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

5.6 BETWEEN SAMARIA AND JUDEA. THE FRUITLESS FIG TREE NORTH-EAST OF BETHANY.




[November 20 ^th:] The day had not yet broken when they left this place. Their way led uphill again. I think they were near the road leading from Gabara [95] to Jerusalem and that the frontier between Samaria and Judea was here. They were again roughly refused admission at another house. When they were several hours north-east of Bethany, it happened that Mary was greatly in need of rest and refreshment; so Joseph turned off the road for about half an hour to a place where he knew there was a beautiful fig tree, which as a rule was full of fruit. This tree had benches round it for people to rest on. Joseph knew it from a former journey. When, however, they got there, they found no fruit at all on the tree, which distressed them very much. I have a dim recollection that afterwards Jesus had something to do with this tree. It never bore fruit any more, but was green, and I think that the Lord cursed it as He passed by when escaping from Jerusalem and that it withered away. [96] After this they came to a house where the man was at first very harsh to Joseph when he humbly asked him for lodging. He shone his light onto the Blessed Virgin's face and scoffed at Joseph for taking so young a woman about with him; he was, he supposed, jealous. The woman of the house then came up and took pity on the Blessed Virgin, showing her a room in a side-building in a very friendly way, and bringing little loaves of bread for them to eat. The man, too, was sorry for his rudeness, and became very friendly towards the holy travelers. After this they came to a third house. It was inhabited by young people, but I saw an old man with a stick walking about in it. Their reception here was tolerably good but not particularly friendly. Nobody took much trouble about them. The people here were not real simple shepherds; they were like rich peasants with us who are more or less entangled in the world and in trade and so on. Jesus visited one of these houses on October 20 ^th (the first day of the month Tisri) after His Baptism, and found the resting-place of His parents decorated and used as a praying-place. I am not sure whether it was the one where the man had at first jeered at Joseph. I have a dim remembrance that the people there had arranged it like this immediately after the wonders accompanying His Birth. Towards the end of their road Joseph made many halts, for the journey grew more and more difficult for the Blessed Virgin. They followed the way taken by the she-ass, and made a day and a half's detour eastwards of Jerusalem. Joseph's father had owned pastureland round here, so he knew the country very well. If they had traveled due south, across the desert behind Bethany, they would probably have reached Bethlehem in six hours, but that way was hilly and at that time of year very difficult; so the she-ass led them through valleys which brought them nearer to the Jordan.











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