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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.











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