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

2. THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST. THE NAME JESUS.




[Sunday, December 2 ^nd. She does not mention whether after yesterday's meal the priests again returned to the town and did not come back till next morning, or whether they passed the night at or near the cave:] There were lamps lit in the cave and I saw them often praying and singing during the night. The circumcision took place at dawn, eight days after the birth of Our Lord. [112] The Blessed Virgin was distressed and anxious. She had herself prepared the little cloths to catch the blood and to bandage the Child and had kept them at her breast in a fold of her mantle. The octagonal stone slab was covered by the priests first with red and then with white. This was accompanied by prayers and ceremonies. One of the priests then placed himself in the chair, leaning back rather than sitting in it, while the Blessed Virgin, who was veiled and holding the Infant Jesus in her arms at the back of the cave, handed the Child to the maidservant together with the bandages. St. Joseph took Him from the maidservant and gave Him to the nurse who had come with the priests. She laid the little Jesus, covered with a veil, upon the cloth on the octagonal stone slab.

Prayers were again offered. Then, the woman unwrapped the Child from His swaddling clothes and placed Him on the lap of the priest in the chair. St. Joseph bent down over the priest's shoulders and held the upper part of the Child's body. Two priests knelt to right and left, each holding one of the Child's feet: the one who was to perform the holy ceremony knelt before the Child. The cover was removed from the stone to disclose the three boxes with healing ointments and lotions. The handle and the blade of the knife were both of stone. The smooth brown handle had a groove into which the blade could be shut down; the latter was of the yellow color of raw silk, and did not seem to me to be sharp. The cut was made with the hook-shaped point of the blade, which when opened must have been nine inches long. The priest also made use of his sharp finger-nails for the operation. Afterwards he sucked the wound and dabbed it with healing lotion and some soothing substance from the boxes. The part that was cut off he placed between two round discs of some precious material, shining and reddish-brown in color, and slightly hollowed out in the center, making a kind of flat box. This was handed to the Blessed Virgin. The nurse now took the Child, bandaged Him, and wrapped Him again in His swaddling clothes. Up till now these, which were red beneath and white above, had been wound round up to under the arms. Now the little arms were also wrapped round, and the veil was wrapped round His head instead of covering it. He was then again laid on the octagonal slab of stone, which was covered with its cloths, and more prayers were said over Him. Although I know that the angel had told Joseph that the child was to be called Jesus, yet I remember that the priest did not at once approve of this name, and therefore fell to praying. I then saw a shining angel appear before the priest, holding before his eyes a tablet (like that on the Cross) with the name of Jesus. I do not know whether he or any of the other priests saw this angel as I did, but he was awe-struck, and I saw him writing this name by divine inspiration on a parchment.

The Infant Jesus wept loudly after the sacred ceremony, and I saw that He was given back to St. Joseph. He laid Him in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who was standing with two women in the back of the cave. She wept as she took Him, and withdrew into the corner where the Crib was. Here she sat down, wrapped in her veil and soothed the crying Infant by giving Him her breast. Joseph also gave her the little bloodstained cloths: the nurse kept the little bloody shreds of stuff that remained. Prayers were again said and hymns sung; the lamp was still burning, but day was breaking. After a while the Blessed Virgin came forward herself with the Child and laid Him down on the octagonal stone; the priests held out their hands to her, crossed over the Child. After this she retired, taking the Child with her. Before the priests left, taking with them all that they had brought, they ate a light meal in the arbor with Joseph and a few shepherds who had been standing at the entrance to the cave. I learnt that all those who took part in this holy ceremony were good people, and that the priests were later enlightened and obtained salvation. During the whole morning generous presents were given to poor people who came to the door. During the ceremony the donkey was tied up farther away. Today crowds of dirty, swarthy beggars went past the cave, carrying bundles, coming from the Valley of the Shepherds. They seemed to be going to Jerusalem for some feast. They were very violent in demanding alms, and cursed and raged horribly at the Crib because they were not satisfied with Joseph's presents. I do not know what was wrong with these people; I felt a great dislike for them. Today the nurse came again to the Blessed Virgin and bandaged the Infant Jesus. In the night that followed I saw the Child often restless with pain and crying a great deal. Mary and Joseph took Him in their arms in turns, carrying Him about and comforting Him.











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