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

8. NAZARETH. AN ANGEL WAKES JOSEPH TO FLEE.




[The night of Thursday, March 1 ^st, to the morning of Friday, March 2 ^nd:] They are gone. I saw them start forth. Joseph came back early in the morning of yesterday, Thursday, from Anna's house. Anna and her eldest daughter were still here in Nazareth. They had all only just gone to bed when the angel came to warn Joseph. [147] Mary and the Infant Jesus had their bedroom to the right of the hearth; Anna's was to the left, and her eldest daughter's room was between hers and Joseph's. These rooms were compartments divided off and sometimes roofed by wicker screens. Mary's room had yet another curtain or screen dividing it off. The Infant Jesus lay on a rug at her feet, and she could pick Him up without getting out of bed.

I saw Joseph in his room lying on his side asleep with his head on his arm. I saw a shining youth come up to his bed and speak with him. Joseph sat up, but was heavy with sleep and lay down again. The youth took his hand and pulled him up, when Joseph came to his senses and got up, on which the youth disappeared. Joseph then went to the lamp burning in front of the fireplace in the center of the house and lit his own lamp at it. He knocked at the Blessed Virgin's room and asked whether he might come in. I saw him go in and speak with Mary, who did not open the screen before her bed; then I saw him go to his donkey in the stable, and afterwards into a room where all kinds of things were kept. He prepared everything for their departure. As soon as Joseph had left the Blessed Virgin's room, she got up and dressed for the journey, before going to her mother and telling her of God's commands. Anna got up, as did Mary Heli and her little boy, but they let the Infant Jesus go on sleeping. For these good people God's Will came first of all; sad at heart though they were, they hastened to make all preparations for the journey before allowing themselves to give way to the sorrow of parting. Anna and Mary Heli helped to get everything ready for the journey. Mary did not take nearly so much with her as she had brought from Bethlehem. They packed up nothing but a moderate-sized bundle and a few blankets, which were taken out to Joseph to be loaded on the donkey. Everything was done quietly and very quickly, as was proper for a journey undertaken secretly after a warning at dead of night. When Mary fetched her Child, she was in such haste that I did not even see her wrap Him in fresh swaddling clothes. Then came the farewells, and I cannot describe how moving it was to see the distress of Anna and her eldest daughter. They embraced the Infant Jesus with tears, and the little boy, too, was allowed to take Him in his arms. Anna embraced the Blessed Virgin again and again, weeping as bitterly as if she were never to see her more. Mary Heli flung herself onto the ground in tears.

It was not yet midnight when they left the house. Anna and Mary Heli accompanied the Blessed Virgin on foot for a short part of the way from Nazareth, Joseph following with the donkey. The way led towards Anna's house, but rather more to the left. Mary carried the Infant Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, before her in a sort of sling, which went round her shoulders and was fastened behind her neck. [Please refer to Figure 21.] She wore a long cloak which wrapped both herself and the Child, and a big square veil, fastened round the back of her head and hanging in long folds beside her face. They had not gone far when Joseph came up with the donkey, which was carrying a skin of water and a basket with several compartments containing little loaves of bread, small jugs, and live birds. The baggage and blankets were packed round the side-saddle, which had a foot-rest hanging from it. They embraced again with tears, and Anna blessed the Blessed Virgin, who then seated herself on the donkey, led by Joseph, and they started off.

[While Catherine Emmerich was describing the grief of Anna and Mary Heli, she wept copiously herself, saying that in the night, too, when she saw this vision, she could not help shedding many tears.]











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