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

16. THE TRAIN OF THE KINGS CROSSES THE JORDON.




The kings and their train left Mathanea and hurried through the night, following a high-road. They passed through no more towns, but skirted all the little places in which, at the end of July in the third year of His ministry, Jesus blessed the children and healed and taught; for example, Bethabara, [132] the place of the ferry across the Jordan, which they reached early in the morning. As it was the Sabbath, they met few people on their way.

Early in the morning, at seven o'clock, I saw them crossing the Jordan. Generally people were ferried across the river on a raft of beams, but for large companies a sort of bridge was put together. This was generally done by the ferrymen who lived on the bank and received payment for it, but as these could not work on the Sabbath the travelers did it themselves, with the help of some of the ferrymen's heathen servants, who were paid for it. The Jordan was not broad here and was full of sand-banks. Planks were placed against the raft generally used for crossing, and the camels were led up them onto the raft. I saw that this sort of bridge was ferried backwards and forwards till all the train were landed on the western bank. It was quite a long time before all were safely across.

[In the evening at half-past five, she said:] They have left Jericho on their right and are now in a direct line with Bethlehem, but are turning more to the right in the direction of Jerusalem. There must be as many as a hundred men with them. In the distance I see a little town, which I know, beside a stream coming from Jerusalem in an eastward direction. I am sure they will have to pass through this town. They go on for some time with the stream on their left hand. I saw Jerusalem as they went; it sank out of sight and reappeared as the road rose or fell. [Later she said:] They did not pass through that town after all; they turned to the right towards Jerusalem.

Today [Saturday evening, December 22 ^nd] I saw the three holy kings and their train arriving before Jerusalem. I saw the city towering up to heaven. The guiding star had here almost disappeared; it had become quite small and glowed only dimly behind the city. The travelers became more and more depressed the nearer they came to Jerusalem, for the star was not nearly so bright before them, and in Judea they saw it but seldom. They had expected, too, to find everywhere great rejoicings and festivities at the newborn Savior, for whose sake they had made so long a journey. When, however, they found nowhere the smallest trace of excitement about Him, they were distressed and full of doubts, thinking that they had perhaps gone completely astray.

Their train numbered, I am sure, more than 200 men, and took a quarter of an hour to pass by. A distinguished company had joined them as far back as Causur, and since then others had been added. The three kings rode on dromedaries (camels with two humps), with baggage all round them, and there were three other loaded dromedaries with their riders. Each king was accompanied by four men of his tribe; among them I noticed two young men (one of them was Azarias of Atom), whom I saw later as fathers of families when Jesus visited Arabia. The rest of the company rode mostly on very swift yellowish animals with delicate heads; I am not sure whether these were horses or donkeys. They looked quite different from our horses. The ones ridden by the more distinguished persons had richly ornamented saddles and bridles, and were hung with little gold chains and stars. Some of the company went up to the gate of the city and came back accompanied by guards and soldiers. Their arrival by this road with so large a train caused great surprise, as there was no festival and they were bringing no merchandise with them. When questioned, they explained why they had come, speaking of the star and the newborn child, but not a soul there understood what they were talking about. This depressed them extremely; they thought that they must certainly have made a mistake, for they could find nobody here who seemed to know anything about the Savior of the World. Everyone gazed at them in astonishment, and could not understand what they wanted. However, the gate-keepers went back into the city to report when they saw the generous alms given so kindly to the importunate beggars, and heard not only that the kings sought a lodging and would pay liberally, but also that they asked to speak with King Herod. Then followed an exchange of reports, messages, inquiries, and explanations between the kings and the authorities. While this was going on, the kings talked with the various people who had collected round them. Some of them had heard a rumor of a child said to have been born at Bethlehem, but it could not, they said, be He, for His parents were common people and poor. Others only laughed at them; and as they gathered, from what little the people said, that Herod knew nothing of a newborn child, and that, in general, they had no very high opinion of Herod, they became even more dejected, for they were troubled in their minds as to how to deal with the matter when speaking to Herod. However, calming themselves, they fell to praying and took courage again, saying to each other: He who has led us here so quickly by the star will bring us happily home again.

When the gate-keepers at last came back, the kings and their train were taken round the outside of the city walls for some way and brought into it through a gate near Mount Calvary. They and their baggage-animals were taken to a circular enclosure not far from the fish market. It was surrounded by houses and stables, and there were guards at the entrances. The animals were taken into the stables, while the kings established themselves in sheds near a fountain in the center of the court. The baggage-animals were watered at this fountain. One side of this circular court was on the slope of a hill; the two other sides were open, with trees in front.

Officials now came two by two with torches and examined what the kings had in their baggage. I suppose they were customs officers.











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