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

IX. THE VISITATION [81]

1. MARY AND JOSEPH TRAVEL TO VISIT ELIZABETH.




Some days after the Annunciation, St. Joseph returned to Nazareth and made further arrangements for working at his craft in the house. He had never lived in Nazareth before and had not spent more than a few days there. Joseph knew nothing of the Incarnation; Mary was the Mother of the Lord, but also the handmaid of the Lord, and she kept His secret in all humility. When the Blessed Virgin felt that the Word was made Flesh in her, she was conscious of a great desire to pay an immediate visit to her cousin Elizabeth at Juttah near Hebron, whom the angel had told her was now six months with child. As the time was now drawing near when Joseph wished to go up to Jerusalem for the Passover, the Blessed Virgin decided to accompany him in order to help Elizabeth in her pregnancy. Joseph therefore started with the Blessed Virgin on the journey to Juttah. [82]

[Catherine Emmerich described the following single scenes from the journey of Joseph and Mary to Elizabeth; but it must be understood that owing to her illness and to various interruptions very many gaps occur in her account. She gave no description of their departure, but only a few pictures from successive days of their journey, which we here transcribe.]

They traveled in a southerly direction and had a donkey with them, on which Mary rode from time to time. Some baggage was packed onto it, amongst which was a striped sack of Joseph's (it seemed to me to be knitted) in which was a long brownish garment of Mary's with a sort of hood. This garment was fastened in front with ribbons. Mary put it on when she went into the Temple or into a synagogue. On the journey she wore a brown woolen undergarment, and over this a gray dress with a girdle. Her head-covering was yellowish in color. They made the long journey rather quickly. I saw them, after they had crossed the plain of Esdrelon in a southerly direction, entering the house of a friend of Joseph's father in the town of Dothan, on a hill. He was a well-to-do man and came from Bethlehem. His father was called brother by Joseph's father, though he was not really his brother, but he came of David's line through a man who was, I think, also a king and was called Ela, Eldoa, or Eldad, I cannot remember clearly which it was. [83] There was much trading in this place.

Once, I saw them spending the night in a shed, and one evening, when they were still twelve hours distant from Zechariah's dwelling, I saw them in a wood, going into a hut of wattle-work, on which green leaves and beautiful white flowers were growing. This hut was meant for travelers: beside the roads in that country are many open arbors like this, and even solid buildings. Travelers can spend the night in them, or shelter from the heat and prepare the food which they have brought with them. Some of these shelters are looked after by a family living near at hand who are ready to supply any needs in return for a small payment.

[Here there seems to be a gap in the account. Probably the Blessed Virgin was present with Joseph at the Passover in Jerusalem, and did not go to Elizabeth until after that; for while Joseph's journey to the Feast is mentioned above, we are told later that Zechariah reached home, after attending the Passover, the day before the Visitation.]

They did not go direct from Jerusalem to Juttah, but made a detour to the east in order to avoid the crowds. They passed near a little town two hours distant from Emmaus, and took roads which Jesus often traveled in the years of His ministry. They still had two hills to pass. Between these two hills I once saw them sitting and resting. They were eating bread and mixing in their drinking water drops of balsam which they had collected on their way. It was very hilly here. They passed over-hanging rocks with great caves in which were all kinds of strange stones. The valleys were very fertile. Then their path led them through wood, moorland, meadows, and fields. Towards the end of their journey I particularly noticed a plant with little delicate green leaves and with flower-clusters of nine little pale-red, closed bells or vessels. There was something in these with which I had to do but what it was I cannot remember. [84]











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