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.