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

18. THE ROBBERS HUT. THE ROBBERS BECOME FRIENDLY.




It was dark, and the way led past a wood. In front of this wood, at some distance from the path, I saw a poor hut, and not far from it a light hanging in a tree, which could be seen from a long way off, to attract travelers. This part of the road was sinister: trenches had been dug in it here and there, and there were also trenches all round the hut. Hidden cords were stretched across the good parts of the road, and when touched by travelers rang bells in the hut and brought out its thieving inhabitants to plunder them. This robbers' hut was not always in the same place, it could be moved about and put up wherever its inhabitants wanted it. [160]

When the Holy Family approached the light hanging in the tree, I saw the leader of the robbers with five of his companions closing round them. At first they were evilly disposed, but I saw that at the sight of the Infant Jesus a ray, like an arrow, struck the heart of the leader, who ordered his comrades to do no harm to these people. The Blessed Virgin also saw this ray strike the robber's heart, as she later recounted to Anna the prophetess when she returned. [161]

The robber now led the Holy Family through the dangerous places in the road into his hut. It was night. In the hut was the robber's wife with some children. The man told his wife of the strange sensation that had come over him at the sight of the Child. She received the Holy Family shyly, but was not unfriendly. The travelers sat on the ground in a corner, and began to eat some of the provisions which they had with them. The people in the hut were at first awkward and shy (quite unlike, it seemed, their usual behavior), but gradually drew nearer and nearer to the Holy Family. Some of the other men, who had in the meantime stabled Joseph's donkey, came in and out, and eventually they all became more familiar and began to talk to the travelers. The woman brought Mary little loaves of bread with honey and fruit, as well as goblets with drink. A fire was burning in a hollow in a corner of the hut. The woman arranged a separate place for the Blessed Virgin, and brought at her request a trough with water for washing the Infant Jesus. She washed the linen for her and dried it at the fire. Mary bathed the Infant Jesus under a cloth. The man was very much agitated and said to his wife: This Hebrew child is no ordinary child. He is a holy child. Ask his mother to allow us to wash our leprous little boy in his bath-water, perhaps it will do him good.' As the woman came up to Mary to ask her this, the Blessed Virgin told her, before she had said a word, to wash her leprous boy in the bath-water. The woman brought her three-year-old son lying in her arms. He was stiff with leprosy and his features could not be seen for scabs. The water in which Jesus had been bathed seemed clearer than it had been before, and as soon as the leprous child had been dipped into it, the scales of his leprosy fell off him to the ground and the child was cleansed. The woman was beside herself with joy and tried to embrace Mary and the Infant Jesus, but Mary put out her hand and would not let her touch either herself or Jesus. Mary told the woman that she was to dig a well deep down to the rock and pour this water into it; this would give the well the same healing power. She spoke long with her, and I think the woman promised to leave this place at the first opportunity. The people were extremely happy at the restoration of their child to health, and showed him to their comrades who came in and out during the night, telling them of the blessing that had befallen them. The new arrivals, some of them boys, stood round the Holy Family and gazed at them in wonderment. It was all the more remarkable that these robbers were so respectful to the Holy Family, because in the very same night, while they were housing these holy guests, I saw them seizing some other travelers who had been enticed into their lair by the light and driving them into a great cave deep in the wood. This cave, whose entrance was hidden and grown over by wild plants so that it could not be seen, seemed to be their real dwelling-place. I saw several boys in this cave, from seven to nine years of age, who had been stolen from their parents; and there was an old woman who kept house there. I saw all kinds of booty being brought in--clothes, carpets, meat, young kids, sheep, and bigger animals too. The cave was big and contained an abundance of things.

I saw that Mary slept little that night; she sat still on her couch most of the time. They left early in the morning, well supplied with provisions. The people of the place accompanied them a short way, and led them past many trenches on to the right road. When the robbers took leave of the Holy Family, the man said with deep emotion: Remember us wherever you go.' At these words I suddenly saw a picture of the Crucifixion, and saw the Good Thief saying to Jesus, Remember me when You shall come into Your kingdom', and recognized in him the boy who had been healed. The robber's wife gave up this way of life after some time, and settled with other honest families at a later resting-place of the Holy Family, where a spring of water and a garden of balsam shrubs came into being.











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