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

9. THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS.




[Sunday, November 25 ^th (morning):] In the early dawn after Christ's Birth the three chief shepherds came from their hill to the Cave of the Nativity with their presents, which they had gathered together beforehand. These presents were little animals not unlike roe-deer. If they were kids, those in that country look very different from ours here at home. They had long necks, very clear beautiful eyes, and were very swift and graceful. The shepherds led them behind and beside them on long, thin cords. The shepherds also had strings of dead birds hanging over their shoulders, and carried some bigger live birds under their arms. When they knocked shyly at the door of the cave, St. Joseph came towards them with a friendly greeting. They told him what the angel had announced to them that night, and how they were come to worship the Child of the Promise and to present their poor gifts to him. Joseph took their gifts with humble gratitude, and made them take the animals into the little chamber the entrance of which is by the southern door of the cave. Then he accompanied them into the cave itself, and led the three shepherds up to the Blessed Virgin, who was sitting on the coverlet on the ground by the Crib, holding the Child Jesus before her on her lap. The shepherds, holding their staffs in their hands, threw themselves humbly on their knees before Jesus, weeping for joy. They remained a long time speechless with bliss and then sang the angels' hymn of praise which they had heard in the night, and a psalm which I have forgotten. When they got up to go away, the Blessed Virgin put the little Jesus into their arms one after the other. They gave Him back to her with tears and left the cave.

[Sunday, November 25 ^th (evening): During the whole day Catherine Emmerich was in great distress of body and mind. She had hardly fallen asleep in the evening when she at once felt herself transported to the Promised Land. During this year she had been also contemplating the first year of Christ's ministry, and particularly His forty-days' fast, and she exclaimed in childlike wonder: What a moving sight! On one side I see Jesus as a man thirty years of age fasting and tempted in a cave in the wilderness, and on the other I see Him as a newborn child in the Cave of the Nativity, adored by the shepherds from the shepherds' tower.' After these words the visionary rose from her couch with astonishing rapidity, ran to the open door of her room and called in an ecstasy of joy to some friends who were in the outer room: Come quickly, quickly to adore the Child, He is in my room.' She returned as rapidly to her couch, and began, quivering with rapture and devotion, to sing in a clear, inexpressibly moving voice the Magnificat, Gloria in Excelsis, and some other unknown hymns of praise. These were simple but profound and were partly in rhyme. In one hymn she sang second. She was in an unusually joyful and excited mood and said next morning:]

Yesterday evening several shepherds and shepherdesses and children from the Shepherds' Tower, which is four hours away, came to the Crib with presents. They brought eggs, birds, honey, woven stuffs of different colors, little bunches of what looked like raw silk, and bushes of a rush-like shrub with big leaves and ears full of thick grains. After handing their presents to St. Joseph, they came up humbly to the Crib, beside which the Blessed Virgin sat. They greeted her and the Child, and then, kneeling round her, they sang some lovely hymns, the Gloria in Excelsis, and a few short verses. I sang with them; they sang in parts. In one of the hymns I sang second. I remember the words more or less: O little child, red as a rose, like a herald you come forth.' When they made their farewell, they bent over the Crib as though they were kissing the Infant Jesus.











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