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

2.16 HISTORY OF THE CELEBRATIONS OF THE CONCEPTION OF MARY.




I am quite unable to tell in what a wonderful way I journeyed last night in dream. I was in the most different parts of the world and in the most different ages, and very often saw the Feast of Mary's Conception being celebrated in the most different places. I was in Ephesus, and saw this feast being celebrated in the house of the Mother of God, which was still standing there as a church. It must have been at a very early time, for I saw the Way of the Cross set up by Mary herself still in perfect preservation. [The second Way of the Cross was set up in Jerusalem and the third in Rome.]

The Greeks kept this feast long before the schism. I still remember something of this, but am not quite sure what led up to it. I saw how a saint, Sabbas, I think, had a vision relating to the Immaculate Conception. He saw the picture of the Blessed Virgin on the globe, crushing the head of the serpent under her feet, and recognized that the Blessed Virgin alone was conceived unwounded and unstained by the serpent. [50] I saw, too, that one of the Greek churches or one of the Greek bishops refused to accept this truth unless the picture came to them across the sea. Then I saw the appearance of the picture float over the sea to their church and appear on the altar, whereupon they began to keep the feast. That church possessed a life-size picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke just as she was in her earthly life, in a white robe and veil. (I have an idea that this picture had been sent from Rome, where they have only a half-length portrait.) They had placed the picture above the altar in the place where the vision of the Immaculate Conception had appeared. I think it was in Constantinople, or perhaps I have seen it venerated there in earlier times.

I was in England, too, and saw the feast being introduced and celebrated there in olden times. In this connection I saw the day before yesterday, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, the following miracle. I saw an abbot, coming from England, in great danger in a ship in a storm. They prayed very fervently for the protection of the Mother of God, and I saw an apparition of the holy bishop Nicholas of Myra floating over the sea to the ship and telling the abbot that he had been sent by Mary to announce to him that he was to cause the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to be kept in England on December 8 ^th, and that then the ship would arrive safely. In reply to the abbot's question as to what prayers should be used for this feast, he answered, the same as those for Mary's nativity. The name of Anselm [51] was also associated with the introduction of this feast, but I have forgotten the details.

I also saw the introduction of this feast into France, and how St. Bernard wrote in opposition to it because its introduction had not come from Rome. [52]











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