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

1. ABOUT MARY AND JOSEPHS WEDDING AND NUPTIAL CLOTHES.




[In the course of her continuous visions of Our Lord's daily ministry, Catherine Emmerich (on September 24 ^th, 1821) saw Jesus teaching in the synagogue at Gophna, four days before His baptism. He was dwelling with the family of a head of the synagogue related to Joachim. On this occasion she heard two widows, his daughters, exchanging remembrances of the wedding of Jesus' parents, at which they had been present in their youth with other relations. Of this she told what follows.]

While the two widows were recalling the wedding of Mary and Joseph as they talked together, I saw a picture of this wedding and in particular of the beautiful wedding garments of the Blessed Virgin, of which these good women could not say enough. I will tell you what I can still remember.

The wedding of Mary and Joseph, which lasted for seven or eight days, was celebrated on Mount Sion in Jerusalem in a house which was often hired out for festivities of this kind. Besides Mary's teachers and schoolfellows from the Temple school many relations of Anna and Joachim were present, amongst others a family from Gophna with two daughters. The wedding was very ceremonious and elaborate. Many lambs were slaughtered and sacrificed. The Blessed Virgin's wedding garments were so remarkably beautiful and splendid that the women who were present used to enjoy speaking about them even in their old age. In my vision I heard their conversation and saw the following:

I saw Mary in her wedding-dress very distinctly. [Please refer to Figure 7.] She wore a white woolen undergarment without sleeves: her arms were wrapped round with strips of the same stuff, for at that time these took the place of closed sleeves. Next she put on a collar reaching from above the breast to her throat. It was encrusted with pearls and white embroidery, and was shaped like the under-collar worn by Archos the Essene, the pattern of which I cut out not long ago [see pp. 12 - 13 ]. Over this she wore an ample robe, open in front. It fell to her feet and was as full as a mantle and had wide sleeves. This robe had a blue ground covered with an embroidered or woven pattern of red, white, and yellow roses interspersed with green leaves, like rich and ancient chasubles. The lower hem ended in fringes and tassels, while the upper edge joined the white neck-covering. After this robe had been arranged to fall in long straight folds, a kind of scapulary was put on over it, such as some religious wear, for instance the Carmelites. This was made of white silk with gold flowers: it was half a yard wide, and was set with pearls and shining jewels at the breast. It hung in a single width down to the edge of the dress, of which it covered the opening in front. The lower edge was ornamented with fringes and beads. A similar width hung down the back, while shorter and narrower strips of the silk hung over the shoulders and arms; these four pieces, spread out round the neck, made the shape of a cross. The front and back pieces of this scapulary were held together under the arms by gold laces or little chains; the fullness of the robe was thus gathered together in front and the jeweled breast-piece pressed against it; the flowered material of the robe was a little puffed out in the openings between the laces. The full sleeves, over which the shoulder-pieces of the scapulary projected, were lightly held together by bracelets above and below the elbow. These bracelets, which were about two fingers in breadth and engraved with letters, had twisted edges. They caused the full sleeves to puff out at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The sleeves ended in a white frill of silk or wool, I think. Over all this she wore a sky-blue mantle, shaped like a big cloak, which in its turn was covered by a sort of mourning cloak with sleeves made after a traditional fashion. These cloaks were worn by Jewish women at certain religious or domestic ceremonies. Mary's cloak was fastened at the breast, under her neck, with a brooch, above which, round her neck, was a white frill of what looked like feathers or floss silk. This cloak fell back over the shoulders, came forward again at the sides, and ended at the back in a pointed train. Its edge was embroidered with gold flowers.

Figure 7. Mary in her wedding dress.

The adornment of her hair was indescribably beautiful. It was parted in the middle of her head and divided into a number of little plaits. [Please refer to Figure 8.] These, interwoven with white silk and pearls, formed a great net falling over her shoulders and ending in a point half-way down her back. The ends of the plaits were curled inwards, and this whole net of hair was edged with a decorated border of fringes and pearls, whose weight held it down and kept it in place. Her hair was encircled by a wreath of white unspun silk or wool, three strips of the same material meeting in a tuft on the top of her head and holding it in place. On this wreath rested a crown of about a hand's-breadth, decorated with jewels and surmounted by three bands of metal crowned by a knob. This crown was ornamented in front with three pearls, one above the other, and with one pearl on each side.

Figure 8. Mary's hair adorned for her wedding.

In her left hand she carried a little silken wreath of red and white roses, and in her right hand, like a scepter, a beautiful gilded torch in the shape of a candlestick without a foot. Its stem (thicker in the middle than at the ends) was decorated with knobs above and below where it was held. It was surmounted by a flat cup in which a white flame was burning.

The shoes had soles two fingers thick heightened at toe and heel. These soles were made entirely of green material, so that the foot seemed to rest on grass. Two white-and-gold straps held them fast over the instep of the bare foot, and the toes were covered by a little flap which was attached to the sole and was always worn by well-dressed women.

It was the Temple maidens who plaited Mary's beautiful hair arrangement; I saw it being done, several of them were busy with it and it went quicker than one would think. Anna had brought the beautiful clothes which Mary in her humility was unwilling to wear. After the wedding the network of hair was thrown up over her head, the crown was removed, and a milk-white veil put on her which hung down to her elbows. The crown was then put on again over this veil.

The Blessed Virgin had very abundant hair, reddish-gold in color. Her high, delicately traced eyebrows were black; she had a very high forehead, large downcast eyes with long black lashes, a rather long straight nose, delicately shaped, a noble and lovely mouth, and a pointed chin. She was of middle height, and moved about in her rich dress very gently and with great modesty and seriousness. At her wedding she afterwards put on another dress of striped stuff, less grand, a piece of which I possess among my relics. She wore this striped dress also at Cana and on other holy occasions. She wore her wedding-dress again in the Temple several times.

Very rich people used to change their dresses three or four times at weddings. Mary in her grand garments looked like the great ladies of much later times; for instance, the Empress Helena, or even Cunegundis, although the manner in which Jewish women muffled themselves up on ordinary occasions was very different and was more after the fashion of Roman women. (In connection with these clothes I observed that very many weavers lived near the Cenacle on Mount Sion, who made many kinds of beautiful materials.)

Joseph wore a long full coat of pale blue, fastened down the front from breast to hem with laces and bosses or buttons. His wide sleeves were also fastened at the sides with laces; they were much turned up and seemed to have pockets inside. Round his neck he wore a kind of brown collar or rather a broad stole, and two white strips hung over his breast, like the bands worn by our priests, only much longer. [See Figure 9.]

I saw the whole course of the marriage of Joseph and Mary and the wedding banquet and all the festivities, but I saw so many other things at the same time, and am so ill and so disturbed in many ways, that I do not venture to say more about it for fear of confusing my account.











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