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The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich


[In the evening of November 6 ^th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich said:] Today at midday I saw the arrival in Jerusalem of the child Mary with those accompanying her. Jerusalem is a strange city; one must not picture it with crowded streets like, for instance, Paris. In Jerusalem are many valleys, steep ways winding behind city walls. No doors or windows are to be seen, for the houses, which stand on high ground, face away from the walls New quarters have been added one by one, each enclosing a fresh ridge of hill, but leaving the old town walls standing between them. These valleys are often spanned by solid stone bridges. The living rooms of the houses usually face on to inner courts; on the street side only the door is to be seen, or perhaps a terrace high up on the top of the wall. The houses are very much shut up. Unless the inhabitants have business in the markets or are visiting the Temple, they spend most of their time in the inner rooms and courtyards. In general the streets of Jerusalem are rather quiet, except near the markets and palaces, where crowds of travelers and soldiers and people going in and out of the houses fill the streets with life and movement. Rome is much more pleasantly situated; its streets are not so steep and narrow and are much more lively. When all the people of Jerusalem are assembled in the Temple, many of the districts of the city seem quite dead. (It was because of the seclusion of the inhabitants within their houses and of the number of deserted valley paths that Jesus was so often able to go about the city with His disciples undisturbed.) Water is scarce in Jerusalem, and one often sees great structures of arches with channels to carry it in different directions, also towers to the top of which it is driven or pumped. In the Temple, where a great deal of water is needed for washing and cleansing the vessels, it is used very carefully. It is brought up from below by means of large pumping works. There are a great many dealers in the city: they usually group themselves with others of the same trade, and set up lightly-made huts in open places and markets surrounded by porticoes. There are, for instance, not far from the Sheep Gate many dealers in every kind of metalwork, gold, and precious stones. They have light round huts, brown, as if smeared with pitch or resin. Although light, these huts are quite strong; they are used as dwellings, and awnings are stretched from one to another under which the wares are set out.

The gentler slope of the hill on which the Temple lies is terraced with several streets of houses, built one above the other behind thick walls. These are inhabited partly by priests and partly by inferior temple servants charged with menial duties, such as cleaning out the trenches into which is cast all the refuse from animals slaughtered in the Temple. On one side [she means the northern one] [66] the Temple hill falls very steeply into a black gully. Little gardens belonging to the priests make a green strip round the top of the hill. Work on the Temple never ceased: even in Christ's lifetime building was going on in different parts of it. There was a quantity of ore in the Temple hill, which was dug out in the course of building and made use of. There are many vaults and smelting furnaces under the Temple. I never found a good place in the Temple to pray in. It is all so extraordinarily solid, heavy, and high. And the little courts are themselves so narrow, and dark, and so encumbered with seats and other things, that when there are great multitudes, the narrow spaces and the crowds between the thick high walls and pillars, have a really terrifying effect. The perpetual slaughtering and all the blood filled me, too, with horror, though all is performed with incredible order and cleanliness. It is a long time, I think, since I saw so clearly as I do today all the buildings, inside and out; but there is so much to describe that I shall never be able to do so properly.

The travelers, with the child Mary, approached Jerusalem from the north, but did not enter it on that side. As soon as they reached the outlying gardens and palaces, they skirted the town, turning east through part of the valley of Josaphat, leaving the Mount of Olives and the road to Bethany on their left, and entered the city by the Sheep Gate, which leads to the cattle market. By this gate is a pool, in which the sheep destined for sacrifice are washed for the first time to remove the heavy dirt. But this is not the Pool of Bethesda. [67] The little company soon turned again to the right between walls as though going to another quarter of the town. On their way they passed through a long valley, on one side of which rose the towering walls of one of the upper parts of the city. They went towards the western side of Jerusalem, to the neighborhood of the fish market, where the ancestral house of Zechariah of Hebron stood. In it was a very old man; I think he was a brother of Zechariah's father. Zechariah always stayed here when he performed his service at the Temple. He was in the city now; his time of service had just come to an end, but he had remained a few days longer in Jerusalem on purpose to be present at Mary's reception in the Temple. He was not in his house when the company arrived. There were yet other relations in the house, from the neighborhood of Bethlehem and Hebron, with their children, amongst them two little nieces of Elizabeth, who was not there herself. These all went out with many young girls, carrying little garlands and branches, to meet the travelers, who were still a quarter of an hour away on the valley path. They gave them a joyful welcome, and led them to Zechariah's house, where great rejoicings took place. They were given some refreshment, and then preparations were made to conduct the whole company to a ceremonial inn in the neighborhood of the Temple. Joachim's beasts for sacrifice had already been brought from near the cattle market to stables near this special inn. Zechariah now came to lead the company from his house to the inn. The child Mary was dressed in the second set of ceremonial garments with the sky-blue dress. A procession was formed, headed by Zechariah with Joachim and Anna. Mary followed, surrounded by four girls dressed in white, and behind them came the other children and relations. They went along several streets, passing the palace of Herod and the house where, later, Pilate lived. Their way led them towards the northeastern corner of the Temple hill; behind them was the fortress Antonia, a big high building on the north-western side of the Temple. They had to climb a high wall by a flight of many steps. They wanted to take the child Mary by the hand, but to everyone's surprise she ran up swiftly and joyfully by herself.

The house they were going to was a ceremonial inn not far from the cattle market. There were four of these inns round the Temple, and this one had been hired for them by Zechariah. It was a large building, with a big courtyard surrounded by a kind of cloister with sleeping places and long, low tables. There was also a large room with a hearth for cooking. The place to which Joachim's sacrificial beasts had been taken was near by. On each side of it were the dwellings of the Temple servants who had charge of the animals for sacrifice.

When the company entered the inn, their feet were washed, as is the custom with new arrivals; the men's feet were washed by men, the women's by women. Then they went into a room where a big many-branched lamp hung from the middle of the ceiling over a large metal basin with handles, full of water, in which they washed their hands and faces. Joachim's pack-donkey was unloaded and led by the manservant to the stable.

Joachim, who had given notice of his intention to sacrifice, followed the Temple servants to the near-by stables, where they inspected his beasts.

Joachim and Anna then made their way with the child Mary to a priest's house higher up the hill. Here, too, the child ran up the steps with surprising energy as though upheld and urged by a spiritual force. The two priests in this house, one very old and one younger, gave them a friendly welcome; both had been present at Mary's examination in Nazareth and were expecting her. After they had spoken of the journey and of the approaching presentation ceremony, they summoned one of the Temple women, an aged widow who was to have charge of the child. (She lived near the Temple with other women who, like her, were occupied in various feminine employments and in the training of young girls. Their dwelling was farther away from the Temple than the rooms in which were the oratories of the women and of the maidens dedicated to the Temple. These rooms were built directly onto it, and from them one could look down unseen into the holy place below.) The woman who now came in was so muffled up that only a little of her face could be seen. The child Mary was introduced to her as her future foster-child by the priests and by her parents. She was grave but friendly, and the child was serious, humble, and respectful. They told her of Mary's disposition and character, and discussed various matters connected with the ceremony of her presentation. This elderly woman accompanied them to the inn and was given a package of the child's belongings, which she took back with her to arrange in Mary's new home. Those who had accompanied the party from Zechariah's house returned there, and only the relations who had come with the Holy Family remained in the inn hired by Zechariah. The women of the party settled themselves there and made preparations for a banquet on the following day.

[On November 7 ^th Catherine Emmerich said:] I spent the whole of today watching the preparations for Joachim's sacrifice and for Mary's reception in the Temple. Early in the morning Joachim and some other men drove the sacrificial animals to the Temple, where they underwent another inspection by the priests; some of them were rejected, and these were at once driven to the cattle market in the city. Those which were accepted were driven into the slaughtering-place, where I saw many things happening, but can no longer say in what order. I remember that Joachim laid his hand on the head of each animal before it was sacrificed. He had to catch the blood in a vessel, and had also to receive certain portions of the animal. There were all kinds of pillars, tables, and vessels there, where everything was cut up, distributed, and arranged in order. The bloody froth was taken away, while the fat, spleen, and liver were set apart. Everything was sprinkled with salt. The intestines of the lambs were cleansed and, after being filled with something, were put back into the body to make it seem whole again. The legs of all the animals were tied together crosswise. Some of the meat was taken into another court and given to the Temple virgins, who had to do something with it--perhaps to prepare it for their own or for the priests' food. All was done with incredible orderliness. The priests and Levites moved about always two by two, and the most difficult and complicated tasks were accomplished as if by clockwork. The pieces of meat were not actually offered up till the following day; in the meantime they lay in salt.

There were great rejoicings in the inn today, and a banquet; there must have been a hundred people there, counting the children. There were present at least twenty-four girls of varying ages; among them I saw Seraphia, who after Jesus' death was known as Veronica. She was tall, and might have been ten or twelve years old. They were making wreaths and garlands for Mary and her companions, and decorating seven candles or torches. The candlesticks, which were without pedestals, were shaped like scepters; I cannot remember what fed the flame at the top, whether it was oil or wax or something else. During the festivities there were several priests and Levites going in and out of the inn, and these also took part in the banquet. When they expressed astonishment at the greatness of Joachim's sacrifice, he explained that he wished to show his gratitude to the best of his power; he could not forget how, by God's mercy, his shame in the Temple at the rejection of his sacrifice had been followed by the granting of his petitions. Today, too, I saw the child Mary going for a walk near the inn with the other little girls. Much else I have forgotten.


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