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

4. FAMILIARITY BETWEEN MARY AND ELIZABETH. MARY CONFIDES HER PAINS AND JOYS.




[December 4 ^th:] Yesterday evening and again today I saw Mary and Elizabeth sitting together in sweet converse, and I felt myself to be with them and heard all their talk with heartfelt joy. The Blessed Virgin told her everything that had happened to her, and when she described their difficulty in finding a lodging in Bethlehem, Elizabeth wept in sympathy. She also told her much about the birth of the Infant Jesus, and I can remember something of this. She said that at the time of the Annunciation she had lost consciousness for ten minutes and had felt as if her heart had grown to double its size and as if she were filled with inexpressible grace. At the hour of the Birth of Christ she had been full of endless yearning, and had been rapt in ecstasy, feeling as though she were uplifted, kneeling, by angels; then she had felt as though her heart was split in twain, and that one half had gone from her. She had remained thus for ten minutes without consciousness, then she had had a feeling of inner emptiness and an intense yearning for an infinite salvation outside herself, whereas before she had always felt that it was within her. She had then seen a glow of light before her, in which the form of her Child seemed to grow before her eyes. Then she had seen His movements and heard His crying, and coming to herself, had taken Him up from the ground to her breast. At first she had been as in a dream, and had not dared to lift up the little Child surrounded with radiance. She also said that she had not been conscious of having given birth to the Child. Elizabeth said to her: You have been more favored in giving birth than other women: the birth of John was a joy indeed, but it was otherwise than with you.' That is all that I remember of their talk.

Today I saw many people visiting the Blessed Virgin and the Infant Jesus. I also saw a lot of ill-behaved folk like the day before going by and stopping at the door to demand alms, cursing and raging. Joseph did not give them any presents this time. Towards evening Mary again hid herself with the Infant Jesus and Elizabeth in the cave at the side of the Cave of the Nativity, and I think Mary remained there the whole night. This happened because all kinds of inquisitive and important people from Bethlehem crowded to the Crib, and the Blessed Virgin did not wish to be seen by them.

Today I saw the Blessed Virgin leave the Cave of the Nativity with the Infant Jesus and go into another cave to the right of it. The entrance was very narrow, and fourteen steep steps led down first into a small cellar-like chamber and then into a vaulted chamber which was more spacious than the Cave of the Nativity. The space near the entrance was semicircular, and Joseph divided this oil by a hanging curtain, leaving a rectangular room beyond. The light fell not from above but through side-openings pierced in the thick rock. During the last few days I saw an old man clearing out of this cave a lot of brushwood and bundles of straw or rushes such as Joseph used for kindling. It must have been a shepherd who helped in this way. This cave was lighter and more spacious than the Cave of the Nativity. The donkey was not kept here. I saw the Infant Jesus lying here in a hollowed trough on the ground. In the last few days I often saw Mary showing her Child to visitors who came singly. He was covered with a veil, but otherwise had nothing on but a bandage round His body. At other times I saw the little Child all swaddled up again. I see the nurse often visiting the Child. Mary gave her a generous share of the gifts brought by the visitors, which she distributed amongst the needy in Bethlehem.











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