I saw Zechariah talking with Elizabeth of his grief; it was near the time for his turn of service in the Temple, and it was always with sorrow that he went, for he was looked on with contempt there because of his unfruitfulness. Zechariah had to perform his service in the Temple twice a year.

They lived not in Hebron itself, but in Juttah, about an hour’s distance from it. There were many remains of walls between Juttah 7373     Juttah, the modern Yattah, lies about five miles south of Hebron. See also n. 82, p. 70 . (SB) and Hebron, as if these two places had once been connected with each other. On the other sides of Hebron were also many scattered buildings and groups of houses, the remains, it seemed, of the former city of Hebron, which must once have been as large as Jerusalem. Priests of lower rank lived at Hebron, while those of higher rank lived at Juttah. Zechariah was a kind of superior of the latter. He and Elizabeth were held in great honor there for their virtue and their unbroken descent from Aaron.

I then saw how Zechariah and several other priests of the neighborhood met together on a small farm which he owned near Juttah. There was a garden with various arbors and a little house. Zechariah prayed here with his companions and taught them. It was a kind of preparation for the forthcoming service at the Temple. I also heard him speak of his heaviness of heart, and how he had a presentiment that something was about to befall him.

I then saw him go with these people to Jerusalem; he had to wait four days more before it was his turn to sacrifice. In the meantime he prayed in the Temple. When it was his turn to kindle the incense-offering, I saw him go into the Holy Place, where the golden altar of incense stood in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies. The ceiling above it had been opened so that one could see the sky. One could not see the sacrificing priest from outside, but one could see the smoke rising up. When Zechariah had entered, another priest said something to him and then went away. 7474     Probably he had said to him, as was the custom, ‘Kindle the incense-offering’. See Mishnah, tract. Tamid, 6, § 3, edit. Surenh, p. 305. (CB)
    The tractate Tamid, IV-VII, describes the whole course of the daily sacrifice. This passage is in tome V, p. 305, in the edition of Surenhusius. (SB)

Now that Zechariah was alone, I saw him go through a curtain into a place where it was dark. He brought something out from there which he placed on the altar, and kindled fire to make smoke. Then I saw a radiance descending upon him from the right side of the altar, and within it a shining figure approaching him, and I saw how he sank down towards the right-hand side of the altar in alarm and at the same time rigid in ecstasy. The angel lifted him up and spoke with him for a long time, and Joachim answered him. I saw the heavens opening above Zechariah, and two angels descending and ascending as if on a ladder. His girdle was loosened and his robe was open, and it appeared to me as if one of the angels took something from him and as if the other put into his side as it were a little shining substance. That was what happened also when Joachim received the blessing of the angel for the conception of the Blessed Virgin. It was usual for the priests to leave the Holy Place as soon as they had kindled the incense-offering, so when Zechariah was so long in coming out, those praying outside became anxious. He had become dumb, and I saw him writing on a tablet before coming out. When he emerged from the Temple and came into the outer court, a crowd gathered round him and asked why he had stayed so long. But he could not speak; he waved his hands and pointed to his mouth and to the tablet, which he at once sent to Elizabeth at Juttah, to tell her of the merciful promise of God and of his own dumbness. After a short time he returned there himself; Elizabeth had also been given a revelation, but I can no longer remember what it was.

[This rather incomplete account is all that Catherine Emmerich, who was ill at the time, related on this subject; see St. Luke 1. 5-25.]

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