The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
29. MATAREA. THE HOLY VIRGIN DISCOVERS A SPRING NEAR THEIR HOUSE.
In Matarea, where the inhabitants had to quench their thirst with the
muddy water of the Nile, a fountain sprang up as before in answer to
Mary's prayers. At first they suffered great want, and were obliged to
live on fruit and bad water. It was long since they had had any good
water, and Joseph was making ready to take his water-skins on the
donkey to fetch water from the balsam spring in the desert, when in
answer to her prayer an angel appeared to the Blessed Virgin and told
her to look for a spring behind their house. I saw her go beyond the
enclosure round their dwelling to an open space on a lower level
surrounded by broken-down embankments. A very big old tree stood here.
the Blessed Virgin had a stick in her hand with a little shovel at the
end of it, such as people in that country often carried on their
journeys. She thrust this into the ground near the tree, and thereupon
a beautiful clear stream of water gushed forth.
She ran joyfully to call Joseph, who on digging out the spring
discovered that it had been lined with masonry below, but had dried up
and was choked with rubbish. Joseph repaired and cleaned it, and
surrounded it with beautiful new stonework. Near this spring, on the
side from which Mary had approached it, was a big stone, just like an
altar, and, indeed, I think it had once been an altar, but I forget in
what connection. Here the Blessed Virgin used to dry Jesus' clothes and
wrappings in the sun after washing them. This spring remained unknown
and was used only by the Holy Family until Jesus was big enough to do
various little commissions, such as fetching water for His Mother. I
once saw that He brought other children to the spring, and made a cup
with a leaf for them to drink from. The children told this to their
parents, so others came to the spring, but, as a rule, it was used only
by the Jews. I saw Jesus fetching water for His Mother for the first
time. Mary was in her room kneeling in prayer, and Jesus crept out to
the spring with a skin and fetched water; that was the first time. Mary
was inexpressibly touched when she saw Him coming back, and begged Him
not to do it again, in case He were to fall into the water. Jesus said
that He would be very careful and that He wanted to fetch water for her
whenever she needed it.
The Child Jesus performed all kinds of services for His parents with
great attention and thoughtfulness. Thus I saw Him, when Joseph was
working near his home, running to fetch some tool which had been left
behind. He paid attention to everything. I am sure that the joy He gave
His parents must have outweighed all their sufferings. I also saw Jesus
going sometimes to the Jewish settlement, about a mile from Matarea. to
fetch bread in return for His Mother's work. The many loathsome beasts
to be found in this country did Him no harm; on the contrary, they were
very friendly with Him. I have seen Him playing with snakes.
The first time that He went alone to the Jewish settlement (I am not
sure whether it was in His fifth or seventh year) He was wearing a new
brown dress with yellow flowers round its edge which the Blessed Virgin
had made and embroidered for Him. He knelt down to pray on the way, and
I saw two angels appearing to Him and announcing the death of Herod the
Great. Jesus said nothing of this to His parents, why I do not know,
whether from humility or because the angel had forbidden Him to, or
because He knew that the time had not yet come for them to leave Egypt.
Once I saw Him going to the settlement with other Jewish children, and
when He returned home, I saw Him weeping bitterly over the degraded
state of the Jews living there.