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

5.2 TRAVELING AT NIGHT. MARY AND JOSEPH REST AT THE TEREBINTH OF ABRAHAM.




[Thursday to Friday night, November 15 ^th-16 ^th:] I saw the Holy Family some hours' journey beyond this last place, going at night towards a mountain through a very cold valley. It looked as if there was hoar-frost on the ground. The Blessed Virgin was suffering from the cold and said to Joseph: We must rest, I can go no farther.' Hardly had she spoken when the she-ass that was running with them stood still under a terebinth tree, very big and old, near which was a spring of water. They stopped under this tree; Joseph spread coverings for the Blessed Virgin to sit on, after helping her to alight from the donkey, and she sat down under the tree. Joseph hung a lighted lantern, which he carried with him, on the lower branches of the tree. (I often saw travelers in that country do this at night.) The Blessed Virgin prayed earnestly to God that He would not suffer her to take harm from the cold. At once she was filled with so great a warmth that she held out her hands to St. Joseph to warm his. They refreshed themselves here with fruit and little loaves of bread which they had with them, and drank water from the spring near by, mixing it with balsam which Joseph had brought with him in a little jug. Joseph spoke very comfortingly to the Blessed Virgin: he is so good, and so sorry that the journey is so difficult. When the Blessed Virgin complained of the cold, he spoke to her about the good lodging which he hoped to find for her in Bethlehem. He said he knew of a house with very good people where they would find a comfortable lodging at very little cost. It was, he said, better to pay something than to be taken in for nothing. He spoke highly of Bethlehem in general, and comforted the Blessed Virgin in every possible way. (This upset me, because I knew well that things would turn out quite differently. Even this holy man, you see, indulged in human hopes.)

So far they have crossed two little streams in the course of their journey: one of these they crossed on a high foot-way, while the two donkeys waded through the water. It was strange to see how the young she-ass, who was free to go where she would, kept running round the travelers. Where the path narrowed, as for instance between hills, and so could not be mistaken, she ran sometimes before and sometimes behind them, but where there was a parting of the ways she always appeared again and took the right path. Where they were to rest, she stood still, as here by the terebinth tree. I do not remember whether they spent the night under the tree, or whether they went on to another shelter.

This terebinth was a very old and sacred tree, of the grove of Moreh near Shechem. When Abraham was journeying into the land of Canaan, he had here a vision of God, who promised him this land for his descendants. ( Gen. 15.) He then built an altar under the terebinth. Before Jacob went to Bethel, to sacrifice to the Lord, he buried under this terebinth all the strange gods of Laban and the jewels which his family carried with him. ( Gen. 35.4.) Under this tree Joshua built the tabernacle for the Ark of the Covenant and made the people assembled there renounce their idols. ( Joshua 24.26.) It was here that Abimelech, the son of Gideon, was hailed as king of the Shechemites. ( Judges 9.6.)











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