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

14. MANY PEOPLE VISIT THE CHILD JESUS ON THE WAY TO BETHLEHEM. JOSEPH PAWNS THE SHE-ASS.




[November 30 ^th:] Today several shepherds and other good people came to the Cave of the Nativity and worshipped the Infant Jesus with great fervor. They were dressed in their best and were on their way to Bethlehem for the Sabbath. Among these people I saw the surly shepherd's good wife, who had given shelter to the Holy Family on November 20 ^th. She might have taken a more direct road from her home to go to Jerusalem for the Sabbath, but she made a detour by Bethlehem in order to pay respect to the Holy Child and His dear parents. The good woman was full of happiness at having shown them loving-kindness. Today, I also saw St. Joseph's relations, near whose dwelling the Holy Family had passed the night of November 22 ^nd, come to the cave and greet the Child. Among them was the father of that Jonadab who at the Crucifixion brought Jesus a cloth to cover His nakedness. He had heard from the innkeeper of his village about Joseph's journey through the place and about the wonderful happenings at the birth of the Child, and had come here with presents for Him on his way to the Sabbath at Bethlehem. He greeted Mary and worshipped the Infant Jesus. Joseph was very friendly with him; he accepted nothing from him, but gave him the young she-ass (who had been running free with them) as a pledge, on condition that he could redeem her on repayment of the money. Joseph needed the money to pay for the presents and the meal at the circumcision ceremony. After Joseph had finished this business and everybody had gone to the synagogue in Bethlehem, he hung up in the cave the Sabbath lamp with seven wicks, lit it, and put beneath it a table covered with a red-and-white cloth on which lay prayer-scrolls. Here under the lamp he celebrated the eve of the Sabbath, reciting prayers with the Blessed Virgin and Anna's maidservant. [111] Two shepherds stood farther back in the entrance of the cave. The Essene women were also present, and afterwards they prepared the meal. Today, the eve of the Sabbath, the Essene women and the maidservant prepared several dishes for the next day. I saw the plucked and cleaned birds being roasted on a spit over the glowing embers. While roasting them they rolled them in a kind of flour made by pounding grains which grew in the ears of a rush-like plant. This plant grows wild only in damp, marshy places in that country and on the sunny side. In some places it is cultivated. It grows wild near Bethlehem and Hebron, but I never saw it near Nazareth. The shepherds of the tower had brought some of it to Joseph. I saw them making the grains into a thick shiny white paste, and they also baked cakes with the flour. I saw open holes under the fireplace, very hot, where they baked cakes as well as birds and other things. They kept for themselves very little of the many provisions given by the shepherds to St. Joseph. Most of it went as presents and as food for others, especially for the poor. Tomorrow evening, during the meal at the circumcision ceremony, there will be a great distribution.











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