The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
16. THE TRAIN OF THE KINGS CROSSES THE JORDON.
The kings and their train left Mathanea and hurried through the night,
following a high-road. They passed through no more towns, but skirted
all the little places in which, at the end of July in the third year of
His ministry, Jesus blessed the children and healed and taught; for
example, Bethabara,  the place of the ferry across the Jordan,
which they reached early in the morning. As it was the Sabbath, they
met few people on their way.
Early in the morning, at seven o'clock, I saw them crossing the Jordan.
Generally people were ferried across the river on a raft of beams, but
for large companies a sort of bridge was put together. This was
generally done by the ferrymen who lived on the bank and received
payment for it, but as these could not work on the Sabbath the
travelers did it themselves, with the help of some of the ferrymen's
heathen servants, who were paid for it. The Jordan was not broad here
and was full of sand-banks. Planks were placed against the raft
generally used for crossing, and the camels were led up them onto the
raft. I saw that this sort of bridge was ferried backwards and forwards
till all the train were landed on the western bank. It was quite a long
time before all were safely across.
[In the evening at half-past five, she said:] They have left Jericho on
their right and are now in a direct line with Bethlehem, but are
turning more to the right in the direction of Jerusalem. There must be
as many as a hundred men with them. In the distance I see a little
town, which I know, beside a stream coming from Jerusalem in an
eastward direction. I am sure they will have to pass through this town.
They go on for some time with the stream on their left hand. I saw
Jerusalem as they went; it sank out of sight and reappeared as the road
rose or fell. [Later she said:] They did not pass through that town
after all; they turned to the right towards Jerusalem.
Today [Saturday evening, December 22 ^nd] I saw the three holy kings
and their train arriving before Jerusalem. I saw the city towering up
to heaven. The guiding star had here almost disappeared; it had become
quite small and glowed only dimly behind the city. The travelers became
more and more depressed the nearer they came to Jerusalem, for the star
was not nearly so bright before them, and in Judea they saw it but
seldom. They had expected, too, to find everywhere great rejoicings and
festivities at the newborn Savior, for whose sake they had made so long
a journey. When, however, they found nowhere the smallest trace of
excitement about Him, they were distressed and full of doubts, thinking
that they had perhaps gone completely astray.
Their train numbered, I am sure, more than 200 men, and took a quarter
of an hour to pass by. A distinguished company had joined them as far
back as Causur, and since then others had been added. The three kings
rode on dromedaries (camels with two humps), with baggage all round
them, and there were three other loaded dromedaries with their riders.
Each king was accompanied by four men of his tribe; among them I
noticed two young men (one of them was Azarias of Atom), whom I saw
later as fathers of families when Jesus visited Arabia. The rest of the
company rode mostly on very swift yellowish animals with delicate
heads; I am not sure whether these were horses or donkeys. They looked
quite different from our horses. The ones ridden by the more
distinguished persons had richly ornamented saddles and bridles, and
were hung with little gold chains and stars. Some of the company went
up to the gate of the city and came back accompanied by guards and
soldiers. Their arrival by this road with so large a train caused great
surprise, as there was no festival and they were bringing no
merchandise with them. When questioned, they explained why they had
come, speaking of the star and the newborn child, but not a soul there
understood what they were talking about. This depressed them extremely;
they thought that they must certainly have made a mistake, for they
could find nobody here who seemed to know anything about the Savior of
the World. Everyone gazed at them in astonishment, and could not
understand what they wanted. However, the gate-keepers went back into
the city to report when they saw the generous alms given so kindly to
the importunate beggars, and heard not only that the kings sought a
lodging and would pay liberally, but also that they asked to speak with
King Herod. Then followed an exchange of reports, messages, inquiries,
and explanations between the kings and the authorities. While this was
going on, the kings talked with the various people who had collected
round them. Some of them had heard a rumor of a child said to have been
born at Bethlehem, but it could not, they said, be He, for His parents
were common people and poor. Others only laughed at them; and as they
gathered, from what little the people said, that Herod knew nothing of
a newborn child, and that, in general, they had no very high opinion of
Herod, they became even more dejected, for they were troubled in their
minds as to how to deal with the matter when speaking to Herod.
However, calming themselves, they fell to praying and took courage
again, saying to each other: He who has led us here so quickly by the
star will bring us happily home again.
When the gate-keepers at last came back, the kings and their train were
taken round the outside of the city walls for some way and brought into
it through a gate near Mount Calvary. They and their baggage-animals
were taken to a circular enclosure not far from the fish market. It was
surrounded by houses and stables, and there were guards at the
entrances. The animals were taken into the stables, while the kings
established themselves in sheds near a fountain in the center of the
court. The baggage-animals were watered at this fountain. One side of
this circular court was on the slope of a hill; the two other sides
were open, with trees in front.
Officials now came two by two with torches and examined what the kings
had in their baggage. I suppose they were customs officers.