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

IV. THE EARLY LIFE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN AT THE TEMPLE.




I saw the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, ever progressing in learning, prayer, and work. Sometimes I saw her in the women's dwelling with the other young girls, sometimes alone in her little room. She worked, wove, and knitted narrow strips of stuff on long rods for the service of the Temple. She washed the cloths and cleansed the pots and pans. I often saw her in prayer and meditation. I never saw her chastising or mortifying her body--she did not need it. Like all very holy people she ate only to live, and took no other food except that which she had vowed to eat. Besides the prescribed Temple prayers, Mary's devotions consisted of an unceasing longing for redemption, a perpetual state of inner prayer, quietly and secretly performed. In the stillness of the night she rose from her bed and prayed to God. I often saw her weeping at her prayers and surrounded by radiance. As she grew up, I always saw that she wore a dress of a glistening blue color. She was veiled while at prayer, and also wore a veil when she spoke with priests or went down to a room by the Temple to be given work or to hand over what she had done. There were rooms like this on three sides of the Temple; they always looked to me like sacristies. All sorts of things were kept there which it was the duty of the Temple maidens to look after, repair, and replace.

I saw the Blessed Virgin living in the Temple in a perpetual ecstasy of prayer. Her soul did not seem to be on the earth, and she often received consolation and comfort from heaven. She had an endless longing for the fulfillment of the Promise, and in her humility hardly ventured on the wish to be the lowliest maidservant of the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary's teacher and nurse in the Temple was called Noemi, she was a sister of Lazarus' mother and was fifty years old. She and the other Temple women belonged to the Essenes. Mary learnt from her how to knit and helped her when she washed the blood of the sacrifices from the vessels and instruments, or when she cut up and prepared certain parts of the flesh for the Temple women and priests; for this formed part of their food. Later on Mary took a still more active part in these duties. When Zechariah did his service in the Temple he used to visit her, and Simeon was also acquainted with her.

The Blessed Virgin's significance cannot have been quite unknown to the priests. Her whole being, the abundance of grace in her, and her wisdom were so remarkable from her childhood in the Temple onwards that they could not be entirely concealed in spite of her great humility. I saw aged holy priests filling great scrolls with writing about her, and I have been shown these scrolls, lying with other writings, though I cannot remember at what period.











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