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

11. MARY CONCLUDES THE SABBATH IN THE BURIAL CAVE OF MARAHA.




[Sunday, November 24 ^th: Catherine Emmerich was very ill today and could communicate only the little that follows:]

The Blessed Virgin spent the Sabbath in the Cave of the Nativity in prayer and meditation and in great spiritual fervor. Joseph went out several times, probably to the synagogue in Bethlehem. I saw them sharing the food which had been prepared the day before, and praying together. In the afternoon of the Sabbath, when it is the Jewish custom to go for a walk, Joseph took the Blessed Virgin through the valley behind the cave to the tomb of Maraha, Abraham's nurse. They spent some time in this cave, which was roomier than the Cave of the Nativity, and in which Joseph had prepared a place for the Blessed Virgin to sit. The rest of the time they spent under the sacred tree near it, in prayer and meditation, until some time after the close of the Sabbath, when Joseph took her back again.

Mary had told St. Joseph that tonight at midnight would be the hour of the child's birth, for then the nine months since the Annunciation would have been completed. She begged him to do all that was possible on his part so that they might show as much honor as they could to the child promised by God and supernaturally conceived. She asked him, too, to join with her in praying for the hard-hearted people who had refused to give them shelter. Joseph suggested to the Blessed Virgin that he should summon to her assistance some pious women whom he knew in Bethlehem. She declined, however, saying that she needed no human help. Just before the close of the Sabbath Joseph went into Bethlehem, and as soon as the sun had set, he quickly bought a few necessary things--a stool, a little low table, a few little bowls, and some dried fruit and grapes. With them he hurried back to the cave and then to the tomb of Maraha, and took the Blessed Virgin back to the Cave of the Nativity, where she lay down on her couch in the easternmost corner. Joseph prepared some more food, and they ate and prayed together. He then completely divided off his sleeping place from the rest of the cave by surrounding it with posts and hanging on them mats which he had found in the cave. He fed the donkey, which was standing to the left of the entrance against the wall of the cave; then he filled the manger above the crib with rushes and fine grass or moss, and spread a covering over it which hung down over the edge.

On the Blessed Virgin telling him that her time was drawing near and that he was to retire into his room and pray, he hung up some more burning lamps in the cave and went out, as he had heard a noise outside. Here he found the young she-ass, who until now had been wandering about loose in the valley of the shepherds. She came joyfully running up and gamboled round him. He tied her up under the shelter before the cave and strewed fodder before her.

When Joseph came back into the cave and stood at the entrance to his sleeping place looking towards the Blessed Virgin, he saw her with her face turned towards the east, kneeling on the bed facing away from him. He saw her as it were surrounded by flames, the whole cave was as if filled with supernatural light. He gazed at her like Moses when he saw the burning bush; then he went into his little cell in holy awe and threw himself on his face in prayer.











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