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

19. THE WILDERNESS. SNAKES AND FLYING LIZARDS.




After this I again saw the Holy Family journeying through a desert, and when they lost their way, I again saw various kinds of creeping beasts approach them, lizards with bats' wings and snakes, but they were not hostile and seemed only to want to show them the way. Later on, when they had lost every trace of their path and direction, I saw them guided by a very lovely miracle; on each side of the path the plant called the rose of Jericho appeared with its curling leaves surrounding the central flower and the upright stalk. They went up to it joyfully, and on reaching it they saw in the distance another plant of it spring up, and so throughout the whole desert. I saw, too, that it was revealed to the Blessed Virgin that in later times the people of the country would gather these flowers and sell them to passing strangers to gain their bread. (I saw this happening afterwards.) The name of the place sounded like Gase or Gose [? Gosen]. Then I saw them come to a place called by a name like Lepe or Lape [? Pelusium]. There was a lake there with ditches, canals, and high embankments. They crossed the water on a raft with a sort of big tub on it in which the donkey was put. Mary sat with her Child on a piece of timber. Two ugly, brown, half-naked men with flattened noses and protruding lips ferried them over. They passed only the outlying houses of this place, and the people here were so rough and unsympathetic that the travelers went on without speaking to anyone. I think that this was the first heathen town. They had been ten days in the Jewish country and ten days in the desert.

I now saw the Holy Family on Egyptian territory. They were in flat country, with green pastures here and there on which cattle were feeding. I saw trees to which idols had been fastened in the shape of infants wrapped in broad swaddling-bands inscribed with figures or letters. Here and there I saw people thick-set and fat, dressed like the cotton-spinners whom I once saw near the frontiers of the three kings. I saw these people hurrying to worship their idols. The Holy Family went into a shed; there were beasts in it, but these went out to make room for them. Their provisions had given out, and they had neither bread nor water. Nobody gave them anything, and Mary was hardly able to feed her Child. They did, indeed, endure every human misery. At last some shepherds came to water the beasts at a closed spring, and at Joseph's urgent request gave them a little water. Then I saw the Holy Family going through a wood, exhausted and helpless. On coming out of it they saw a tall, slender date palm with its fruit growing all together like a bunch of grapes at the very top of the tree. Mary went up to the tree with the Infant Jesus in her arms, and prayed, lifting the Child up to it; the tree bowed down its head to them, as if it were kneeling, so that they were able to pick all its fruit. [162] The tree remained in that position. I saw a rabble of people from the last town following the Holy Family, and I saw Mary distributing the fruit from the tree among the many naked children who were running after her. About a quarter of an hour from the first tree they came to an unusually big sycamore tree with a hollow trunk. They had got out of sight of the people who were following them, and hid in the tree so as to let them pass by. They spent the night here.











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