The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
1. THE ANCESTORS OF ST. ANNE  --ESSENES.
I had a detailed vision of the ancestors of St. Anne, the mother of the
Blessed Virgin. They lived at Mara in the region of Mount Horeb, and
were connected spiritually with a kind of very devout Israelites of
whom I have seen a great deal. I will relate as much as I can recall
about them. I was with these people almost the whole of yesterday, and
if I had not been oppressed by so many visits, I should not have
forgotten nearly all of what I saw.
These devout Israelites who were connected with the ancestors of St.
Anne were called Essenes or Essaees. They have, however, changed their
name three times, for they were first called Eskarenes, then
Chasidaees, and finally Essenes. Their first name, Eskarenes, came from
the word Eskara or Azkara, which is the name for the part of the
sacrifice belonging to God, and also for the sweet-smelling incense at
the offering of wheaten flour.  The second name, Chasidaees, means
merciful.  I cannot remember what the name Essenes comes from. 
The way of life of these devout people is an inheritance from the time
of Moses and Aaron and in particular from the priests who carried the
Ark of the Covenant; but it was not until the period between Isaiah and
Jeremiah that their way of life was regularly established. At the
beginning there were not many of them; later on, however, their
settlements in the Promised Land occupied a space twenty-four hours'
journey long and thirty-six hours' journey broad. They did not come to
the region of the Jordan until later; they lived mostly on the slopes
of Mount Horeb and Mount Carmel, the home of Elijah.
In the lifetime of St. Anne's grandparents, the Essenes had a spiritual
head who lived on Mount Horeb. He was an aged prophet called Archos or
Arkas.  Their organization was very like that of a religious order.
All who wished to enter it had to undergo a year's tests, and the
length of time for which they were accepted was decided by prophetic
inspirations from above. The real members of the Order, who lived in a
community, did not marry but lived in chastity; but there were others
(who had formerly been in the Order or were attached to it) who married
and carried out in their families, and with their children and
household, something similar in many ways to the traditional discipline
of the real Essenes. Their relation ship with these was like that
between the lay members of a Catholic Third Order, or Tertiaries, and
the professed priests of the Order. In all important matters,
especially as to the marriages of their relations, these married
Essenes always sought instruction and counsel from the aged prophet on
Mount Horeb. St. Anne's grandparents belonged to this kind of married
Later there arose a third kind of Essenes who exaggerated everything
and fell into great errors, and I saw that the others would have no
dealings with them.
The real Essenes were specially concerned with prophetic matters, and
their head on Mount Horeb was often vouchsafed divine revelations in
the cave of Elijah respecting the coming of the Messiah. He had
knowledge of the family from which the mother of the Messiah was to
come, and at the time that he gave prophetic advice to the grandparents
of St. Anne in matters of marriage, he saw that the day of the Lord was
approaching. He did not, however, know how long the birth of the
Savior's mother might still be prevented or delayed by sin, and so he
was always preaching penance, mortification, prayer, and inner
sacrifice for this intention--pious exercises of which all Essenes had
ever given the example.
Until Isaiah assembled these people together and gave them a more
regular organization, they were scattered about the land of Israel,
leading lives of piety and intent on mortification They wore their
clothes without mending them till they fell off their bodies. They
fought particularly against sexual immorality, and often by mutual
consent lived in continence for long periods, living in huts far
removed from their wives. When they lived together as husband and wife,
it was only with the intention of producing a holy offspring which
might bring nearer the coming of the Savior. I saw them eating apart
from their wives; the wife came to take her meal after the husband had
left the table. There were ancestors of St. Anne and of other holy
people among these early Essenes.
Jeremiah too was connected with them, and the men called Sons of the
Prophet' came from them. They often lived in the desert and round Mount
Horeb and Carmel, and later I saw many of them in Egypt. I also saw
that for a time they were driven away from Mount Horeb by war and were
reassembled by new leaders. The Maccabees also belonged to them. They
had a great devotion to Moses, and possessed a sacred piece of his
clothing given by him to Aaron, from whom it had come down to them.
This was their most precious relic, and I had a vision of some fifteen
of them being killed in defending it. Their prophet leaders had
knowledge of the secret mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant.
The real Essenes who lived in chastity were indescribably pure and
devout. They adopted children and brought them up to lead a very holy
life. To be accepted as a member of the regular Order, a boy had to
have reached the age of fourteen. Those who had been already tested had
to undergo a year's novitiate, others two years. They did not carry on
any form of trade, but exchanged the produce of their agriculture for
whatever else they needed. If one of them had committed a grave sin, he
was expelled from among them and excommunicated by their head. This
excommunication had the force of that pronounced by Peter against
Ananias, who was struck dead by it. Their head knew by prophetic
inspiration who had committed sin. I also saw some Essenes undergoing
penitential punishment; they were obliged to stand in a stiff robe with
their arms extended immovably in sleeves lined with thorns.
Mount Horeb was full of little caves, which formed the cells where they
lived. An assembly hall of light wattlework had been built onto the
mouth of one of the large caves. Here they came together at eleven
o'clock in the morning and ate. Each had a small loaf of bread in front
of him with a goblet. The head went from place to place and blessed
each one's bread. After the meal they returned to their separate cells.
In this assembly hall there was an altar on which stood little blessed
loaves covered up; they were in some way sacred, and were, I think,
distributed among the poor.
The Essenes had a great number of doves, which were tame and ate out of
their hands. They ate doves, but also used them in their ritual
ceremonies. They said something over them and let them fly away. I saw,
too, that they released lambs in the desert after saying something over
them, as if they were to take their sins on them. 
I saw them go three times a year to the Temple in Jerusalem. They had
also priests among them whose special duty was the care of the sacred
vestments; they cleaned them, contributed money for them, and also made
new ones. I saw them engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture, but
specially in gardening. Mount Horeb was full of gardens and fruit trees
in the spaces between their huts. I saw many of them weaving and
plaiting, and also embroidering priests' vestments. I did not see them
producing silk; that came in bundles to be sold to them, and they
exchanged other produce for it.
In Jerusalem they had a quarter of their own to live in and a separate
place in the Temple as well. The other Jews rather disliked them
because of their austerity. I saw, too, that they sent presents to the
Temple; for example, great bunches of grapes, carried by two people on
a pole. They also sent lambs, but not to be slaughtered; I think they
just let them run into a garden. I did not see the real Essenes
offering bloody sacrifices in these later times. I saw that before they
journeyed to the Temple they made a very rigorous preparation by
prayer, fasting, and penance, including even scourgings. If one laden
with sins went to the Temple and to the Holy of Holies without having
made atonement by penance, he usually died on the spot. If on their
journey, or in Jerusalem itself, they found anyone who was ill or in
any way helpless, they did not go to the Temple until they had given
him all the aid in their power.
I saw that, in general, they employed themselves in healing. They
gathered herbs and prepared potions. I saw also that those holy people
whom I had seen some time before laying sick folk down on a bed of
healing plants were Essenes.  I saw, too, that the Essenes healed
the sick by the laying on of hands, or by stretching themselves on them
with arms extended. I saw them also healing at a distance in a
wonderful way, for the sick who could not come themselves sent a
representative to whom everything was done as it would have been to the
sick person. The time was noted, and the distant sick person was cured
at that very hour.
I saw that the Essenes on Horeb had in their caves recesses in the
walls where bones, carefully wrapped in cotton and silk, were kept as
sacred relics behind gratings. They were bones of prophets who had
lived here, and also of the children of Israel who had died near here.
There were little pots of green plants standing beside them. The
Essenes used to light lamps and pray before the bones in veneration of
ll the unmarried Essenes who lived together in communities on Mount
Horeb and elsewhere observed the greatest cleanliness. They wore long
white robes. The head of the Essenes on Horeb wore wonderful priestly
vestments during solemn religious services, after the manner of the
high priest in Jerusalem, only shorter and not so magnificent. When he
prayed and prophesied in the cave of Elijah on Mount Horeb, he always
wore these sacred vestments, which consisted of about eight pieces.
Amongst them was a very sacred relic, a sort of dalmatic or scapular,
covering the breast and shoulders, which Moses had worn next to his
body and had given to Aaron, from whom it had later descended to the
Essenes. The prophet Archos, their head on Mount Horeb, always wore
this dalmatic next his body when he was clothed in all his vestments
and was praying for prophetic enlightenment. The lower part of his body
was wrapped in a loincloth, while breast and shoulders were covered
with this sacred garment, which I will describe as exactly as I can
remember. It will probably be clearer if I cut out a sort of pattern of
it in paper. [She then quickly cut the shape, shown in Figure 1, out of
paper put together, saying:] This sacred scapulary had more or less
this shape when spread out. Its stuff was woven as stiff as haircloth.
On the middle of the breast and back was a triangular place of double
thickness and as it were quilted. I cannot now say for certain what was
between the layers. At the neck hole, part I, of the scapulary, a
triangular piece was cut from A to B, and a ribbon or little strap ran
across the top of the opening. Its lower point, B, was still attached
to the scapulary, and the triangle could be let down to hide completely
another opening over the breast. This other opening was cut from C to
D, and below triangle E, was the place of the double thickness
mentioned above. It was ribbed or quilted, and letters were fastened
into it with little pins and on the inside with sharp little hooks
sticking out and pricking the breast. On the cut-out triangle (which
was also of double thickness) at the neck there was also something like
letters. I do not now know what was inside these triangles. When the
priest put on this sacred vestment, the upper triangle exactly covered
the lower one. In the middle of the back there was another place, F,
where the stuff was quilted and of two thicknesses, and here, too,
there were letters and sharp pins.
Figure 1. Pattern of a sacred Essene scapular which Moses had once
Over his scapulary the head of the Essenes wore a gray woolen tunic,
and on this again a large full tunic made of white twisted silk, girt
with a broad belt inscribed with letters. He had a kind of stole round
the neck, crossed over the breast, and it was held fast under the
girdle and hung down below his knees. The stole was fastened with three
straps above and below the place where it was crossed. On this he put a
vestment not unlike a chasuble, which was also made of white twisted
silk. [She cut out a pattern of this vestment, shown in Figure 2, as it
looked when spread out. Please refer to Figure 2, part II.] The back
side, A, was narrow and came down to the ground; it had two bells
attached to the lower hem, which tinkled with the priest's movements
and called the people to the service. The front side, B, was shorter
and broader and open from the neck hole, C, downwards. This front part
had large openings, E, on the breast and below it, through which the
stole and undergarment could be seen. These openings were held together
in places by fastenings ornamented with letters and precious stones, D.
The front and back of this vestment were held together by strips of
stuff under the arms. [These were not shown in the pattern which she
cut out.] Round the neck was an upright collar, hooked together in
front. The priest's beard, divided in the middle of the chin, fell down
over this collar.
Figure 2. Patterns of an Essene sacred silk vestment and cloak.
Over all this he finally put on a little cloak [Figure 2, part III] of
white twisted silk. [Please refer to Figure 3 for a depiction of the
full outfit.] It shimmered and shone and was fastened in front with
three clasps ornamented with precious stones on which something was
engraved. From both shoulders of his cloak there were fringes, tassels,
and fruits hanging. Besides all this, he wore a short maniple on one
arm. The headdress was, as far as I can remember, also of white silk,
twisted into a round shape and padded, like a turban, yet resembling
our priests' birettas to a certain extent, for at the top it had ridges
like theirs and also a tuft of silk. A little plate of gold set with
precious stones was fastened over the forehead.
The Essenes were very austere and frugal in their way of living. They
generally ate only fruit, which they often cultivated in their gardens.
I saw that Archos usually ate a bitter yellow fruit. About 200 years
before Christ's birth I saw near Jericho a very devout Essene called
Archos or Arkas, the old prophet on Mount Horeb, ruled over the Essenes
for ninety years. I saw how St. Anne's grandmother questioned him about
her own marriage. It is remarkable that it was always about female
children that these prophets made predictions, and that Anna's
ancestors and Anna herself had mostly daughters. It was as if the
object of all their devotion and prayers was to obtain from God a
blessing on pious mothers from whose descendants the Blessed Virgin,
the mother of the Savior Himself, should spring, as well as the
families of His precursor and of His servants and disciples.
Figure 3. Head of the Essenes in sacred vestments.
The place where the head of the Essenes on Mount Horeb prayed and
prophesied was the cave where Elijah had dwelt. Many steps led to it up
the mountain-side, and one entered the cave through a small cramped
opening and down a few steps. The prophet Archos went in alone. For the
Essenes this was as if the high priest in the Temple went into the
Sanctissimum, for here was their Holy of Holies. Within there were
several mysterious holy things, difficult to describe. I will tell what
I can remember of them. I saw Anna's grandmother seeking counsel from
the prophet Archos.
Anna's grandmother came from Mara in the desert, where her family,
which belonged to the married Essenes, owned property. Her name sounded
to me like Moruni or Emorun. It was told me that this means something
like good mother' or noble mother'.  When the time came for her to
be married, she had several suitors, and I saw her go to the prophet
Archos on Horeb for him to decide whom she was to accept. She went into
a separate part of the large assembly hall and spoke to Archos, who was
in the hall, through a grating, as if she were making her confession to
him. It was Only in this way that women approached the place. I then
saw Archos put on his ceremonial vestments, and ascend thus arrayed the
many steps to the top of Mount Horeb, where he entered the cave of
Elijah by the little door and down the steps. He shut the little door
of the cave behind him, and opened a hole in the vaulting dimly
illuminating the cave, the interior of which had been carefully
hollowed out. Against the wall I saw a little altar carved out of the
rock, and noticed, though not quite clearly, several sacred objects on
it. On the altar were several pots with low-growing bushes of herbs.
They were the herbs which grow as high as the hem of Jesus' garment.
 I know this herb; it grows with us but less vigorously. The plants
gave Archos some sort of indication in his prophetic knowledge
according to whether they faded or flourished. In the middle between
these little bushes of herbs I saw something like a little tree, taller
than them, with leaves that looked yellowish and were twisted like
snail shells. There seemed to me to be little figures on this tree. I
cannot now say for certain whether this tree was living or was
artificial, like the Tree of Jesse. [On the next day she said:] On this
little tree with the twisted leaves could be seen, as on a tree of
Jesse or genealogical table, how soon the coming of the Blessed Virgin
was to be expected. It looked to me as if it were living and yet it
seemed also to be a receptacle, for I saw that a blossoming branch was
kept inside it. I think it was Aaron's rod, which had once been in the
Ark of the Covenant. When Archos prayed in the cave of Elijah for a
revelation on the occasion of a marriage among the Blessed Virgin's
ancestors, he took this rod of Aaron into his hand. If the marriage was
destined to take its place in the Blessed Virgin's ancestry, the rod
put forth a bud which produced one or more flowers, among which single
flowers were sometimes marked with the sign of the elect. Certain buds
represented particular ancestors of Anna, and when these came to be
married, Archos observed the buds in question and uttered his
prophecies according to the manner in which they unfolded.
The Essenes of Mount Horeb had, however, another holy relic in the cave
of Elijah; nothing less than a part of the most holy mystery of the Ark
of the Covenant which came into their possession when the Ark fell into
the hands of enemies. [She spoke here uncertainly of a quarrel and of a
schism among the Levites.] This holy thing, concealed in the Ark of the
Covenant in the fear of God, was known only to the holiest of the high
priests and to a few prophets, but I think that I learnt that it is in
some way mentioned in the little-known secret books of the old Jewish
thinkers.  It was no longer complete in the new Ark of the Covenant
in the Temple as restored by Herod. It was no work of man's hands, it
was a mystery, a most holy secret of the divine blessing on the coming
of the Blessed Virgin full of grace, in whom by the overshadowing of
the Holy Ghost the Word became Flesh and God became Man. Before the
Babylonian captivity this holy thing had been whole in the Ark of the
Covenant; I now saw part of it here in the possession of the Essenes.
It was kept in a chalice of shining brown, which seemed to me to be
made of a precious stone. They prophesied, too, with the help of this
holy thing, which seemed sometimes to put forth as it were little buds.
Archos, after entering the cave of Elijah, shut the door and knelt down
in prayer. He looked up to the opening in the vaulting and threw
himself face downwards on the ground. I then saw the prophetic
knowledge that was given to him. He saw that from under the heart of
Emorun, who was seeking his counsel, there grew as it were a rose tree
with three branches, with a rose on each of them. The rose on the
second branch was marked with a letter, I think an M. He saw still
more. An angel wrote letters on the wall; I saw Archos rise up as if
awaking and read these letters. I forget the details. He then went down
from the cave, and announced to the maiden who was awaiting his answer
that she was to marry and that her sixth suitor was to be her husband.
She would bear a child, marked with a sign, who was chosen out as a
vessel of election in preparation for the coming of the Savior.
Hereupon Emorun married her sixth suitor, an Essene called Stolanus; he
did not come from Mara, and as a result of his marriage and of his
wife's possessions he was given another name, which I can no longer
remember distinctly; it was pronounced in different ways and sounded
like Garescha or Sarziri.  Stolanus and Emorun had three daughters,
called, I remember, Ismeria and Emerentia, and a younger one whose
name, I think, was Enue. They did not remain long at Mara, but moved
later to Ephron. I saw that their daughters Ismeria and Emerentia both
married in accordance with the prophetic counsels of the prophet on
Horeb. (I can never understand why I have so often heard that Emerentia
was the mother of Anna, for I always saw that it was Ismeria.) I will
tell in God's name what I still have in my mind about these daughters
of Stolanus and Emorun. 
Emerentia married one Aphras or Ophras, a Levite. Of this marriage was
born Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. A second daughter was
named Enue like her mother's sister. At the time of Mary's birth she
was already a widow. There was a third daughter, Rhoda, one of whose
daughters was Mara, whom I saw present at the death of the Blessed
Ismeria married Eliud. They lived after the manner of the married
Essenes in the region of Nazareth. They had inherited from their
parents the tradition of discipline and continence in married life.
Anna was one of their children. The firstborn of Ismeria and Eliud was
a daughter called Sobe. Because this child did not bear the sign of the
promise, they were much distressed and again went to the prophet on
Mount Horeb to seek counsel. Archos exhorted them to betake themselves
to prayer and sacrifice, and promised them consolation. After Sobe's
birth, Ismeria remained barren for some eighteen years. When she again
became pregnant by God's blessing, I saw that Ismeria was given a
revelation at night. She saw an angel beside her bed writing a letter
on the wall. It seems to me that it was again that letter M. Ismeria
told her husband of it; he also had seen it in his sleep, but now,
while awake, they both saw the sign on the wall. After three months
Ismeria gave birth to St. Anne, who came into the world with that sign
upon her body.
In her fifth year Anna was, like the Blessed Virgin, taken to the
school in the Temple, where she remained twelve years. She was brought
home again in her seventeenth year, to find two children there--her
little sister Maraha, who had been born while she was away, and a
little son of her elder sister Sobe called Eliud. A year after this
Ismeria fell mortally ill. As she lay dying she spoke to all her
relations and presented Anna to them as the future mistress of the
house. Then she spoke once more with Anna alone, telling her that she
was a chosen vessel of grace, that she must marry, and must seek
counsel from the prophet on Mount Horeb. Then she died.
Sobe, Anna's elder sister, was married to Salomo. Besides her son Eliud
she had a daughter, Mary Salome, who married Zebedee and was the mother
of the apostles James and John. Sobe had a second daughter who was an
aunt of the bridegroom of Cana and the mother of three disciples.
Eliud, the son of Sobe and Salomo, was the second husband of the widow
Maroni of Naim and the father of the boy raised by Jesus from the dead.
Maraha, Anna's younger sister, was given the homestead in Sephoris when
her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon. She married and had a
daughter and two sons, Arastaria and Cocharia, who became disciples.
Anna had yet a third sister who was very poor and was the wife of a
shepherd on Anna's pastures. She was often in Anna's house.
Enue, the third daughter of Stolanus, married and lived between
Bethlehem and Jericho. One of her descendants was with Jesus.
Anna's great grandfather was a prophet. Eliud, her father, was of the
tribe of Levi; her mother Ismeria was of the tribe of Benjamin. 
Anna was born at Bethlehem, but afterwards her parents moved to
Sephoris, four hours from Nazareth, where they had a house and land.
They also owned land in the beautiful valley of Zabulon, one and a half
hours from Sephoris and three hours from Nazareth. In the fine season
of the year Anna's father was often with his family in the valley of
Zabulon,  and after his wife's death he moved there altogether.
This led to the connection with the parents of Joachim, whom Anna
married. Joachim's father was called Matthat  and was the
stepbrother of Jacob (father of St. Joseph) and of Joses. Matthat had
settled in the valley of Zabulon.
I saw Anna's ancestors helping to carry the Ark of the Covenant with
great devotion and piety, and I saw also that they received from the
holy thing therein rays of light which extended to their descendants,
to Anna and the Blessed Virgin. Anna's parents were rich. This was
clear to me because of their possessions; they had many oxen; but they
kept nothing for themselves alone, they gave everything to the poor. I
saw Anna as a child; she was not particularly beautiful, but yet more
so than others. She was far less beautiful than Mary, but remarkably
simple and childlike in her piety; I have always seen her like that,
whether as girl, mother, or old, old woman. Indeed, whenever I saw a
real childlike old peasant woman, it always made me think she is like
Anna'. She had several other brothers and sisters, all married, but she
did not wish to marry. She was particularly fond of her parents, and
though she had at least six suitors, she rejected them all. After
taking counsel, like her ancestors with the Essenes, she was directed
to marry Joachim, whom she did not yet know, but who sought her in
marriage when her father Eliud moved to the valley of Zabulon, the home
of Joachim's father Matthat.