Adoration Of The Shepherds
SUNDAY, the 25th of November. At the first break of day the three principal shepherds came from their little hill to the Grotto of the Crib, with the presents which they had prepared. They were little animals very much resembling roe deer : if they were small goats they differed from those of our country. They had long necks and beautiful shining eyes ; they were very graceful and nimble in their pace. The shepherds led them along attached to thin cords : they also carried on their shoulders birds which they had killed, and other birds under their arms of a larger size.
They knocked timidly at the door of the Grotto of the Crib and Joseph came to meet them. They repeated to him what the angels had announced to them, and told him that they were come to pay their homage to the infant of promise and to present Him with their offerings. Joseph accepted their presents with humble gratitude, and conducted them to the Blessed Virgin, who was sitting near the crib and holding the Infant Jesus on her knees. The three shepherds knelt down humbly and remained a long time in silence absorbed in feelings of indescribable joy. They afterwards sang the canticle which they had heard the angels sing and a psalm which I have forgotten. When they wished to retire the Blessed Virgin gave them the little Jesus, whom they held in their arms one after another. Then, weeping, they gave Him back to her and quitted the grotto.
Sunday, the 25th of November, in the evening. The Sister was during the whole of this day in great suffering, both physical and mental. This evening, being just asleep, she found herself transported to the Promised Land ; as, independently of her contemplations of the Nativity, she had besides a series of visions on the first year of the ministry of Jesus, and precisely at the same time on the fast of forty days she exclaimed with naive astonishment : " Ah, how touching is this ! I see on one side Jesus at the age of thirty years fasting and tempted by the devil in a cavern of the desert ; and on the other side I saw Him a new-born babe, adored by the shepherds in the Grotto of the Crib." After these words she rose from her bed with surprising rapidity, ran to the opened door of her chamber, and as if intoxicated with joy, called the friends who were in the anteroom, saying to them : " Come, come quickly, and adore the infant who is near me." She then returned to her bed with the same rapidity, and began, whilst her face shone with enthusiasm and fervor, to sing in a clear and marvelously expressive voice the Magnificat, the Gloria in a simple style of profound meaning and partly in rhyme. She sang the There appeared in her an emotion of joy singularly touching. This is what she related on the following morning :
Yesterday evening many shepherds, with their wives and even their children, came from the Shepherd s Tower, which is four leagues from the grotto. They brought birds, eggs, honey, skeins of thread of different colors, small packets resembling raw silk, and bouquets of a plant resembling the rush, and which had large leaves. This plant had ears full of large grains. When they had given their presents to Joseph they humbly approached the crib and, kneeling, they sang some very beautiful psalms the Gloria in Excelsis and some short canticles I sang with them. They sang in several parts, and in one of these I took the second. I remember very nearly the following words : " Oh, little infant, red as the rose, you appear as the messenger of peace." When they took leave they bent over the crib, as if they embraced the little Jesus.
Monday, the 26th of November. I saw to-day the three shepherds assist in turn St. Joseph to arrange everything conveniently in the Grotto of the Crib and in the side grottos. I saw also near the Blessed Virgin several pious women, who rendered her different services. They were Esseniens, who lived a short distance from the Grotto of the Crib, in a hollow situated to the south of the hill. They occupied near together a sort of chambers hollowed in the rock, some distance from the ground. They had small gardens near their houses, and instructed the children of their sect. It was St. Joseph who had induced them to come. He knew this society ever since his youth ; for when he fled from his brothers to the Grotto of the Crib he had more than once visited these pious women. They came one after another to the Blessed Virgin, bringing small quantities of provisions, and busied themselves with the cares of the household for the Holy Family.
Tuesday, the 2yth of November. This day I saw a very touching scene in the Grotto of the Crib. Joseph and Mary were standing near the crib, and looking on the Infant Jesus with deep tenderness. All at once the ass threw himself on his knees and bent his head to the ground. Mary and Joseph shed tears. This evening a message came from St. Anne. An old man came from Nazareth with a widow relative of St. Anne, and who was her servant. They brought several little things for Mary. They were very much moved at the sight of the infant ; the old servant man shed tears of joy. They soon set out on their way to carry the news to St. Anne. The female servant remained with the Blessed Virgin.
Wednesday, the 28th of November. To-day I saw the Blessed Virgin with the Infant Jesus and the servant leave the Grotto of the Crib for several hours. I saw her conceal herself in the side grotto, where a spring of water had burst forth after the birth of Jesus Christ. She remained nearly four hours in this grotto, where subsequently she spent two days. Joseph, at the break of day, had so arranged it that she could stay there without great inconvenience. They went there in consequence of an inward admonition that several persons would come to-day from Bethlehem to the Grotto of the Crib. I believe they were emissaries of Herod.
In consequence of the shepherds conversation, the report had spread about that something miraculous had taken place at this spot at the time of the birth of a child. I saw these men exchange words with St. Joseph, whom they found before the grotto with the shepherds ; and they left him sneeringly when they had seen his poverty and simplicity. The about four hours in this side grotto, returned to the crib with the Infant Jesus.
The Grotto of the Crib enjoyed a sweet tranquility. Nobody came from Bethlehem ; the shepherds alone were in communication with it. The apparition to the shepherds at the hour of the birth of Jesus had caused that all the good people of the valleys had heard speak of the marvelous child of promise. They came now to honor the infant.
Friday, the 30th of November. Today many shepherds and other good people came to the Grotto of the Crib and honored the Infant Jesus with great emotion.
When everybody was gone away for the synagogue of Bethlehem, Joseph got ready in the grotto the lamp for the Sabbath, which had seven wicks, lighted it, and placed it on a little table on which were scrolls containing prayers, and under this lamp he celebrated the Sabbath with the Blessed Virgin and the servant of St. Anne.
Monday, the 3rd of December. This evening I saw Elizabeth come from Juttah to the Grotto of the Crib, riding on an ass, which was led by an old servant. Mary and she embraced with feelings of in expressible joy. She pressed the Infant Jesus to her heart, shedding tears. The Blessed Virgin related to her cousin everything which had happened to her up to the present time, and when she spoke of what she had suffered in seeking for a lodging at Bethlehem Elizabeth wept with all her heart.
During the preceding days I have often seen Mary show her child to some visitors covered with a veil and quite naked, with the exception of the cloth. At other times I have seen Him completely swathed.