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

2. MARY'S HOUSE IN EPHESUS.




Mary's house was built of rectangular stones, rounded or pointed at the back. The windows were high up near the flat roof. The house was divided into two compartments by the hearth in the center of it. The fireplace was on the floor opposite the door; it was sunk into the ground beside a wall which rose in steps on each side of it up to the ceiling. In the center of this wall a deep channel, like the half of a chimney, carried the smoke up to escape by an opening in the roof. I saw a sloping copper funnel projecting above the roof over this opening.

The front part of the house was divided from the room behind the fireplace by light movable wicker screens on each side of the hearth. In this front part, the walls of which were rather rough and also blackened by smoke, I saw little cells on both sides, shut in by wicker screens fastened together. If this part of the house was needed as one large room, these screens, which did not nearly reach to the ceiling, were taken apart and put aside. These cells were used as bedrooms for Mary's maidservant and for other women who came to visit her.

To the right and left of the hearth, doors led into the back part of the house, which was darker than the front part and ended in a semicircle or angle. It was neatly and pleasantly arranged; the walls were covered with wickerwork, and the ceiling was vaulted. Its beams were decorated with a mixture of paneling and wickerwork, and ornamented with a pattern of leaves. It was all simple and dignified.

The farthest corner or apse of this room was divided off by a curtain and formed Mary.s oratory. In the center of the wall was a niche in which had been placed a receptacle like a tabernacle, which could be opened and shut by pulling at a string to turn its door. In it stood a cross about the length of a man.s arm in which were inserted two arms rising outwards and upwards, in the form of the letter Y, the shape in which I have always seen Christ.s Cross. It had no particular ornamentation, and was more roughly carved than the crosses which come from the Holy Land nowadays. I think that John and Mary must have made it themselves. It was made of different kinds of wood. It was told me that the pale stem of the cross was cypress, the brown arm cedar, and the other arm of yellow palm-wood, while the piece added at the top, with the title, was of smooth yellow olive-wood. This cross was set in a little mound of earth or stone, like Christ.s Cross on Mount Calvary. At its foot there lay a piece of parchment with something written on it; Christ.s words, I think. On the cross itself the Figure of Our Lord was roughly outlined, the lines of the carving being rubbed with darker color so as to show the Figure plainly. Mary.s meditation on the different kinds of wood forming the cross were communicated to me, but alas I have forgotten this beautiful lesson. Nor can I for the moment be sure whether Christ.s Cross itself was made of these different kinds of wood, or whether Mary had made this cross in this way only for devotional reasons. It stood between two small vases filled with fresh flowers.

I also saw a cloth lying beside the cross, and had the impression that it was the one with which the Blessed Virgin had wiped the blood from all the wounds in Our Lord.s holy body after it was taken down from the cross. The reason why I had this impression was that, at the sight of the cloth, I was shown that manifestation of the Blessed Virgin.s motherly love. At the same time I had the feeling that it was the cloth which priests use at Mass, after drinking the Precious Blood, to cleanse the chalice; Mary, in wiping the Lord.s wounds, seemed to me to be acting in the same way, and as she did it she held the cloth just as the priest does. Such was the impression I had at the sight of the cloth beside the cross.

To the right of this oratory, against a niche in the wall, was the sleeping place or cell of the Blessed Virgin. Opposite it, to the left of the oratory, was a cell where her clothes and other belongings were kept. Between these two cells a curtain was hung dividing off the oratory. It was Mary.s custom to sit in front of this curtain when she was working or reading. The sleeping place of the Blessed Virgin was backed by a wall hung with a woven carpet; the side-walls were light screens of bark woven in different-colored woods to make a pattern. The front wall was hung with a carpet, and had a door with two panels, opening inwards. The ceiling of this cell was also of wickerwork rising into a vault from the center of which was suspended a lamp with several arms. Mary.s couch, which was placed against the wall, was a box one and a half feet high and of the breadth and length of a narrow plank. A covering was stretched on it and fastened to a knob at each of the four corners. The sides of this box were covered with carpets reaching down to the floor and were decorated with tassels and fringes. A round cushion served as pillow, and there was a covering of brownish material with a check pattern. The little house stood near a wood among pyramid-shaped trees with smooth trunks. It was very quiet and solitary. The dwellings of the other families were all scattered about at some distance. The whole settlement was like a village of peasants.











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