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XVIII. THE DEATH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AT EPHESUS
The following communications, made in different years, generally in the middle of August before the Feast of the Assumption, are here arranged in chronological order.
1. REGARDING MARY’S AGE.
[On the morning of August 13 th, 1822, Catherine Emmerich said: ‘Last night I had a great vision of the death of the Blessed Virgin, but have completely forgotten it all.’ On being asked, in the middle of a conversation on everyday matters, how old the Blessed Virgin was when she died, Catherine Emmerich suddenly looked away and said: ‘She reached the age of sixty-four years all but three and twenty days: I have just seen the figure X six times, then I, then V; is not that sixty-four?’ (It is remarkable that Catherine Emmerich was not shown numbers with our ordinary Arabic figures, with which she was familiar, but never saw anything but Roman figures in her visions).]
After Christ’s Ascension Mary lived for three years on Mount Sion, for three years in Bethany, and for nine years in Ephesus, whither St. John took her soon after the Jews had set Lazarus and his sisters adrift upon the sea. 182182 The chronology here is not quite plain. The years given here probably include parts of years, since on p. 166 AC states clearly that Mary lived fourteen years and two months after the Ascension, or, as on p. 169 , thirteen years and two months. If the Ascension took place in A.D. 30, the date of the Assumption would be A.D. 43 or 44, which will fit with the subsequent martyrdom of James the Great under Herod (42-44). See n. 193, p. 167 . If she was then sixty-four years old (as AC says here), she was born in 20 B.C. But here there are difficulties about other statements: from AC’s remarks on p. 98 we can deduce that she was eighteen at the birth of Christ, though from p. 57 we gather she was fourteen when she left the Temple and was married. The matter is also confused by the historical problems of the date of the birth of Christ and the date of the Crucifixion and Ascension, and cannot be decided with any certainty. (SB)
Mary did not live in Ephesus itself, but in the country near it where several women who were her close friends had settled. 183183 None of the apocryphal legends of the Assumption suggest that Our Lady lived at Ephesus: most suggest Jerusalem, and the Greek legend ( John , 4) gives Bethlehem. (SB) Mary’s dwelling was on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem some three and a half hours from Ephesus. 184184 The ‘road from Jerusalem’, one would suppose, would be the main road eastwards through Colossae, etc., but the suggestion that Mary’s house was ‘nearer the sea’ than Ephesus (p. 160 ) indicates a road southward along the coast. The issue is obscured by AC’s supposition that Ephesus ‘must be several hours distant from the coast’ (ib.). There seems to be some geographical confusion here, although the precise geographical history of Ephesus is rendered difficult through the silting-up of its harbor. (SB) This hill slopes steeply towards Ephesus; the city as one approaches it from the south-east seems to lie on rising ground immediately before one, but seems to change its place as one draws nearer. Great avenues lead up to the city, and the ground under the trees is covered with yellow fruit. Narrow paths lead southwards to a hill near the top of which is an uneven plateau, some half-hour’s journey in circumference, overgrown, like the hill itself, with wild trees and bushes. It was on this plateau that the Jewish settlers had made their home. It is a very lonely place, but has many fertile and pleasant slopes as well as rock-caves, clean and dry and surrounded by patches of sand. It is wild but not desolate, and scattered about it are a number of trees, pyramid-shaped, with big shady branches below and smooth trunks.
John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her here. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled here, some in caves in the earth or in the rocks, fitted out with light woodwork to make dwellings, and some in fragile huts or tents. They had come here to escape violent persecution. Their dwellings were like hermits’ cells, for they used as their refuges what nature offered them. As a rule, they lived at a quarter of an hour’s distance from each other. The whole settlement was like a scattered village. Mary’s house was the only one built of stone. A little way behind it was the summit of the rocky hill from which one could see over the trees and hills to Ephesus and the sea with its many islands. The place is nearer the sea than Ephesus, which must be several hours’ journey distant from the coast. The district is lonely and unfrequented. Near here is a castle inhabited by a king who seems to have been deposed. John visited him often and ended by converting him. This place later became a bishop’s see. Between the Blessed Virgin’s dwelling and Ephesus runs a little stream which winds about in a very singular way.
2. MARY’S HOUSE IN EPHESUS.
Mary’s house was built of rectangular stones, rounded or pointed at the back. The windows were high up near the flat roof. The house was divided into two compartments by the hearth in the center of it. The fireplace was on the floor opposite the door; it was sunk into the ground beside a wall which rose in steps on each side of it up to the ceiling. In the center of this wall a deep channel, like the half of a chimney, carried the smoke up to escape by an opening in the roof. I saw a sloping copper funnel projecting above the roof over this opening.
The front part of the house was divided from the room behind the fireplace by light movable wicker screens on each side of the hearth. In this front part, the walls of which were rather rough and also blackened by smoke, I saw little cells on both sides, shut in by wicker screens fastened together. If this part of the house was needed as one large room, these screens, which did not nearly reach to the ceiling, were taken apart and put aside. These cells were used as bedrooms for Mary’s maidservant and for other women who came to visit her.
To the right and left of the hearth, doors led into the back part of the house, which was darker than the front part and ended in a semicircle or angle. It was neatly and pleasantly arranged; the walls were covered with wickerwork, and the ceiling was vaulted. Its beams were decorated with a mixture of paneling and wickerwork, and ornamented with a pattern of leaves. It was all simple and dignified.
The farthest corner or apse of this room was divided off by a curtain and formed Mary.s oratory. In the center of the wall was a niche in which had been placed a receptacle like a tabernacle, which could be opened and shut by pulling at a string to turn its door. In it stood a cross about the length of a man.s arm in which were inserted two arms rising outwards and upwards, in the form of the letter Y, the shape in which I have always seen Christ.s Cross. It had no particular ornamentation, and was more roughly carved than the crosses which come from the Holy Land nowadays. I think that John and Mary must have made it themselves. It was made of different kinds of wood. It was told me that the pale stem of the cross was cypress, the brown arm cedar, and the other arm of yellow palm-wood, while the piece added at the top, with the title, was of smooth yellow olive-wood. This cross was set in a little mound of earth or stone, like Christ.s Cross on Mount Calvary. At its foot there lay a piece of parchment with something written on it; Christ.s words, I think. On the cross itself the Figure of Our Lord was roughly outlined, the lines of the carving being rubbed with darker color so as to show the Figure plainly. Mary.s meditation on the different kinds of wood forming the cross were communicated to me, but alas I have forgotten this beautiful lesson. Nor can I for the moment be sure whether Christ.s Cross itself was made of these different kinds of wood, or whether Mary had made this cross in this way only for devotional reasons. It stood between two small vases filled with fresh flowers.
I also saw a cloth lying beside the cross, and had the impression that it was the one with which the Blessed Virgin had wiped the blood from all the wounds in Our Lord.s holy body after it was taken down from the cross. The reason why I had this impression was that, at the sight of the cloth, I was shown that manifestation of the Blessed Virgin.s motherly love. At the same time I had the feeling that it was the cloth which priests use at Mass, after drinking the Precious Blood, to cleanse the chalice; Mary, in wiping the
Lord.s wounds, seemed to me to be acting in the same way, and as she did it she held the cloth just as the priest does. Such was the impression I had at the sight of the cloth beside the cross.
To the right of this oratory, against a niche in the wall, was the sleeping place or cell of the Blessed Virgin. Opposite it, to the left of the oratory, was a cell where her clothes and other belongings were kept. Between these two cells a curtain was hung dividing off the oratory. It was Mary.s custom to sit in front of this curtain when she was working or reading. The sleeping place of the Blessed Virgin was backed by a wall hung with a woven carpet; the side-walls were light screens of bark woven in different-colored woods to make a pattern. The front wall was hung with a carpet, and had a door with two panels, opening inwards. The ceiling of this cell was also of wickerwork rising into a vault from the center of which was suspended a lamp with several arms. Mary.s couch, which was placed against the wall, was a box one and a half feet high and of the breadth and length of a narrow plank. A covering was stretched on it and fastened to a knob at each of the four corners. The sides of this box were covered with carpets reaching down to the floor and were decorated with tassels and fringes. A round cushion served as pillow, and there was a covering of brownish material with a check pattern. The little house stood near a wood among pyramid-shaped trees with smooth trunks. It was very quiet and solitary. The dwellings of the other families were all scattered about at some distance. The whole settlement was like a village of peasants.
3. MARY.S MAIDSERVANT AND JOHN THE APOSTLE.
The Blessed Virgin lived here alone, with a younger woman, her maidservant, who fetched what little food they needed. They lived very quietly and in profound peace. There was no man in the house, but sometimes they were visited by an Apostle or disciple on his travels. There was one man whom I saw more often than others going in and out of the house; I always took him to be John, but neither here nor in Jerusalem did he remain permanently near the Blessed Virgin. He came and went in the course of his travels. He did not wear
the same dress as in Jesus. time. His garment was very long and hung in folds, and was of a thin grayish-white material. He was very slim and active, his face was long, narrow, and delicate, and on his bare head his long fair hair was parted and brushed back behind his ears. In contrast with the other Apostles, this gave him a womanish, almost girlish appearance. Last time he was here I saw Mary becoming ever quieter and more meditative: she took hardly any nourishment. It was as if she were only here in appearance, as if her spirit had already passed beyond and her whole being was far away. In the last weeks before she died I sometimes saw her, weak and aged, being led about the house by her maidservant.
Once I saw John come into the house, looking much older too, and very thin and haggard. As he came in he girt up his long white ample garment in his girdle, then took off this girdle and put on another one, inscribed with letters, which he drew out from under his robe. He put a sort of maniple on his arm and a stole round his neck. The Blessed Virgin came in from her bedchamber completely enveloped in a white robe, and leaning on her maidservant.s arm. Her face was white as snow and as though transparent. She seemed to be swaying with intense longing. Since Jesus. Ascension her whole being seemed to be filled with an ever-increasing yearning which gradually consumed her. John and she went together to the oratory. The Blessed Virgin pulled at the ribbon or strap which turned the tabernacle in the wall to show the cross in it. After they had knelt for a long time in prayer before it, John rose and drew from his breast a metal box. Opening it at one side, he drew from it a wrapping of material of fine wool, and out of this took a little folded cloth of white material. From this he took out the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a small square white particle. After speaking a few solemn words, he gave the Sacrament to the Blessed Virgin. He did not give her a chalice.
Behind the house, at a little distance up the hill, the Blessed Virgin had made a kind of Way of the Cross. When she was living in Jerusalem, she had never failed, ever since Our Lord.s
death, to follow His path to Calvary with tears of compassion. She had paced out and measured all the distances between the Stations of that Via Crucis, and her love for her Son made her unable to live without this constant contemplation of His sufferings. Soon after her arrival at her new home I saw her every day climbing part of the way up the hill behind her house to carry out this devotion. At first she went by herself, measuring the number of steps, so often counted by her, which separated the places of Our Lord’s different sufferings. At each of these places she put up a stone, or, if there was already a tree there, she made a mark upon it. The way led into a wood, and upon a hill in this wood she had marked the place of Calvary, and the grave of Christ in a little cave in another hill. After she had marked this Way of the Cross with twelve Stations, she went there with her maidservant in quiet meditation: at each Station they sat down and renewed the mystery of its significance in their hearts, praising the Lord for His love with tears of compassion. Afterwards she arranged the Stations better, and I saw her inscribing on the stones the meaning of each Station, the number of paces and so forth. I saw, too, that she cleaned out the cave of the Holy Sepulcher and made it a place for prayer. At that time I saw no picture and no fixed cross to designate the Stations, nothing but plain memorial stones with inscriptions, but afterwards, as the result of constant visits and attention, I saw the place becoming increasingly beautiful and easy of approach. After the Blessed Virgin’s death I saw this Way of the Cross being visited by Christians, who threw themselves down and kissed the ground.
4. MARY TRAVELS FROM EPHESUS TO JERUSALEM.
After three years’ sojourn here Mary had a great longing to see Jerusalem again, and was taken there by John and Peter. Several of the Apostles were, I believe, assembled there: I saw Thomas among them and I think a Council was held at which Mary assisted them with her advice. On their arrival at Jerusalem in the dusk of the evening, before they went into the city, I saw them visiting the Mount of Olives, Calvary, the Holy Sepulcher, and all the holy places outside Jerusalem. The Mother of God was so sorrowful and so moved by compassion that she could hardly hold herself upright, and Peter and John had to support her as they led her away.
She came to Jerusalem from Ephesus once again, 185185 These visits to Jerusalem may be the source of the legends that suppose her death to have taken place there. Several, the Latin (3), the Greek (3), and Pseudo-Joseph of Arimathea (4), refer to her visit to the sepulcher. The Council cannot be that of Acts 15, which took place some years later. (SB) eighteen months before her death, and I saw her again visiting the Holy Places with the Apostles at night, wrapped in a veil. She was inexpressibly sorrowful, constantly sighing, ‘O my Son, my Son’. When she came to that door behind the palace where she had met Jesus sinking under the weight of the Cross, she too sank to the ground in a swoon, overcome by agonizing memories, and her companions thought she was dying. They brought her to Sion, to the Cenacle, where she was living in one of the outer buildings. Here for several days she was so weak and ill and so often suffered from fainting attacks that her companions again and again thought her end was near and made preparations for her burial. She herself chose a cave in the Mount of Olives, and the Apostles caused a beautiful sepulcher to be prepared here by the hands of a Christian stonemason. [At another time Catherine Emmerich said that St. Andrew had also helped in this work.] During this time it was announced more than once that she was dead, and the rumor of her death and burial was spread abroad in Jerusalem and in other places as well. By the time, however, that the sepulcher was ready, 186186 Her tomb at Gethsemani is mentioned in the Greek legend (48). The others indicate the Vale of Josaphat, usually identified with the Kedron Valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Gethsemani is on one side of the valley. (SB) she had recovered and was strong enough to journey back to her home in Ephesus, where she did in fact die eighteen months later. The sepulcher prepared for her on the Mount of Olives was always held in honor, and later a church was built over it, and John Damascene (so I heard in the spirit, but who and what was he?) 187187 St. John Damascene, a monk at Jerusalem, died c. A.D. 754, and is a Doctor of the Church. His sermon ( 2 de Dormitione Deiparae) relates her burial at Jerusalem. It is recited in the Breviary on the Octave-Day or during the Octave, and is in fact the simplest collection of popular legends about the Assumption. (SB) wrote from hearsay that she had died and been buried in Jerusalem. I expect that the news of her death, burial-place, and assumption into heaven were permitted by God to be indefinite and only a matter of tradition in order that Christianity in its early days should not be in danger of heathen influences then so powerful. The Blessed Virgin might easily have been adored as a goddess.
5. RELATIVES AND FRIENDS OF THE HOLY FAMILY WHO ALSO LIVE IN EPHESUS.
Amongst the holy women living in the Christian settlement near Ephesus and visiting the Blessed Virgin in her house was the daughter of a sister of Anna, the prophetess of the Temple. I saw her once traveling to Nazareth with Seraphia (Veronica) before Jesus’ baptism. This woman was related to the Holy Family through Anna, for Anna was related to St. Anne and still more closely to Elizabeth, St. Anne’s niece. Another of the women living in Mary’s neighborhood, whom I had also seen on her way to Nazareth before Jesus’ baptism, was a niece of Elizabeth’s called Mara. She was related to the Holy Family in the following way: St. Anne’s mother Ismeria had a sister called Emerentia, both living in the pasture-lands of Mara between Mount Horeb and the Red Sea. She was told by the head of the Essenes on Mount Horeb that among her descendants would be friends of the Messiah. She married Aphras, of the family of the priests who had carried the Ark of the Covenant. Emerentia had three daughters: Elizabeth, the mother of the Baptist, Enue (who was present as a widow at the birth of the Blessed Virgin in St. Anne’s house), and Rhoda, whose daughter Mara was, as I have said, now at Ephesus. Rhoda had married far away from the home of her family: she lived first in the region of Shechem, then in Nazareth and at Casaloth on Mount Thabor. Besides Mara she had two other daughters, and the sons of one of these became disciples. One of Rhoda’s two sons was the first husband of Maroni, who, when he died, married as a childless widow Eliud, a nephew of St. Anne, and went to live at Naim. Maroni had by this Eliud a son whom Our Lord raised from the dead in Naim after his mother had become a widow for the second time. He was the young man of Naim who became a disciple and received the name of Martial in baptism. Rhoda’s daughter Mara, who was present at Mary’s death at Ephesus, was married and lived near Bethlehem. At the time of Christ’s birth, when St. Anne absented herself from Bethlehem on one occasion, it was to Mara that she went. Mara was not well off, for Rhoda had (like the rest of her family) left her children only a third of her property, the other two-thirds going to the Temple and the poor. I think that Nathanael, the bridegroom of Cana, was a son of this Mara, and received the name of Amator in baptism. She had other sons who all became disciples.
6. THE HOLY VIRGIN MAKES THE WAY OF THE CROSS FOR THE LAST TIME.
[August 7, 1821:] Last night and the night before I had much to do with the Mother of God at Ephesus. I followed her Way of the Cross with her and some five other holy women. The niece of Anna the prophetess was there, and also Elizabeth’s niece, the widow Mara. The Blessed Virgin went in front of them all. I saw that she was weak; her face was quite white and as though transparent. Her appearance was indescribably moving. It seemed to me as if I were following her here for the last time. While she was making the Stations, John, Peter, and Thaddeus were I think, already in her house. I saw the Blessed Virgin as very full of years, but no sign of old age appeared in her except a consuming yearning by which she was as it were transfigured. There was an indescribable solemnity about her. I never saw her laugh, though she had a beautiful smile. As she grew older, her face became ever paler and more transparent. She was very thin, but I saw no wrinkles; there was no sign whatever in her of any withering or decay. She was living in the spirit, as it were.
The reason why I saw the Blessed Virgin with such particular clearness in this vision may be my possession of a little relic of a garment which she wore on this occasion. I will endeavor to describe the garment as clearly as I can. [Please refer to Figure 23.] It was an over-garment. It completely covered only the back, where it fell to the feet in a few long folds. At the neck it was crossed over the breast and shoulders, and was held on one shoulder by a button, making a kind of scarf. It was fastened round the waist by a girdle and fell from under her arms to the feet on each side of the brown undergarment. Below the girdle it was folded back to show the lining, which had red and yellow stripes running down and across it. The little piece in my possession comes from the right-hand side of this fold, but not from the lining. It was a festival garment, worn in this way according to old Jewish custom. The Blessed Virgin’s mother wore one, too. This garment covered only the back of the brown undergarment, leaving the bodice and whole front of the latter visible. The sleeves, which were full, showed only from the elbows downwards. The Blessed Virgin’s hair was hidden in the yellowish cap which she wore; this was stretched rather tightly across her forehead and drawn together in folds on the back of her head. Over it she wore a soft black veil which hung down to her waist. I saw her wearing this dress at the wedding of Cana. In the third year of Jesus’ ministry, when Our Lord was healing the sick and teaching beyond the Jordan at Bethabara (also called Bethania), I saw the Blessed Virgin wearing this dress in Jerusalem, where she was living in a beautiful house near the house of Nicodemus, who, I think, owned that house also. Again at Our Lord’s crucifixion I saw her wearing this garment, completely hidden under her praying and mourning cloak. No doubt she wore this ceremonial dress here at the Way of the Cross in Ephesus in memory of having worn it during Jesus’ sufferings on His way to Calvary.
[The morning of August 9 th, 1821:] I came into Mary’s house, some three hours’ journey from Ephesus. I saw her lying on a low, very narrow couch in her little sleeping-alcove all hung with white, in the room behind and to the right of the hearth-place. Her head rested on a round cushion. She was very weak and pale, and seemed as though completely consumed with yearning. Her head and whole figure were wrapped in a long cloth; she was covered by a brown woolen blanket. I saw several women (five, I think) going into her room one after the other, and coming out again as though they were saying farewell to her. As they came out they made affecting gestures of prayer or grief. I again noticed amongst them Anna the niece of the prophetess, and Mara, Elizabeth’s niece, whom I had seen at the Stations of the Cross. I now saw six of the Apostles already gathered here—Peter, Andrew, John, Thaddeus, Bartholomew, and Matthias—and also one of the seven deacons, Nicanor, who was always so helpful and anxious to be of service. I saw the Apostles standing in prayer together on the right-hand side of the front part of the house, where they had arranged an oratory.
Figure 23. Mary in her ceremonial dress.
7. TWO APOSTLES HAVE NOT YET ARRIVED.
[August 10 th, 1821:] The time of the year when the Church celebrates the death of the Blessed Virgin is no doubt the correct one, only it does not fall every year on the same day.
Today I saw two more Apostles coming in with girt-up garments like travelers. 188188 AC’s matter-of-fact account of the arrival of the Apostles (and cf. p. 167 on their tiredness) contrasts strikingly with that of the legends. In most of these the Apostles are transported by clouds to Mary’s deathbed, and in the Syriac legend some are already dead and come to life for the occasion. (SB) These were James the Less and Matthew, who is his step-brother, since Alpheus married when a widower Mary the daughter of Cleophas, having had Matthew by a former wife.
Yesterday evening and this morning I saw the assembled Apostles holding a service in the front part of the house. For this purpose they had taken away or arranged differently the movable wickerwork screens which divided it into sleeping compartments. The altar was a table covered with a red cloth with a white one over it. It was brought from its place to the right of the hearth (which was in daily use) to be set up against the wall and used at the service, after which it was put back again. In front of the altar was a stand covered with a cloth over which hung a scroll. Lamps were burning above the altar. On the altar had been placed a vessel in the shape of a cross made of a substance lustrous with mother-of-pearl. It was barely nine inches in length and breadth and contained five boxes closed by silver lids. In the center one was the Blessed Sacrament, and in the others chrism, oil, salt, other holy things, and some shreds of what was perhaps cotton. Everything was tightly closed and packed together to prevent any leakage. It was the Apostles’ custom to carry this cross on their travels hanging on their breasts under their garments. They were then greater than the high priest when he carried on his breast the holy treasure of the Old Covenant. I cannot clearly recollect whether there were holy bones in one of the boxes or elsewhere. But I do know that in the sacrifice of the New Covenant they always had near the altar the bones of prophets and later of martyrs, just as the Patriarchs at their sacrifices always placed on the altar the bones of Adam or of other progenitors on whom the Promise rested. At the Last Supper Christ had taught the Apostles to do the same.
Peter stood in priestly vestments before the altar, with the others behind him as if in choir. The women stood in the background.
8. ARRIVAL OF SIMON THE APOSTLE.
[August 11 th, 1821:] Today I saw a ninth Apostle, Simon, arrive. James the Greater, Philip and Thomas were the only ones missing. I also saw that several disciples had arrived, among whom I remember John Mark and the aged Simeon’s son or grandson, who had killed Jesus’ last Easter lamb and had the duty of supervising the sacrificial animals in the Temple. There were now some ten men assembled there. There was again a service at the altar, and I saw some of the new arrivals with their garments girt up high, so that I thought they must be intending to leave immediately afterwards. In front of the Blessed Virgin’s bed stood a small, low, three-cornered stool, like the one on which the kings had laid their presents before her in the Cave of the Nativity. On it was a little bowl with a small brown transparent spoon. Today I saw nobody in the Blessed Virgin’s room except one woman.
I saw Peter again bringing her the Blessed Sacrament after the service; he brought it to her in the cross-shaped vessel. The Apostles stood in two rows reaching from the altar to her couch, and bowed low as Peter passed between them bearing the Blessed Sacrament. The screens round the Blessed Virgin’s couch were pushed back on all sides.
After witnessing all this in Ephesus, I had a longing to see what was going on in Jerusalem at this time, but shrank from the long journey there from Ephesus. Whereupon the holy virgin and martyr Susanna 189189 St. Susanna was a Roman maiden, martyred in AD. 295. (SB) came to me and encouraged me, saying that she would be my companion on the journey. (Today is her feast day, and I have a relic of her, and she was with me the whole night.) So I went with her over sea and land, and we soon reached Jerusalem. She was, however, quite different from me, as light as air, and when I tried to take hold of her I could not do it. As soon as I came to a definite place, as for instance Jerusalem yesterday, she disappeared; but in all my passages from one vision to another, she was there to accompany and encourage me.
9. JERUSALEM AT THE TIME OF THE DEATH OF THE HOLY VIRGIN.
I came to the Mount of Olives, and found it all changed and laid waste since I had seen it before, though I was able to recognize each place I had known. The house near the garden of Gethsemani where the disciples had stayed had been pulled down, and a number of trenches and walls had been made there to prevent access to it. After this I betook myself to Our Lord’s Sepulcher. It had been walled up and buried under rubbish, and above, on the top of the rock, a building like a little temple was being put up. So far only the bare walls had been built. As I looked about me, distressed at all the devastation, my heavenly Bridegroom appeared to me in the form in which He had once appeared to Mary Magdalen in this place, and comforted me.
I found Mount Calvary built up and desolate. The little hill on which the Cross had stood had been leveled and surrounded by banks and ditches to prevent access to it. I did, however, make my way there to pray, and again Our Lord came to strengthen and comfort me. When Our Lord appeared to me I no longer saw St. Susanna beside me.
Afterwards I entered into a vision of Christ’s miracles and acts of healing near Jerusalem, and saw many of these healings again. This made me think of the power of healing in the name of Jesus which is specially bestowed upon priests, and how in our days this grace has been particularly manifested in the person of Prince Hohenlohe. 190190 Prince Alexander Leopold Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfuürst was born in 1794. Ordained priest in 1815, he became a canon of Bamberg in 1821. About this time he began to perform some remarkable miraculous cures. The most outstanding was that performed on June 21st, 1821, when Princess Mathilda von Schwarzenberg was released from her paralysis of the previous eight years. The date at the heading of this section of AC’s statement shows that she was speaking less than two months after this event, which therefore had a great topical interest. The holy man became a titular bishop in 1844 and died in 1849. (SB) I saw him healing many kinds of illnesses by his prayers; sometimes he cured people who had long suffered from ulcers hidden under their dirty rags. I am not sure whether these were really ulcers or only symbols of old burdens on their consciences. At the same time I found myself in the presence of other priests who possessed this power of healing in the same degree, but failed to exercise it owing to distractions, preoccupations with other things, fear of other people, or lack of perseverance. One of these I saw particularly clearly; to be sure, he helped many people whose hearts were, I saw, being gnawed by ugly creatures (these, no doubt, signified sins), but others, who lay stricken with bodily illness and whom he could certainly have helped, he neglected to assist owing to distractions, which caused disturbances and obstacles within him.
10. THE APOSTLES HOLD A SERVICE.
[August 12 th, 1821:] There are now not more than twelve men gathered together in Mary’s house. Today I saw a service being held in her sleeping-alcove; Mass was said there. Her little room was open on all sides. A woman was kneeling beside Mary’s couch and every now and then held her upright. I see this being done throughout the day, and I see the women giving the Blessed Virgin a spoonful of liquid from the bowl. Mary had across on her couch, half an arm’s length long and shaped like the letter Y, as I always see the Holy Cross. The upright piece is somewhat broader than the arms. It seems to be made of different woods, and the figure of Christ is white. The Blessed Virgin received the Blessed Sacrament. After Christ’s Ascension she lived fourteen years and two months.
[As Catherine Emmerich fell asleep that evening, she sang hymns to the Mother of God very softly and peacefully in a most moving manner. When she woke up again, the writer asked her what she was singing, and she answered, still heavy with sleep: ‘I was following in the procession with that woman there: now she has gone!’ Next day she again spoke of this singing. ‘In the evening I was following two of Mary’s friends on the Way of the Cross behind her house. Every day they take it in turns to go there, morning and evening, and I creep up quietly to join in behind them. Yesterday I could not help starting to sing and then everything was gone.’]
Mary’s Way of the Cross has twelve Stations. She paced out all the measurements, and John had the memorial stones set up for her. At first they were just rough stones to mark the places, afterwards everything was made more elaborate. There were now low smooth white stones with many sides—I think eight—with a little depression in the center of the surface. Each of these stones rested on a base of the same stone whose thickness was hidden by the close turf and the beautiful flowers surrounding them. The stones and their bases were all inscribed with Hebrew letters. These Stations were all in hollows like little round basins. They were enclosed, and a path encircled the stones broad enough for one or two people to approach in order to read the inscriptions. The spaces round the stones, covered with grass and beautiful flowers, varied in size. These stones were not always uncovered; there was a mat or cover fastened at one side which, when nobody was praying there, was pulled over the stone and held down on the other side with two pegs. These twelve stones were all alike, all engraved with Hebrew inscriptions, but their positions were different. The Station of the Mount of Olives was in a little valley near a cave, in which several people could kneel at prayer. The Station of Mount Calvary was the only one not in a hollow, but on a hill. To reach the Station of the Holy Sepulcher one went over this hill and came to the stone in a hollow. Still lower down at the foot of the hill, in a cave, was the Sepulcher in which the Blessed Virgin was buried. I believe that this grave must still exist under the earth and will one day come to light.
I saw that the Apostles, holy women, and other Christians, when they approached these Stations to pray before them, kneeling or lying on their faces, brought out from under their robes a Y-shaped cross about a foot long, which they set up in the hollow on the various stones by means of a prop at its back.
11. JAMES THE GREATER AND PHILIP ARRIVE.
th, 1821:] I saw the service being celebrated today as before. I saw the Blessed Virgin being lifted up several times in the
day to be given nourishment from the spoon. In the evening about seven o’clock she said in her sleep: ‘Now James the Greater
has come from Spain by Rome with three companions, Timon, Eremenzear, and still another.’ Later Philip came with a companion
from Egypt. I saw the Apostles and disciples arrive mostly in a very tired condition.
The mission-fields of the various Apostles as mentioned by AC on these pages generally correspond to the traditional legends
as preserved in the Lives of the Saints, the Breviary, the
and local cult.
Timon was one of the seven deacons ( Acts 6.15), and is so called by AC (infra, p. 169 ). The identity of Eremenzear is unknown, but AC 169 states (p. 168 ) that he joined James and Timon later and had been a disciple of Our Lord. (SB) They had long staffs with crooks and knobs of different shapes in their hands which showed their rank. They wore long white woolen cloaks which they could draw over their heads as hoods. Underneath they wore long white priests’ robes of wool; these were open from top to bottom, closed by little knob-like buttons and slit straps of leather. I always saw them like this, but forgot to say so. When they were on their travels they wore their garments girt up high round their waists. Some of them had a pouch hanging from their girdles.
The newcomers tenderly embraced those who were already there, and I saw many of them weeping for joy and for sorrow, too—happy to see each other again and grieved that the occasion for their meeting was so sad. They laid aside their staffs, cloaks, girdles, and pouches, letting their long white undergarments fall to their feet. They put on broad girdles which they carried with them, engraved with letters. After their feet had been washed, they approached Mary’s couch and greeted her with reverence. She could only say a few words to them. I saw that they took no nourishment except little loaves; they drank from the little flasks hanging from their girdles.
12. HOW THE APOSTLES WERE CALLED TO MARY’S DEATHBED.
A short time before the Blessed Virgin’s death, as she felt the approach of her reunion with her God, her Son, and her Redeemer, she prayed that there might be fulfilled what Jesus had promised to her in the house of Lazarus at Bethany on the day before His Ascension. It was shown to me in the spirit how at that time, when she begged Him that she might not live for long in this vale of tears after He had ascended, Jesus told her in general what spiritual works she was to accomplish before her end on earth. He told her, too, that in answer to her prayers the Apostles and several disciples would be present at her death, and what she was to say to them and how she was to bless them. I saw, too, how He told the inconsolable Mary Magdalen to hide herself in the desert, and her sister Martha to found a community of women; He Himself would always be with them.
After the Blessed Virgin had prayed that the Apostles should come to her, I saw the call going forth to them in many different parts of the world. At this moment I can remember what follows.
In many of the places where they had taught, the Apostles had already built little churches. Some of them had not yet been built in stone, but were made of plaited reeds plastered with clay; yet all those I saw had at the back the semicircular or three-sided apse, like Mary’s house at Ephesus. They had altars in them and offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass there.
I saw all, the farthest as well as the nearest, being summoned by visions to come to the Blessed Virgin. The indescribably long journeys made by the Apostles were not accomplished without miraculous assistance from the Lord. I think that they often traveled in a supernatural manner without knowing it, for I often saw them passing through crowds of men apparently without anyone seeing them.
I saw that the miracles which the Apostles worked amongst various heathen and savage peoples were quite different from their miracles described in Holy Writ. Everywhere they worked miracles according to the needs of the people. I saw that they all took with them on their travels the bones of the Prophets or of martyrs done to death in the first persecutions, and kept them at hand when praying and offering the Holy Sacrifice.
When the Lord’s summons to Ephesus came to the Apostles, Peter, and I think also Matthias, were in the region of Antioch. Andrew, who was on his way from Jerusalem, where he had suffered persecution, was not far from him. In the night I saw Peter and Andrew asleep on their journey in different places but not very far apart from each other. Neither of them were in a town, but were taking their rest in public shelters such as are found by the roadside in these hot countries. Peter was lying against a wall. I saw a shining youth approach and wake him by taking him by the hand and telling him to rise and hurry to Mary, and that he would meet Andrew on the way. I saw that Peter, who was already stiff from age and his exertions, sat up and rested his hands on his knees as he listened to the angel. Hardly had the vision vanished when he got up, wrapped himself in his cloak, fastened his girdle, grasped his staff, and set forth. He was soon met by Andrew, who had been summoned by the same vision; later they met with Thaddeus, to whom the same message had been given. Thus all three came to Mary’s house, where they met John.
James the Greater, who had a narrow pale face and black hair, came from Spain to Jerusalem with several disciples, and stayed some time in Sarona near Joppa. It was here that the summons to Ephesus reached him. After Mary’s death he went with some six others back to Jerusalem and suffered a martyr’s death. 192192 The martyrdom of James the Great is the only death of an Apostle narrated in the New Testament ( Acts 12.1), and the persecutor is named: Herod, i.e. Herod Agrippa I. This Herod reigned AD. 42-44. AC suggests that James went directly to his martyrdom after the Assumption, in which case the Assumption must have taken place in AD. 44 at the latest. (SB) The man who denounced him was converted, was baptized by him, and beheaded with him.
Jude Thaddeus and Simon were in Persia when the summons reached them.
Thomas was of low stature and had red-brown hair. He was the farthest off, and did not arrive until after Mary’s death. 193193 The late arrival of Thomas is included in the tradition preserved by St. John Damascene, but among the early legends only in that entitled ‘of Joseph of Arimathea’ (17). It might easily be supposed to be invented in view of John 20.24, but it might equally easily be supposed to be truly in character. (SB) I saw the summoning angel come to him. He was a very long way off. He was not in any town, but in a reed-hut, where he was praying, when the angel told him to go to Ephesus. I saw him alone in a little boat with a very simpleminded servant crossing a wide expanse of water—then journeying across country without, I think, touching at any town. He was accompanied by a disciple. He was in India when he received the warning, but before that he had decided to go farther north to Tartary, and could not make up his mind to abandon this plan. (He always tried to do too much and so often arrived too late.) So he went still farther north, right across China, to where Russia is now, where he received a second summons which sent him hurrying to Ephesus. The servant whom he had with him was a Tartar whom he had baptized. This man played a part in later events, but I forget what it was. Thomas did not return to Tartary after Mary’s death. He was killed in India by being pierced with a lance. I saw that he set up a stone in that country on which he knelt and prayed, and that the marks of his knees were imprinted upon the stone. He foretold that when the sea should reach this stone, another would come to that country preaching Jesus Christ.
John had been in Jericho a short time before; he often traveled to the Promised Land. He usually stayed in Ephesus and its neighborhood, and it was here that the summons reached him.
Bartholomew was in Asia, east of the Red Sea. He was handsome and very gifted. His complexion was pale, and he had a high forehead, large eyes, and black curly hair. He had a short black curly beard, divided in the middle. He had just converted a king and his family. I saw it all and will recount it in due course. When he returned there he was murdered by the king’s brother.
I forget where James the Less was when the summons reached him. He was very handsome and had a great resemblance to Our Lord, whence he was called by all his brethren the brother of the Lord.
About Matthew I again saw today that he was the son of Alpheus by a former marriage, and was thus the stepson of Alpheus’ second wife Mary, the daughter of Cleophas.
I forget about Andrew.
Paul was not summoned. Only those were summoned who were relations or acquaintances of the Holy Family.
13. THE EFFECT OF RELICS OF THE APOSTLES ON THE VISIONS.
During these visions I had by my side, amongst the many relics I possess, those of Andrew, Bartholomew, James the Greater, James the Less, Thaddeus, Simon Zelotes, Thomas, and several disciples and holy women. All these came up to me in that order more clearly and distinctly than the others, and then entered into the vision that I saw. I saw Thomas come up to me like the others, but he did not come into the vision of Mary’s death; he was far away and came too late. I saw that he was the only one of The Twelve who was missing. I saw him on his way at a great distance.
I also saw five disciples, and can remember with particular clearness Simeon Justus and Barnabas (or Barsabas), whose bones were beside me. 194194 Simeon Justus and Barnabas or Barsabas. There may be a confusion here (unless other persons are intended): Joseph Barsabas Justus was the candidate proposed with Matthias in Acts 1.23; Joseph Barnabas, later the companion of St. Paul, first appears in Acts 4.36. (SB) Among the three others was one of the shepherd’s sons (Eremenzear ), who accompanied Jesus on His long journeys after the raising of Lazarus. The other two came from Jerusalem. I also saw coming into Mary’s house Mary Heli, the elder sister of the Blessed Virgin, and her younger stepsister, a daughter of Anna by her second husband. Mary Heli (who was the wife of Cleophas, the mother of Mary Cleophas, and the grandmother of the Apostle James the Less, Thaddeus, and Simon) was by then a very old woman. (She was twenty years older than the Blessed Virgin.) All these holy women lived near by; they had come here some time before to escape the persecution in Jerusalem. Some of them lived in caves in the rocks which had been arranged as dwellings by means of wickerwork screens.
14. THE DEATH OF THE HOLY VIRGIN.
[On the afternoon of August 14 th Catherine Emmerich said to the writer: ‘Now I will tell of the death of the Blessed Virgin if only I am not disturbed by visits. Tell my little niece not to interrupt me but to wait patiently in the other room for a time.’ The writer, having done this and returned, said to her, ‘Now tell’, whereupon she answered, gazing before her with a fixed stare: ‘Where am I, then? Is it morning or evening?’ The writer: ‘You are going to tell of the death of the Blessed Virgin.’ ‘Well, there they are, the Apostles, ask them yourself, you are much more learned than I am, you can ask them better than I can. They are following the Way of the Cross and are preparing the grave of the Mother of God.’ When she said this, she was already seeing what happened after Mary’s death. After a pause she continued, marking on her fingers the figures she mentioned: ‘See this number, a stroke I and then a V, does not this make four? Then again V and three strokes, does not that make eight? This is not properly written out; but I see them as separate figures because I do not understand big sums in Roman letters. It means that the year 48 after Christ’s Birth is the year of the Blessed Virgin’s death. Then I see X and III and then two full moons as they are shown in the calendar, that means that the Blessed Virgin died thirteen years and two months after Christ’s Ascension into Heaven. This is not the month in which she died—I think I already saw this vision several months ago. Ah, her death was full of sorrow and full of joy.’ In this continued state of fervor she then recounted the following:]
Yesterday at midday I saw that there was already great grief and mourning in the Blessed Virgin’s house. Her maidservant was in the utmost distress, throwing herself on her knees and praying with outstretched arms, sometimes in corners of the house and sometimes outside in front of it. The Blessed Virgin lay still and as though near death in her little cell. She was completely enveloped in a white sleeping coverlet, even her arms being wrapped in it. It was like the one I described when she went to bed in Elizabeth’s house at the Visitation. The veil over her head was arranged in folds across her forehead; when speaking with men she lowered it over her face. Even her hands were covered except when she was alone. In the last days of her life I never saw her take any nourishment except now and then a spoonful of juice which her maidservant pressed from a bunch of yellow berries like grapes into a bowl near her couch. Towards evening the Blessed Virgin realized that her end was approaching and therefore signified her desire, in accordance with Jesus’ will, to bless and say farewell to the Apostles, disciples and women who were present. Her sleeping cell was opened on all sides, and she sat upright on her couch, shining white as if suffused with light. The Blessed Virgin, after praying, blessed each one by laying her crossed hands on their foreheads. She then, once more, spoke to them all, doing everything that Jesus had commanded her at Bethany. When Peter went up to her, I saw that he had a scroll of writing in his hand. She told John what was to be done with her body, and bade him divide her clothes between her maidservant and another poor girl from the neighborhood who sometimes came to help. The Blessed Virgin in saying this pointed to the cupboard standing opposite her sleeping cell, and I saw her maidservant go and open the cupboard and then shut it again. So I saw all the Blessed Virgin’s garments and will describe them later. After the Apostles, the disciples who were present approached the Blessed Virgin’s couch and received the same blessing. The men then went back into the front part of the house and prepared for the service, while the women who were present came up to the Blessed Virgin’s couch, knelt down and received her blessing. I saw that one of them bent right down over Mary and was embraced by her.
In the meantime the altar was set up and the Apostles vested themselves for the service in their long white robes and broad girdles with letters on them. Five of them who assisted in offering the Holy Sacrifice (just as I had seen done when Peter first officiated in the new church at the pool of Bethsaida after the Ascension) put on the big, rich, priestly vestments. Peter, who was the celebrant, wore a robe which was very long at the back but did not trail on the ground. [Please refer to Figure 24.] There must have been some sort of stiffening round its hem, for I see it standing out all round.
They were still engaged in putting on their vestments when James the Greater arrived with three companions. He came with Timon the deacon from Spain, and after passing through Rome had met with Eremenzear and still another. The Apostles already present, who were just going up to the altar, greeted him with grave solemnity, telling him in few words to go to the Blessed Virgin. He and his companions, after having had their feet washed and after arranging their garments, went in their traveling dress to the Blessed Virgin’s room. She gave her blessing first to James alone, and then to his three companions together, after which James went to join in the service. The latter had been going on for some time when Philip arrived from Egypt with a companion. He at once went to the Mother of Our Lord, and wept bitterly as he received her blessing.
In the meantime Peter had completed the Holy Sacrifice. He had performed the act of consecration, had received the Body of the Lord, and had given Communion to the Apostles and disciples. The Blessed Virgin could not see the altar from her bed, but during the Holy Sacrifice she sat upright on her couch in deep devotion. Peter, after he and the other Apostles had received Communion, brought the Blessed Virgin the Blessed Sacrament and administered extreme unction to her. The Apostles accompanied him in a solemn procession. Thaddeus went first with a smoking censer. Peter bore the Blessed Sacrament in the cruciform vessel of which I have spoken, and John followed him, carrying a dish on which rested the Chalice with the Precious blood and some small boxes. The Chalice was small, white, and thick as though of cast metal; its stem was so short that it could only be held with two or three fingers. It had a lid, and was of the same shape as the Chalice at the Last Supper. A little altar had been set up by the Apostles in the alcove beside the Blessed Virgin’s couch. The maidservant had brought a table which she covered with red and white cloths. Lights (I think both tapers and lamps) were burning on it. The Blessed Virgin lay back on her pillows pale and still. Her gaze was directed intently upwards; she said no word to anyone and seemed in a state of perpetual ecstasy. She was radiant with longing; I could feel this longing, which was bearing her upwards—ah, my heart was longing to ascend with hers to God!
Figure 24. Peter in rich, priestly vestments.
Peter approached her and gave her extreme unction, much in the way in which it is administered now. From the boxes which John held he anointed her with holy oil on her face, hands, and feet, and on her side, where there was an opening in her dress so that she was in no way uncovered. While this was being done the Apostles were reciting prayers as if in choir. Peter then gave her Holy Communion. She raised herself to receive it, without supporting herself, and then sank back again. The Apostles prayed for a while, and then, raising herself rather less, she received the Chalice from John. As she received the Blessed Sacrament I saw a radiance pass into Mary, who sank back as though in ecstasy, and spoke no more. The Apostles then returned to the altar in the front part of the house in a solemn procession with the sacred vessels and continued the service. St. Philip now also received Holy Communion. Only a few women remained with the Blessed Virgin.
Afterwards I saw the Apostles and disciples once more standing round the Blessed Virgin’s bed and praying. Mary’s face was radiant with smiles as in her youth. Her eyes were raised towards heaven in holy joy. Then I saw a wonderfully moving vision. The ceiling of the Blessed Virgin’s room disappeared, the lamp hung in the open air, and I saw through the sky into the heavenly Jerusalem. Two radiant clouds of light sank down, out of which appeared the faces of many angels. Between these clouds a path of light poured down upon Mary, and I saw a shining mountain leading up from her into the heavenly Jerusalem. She stretched out her arms towards it in infinite longing, and I saw her body, all wrapped up, rise so high above her couch that one could see right under it. I saw her soul leave her body like a little figure of infinitely pure light, soaring with outstretched arms up the shining mountain to heaven. The two angel-choirs in the clouds met beneath her soul and separated it from her holy body, which in the moment of separation sank back on the couch with arms crossed on the breast. 195195 All the ancient legends describe the pure soul of Mary leaving her body. The dogmatic decree of Nov. 1st, 1950, however, makes no pronouncement about the death of Our Lady. It is worth here quoting the actual definition: “Immaculatam Deiparam semper Virginem Mariam, expleto terrestris vitae cursu, fuisse corpore et anima ad caelestem gloriam assumptam.” — “ That Mary, the Immaculate and ever Virgin Mother of God, at the end of the course of her life on earth, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.” (SB) My gaze followed her soul and saw it enter the heavenly Jerusalem by that shining path and go up to the throne of the most Holy Trinity. I saw many souls coming forward to meet her in joy and reverence; amongst them I recognized many patriarchs, as well as Joachim, Anna, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist. The Blessed Virgin soared through them all to the Throne of God and of her Son, whose wounds shone with a light transcending even the light irradiating His whole Presence. He received her with His Divine Love, and placed in her hands a scepter with a gesture towards the earth as though indicating the power which He gave her. Seeing her thus entered into the glory of heaven, I forgot the whole scene round her body on the earth. Some of the Apostles, Peter and John for example, must have seen this too, for their faces were raised to heaven, while the others knelt, most of them bowed down low to the earth. Everywhere was light and radiance, as at Christ’s Ascension. To my great joy I saw that Mary’s soul, as it entered heaven, was followed by a great number of souls released from purgatory; and again today, on the anniversary, I saw many poor souls entering heaven, amongst them some whom I knew. I was given the comforting assurance that every year, on the day of the Blessed Virgin’s death, many souls of those who have venerated her receive this reward.
When I once more looked down to earth, I saw the Blessed Virgin’s body lying on the couch. It was shining; her face was radiant; her eyes were closed, and her arms, crossed on her breast. The Apostles, disciples, and women knelt round it praying. As I saw all this there was a beautiful ringing in the air and a movement throughout the whole of nature like the one I had perceived on Christmas night. The Blessed Virgin died after the ninth hour, at the same time as Our Lord.
The women now laid a covering over the holy body, and the Apostles and disciples betook themselves to the front part of the house. The fire on the hearth was covered, and all the household utensils put aside and covered up. The women wrapped and veiled themselves and, sitting on the ground in the room in front of the house, they began to lament for the dead, kneeling and sitting in turns. The men muffled their heads in the piece of stuff which they wore round their necks and held a mourning service. There were always two praying at the head and foot of the holy body. Matthew and Andrew followed the Blessed Virgin’s Way of the Cross till the last Station, the cave which represented Christ’s sepulcher. They had tools with them with which to enlarge the tomb, for it was here that the Blessed Virgin’s body was to rest. The cave was not as spacious as Christ’s and hardly high enough for a man to enter it upright. The floor sank at the entrance, and then one saw the burial-place before one like a narrow altar with the rock-wall projecting over it. The two Apostles did a good deal of work in it, and also arranged a door to close the entrance to the tomb. In the burial-place a hollow had been made in the shape of a wrapped-up body, slightly raised at the head. In front of the cave there was a little garden with a wooden fence round it, as there had been in front of Christ’s sepulcher. Not far away was the Station of Calvary on a hill. There was no standing cross there, but only one cut into a stone. It must have been half an hour’s journey from Mary’s house to the tomb.
Four times did I see the Apostles relieve each other in watching and praying by the holy body. Today I saw a number of women, among whom I remember a daughter of Veronica and the mother of John Mark, coming to prepare the body for burial. They brought with them cloths, as well as spices to embalm the body after the Jewish fashion. They all carried little pots of fresh herbs. The house was closed and they worked by lamplight. The Apostles were praying in the front part of the house as though they were in choir. The women took the Blessed Virgin’s body from her death-bed in its wrappings, and laid it in a long basket which was so piled up with thick, roughly woven coverings or mats that the body lay high above it. Two women then held a broad cloth stretched above the body, while two others removed the head-covering and wrappings under this cloth, leaving the body clothed only in the long woolen robe. They cut off the Blessed Virgin’s beautiful locks of hair to be kept in remembrance of her. Then I saw that these two women washed the holy body; they had something crinkled in their hands, probably sponges. The long robe covering the body was severed. They carried out their task with great respect and reverence, washing the body with their hands without looking at it, for the cloth which was held over it hid it from their eyes. Every place touched by the sponge was covered up again at once; the middle of the body remained wrapped up and nothing whatever was exposed. A fifth woman wrung out the sponges in a bowl and then dipped them into fresh water; three times I saw the basin emptied into a hollow outside the house and fresh water being brought. The holy body was dressed in a new robe, open in front, and reverently lifted, by means of cloths passed under it, onto a table where the grave-clothes and swaddling-bands had been arranged for convenient use. They wound them tightly round the body from the ankles to below the breast, leaving the head, breast, hands, and feet free.
In the meantime the Apostles had assisted at the Holy Sacrifice offered by Peter and received Communion with him, after which I saw Peter and John, still in great bishops’ cloaks, going from the front part of the house to the death chamber. John carried a vessel with ointment, and Peter, dipping the finger of his right hand into it, anointed the breast, hands, and feet of the Blessed Virgin, praying as he did so. (This was not extreme unction; she had received that while still alive.) He touched her hands and feet with ointment, marking forehead and breast with the sign of the cross. I think that this was done as a mark of respect for the holy body, as at the burial of Our Lord. After the Apostles had gone away, the women continued their preparation of the body for burial. They Lid bunches of myrrh in the arm-pits and bosom, and filled with it the spaces between the shoulders and round the neck, chin, and checks; the feet, too, were completely embedded in bunches of herbs. Then they crossed the arms on the breast, wrapped the holy body in a great grave-cloth, and wound it round with a band fastened under one arm so that it looked like a child in swaddling clothes. A transparent handkerchief was folded back from the face, which shone white between the bunches of herbs. They then placed the holy body in the coffin which stood near; it was like a bed or a long basket. It was a kind of board with a low edge and a slightly arched lid. On the breast was laid a wreath of white, red, and sky-blue flowers as a token of virginity. The Apostles, disciples, and all others present then came in to see the beloved face once more before it was covered up. They knelt quietly, shedding many tears, round the Blessed Virgin’s body, touching Mary’s hands wrapped up on her breast in farewell, and then went. The holy women, after making their farewells, covered the holy face and placed the lid on the coffin, which they fastened round with gray bands at each end and in the middle. Then I saw the coffin lifted onto a bier and carried out of the house on the shoulders of Peter and John. They must have changed places, for later on I saw six of the Apostles acting as bearers—at the head, James the Greater and James the Less; in the center, Bartholomew and Andrew; and behind, Thaddeus and Matthew. There must have been a mat or piece of leather attached to the carrying-poles, for I saw the coffin hanging between them as if in a cradle. Some of the Apostles and disciples went on ahead, others followed with the women. It was already dusk, and four lights were carried on poles round the coffin.
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