The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
XII. THE CIRCUMCISION OF JESUS
1. PREPARATION FOR THE CIRCUMCISION. JOSEPHS FETCHS THE PRIESTS FROM BETHLEHEM.
[DECEMBER 1 ^st:] This afternoon I saw several more people who were
keeping the Sabbath come to the Cave of the Nativity, and in the
evening, after the Sabbath was over, I saw the Essene women and Mary's
maidservant preparing a meal in an arbor in front of the entrance to
the cave. Joseph had begun to put up this arbor with the shepherds
several days before. He had also cleared out his room at the entrance
to the cave, covering the floor with rugs and decorating everything as
festively as his poverty allowed. He had made all these arrangements
before the Sabbath began, for tomorrow at daybreak is the eighth day
from the birth of Christ, when the child must be circumcised according
to God's commandment.
Towards evening Joseph had gone to Bethlehem, and returned with three
priests, an elderly man, and a woman who seemed to act as a kind of
nurse at this solemn ceremony. She brought with her a chair specially
kept for these occasions, and a thick octagonal stone slab containing
what was necessary. All these things were put down on mats spread out
at the place where the ceremony was to take place. This was at the
entrance to the cave, not far from the Crib, between the partition
lately removed by Joseph and the hearth-place. The chair was really a
box and could be drawn out to form a sort of low couch with an arm at
one side. It was covered with red material. It was more for lying than
sitting on. The octagonal stone slab must have been over two feet in
diameter. In its center there was an octagonal cavity covered with a
metal plate; in it were three boxes and a stone knife in separate
compartments. This stone slab was placed beside the chair on a
three-legged stool, which until now had always stood, covered with a
cloth, on the place where Our Lord was born.
When all had been arranged, the priests greeted the Blessed Virgin and
the Infant Jesus. They spoke friendly words to her and took the Child
in their arms with emotion. A meal was then eaten in the arbor before
the entrance, and a crowd of poor people (who, as always happens on
such occasions, had followed the priests) surrounded the table and were
given presents throughout the meal by Joseph and the priests, so that
soon everything was distributed.
I saw the sun go down; it looked bigger than here at home. I saw its
low rays shining through the open door into the Cave of the Nativity.