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

XIV. THE HOLY FAMILY IN BETHLEHEM AFTER THE DEPARTURE OF THE KINGS.

1. MEASURES TAKEN IN BETHLEHEM AGAINST THE KINGS. JOSEPH IS EXAMINED AND BLACKMAILED.




[December 25 ^th:] The angel had warned the kings just in time, for the authorities in Bethlehem--perhaps on a Secret order from Herod, but I think from their own zeal of office--meant to arrest today the kings who were sleeping in the inn at Bethlehem and to imprison them in the cellars deep under the synagogue. They were then going to denounce them to Herod as disturbers of the peace. However, when their departure became known this morning, they were already near Engaddi, and the valley where they had encamped was quiet and deserted as usual, with nothing but the trodden grass and a few tent-poles to show that they had been there. In the meantime the appearance in Bethlehem of the kings and their train had caused a considerable stir. Some regretted that they had refused Joseph a lodging; others said that the kings were strange fanatical adventurers; while others connected their arrival with the rumors of what the shepherds had seen. The authorities of the place (perhaps as the result of a warning from Herod, but of this I am not sure) decided that steps must be taken to deal with the situation. In the center of the town, in an open place with a fountain surrounded by trees, I saw near the synagogue a large house with steps leading up to it. All the inhabitants were summoned to the square in front of the house, and I saw a warning or command being given to them from the steps. They were told that all perverse talk and superstitious rumors must be stopped, and from now onwards there must be no more running backwards and forwards outside the town to the dwelling of the people who had been the cause of all this talk. After the assembled people had dispersed, I saw St. Joseph summoned by two men and being examined in that house by some aged Jews. I saw him go back to the Crib and then again go to the court-house. When he went there the second time, he took with him some of the gold from the kings' gifts and gave it to them, upon which they let him go in peace. It seemed to me that the whole examination was a sort of blackmail. I saw, too, that a path leading towards the Crib was blocked by the authorities by felling a tree across it. This was not the path through the town-gate, but the one which led over a hill or rampart to the Cave of the Nativity from the place where Mary had waited under a big tree on arriving at Bethlehem. They even put up a guard-house by the tree, and stretched ropes across the road which were attached to a bell in the guard-house, so that they could hold up anyone who tried to pass. In the afternoon I saw a band of sixteen of Herod's soldiers talking to Joseph; they were probably sent on account of the kings, who had been accused of being disturbers of the peace. Finding, however, everything quiet and lonely, with nobody but a poor family in the cave, and having been warned not to alarm these in any way, they went quietly back to report what they had found. The presents and other things left by the kings had been hidden away by Joseph partly in Maraha's grave and partly' in some secret places in the hill of the Cave of the Nativity, which he knew of since his boyhood when he had often hidden there from his brothers. These separate hiding-places dated from the time of the patriarch Jacob, who had once set up his tents here on this hill. At that time there were only a few tents on the site of Bethlehem.

This evening I saw Zechariah of Hebron coming to see the Holy Family for the first time. Mary was still in the cave. He wept with joy, took the Infant Jesus in his arms, and repeated (in part or somewhat altered) the hymn of praise which he had uttered at the circumcision of John.











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