's relations lived. They spent the night of November 22 ^nd/23 ^rd there.

Figure 20. Saint Anne's maid.











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