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XV. PERSONAL NOTES: RELICS NEARBY THAT THE THREE KINGS HAD GIVEN TO THE HOLY FAMILY.
Soon after this expression of surprise that Anna should take away from Bethlehem something belonging to her, Sister Emmerich, the following dialogue took place between the latter (who was in a visionary state of great intensity) and the writer.
Sister Emmerich: ‘When Anna went away, she took with her many of the kings’ gifts, especially stuffs. Some of these were used in the first Christian Church, and pieces have survived until our own time. A piece of the cloth that covered the little table on which the kings laid their presents and a piece of one of their cloaks are among my own relics.’ 138138 Catherine Emmerich was in the highest degree sensitive to the hidden qualities of all material objects consecrated by the Church, and in particular to relics of the saints. In the presence of their bones, or of stuff which they had worn, she was able to give their names and often the smallest details of their stories. She identified numbers of relics rescued from destroyed churches, private houses, and even old curiosity shops, sometimes first telling where they were to be found. She was given many of these, including two large reliquaries full of relics from early times, which were presented to her by one of her spiritual directors. (CB) Since some of these relics were in a little cupboard beside her bed, while others were in the writer’s house, he asked: ‘Are these relics of stuff here?’
Catherine Emmerich: ‘No, over there in the house.’
The writer: ‘In my house?’
Catherine Emmerich: ‘No, in the pilgrim’s house (her usual name for the writer). They are in a little bundle. The piece of the cloak is faded. People will not believe it, but it is true, all the same, and I see it before my eyes.’ When the writer brought the relics kept in his house in what might certainly be described as ‘little bundles’, she opened one of these at once and identified a little piece of dark red silk as part of the kings’ stuffs, without, however, giving any more precise explanation about it. She then said: ‘I am sure I have another little piece of the kings’ stuffs. They had several cloaks: a thick strong one for bad weather, a yellow one, and a red one of very thin light wool. These cloaks blew in the wind as they went. At their ceremonies they wore cloaks of shining undyed silk, embroidered at the edge with gold. These had long trains which had to be carried. I think that a piece of a cloak like this must be near me, and that is why tonight and before that I was watching silk being produced and woven in the country of the kings. I remember that in an eastern land, between Theokeno’s and Seir’s countries, there were trees full of silkworms, with little ditches of water round each tree to prevent the silkworms from escaping. I sometimes saw them strewing leaves under the trees, and I saw little boxes hanging from their branches. Out of these boxes they took little round things more than a finger in length. I thought, at first, they were some strange kind of birds’ eggs, but I soon saw that they were the cocoons which the worms had spun round themselves, for I saw people winding off threads as fine as gossamer. I saw them fastening a mass of this on their breasts and spinning from it a fine thread, rolling it up on something they held in their hands. I saw them also weaving among trees: the loom looked white, it was quite simple, and the woven stuff must have been about the breadth of my sheet.’
A few days later she said: ‘My doctor has often questioned me about a piece of very curiously woven silk. A short time ago I saw a similar piece in my room, but do not know what has become of it. I have been thinking over it, and realized that I had a vision of the women weaving silk in a country to the east of the countries of the three kings. It was in the country that St. Thomas visited. I made a mistake: it does not belong to the holy kings’ stuff, so the pilgrim must cross that out. Somebody gave it to me as a senseless sort of test, without considering what I was contemplating internally at that moment: this causes sad confusion. Now, however, I have seen the relics again and know where they are. Several years ago I gave a little packet, sewn together like a knob, to my sister-in-law who lives at Flamske. It was before her last confinement, and she had begged me for some kind of holy relic to support her; so I gave her this little bundle, which I saw shining and as though it had once been in contact with the Mother of God. I cannot remember whether I looked through its whole contents at the time, but the good woman got great comfort from it. It contains a little piece of dark red carpet and two little pieces of thin woven stuff, like crêpe, of the color of raw silk; also a piece of some stuff like green calico, a tiny piece of wood, and a few little splinters of white stone. I have sent a message to my sister-in-law to bring them back to me.’
A few days later her sister-in-law paid her a visit and brought the little packet, which was about the size of a walnut. The writer undid it very carefully at home, and separated the remnants of stuff which were twisted together in it, moistening them and pressing them flat between the leaves of a book. These consisted of about two square inches of thick coarse woolen stuff woven in a very faded flowered pattern, in color dark reddish brown and in places dark purple. There were also strips, two fingers in length and breadth, of loose, thin woven stuff like muslin, of the color of raw silk; and a little piece of wood and a few splinters of stone. In the evening he held the pieces of stuff, which he had put inside note-paper, in front of her eyes. Not knowing what it was, she said first: ‘What am I to do with these letters?’ Then, as soon as she had taken the closed letters one by one in her hand, she said: ‘You must keep that carefully and not allow one thread of it to be lost. The thick stuff that looks brown now was once a deep red; it was part of a carpet as big as my room; the servants of the kings spread it out in the Cave of the Nativity, and Mary sat on it with the Infant Jesus while the kings swung their censers. Afterwards she always kept it in the cave, and she put it on the donkey when she went to Jerusalem for the Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple. The thin crêpe-like stuff is a piece of a short cloak of three separate strips of stuff which the kings wore fastened to their collars. It was like a ceremonial stole and fluttered over back and shoulders. It had a fringe with tassels. The splinters of wood and stone are of a later time: they come from the Promised Land.’
During these days she saw, in her consecutive visions of the Ministry of Jesus, the events of January 27 th in the year of His death. She saw Our Lord on His way to Bethany in an inn near Bethoron 139139 Bethoron is about twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem. Cf. n. 64, p. 48 . (SB) with seventeen disciples. ‘He taught them about their calling and kept the Sabbath with them: the lamp was burning the whole day. Among these disciples is one who has lately followed Him from Sychar. I saw him so plainly; some of his bones must be among my relics, a little thin white splinter. His name sounds like Silan or Vilan, those are the letters I see.’ Finally she said: ‘Silvanus’, adding after a while: I have once more seen the little pieces of stuff which I possess belonging to the three kings. There must be another little bundle there; among its contents are a piece of King Mensor’s cloak, a piece of a red silk covering which was beside the Holy Sepulcher in old days, and a piece of the red and white stole of a saint. I also see the little bone-splinter of the disciple Silvanus in it.’ 140140 Silvanus: is this St. Paul’s friend, called Silas in Acts (55.22, etc.) and Silvanus by St. Paul ( 1 Thess. 1.1; 2 Cor. 1.19 ) and by St. Peter ( 1 Peter 5.12 )? (SB) After an interval of absence of mind, she said: ‘I see now where that little bundle is. Eighteen months ago I gave it to a woman here to hang round her neck. She is still wearing it, and I will ask her to give it back to me. She was so sympathetic when I was arrested 141141 ‘Arrested’—AC was a nun at the Augustinian Convent at Dülmen, when in 1812 Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, closed the convent and dispersed the nuns, who were compelled to live as seculars and find refuge in private houses. (SB) that I gave it to her to wear to console her. I did not then know its exact contents, I only saw that it shone, that it was a holy relic and had been in contact with the Mother of God. Now that I have seen everything to do with the three holy kings so clearly, I recognize everything round me that has to do with them, including these relics of stuffs. I had forgotten where all these things were.
A few days later, when the little package returned, she gave it to the writer to open, as she herself was ill. He undid the little old bundle (which had been firmly sewn up years before) in the room opening into Catherine Emmerich’s, and found the following objects in it, tightly wrapped round each other:
(1) A narrow little strip (like a rolled-up hem) of natural-colored woven material of some very soft wool too fragile and thin to unfold.
(2) Two pieces of yellowish cotton material, loosely woven but quite strong, a finger in length and half that in breadth.
(3) A square inch of patterned crimson silk material.
(4) A square quarter-inch of silk brocade, yellow and white.
(5) A little piece of green and brown silk material.
(6) In the middle of all this was a folded paper containing a white stone the size of a pea.
The writer put all these objects in separate pieces of paper, except No. (6), which he left in its old paper. When he brought them to Catherine Emmerich, who did not seem to be in a visionary state, she coughed and complained of violent pains, but then said: ‘What are those letters you have? They are shining: what treasures we possess, more valuable than a kingdom.’ She then took the closed letters (the contents of which it was impossible for her to know) one by one, weighing each in her hand. She was silent for a few moments, as though looking within herself, and, as she handed each back, gave the following information about their contents without making a single mistake (for the writer tested what she said by at once opening the letters, which were all exactly alike, as she handed them back).
(1) This comes from a coat of Mensor’s; it is of very fine wool. It had armholes and no sleeves. A piece of stuff hung from the shoulder to the elbow like the half of a slit-up sleeve. She then exactly described the shape, material, and color of the relic.
(2) This is from a cloak left behind by the kings. She again described the nature of the relic.
(3) This is a piece of a covering of thick red silk which was spread out on the floor of the Holy Sepulcher when the Christians were still in possession of Jerusalem. When the Turks conquered the city, this silk was still as good as new. It was cut into pieces when the knights divided everything, and each one received a piece as a remembrance.
(4) This is from the stole of a very holy priest named Alexius. I think he was a Capuchin, and he was always praying at the Holy Sepulcher. The Turks mishandled him grievously. They stabled their horses in the church, and made an old Turkish woman go and stand before the Holy Sepulcher where he was praying. He paid no attention and went on with his prayers. Finally they walled him up there, and made the old woman give him bread and water through an opening. I remember this much from a great deal that I saw lately when I saw the little bundle and its contents without knowing for certain where they were.
(5) This is not a holy relic, but is worthy of respect. It is taken from the seats and benches on which the princes and knights sat in a circle in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This, like the red silk, was divided up amongst them.
(6) In this is a little stone from the chapel above the Holy Sepulcher, and also the little splinter of the bone of Silvanus, the disciple of Sychar.
When the writer said that there was no bone-splinter in it, she said ‘Go and look’. He went at once into the next room to the light, opened the folded-up paper carefully, and found in a fold of it a fine white splinter of bone, of the thickness of a finger-nail, irregular in shape and the size of a sixpenny piece, exactly as she had described it. She recognized it at once. All this happened in the evening in the darkness of her room. The light was burning in the ante-room.
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