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

5. OCCURRENCES DURING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST IN ROME.




I saw much in Rome last night, but of all the pictures I saw I have forgotten many and may easily have confused some of them. I will tell them as I remember them.

When Jesus was born, I saw that in Rome, on the other side of the river, where many Jews lived [she here described not very clearly a place like a hill surrounded by water, forming a kind of peninsula], a spring as of oil burst forth and caused general astonishment. A magnificent idol of Jupiter also broke in pieces in a temple of which the whole roof fell in. They made sacrifices in great alarm, and asked another idol--of Venus, I think--what this signified, and received the answer (which must have been spoken by the devil out of the mouth of the idol): This befell because a virgin without a husband conceived a son and has now given birth to him.' This idol spoke also of the fountain of oil that had sprung forth. Where it sprang forth, there now stands a church dedicated to the Mother of God. [102]

I saw the heathen priests consulting their records in great alarm. Seventy years before, when that idol was being magnificently adorned with gold and precious stones, and was being honored with solemn sacrifices, there lived in Rome a very good and pious woman (I am not sure whether she was a Jewess or not) whose name sounded like Serena or Cyrena. She had enough money to live on, saw visions, and was impelled to prophesy. I have forgotten a great deal about her, but I think she used often to tell people the cause of their unfruitfulness. This woman had openly proclaimed that such costly honors should not be paid to the idol, for one day it would burst asunder. The priests called her to account because of this declaration, and demanded that she should say when this would happen; and as she could not at once reply, she was imprisoned and tortured until she obtained by her prayers to God the reply that the idol would break in pieces when a pure virgin should bear a son. This announcement was received with derision, and she was released as being out of her senses. Now, when the collapse of the temple did indeed shatter the idol, they recognized that she had prophesied truly, and were astonished at her having fixed a time for this event. They knew of course nothing of Christ having been born of the Blessed Virgin.

I saw that both the Roman consuls called for reports about this event and about the appearance of the fountain of oil. One of the consuls was called Lentulus and was an ancestor of the martyred priest Moses and of the Lentulus who was a friend of St. Peter in Rome.

I also saw something connected with the Emperor Augustus, but can no longer remember it distinctly. I saw the Emperor with some other men on a hill in Rome, on the other side of which was the temple that had fallen in. There were steps leading up the hill, which had a golden gate on it. Business matters were settled there. When the Emperor descended the hill, he saw on the right-hand side, over the top of the hill, an apparition in the sky. [Please refer to Figure 15.] It was a vision of a virgin above a rainbow, and a child was soaring up from her. I think that only he saw it. He asked for an explanation of this apparition from an oracle that had long been dumb, and it gave an answer about a newborn child before whom all must give way. Thereupon he caused an altar to be set up on the hill over which he had seen the appearance, and dedicated it with many sacrifices to the Firstborn of God. I have forgotten much of all this.











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