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

3. BEGINNING THE JOURNEY.




Immediately after I was standing in the house beside the boy-prophets. Nobody seemed to notice us, and we got in nobody's way. Though they had been old men hundreds of years ago, they were not at all surprised at being present there as young boys: and I, though a nun over forty years old, was not at all surprised either at being now a poor peasant child of nine years. When one is with these holy people, one is surprised at nothing, except at the blindness and sinfulness of mankind.

I saw the travelers starting on their journey to Jerusalem at daybreak. The child Mary came running out of the house to the pack animals, so eager was she to go to the Temple. The boy-prophets and I stood at the door following her with our eyes. They again showed me passages in their scrolls, one of which spoke of the glory of the Temple, but added that even greater glory was contained within it. The travelers had two pack animals with them. One of the donkeys which was heavily loaded was led by a servant and was always a little ahead of the party. On the other donkey, which stood loaded before the house, a seat had been prepared, and Mary was placed on this. She wore the little yellow dress from the first set of garments, and was wrapped in the big cloak, which was drawn round her so that her arms rested in its folds. Joachim, who led this donkey, carried a tall staff like a pilgrim's with a big round knob at the top. Anna walked a short way ahead with little Mary Cleophas. A maidservant accompanied them on the whole journey, and some of the women and children went part of the way with them. They were relations, and turned off to their homes where the roads parted. One of the priests also accompanied the party for a little time.

They had a light with them, but it disappeared completely in the light which in my visions of night journeys always illuminates the road about the Holy Family and other holy persons, though they themselves never seem to see it. At first it seemed to me that I was walking with the boy-prophets behind the child Mary, and afterwards, when she was on foot, at her side. I sometimes heard the boys singing the 44 ^th Psalm (Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum) and the 49 ^th (Deus deorum Dominus locutus est), and they told me that these psalms would be sung by two choirs at the reception of the child in the Temple, as I should see when they arrived.

I saw the road going downhill at first and later rising again. When it was morning and full day, I saw the travelers resting beside a spring from which ran a brook; there was a meadow there, and they rested beside a hedge of balsam shrubs. These shrubs always had stone basins under them to catch the balsam that dripped from them, thus providing the passers-by with a refreshing drink, with which they could also fill their jugs. In the hedges there were berries which they picked and ate. They also had little rolls of bread to eat. The boy-prophets had by now disappeared. One of them was Elijah; I think the other was Moses. I am sure that the child Mary saw them, but she said nothing about it. She saw them just as, when one is a child, one often sees holy children appearing to one (or when one is grown-up, one sees holy virgins or youths) without saying anything of it to others, because in such moments one is in a state of quiet contemplation.

Later I saw the travelers stop at a house standing by itself, where they were made welcome and were given food. The people who lived there seemed to be relations. Little Mary Cleophas was sent back from here. During the day I had several glimpses of their journey, a rather difficult one. They had to pass over hill and dale, and in the valleys there were often cold mists and much dew, though here and there I saw sunny patches where flowers were showing. Before reaching their resting place for the night they crossed a little stream. They spent the night at an inn at the foot of a hill on which there is a town. Unfortunately I can no longer say for certain what was the name of this place. I saw it on other journeys of the Holy Family, and can easily be mistaken about its name. [63] I can only say this much, but not with certainty; they traveled in the same direction that Jesus followed in the September of His thirtieth year, when He went from Nazareth to Bethany and thence to be baptized by John. The Holy Family took the same way on their flight from Nazareth to Egypt. On that flight their first shelter was at Nazara, a small place between Massaloth and a hill town, but nearer the latter. I see so many places around me and hear so many names that I may very easily mix them up. This town stretches up the hillside and is divided into several different parts, though all belonging to each other. There is a great lack of water there, and it has to be drawn up from below with ropes. There are several old towers in ruins, and on the top of the hill is a sort of watchtower with a structure of beams and ropes for hauling things up from the town below. The many ropes make it look rather like the masts of a ship. It must be an hour's climb to the top of the hill. (The travelers stopped at an inn down below.) There is a very extensive view from this hill. Part of this town is inhabited by heathen people who were treated by the Jews as slaves and forced to do hard labor; for instance, they were made to work at the Temple and other buildings.

[On November 4 ^th, 1821, she said:] This evening I saw Joachim and Anna with the child Mary and a maidservant arrive at an inn twelve hours distant from Jerusalem. They were accompanied by a manservant who often went ahead with the heavily loaded donkey. Here they caught up with the herd of their beasts on the way to the Temple to be sacrificed; these, however, continued at once on their road. Joachim must have been very well known here, for he was as if in his own house. His beasts for sacrifice always used to stop here. He also came here when he returned to Nazareth from his hidden life among the shepherds. I saw the child Mary asleep here beside her mother. (I have had so much to do these days with the Holy Souls that I think it has made me forget part of the journey to the Temple.)

[On November 5 ^th, 1821, she related:] This evening I saw the child Mary with her parents arrive in a town to the northwest of Jerusalem, barely six hours' journey from it. This town is called Bethoron and lies at the foot of a hill. On the way they crossed a stream flowing westwards into the sea near Joppa, where Peter taught after the coming of the Holy Ghost. Great battles were once fought near Bethoron. I saw them, but have forgotten them again. [64] (See Joshua 10.11) It was about two hours' journey from here to a place on a high road from where one could see Jerusalem. I heard the name of this road or place, but cannot distinctly recall it. [65]

Bethoron is a large town, inhabited by Levites. Very fine, big grapes grow here, and many other fruits as well. The Holy Family stayed with friends in a well-kept house. The man was a schoolteacher; it was a Levite school, and there were a number of children in the house. I was much surprised to see here several women related to Anna, with their little daughters, who were, I had thought, on the way to their own homes. However, as I now saw, they had taken a shorter road and had arrived here first, I suppose in order to welcome the travelers. These women and children were from Nazareth, Sephoris, Zabulon, and thereabouts; some of them had already been in Anna's house during the examination; for instance, Mary's elder sister and her little daughter Mary Cleophas, and Anna's sister from Sephoris with her daughters. The stay here was made the occasion of great rejoicing over the child Mary. She was led into a big room accompanied by the other children, and was placed on a raised seat with a canopy, arranged for her like a little throne. The schoolteacher and others again asked her all manner of questions, putting wreaths on her head. All were astonished by the wisdom of her answers. I also heard about the cleverness of another girl who had passed through here a short time ago on her way home from the Temple school. Her name was Susanna, and later she followed Jesus with the holy women. It was her place that Mary was to take in the Temple, for there was a limited number of such places. Susanna was fifteen years old when she left the Temple, and thus about eleven years older than Mary. Anna, too, had been educated in the Temple, but did not go there till she was five years old. The child Mary was exceedingly joyful at being so near the Temple; I saw Joachim pressing her to his heart in tears, and saying: O my child, I fear I shall not see you again.'

A meal was now prepared, and while all were reclining at table I saw Mary running about full of loving gaiety, some times nestling against her mother or standing behind her and throwing her little arms round her neck.

[On November 6 ^th, 1821:] Today very early I saw the travelers leaving Bethoron for Jerusalem. All their relations, the children, and the people of the inn went with them. They took with them presents of clothing and fruit for the child. It looks to me as if there were going to be great festivities in Jerusalem. I learnt for certain that Mary was three years and three months old, but she was like a little girl of five or six in our country. Their journey did not take them through either Ussen Scheera or Gophna, though they were known in those places; but they must have passed near them.











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