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.