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I. ANCESTORS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Last night there came again before my soul everything that I had so often seen as a child concerning the life of the ancestors of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I saw it all in a series of pictures just as I did then. If only I could tell it all as I know it and have it before my eyes, it would certainly give great joy to the Pilgrim. 11 The ‘Pilgrim’ is Clemens Brentano, who wrote down the visions at Catherine Emmerich’s dictation. These were communicated by her to him on the morning of June 27th, 1819. (Tr.) In my miserable state I was greatly revived by contemplating these pictures. As a child I was so certain of all I saw that if anyone told me any of the stories differently, I would say straight out: ‘No, this is how it is.’ And, indeed, I would have let myself be killed rather than deny that it was thus and not otherwise. Later on, life in the world confused me, and I kept silence. The inner certainty has, however, always remained with me, and last night I once more saw everything even to the smallest details.
When I was a child, my thoughts were always taken up with the Crib and the Child Jesus and with the Mother of God, and I often wondered very much why people told me nothing about the family of the Blessed Virgin. I could not understand at all why so little had been written down about her ancestors and relations. In the great longing which I had, I then received a multitude of visions of the Blessed Virgin’s ancestors. I must have seen them back to the fourth or fifth generation. I saw them always as wonderfully pious and simple people inspired by a quite extraordinary secret longing for the coming of the promised Messiah. I saw them always living amongst other men who, compared to them, seemed to me rough and barbarous. They themselves, I saw, were so quiet, gentle and kindly, that I often said to myself in great anxiety about them: ‘O where can these good people find a refuge, how are they to escape from those rough, wicked men? I will seek them out and will be their servant, I will fly with them into a wood where they can hide themselves; I am sure I shall still be able to find them!’ So clearly did I see them and believe in them, that I was always afraid and full of anxiety about them.
I always saw these people leading a life of great self-denial. I often saw that those among them who were married bound themselves mutually to observe continence for a time; and this gave me much joy, though why this was I could not clearly say. They practiced these separations chiefly when they were occupied with all kinds of religious ceremonies, accompanied by incense and prayers. 22 It is commonly stated that such separation was required of priests on duty, and this can he deduced from Lev. 15.18 (ceremonial uncleanness contracted) and Lev. 22.3 (ceremonial cleanness required). (SB) From these I perceived that there were priests among them. I often saw them moving from one place to another, leaving large homesteads and retiring to smaller ones, in order to lead their lives undisturbed by wicked people.
They were so devout and so full of longing towards God that I often saw them alone in the field by day, and by night, too, running about and crying to God with such intense desire that, in the hunger of their hearts, they tore open their garments at their breasts, as if God were about to burn Himself into their hearts with the hot rays of the sun, or to quench with the moonlight and starlight their thirst for the fulfillment of the Promise.
I remember pictures like these came to me when, as a child or as a young girl, I was kneeling and praying to God, alone with the flock in the pastures, or at night on the high fields above our farm; or when, in Advent, I walked through the snow at midnight to the Rorate 33 Mass of the Fourth Sunday in Advent. devotions in St. James’s Church at Coesfeld, three-quarters of an hour away from our cottage at Flamske. The evening before, and in the night, too, I prayed much for the poor souls in purgatory. I thought that in their lives they had perhaps not been eager enough for grace; perhaps they had given way to other desires for the creatures and goods of the world, had fallen into many faults, and were now yearning to be released. So I offered up my prayer and my longing to God our Savior for them, trying as it were to pay their debt for them. I got a little benefit, too, for myself, for I knew that the kind Holy Souls, in gratitude to me and because of their constant desire for help by prayers, would wake me at the right time and would not let me oversleep. And so they did; they floated round my bed like little flames, little dim, quiet flames, and woke me just in time for me to be able to offer up my morning prayer for them. Then I sprinkled myself and them with holy water, put on my clothes, and started on my way. I saw the poor little lights accompanying me in a regular procession; and on the way I sang with true heart’s desire: ‘Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.’ And as I sang, I saw here and there, in the wilderness and in the fields, the beloved ancestors of Our Blessed Lady running about and crying for the Messiah; and I did as they did, and came to Coesfeld always in time for the Rorate 44 Mass of the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Mass, even when the Holy Souls led me, as they sometimes did, a very long way round past all the Stations of the Cross.
Now, in my visions of these beloved ancestors of the Blessed Virgin praying so hard in their hunger for God, they seemed to me strange indeed in their dress and in their way of living, and yet so near and so clear to me, that I still know and have before my eyes all their features and figures. And I kept asking myself: ‘What manner of people are these? Everything is different from nowadays, yet there these people are, and all that I see has really happened!’ And so I always used to hope that I might go to them.
In all they did and in all they said and in their religious services, these good people were very decided and exact; and they made no lamentations except over the sufferings of their neighbors.
I had a detailed vision of the ancestors of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. They lived at Mara in the region of Mount Horeb, and were connected spiritually with a kind of very devout Israelites of whom I have seen a great deal. I will relate as much as I can recall about them. I was with these people almost the whole of yesterday, and if I had not been oppressed by so many visits, I should not have forgotten nearly all of what I saw.
These devout Israelites who were connected with the ancestors of St. Anne were called Essenes or Essaees. They have, however,
changed their name three times, for they were first called Eskarenes, then Chasidaees, and finally Essenes. Their first name,
Eskarenes, came from the word Eskara or Azkara, which is the name for the part of the sacrifice belonging to God, and also
for the sweet-smelling incense at the offering of wheaten flour.
This was taken down in August 1821 by the writer from Catherine Emmerich’s words. In July 1840, when preparing the book for
printing, he asked a language expert for an explanation of the word Azkara, and was told that Azkarah meant commemoration
and is the name of the portion of the unbloody sacrifice, which was burnt on the altar by the priest to the glory of God and
to remind Him of His merciful promises. The unbloody sacrifices generally consisted of the finest wheaten flour mixed with
oil and sprinkled with incense. The priest burnt as the Azkarah all the incense and also a handful of flour and oil (baked
or unbaked). In the case of the shewbread the incense alone was the Azkarah (
Lev. 24.7). The Vulgate translates the word Azkarah alternatively as ‘memoriale’, ‘in memoriam’, or ‘in monumentum’. (CB)
Lev. 24.7, literally: “And you shall place upon the shewbread pure incense, and it shall be for the bread as a memorial (azkarah), a burnt offering to the Lord.” The other references to the word azkarah are in Lev. 2.2, 9, 16; 5.12; 6.8; Num. 5.26 in connection with the burning of a meal offering (minhah). The connection with the Essenes remains obscure. (SB) The second name, Chasidaees, means merciful. 77 Hasid (pl. Hasidim), originally meaning ‘merciful’ (of God), came to mean ‘devout’ of men, and was later in Maccabean times used to designate a specific group of devout and observant Jews who joined the Maccabean party in their fight for freedom ( I Macc.2.42). These Hasideans (Gk. Asidaioi), as they were then called, are generally believed to be the forerunners of the Pharisees (cf. Lagrange, Le Judaisme avant Jesus-Christ, 1931, pp. 56, 272), and probably of the Essenes (Bonsirven, Le Judaisme Palestinien, 1935, I, pp. 43, 64), both sects being mentioned by Josephus in Maccabean times ( Ant., XIII, v, 9) . (SB) I cannot remember what the name Essenes comes from. 88 They were called Essenoi by Josephus, Esseni by Pliny, and Essaioi by Philo (and six times by Josephus). The origin of the name is uncertain (cf. Lagrange, op. cit. , p. 320). Their way of life, as described by AC, is for the most part fully attested by the contemporary historian Josephus ( BJ , II, viii. 2-13), as well as by Philo (Quod omnis probus liber sit , 75-88). Pliny’s remarks ( Hist. Nat. , V, 17) attribute to the Essenes an antiquity of ‘thousands of years’. There is no other evidence of an antiquity beyond Maccabean times. (Most texts in Lagrange, op. cit. , pp. 307-17.) Passing references by Josephus are in Ant., XIII, v, 9 and XVIII, i, 5. (SB) The way of life of these devout people is an inheritance from the time of Moses and Aaron and in particular from the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant; but it was not until the period between Isaiah and Jeremiah that their way of life was regularly established. At the beginning there were not many of them; later on, however, their settlements in the Promised Land occupied a space twenty-four hours’ journey long and thirty-six hours’ journey broad. They did not come to the region of the Jordan until later; they lived mostly on the slopes of Mount Horeb and Mount Carmel, the home of Elijah.
In the lifetime of St. Anne’s grandparents, the Essenes had a spiritual head who lived on Mount Horeb. He was an aged prophet called Archos or Arkas. 99 The spiritual head on Mount Horeb, Archos, it not mentioned in any of the documents. (SB) Their organization was very like that of a religious order. All who wished to enter it had to undergo a year’s tests, and the length of time for which they were accepted was decided by prophetic inspirations from above. The real members of the Order, who lived in a community, did not marry but lived in chastity; but there were others (who had formerly been in the Order or were attached to it) who married and carried out in their families, and with their children and household, something similar in many ways to the traditional discipline of the real Essenes. Their relation ship with these was like that between the lay members of a Catholic Third Order, or Tertiaries, and the professed priests of the Order. In all important matters, especially as to the marriages of their relations, these married Essenes always sought instruction and counsel from the aged prophet on Mount Horeb. St. Anne’s grandparents belonged to this kind of married Essenes.
Later there arose a third kind of Essenes who exaggerated everything and fell into great errors, and I saw that the others would have no dealings with them.
The real Essenes were specially concerned with prophetic matters, and their head on Mount Horeb was often vouchsafed divine revelations in the cave of Elijah respecting the coming of the Messiah. He had knowledge of the family from which the mother of the Messiah was to come, and at the time that he gave prophetic advice to the grandparents of St. Anne in matters of marriage, he saw that the day of the Lord was approaching. He did not, however, know how long the birth of the Savior’s mother might still be prevented or delayed by sin, and so he was always preaching penance, mortification, prayer, and inner sacrifice for this intention—pious exercises of which all Essenes had ever given the example.
Until Isaiah assembled these people together and gave them a more regular organization, they were scattered about the land of Israel, leading lives of piety and intent on mortification They wore their clothes without mending them till they fell off their bodies. They fought particularly against sexual immorality, and often by mutual consent lived in continence for long periods, living in huts far removed from their wives. When they lived together as husband and wife, it was only with the intention of producing a holy offspring which might bring nearer the coming of the Savior. I saw them eating apart from their wives; the wife came to take her meal after the husband had left the table. There were ancestors of St. Anne and of other holy people among these early Essenes.
Jeremiah too was connected with them, and the men called ‘Sons of the Prophet’ came from them. They often lived in the desert and round Mount Horeb and Carmel, and later I saw many of them in Egypt. I also saw that for a time they were driven away from Mount Horeb by war and were reassembled by new leaders. The Maccabees also belonged to them. They had a great devotion to Moses, and possessed a sacred piece of his clothing given by him to Aaron, from whom it had come down to them. This was their most precious relic, and I had a vision of some fifteen of them being killed in defending it. Their prophet leaders had knowledge of the secret mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant.
The real Essenes who lived in chastity were indescribably pure and devout. They adopted children and brought them up to lead a very holy life. To be accepted as a member of the regular Order, a boy had to have reached the age of fourteen. Those who had been already tested had to undergo a year’s novitiate, others two years. They did not carry on any form of trade, but exchanged the produce of their agriculture for whatever else they needed. If one of them had committed a grave sin, he was expelled from among them and excommunicated by their head. This excommunication had the force of that pronounced by Peter against Ananias, who was struck dead by it. Their head knew by prophetic inspiration who had committed sin. I also saw some Essenes undergoing penitential punishment; they were obliged to stand in a stiff robe with their arms extended immovably in sleeves lined with thorns.
Mount Horeb was full of little caves, which formed the cells where they lived. An assembly hall of light wattlework had been built onto the mouth of one of the large caves. Here they came together at eleven o’clock in the morning and ate. Each had a small loaf of bread in front of him with a goblet. The head went from place to place and blessed each one’s bread. After the meal they returned to their separate cells. In this assembly hall there was an altar on which stood little blessed loaves covered up; they were in some way sacred, and were, I think, distributed among the poor.
The Essenes had a great number of doves, which were tame and ate out of their hands. They ate doves, but also used them in their ritual ceremonies. They said something over them and let them fly away. I saw, too, that they released lambs in the desert after saying something over them, as if they were to take their sins on them. 1010 It is well known that the Essenes refused to sacrifice animals, but the ritual of releasing them (as described by AC) is one of the few matters that is not documented. In Lev. 14.53 the Law prescribed the freeing of a bird after purification from leprosy, and in 16.22 the ritual of the scapegoat, which was to ‘carry away all their iniquities into at uninhabited land.’ (SB)
I saw them go three times a year to the Temple in Jerusalem. They had also priests among them whose special duty was the care of the sacred vestments; they cleaned them, contributed money for them, and also made new ones. I saw them engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture, but specially in gardening. Mount Horeb was full of gardens and fruit trees in the spaces between their huts. I saw many of them weaving and plaiting, and also embroidering priests’ vestments. I did not see them producing silk; that came in bundles to be sold to them, and they exchanged other produce for it.
In Jerusalem they had a quarter of their own to live in and a separate place in the Temple as well. The other Jews rather disliked them because of their austerity. I saw, too, that they sent presents to the Temple; for example, great bunches of grapes, carried by two people on a pole. They also sent lambs, but not to be slaughtered; I think they just let them run into a garden. I did not see the real Essenes offering bloody sacrifices in these later times. I saw that before they journeyed to the Temple they made a very rigorous preparation by prayer, fasting, and penance, including even scourgings. If one laden with sins went to the Temple and to the Holy of Holies without having made atonement by penance, he usually died on the spot. If on their journey, or in Jerusalem itself, they found anyone who was ill or in any way helpless, they did not go to the Temple until they had given him all the aid in their power.
I saw that, in general, they employed themselves in healing. They gathered herbs and prepared potions. I saw also that those holy people whom I had seen some time before laying sick folk down on a bed of healing plants were Essenes. 1111 The little daughter of Catherine Emmerich’s brother, who came from the farm of Flamske near Coesfeld to visit her at Dülmen in the winter of 1820, was seized with violent convulsions occurring every evening at the same time and beginning with distressing choking. These convulsions often lasted until midnight, and Catherine Emmerich, knowing as she did the cause and significance of this and indeed of most other illnesses, was greatly affected by her niece’s sufferings. She prayed many times to be told of a cure for them, and at last was able to describe a certain little flower known to her which she had seen St. Luke pick and use to cure epilepsy. As a result of her minute description of the little flower and of the places where it grew, her physician, Dr. Wesener (the district doctor of Dülmen), found it; she recognized the plant which he brought her as the one she had seen, which she called ‘star-flower ’, and he identified it as Cerastium arvense linnaei or Holosteum caryophylleum veterum (Field Mouse-ear Chickweed). It is remarkable that the old herbal Tabernamontani also refers to the use of this plant for epilepsy. On the afternoon of May 22nd, 1821, Catherine Emmerich said in her sleep: ‘Rue [which she had used before] and star-flower sprinkled with holy water should be pressed, and the juice given to the child, surely that could do no harm? I have already been told three times to squeeze it myself and give it to her.’ The writer, in the hope that she might communicate something more definite about this cure, had, unknown to her, wrapped up at home some blossoms of this plant in paper like a relic and pinned the little packet to her dress in the evening. She woke up and said at once: ‘That is not a relic, it is the star-flower.’ She kept the little flower pinned to her dress during the night, and on the morning of May 23rd, 1821, she said: ‘I had no idea why I was lying last night in a field amongst nothing but star-flowers. I saw, too, all kinds of ways in which these flowers were used, and it was said to me, "If men knew the healing power of this plant, it would not grow so plentifully around you.” I saw pictures of it being used in very distant ages. I saw St. Luke wandering about picking these flowers. I saw, too, in a place like the one where Christ fed the 5,000, many sick folk lying on these flowers in the open air, protected by a light shelter above them. These plants were spread out like litter for them to lie on; and arranged with the flowers in the center under their bodies, and the stalks and leaves pointing outwards. They were suffering from gout, convulsions, and swellings, and had under them round cushions filled with the flowers. I saw their swollen feet being wrapped round with these flowers, and I saw the sick people eating the flowers and drinking water which had been poured on them. The flowers were larger than those here. It was a picture of a long time ago; the people and the doctors wore long white woolen robes with girdles. I saw that the plants were always blessed before use. I saw also a plant of the same family but more succulent and with rounder, juicier, smoother leaves and pale blue blossoms of the same shape, which is very efficacious in children’s convulsions. It grows in better soil and is not so common. I think it is called eyebright. I found it once near Dernekamp. It is stronger than the other.’ She then gave the child three flowers to begin with; the second time she was to have five. She said: ‘I see the child’s nature, but cannot rightly describe it; inside she is like a torn garment, which needs a new piece of stuff for each tear.’ (CB) I saw, too, that the Essenes healed the sick by the laying on of hands, or by stretching themselves on them with arms extended. I saw them also healing at a distance in a wonderful way, for the sick who could not come themselves sent a representative to whom everything was done as it would have been to the sick person. The time was noted, and the distant sick person was cured at that very hour.
I saw that the Essenes on Horeb had in their caves recesses in the walls where bones, carefully wrapped in cotton and silk, were kept as sacred relics behind gratings. They were bones of prophets who had lived here, and also of the children of Israel who had died near here. There were little pots of green plants standing beside them. The Essenes used to light lamps and pray before the bones in veneration of them.
All the unmarried Essenes who lived together in communities on Mount Horeb and elsewhere observed the greatest cleanliness. They wore long white robes. The head of the Essenes on Horeb wore wonderful priestly vestments during solemn religious services, after the manner of the high priest in Jerusalem, only shorter and not so magnificent. When he prayed and prophesied in the cave of Elijah on Mount Horeb, he always wore these sacred vestments, which consisted of about eight pieces. Amongst them was a very sacred relic, a sort of dalmatic or scapular, covering the breast and shoulders, which Moses had worn next to his body and had given to Aaron, from whom it had later descended to the Essenes. The prophet Archos, their head on Mount Horeb, always wore this dalmatic next his body when he was clothed in all his vestments and was praying for prophetic enlightenment. The lower part of his body was wrapped in a loincloth, while breast and shoulders were covered with this sacred garment, which I will describe as exactly as I can remember. It will probably be clearer if I cut out a sort of pattern of it in paper. [She then quickly cut the shape, shown in Figure 1, out of paper put together, saying:] This sacred scapulary had more or less this shape when spread out. Its stuff was woven as stiff as haircloth. On the middle of the breast and back was a triangular place of double thickness and as it were quilted. I cannot now say for certain what was between the layers. At the neck hole, part I, of the scapulary, a triangular piece was cut from A to B, and a ribbon or little strap ran across the top of the opening. Its lower point, B, was still attached to the scapulary, and the triangle could be let down to hide completely another opening over the breast. This other opening was cut from C to D, and below triangle E, was the place of the double thickness mentioned above. It was ribbed or quilted, and letters were fastened into it with little pins and on the inside with sharp little hooks sticking out and pricking the breast. On the cut-out triangle (which was also of double thickness) at the neck there was also something like letters. I do not now know what was inside these triangles. When the priest put on this sacred vestment, the upper triangle exactly covered the lower one. In the middle of the back there was another place, F, where the stuff was quilted and of two thicknesses, and here, too, there were letters and sharp pins.
Figure 1. Pattern of a sacred Essene scapular which Moses had once worn.
Over his scapulary the head of the Essenes wore a gray woolen tunic, and on this again a large full tunic made of white twisted silk, girt with a broad belt inscribed with letters. He had a kind of stole round the neck, crossed over the breast, and it was held fast under the girdle and hung down below his knees. The stole was fastened with three straps above and below the place where it was crossed. On this he put a vestment not unlike a chasuble, which was also made of white twisted silk. [She cut out a pattern of this vestment, shown in Figure 2, as it looked when spread out. Please refer to Figure 2, part II.] The back side, A, was narrow and came down to the ground; it had two bells attached to the lower hem, which tinkled with the priest’s movements and called the people to the service. The front side, B, was shorter and broader and open from the neck hole, C, downwards. This front part had large openings, E, on the breast and below it, through which the stole and undergarment could be seen. These openings were held together in places by fastenings ornamented with letters and precious stones, D. The front and back of this vestment were held together by strips of stuff under the arms. [These were not shown in the pattern which she cut out.] Round the neck was an upright collar, hooked together in front. The priest’s beard, divided in the middle of the chin, fell down over this collar.
Figure 2. Patterns of an Essene sacred silk vestment and cloak.
Over all this he finally put on a little cloak [Figure 2, part III] of white twisted silk. [Please refer to Figure 3 for a depiction of the full outfit.] It shimmered and shone and was fastened in front with three clasps ornamented with precious stones on which something was engraved. From both shoulders of his cloak there were fringes, tassels, and fruits hanging. Besides all this, he wore a short maniple on one arm. The headdress was, as far as I can remember, also of white silk, twisted into a round shape and padded, like a turban, yet resembling our priests’ birettas to a certain extent, for at the top it had ridges like theirs and also a tuft of silk. A little plate of gold set with precious stones was fastened over the forehead.
The Essenes were very austere and frugal in their way of living. They generally ate only fruit, which they often cultivated in their gardens. I saw that Archos usually ate a bitter yellow fruit. About 200 years before Christ’s birth I saw near Jericho a very devout Essene called Chariot.
Archos or Arkas, the old prophet on Mount Horeb, ruled over the Essenes for ninety years. I saw how St. Anne’s grandmother questioned him about her own marriage. It is remarkable that it was always about female children that these prophets made predictions, and that Anna’s ancestors and Anna herself had mostly daughters. It was as if the object of all their devotion and prayers was to obtain from God a blessing on pious mothers from whose descendants the Blessed Virgin, the mother of the Savior Himself, should spring, as well as the families of His precursor and of His servants and disciples.
Figure 3. Head of the Essenes in sacred vestments.
The place where the head of the Essenes on Mount Horeb prayed and prophesied was the cave where Elijah had dwelt. Many steps led to it up the mountain-side, and one entered the cave through a small cramped opening and down a few steps. The prophet Archos went in alone. For the Essenes this was as if the high priest in the Temple went into the Sanctissimum, for here was their Holy of Holies. Within there were several mysterious holy things, difficult to describe. I will tell what I can remember of them. I saw Anna’s grandmother seeking counsel from the prophet Archos.
Anna’s grandmother came from Mara in the desert, where her family, which belonged to the married Essenes, owned property.
Her name sounded to me like Moruni or Emorun. It was told me that this means something like ‘good mother’ or ‘noble mother’.
These were Catherine Emmerich’s words on August 16th, 1821. The names are here written down as the writer heard them pronounced
by her lips, and also her explanation ‘noble mother’. When the writer read this passage to a language expert in 1840, the
latter said that it was indeed true that
means a noble mother. (CB)
Em ramah could mean ‘noble mother’, though the adjective ram , usually meaning materially ‘high’ or else ‘proud’, has no obvious parallel in a proper name, except perhaps in Amram (the father of Moses), which may mean ‘noble uncle’. (SB) When the time came for her to be married, she had several suitors, and I saw her go to the prophet Archos on Horeb for him to decide whom she was to accept. She went into a separate part of the large assembly hall and spoke to Archos, who was in the hall, through a grating, as if she were making her confession to him. It was Only in this way that women approached the place. I then saw Archos put on his ceremonial vestments, and ascend thus arrayed the many steps to the top of Mount Horeb, where he entered the cave of Elijah by the little door and down the steps. He shut the little door of the cave behind him, and opened a hole in the vaulting dimly illuminating the cave, the interior of which had been carefully hollowed out. Against the wall I saw a little altar carved out of the rock, and noticed, though not quite clearly, several sacred objects on it. On the altar were several pots with low-growing bushes of herbs. They were the herbs which grow as high as the hem of Jesus’ garment. 1313 She unquestionably meant that these herbs were the same as those mentioned by Eusebius in his ecclesiastical history, Book VII, Chapter 18, which he says grew round the statue of Jesus Christ put up by the woman of Caesarea Philippi, who was cured of the issue of blood. The plants acquired the power of healing all kinds of sicknesses as soon as they had grown high enough to touch the hem of the statue’s garment. Eusebius says that this plant is of an unknown species. Catherine Emmerich had spoken before of the statue and of these plants. (CB) I know this herb; it grows with us but less vigorously. The plants gave Archos some sort of indication in his prophetic knowledge according to whether they faded or flourished. In the middle between these little bushes of herbs I saw something like a little tree, taller than them, with leaves that looked yellowish and were twisted like snail shells. There seemed to me to be little figures on this tree. I cannot now say for certain whether this tree was living or was artificial, like the Tree of Jesse. [On the next day she said:] On this little tree with the twisted leaves could be seen, as on a tree of Jesse or genealogical table, how soon the coming of the Blessed Virgin was to be expected. It looked to me as if it were living and yet it seemed also to be a receptacle, for I saw that a blossoming branch was kept inside it. I think it was Aaron’s rod, which had once been in the Ark of the Covenant. When Archos prayed in the cave of Elijah for a revelation on the occasion of a marriage among the Blessed Virgin’s ancestors, he took this rod of Aaron into his hand. If the marriage was destined to take its place in the Blessed Virgin’s ancestry, the rod put forth a bud which produced one or more flowers, among which single flowers were sometimes marked with the sign of the elect. Certain buds represented particular ancestors of Anna, and when these came to be married, Archos observed the buds in question and uttered his prophecies according to the manner in which they unfolded.
The Essenes of Mount Horeb had, however, another holy relic in the cave of Elijah; nothing less than a part of the most holy
of the Ark of the Covenant which came into their possession when the Ark fell into the hands of enemies. [She spoke here uncertainly
of a quarrel and of a schism among the Levites.] This holy thing, concealed in the Ark of the Covenant in the fear of God,
was known only to the holiest of the high priests and to a few prophets, but I think that I learnt that it is in some way
mentioned in the little-known secret books of the old Jewish thinkers.
In July 1840, some twenty years after this communication, as this book was being prepared for the press, the writer learnt
from a language expert that the cabalistic book Zohar contains several references to this matter. (CB)
The Zohar is a rabbinic book, claiming descent from Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai (second century), in the form of a commentary on the Pentateuch, interpreting it throughout, in an enigmatic and esoteric style, according to a mystical sense. The Zohar first became known through the 13 th-century Rabbi Moses de Leon, who has often been accused of fabricating the whole thing. Present-day opinion, however, suspends judgment, while emphasizing that the Zohar shows evidence of being a compilation of texts and fragments whose composition probably extended over many centuries, and which is likely to enshrine teaching of the greatest antiquity. The Zohar is one of the principal sources of spiritual interpretation among the Jews, and its main theme may be said to be the significance of every detail in sacred history, and the symbolic reflection in this world of the eternal realities of heaven. With regard to its connection with the statements of AC, see further n. 34, p. 26 . (SB) It was no longer complete in the new Ark of the Covenant in the Temple as restored by Herod. It was no work of man’s hands, it was a mystery, a most holy secret of the divine blessing on the coming of the Blessed Virgin full of grace, in whom by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost the Word became Flesh and God became Man. Before the Babylonian captivity this holy thing had been whole in the Ark of the Covenant; I now saw part of it here in the possession of the Essenes. It was kept in a chalice of shining brown, which seemed to me to be made of a precious stone. They prophesied, too, with the help of this holy thing, which seemed sometimes to put forth as it were little buds.
Archos, after entering the cave of Elijah, shut the door and knelt down in prayer. He looked up to the opening in the vaulting and threw himself face downwards on the ground. I then saw the prophetic knowledge that was given to him. He saw that from under the heart of Emorun, who was seeking his counsel, there grew as it were a rose tree with three branches, with a rose on each of them. The rose on the second branch was marked with a letter, I think an M. He saw still more. An angel wrote letters on the wall; I saw Archos rise up as if awaking and read these letters. I forget the details. He then went down from the cave, and announced to the maiden who was awaiting his answer that she was to marry and that her sixth suitor was to be her husband. She would bear a child, marked with a sign, who was chosen out as a vessel of election in preparation for the coming of the Savior.
Hereupon Emorun married her sixth suitor, an Essene called Stolanus; he did not come from Mara, and as a result of his marriage
and of his wife’s possessions he was given another name, which I can no longer remember distinctly; it was pronounced in different
ways and sounded like Garescha or Sarziri.
Catherine Emmerich pronounced these and all other name-sounds with her Low-German accent and often hesitatingly. Her pronunciation,
she said, only resembled the real names, and it is impossible to be sure how correctly or incorrectly they have been written
down. It is all the more astonishing to find elsewhere long afterwards similar names for the same persons. The following is
an instance. Several years after Catherine Emmerich’s death the writer found in the
Encomium trium Mariarum Bertaudi,
Petragorici, Paris, 1529, and in particular in the treatise
De cognatione divi Joannis Baptistae cum filiabus et nepotibus beatae Annae,
lib. III, f. lii, etc., attached to it, that St. Cyril, the third General of the Carmelite Order, who died in 1224, mentions
in a work concerning the ancestors of St. Anne similar visions of branches, buds, and flowers seen by the prophet of whom
counsel was sought. He further states that Stolanus was also called Agarim or Garizi, names which reproduce sounds recognizable
in the above-mentioned Garescha or Sarziri. On the other hand, in this account it is a Carmelite on Mount Carmel instead of
an Essene on Mount Horeb of whom counsel is sought. Seventeen years after the death of Catherine Emmerich the writer was reading,
on the feast of Corpus Christi, 1840, the life of Our Lady’s holy mother in the
Tom. VI, Julii, where Joannes Eckius in his homily on St. Anne says that Stolanus is called by tradition Stolan, and that
the Roman Breviary of 1536 and several Breviaries printed before the reign of Pius V mention a daughter Gaziri, while others
call her Garzim. A philological friend who was kind enough to read my proofs, observed: ‘It is surprising that the names Gaziri,
Garzi (the final m has been added), Garsha or Garescha (all three forms are correct, though formed from different verbs) all
agree in meaning "outcast”, and that Agari(m) in Arabic also conveys the idea of flight and banishment. Stolanus in Greek
contains the idea of wandering. Sarssir means starling and thus also signifies a wandering bird.’ (CB)
The Hebrew root g-r-sh and the corresponding Arabic root g-sh-r convey the idea of banishment. The Hebrew ger (and its Arabic equivalent) means a ‘stranger’. The Greek stolos means a ‘journey’ (cf . apostolos ). Zurzur is the Arabic for a ‘starling’, being derived apparently from the bird’s noise. (SB) Stolanus and Emorun had three daughters, called, I remember, Ismeria and Emerentia, and a younger one whose name, I think, was Enue. They did not remain long at Mara, but moved later to Ephron. I saw that their daughters Ismeria and Emerentia both married in accordance with the prophetic counsels of the prophet on Horeb. (I can never understand why I have so often heard that Emerentia was the mother of Anna, for I always saw that it was Ismeria.) I will tell in God’s name what I still have in my mind about these daughters of Stolanus and Emorun. 1616 It is certainly true that the writers who follow tradition generally give Emerentia as the mother of St. Anne; but they give the wife of Stolanus as Emerentia, whereas Catherine Emmerich calls her Emorun. According to tradition, Emerentia, the wife of Stolanus, bore Ismeria, the mother of Elizabeth, and Anna, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. Yet according to Catherine Emmerich’s account, Anna is the granddaughter, not the daughter, of Stolanus. If this is a mistake of hers, the reason for it may be that the humble visionary has confused her own visions with the account which she had heard from her childhood of the traditional descent of St. Anne. The name Emerentia is perhaps nothing more than the Latinized form of the name (heard by her) of Emorun. But being either ignorant or forgetful of this, and having always heard of the names Emerentia and Ismeria as being traditionally in close association with Stolanus as the nearest relations of Anna before her marriage, she may have described them as daughters of Stolanus. At the same time it was very noticeable that she never confused any of the countless names which came to her ears except in extreme illness and distress. We are, however, inclined to suppose that there must be some error here, for tradition in general mentions St. Elizabeth as being a niece of St. Anne’s, whereas according to Catherine Emmerich’s account Elizabeth is the niece of Anna’s mother, which would seem to make Elizabeth almost older than Anna, who is called a late-born child. Since the writer cannot explain the error which may possibly have crept in, he begs the kind reader to accept it with patience and thus make amends for the writer’s lack of that Christian virtue in his difficult and often interrupted task of compiling an account of these visions. (CB)
Emerentia married one Aphras or Ophras, a Levite. Of this marriage was born Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. A second daughter was named Enue like her mother’s sister. At the time of Mary’s birth she was already a widow. There was a third daughter, Rhoda, one of whose daughters was Mara, whom I saw present at the death of the Blessed Virgin.
Ismeria married Eliud. They lived after the manner of the married Essenes in the region of Nazareth. They had inherited from their parents the tradition of discipline and continence in married life. Anna was one of their children. The firstborn of Ismeria and Eliud was a daughter called Sobe. Because this child did not bear the sign of the promise, they were much distressed and again went to the prophet on Mount Horeb to seek counsel. Archos exhorted them to betake themselves to prayer and sacrifice, and promised them consolation. After Sobe’s birth, Ismeria remained barren for some eighteen years. When she again became pregnant by God’s blessing, I saw that Ismeria was given a revelation at night. She saw an angel beside her bed writing a letter on the wall. It seems to me that it was again that letter M. Ismeria told her husband of it; he also had seen it in his sleep, but now, while awake, they both saw the sign on the wall. After three months Ismeria gave birth to St. Anne, who came into the world with that sign upon her body.
In her fifth year Anna was, like the Blessed Virgin, taken to the school in the Temple, where she remained twelve years. She was brought home again in her seventeenth year, to find two children there—her little sister Maraha, who had been born while she was away, and a little son of her elder sister Sobe called Eliud. A year after this Ismeria fell mortally ill. As she lay dying she spoke to all her relations and presented Anna to them as the future mistress of the house. Then she spoke once more with Anna alone, telling her that she was a chosen vessel of grace, that she must marry, and must seek counsel from the prophet on Mount Horeb. Then she died.
Sobe, Anna’s elder sister, was married to Salomo. Besides her son Eliud she had a daughter, Mary Salome, who married Zebedee and was the mother of the apostles James and John. Sobe had a second daughter who was an aunt of the bridegroom of Cana and the mother of three disciples. Eliud, the son of Sobe and Salomo, was the second husband of the widow Maroni of Naim and the father of the boy raised by Jesus from the dead.
Maraha, Anna’s younger sister, was given the homestead in Sephoris when her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon. She married and had a daughter and two sons, Arastaria and Cocharia, who became disciples. Anna had yet a third sister who was very poor and was the wife of a shepherd on Anna’s pastures. She was often in Anna’s house.
Enue, the third daughter of Stolanus, married and lived between Bethlehem and Jericho. One of her descendants was with Jesus.
Anna’s great grandfather was a prophet. Eliud, her father, was of the tribe of Levi; her mother Ismeria was of the tribe of Benjamin. 1717 The Apocryphal Gospels tell us nothing about the ancestors of Our Lady, except the names of Joachim and Anne, which are also attested by the liturgy and the calendar. Nat . Mar. I further states that Joachim was from Nazareth and Anne from Bethlehem, and Ps-Matt. I that Anne’s father was called Achar. Apart from these, AC’s statements are all independent. (SB) Anna was born at Bethlehem, but afterwards her parents moved to Sephoris, four hours from Nazareth, where they had a house and land. They also owned land in the beautiful valley of Zabulon, one and a half hours from Sephoris and three hours from Nazareth. In the fine season of the year Anna’s father was often with his family in the valley of Zabulon, 1818 Most of AC’s geographical references are to features traceable on the map, even though some, such as the Valley of Zabulon here, are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. (SB) and after his wife’s death he moved there altogether. This led to the connection with the parents of Joachim, whom Anna married. Joachim’s father was called Matthat 1919 Matthat, son of Levi, is named in Luke’s genealogy (3.23), and see further n. 41, p. 18 . (SB) and was the stepbrother of Jacob (father of St. Joseph) and of Joses. Matthat had settled in the valley of Zabulon.
I saw Anna’s ancestors helping to carry the Ark of the Covenant with great devotion and piety, and I saw also that they received from the holy thing therein rays of light which extended to their descendants, to Anna and the Blessed Virgin. Anna’s parents were rich. This was clear to me because of their possessions; they had many oxen; but they kept nothing for themselves alone, they gave everything to the poor. I saw Anna as a child; she was not particularly beautiful, but yet more so than others. She was far less beautiful than Mary, but remarkably simple and childlike in her piety; I have always seen her like that, whether as girl, mother, or old, old woman. Indeed, whenever I saw a real childlike old peasant woman, it always made me think ‘she is like Anna’. She had several other brothers and sisters, all married, but she did not wish to marry. She was particularly fond of her parents, and though she had at least six suitors, she rejected them all. After taking counsel, like her ancestors with the Essenes, she was directed to marry Joachim, whom she did not yet know, but who sought her in marriage when her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon, the home of Joachim’s father Matthat.
2. ST. ANNE AND ST. JOACHIM.
Joachim was far from handsome. St. Joseph, though no longer young, was in comparison a very handsome man. Joachim was short and broad and at the same time thin, and though he was a wonderfully pious, holy man, I can’t help laughing when I think of his appearance. Joachim was poor. He was related to St. Joseph in the following way: Joseph’s grandfather was descended from David through Solomon and was called Matthan. He had two sons, Jacob and Joses. Jacob was the father of Joseph. When Matthan died, his widow married as her second husband Levi (descended from David through Nathan), and by him had Matthat, the father of Heli, also called Joachim. 2020 Cf. infra , n. 29, p. 22 , and n. 41, p. 32 .
Wooing was in those days a very simple affair. The suitors were quite awkward and bashful, and when the young people spoke to each other, they accepted the idea of marriage as something that had to be. If the bride-to-be said yes, the parents were glad, but if she said no and had reason for it, they were just as satisfied. If everything was settled between the parents, the betrothal followed in the synagogue of the place. The priest prayed at the holy place where the scrolls of the Law lay, the parents in their usual place. Meanwhile the betrothed couple went together into a room and discussed their plans and their marriage contract; if they were in agreement, they told their parents, and their parents told the priest, who came towards them and received their declaration. On the next day the wedding took place in the open air and with many ceremonies.
Joachim and Anna were married in a little place with only a small school. Only one priest was present. Anna was about nineteen years old. They lived with Eliud, Anna’s father. His house belonged to the town of Sephoris, but was some distance away from it, among a group of houses of which it was the largest. Here I think they lived for several years. There was something very distinguished about both of them; they were completely Jewish, but there was in them, unknown to themselves, a wonderful seriousness. I seldom saw them laugh, but they were certainly not sad when they began their married life. They had a serene and even character, and even in their young days they seemed a little like sedate old people. Often in my youth I have seen similar sedate young couples, and even then I used to say to myself, they are just like Anna and Joachim.
Their parents were well-to-do; they had many flocks and herds, beautiful carpets and household things, and many manservants and maidservants. I never saw them cultivating the fields, but often saw them driving cattle out to pasture. They were very pious, devout, charitable, simple, and upright. They often divided their herds and everything else into three parts, and gave a third of the beasts to the Temple, driving them there themselves and handing them over to the Temple servants. The second part they gave to the poor or in answer to the requests of their relations, some of whom were generally there to drive the beasts away. The remainder, which was generally the worst, they kept for themselves. They lived very frugally and gave to all who asked. As a child I often used to think, ‘Giving brings plenty; he who gives, receives twice in return’, for I saw that their third always increased and that soon everything was in such abundance that they were able to make the three divisions again. They had many relations who were assembled in their house on all festive occasions, but I never saw much feasting. I saw them giving food to the poor now and then, but I never saw them having real banquets. When the family were together I generally saw them lying on the ground in a circle, speaking of God in eager expectation. I often saw bad men from their neighborhood watching them with ill will and bitterness as they spoke together, looking up to heaven so full of longing. They were kindly disposed towards these ill-wishers, however, and lost no opportunity of asking them to their house, where they gave them double shares of everything. I often saw these men violently and angrily demanding what the good people gave them in love and charity. There were poor people in their own family, and I often saw them being given a sheep or even several.
The first child born to Anna in her father’s house was a daughter, but she was not the child of promise. The signs which had been predicted were not present at her birth, which was attended by some trouble. I saw that Anna, when with child, was distressed about her servants. One of her maidservants had been led astray by a relation of Joachim. Anna, in great dismay at this infringement of the strict discipline of her house, reproached her somewhat severely for her fault, and the maidservant took her misfortune so to heart that she was delivered prematurely of a stillborn child. Anna was inconsolable over this, fearing that it was her fault, with the result that her child was also born too soon. Her daughter, however, did not die. Since this child had not the signs of the promise and was born too early, Anna looked upon this as a punishment of God, and was greatly distressed at what she believed to be her own sin. She had, however, great joy in her newborn little daughter, who was called Mary. She was a dear, good, gentle child, and I always saw her growing up rather strong and fat. Her parents were very fond of her, but they felt some uneasiness and distress because they realized that she was not the expected holy fruit of their union. They therefore did penance and lived in continence for a long time. Afterwards Anna remained barren, 2121 The Apocryphal Gospels (Protev. 2, Ps-Matt. I , Nat. Mar. I) represent Anna as childless until the conception of Mary. Protev. 2 also relates an incident (though of a different nature) with a handmaid. (SB) which she looked upon as the result of her having sinned, and so redoubled all her good works. I saw her often by herself in earnest prayer; I saw, too, how they often lived apart from each other, gave alms, and sent sacrifices to the Temple.
Anna and Joachim had lived with Anna’s father Eliud for some seven years (as I could see by the age of their first child), when they decided to separate from their parents and settle in a house with land in the neighborhood of Nazareth that had come to them from Joachim’s parents. There they intended in seclusion to begin their married life anew, and to bring down God’s blessing on their union by a way of life more pleasing to Him. I saw this decision being taken in the family, and I saw Anna’s parents making the arrangements for their children’s new home. They divided their flocks and herds, setting apart for their children oxen, asses, and sheep, all much bigger than we have at home. All the household goods, crockery, and clothes were packed upon asses and oxen standing before the door. All the good people were so clever at packing the things up, and the beasts so intelligent in the way they took their loads and carried them off. We are not nearly so clever in packing things into carts as these people were in loading them onto beasts. They had beautiful household things; all the vessels were more delicate than nowadays, as if each had been made by the craftsman with special love and intention. I watched them packing the fragile jugs, decorated with beautiful ornamentation; they filled them with moss, wrapped more moss round them, and made them fast to both ends of a strap, so that they hung over the animal’s backs, which were covered with bundles of colored rugs and garments. I saw them, too, packing up costly rugs heavily embroidered with gold; and the parents gave their departing children a heavy little lump in a pouch, no doubt a piece of precious metal.
When everything was ready, the menservants and maidservants joined the procession, and drove the flocks and herds and the beasts of burden before them to the new home, which was some five or six hours’ journey distant. I think it had belonged to Joachim’s parents. After Anna and Joachim had taken leave of all friends and servants, with thanks and admonitions, they left their former home with much emotion and with good resolutions. Anna’s mother was no longer alive, but I saw that the parents accompanied the couple to their new home. Perhaps Eliud had married again, or perhaps it was only Joachim’s parents who were there. Mary Heli, Anna’s elder daughter, who was about six or seven years old, was also of the party.
Their new home lay in a pleasant hilly country; it was surrounded by meadows and trees, and was one and a half hours, or a good hour, to the west of Nazareth, on a height between the valley of Nazareth and the valley of Zabulon. A ravine with an avenue of terebinth trees led from the house in the direction of Nazareth. In front of the house was an enclosed courtyard, the floor of which looked to me like bare rock. It was surrounded by a low wall of rocks or rough stones, with a wattle hedge growing either on it or behind it. On one side of this court there were small, not very solid buildings for the workpeople and for storing tools of various kinds; also an open shed had been put up there for cattle and beasts of burden. There were several gardens, and in one near the house was a great tree of a strange kind. Its branches hung down to the ground, took root there, and threw up other trees which did the same, until it was encircled by a whole series of arbors. There was a door opening on hinges in the center of the rather large house. The inside of the house was about as big as a moderate-sized village church, and was divided into different rooms by more or less movable wickerwork screens which did not reach to the ceiling. The door opened into the first part of the house, a big anteroom running the whole breadth of the building and used for banquets, or, if necessary, it could be divided up by light movable screens to make small bedrooms when there were many guests. Opposite the house door was a less solid door in the middle of the back wall of this anteroom, leading to the middle part of the house through a passage with four bedrooms on each side of it. These rooms were partitioned off by light wickerwork screens of a man’s height and ending at the top in open trellis-work. From here this passage led into the third or back part of the house, which was not rectangular, as it ended in a semicircular curve like the apse of a church. In the middle of this room, opposite the entrance, the wall of the fireplace rose up to the smoke-opening in the roof of the house; at the foot of this wall was the hearth where cooking was done. A five-branched lamp hung from the ceiling in front of this fireplace. At the side of it and behind it were several rather large rooms divided off by light screens. Behind the hearth, divided off by screens of rugs, were the rooms used by the family—the sleeping places, the prayer alcove, the eating and working rooms. Beyond the beautiful orchards round the house were fields, then a wood with a hill behind it.
When the travelers arrived in the house they found everything already in order and in its place, for the old people had sent the things on ahead and had them arranged. The men-servants and maidservants had unpacked and settled all the things just as beautifully and neatly as when they were packed up, for they were so helpful and worked so quietly and intelligently by themselves that one did not have to be giving them orders all the time about every single thing as one must do today. Thus everything was soon settled and quiet, and the parents, having brought their children into their new home, blessed and embraced them in farewell, and set off on their journey home, accompanied by their little granddaughter, who went back with them. I never saw feasting going on during such visits and on similar occasions; they often lay in a circle and had a few little bowls and jugs on the carpet before them, but their talk was generally of divine things and holy expectations.
I now saw the holy couple beginning an entirely new life here. It was their intention to offer to God all that was past and to behave as though their marriage had only then taken place, endeavoring to live in a manner pleasing to God, and thus to bring down upon them His blessing which they so earnestly desired beyond all else. I saw both of them going amongst their flocks and herds and following the example of their parents (as I have described above) in dividing them into three portions between the Temple, the poor, and themselves. The best and choicest portion was driven off to the Temple; the poor were given the next best one, and the least good they kept for themselves. This they did with all their possessions. Their house was quite spacious; they lived and slept in separate little rooms, where I saw them very often praying by themselves with great devotion. I saw them living in this way for a long time, giving generous alms, and each time they divided their herds and goods I saw that everything quickly increased again. They lived very abstemiously, observing periods of self-denial and continence. I saw them praying in penitential garments, and I often saw Joachim kneeling in supplication to God when he was with his herds far away in the pastures.
For nineteen years after the birth of their first child they lived thus devoutly before God in constant yearning for the gift of fruitfulness and with an increasing distress. I saw ill-disposed neighbors coming to them and speaking ill of them, saying that they must be bad people since no children were born to them, that the little girl with Anna’s parents was riot really her daughter, but had been adopted by her because of her barrenness, otherwise she would have had her at home, and so forth. Each time they heard such words, the distress of the good couple was renewed.
Anna’s steadfast faith was supported by an inmost certainty that the coming of the Messiah was near, and that she herself was among His human relations. She prayed for the fulfillment of the Promise with loud supplications, and both she and Joachim were always striving after more perfect purity of life. The shame of her unfruitfulness distressed her deeply. She could hardly appear in the synagogue without affront. Joachim, though short and thin, was robust, and I often saw him going to Jerusalem with the beasts for sacrifice. Anna was not tall either, and very delicately formed. Her grief so consumed her that her cheeks, though still slightly tinged with red, were quite hollow. They continued to give portions of their herds to the Temple and to the poor, while the portion they kept for themselves grew ever smaller and smaller.
2.1 JOACHIM IS SPURNED AT THE TEMPLE AND GOES TO STAY WITH HIS FLOCKS.
After having besought God’s blessing on their marriage for so many years in vain, I saw that Joachim was minded to offer another sacrifice at the Temple. He and Anna prepared themselves for this by penitential devotions. I saw them lying on the hard earth in prayer during the night, girt in penitential garments; after which Joachim went at sunrise across the country to where his herds were pasturing, while Anna remained at home by herself. Soon after this I saw Anna sending him doves, other birds and many different things in cages and baskets. They were all taken to him by menservants to be offered up in the Temple. He took two donkeys from the pasture, and loaded them with these baskets and with others into which he put, I think, three very lively little white creatures with long necks. I cannot remember whether they were lambs or kids. He had with him a staff with a light on the top of it, which looked as if it were shining inside a hollow gourd. I saw him arriving with his menservants and beasts of burden at a beautiful green field between Bethany and Jerusalem, a place where later I often saw Jesus stay. They journeyed on to the Temple, and stabled the donkeys at the same Temple inn, near the cattle market, where Joachim and Anna afterwards lodged at Mary’s Presentation. They then took the sacrificial offerings up the steps, and passed through the dwellings of the Temple servants as before. 2222 The reader must not be disconcerted by Catherine Emmerich’s references (here and subsequently) to events which may not yet have been mentioned in her account. It must be remembered that the visions from the story of the Blessed Virgin, here given in chronological order, were vouchsafed to Catherine Emmerich year by year on the various church festivals with which these visions were connected; so that now when relating in July and August 1821, at the time of the feasts of St. Anne and St. Joachim, her visions of the life of Our Lady’s parents, she is referring (in order to make herself more comprehensible) to something which she had already seen in previous years in November on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady’s Presentation at the Temple. (CB) Here Joachim’s servants went back after handing over the offerings.
Joachim himself entered the hall, where stood the basin of water in which all the sacrifices were washed. He then went through a long passage into a hall on the left of the place in which were the altar of incense, the table of the shewbreads and the seven-branched candlestick. 2323 Cf. 3 Kings 7.48, 49. (SB) There were several others assembled there to make sacrifices, and it was here that Joachim had to bear his hardest trial. I saw that one of the priests, Reuben 2424 The priest Reuben appears in Protev. I , Ps-Matt. 2, and in Nat. Mar. 2 is named Issachar. (SB) by name, disdained his offerings, and did not put them with the others on the right-hand of the hall, where they could be seen behind the bars, but thrust them on one side. He reproached the unfortunate Joachim loudly and before the others for his unfruitfulness, refused to admit him and sent him, in disgrace, to an alcove enclosed with gratings.
I saw that upon this Joachim left the Temple in the greatest distress and betook himself to an assembly house of the Essenes near Machaerus, passing Bethany on the way. Here he sought counsel and consolation. (In this same house, and earlier in a similar one near Bethlehem, lived the prophet Manahem, 2525 This Manahem appears in no document. (SB) who prophesied to the young Herod about his kingdom and his crimes.) From here Joachim betook himself to his most distant herds on Mount Hermon. His way led him across the Jordan through the desert of Gaddi. Mount Hermon is a long narrow mountain, beautifully green and rich with fruit trees on the sunny side, but covered with snow on the other.
2.2 ST. ANNE RECEIVES THE PROMISE OF FERTILITY AND TRAVELS TO THE TEMPLE.
Joachim was so grieved and ashamed at having been rejected with scorn at the Temple that he did not even send to tell Anna whither he had betaken himself. She heard, however, of the humiliation he had suffered from others who had witnessed it, and her distress was indescribable. I saw her often lying weeping with her face to the earth, because she had no knowledge of where Joachim was. I believe that he remained hidden among his flocks on Mount Hermon for as long as five months. During the end of that time Anna’s distress was much increased by the rudeness of one of her maidservants, who kept reproaching her for her misfortunes. Once, however, when this maidservant asked to be allowed to go away for the Feast of Tabernacles (which was just beginning), Anna, remembering how her former maidservant had been led astray, refused permission out of vigilant care for her household. Whereupon this maidservant attacked her so violently, declaring that her barrenness and Joachim’s desertion of her was God’s punishment for her severity, that Anna could not bear to have her in her house any more. She sent her back to her parents with presents and accompanied by two menservants, with the request that they would take back their daughter who had been entrusted to her, as she could not keep her in her house any longer. After sending away this maid, Anna went sadly into her room to pray. Towards evening she threw a large shawl over her head, wrapping herself in it completely, and went with a shaded light to the great tree in the courtyard which I have described before as forming an arbor. Here she lit a lamp hanging on this tree in a sort of box, and prayed from a scroll. This tree was a very large one, there were arbors and seats arranged under it, for its branches reached over the wall to the ground, where they took root and shot up and again sank to the ground and took root, so that a whole series of arbors encircled it. This tree was like the tree in the Garden of Eden which bore the forbidden fruit. Its fruits hung from the ends of the branches generally in bunches of five. They are pear-shaped, and their flesh has blood-colored streaks; there is a hollow in the center, round which are the seeds embedded in the flesh. The leaves are very large, resembling, I think, those with which Adam and Eve covered themselves in the Garden of Eden. The Jews used these leaves specially for the Feast of Tabernacles. They decorated the walls with them, because they could be fitted together beautifully one behind the other like fishes’ scales. Anna remained under this tree for a long time, crying to God and begging that even though He made her barren, yet He might not keep her pious companion Joachim far from her. And lo, there appeared to her an Angel of God, he seemed to step down before her from the top of the tree, and spoke to her, telling her to be of good heart, for the Lord had heard her prayer 2626 The story of Anna’s consolation by the angel, and the appointment of a rendezvous at the Golden Gate is found in Protev. 4, Ps-Mat. 3, Nat. Mar. 3. (SB) ; she was to journey next day to the Temple with two maidservants, taking with her doves as a sacrifice. Joachim’s prayer, too, he said, had been heard, and he was on his way to the Temple with his offerings; she would meet him under the Golden Gate. Joachim’s sacrifice would be accepted, and they would be blessed and made fruitful; soon she would learn the name by which their child was to be called. He told her, too, that he had given a like message to her husband. Then he disappeared.
Anna, full of joy, thanked God for His mercies. She then went back into the house and gave her maidservants the necessary orders for their journey to the Temple next morning. I saw her afterwards lying down to sleep after praying. Her bed was a narrow blanket with a pillow under her head. (In the morning her blanket was rolled up.) She took off her upper garments, wrapped herself from head to foot in an ample covering, and lay down at full length on her right side, with her face to the wall against which was the bed. After she had slept for a short time, I saw a brightness pouring down towards her from above, which on approaching her bed was transformed into the figure of a shining youth. It was the angel of the Lord, who told her that she would conceive a holy child; stretching his hand over her, he wrote great shining letters on the wall which formed the name MARY. Thereupon the angel dissolved into light and disappeared.
During this time Anna seemed to be wrapped in a secret, joyful dream. She rose half-waking from her couch, prayed with great intensity, and then fell asleep again without having completely recovered consciousness. After midnight she awoke joyfully, as if by an inner inspiration, and now she saw, with alarm mixed with joy, the writing on the wall. This seemed to be of shining golden-red letters, large and few in number; she gazed at them with unspeakable joy and contrite humility until day came, when they faded away. She saw the writing so clearly, and her joy thereat became so great, that when she got up she appeared quite young again. In the moment when the light of the angel had enveloped Anna in grace, I saw a radiance under her heart and recognized in her the chosen Mother, the illuminated vessel of the grace that was at hand. What I saw in her I can only describe by saying that I recognized in her the cradle and tabernacle of the holy child she was to conceive and preserve; a mother blessed indeed. I saw that by God’s grace Anna was able to bear fruit. I cannot describe the wonderful manner in which I recognized this. I saw Anna as the cradle of all mankind’s salvation, and, at the same time, as a sacred altar-vessel, opened, yet hidden behind a curtain. I recognized this after a natural manner, and all this knowledge of mine was one and was natural and sacred at the same time. (Anna was at that time, I think, forty-three years old.)
She now got up, lit the lamp, prayed, and then started on her journey to Jerusalem with her offerings. All the members of her household were full of strange joyfulness that morning, though none but Anna knew of the coming of the angel.
2.3 JOACHIM IS COMFORTED BY AN ANGEL AND RETURNS AGAIN TO THE TEMPLE TO SACRIFICE.
At the same time I saw Joachim among his flocks on Mount Hermon beyond the Jordan constantly praying God to grant his supplications. As he watched the young lambs bleating and frolicking round their mothers, he felt sorely distressed at having no children, but did not tell his shepherds why he was so sad. It was near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and he and his shepherds were beginning to put up the tabernacles. Remembering his humiliation at the Temple, he had abandoned the idea of going tip as usual to Jerusalem for the feast and offering sacrifices, but as he was praying I saw an angel appear to him, telling him to be of good courage and to journey to the Temple, for his sacrifice would be accepted and his prayers granted. He would meet his wife under the Golden Gate. Thereupon I saw Joachim joyfully dividing his flocks and herds once more into three portions—and what numbers of fine beasts he had! The least good he kept for himself, the next best he sent to the Essenes, and the best of all he drove to the Temple with his herdsmen. He arrived in Jerusalem on the fourth day of the feast, and stayed in his usual lodgings near the Temple.
Anna arrived in Jerusalem also on the fourth day of the feast and stayed with Zechariah’s relations by the fish market. She did not meet Joachim until the end of the feast.
Although on the previous occasion it was by a sign from above that Joachim’s offerings were rejected, I saw that the priest
who had treated him so harshly instead of comforting and consoling him was in some way (I cannot remember how) punished by
God. Now, however, the priests had received a divine warning to accept his offerings, and I saw that some of them, on being
told of his approach with the sacrificial beasts, went out of the Temple to meet him and accepted his gifts. The cattle which
he had brought as a gift to the Temple were not his actual offering. The sacrifice he brought to be slaughtered consisted
of two lambs and three lively little animals, kids, I think. I saw, too, that many of his acquaintances congratulated him
on his sacrifice being accepted. I saw that because of the feast the whole Temple was open and decorated with garlands of
fruit and greenery, and that in one place a Tabernacle had been set up on eight detached pillars. Joachim went from place
to place in the Temple exactly as he did before. His sacrifice was slaughtered and burnt at the usual place. Some part of
it was, however, burnt at another place, to the right, I think, of the entrance hall with the great teaching pulpit.
This statement is confirmed by the following: According to Jewish tradition a portion of the burnt offering had to be burnt,
not on the altar, but near it and to the east, on the so-called ash-heap. This portion was the sinew of the thigh, which in
Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel withered up on being touched by the latter (‘forthwith it shrank’,
Gen. 32.25). See also
Gen. 32.32. (CB)
Gen. 32.32 states that the Israelites ‘eat not of the sinew which shrank’, but there is no available subsequent legislation about this matter. (SB) I saw the priests making a sacrifice of incense in the Holy Place. Lamps, too, were lighted and lights burned on the seven-branched candlestick, but not on all seven branches at once. I often saw that on different occasions different branches of it were lighted. As the smoke arose from the offering, I saw as it were a beam of light falling upon the officiating priest in the Holy Place and at the same time on Joachim without in the hall. There came a sudden pause in what was going on, it seemed from astonishment and the realization of something supernatural. Thereupon I saw that two priests went out into the hall to Joachim as though by God’s command, and led him through the side rooms up to the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place. The priest then laid something on the altar. This was not, I could see, separate grains of incense; it looked like a solid lump, but I cannot remember what it was. 2828 It was doubtless a mixture, melted together, of the ingredients required by Jewish tradition for the daily incense-offering, namely myrrh, cassia, spikenard, saffron, sweet-scented reed, cinnamon, costus, sea-lavender, thrift, galbanum, and incense, mixed with pure salt. (CB)
Exod. 30.34-38 prescribed four elements in the preparation of incense. Later rabbinic tradition increased these (as CB notes), and by the time of Christ thirteen elements were used, as Josephus relates (BJ, V, v, 5). (SB) This lump gave out a powerful and sweet smell of incense as it was burnt upon the altar of incense before the veil of the Holy of Holies. Then I saw the priest going away, leaving Joachim alone in the Holy Place. While the incense-offering was being consumed I saw Joachim in a state of ecstasy, kneeling with outstretched arms. I saw approaching him a shining figure of an angel, such as later appeared to Zechariah when he received the promise of the Baptist’s birth. The angel spoke to Joachim, and gave him a scroll on which I recognized, written in shining letters, the three names Helia, Hanna, Miriam. 2929 The writer was at the time unaware that these three names were only other forms of Joachim, Anna, and Mary. His later discovery of this proof of the accuracy of Catherine Emmerich’s version of the names was a striking testimony to the authenticity of her visions. (CB)
See infra, n. 41, p. 32 , on the identification of Joachim and Heli. The name Joachim (Yehoyaqim) means ‘The Lord shall make to stand (or rise)’ (e.g. IV Kings 23.34). The name Helia (presumably Heli-yah) would mean ‘My strength is the Lord’, but does not occur in the Bible. It is, however, maintained in Cath. Enc., art. ‘Virgin Mary’, p. 464, E d, that Elia (Helia) is but an abbreviation of the name Eliacim (Elyaqim), which, using the other divine name, means ‘God shall make to stand (or rise)’, and, indeed, in IV Kings 23.34 the name of King Eliacim was changed by Pharaoh to Joakim (Yoyaqim). (SB) Beside the last of these names I saw the picture of a little Ark of the Covenant or tabernacle. Joachim fastened this scroll to his breast under his garment. The angel told him that his unfruitfulness was no disgrace for him, but on the contrary, an honor, for the child his wife was to conceive was to be the immaculate fruit of God’s blessing upon him and the crowning point of the blessing of Abraham. Joachim, being unable to grasp this, was led by the angel behind the veil hanging in front of the Holy of Holies. Between this veil and the bars of the screen before the Holy of Holies was a space large enough to stand in. I saw the angel approach the Ark of the Covenant, and it seemed to me as if he took something out of it, for I saw him hold towards Joachim a shining globe or circle of light, bidding him breathe upon it and look into it. (When he held the circle of light so near his face, it made me think of a custom at our country weddings where the sacristan gives one a little board to kiss with a head painted on it, and makes one pay three halfpence for doing so.) Then I saw as if all kinds of pictures appeared in the circle of light when Joachim breathed on it and that these were visible to him. His breath had in no way dimmed the circle of light, and the angel told him that the conception of Anna’s child would be as untarnished as this globe, which had remained shining in spite of his having breathed on it. Thereupon I saw as if the angel lifted the globe until it stood like an encircling halo in the air, in which I saw, as through an opening in it, a series of pictures starting with the Fall and ending with the Redemption of mankind. The whole course of the world passed before my eyes as one picture merged into another. I knew and understood it all, but I cannot reproduce the details. Above, at the very summit, I saw the Blessed Trinity, and below and on one side of the Trinity, I saw the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, the Fall, the promise of Redemption and all its prototypes—Noah, the Flood, the Ark, the receiving of the blessing through Abraham, its handing on to his firstborn Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, how it was taken from Jacob by the angel with whom he struggled, how the blessing came to Joseph in Egypt and increased in glory in him and in his wife. I saw how the sacred presence of the blessing was removed by Moses from Egypt with relics of Joseph and his wife Asenath, and became the Holy of Holies of the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of the living God among His people. Then I saw the reverence paid by God’s people to this sacred thing and their ceremonies respecting it; I saw the relationships and marriages which formed the sacred genealogy of the Blessed Virgin’s ancestry, as well as all the prototypes and symbols of her and of Our Savior in history and in the prophets. All this I saw in encircling symbols and also rising from the lower part of the ring of light. I saw pictures of great cities, towers, palaces, thrones, gates, gardens, and flowers, all strangely woven together as it were by bridges of light; and all were being attacked and assaulted by fierce beasts and other figures of might. These pictures all signified how Our Blessed Lady’s ancestral family, from which God was to take Flesh and be made Man, had been led, like all that is holy, by God’s grace through many assaults and struggles. I remember, too, having seen at a certain point in this series of pictures a garden surrounded by a thick hedge of thorns, which a host of serpents and other loathsome creatures attempted in vain to penetrate. I also saw a strong tower assaulted on all sides by men-at-arms, who were falling down from it. I saw many pictures of this kind, relating to the history of the ancestry of the Blessed Virgin; and the bridges and passages which joined all together signified the victory over all attempts to disturb, hinder, or interrupt the work of salvation. It was as if by God’s compassion there had been poured into mankind, as into a muddy stream, a pure flesh and a pure blood, and as if this had, with great toil and difficulty, to reconstitute itself out of its scattered elements, the whole stream striving the while to draw it into its troubled waters; and then, as if by the countless mercies of God and the faithful cooperation of mankind, it had at last issued forth, after many pollutions and many cleansings, in an unfailing stream out of which rose the Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.
Among the pictures that I saw in the globe of light there were many which occur in the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Whenever I say that litany, I see them and recognize them and venerate them with great devotion. The pictures in the globe unfolded themselves still further till they reached the fulfillment of all God’s compassion towards mankind, so divided and dispersed in its fallen state, and ended, on the side opposite the Garden of Eden, with the heavenly Jerusalem at the foot of the Throne of God. After I had seen all these pictures, the globe (which was really a series of pictures passing in and out of a circle of light) disappeared. I think that all this was a communication to Joachim of a vision revealed to him by the angel and also seen by me. Whenever I receive such a communication, it appears in a circle of light like a globe.
2.4 JOACHIM RECEIVES THE BLESSING FROM THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.
I saw now that the angel touched or anointed Joachim’s forehead with the tip of his thumb and forefinger, and that he gave
him a shining morsel to eat and a luminous liquid to drink from a gleaming little chalice which he held between two fingers.
It was of the shape of the chalice at the Last Supper, but without a foot. It seemed to me, too, that this food which he put
in his mouth took the form of a little shining ear of corn and a little shining cluster of grapes, and I understood that thereafter
every impurity and every sinful desire left Joachim. Thereupon I saw that the angel imparted to Joachim the highest and holiest
fruit of the blessing given by God to Abraham, and culminating, through Joseph, in the holy
thing within the Ark of the Covenant, in the presence of God among His people. He gave Joachim this blessing in the same form
as I had been shown before, except that while the angel of benediction gave Abraham the blessing from himself, out of his
bosom as it were, he seemed to give it to Joachim from out of the Holy of Holies.
Catherine Emmerich, who in communicating her many and various visions from the Old Testament often spoke in great detail of
the Ark of the Covenant, never said that after the Babylonian captivity the first Ark of the Covenant with all its contents
was placed in the rebuilt Temple or later in the Temple restored by Herod. She did, however, state that there was a restored
Ark in the Holy of Holies of the Temple, I in which were still preserved a few remains of the sacred contents of the first
Ark of the Covenant, some of which she saw in the possession of the Essenes and venerated by them. (CB)
Josephus (BJ, V, v, 5) plainly states that there was ‘nothing at all’ I in the Holy of Holies in Herod’s Temple. (SB)
The blessing of Abraham was as it were the beginning of God’s grace given in blessing to the father of His future people so that from him might proceed the stones for the building of His Temple. But when Joachim received the blessing, it was as though the angel were taking the holy benediction from the tabernacle of this Temple and delivering it to a priest, in order that from him might be formed the holy vessel in which the Word was to be made Flesh. All this cannot be expressed in words, for I speak of that Holy of Holies inviolate, yet violated in man when he sinned and fell. From my earliest youth I have very often, in my visions from the Old Testament, seen into the Ark of the Covenant, and have always had the impression of a complete church, but more solemn and awe-inspiring. I saw therein not only the Tables of the Law as the written Word of God, but also a sacramental presence of the Living God, 3131 The reader need not be scandalized by the expression ‘sacramental presence of God’, for Holy Writ clearly declares that God was present above the Ark of the Covenant in a mysterious and visible manner. (CB) like the roots of the wine and wheat and of the flesh and blood of the future sacrifice of our redemption.
The grace given by this blessed presence produced, with the cooperation of God-fearing men under the Law, that holy tree whose final blossoming was the pure flower in which the Word became flesh and God became Man; thus, giving us, in the New Covenant, His humanity and His divinity by instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, without which we cannot attain eternal life. I have never known the Ark of the Covenant without the sacramental presence of God except when it had fallen into the hands of the enemy, at which times the holy presence was safe in the hands of the high priest or of one of the prophets. When only the Tables of the Law were present in the Ark of the Covenant, without the holy treasure, it seemed to me like the Temple of the Samaritans on Mount Garizim, or like a church of our own time which is without the Blessed Sacrament and, instead of the Tables of the Law written by God’s hand, contains only the books of Holy Scripture imperfectly understood by mankind.
In the Ark of the Covenant made by Moses, which stood in the Temple and Tabernacle of Solomon, I saw this most Holy Thing of the Old Covenant in the form of a shining circle crossed by two smaller rays of light intersecting each other; but now, when the angel imparted the blessing to Joachim, I saw this blessing being given to him in the form of something shining, like a shining seed or bean in shape, which he laid in the open breast of Joachim’s garment. When the blessing was imparted to Abraham, I saw grace being conveyed to him in the same manner, and its virtue and efficacy remaining with him in the degree ordained by God until he handed it over to his firstborn son Isaac, from whom it passed to Jacob and from him, through the angel, to Joseph, and from Joseph and his wife, with increased virtue, to the Ark of the Covenant. I perceived that the angel bound Joachim to secrecy, and I understood why it was that later Zechariah, the Baptist’s father, had become dumb after he had received the blessing and the promise of Elizabeth’s fruitfulness from the Angel Gabriel at the Altar of Incense. [ St. Luke 1.9-22.] It was revealed to me, that with this blessing Joachim received the highest fruit and the true fulfillment of Abraham’s blessing, namely the blessing for the immaculate conception of the most Holy Virgin who was to bruise the head of the serpent. The angel then led Joachim back into the Holy Place and disappeared, upon which Joachim sank to the ground in an ecstasy as though paralyzed. The priests who re-entered the Holy Place found him radiant with joy. They lifted him up reverently, and placed him outside in a seat generally used only by priests. Here they washed his face, held some strong-smelling substance to his nostrils, gave him to drink and in general treated him as one does someone who has fainted. When he had recovered, he looked young and strong, and was beaming with joy.
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