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IX. THE VISITATION 8181     The Visitation: Luke 1.39-56. St. Joseph’s worries: Matt. 1.18-25.

1. MARY AND JOSEPH TRAVEL TO VISIT ELIZABETH.

Some days after the Annunciation, St. Joseph returned to Nazareth and made further arrangements for working at his craft in the house. He had never lived in Nazareth before and had not spent more than a few days there. Joseph knew nothing of the Incarnation; Mary was the Mother of the Lord, but also the handmaid of the Lord, and she kept His secret in all humility. When the Blessed Virgin felt that the Word was made Flesh in her, she was conscious of a great desire to pay an immediate visit to her cousin Elizabeth at Juttah near Hebron, whom the angel had told her was now six months with child. As the time was now drawing near when Joseph wished to go up to Jerusalem for the Passover, the Blessed Virgin decided to accompany him in order to help Elizabeth in her pregnancy. Joseph therefore started with the Blessed Virgin on the journey to Juttah. 8282     Juttah near Hebron; Luke 1.39 says: ‘Into the hill country . . . into a city of Judah.’ It has been suggested that ‘Judah’ was written by mistake for ‘Juttah’. (SB)

[Catherine Emmerich described the following single scenes from the journey of Joseph and Mary to Elizabeth; but it must be understood that owing to her illness and to various interruptions very many gaps occur in her account. She gave no description of their departure, but only a few pictures from successive days of their journey, which we here transcribe.]

They traveled in a southerly direction and had a donkey with them, on which Mary rode from time to time. Some baggage was packed onto it, amongst which was a striped sack of Joseph’s (it seemed to me to be knitted) in which was a long brownish garment of Mary’s with a sort of hood. This garment was fastened in front with ribbons. Mary put it on when she went into the Temple or into a synagogue. On the journey she wore a brown woolen undergarment, and over this a gray dress with a girdle. Her head-covering was yellowish in color. They made the long journey rather quickly. I saw them, after they had crossed the plain of Esdrelon in a southerly direction, entering the house of a friend of Joseph’s father in the town of Dothan, on a hill. He was a well-to-do man and came from Bethlehem. His father was called brother by Joseph’s father, though he was not really his brother, but he came of David’s line through a man who was, I think, also a king and was called Ela, Eldoa, or Eldad, I cannot remember clearly which it was. 8383     Catherine Emmerich saw Jesus at Dothan in this house on Nov. 2nd (the 12th day of the month Marcheswan) of the thirty-first year of His Life. He was healing the dropsy of Issachar, the fifty-year-old husband of the daughter of this family, whose name was Salome. On that occasion Issachar spoke of the visit of Joseph and Mary here mentioned. The descendant of David whose name is given uncertainly by Catherine Emmerich as Eldoa or Eldad, and whom she describes as being the link between Joseph’s and Salome’s families, might perhaps have been Elioda or Eliada, a son of David’s, mentioned in 2 Kings 5.16, and in 1 Chronicles 3.8. Although it may seem natural that Catherine Emmerich should confuse various name-sounds, such confusion should not necessarily always be assumed. Hebrew proper names have a very definite signification; but since the same signification can be conveyed in speaking by several different expressions, one person may often bear different names. Thus we find a son of David’s sometimes called Elishua (‘God helps’) and sometimes Elishama (‘God hears’); and Eldea or Eldaa may mean ‘God comes’ just as much as Eliada. The uncertain mention of this descendant of David’s as being also a king need not surprise us, for there can be no doubt that David’s sons or descendants administered the government in the vassal states. (CB)
    The Vulgate forms of the name of David’s son are Elisua in 2 Kings. ( Sam.) 5.15, and Elisama in 1 Chr. 3.6. In Hebrew, Elishua (‘God saves’) and Elishama (‘God hears’). The name of the son Elioda or Eliada is in both places Elyada, which with its by-forms means ‘God knows’, (SB)
There was much trading in this place.

Once, I saw them spending the night in a shed, and one evening, when they were still twelve hours distant from Zechariah’s dwelling, I saw them in a wood, going into a hut of wattle-work, on which green leaves and beautiful white flowers were growing. This hut was meant for travelers: beside the roads in that country are many open arbors like this, and even solid buildings. Travelers can spend the night in them, or shelter from the heat and prepare the food which they have brought with them. Some of these shelters are looked after by a family living near at hand who are ready to supply any needs in return for a small payment.

[Here there seems to be a gap in the account. Probably the Blessed Virgin was present with Joseph at the Passover in Jerusalem, and did not go to Elizabeth until after that; for while Joseph’s journey to the Feast is mentioned above, we are told later that Zechariah reached home, after attending the Passover, the day before the Visitation.]

They did not go direct from Jerusalem to Juttah, but made a detour to the east in order to avoid the crowds. They passed near a little town two hours distant from Emmaus, and took roads which Jesus often traveled in the years of His ministry. They still had two hills to pass. Between these two hills I once saw them sitting and resting. They were eating bread and mixing in their drinking water drops of balsam which they had collected on their way. It was very hilly here. They passed over-hanging rocks with great caves in which were all kinds of strange stones. The valleys were very fertile. Then their path led them through wood, moorland, meadows, and fields. Towards the end of their journey I particularly noticed a plant with little delicate green leaves and with flower-clusters of nine little pale-red, closed bells or vessels. There was something in these with which I had to do but what it was I cannot remember. 8484     A learned friend tells me that this flower is probably the cypress-cluster (Lawsonia spinosa inermis, Linn.) mentioned in the Canticle of Canticles, 1.13: ‘A cluster of cypress my love is to me in the vineyards of Engaddi.’ Mariti, in his journey through Syria and Palestine, mentions this shrub and its flowers in the region here traversed by the Blessed Virgin. He describes the leaves as smaller and more delicate than those of the myrtle; the flowers are, he says, rose-red and the flower-cluster shaped like a bunch of grapes. This agrees with the general description given by Catherine Emmerich. (CB)

2. MARY AND JOSEPH ARRIVE AT THE HOUSE OF ELIZABETH AND ZECHARIAH.

[The following visions were communicated by Catherine Emmerich partly at the time of the Feast of the Visitation in July 1820 and partly at a time when she had heard the words of Eliud, an aged Essene from Nazareth. Eliud accompanied Jesus on His journey to His Baptism by John in September of the first year of His ministry, and told Him many things about the history of His parents and of His earliest childhood, for Eliud was intimate with the Holy Family.]

Zechariah’s house was on the top of a hill by itself. Other houses stood in groups round about. Not far off a biggish stream flowed down from the mountain. It seemed to me to be the moment when Zechariah was returning home from the Passover at Jerusalem. I saw Elizabeth, moved by great longing, going out of her house for a considerable distance on the way to Jerusalem; and I saw how alarmed Zechariah was, as he made his way home, to meet Elizabeth on the road so far from home in her condition. She told him that she was so agitated in her heart because she could not help thinking all the time that her cousin Mary of Nazareth was coming to her. Zechariah tried to remove this impression from her mind and explained to her, by signs and by writing on a tablet, how unlikely it was that a newly married woman should undertake so long a journey just then. They went back to the house together. Elizabeth was, however, unable to abandon her expectation, for she had learnt in a dream that one of her family had become the mother of the promised Messiah. She had at once thought of Mary, had longed to see her, and had in spirit perceived her in the distance on her way to her. She had made ready a little room to the right of the entrance and had placed seats in it. On the following day she sat there for a long time waiting and gazing out of the house, watching for the coming visitor. Then she got up and went a long way on the road to meet her.

Elizabeth was a tall aged woman with a small, delicate face. Her head was wrapped in a veil. She only knew the Blessed Virgin by hearsay. Mary saw her from far off and recognized her at once. She ran to meet her, while Joseph discreetly remained behind. Mary was already among the neighbors’ houses, whose inhabitants, moved by her marvelous beauty and struck by a supernatural dignity in her whole being, withdrew shyly as she and Elizabeth met. They greeted each other warmly with outstretched hands, and at that moment I saw a shining brightness in the Blessed Virgin and as it were a ray of light passing from her to Elizabeth, filling the latter with wonderful joy. They did not stay near the people in the houses, but went, holding each other by the arm, through the outer court towards the house. At the door Elizabeth once more made Mary welcome, and they then went in. Joseph, who came into the court leading the donkey, handed it over to a manservant and went to Zechariah in an open hall at the side of the house. He greeted the venerable old priest with great humility. Zechariah embraced him warmly and spoke with him by writing on his tablet, for he was dumb since the angel had appeared to him in the Temple. Mary and Elizabeth, after passing through the house-door, came into a hall which, it seemed to me, was also the kitchen. Here, they took each other by both arms. Mary greeted Elizabeth very warmly, and each pressed her cheek against the other’s. Again I saw a radiance stream from Mary into Elizabeth, whereby the latter was transfused with light. Her heart was filled with holy joy. She stepped back, her hand raised, and exclaimed full of humility, joy, and exaltation: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed are you that have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.’

As she said the last words she led Mary into the little room which she had prepared, so that she might sit down and rest after her journey. It was only a few paces away. Mary let go Elizabeth’s arm, which she had clasped, crossed her hands over her breast and uttered the Magnificat with exaltation.

(When the aged Essene Eliud conversed with Jesus, as mentioned above, about this event, I heard him expounding the whole of Mary’s song of praise in a wonderful manner. I feel myself, however, incapable of repeating this explanation.)

I saw that Elizabeth followed in prayer the whole of the Magnificat in a similar state of exaltation; afterwards they sat down on quite low seats with a table before them, also low, on which stood a little goblet. O, I was so blissfully happy, I prayed with them the whole time, and then I sat down near at hand: oh, I was so happy! [Catherine Emmerich recounted this in the morning as if it had happened on the previous day. In the afternoon she said in her sleep:] Joseph and Zechariah are now together and are talking about the nearness of the Messiah according to the fulfillment of the prophecies. Zechariah is a tall handsome old man, dressed as a priest; he answers always with signs or by writing on a tablet. They are sitting in an open hall at the side of the house, looking on to the garden. Mary and Elizabeth are sitting in the garden on a carpet under a big spreading tree; behind it is a fountain from which water streams if one pulls at a tap. I see grass and flowers round them, and trees with little yellow plums. They are both eating little fruits and little loaves from Joseph’s knapsack; what touching simplicity and frugality! There are two maidservants and two menservants in the house; I see them moving about here and there. They are preparing a table with food under a tree. Zechariah and Joseph come and eat a little. Joseph wanted to go back to Nazareth at once; but I think he is going to stay a week. He knows nothing of the Blessed Virgin being with child. Mary and Elizabeth were silent about it; in the depths of their being, there was a secret understanding between them. Several times in the day, and especially before meals when they were all together, the two holy women said a kind of litany. Joseph prayed with them, and I saw then a cross appear in the midst between the two women (although as yet there was no cross); it was indeed as though two crosses visited each other.

[On July 3 rd she related as follows:] Yesterday evening they ate all together. They sat under a tree in the garden by the light of a lamp till nearly midnight. Then I saw Joseph and Zechariah alone in a place of prayer. I saw Mary and Elizabeth in their little room. They stood opposite each other, as if rapt in ecstasy, and said the Magnificat in prayer together. Besides the clothes already described the Blessed Virgin wore a transparent black veil as well, which she lowered when speaking with men. Today Zechariah took St. Joseph to another garden at some distance from the house. Zechariah is very orderly and precise in all he does. This garden is rich in beautiful trees and abundant fruit and is very well kept. A shady alley leads through the middle of it. At the end of the garden there is a little hidden summer-house with a door at the side. In the top of this little house are window openings closed by sliding shutters. In it is a wicker couch cushioned with moss or other delicate plants. I also saw two white statues in it, of the size of children. I do not quite know how they came to be there or what they signified, but they seemed very like Zechariah and Elizabeth, only very much younger.

This afternoon I saw Mary and Elizabeth working together in the house. The Blessed Virgin took part in all the household work. She made preparations for the child that was expected. I saw them both working together, they were knitting a big coverlet for Elizabeth’s lying-in. Jewish women used coverlets like these when in child-bed; an inner lining was fastened to the middle of it so that the mother could be wrapped up together in it with her child. It was as if she were in a little boat or in a big shoe, wrapped up herself like a child in swaddling clothes. She was supported on pillows and could sit upright or lie down, as she liked. The edges of the coverlet were sewn with flowers and texts. Mary and Elizabeth prepared also many different things as presents for the poor when the child was born. (I see Anna often sending her maidservant to look after everything in the house at Nazareth during the absence of the Holy Family. I saw her there once herself.)

[On July 4 th she said:] Zechariah has gone with Joseph for a walk in the fields. His house stands by itself on a hill. It is the best house in the neighborhood. Others lie scattered around. Mary is rather tired. She is alone with Elizabeth in the house.

[On July 5 th she said:] I saw Zechariah and Joseph spending last night in the garden which is distant from the house, either sleeping in the summer-house, or praying out of doors in the garden. At dawn they returned to the house. I saw Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin in the house. Every morning and evening they joined together in prayer and recited the Magnificat, which Mary had received from the Holy Ghost at Elizabeth’s greeting of her.

With the Angel’s salutation the Blessed Virgin was consecrated as the Church. With the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word’, the Word entered into her, saluted by the Church, by His maidservant. God was now in His Temple, Mary was now the Temple and the Ark of the New Covenant. Elizabeth’s greeting and the movement of John beneath his mother’s heart was the first act of worship of the community in the presence of this Holy Thing. When the Blessed Virgin uttered the Magnificat, the Church of the New Covenant, of the new Espousals, celebrated for the first time the fulfillment of the divine promises of the Old Covenant, of the old Espousals, and poured forth thanks with a Te Deum laudamus. Ah, who can express the wonder of seeing the devotion of the Church towards the Savior even before His Birth!

Tonight, as I watched the two holy women at their prayers, I had many visions and explanations of the Magnificat and of the coming of the Blessed Sacrament in the present condition of the Blessed Virgin. The illness from which I am now suffering and many disturbances have made me quite forget all that I saw. From the passage in the Magnificat ‘He has shown might in His arm’ onwards there appeared to me all kinds of pictures from the Old Testament symbolic of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amongst them was a picture of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and of Isaiah announcing something to a wicked king who scorned it. I have forgotten this. I saw many things from Abraham to Isaiah and from Isaiah to the Blessed Virgin, and in everything I always saw the coming of the Blessed Sacrament to the Church of Jesus Christ, who was Himself still resting under His Mother’s heart. 8585     The message of Isaiah which she has forgotten is beyond doubt his prophecy to King Ahaz: Is. 7.3-25. (CB

[After Catherine Emmerich had said this, she recited the Litany of the Holy Ghost and the hymn Veni Sancte Spiritus and fell asleep smiling. After a while she said with great fervor:] I must do nothing more at all today and must allow nobody in. Then, I shall see again all that I have forgotten. If I can only have complete quiet, I shall be able to perceive and relate the holy mystery of the Ark of the Covenant and the holy Sacrament of the Old Covenant. I have seen that time of quiet; it is a beautiful time. I saw the writer beside me, and I am then to learn very many things. [As she spoke these words, her face glowed in her sleep like a child’s: she drew from under the bed-covering her hands marked with the wounds of the stigmata and said:] It is very warm where Mary is in the Promised Land. They are now all going into the garden of the house, first Zechariah and Joseph and then Elizabeth and Mary. An awning like a tent is stretched under a tree. On one side stand low seats with backs to them.

[She then continued:] I am to rest and see again all that I have forgotten: that sweet prayer to the Holy Ghost has helped me, so sweet and gentle it is. [At five o’clock in the evening she accused herself, saying:] I weakly gave way and did not keep the command to allow nobody in. A woman of my acquaintance came and talked for a long time of hateful incidents which angered me. Then I fell asleep. God kept His word better than me, for He showed me again all that I had forgotten; but as a punishment most of it has again escaped me. [She then said what follows. Although some of it is repetition, we reproduce it, because we cannot express what she said otherwise than she herself did. She said:] I saw as usual the two holy women with child standing opposite one another in prayer and reciting the Magnificat. In the middle of the prayer I was shown Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Here followed a series of pictures symbolizing the coming of the Blessed Sacrament. I do not think I have ever perceived so clearly the holy mysteries of the Old Covenant.

[Next day she said:] As was promised to me, I perceived once more all that I had forgotten. I was full of joy at being able now to relate so many wonderful things about the Patriarchs and the Ark of the Covenant, but there must have been a lack of humility in my joy, for God ordained that I should no longer be able to set in order and communicate the innumerable things that I perceived.

[The cause of this new disturbance was a particular incident which renewed in her the sufferings of Our Lord’s Passion, a phenomenon constantly recurring in her life. This rendered her even more incapable of consecutive narration. However, after her visions of the repeated recital of the Magnificat by the two holy women, she communicated at intervals much that she had learnt of the mysterious blessing in the Old Testament and of the Ark of the Covenant, though in a fragmentary and disconnected manner. We have tried therefore to compile them in chronological order; but, that we may not interrupt the life of the Blessed Virgin unduly, we shall add them in an appendix or keep them for some other appropriate place.]

In the evening of yesterday, Friday, July 6 th, I saw Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin going to Zechariah’s distant garden. They were carrying fruit and little loaves of bread in a small basket and were going to spend the night there. When Joseph and Zechariah came there later, I saw the Blessed Virgin go towards them. Zechariah had his little writing-tablet with him, but it had grown too dark for writing, and I saw that Mary, by the interior bidding of the Holy Ghost, told him that he would speak that night. Then I saw that Zechariah put away his writing-tablet, and that he was able to speak with Joseph and pray with him throughout that night. I saw this, and when I shook my head in great surprise 8686     AC expresses surprise at Zechariah’s release from dumbness, but this was presumably temporary and by miraculous intervention—the lesson of the story of St. Goar—since at the birth of John the Baptist he was still dumb ( Luke 2.62-64). AC has nothing about the birth of the child. (SB) and would not accept it, my guardian angel or spiritual guide, who is always with me, said to me, pointing in another direction, ‘You do not believe this, then turn your eyes hither!’ But where he pointed I saw quite another picture from a much later time.

I saw the holy hermit St. Goar 8787     His feast is on July 6th (the day when Catherine Emmerich made this communication), a fact unknown at the time to the writer. When he learnt it later by a casual glance at the calendar, he received a fresh confirmation of the organic connection of all her visions with the festivals of the Church. (CB)
    St. Goar, the hermit of Oberwesel on the Rhine, died c. 575 (Ramsgate, Book of Saints, 1947). (SB)
in a place where corn was being reaped. Messengers from a bishop who was ill-disposed towards him were talking with him with evil intent. As he started off with them to go to that bishop, I saw him looking round for a hook on which to hang his cloak. He saw a ray of the sun shining through an opening in the wall, and in his simple faith he hung his cloak on it, and I saw that the cloak remained hanging firmly fixed in the air. I was amazed at this miracle of simple faith, and was no longer surprised at Zechariah being given the power of speech by the Blessed Virgin in whom God Himself dwelt. My guide then spoke to me about what we call miracles, and I remember distinctly that he said: A living child-like confidence in God in all simplicity makes everything real, makes everything substantial. What he said gave me a complete interior understanding about all miracles, but I cannot express it perfectly.

I saw the four holy people spend the night in the garden. They sat down and ate, or they walked two by two up and down, talking and praying, and took it in turns to rest in the little summer-house. I understood that when the Sabbath was over Joseph was to return to Nazareth, and that Zechariah was to accompany him for part of the way. It was moonlight and a clear starry sky. Round these holy people was indescribable peace and beauty.

Again, as the two holy women prayed, I saw a part of the mystery of the Magnificat, but am again to see all in the octave of the Feast before Saturday or Sunday and shall then perhaps be able to tell something of it. I am now only permitted to say: The Magnificat is a hymn of thanks for the fulfillment of the blessing given in the sacrament of the Old Covenant.

During Mary’s prayer I saw a continuous succession of all her ancestors. In the course of time there followed each other three times fourteen marriages, in each of which the son succeeded directly to the father: and from each of these marriages I saw a ray of light projected towards Mary as she stood there in prayer. The whole vision grew before my eyes like a family tree made by branches of light becoming ever nobler and nobler, until at last, in a more clearly defined place in this tree of light, I saw shine forth more brightly the holy and immaculate flesh and blood of Mary, from which God was to become Man. I prayed to her in yearning and hope, as full of joy as a child who sees the Christmas tree towering above him. It was all a picture of the coming of Jesus Christ in the Flesh and of His most holy Sacrament. It was as though I saw the wheat ripening for the Bread of Life for which I hunger. It is not to be expressed; I can find no words to say how that Flesh was formed, in which the Word became Flesh. How can it be expressed by a poor mortal who is still in that flesh of which the Son of God and of Mary said the flesh profits nothing, it is the spirit that quickens? He, who said that only those who ate His flesh and drank His blood should have everlasting life and be raised up by Him in the last day. Only His flesh and blood were meat and drink indeed; only those who ate and drank thereof abode in Him and He in them.

I saw, in an inexpressible way, from the beginning, from generation to generation, the approach of the Incarnation, and with it the approach of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Then came a series of patriarchs, followed by the institution of the priesthood to offer up the living God among men as sacrifice and food until His Second Coming—an institution conferred by the Incarnate God, the new and redeeming Adam, upon His apostles and transmitted by them by the laying-on of hands in an unbroken succession of generation after generation of priests. In all this I clearly perceived how the chanting of Our Lord’s genealogy before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi contains a great mystery. I also perceived that, just as amongst the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, there were some who were not holy, and, indeed, were sinners, without however ceasing to be the rungs in Jacob’s ladder on which God descended to mankind, so even unworthy bishops still have the power to consecrate the Blessed Sacrament and to impart priestly ordination with all the powers accompanying it. When one sees this one clearly understands why in old German spiritual books the Old Testament is called the Old Covenant or the Old Espousals, and the New Testament the New Covenant or the New Espousals. The highest flowering of the Old Espousals was the Virgin of Virgins, the Bride of the Holy Ghost, the most chaste Mother of the Redeemer, the spiritual vessel of honor, the singular vessel of devotion, in whom the Word became Flesh. With this mystery begins the New Espousals, the New Covenant. In the priesthood and in all those who follow the Lamb it bears the mark of virginity; in it marriage is a great sacrament, that of Christ and His Bride, the Church ( Eph. 5.32).

In order to state as clearly as I can how the approach of the Incarnation, and, with it, the approach of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, was explained to me, I can only repeat how everything was set before my eyes in a great series of pictures. Although, it is impossible, owing to my present condition and to many interruptions from without, to bring what I saw into a detailed and comprehensible whole. I can only say in general: First I saw the Blessing of the Promise which God gave to the First Man in Paradise, and from that Blessing I saw a ray of light proceed to the Blessed Virgin as she stood there opposite St. Elizabeth, reciting the Magnificat in prayer. Then I saw Abraham, who had received this Blessing from God, and I again saw a ray of light proceeding from him to the Blessed Virgin. Then came the other Patriarchs who were the holders and bearers of that holy treasure, and from each of them a ray of light fell upon Mary. Then I saw the passage of this Blessing down the ages until it reached Joachim. He was endowed with the highest Blessing from the inmost sanctuary of the Temple so that he might become the father of the most holy Virgin Mary conceived without original sin. In her, the Word became Flesh by the operation of the Holy Ghost and dwelt amongst us, hidden for nine months in her, as the Ark of the Covenant of the New Testament, until, in the fullness of time, we saw His glory, born of the Virgin Mary, a glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

[On July 7 th she said:] Last night I saw the Blessed Virgin in Elizabeth’s house asleep in her little room, lying on her side with her head resting on her arm. [See Figure 11.] She was wrapped from head to foot in a long white covering. Beneath her heart I saw a glory of light streaming out; it was pear-shaped and in the center of it was an indescribably bright little flame of light. In Elizabeth I saw a glory shining which was larger and rounder but not so bright, and the light within it was less bright.

[On July 8 th (a Saturday) she said:] When the Sabbath began yesterday, Friday evening, I saw a lamp being lit and the Sabbath being celebrated in a room in Zechariah’s house which I had not seen before. Zechariah, Joseph, and some six other men, probably from the neighborhood, were praying under the lamp. They were standing round a chest with scrolls lying on it. They were wearing cloths hanging down over their heads; they did not make as many contortions as the Jews of today, though they occasionally bowed their heads and raised their arms. Mary, Elizabeth, and a few other women stood apart behind a grating in an alcove from which they could see into the praying-place. All their heads were covered with praying-mantles. After the Sabbath meal I saw the Blessed Virgin in her little room with Elizabeth, standing and reciting the


Figure 11. Mary resting at Elizabeth's house. Magnificat in prayer. Her hands were crossed on her breast and her black veil lowered over her face; they stood opposite each other against the wall, praying as though in choir. I recited the Magnificat in prayer with them, and again, during the second part of it, which refers to the promises of God, I had many glimpses, near and distant, of single ancestors of Mary, from whom threads of light proceeded towards her, as she stood before me praying. These threads or rays of light came, I saw, always out of the mouth of her male ancestors, whereas those from the female ones came from under their hearts and ended in the glory within Mary.

Abraham must (at the time when his blessing was brought to bear on the future of the Blessed Virgin) have lived near the place where the Blessed Virgin was now reciting the Magnificat, for I saw the ray of light from him streaming upon her from quite near; whereas, I saw the rays from persons much nearer to her in time coming from a much greater distance.

After they had finished the Magnificat, which I always saw them reciting morning and evening since the Visitation, Elizabeth withdrew and I saw the Blessed Virgin going to bed. She took off her girdle and her upper garment, leaving only her long brown undergarment. She took a roll of stuff lying at the head of her low couch which I should otherwise have taken to be a bolster, but now saw was a rolled-up length of woolen material almost a yard wide. She held one end of it tight under one arm-pit, and then wrapped it round and round her body from head to foot and then upwards so that she was quite enveloped in it and could only make short steps. Her arms were free below the elbows and the face and throat were open. She wrapped herself up in this way standing beside her couch, which was slightly raised at the head, and then lay down straight on it, stretched out on her side, her cheek resting on her hand. I did not see men sleeping wrapped up in this way.

[On Sunday, July 9 th, she said:] Yesterday, Saturday, I saw Zechariah during the whole of the Sabbath in the same dress that he put on at the beginning of it. He had a long white robe with not very full sleeves. He was girt about several times with a broad girdle inscribed with letters and with straps hanging from it. At the back of his robe was fastened a hood which fell in folds from his head down his back, like a veil gathered together at the back. When he had something to do in the course of the day on Saturday or had to go anywhere, he threw his robe over one shoulder and tucked it under his girdle below the other arm. Each leg was wrapped round with broad bands separately like trousers, and these wrappings were held fast by the straps with which his sandals were attached to his bare feet. Today he also showed Joseph his priest’s mantle, which was very beautiful. It was an ample, heavy mantle, of shining material shot with purple and white, and was fastened at the breast with three jeweled clasps. It had no sleeves.

I did not see them eating again until Sunday evening when the Sabbath was over. They ate together under the tree in the garden by the house. They ate green leaves which they dipped into sauce and they sucked little green bundles also dipped in sauce. There were also on the table little bowls of some small fruit, and other bowls from which they ate something with transparent brown flat spoons. I think it was honey, which they ate with flat horn spoons. I also saw little loaves being brought to them to eat.

After this Joseph, accompanied by Zechariah, started on his journey home. It was a still moonlight night full of stars. They prayed beforehand all separately. Joseph again had his little bundle with him, in which were small loaves and a little jug, and his staff with a crook at the top. Zechariah had a long staff with a knob. They both wore their traveling mantles over their heads. Before they went, they embraced Mary and Elizabeth alternately by clasping them to their breasts. I did not see them kiss each other then. They went off gaily and quietly, and the two women accompanied them for a short while, after which they wandered off alone through the indescribably lovely night. Mary and Elizabeth then went back into the house, into Mary’s room. A lamp was burning there on an arm projecting from the wall. This was always so when she prayed and when she went to bed. The two women again stood opposite to each other, veiled, and recited the Magnificat in prayer. On this occasion the promised vision, which I had forgotten, was repeated: but I have seen so much tonight that I can say but little of it. I only saw the handing down of the Blessing until it came to Joseph in Egypt.

[On July 11 th she said:] Last night I had a vision of Mary and Elizabeth of which I only remember that they prayed the whole night long. I cannot recollect the cause. In the daytime I saw Mary doing all kinds of work, for instance, weaving coverlets. I saw Joseph and Zechariah still on their journey: they spent the night in a shed. They had made long detours and had, I believe, paid many visits. I think they spent three days on their journey. Except this I have forgotten almost everything.

[On July 13 th she said:] I saw Joseph once more in his house yesterday, Wednesday the 12 th. He seems to have gone straight home without passing through Jerusalem. Anna’s maidservant is looking after everything for him and keeps going to and fro between his house and Anna’s. Otherwise Joseph was alone. I saw Zechariah coming home again. As always, I saw Mary and Elizabeth reciting the Magnificat in prayer and working together. Towards evening they walked in the garden, where there was a fountain, which is unusual here; they always had a little jug of juice with them. Towards evening, when it grew cool, they generally went for a walk in the country round, for Zechariah’s house was isolated and surrounded by meadows. They usually went to bed at nine o’clock, but always got up before sunrise.

[This is all that Catherine Emmerich communicated of her visions of the Blessed Virgin’s visit to Elizabeth. It should be noticed that she described this event on the occasion of the Feast of the Visitation at the beginning of July, but that the actual visit probably took place in March, since she saw the message of the Incarnation being given to the Blessed Virgin already on February 25 th, and closely followed by the Blessed Virgin’s journey to Elizabeth. That journey was, according to Catherine Emmerich, undertaken when Joseph went to attend the Passover, which began on the 14 th of the month Nisan, corresponding to our month of March.

3. THE BIRTH OF JOHN. MARY RETURNS TO NAZARETH.

[On June 9 th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich discovered near her a relic of Christ’s disciple Parmenas, and amongst other visions having reference to this saint she communicated the following, which belongs to this portion of her narrative.]

After the Blessed Virgin’s return from Juttah to Nazareth I saw her spending several days in the house of the parents of Parmenas, Our Lord’s future disciple, who was not yet born. 8888     Parmenas was one of the seven deacons ( Acts 6.5). Cf. following page. (SB) I think I saw this at the same time of year as it actually happened. I had that impression during my vision. In that case the birth of John the Baptist would have happened at the end of May or the beginning of June. Mary stayed for three months with Elizabeth, until after the birth of John, but was not present on the occasion of his circumcision. [Owing to interruptions, Catherine Emmerich did not relate anything further about John’s birth or circumcision, and we therefore refer the reader to the words of the Gospel ( St. Luke 1.57-80).]

The Blessed Virgin returned home to Nazareth after John’s birth and before his circumcision. Joseph came to meet her-half-way. [Catherine Emmerich was so ill and agitated that she did not tell who accompanied the Blessed Virgin till then, nor did she mention the place where she met Joseph. Perhaps this was Dothan, where they stayed on their journey to Elizabeth with the friend of Joseph’s father. She was no doubt accompanied there by relations of Zechariah or by friends from Nazareth who were undertaking the same journey. What follows may be taken as confirming this supposition.]

When Joseph traveled back with the Blessed Virgin during the second half of her journey from Juttah to Nazareth, he noticed from her figure that she was with child, and was sore beset by trouble and doubt, for he knew nothing of the Angel’s annunciation to the Blessed Virgin. Immediately after his marriage, Joseph had gone to Bethlehem to arrange about some inheritance; in the meantime Mary had gone to Nazareth with her parents and some of her play-fellows. The angelic salutation happened before Joseph returned to Nazareth. Mary in shy humility had kept God’s secret to herself. Joseph, though greatly disquieted by what he had perceived, said nothing, but struggled in silence with his doubts. 8989     AC’s account of St. Joseph’s worry in silence accords with Matt. 1.19-20, in strong contrast with the unseemly doubts fancied in the Apocryphal Gospels, especially in Protev. 13. (SB) The Blessed Virgin, who had foreseen this trouble, became thoughtful and serious, which only increased St. Joseph’s uneasiness. When they came to Nazareth, I saw that the Blessed Virgin did not at once go into Joseph’s house with him, but spent a few days with relations. These were the parents of a son, Parmenas (not yet born), who became a disciple of Jesus and was one of the seven deacons in the first community of Christians in Jerusalem. These people were related to the Holy Family, for the mother was a sister of the third husband of Mary Cleophas, the father of Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem. They had a house and a garden of spices in Nazareth. They were also related to the Holy Family through Elizabeth. I saw that the Blessed Virgin stayed for several days with these people before she came to Joseph’s house. Joseph’s uneasiness increased, however, to such an extent that, now that Mary was preparing to return to him in his house, he made up his mind to leave her and to disappear in secret. While he was harboring this thought, an Angel appeared to him in a dream and reassured him.


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