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

24. THE BOY JOHN ESCAPES AGAIN TO THE WILDERNESS.




I was shown how Elizabeth, warned by the angel, once more fled into the desert with the little John to escape the Massacre of the Innocents.

Elizabeth searched for a long time till she found a cave which seemed to her sufficiently hidden, and then stayed there with the boy for about forty days. When she went home, an Essene from the community on Mount Horeb came to the boy in the wilderness, brought him food, and gave him all the help he needed. This Essene (whose name I keep forgetting) was a relation of Anna of the Temple. He came at first every eight days, then every fourteen; but in a short time John no longer needed help, for he was soon more at home in the wilderness than among men. It was ordained by God that he should grow up in the wilderness without contact with mankind and innocent of their sins. Like Jesus, he never went to school; the Holy Ghost taught him in the wilderness. I often saw at his side a light, or shining figures like angels. The desert here was not waste and barren; many plants and bushes grew in it, bearing many kinds of berries, and among the rocks were strawberries, which John picked and ate as he passed. He was uncommonly familiar with the beasts, and especially with the birds: they flew to him and perched on his shoulders, he spoke to them and they seemed to understand him and to act as his messengers. He wandered along the banks of the streams, and was just as familiar with the fishes. They swam near to him when he called them, and followed him in the water as he went along the bank.

I saw now that he moved far away from his home, perhaps because of the danger which threatened him. He was so friendly with the beasts that they helped him and warned him. They led him to their nests and lairs, and he fled with them into their hiding-holes if men came near. He lived upon fruit, berries, roots, and herbs. He had no need to search long for them; he either knew himself where they grew, or the beasts showed him. He always had his sheepskin and his little staff, and from time to time went still deeper into the wilderness. Sometimes he would go nearer his home. Several times he rejoined his parents, who were always longing for him. I think they must have known about each other by revelation, for whenever Elizabeth and Zechariah wanted to see him, he always came from a long way off to meet them.











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