The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
26. MATAREA AND ITS POVERTY.
To begin with, they had a very hard time in Matarea. There was great
shortage of good water and wood. The inhabitants cooked with dry grass
or reeds. The Holy Family generally had cold food to eat. Joseph was
given a great deal of work in improving the huts, but the people there
treated him just like a slave, giving him only what they liked;
sometimes he brought home some money for his work, sometimes none. The
inhabitants were very clumsy at building their huts. Wood was lacking,
and though I saw trunks of trees lying about here and there, I noticed
that there were no tools for dealing with them. Most of the people had
nothing but stone and bone knives like turf-cutters. Joseph had brought
his necessary tools with him. The Holy Family soon arranged their
dwelling a little. Joseph divided the room very conveniently by light
wicker screens; he prepared a proper fireplace and made stools and
little low tables. The people here all ate off the ground.
They lived here for several years, and I have seen many scenes from
Jesus' childhood. I saw where Jesus slept. In the thickness of the wall
of Mary's sleeping-room I saw a niche hollowed out by Joseph in which
was Jesus' couch. Mary slept beside it, and I have often seen her
during the night kneeling before Jesus' couch and praying to God.
Joseph slept in another room.
I also saw a praying-place which Joseph had arranged in their dwelling.
It was in a separate passage. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin had their
own special places, and the Child Jesus also had His own little corner,
where He prayed sitting, standing, or kneeling. The Blessed Virgin had
a kind of little altar before which she prayed. A little table, covered
with red and white, was let down like a flap before a cupboard in the
wall, of which it generally formed the door. In the thickness of the
wall were preserved sacred relics. I saw little bushy plants in pots
shaped like chalices. I saw the end of St. Joseph's staff with its
blossom, whereby the lot had fallen upon him in the Temple to become
Mary's spouse. It was fixed in a box an inch and a half in thickness.
Besides this, I saw another precious relic, but can no longer explain
what it really was. In a transparent box I saw five little white sticks
of the thickness of big straws. They stood crossed and as if tied in
the middle; at the top they were curly and broader, like a little
sheaf. [She crossed her fingers to explain and spoke also of bread.]