Institution of the Holy Eucharist
By command of our Lord, the major-domo had again laid out the table, which he had raised a little; then, having placed it once more in the middle of the room, he stood one urn filled with wine, and another with water underneath it. Peter and John went into the part of the room near the hearth, to get the chalice which they had brought from Seraphia’s house, and which was still wrapped up in its covering. They carried it between them as if they had been carrying a tabernacle, and placed it on the table before Jesus. An oval plate stood there, with three fine white azymous loaves, placed on a piece of linen, by the side of the half loaf which Jesus had set aside during the Paschal meal, also a jar containing wine and water, and three boxes, one filled with thick oil, a second with liquid oil, and the third empty.
In earlier times, it had been the practice for all at table to eat of the same loaf and drink of the same cup at the end of the meal, thereby to express their friendship and brotherly love, and to welcome and bid farewell to each other. I think Scripture must contain something upon this subject.
On the day of the Last Supper, Jesus raised this custom (which had hither to been no more than a symbolical and figurative rite) to the dignity of the holiest of sacraments. One of the charges brought before Caiphas, on occasion of the treason of Judas, was, that Jesus had introduced a novelty into the Paschal ceremonies, but Nicodemus proved from Scripture that it was an ancient practice.
Jesus was seated between Peter and John, the doors were closed, and everything was done in the most mysterious and imposing manner. When the chalice was taken out of its covering, Jesus prayed, and spoke to his Apostles with the utmost solemnity. I saw him giving them an explanation of the Supper, and of the entire ceremony, and I was forcibly reminded of a priest teaching others to say Mass.
He then drew a species of shelf with grooves from the board on which the jars stood, and taking a piece of white linen with which the chalice was covered, spread it over the board and shelf. I then saw him lift a round plate, which he placed on this same shelf, off the top of the chalice. He next took the azymous loaves from beneath the linen with which they were covered, and placed them before him on the board; then he took out of the chalice a smaller vase, and arranged the six little glasses on each side of it. Then he blessed the bread and also the oil, to the best of my belief, after which he lifted up the paten with the loaves upon it, in his two hands, raised his eyes, prayed offered, and replaced the paten on the table, covering it up again. He then took the chalice, had some wine poured into it by Peter, and some water, which he first blessed, by John, adding to it a little more water, which he poured into a small spoon, and after this he blessed the chalice, raised it up with a prayer, made the oblation, and replaced it on the table.
John and Peter poured some water on his hands, which he held over the plate on which the azymous loaves had been placed; then he took a little of the water which had been poured on his hands, in the spoon that he had taken out of the lower part of the chalice, and poured it on theirs. After this, the vase was passed round the table, and all the Apostles washed their hands in it. I do not remember whether this was the precise order in which these ceremonies were performed; all I know is, that they reminded me in a striking manner of the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Meanwhile, our Divine Lord became more and more tender and loving in his demeanour; he told his Apostles that he was about to give them all that he had, namely, his entire self, and he looked as though perfectly transformed by love. I saw him becoming transparent, until he resembled a luminous shadow. He broke the bread into several pieces, which he laid together on the paten, and then took a corner of the first piece and dropped it into the chalice. At the moment when he was doing this, I seemed to see the Blessed Virgin receiving the Holy Sacrament in a spiritual manner, although she was not present in the supper-room. I do not know how it was done, but I thought I saw her enter without touching the ground, and come before our Lord to receive the Holy Eucharist; after which I saw her no more. Jesus had told her in the morning, at Bethania, that he would keep the Pasch with her spiritually, and he had named the hour at which she was to betake herself to prayer, in order to receive it in spirit.
Again he prayed and taught; his words came forth from his lips like fire and light, and entered into each of the Apostles, with the exception of Judas. He took the paten with the pieces of bread (I do not know whether he had placed it on the chalice) and said: ‘Take and eat; this is my Body which is given for you.’ He stretched forth his right hand as if to bless, and, whilst he did so, a brilliant light came from him, his words were luminous, the bread entered the mouths of the Apostles as a brilliant substance, and light seemed to penetrate and surround them all, Judas alone remaining dark. Jesus presented the bread first to Peter, next to John* and then he made a sign to Judas to approach. Judas was thus the third who received the Adorable Sacrament, but the words of our Lord appeared to turn aside from the mouth of the traitor, and come back to their Divine Author. So perturbed was I in spirit at this sight, that my feelings cannot be described. Jesus said to him: ‘That which thou dost, do quick1y.’ He then administered the Blessed Sacrament to the other Apostles, who approached two and two.
Jesus raised the chalice by its two handles to a level with his face, and pronounced the words of consecration. Whilst doing so, he appeared wholly transfigured, as it were transparent, and as though entirely passing into what he was going to give his Apostles. He made Peter and John drink from the chalice which he held in his hand, and then placed it again on the table. John poured the Divine Blood from the chalice into the smaller glasses, and Peter presented them to the Apostles, two of whom drank together out of the same cup. I think, but am not quite certain, that Judas also partook of the chalice; he did not return to his place, but immediately left the supper-room, and the other Apostles thought that Jesus had given him some commission to do. He left without praying or making any thanksgiving, and hence you may perceive how sinful it is to neglect returning thanks either after receiving our daily food, or after partaking of the Life-Giving Bread of Angels. During the entire meal, I had seen a frightful little figure, with one foot like a dried bone, remaining close to Judas, but when he had reached the door, I beheld three devils pressing round him; one entered into his mouth, the second urged him on, and the third preceded him. It was night, and they seemed to be lighting him, whilst he hurried onward like a madman.
* She was not certain that the Blessed Sacrament was administered in the order given above, for on another occasion she had seen John the last to receive.
Our Lord poured a few drops of the Precious Blood remaining in the chalice into the little vase of which I have already spoken, and then placed his fingers over the chalice, while Peter and John poured water and wine upon them. This done, he caused them to drink again from the chalice, and what remained of its contents was poured into the smaller glasses, and distributed to the other Apostles. Then Jesus wiped the chalice, put into it the little vase containing the remainder of the Divine Blood, and placed over it the paten with the fragments of the consecrated bread, after which he again put on the cover, wrapped up the chalice, and stood it in the midst of the six small cups. I saw the Apostles receive in communion these remains of the Adorable Sacrament, after the Resurrection.
I do not remember seeing our Lord himself eat and drink of the consecrated elements, neither did I see Melchisedech, when offering the bread and wine, taste of them himself. It was made known to me why priests partake of them, although Jesus did not.
Here Sister Emmerich looked suddenly up, and appeared to be listening. Some explanation was given her on this subject, but the following words were all that she could repeat to us: ‘If the office of distributing it had been given to angels, they would not have partaken, but if priests did not partake, the Blessed Eucharist would be lost—it is through their participation that it is preserved.’
There was an indescribable solemnity and order in all the actions of Jesus during the institution of the Holy Eucharist, and his every movement was most majestic. I saw the Apostles noting things down in the little rolls of parchment which they carried on their persons. Several times during the ceremonies I remarked that they bowed to each other, in the same way that our priests do.
Private Instructions and Consecrations
Jesus gave his Apostles some private instructions; he told them how they were to preserve the Blessed Sacrament in memory of him, even to the end of the world; he taught them the necessary forms for making use of and communicating it, and in what manner they were, by degrees, to teach and publish this mystery; finally he told them when they were to receive what remained of the consecrated Elements, when to give some to the Blessed Virgin, and how to consecrate, themselves, after he should have sent them the Divine Comforter. He then spoke concerning the priesthood, the sacred unction, and the preparation of the Chrism and Holy Oils.* He had there three boxes, two of which contained a mixture of oil and balm. He taught them how to make this mixture, what parts of the body were to be anointed with them, and upon what occasions. I remember, among other things, that he mentioned a case in which the Holy Eucharist could not be administered; perhaps what he said had reference to Extreme Unction, for my recollections on this point are not very clear. He spoke of different kinds of anointing, and in particular of that of kings, and he said that even wicked kings who were anointed, derived from it especial powers. He put ointment and oil in the empty box, and mixed them together, but I cannot say for certain whether it was at this moment, or at the time of the consecration of the bread, that he blessed the oil.
*It was not without surprise that the editor, some years after these things had been related by Sister Emmerich, read, in the Latin edition of the Roman Catechism (Mayence, Muller), in reference to the Sacrament of Confirmation, that, according to the tradition of the holy Pope Fabian, Jesus taught his Apostles in what manner they were to prepare the Holy Chrism, after the institution of the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope says expressly, in the 54th paragraph of his Second Epistle to the Bishops of the East: ‘ Our predecessors received from the Apostles and delivered to us that our Saviour Jesus Christ, after having made the Last Supper with his Apostles and washed their feet, taught them how to prepare the Holy Chrism. ‘
I then saw Jesus anoint Peter and John, on whose hands he had already poured the water which had flowed on his own, and to whom he had given to drink out of the chalice. Then he laid his hands on their shoulders and heads, while they, on their part, joined their hands and crossed their thumbs, bowing down profoundly before him—I am not sure whether they did not even kneel. He anointed the thumb and fore-finger of each of their hands, and marked across on their heads with Chrism. He said also that this would remain with them unto the end of the world.
James the Less, Andrew, James the Greater, and Bartholomew, were also consecrated. I saw likewise that on Peter’s bosom he crossed a sort of stole worn round the neck, whilst on the others he simply placed it crosswise, from the right shoulder to the left side. I do not know whether this was done at the time of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, or only for the anointing.
I understood that Jesus communicated to them by this unction something essential and supernatural, beyond my power to describe. He told them that when they should have received the Holy Spirit they were to consecrate the bread and wine, and anoint the other Apostles. It was made known to me then that, on the day of Pentecost, Peter and John imposed their hands upon the other Apostles, and a week later upon several of the disciples. After the Resurrection, John gave the Adorable Sacrament for the first time to the Blessed Virgin. This event was solemnised as a festival among the Apostles. It is a festival no longer kept in the Church on earth, but I see it celebrated in the Church triumphant. For the first few days after Pentecost I saw only Peter and John consecrate the Blessed Eucharist, but after that the others also consecrated.
Our Lord next proceeded to bless fire in a brass vessel and care was taken that it should not go out, but it was kept near the spot where the Blessed Sacrament had been deposited, in one division of the ancient Paschal hearth, and fire was always taken from it when needed for spiritual purposes.
All that Jesus did upon this occasion was done in private, and taught equally in private. The Church has retained all that was essential of these secret instructions, and, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, developed and adapted them to all her requirements.
Whether Peter and John were both consecrated bishops, or Peter alone as bishop and John as priest, or to what dignity the other four Apostles were raised, I cannot pretend to say. But the different ways in which our Lord arranged the Apostles’ stoles appear to indicate different degrees of consecration.
When these holy ceremonies were concluded, the chalice (near which the blessed Chrism also stood) was recovered, and the Adorable Sacrament carried by Peter and John into the back part of the room, which was divided off by a curtain, and from thenceforth became the Sanctuary. The spot where the Blessed Sacrament was deposited was not very far above the Paschal stove. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took care of the Sanctuary and of the supper-room during the absence of the Apostles.
Jesus again instructed his Apostles for a considerable length of time, and also prayed several times. He frequently appeared to be conversing with his Heavenly Father, and to be over flowing with enthusiasm and love. The Apostles also were full of joy and zeal, and asked him various questions which he forthwith answered. The scriptures must contain much of this last discourse and conversation. He told Peter and John different things to be made known later to the other Apostles, who in their turn were to communicate them to the disciples and holy women, according to the capacity of each for such knowledge. He had a private conversation with John, whom he told that his life would be longer than the lives of the others. He spoke to him also concerning seven Churches, some crowns and angels, and instructed him in the meaning of certain mysterious figures, which signified, to the best of my belief, different epochs. The other Apostles were slightly jealous of this confidential communication being made to John.
Jesus spoke also of the traitor. ‘Now he is doing this or that,’ he said, and I, in fact, saw Judas doing exactly as he said of him. As Peter was vehemently protesting that he would always remain faithful, our Lord said to him: ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren.’
Again, our Lord said, that whither he was going they could not follow him, when Peter exclaimed: ‘Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison and to death.’ And Jesus replied: ‘ Amen, amen, I say to thee, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.’
Jesus, while making known to his Apostles that trying times were at hand for them, said: ‘When I sent you without purse, or scrip, or shoes, did you want anything? ‘ They answered: ‘Nothing.’ ‘But now,’ he continued, ‘ he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise a scrip, and he that hath not, let him sell his coat and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: AND WITH THE WICKED WAS HE RECKONED. For the things concerning me have an end.’ The Apostles only understood his words in a carnal sense, and Peter showed him two swords, which were short and thick, like cleavers. Jesus said: ‘ It is enough: let us go hence.’ Then they sang the thanksgiving hymn, put the table on one side, and went into the vestibule.
There, Jesus found his Mother, Mary of Cleophas, and Magdalen, who earnestly besought him not to go to Mount Olivet, for a report had spread that his enemies were seeking to lay hands on him. But Jesus comforted them in few words, and hastened onward—it being then about nine o’clock. They went down the road by which Peter and John had come to the supper-room, and directed their steps towards Mount Olivet.
I have always seen the Pasch and the institution of the Blessed Sacrament take place in the order related above. But my feelings were each time so strongly excited and my emotion so great, that I could not give much attention to all the details, but now I have seen them more distinctly. No words can describe how painful and exhausting is such a sight as that of beholding the hidden recesses of hearts, the love and constancy of our Saviour, and to know at the same time all that is going to befall him. How would it be possible to observe all that is merely external! the heart is overflowing with admiration, gratitude, and love—the blindness of men seems perfectly incomprehensible—and the soul is overwhelmed with sorrow at the thought of the ingratitude of the whole world, and of her own sins!
The eating of the Paschal Lamb was performed by Jesus rapidly, and in entire conformity with all the legal ordinances. The Pharisees were in the habit of adding some minute and superstitious ceremonies.