The Ressurection of Our Blessed Lord from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER LXII
The Night of Resurrection



 
I soon  after beheld the tomb of our Lord. All was calm and silent around it. There were six soldiers on guard, who were either seated or standing before the door, and Cassius was among them. His appearance was that of a person immersed in meditation and in the expectation of some great event. The sacred body of our Blessed Redeemer was wrapped in the winding-sheet, and surrounded with light, while two angels sat in an attitude of adoration, the one at the head, and the other at the feet. I had seen them in the same posture ever since he was first put into the tomb. These angels were clothed as priests. Their position, and the manner in which they crossed their arms over their breasts, reminded me of the cherubim who surrounded the Ark of the Covenant, only they were without wings; at least I did not see any. The whole of the sepulchre reminded me of the Ark of the Covenant at different periods of its history. It is possible that Cassius was sensible of the presence of the angels, and of the bright light which filled the sepulchre, for his attitude was like that of a person in deep contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament.
    I next saw the soul of our Lord accompanied by those among the patriarchs whom he had liberated enter into the tomb through the rock. He showed them the wounds with which his sacred body was covered; and it seemed to me that the winding-sheet which previously enveloped it was removed, and that Jesus wished to show the souls the excess of suffering he had endured to redeem them. The body appeared to me to be quite transparent, so that the whole depth of the wounds could be seen; and this sight filled the holy souls with admiration, although deep feelings of compassion likewise drew tears from their eyes.
 

    My next vision was so mysterious that I cannot explain or even relate it in a clear manner. It appeared to me that the soul and body of Jesus were taken together out of the sepulchre, without, however, the former being completely reunited to the latter, which still remained inanimate. I thought I saw two angels who were kneeling and adoring at the head and feet of the sacred body, raise it—keeping it in the exact position in which it was lying in the tomb—and carry it uncovered and disfigured with wounds across the rock, which trembled as they passed. It then appeared to me that Jesus presented his body, marked with the stigmas of the Passion, to his Heavenly Father, who, seated on a throne, was surrounded by innumerable choirs of angels, blissfully occupied in pouring forth hymns of adoration and jubilee. The case was probably the same when, at the death of our Lord, so many holy souls re-entered their bodies, and appeared in the Temple and in different parts of Jerusalem; for it is not likely that the bodies which they animated were really alive, as in that case they would have been obliged to die a second time, whereas they returned to their original state without apparent difficulty; but it is to be supposed that their appearance in human form was similar to that of our Lord, when he (if we may thus express it) accompanied his body to the throne of his Heavenly Father.
    At this moment the rock was so violently shaken, from the very summit to the base, that three of the guards fell down and became almost insensible. The other four were away at the time, being gone to the town to fetch something. The guards who were thus thrown prostrate attributed the sudden shock to an earthquake; but Cassius, who, although uncertain as to what all this might portend, yet felt an inward presentiment that it was the prelude to some stupendous event, stood transfixed in anxious expectation, waiting to see what would follow next. The soldiers who were gone to Jerusalem soon returned.
 

    I again beheld the holy women: they had finished preparing the spices, and were resting in their private cells; not stretched out on the couches, but leaning against the bedclothes, which were rolled up. They wished to go to the sepulchre before the break of day, because they feared meeting the enemies of Jesus but the Blessed Virgin, who was perfectly renovated and filled with fresh courage since she had seen her Son, consoled and recommended them to sleep for a time, and then go fearlessly to the tomb, as no harm would come to them; where upon they immediately followed her advice, and endeavoured to sleep.
    It was towards eleven o’clock at night when the Blessed Virgin, incited by irrepressible feelings of love, wrapped a grey cloak around her, and left the house quite alone. When I saw her do this, I could not help feeling anxious, and saying to myself, ‘How is it possible for this holy Mother, who is so exhausted from anguish and terror, to venture to walk all alone through the streets at such an hour?’ I saw her go first to the house of Caiphas, and then to the palace of Pilate, which was at a great distance off; I watched her through the whole of her solitary journey along that part which had been trodden by her Son, loaded with his heavy Cross; she stopped at every place where our Saviour had suffered particularly, or had received any fresh outrage from his barbarous enemies. Her appearance, as she walked slowly along, was that of a person seeking something; she often bent down to the ground, touched the stones with her hands, and then inundated them with kisses, if the precious blood of her beloved Son was upon them. God granted her at this time particular lights and graces, and she was able without the slightest degree of difficulty to distinguish every place sanctified by his sufferings. I accompanied her through the whole of her pious pilgrimage, and I endeavoured to imitate her to the best of my power, as far as my weakness would permit.
 

    Mary then went to Calvary; but when she had almost reached it, she stopped suddenly, and I saw the sacred body and soul of our Saviour standing before her. An angel walked in front; the two angels whom I had seen in the tomb were by his side, and the souls whom he had redeemed followed him by hundreds. The body of Jesus was brilliant and beautiful, but its appearance was not that of a living body, although a voice issued from it; and I heard him describe to the Blessed Virgin all he had done in Limbo, and then assure her that be should rise again with his glorified body; that he would then show himself to her, and that she must wait near the rock of Mount Calvary, and that part where she saw him fall down, until he appeared. Our Saviour then went towards Jerusalem, and the Blessed Virgin, having again wrapped her veil about her, prostrated on the spot which he had pointed out. It was then, I think, past midnight, for the pilgrimage of Mary over the Way of the Cross had taken up at least an hour; and I next saw the holy souls who had been redeemed by our Saviour traverse in their turn the sorrowful Way of the Cross, and contemplate the different places where he had endured such fearful sufferings for their sakes. The angels who accompanied them gathered up and preserved the smallest fragments of our Lord’s sacred flesh which had been torn off by the frequent blows he received, as also the blood with which the ground was sprinkled on those spots where he had fallen.
    I once more saw the sacred body of our Lord stretched out as I first beheld it in the sepulchre; the angels were occupied in replacing the fragments they had gathered up of his flesh, and they received supernatural assistance in doing this. When next I contemplated him it was in his winding-sheet, surrounded with a bright light and with two adoring angels by his side. I cannot explain how all these things came to pass, for they are far beyond our human comprehension; and even if I understand them perfectly myself when I see them, they appear dark and mysterious when I endeavour to explain them to others.
    As soon as a faint glimmering of dawn appeared in the east, I saw Magdalen, Mary the daughter of Cleophas, Johanna Chusa, and Salome, leave the Cenaculum, closely wrapped up in their mantles. They carried bundles of spices; and one of their number had a lighted candle in her hand, which she endeavoured to conceal under her cloak. I saw them direct their trembling steps towards the small door at the house of Nicodemus.
 

317
CHAPTER LXIII
The Resurrection of Our Lord


I beheld the soul of our Lord between two angels, who were in the attire of warriors: it was bright, luminous, and resplendent as the sun at midday; it penetrated the rock, touched the sacred body, passed into it, and the two were instantaneously united, and became as one. I then saw the limbs move, and the body of our Lord, being reunited to his soul and to his divinity, rise and shake off the winding-sheet: the whole of the cave was illuminated and lightsome.
    At the same moment I saw a frightful monster burst from the earth underneath the sepulchre. It had the tail of a serpent, and it raised its dragon head proudly as if desirous of attacking Jesus; and had likewise, if I remember correctly, a human head. But our Lord held in his hand a white staff, to which was appended a large banner; and he placed his foot on the head of the dragon, and struck its tail three times with his staff, after which the monster disappeared. I had had this same vision many times before the Resurrection, and I saw just such a monster, appearing to endeavour to hide itself, at the time of the conception of our Lord: it greatly resembled the serpent which tempted our first parents in Paradise, only it was more horrible. I thought that this vision had reference to the prophetic words, that ‘by the seed of the woman the head of the serpent should be crushed,’ and that the whole was intended to demonstrate the victory of our Lord over death, for at the same moment that I saw him crush the head of the monster, the tomb likewise vanished from my sight.
    I then saw the glorified body of our Lord rise up, and it passed through the hard rock as easily as if the latter had been formed of some ductile substance. The earth shook, and an angel in the garb of a warrior descended from Heaven with the speed of lightning, entered the tomb, lifted the stone, placed it on the right side, and seated himself upon it. At this tremendous sight the soldiers fell to the ground, and remained there apparently lifeless. When Cassius saw the bright light which illuminated the tomb, he approached the place where the sacred body had been placed, looked at and touched the linen clothes in which it had been wrapped, and left the sepulchre, intending to go and inform Pilate of all that had happened. However, he tarried a short time to watch the progress of events; for although he had felt the earth­quake, seen the angel move the stone, and looked at the empty tomb, yet he had not seen Jesus.
    At the very moment in which the angel entered the sepulchre and the earth quaked, I saw our Lord appear to his holy Mother on Calvary. His body was beautiful and lightsome, and its beauty was that of a celestial being. He was clothed in a large mantle, which at one moment 1ooked dazzlingly white, as it floated through the air, waving to and fro with every breath of wind, and the next reflected a thousand brilliant colours as the sunbeams passed over it. His large open wounds shone brightly, and could be seen from a great distance: the wounds in his hands were so large that a finger might be put into them without difficulty; and rays of light proceeded from them, diverging in the direction of his fingers. The souls of the patriarchs bowed down before the Mother of our Saviour, and Jesus spoke to her concerning his Resurrection, telling her many things which I have forgotten. He showed her his wounds; and Mary prostrated to kiss his sacred feet; but he took her hand, raised her, and disappeared.
    When I was at some distance from the sepulchre I saw fresh lights burning there, and I likewise beheld a large luminous spot in the sky immediately over Jerusalem.

CHAPTER LXIV
The Holy Women at the Sepulchre



    THE holy women were very near the door of Nicodemus’s house at the moment of our Lord’s Resurrection; but they did not see anything of the prodigies which were taking place at the sepulchre. They were not aware that guards had been placed around the tomb, for they had not visited it on the previous day, on account of its being the Sabbath. They questioned one another anxiously concerning what would have to be done about the large stone at the door, as to who would be the best person to ask about removing it, for they had been so engrossed by grief that they had not thought about it before. Their intention was to pour precious ointments upon the body of Jesus, and then to strew over it flowers of the most rare and aromatic kinds, thus rendering all the honour possible to their Divine Master in his sepulchre. Salome, who had brought more things than any one else, was a rich lady, who lived in Jerusalem, a relation of St. Joseph, but not the mother of John. The holy women came to the determination of putting down their spices on the stone which closed the door of the monument, and waiting until some one came to roll it back.
    The guards were still lying on the ground, and the strong convulsions which even then shook them clearly demonstrated how great had been their terror, and the large stone was cast on one side, so that the door could be opened without difficulty. I could see the linen cloth in which the body of Jesus had been wrapped scattered about in the tomb, and the large winding-sheet lying in the same place as when they left it, but doubled together in such a manner that you saw at once that it no longer contained anything but the spices which had been placed round the body, and the bandages were on the outside of the tomb. The linen cloth in which Mary had enveloped the sacred head of her Son was still there.

        I saw the holy women coming into the garden; but when they perceived the light given by the lamps of the sentinels, and the prostrate forms of the soldiers round the tomb, they for the most part became much alarmed, and retreated towards Golgotha. Mary Magdalen was, however, more courageous, and, followed by Salome, entered the garden, while the other Women remained timidly on the outside.
    Magdalen started, and appeared for a moment terrified when she drew near the sentinels. She retreated a few steps and rejoined Salome, but both quickly recovered their presence of mind, and walked on together through the midst of the prostrate guards, and entered into the cave which contained the sepulchre. They immediately perceived that the stone was removed, but the doors were closed, which had been done in all probability by Cassius. Magdalen opened them quickly, looked anxiously into the sepulchre, and was much surprised at seeing that the cloths in which they had enveloped our Lord were lying on one side, and that the place where they had deposited the sacred remains was empty. A celestial light filled the cave, and an angel was seated on the right side. Magdalen became almost beside herself from disappointment and alarm. I do not know whether she heard the words which the angel addressed to her, but she left the garden as quickly as possible, and ran to the town to inform the Apostles who were assembled there of what had taken place. I do not know whether the angel spoke to Mary Salome, as she did not enter the sepulchre; but I saw her leaving the garden directly after Magdalen, in order to relate all that had happened to the rest of the holy women, who were both frightened and delighted at the news, but could not make up their minds as to whether they would go to the garden or not.
 
    In the meantime Cassius had remained near the sepulchre in hopes of seeing Jesus, as he thought he would be certain to appear to the holy women; but seeing nothing, he directed his steps towards Pilate’s palace to relate to him all that had happened, stopping, however, first at the place where the rest of the holy women were assembled, to tell them what he had seen, and to exhort them to go immediately to the garden. They followed his advice, and went there at once. No sooner had they reached the door of the sepulchre than they beheld two angels clothed in sacerdotal vestments of the most dazzling white. The women were very much alarmed, covered their faces with their hands, and prostrated almost to the ground; but one of the angels addressed them, bade them not fear, and told them that they must not seek for their crucified Lord there, for that he was alive, had risen, and was no longer an inhabitant of the tomb. He pointed out to them at the same moment the empty sepulchre, and ordered them to go and relate to the disciples all that they had seen and heard. He likewise told them that Jesus would go before them into Galilee, and recalled to their minds the words which our Saviour had addressed to them on a former occasion: ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of sinners, he will be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ The angels then disappeared, and left the holy women filled with joy, although of course greatly agitated; they wept, looked at the empty tomb and linen clothes, and immediately started to return to the town. But they were so much overcome by the many astounding events which had taken place, that they walked very slowly, and stopped and looked back often, in hopes of seeing our Lord, or at least Magdalen.
 
    In the meantime Magdalen reached the Cenaculum. She was so excited as to appear like a person beside herself, and knocked hastily at the door. Some of the disciples were still sleeping, and those who were risen were conversing together. Peter and John opened the door, but she only exclaimed, without entering the house, ‘They have taken away the body of my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him,’ and immediately returned to the garden. Peter and John went back into the house, and after saying a few words to the other disciples followed her as speedily as possible, but John far outstripped Peter. I then saw Magdalen re-enter the garden, and direct her steps towards the sepulchre; she appeared greatly agitated, partly from grief, and partly from having walked so fast. Her garments were quite moist with dew, and her veil hanging on one side, while the luxuriant hair in which she had formerly taken so much pride fell in dishevelled masses over her shoulders, forming a species of mantle. Being alone, she was afraid of entering the cave, but stopped for a moment on the outside, and knelt down in order to see better into the tomb. She was endeavouring to push back her long hair, which fell over her face an obscured her vision, when she perceived the two angels who were seated in the tomb, and I heard one of them address her thus: ‘Woman, why weepest thou?’ She replied, in a voice choked with tears (for she was perfectly overwhelmed with grief at finding that the body of Jesus was really gone), ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.’ She said no more, but seeing the empty winding-sheet, went out of the sepulchre and began to look about in other parts. She felt a secret presentiment that not only should she find Jesus, but that he was even then near to her; and the presence of the angels seemed not to disturb her in the least; she did not appear even to be aware that they were angels, every faculty was engrossed with the one thought, ‘Jesus is not there! Where is Jesus?’ I watched her wandering about like an insane person, with her hair floating loosely in the wind: her hair appeared to annoy her much, for she again endeavoured to push it from off her face, and having divided it into two parts, threw it over her shoulders.
 

    She then raised her head, looked around, and perceived a tall figure, clothed in white, standing at about ten paces from the sepulchre on the east side of the garden, where there was a slight rise in the direction of the town; the figure was partly hidden from her sight by a palm-tree, but she was somewhat startled when it addressed her in these words: ‘Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?’ She thought it was the gardener; and, in fact, he had a spade in his hand, and a large hat (apparently made of the bark of trees) on his head. His dress was similar to that worn by the gardener described in the parable which Jesus had related to the holy women at Bethania a short time before his Passion. His body was not luminous, his whole appearance was rather that of a man dressed in white and seen by twilight. At the words, ‘Whom seekest thou?’ she looked at him, and answered quickly, ‘Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him; and I will take him away.’ And she looked anxiously around. Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She then instantly recognised his beloved voice, and turning quickly, replied, ‘Rabboni (Master)!’ She threw herself on her knees before him, and stretched out her hands to touch his feet; but he motioned her to be still, and said, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God. He then disappeared.
 
The reason of the words of Jesus, ‘Do not touch me,’ Was afterwards explained to me, but I have only an indistinct remembrance of that explanation. I think he made use of those words because of the impetuosity of Magdalen’s feelings, which made her in a certain degree forget the stupendous mystery which had been accomplished, and feel as if what she then beheld was still mortal instead of a glorified body. As for the words of Jesus, ‘I am not yet ascended to my Father,’ I was told that their meaning was that he had hot presented himself to his Father since his Resurrection, to return him thanks for his victory over death, and for the work of the redemption which he had accomplished. He wished her to infer from these words, that the first-fruits of joy belong to God, and that she ought to reflect and return thanks to him for the accomplishment of the glorious mystery of the redemption, and for the victory which he had gained over death; and if she had kissed his feet as she used before the Passion, she would have thought of nothing but her Divine Master, and in her raptures of love have totally forgotten the wonderful events which were causing such astonishment and joy in Heaven. I saw Magdalen arise quickly, as soon as our Lord disappeared, and run to look again in the sepuchre, as if she believed herself under the influence of a dream. She saw the two angels still seated there, and they spoke to her concerning the resurrection of our Lord in the same words as they bad addressed the two other women. She likewise saw the empty winding-sheet, and then, feeling certain that she was not in a state of delusion, but that the apparition of our Lord was real, she walked quickly back towards Golgotha to seek her companions, who were wandering about to and fro, anxiously looking out for her return, and indulging a kind of vague hope that they should see or hear something of Jesus.
    The whole of this scene occupied a little more than two or three minutes. It was about half-past three when our Lord appeared to Magdalen, and John and Peter entered the garden just as she was leaving it. John, who was a little in advance of Peter, stopped at the entrance of the cave and looked in. He saw the linen clothes lying on one side, and waited until Peter came up, when they entered the sepulchre together, and saw the winding-sheet empty as has been before described. John instantly believed in the Resurrection, and they both understood clearly the words addressed to them by Jesus before his Passion, as well as the different passages in Scripture relating to that event, which had until then been incomprehensible to them. Peter put the linen clothes under his cloak, and they returned hastily into the town through the small entrance belonging to Nicodemus.
 
    The appearance of the holy sepulchre was the same when the two apostles entered as when Magdalen first saw it. The two adoring angels were seated, one at the head, and the other at the extremity of the tomb, in precisely the same attitude as when his adorable body was lying there. I do not think Peter was conscious of their presence. I afterwards heard John tell the disciples of Emmaus, that when he looked into the sepulchre he saw an angel. Perhaps he was startled by this sight, and therefore drew back and let Peter enter the sepulchre first; but it is likewise very possible that the reason of his not mentioning the circumstance in his gospel was because humility made him anxious to conceal the fact of his having been more highly favoured than Peter.
    The guards at this moment began to revive, and rising, gathered up their lances, and took down the lamps, which were on the door, from whence they cast a glimmering weak light on surrounding objects. I then saw them walk hastily out of the garden in evident fear and trepidation, in the direction of the town.
    In the meantime Magdalen had rejoined the holy women, and given them the account of her seeing the Lord in the garden, and of the words of the angels afterwards, whereupon they immediately related what had been seen by themselves, and Magdalen wended her way quickly to Jerusalem, while the women returned to that side of the garden where they expected to find the two apostles. Just before they reached it, Jesus appeared to them. He was clothed in a long white robe, which concealed even his hands, and said to them, ‘All hail’ They started with astonishment, and cast themselves at his feet; he spoke a few words, held forth his hand as if to point out something to them, and disappeared. The holy women went instantly to the Cenaculum, and told the disciples who were assembled there that they had seen the Lord; the disciples were incredulous, and would not give credence either to their account or to that of Magdalen. They treated both the one and the other as the effects of their excited imaginations; but when Peter and John entered the room and related what they likewise had seen, they knew not what to answer, and were filled with astonishment.
    Peter and John soon left the Cenaculum, as the wonderful events which had taken place rendered them extremely silent and thoughtful, and before long they met James the Less and Thaddeus, who had wished to accompany them to the sepulchre. Both James and Thaddeus were greatly overcome, for the Lord had appeared to them a short time before they met Peter and John. I also saw Jesus pass quite close to Peter and John. I think the former recognised him, for he started suddenly, but I do not think the latter saw him.
 


CHAPTER LXV
The Relation which was given by the Sentinels who were placed around the Sepulchre



    CASSIUS hastened to the house of Pilate about an hour after the Resurrection, in order to give him an account of the stupendous events which had taken place. He was not yet risen, but Cassius was allowed to enter his bedroom. He related all that had happened, and expressed his feelings in the most forcible language. He described how the rock had been rent, and how an angel had descended from Heaven and pushed aside the stone; he also spoke of the empty winding-sheet, and added that most certainly Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and that he was truly risen. Pilate listened to this account; he trembled and quivered with terror, but concealed his agitation to the best of his power, and answered Cassius in these words: ‘Thou art exceedingly superstitious; it was very foolish to go to the Galilean’s tomb; his gods took advantage of thy weakness, and displayed all these ridiculous visions to alarm thee. I recommend thee to keep silence, and not recount such silly tales to the priests, for thou wouldst get the worst of it from them.’ He pretended to believe that the body of Jesus had been carried away by his disciples, and that the sentinels, who had been bribed, and had fallen asleep, or perhaps been deceived by witchcraft, had fabricated these accounts in order to justify their conduct. When Pilate had said all he could on the subject, Cassius left him, and he went to offer sacrifice to his gods.
 
    The four soldiers who had guarded the tomb arrived shortly after at Pilate’s palace, and began to tell him all that he had already heard from Cassius; but he would listen to nothing more, and sent them to Caiphas. The rest of the guards were assembled in a large court near the Temple which was filled with aged Jews, who, after some previous consultation, took the soldiers on one side, and by dint of bribes and threats endeavoured to persuade them to say that they fell asleep, and that while they were asleep the disciples came and carried away the body of our Lord. The soldiers, however, demurred, because the statement which their comrades were going to make to Pilate would contradict any account which they could now fabricate, but the Pharisees promised to arrange everything with the governor. Whilst they were still disputing, the four guards returned from the interview with Pilate, and the Pharisees endeavoured to persuade them to conceal the truth; but this they refused to do, and declared firmly that they would not vary their first statement in the smallest degree. The miraculous deliverance of Joseph of Arimathea from prison was become public, and when the Pharisees accused the soldiers of having allowed the Apostles to carry off the body of Jesus, and threatened them with the infliction of the most severe punishment if they did not produce the body, they replied, that it would be as utterly impossible for them to produce the body of Jesus, as it was for the soldiers who had charge of Joseph of Arimathea to bring him back into his prison again. They spoke with the greatest firmness and courage; promises and menaces were equally ineffectual. They declared that they would speak the truth and nothing but the truth; that the sentence of death which had been passed upon Jesus was both unjust and iniquitous; and that the crime which was, perpetrated in putting him to death was the sole cause of the interruption of the Paschal solemnity. The Pharisees, being perfectly furious, caused the four soldiers to be arrested and thrown into prison, and the others, who had accepted the bribes they offered, then affirmed that the body of Jesus had been carried off by the disciples while they slept; and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians endeavoured to disseminate this lie to the utmost of their power, not only in the synagogue but also among the people; and they accompanied this false statement by the most slanderous lies concerning Jesus.
    All these precautions, however, availed but little, for, after the Resurrection, many persons who had been long dead arose from their graves, and appeared to those among their descendants who were not sufficiently hardened to be impervious to grace, and exhorted them to be converted. These dead persons were likewise seen by many of the disciples, who, overcome with terror, and shaken m faith, had fled into the country. They both exhorted and encouraged them to return, and restored their drooping courage, The resurrection of these dead persons did not in the slightest degree resemble the Resurrection of Jesus. He arose with a glorified body, which was no longer susceptible of either corruption or death, and ascended into heaven with this glorified body in the sight of all his disciples; but the dead bodies of which we spoke above were motionless corpses, and the souls which once inhabited them were only allowed to enter and reanimate them for a time, and after performing the mission given them, the souls again quitted these bodies, which returned to their original state in the bowels of the earth where they will remain until the resurrection at the day of judgment. Neither could their return to life be compared to the raising of Lazarus from the dead; for he really returned to a new life, and died a second time.

 

The Conversion of two of Jesus’ executioners from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

Detached Account of Longinus


    On the 15th of March 1821, Sister Emmerich gave the following detached account of parts of a vision which she had had the previous night concerning St. Longinus, whose festival happened to fall upon that very day, although she did not know it.
    ‘Longinus, who had, I think, another name, held an office, partly civil and partly military, in the household of Pilate, who intrusted him with the duty of superintending all that passed, and making a report of it to him. He was trustworthy and ready to do a service, but previous to his conversion was greatly wanting in firmness and strength of character. He was excessively impetuous in all that he did, and anxious to be thought a person of great importance, and as he squinted and had weak eyes, he was often jeered at and made the laughing-stock of his companions. I have seen him frequently during the course of this night, and in connection with him I have at the same time seen all the Passion, I do not know in what manner; I only remember that it was in connection with him.
    ‘Longinus was only in a subordinate position, and had to give an account to Pilate of all that he saw. On the night that Jesus was led before the tribunal of Caiphas he was in the outer court among the soldiers, and unceasingly going backwards and forwards. When Peter was alarmed at the words of the maid-servant standing near the fire, it was he who said once: “Art thou not also one of this man’s disciples?”


    ‘When Jesus was being led to Calvary, Longinus, by Pilate’s orders, followed him closely, and our Divine Lord gave him a look which touched his heart. Afterwards I saw him on Golgotha with the soldiers. He was on horseback, and carried a lance; I saw him at Pilate’s house, after the death of our Lord, saying that the legs of Jesus ought not to be broken. He returned at once to Calvary. His lance was made of several pieces which fitted one into the other, so that by drawing them out, the lance could be made three times its original length. He had just done this when he came to the sudden determination of piercing the side of our Saviour. He was converted upon Mount Calvary, and a short time afterwards expressed to Pilate his conviction that Jesus was the Son of God. Nicodemus prevailed upon Pilate to let him have Longinus’s lance, and I have seen many things concerning the subsequent history of this lance. Longinus, after his conversion, left the army, and joined the disciples. He and two other soldiers, who were converted at the foot of the Cross, were among the first baptised after Pentecost.
 

    ‘I saw Longinus and these two men, clothed in long white garments, return to their native land. They lived there in the country, in a barren and marshy locality. Here it was that the forty martyrs died. Longinus was not a priest, but a deacon, and travelled here and there in that capacity, preaching the name of Christ, and giving, as an eye-witness, a history of his Passion and Resurrection. He converted a large number of persons, and cured many of the sick, by allowing them to touch a piece of the sacred lance which he carried with him. The Jews were much enraged at him and his two companions because they made known in all parts the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus, and the cruelty and deceits of his enemies. At their instigation, some Roman soldiers were dispatched to Longinus’s country to take and judge him on the plea of his having left the army without leave, and being a disturber of public peace. He was engaged in cultivating his field when they arrived, and he took them to his house, and offered them hospitality. They did not know him, and when they had acquainted him with the object of their journey, he quietly called his two companions who were living in a sort of hermitage at no great distance off, and told the soldiers that they and himself were the men for whom they were seeking. The same thing happened to the holy gardener, Phocas. The soldiers were really distressed, for they had conceived a great friendship for him. I saw him led with his two companions to a small neighbouring town, where they were questioned. They were not put in prison, but permitted to go whither they pleased, as prisoners on their word, and only made to wear a distinctive mark on the shoulder. Later, they were all three beheaded on a hill, situated between the little town and Longinus’s house, and there buried. The soldiers put the head of Longinus at the end of a spear, and carried it to Jerusalem, as a proof that they had fulfilled their commission. I think I remember that this took place a very few years after the death of our Lord.
    ‘Afterwards I had a vision of things happening at a later period. A blind countrywoman of St, Longinus went with her son on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in hopes of recovering her sight in the holy city where the eyes of Longinus had been cured. She was guided by her child, but he died, and she was left alone and disconsolate. Then St. Longinus appeared to her, and told her that she would recover her sight when she had drawn his head out of a sink into which the Jews had thrown it. This sink was a deep well, with the sides bricked, and all the filth and refuse of the town flowed into it through several drains. I saw some persons lead the poor woman to the spot; she descended into the well up to her neck, and drew out the sacred head, whereupon she recovered her sight. She returned to her native land, and her companions preserved the head. I remember no more upon this subject,’
 


Detached Account of Abenadar



    ON the 1st of April 1823, Sister Emmerich said that that day was the Feast of St. Ctésiphon, the centurion who had assisted at the Crucifixion, and that she had seen during the night various particulars concerning his life. But she had also suffered greatly, which, combined with exterior distractions, had caused her to forget the greatest part of what she had seen. She related what follows:
    ‘Abenadar, afterwards called Ctésiphon, was born in a country situated between Babylon and Egypt in Arabia Felix, to the right of the spot where Job dwelt during the latter half of his life. A certain number of square houses, with flat roofs, were built there on a slight ascent. There were many small trees growing on this spot, and incense and balm were gathered there. I have been in Abenadar’s house, which was large and spacious, as might be expected of a rich man’s house, but it was also very low. All these houses were built in this manner, perhaps on account of the wind, because they were much exposed. Abenadar had joined the garrison of the fortress Antonia, at Jerusalem, as a volunteer. He had entered the Roman service for the purpose of enjoying more facilities in his study of the fine arts, for he was a learned man. His character was firm, his figure short and thick-set, and his complexion dark.
    ‘Abenadar was early convinced, by the doctrine which he heard Jesus preach, and by a miracle which he saw him work, that salvation was to be found among the Jews, and he had submitted to the law of Moses. Although not yet a disciple of our Lord, he bore him no ill-will, and held his person in secret veneration. He was naturally grave and composed, and when he came to Golgotha to relieve guard, he kept order on all sides, and forced everybody to behave at least with common decency, down to the moment when truth triumphed over him, and he rendered public testimony to the Divinity of Jesus. Being a rich man, and a volunteer, he had no difficulty in resigning his post at once. He assisted at the descent from the Cross and the burial of our Lord, which put him into familiar connection with the friends of Jesus, and after the day of Pentecost he was one of the first to receive baptism in the Pool of Bethsaida, when he took the name of Ctésiphon. He had a brother living in Arabia, to whom he related the miracles he had beheld, and who was thus called to the path of salvation, came to Jerusalem, was baptised by the name of Cecilius, and was charged, together with Ctésiphon, to assist the deacons in the newly-formed Christian community.
 

    ‘Ctésiphon accompanied the Apostle St. James the Greater into Spain, and also returned with him. After a time, he was again sent into Spain by the Apostles, and carried there the body of St. James, who had been martyred at Jerusalem. He was made a bishop, and resided chiefly in a sort of island or peninsula at no great distance from France, which he also visited, and where he made some disciples. The name of the place where he lived was rather like Vergui, and it was afterwards laid waste by an inundation. I do not remember that Ctésiphon was ever martyred. He wrote several books containing details concerning the Passion of Christ; but there have been some books falsely attributed to him, and others, which were really from his pen, ascribed to different writers. Rome has since rejected these books, the greatest part of which were apocryphal, but which nevertheless did contain some few things really from his pen. One of the guards of our Lord’s sepulchre, who would not let himself be bribed by the Jews, was his fellow countryman and friend. His name was something like Sulei or Suleii. After being detained some time in prison, he retired into a cavern of Mount Sinai, where he lived seven years. God bestowed many special graces upon this man, and he wrote some very learned books in the style of Denis the Areopagite. Another writer made use of his works, and in this manner some extracts from them have come down to us. Everything concerning these facts was made known to me, as well as the name of the book, but I have forgotten it. This countryman of Ctésiphon afterwards followed him into Spain. Among the companions of Ctésiphon in that country were his brother Cecilius, and some other men, whose names were Intalecius, Hesicius, and Euphrasius. Another Arab, called Sulima, was converted in the very early days of the Church, and a fellow countryman of Ctésiphon, with a name like Sulensis, became a Christian later, in the time of the deacons.’

After the Death of Jesus from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER LVII
Guards are Placed Around the Tomb of Jesus


Late on Friday night, I saw Caiphas and some of the chief men among the Jews holding a consultation concerning the best course to pursue with regard to the prodigies which had taken place, and the effect they had had upon the people. They continued their deliberations quite into the morning, and then hurried to Pilate’s house, to tell him that, as that seducer said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again,’ It would be right to command the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day, as otherwise his disciples might come and steal him away, and say to the people, ‘He is risen from the dead,’ and the last error would be worse than the first. Pilate was determined to have nothing more to do with the business, and he only answered: ‘You have a guard; go, guard it as you know.’ However, he appointed Cassius to keep a watch over all that took place, and give him an exact account of every circumstance. I saw these men, twelve in number, leave the town before sunrise, accompanied by some soldiers who did not wear the Roman uniform, being attached so the Temple. They carried lanterns fastened to the end of long poles, in order that they might be able to see every surrounding object, in spite of the darkness of the night, and also that they might have some light in the dark cave of the sepulchre.
    No sooner had they reached the sepulchre than, having first seen with their own eyes that the body of Jesus was really there, they fastened one rope across the door of the tomb, and a second across the great stone which was placed in front, sealing the whole with a seal of half-circular shape. They then returned to the city, and the guards stationed themselves opposite the outer door. They were five or six in number, and watched three and three alternately. Cassius never left his post, and usually remained sitting or standing in front of the entrance to the cave, so as to see that side of the tomb where the feet of our Lord rested. He had received many interior graces, and been given to understand many mysteries. Being whole unaccustomed to this state of spiritual enlightenment, he was perfectly transported out of himself; and remained nearly all the time unconscious of the presence of exterior things. He was entirely changed, had become a new man, and spent the whole day in penance, in making fervent acts of gratitude, and in humbly adoring God.
 


CHAPTER LVIII
A Glance at the Disciples of Jesus on Holy Saturday


The faithful disciples of our Lord assembled together in the Cenaculum, to keep the eve of the Sabbath. They were about twenty in number, clothed in long white dresses, and with their waists girded. The room was lighted up by a lamp; and after their repast they separated, and for the most part returned home. They again assembled on the following morning, and sat together reading and praying by turns; and if a friend entered the room, they arose and saluted him cordially.
    In that part of the house inhabited by the Blessed Virgin there was a large room, divided into small compartments like cells, which were used by the holy women for sleeping in at night. When they returned from the sepulchre, one of their number lighted a lamp which was hanging in the middle of the room, and they all assembled around the Blessed Virgin, and commenced praying in a mournful but recollected manner. A short time afterwards, Martha, Maroni, Dina, and Mara, who were just come with Lazarus from Bethania, where they had passed the Sabbath, entered the room. The Blessed Virgin and her companions gave them a detailed account of the death and burial of our Lord, accompanying each relation with many tears. The evening was advancing, and Joseph of Arimathea came in with a few other disciples, to ask whether any of the women wished to return to their homes, as they were ready to escort them. A few accepted the proposition, and set off immediately; but before they reached the tribunal of Caiphas, some armed men stopped Joseph of Arimathea, arrested, and shut him up in an old deserted turret.
    Those among the holy women who did not leave the Cenaculum retired to take their rest in the cell-like compartments spoken of above: they fastened long veils over their heads, seated themselves sorrowfully on the floor, and leaned upon the couches which were placed against the wall. After a time they stood up, spread out the bedclothes which were rolled up on the couches, took off their sandals, girdles, and a part of their clothing, and reclined for a time in order to endeavour to get a little sleep. At midnight, they arose, clothed themselves, put up their beds, and reassembled around the lamp to continue their prayer with the Blessed Virgin.
 

    When the Mother of Jesus and her pious companions had finished their nocturnal prayer (that holy duty which has been practised by all faithful children of God and holy souls, who have either felt themselves called to it by a special grace, or who follow a rule given by God and his Church), they heard a knock at the door, which was instantly opened, and John and some of the disciples who had promised to conduct them to the Temple, entered, upon which the women wrapped their cloaks about them, and started instantly. It was then about three in the morning, and they went straight to the Temple, it being customary among many Jews to go there before day dawned, on the day after they had eaten the Paschal lamb; and for this reason the Temple was open from midnight, as the sacrifices commenced very early. They started at about the same hour as that at which the priests had put their seal upon the sepulchre. The aspect of things in the Temple was, however, very different from what was usually the case at such times, for the sacrifices were stopped, and the place was empty and desolate, as everyone had left on account of the events on the previous day which had rendered it impure. The Blessed Virgin appeared to me to visit it for the sole purpose of taking leave of the place where she had passed her youth.
    The Temple was, however, open; the lamps lighted and the people at liberty to enter the vestibule of the priests, which was the customary privilege of this day, as well as of that which followed the Paschal supper. The Temple was, as I said before, quite empty, with the exception of a chance priest or server who might be seen wandering about; and every part bore the marks of the confusion into which all was thrown on the previous day by the extraordinary and frightful events that had taken place; besides which it had been defiled by the presence of the dead, and I reflected and wondered in my own mind whether it would be possible ever to purify it again.
    The sons of Simeon, and the nephews of Joseph of Arimathea, were much grieved when they heard of the arrest of their uncle, but they welcomed the Blessed Virgin and her companions, and conducted them all over the Temple, which they did without difficulty, as they held the offices of inspectors of the Temple. The holy Women stood in silence and contemplated all the terrible and visible marks of the anger of God with feelings of deep awe, and then listened with interest to the many stupendous details recounted by their guides. The effects of the earthquake were still visible, as little had been done towards repairing the numerous rents and cracks in the floor, and in the walls. In that part of the Temple where the vestibule joined the sanctuary, the wall was so tremendously shaken by the shock of the earthquake, as to produce a fissure wide enough for a person to walk through, and the rest of the wall looked unsteady, as if it might fall down at any moment. The curtain which hung in the sanctuary was rent in two and hung in shreds at the sides; nothing was to be seen around but crumbled walls, crushed flagstones, and columns either partly or quite shaken down.
 

    The Blessed Virgin visited all those parts which Jesus had rendered sacred in her eyes; she prostrated, kissed them, and with tears in her eyes explained to the others her reasons for venerating each particular spot, whereupon they instantly followed her example. The greatest veneration was always shown by the Jews for all places which had been rendered sacred by manifestations of the Divine power, and it was customary to place the hands reverently on such places, kiss them, and to prostrate to the very earth before them. I do not think there was anything in the least surprising in such a custom, for they both knew, saw, and felt that the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, was a living God, and that his dwelling among his people was in the Temple at Jerusalem; consequently it would have been infinitely more astonishing if they had not venerated those holy parts where his power had been particularly demonstrated, for the Temple and the holy places were to them what the Blessed Sacrament is to Christians.
    Deeply penetrated with these feelings of respect, the Blessed Virgin walked through the Temple with her companions, and pointed out to them the spot where she was presented when still a child, the parts where she passed her childhood, the place where she was affianced to St. Joseph, and the spot where she stood when she presented Jesus and heard the prophecy of Simeon the remembrance of his words made her weep bitterly, for the prophecy was indeed fulfilled, and the sword of grief had indeed transfixed her heart; she again stopped her companions when she reached the part of the Temple where she found Jesus teaching when she lost him at the age of twelve, and she respectfully kissed the ground on which he then stood. When the holy women had looked at every place sanctified by the presence of Jesus, when they had wept and prayed over them, they returned to Sion.
    The Blessed Virgin did not leave the Temple without shedding many tears, as she contemplated the state of desolation to which it was reduced, an aspect of desolation which was rendered still more depressing by the marked contrast it bore to the usual state of the Temple on the festival day. Instead of songs and hymns of jubilee, a mournful silence reigned throughout the vast edifice, and in place of groups of joyful and devout worshippers, the eye wandered over a vast and dreary solitude. Too truly, alas, did this change betoken the fearful crime which had been perpetrated by the people of God, and she remembered how Jesus had wept over the Temple, and said, ‘Destroy this Temple and in three days I will build it up again.’ She thought over the destruction of the Temple of the Body of Jesus which had been brought about by his enemies, and she sighed with a longing desire for the dawning of that third day when the words of eternal truth were to be accomplished.
 

    It was about daybreak when Mary and her companions reached the Cenaculum, and they retired into the building which stood on its right-hand side, while John and some of the disciples reentered the Cenaculum, where about twenty men, assembled around a lamp, were occupied in prayer. Every now and then newcomers drew nigh to the door, came in timidly, approached the group round the lamp, and addressed them in a few mournful words, which they accompanied with tears. Every one appeared to regard John with feelings of respect; because he had remained with Jesus until he expired; but with these sentiments of respect was mingled a deep feeling of shame and confusion, when they reflected on their own cowardly conduct in abandoning their Lord and Master in the hour of need. John spoke to every one with the greatest charity and kindness; his manner was modest and unassuming as that of a child, and he seemed to fear receiving praise. I saw the assembled group take one meal during that day, but its members were, for the most part, silent; not a sound was to be heard throughout the house, and the doors were tightly closed, although, in fact, there was no likelihood of any one disturbing them, as the house belonged to Nicodemus, and he had let it to them for the time of the festival.
    The holy women remained in this room until nightfall; it was lighted up by a single lamp; the doors were closed, and curtains drawn over the windows. Sometimes they gathered round the Blessed Virgin and prayed under the lamp; at other times they retired to the side of the room, covered their heads with black veils, and either sat on ashes (the sign of mourning), or prayed with their faces turned towards the wall; those whose health was delicate took a little food, but the others fasted.
    I looked at them again and again, and I saw them ever occupied in the same manner, that is to say, either in prayer or in mourning over the sufferings of their beloved Master. When my thoughts wandered from the contemplation of the Blessed Virgin to that of her Divine Son, I beheld the holy sepulchre with six or seven sentinels at the entrance—Cassius standing against the door of the cave, apparently in deep meditation, the exterior door closed, and the stone rolled close to it. Notwithstanding the thick door which intervened between the body of our Saviour and myself I could see it plainly; it was quite transparent with a divine light, and two angels were adoring at the side. But my thoughts then turned to the contemplation of the blessed soul of my Redeemer, and such an extensive and complicated picture of his descent into hell was shown to me, that I can only remember a small portion of it, which I will describe to the best of my power.

CHAPTER LIX
A Detached Account of the Descent into Hell

When Jesus, after uttering a loud cry, expired, I saw his heavenly soul under the form of a bright meteor pierce the earth at the foot of the Cross, accompanied by the angel Gabriel and many other angels. His Divine nature continued united to his soul as well as to his body, which still remained hanging upon the Cross, but I cannot explain how this was, although I saw it plainly in my own mind. The place into which the soul of Jesus entered was divided into three parts, which appeared to me like three worlds; and I felt that they were round, and that each division was separated from the other by a hemisphere.
    I beheld a bright and beautiful space opposite to Limbo; it was enamelled with flowers, delicious breezes wafted through it; and many souls were placed there before being admitted into Heaven after their deliverance from Purgatory. Limbo, the place where the souls were waiting for the Redemption, was divided into different compartments, and encompassed by a thick foggy atmosphere. Our Lord appeared radiant with light and surrounded by angels, who conducted him triumphantly between two of these compartments; the one on the left containing the patriarchs who lived before the time of Abraham, and that on the right those who lived between the days of Abraham and St. John Baptist. These souls did not at first recognise Jesus, but were filled nevertheless with sensations of joy and hope. There was not a spot in those narrow confines which did not, as it were, dilate with feelings of happiness. The passage of Jesus might be compared to the wafting of a breath of air, to a sudden flash of light, or to a shower of vivifying dew, but it was swift as a whirlwind. After passing through the two compartments, he reached a dark spot in which Adam and Eve were standing; he spoke to them, they prostrated and adored him in a perfect ecstasy of joy, and they immediately joined the band of angels, and accompanied our Lord to the compartment on the left, which contained the patriarchs who lived before Abraham. This compartment was a species of Purgatory, and a few evil spirits were wandering about among the souls and endeavouring to fill them with anxiety and alarm. The entrance through a species of door was closed, but the angels rapped, and I thought I heard them say, ‘Open these doors.’ When Jesus entered in triumph the demons dispersed, crying out at the same time, ‘What is there between thee and us? What art thou come to do here? Wilt thou crucify us likewise?’ The angels hunted them away, having first chained them. The poor souls confined in this place had only a slight presentiment and vague idea of the presence of Jesus; but the moment he told them that it was he himself, they burst out into acclamations of joy, and welcomed him with hymns of rapture and delight. The soul of our Lord then wended its way to the right, towards that part which really constituted Limbo; and there he met the soul of the good thief which angels were carrying to Abraham’s bosom, as also that of the bad thief being dragged by demons into Hell. Our Lord addressed a few words to both, and then entered Abraham’s bosom, accompanied by numerous angels and holy souls, and also by those demons who had been chained and expelled from the compartment.
 
    This locality appeared to me more elevated than the surrounding parts; and I can only describe my sensations on entering it, by comparing them to those of a person coming suddenly into the interior of a church, after having been for some time in the burial vaults. The demons, who were strongly chained, were extremely loath to enter, and resisted to the utmost of their power, but the angels compelled them to go forward. All the just who had lived before the time of Christ were assembled there; the patriarch; Moses, the judges, and the kings on the left-hand side; and on the right side, the prophets, and the ancestors of our Lord, as also his near relations, such as Joachim, Anna, Joseph, Zacharias, Elizabeth, and John. There were no demons in this place, and the only discomfort that had been felt by those placed there was a longing desire for the accomplishment of the promise; and when our Lord entered they saluted him with joyful hymns of gratitude and thanksgiving for its fulfilment, they prostrated and adored him, and the evil spirits who had been dragged into Abraham’s bosom when our Lord entered were compelled to confess with shame that they were vanquished. Many of these holy souls were ordered by our Lord to return to the earth, re-enter their own bodies, and thus render a solemn and impressive testimony to the truth. It was at this moment that so many dead persons left their tombs in Jerusalem; I regarded them less in the light of dead persons risen again than as corpses put in motion by a divine power, and which, after having fulfilled the mission intrusted to them, were laid aside in the same manner as the insignia of office are taken off by a clerk when he has executed the orders of his superiors.
    I next saw our Lord, with his triumphant procession, enter into a species of Purgatory which was filled with those good pagans who, having had a faint glimmering of the truth, had longed for its fulfilment: this Purgatory was very deep, and contained a few demons, as also some of the idols of the pagans. I saw the demons compelled to confess the deception they had practised with regard to these idols, and the souls of the poor pagans cast themselves at the feet of Jesus, and adored him with inexpressible joy: here, likewise, the demons were bound with chains and dragged away. I saw our Saviour perform many other actions; but I suffered so intensely at the same time, that I cannot recount them as I should have wished.
 
    Finally, I beheld him approach to the centre of the great abyss, that is to say, to Hell itself; and the expression of his countenance was most severe.
    The exterior of Hell was appalling and frightful; it was an immense, heavy-looking building, and the granite of which it was formed, although black, was of metallic brightness; and the dark and ponderous doors were secured with such terrible bolts that no one could behold them without trembling. Deep groans and cries of despair might be plainly distinguished even while the doors were tightly closed; but, 0, who can describe the dreadful yells and shrieks which burst upon the ear when the bolts were unfastened and the doors flung open; and, 0, who can depict the melancholy appearance of the inhabitants of this wretched place!
    The form under which the Heavenly Jerusalem is generally represented in my visions is that of a beautiful and well-regulated city, and the different degrees of glory to which the elect are raised are demonstrated by the magnificence of their palaces, or the wonderful fruit and flowers with which the gardens are embellished. Hell is shown to me under the same form, but all within it is, on the contrary, close, confused, and crowded; every object tends to fill the mind with sensations of pain and grief; the marks of the wrath and vengeance of God are visible everywhere; despair, like a vulture, gnaws every heart, and discord and misery reign around. In the Heavenly Jerusalem all is peace and eternal harmony, the beginning, fulfilment, and end of everything being pure and perfect happiness; the city is filled with splendid buildings, decorated in such a manner as to charm every eye and enrapture every sense; the inhabitants of this delightful abode are overflowing with rapture and exultation, the gardens gay with lovely flowers, and the trees covered with delicious fruits which give eternal life. In the city of Hell nothing is to be seen but dismal dungeons, dark caverns, frightful deserts, fetid swamps filled with every imaginable species of poisonous and disgusting reptile. In Heaven you behold the happiness and peaceful union of the saints; in Hell, perpetual scenes of wretched discord, and every species of sin and corruption, either under the most horrible forms imaginable, or represented by different kinds of dreadful torments. All in this dreary abode tends to fill the mind with horror; not a word of comfort is heard or a consoling idea admitted; the one tremendous thought, that the justice of an all-powerful God inflicts on the damned nothing but what they have fully deserved is the absorbing tremendous conviction which weighs down each heart. Vice appears in its own, grim disgusting colours, being stripped of the mask under which it is hidden in this world, and the infernal viper is seen devouring those who have cherished or fostered it here below. In a word, Hell is the temple of anguish and despair, while the kingdom of God is the temple of peace and happiness. This is easy to understand when seen; but it is almost impossible to describe clearly.
 
    The tremendous explosion of oaths, curses, cries of despair, and frightful exclamations which, like a clap of thunder, burst forth when the gates of Hell were thrown open by the angels, would be difficult even to imagine; our Lord spoke first to the soul of Judas, and the angels then compelled all the demons to acknowledge and adore Jesus. They would have infinitely preferred the most frightful torments to such a humiliation; but all were obliged to submit. Many were chained down in a circle which was placed round other circles. In the centre of Hell I saw a dark and horrible-looking abyss, and into this Lucifer was cast, after being first strongly secured with chains; thick clouds of sulphurous black smoke arose from its fearful depths, and enveloped his frightful form in the dismal folds, thus effectually concealing him from every beholder. God himself had decreed this; and I was likewise told, if I remember rightly that he will be unchained for a time fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000. The dates of many other events were pointed out to me which I do not now remember; but a certain number of demons are to be let loose much earlier than Lucifer, in order to tempt men, and to serve as instruments of the divine vengeance. I should think that some must be loosened even in the present day, and others will be set free in a short time.
    It would be utterly impossible for me to describe all the things which were shown to me; their number was so great that I could not reduce them sufficiently to order to define and render them intelligible. Besides which my sufferings are very great, and when I speak on the subject of my visions I behold them in my mind’s eye portrayed in such vivid colours, that the sight is almost sufficient to cause a weak mortal like myself to expire.
 

    I next saw innumerable bands of redeemed souls liberated from Purgatory and from Limbo, who followed our Lord to a delightful spot situated above the celestial Jerusalem, in which place I, a very short time ago, saw the soul of a person who was very dear to me. The soul of the good thief was likewise taken there, and the promise of our Lord, ‘This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise,’ was fulfilled.
    It is not in my power to explain the exact time that each of these events occurred, nor can I relate one-half of the things which I saw and heard; for some were incomprehensible even to myself, and others would be misunderstood if I attempted to relate them. I have seen our Lord in many different places. Even in the sea he appeared to me to sanctify and deliver everything in the creation. Evil spirits fled at his approach, and cast themselves into the dark abyss. I likewise beheld his soul in different parts of the earth, first inside the tomb of Adam, under Golgotha; and when he was there the souls of Adam and Eve came up to him, and he spoke to them for some time. He then visited the tombs of the prophets who were buried at an immense depth below the surface; but he passed through the soil in the twinkling of an eye. Their souls immediately re-entered their bodies, and he spoke to them and explained the most wonderful mysteries. Next I saw him, accompanied by a chosen band of prophets, among whom I particularly remarked David, visit those parts of the earth which had been sanctified by his miracles and by his sufferings. He pointed out to them, with the greatest love and goodness, the different symbols in the old law expressive of the future; and he showed them how he himself had fulfilled every prophecy. The sight of the soul of our Lord, surrounded by these happy souls, and radiant with light, was inexpressibly grand as he glided triumphantly through the air, sometimes passing, with the velocity of lightning, over rivers, then penetrating through the hardest rocks to the very centre of the earth, or moving noiselessly over its surface.
 

    I can remember nothing beyond the facts which I have just related concerning the descent of Jesus into Limbo, where he went in order to present to the souls there detained the grace of the Redemption which he had merited for them by his death and by his sufferings; and I saw all these things in a very short space of time; in fact, time passed so quickly that it seemed to me but a moment. Our Lord, however, displayed before me, at the same time, another picture, in which I beheld the immense mercies which he bestows in the present day on the poor souls in Purgatory; for on every anniversary of this great day, when his Church is celebrating the glorious mystery of his death, he casts a look of compassion on the souls in Purgatory, and frees some of those who sinned against him before his crucifixion. I this day saw Jesus deliver many souls; some I was acquainted with, and others were strangers to me, but I cannot name any of them.
    Our Lord, by descending into Hell, planted (if I may thus express myself), in the spiritual garden of the Church, a mysterious tree, the fruits of which—namely, his merits—are destined for the constant relief of the poor souls in Purgatory. The Church militant must cultivate the tree, and gaither its fruits, in order to present them to that suffering portion of the Church which can do nothing for itself. Thus it is with all the merits of Christ; we must labour with him if we wish to obtain our share of them; we must gain our bread by the sweat of our brow. Everything which our Lord has done for us in time must produce fruit for eternity; but we must gather these fruits in time, without which we cannot possess them in eternity. The Church is the most prudent and thoughtful of mothers; the ecclesiastical year is an immense and magnificent garden, in which all those fruits for eternity are gathered together, that we may make use of them in time. Each year contains sufficient to supply the wants of all; but woe be to that careless or dishonest gardener who allows any of the fruit committed to his care to perish; if he fails to turn to a proper account those graces which would restore health to the sick, strength to the weak, or furnish food to the hungry! When the Day of Judgment arrives, the Master of the garden will demand a strict account, not only of every tree, but also of all the fruit produced in the garden.

Jesus is taken down from the Cross from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER L
The Descent from the Cross


    AT the time when every one had left the neighbourhood of the Cross, and a few guards alone stood around it, I saw five persons, who I think were disciples, and who had come by the valley from Bethania, draw nigh to Calvary, gaze for a few moments upon the Cross, and then steal away. Three times I met in the vicinity two men who were making examinations and anxiously consulting together. These men were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The first time was during the Crucifixion (perhaps when they caused the clothes of Jesus to be brought back from the soldiers), and they were then at no great distance from Calvary. The second was when, after standing to look whether the crowd was dispersing, they went to the tomb to make some preparations. The third was on their return from the tomb to the Cross, when they were looking around in every direction, as if waiting for a favourable moment, and then concerted together as to the manner in which they should take the body of our Lord down from the Cross, after which they returned to the town.
    

Their next care was to make arrangements for carrying with them the necessary articles for embalming the body, and their servants took some tools with which to detach it from the Cross, as well as two ladders which they found in a barn close to Nicodemus’s house. Each of these ladders consisted of a single pole, crossed at regular intervals by pieces of wood, which formed the steps. There were hooks which could be fastened on any part of the pole, and by means of which the ladder could be steadied, or on which, perhaps, anything required for the work could also be hung.
 
  
    The woman from whom they had bought their spices had packed the whole neatly together. Nicodemus had bought a hundred pounds’ weight of roots, which quantity is equal to about thirty-seven pounds of our measure, as has been explained to me. They carried these spices in little barrels made of bark, which were hung round their necks, and rested on their breasts. One of these barrels contained some sort of powder. They had also some bundles of herbs in bags made of parchment or leather, and Joseph carried a box of ointment; but I do not know what this box was made of. The servants were to carry vases, leathern bottles, sponges, and tools, on a species of litter, and they likewise took fire with them in a closed lantern. They left the town before their master, and by a different gate (perhaps that of Bethania), and then turned their steps towards Mount Calvary. As they walked through the town they passed by the house where the Blessed Virgin, St. John, and the holy women had gone to seek different things required for embalming the body of Jesus, and John and the holy women followed the servants at a certain distance. The women were about five in number, and some of them carried large bundles of linen under their mantles. It was the custom for women, when they went out in the evening, or if intending to perform some work of piety secretly, to wrap their persons carefully in a long sheet at least a yard wide. They began by one arm, and then wound the linen so closely round their body that they could not walk without difficulty. I have seen them wrapped up in this manner, and the sheet not only extended to both arms, but likewise veiled the head. On the present occasion, the appearance of this dress was most striking in my eyes, for it was a real mourning garment. Joseph and Nicodemus were also in mourning attire, and wore black sleeves and wide sashes. Their cloaks, which they had drawn over their heads, were both wide and long, of a common grey colour, and served to conceal everything that they were carrying.
 

They turned their steps in the direction of the gate leading to Mount Calvary. The streets were deserted and quiet, for terror kept every one at home. The greatest number were beginning to repent, and but few were keeping the festival. When Joseph and Nicodemus reached the gate they found it closed, and the road, streets, and every corner lined with soldiers. These were the soldiers whom the Pharisees had asked for at about two o’clock, and whom they had kept under arms and on guard, as they still feared a tumult among the people. Joseph showed an order, signed by Pilate, to let them pass freely, and the soldiers were most willing that they should do so, but explained to him that they had endeavoured several times to open the gate, without being able to move it; that apparently the gate had received a shock, and been strained in some part; and that on this account the archers sent to break the legs of the thieves had been obliged to return to the city by another gate. But when Joseph and Nicodemus seized hold of the bolt, the gate opened as if of itself, to the great astonishment of all the bystanders. 
    It was still dark and the sky cloudy when they reached Mount Calvary, where they found the servants who had been sent on already arrived, and the holy women sitting weeping in front of the Cross. Cassius and several soldiers who were converted remained at a certain distance, and their demeanour was respectful and reserved. Joseph and Nicodemus described to the Blessed Virgin and John all they had done to save Jesus from an ignominious death, and learned from them how they had succeeded in preventing the bones of our Lord from being broken, and how the prophecy had been fulfilled. They spoke also of the wound which Cassius had made with his lance. No sooner was the centurion Abenadar arrived than they began, with the deepest recollection of spirit, their mournful and sacred labour of taking down from the Cross and embalming the adorable body of our Lord.
 
    The Blessed Virgin and Magdalen were seated at the foot of the Cross; while, on the right-hand side, between the cross of Dismas and that of Jesus, the other women were engaged in preparing the linen, spices, water, sponges, and vases. Cassius also came forward, and related to Abenadar the miraculous cure of his dyes. All were deeply affected, and their hearts overflowing with sorrow and love; but, at the same time, they preserved a solemn silence, and their every movement was full of gravity and reverence. Nothing broke the stillness save an occasional smothered word of lamentation, or a stifled groan, which escaped from one or other of these holy personages, in spite of their earnest eagerness and deep attention to their pious labour. Magdalen gave way unrestrainedly to her sorrow, and neither the presence of so many different persons, nor any other consideration, appeared to distract her from it.
    Nicodemus and Joseph placed the ladders behind the Cross, and mounted them, holding in their hands a large sheet, to which three long straps were fastened. They tied the body of Jesus, below the arms and knees, to the tree of the Cross, and secured the arms by pieces of linen placed underneath the hands. Then they drew Out the nails, by pushing them from behind with strong pins pressed upon the points. The sacred hands of Jesus were thus not much shaken, and the nails fell easily out of the wounds; for the latter had been made wider by the weight of the body, which, being now supported by the cloth, no longer hung on the nails. The lower part of the body, which since our Lord’s death had sunk down on the knees, now rested in a natural position, supported by a sheet fastened above to the arms of the Cross. Whilst Joseph was taking out the nail from the left hand, and then allowing the left arm, supported by its cloth, to fall gently down upon the body, Nicodemus was fastening the right arm of Jesus to that of the Cross, as also the sacred crowned head, which had sunk on the right shoulder. Then he took out the right nail, and having surrounded the arm with its supporting sheet, let it fall gently on to the body. At the same time, the centurion Abenadar, with great difficulty, drew out the large nail which transfixed the feet. Cassius devoutly received the nails, and laid them at the feet of the Blessed Virgin.
 

    Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placed ladders against the front of the Cross, in a very upright position, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, and fastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the same with the two other straps, and passing them all on from hook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend gently towards the centurion, who having mounted upon a stool received it in his arms, holding it below the knees; while Joseph and Nicodemus, supporting the upper part of the body, came gently down the ladder, stopping at every step, and taking every imaginable precaution, as would be done by men bearing the body of some beloved friend who had been grievously wounded. Thus did the bruised body of our Divine Saviour reach the ground.
    It was a most touching sight. They all took the same precautions, the same care, as if they had feared to cause Jesus some suffering. They seemed to have concentrated on the sacred body all the love and veneration which they had felt for their Saviour during his life. The eyes of each were fixed upon the adorable body, and followed all its movements; and they were continually uplifting their hands towards Heaven, shedding tears, and expressing in every possible way the excess of their grief and anguish. Yet they all remained perfectly calm, and even those who were so busily occupied about the sacred body broke silence but seldom, and, when obliged to make some necessary remark, did so in a low voice. During the time that the nails were being forcibly removed by blows of the hammer, the Blessed Virgin, Magdalen, and all those who had been present at the Crucifixion, felt each blow transfix their hearts. The sound recalled to their minds all the sufferings of Jesus, and they could not control their trembling fear, lest they should again hear his piercing cry of suffering; although, at the same time, they grieved at the silence of his blessed lips, which proved, alas too surely, that he was really dead. When the body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees to the waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who, overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receive their precious burden.

The Eve of the Ressurection from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER LX
The Eve of the Resurrection


Towards the close of the Sabbath-day, John came to see the holy women. He endeavoured to give some consolation, but could not restrain his own tears, and only remained a short time with them. They had likewise a short visit from Peter and James the Greater, after which they retired to their cells, and gave free vent to grief, sitting upon ashes, and veiling themselves even more closely.
    The prayer of the Blessed Virgin was unceasing. She ever kept her eyes fixed interiorly on Jesus, and was perfectly consumed by her ardent desire of once more beholding him whom she loved with such inexpressible love. Suddenly an angel stood by her side, and bade her arise and go to the door of the dwelling of Nicodemus, for that the Lord was very near. The heart of the Blessed Virgin leaped for joy. She hastily wrapped her cloak about her, and left the holy women, without informing them where she was going. I saw her walk quickly to a small entrance which was out in the town wall, the identical one through which she had entered when returning with her companions from the sepulchre.
    It was about nine o’clock at night, and the Blessed Virgin had almost reached the entrance, when I saw her stop suddenly in a very solitary spot, and look upwards in an ecstasy of delight, for on the top of the town wall she beheld the soul of our Lord, resplendent with light, without the appearance of a wound, and surrounded by patriarchs. He descended towards her, turned to his companions, and presenting her to them, said, ‘Behold Mary, behold my Mother.’ He appeared to me to salute her with a kiss, and he then disappeared. The Blessed Virgin knelt down, and most reverently kissed the ground on which he had stood, and the impression of her hands and knees remained imprinted upon the stones. This sight filled her with inexpressible joy, and she immediately rejoined the holy women, who were busily employed in preparing the perfumes and spices. She did not tell them what she had seen, but her firmness and strength of mind were restored. She was perfectly renovated, and therefore comforted all the rest, and endeavoured to strengthen their faith.
    All the holy women were sitting by a long table, the cover of which hung down to the floor, when Mary returned; bundles of herbs were heaped around them, and these they mixed together and arranged; small flasks, containing sweet unctions and water of spikenard, were standing near, as also bunches of natural flowers, among which I remarked one in particular, which was like a streaked iris or a lily. Magdalen, Mary the daughter of Cleophas, Salome, Johanna, and Mary Salome, had bought all these things in the town during the absence of Mary. Their intention was to go to the sepulchre before sunrise on the following day, in order to strew these flowers and perfumes over the body of their beloved Master.
 

CHAPTER LXI
Joseph of Arimathea Miraculously Set at Large


A short time after the return of the Blessed Virgin to the holy women, I was shown the interior of the prison in which the enemies of Joseph of Arimathea had confined him. He was praying fervently, when suddenly a brilliant light illuminated the whole place, and I heard a voice calling him by name, while at the same moment the roof opened, and a bright form appeared, holding out a sheet resembling that in which he had wrapped the body of Jesus. Joseph grasped it with both hands, and was drawn up to the opening, which closed again as soon as he had passed through; and the apparition disappeared the instant he was in safety at the top of the tower. I know not whether it was our Lord himself or an angel who thus set Joseph free.
    He walked on the summit of the wall until he reached the neighbourhood of the Cenaculum, which was near to the south wall of Sion, and then climbed down and knocked at the door of that edifice, as the doors were fastened. The disciples assembled there had been much grieved when they first missed Joseph, who they thought had been thrown into a sink, a report to that effect having become current. Great, therefore, was their joy when they opened the door and found that it was he himself; indeed, they were almost as much delighted as when Peter was miraculously delivered from prison some years after. When Joseph had related what had taken place, they were filled with astonishment and delight; and after thanking God fervently gave him some refreshment, which he greatly needed. He left Jerusalem that same night, and fled to Arimathea, his native place, where he remained until he thought he could return safely to Jerusalem.
    I likewise saw Caiphas towards the close of the Sabbath-day, at the house of Nicodemus. He was conversing with him and asking many questions with pretended kindness. Nicodemus answered firmly, and continued to affirm the innocence of Jesus. They did not remain long together.
 

Jesus is prepared for burial and placed in the tomb from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER LI 
The Embalming of the Body of Jesus
 


 The Blessed Virgin seated herself upon a large cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee, which was slightly raised, and her back resting against some mantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. No precaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate to her—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction of soul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about to fulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretched upon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow and love. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her arms the body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unable to give any testimony of love during the long hours of his martyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced his blood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon his feet.
    The men withdrew into a little cave, situated on the south-west side of Calvary, there to prepare the different things needful for the embalming; but Cassius, with a few other soldiers who had been converted, remained at a respectful distance. All ill-disposed persons were gone back to the city, and the soldiers who were present served merely to form a guard to prevent any interruption in the last honours which were being rendered to the body of Jesus. Some of these soldiers even gave assistance when desired. The holy women held the vases, sponges, linen, unction, and spices, according as required; but when not thus employed, they remained at a respectful distance, attentively gazing upon the Blessed Virgin as she proceeded in her mournful task, Magdalen did not leave the body of Jesus; but John gave continual assistance to the Blessed Virgin, and went to and fro from the men to the women, lending aid to both parties. The women had with them some large leathern bottles and a vase filled with water standing upon a coal fire. They gave the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen, according as they required, vases filled with clear water, and sponges, which they afterwards squeezed in the leathern bottles.

 
 
    The courage and firmness of Mary remained unshaken even in the midst of her inexpressible anguish.* It was absolutely impossible for her to leave the body of her Son in the awful state to which it had been reduced by his sufferings, and therefore she began with indefatigable earnestness to wash and purify it from the traces of the outrages to which it had been exposed. With the utmost care she drew off the crown of thorns, opening it behind, and then cutting off one by one the thorns which had sunk deep into the head of Jesus, in order that she might not widen the wounds. The crown was placed by the side of the nails, and then Mary drew out the thorns which had remained in the skin with a species of rounded pincers,** and sorrowfully showed them to her friends. These thorns were placed with the crown, but still some of them must have been preserved separately.
    * On Good Friday, March 30th, 1820, as Sister Emmerich was contemplating the descent from the Cross she suddenly fainted .in the presence of the writer of these lines, and appeared to be really dead. But after a time she recovered her senses and gave the following explanation, although still in a state of great suffering: ‘As I was contemplating the body of Jesus lying on the knees of the Blessed Virgin I said to myself: “How great is her strength! She has not fainted even once!” My guide reproached me for this thought—in which there was more astonishment than compassion—and said to me, “Suffer then what she has suffered!” And at the same moment a sensation of the sharpest anguish transfixed me like a sword, so that I believed I must have died from it.’ She had to endure this suffering for a long time, and, in consequence of it had an illness which reduced her almost to the brink of the grave.
    ** Sister Emmerich said that the shape of these pincers reminded her of the scissors with which Samson’s hair was cut off. In her visions of the third year of the public life of Jesus she had seen our Lord keep the Sabbath-day at Misael—a town belonging to the Levites of the tribe of Aser—and as a portion of the Book of Judges was read in the synagogue, Sister Emmerich beheld upon that occasion the life of Samson.
 
    The divine face of our Saviour was scarcely recognisable, so disfigured was it by the wounds with which it was covered. The beard and hair were matted together with blood. Mary washed the head and face, and passed damp sponges over the hair to remove the congealed blood, As she proceeded in her pious office, the extent of the awful cruelty which had been exercised upon Jesus became more and more apparent, and caused in her soul emotions of compassion and tenderness which increased as she passed from one wound to another. She washed the wounds of the head, the eyes filled with blood, the nostrils, and the ears, with a sponge and a small piece of linen spread over the fingers of her right hand; and then she purified, in the same manner, the half-opened mouth, the tongue, the teeth, and the lips. She divided what remained of our Lord’s hair into three parts,* a part falling over each temple, and the third over the back of his head; and when she had disentangled the front hair and smoothed it, she passed it behind his ears. When the head was thoroughly cleansed and purified, the Blessed Virgin covered it with a veil, after having kissed the sacred cheeks of her dear Son. She then turned her attention to the neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms, and pierced hands. All the bones of the breast and the joints were dislocated, and could not be bent. There was a frightful wound on the shoulder which had borne the weight of the Cross, and all the upper part of the body was covered with bruises and deeply marked with the blows of the scourges. On the left breast there was a small wound where the point of Cassius’s lance had come out, and on the right side was the large wound made by the same lance, and which had pierced the heart through and through. Mary washed all these wounds, and Magdalen, on her knees, helped her from time to time; but without leaving the sacred feet of Jesus, which she bathed with tears and wiped with her hair.


     * Sister Emmerich was accustomed, when speaking of persons of historical importance, to explain how they divided their hair. ‘Eve,’ she said, ‘divided her hair in two parts, but Mary into three.’ And she appeared to attach importance to these words. No opportunity presented itself for her to give any explanation upon the subject, which probably would have shown what was done with the hair in sacrifices, funerals, consecrations, or vows, &c. She once said of Samson: ‘His fair hair, which was long and thick, was gathered up on his head in seven tresses, like a helmet, and the ends of these tresses were fastened upon his forehead and temples. His hair was not in itself the source of his strength, but only as the witness to the vow which he had made to let it grow in God’s honour. The powers which depended upon these seven stresses were the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. He must have already broken his vows and lost many graces, when he allowed this sign of being a Nazarene to be cut off. I did not see Dalila cut off all his hair, and I think one lock remained on his forehead. He retained the grace to do penance and of that repentance by which he recovered strength sufficient to destroy his enemies. The life of Samson is figurative and prophetic.’
 

    The head, bosom, and feet of our Lord were now washed, and the sacred body, which was covered with brown stains and red marks in those places where the skin had been torn off, and of a bluish-white colour, like flesh that has been drained of blood, was resting on the knees of Mary, who covered the parts which she had washed with a veil, and then proceeded to embalm all the wounds. The holy women knelt by her side, and in turn presented to her a box, out of which she took some precious ointment, and with it filled and covered the wounds. She also anointed the hair, and then, taking the sacred hands of Jesus in her left hand, respectfully kissed them, and filled the large wounds made by the nails with this ointment or sweet spice. She likewise filled the ears, nostrils, and wound in the side with the same precious mixture. Meanwhile Magdalen wiped and embalmed our Lord’s feet, and then again washed them with her tears, and often pressed her face upon them.
    The water which had been used was not thrown away, but poured into the leathern bottles in which the sponges had been squeezed. I saw Cassius or some other soldier go several times to fetch fresh water from the fountain of Gihon, which was at no great distance off. When the Blessed Virgin had filled all the wounds with ointment, she wrapped the head up in linen cloths, but she did not as yet cover the face. She closed the half-open eyes of Jesus, and kept her hand upon them for some time. She also closed the mouth, and then embraced the sacred body of her beloved Son, pressing her face fondly and reverently upon his. Joseph and Nicodemus had been waiting for some time, when John drew near to the Blessed Virgin, and besought her to permit the body of her Son to be taken from her, that the embalming might be completed, because the Sabbath was close at hand. Once more did Mary embrace the sacred body of Jesus, and utter her farewells in the most touching language, and then the men lifted it from her arms on the sheet, and carried it to some distance. The deep sorrow of Mary had been for the time assuaged by the feelings of love and reverence with which she had accomplished her sacred task; but now it once more overwhelmed her, and she fell, her head covered with her veil, into the arms of the holy women. Magdalen felt almost as though her Beloved were being forcibly carried away from her, and hastily ran forward a few steps, with her arms stretched forth; but then, after a moment, returned to the Blessed Virgin.
 
    The sacred body was carried to a spot beneath the level of the top of Golgotha, where the smooth surface of a rock afforded a convenient platform on which to embalm the body. I first saw a piece of open-worked linen, looking very much like lace, and which made me think of the large embroidered curtain hung between the choir and nave during Lent.* It was probably worked in that open stitch for the water to run through. I also saw another large sheet unfolded. The body of our Saviour was placed on the open-worked piece of linen, and some of the other men held the other sheet spread above it. Nicodemus and Joseph then knelt down, and underneath this covering took off the linen which they had fastened round the loins of our Saviour, when they took his body down from the Cross. They then passed sponges under this sheet and washed the lower parts of the body; after which they lifted it up by the help of pieces of linen crossed beneath the loins and knees, and washed the back without turning it over. They continued washing until nothing but clear water came from the sponges when pressed. Next they poured water of myrrh over the whole body, and then, handling it with respect, stretched it out full length, for it was still in the position in which our Divine Lord had died —the loins and knees bent. They then placed beneath his hips a sheet which was a yard in width and three in length, laid upon his lap bundles of sweet-scented herbs, and shook over the whole body a powder which Nicodemus had brought. Next they wrapped up the lower part of the body, and fastened the cloth which they had placed underneath round it strongly. After this they anointed the wounds of the thighs, placed bundles of herbs between the legs, which were stretched out to their full length, and wrapped them up entirely in these sweet spices.

    * This refers to a custom of the Diocese of Munster. During Lent there was hung up in the churches a curtain, embroidered in open work, representing the Five Wounds, the instruments of the Passion, &c.
 
    Then John conducted the Blessed Virgin and the other holy women once more to the side of the body. Mary knelt down by the head of Jesus, and placed beneath it a piece of very fine linen which had been given her by Pilate’s wife, and which she had worn round her neck under her cloak; next, assisted by the holy women, she placed from the shoulders to the cheeks bundles of herbs, spices, and sweet-scented powder, and then strongly bound this piece of linen round the head and shoulders. Magdalen poured besides a small bottle of balm into the wound of the side, and the holy women placed some more herbs into those of the hands and feet. Then the men put sweet spices around all the remainder of the body, crossed the sacred stiffened arms on the chest, and bound the large white sheet round the body as high as the chest, in the same manner as if they had been swaddling a child. Then, having fastened the end of a large band beneath the armpits, they rolled it round the head and the whole body. Finally, they placed our Divine Lord on the large sheet, six yards in length, which Joseph of Arimathea had bought, and wrapped him in it. He was lying diagonally upon it, and one corner of the sheet was raised from the feet to the chest, the other drawn over the head and shoulders, while the remaining two ends were doubled round the body.


    The Blessed Virgin, the holy women, the men—all were kneeling round the body of Jesus to take their farewell of it, when a most touching miracle took place before them. The sacred body of Jesus, with all its Wounds, appeared imprinted upon the cloth which covered it, as though he had been pleased to reward their their love, and leave them a portrait of himself through all the veils with which he was enwrapped. With tears they embraced the adorable body, and then reverently kissed the wonderful impression which it had left. Their astonishment increased when, on lifting up the sheet, they saw that all the binds which surrounded the body had remained white as before, and that the upper cloth alone had been marked in this wonderful manner. It was not a mark made by the bleeding wounds, since the whole body was wrapped up and covered with Sweet spices, but it was a supernatural portrait, bearing testimony to the divine creative power ever abiding in the body of Jesus. I have seen many things relative to the subsequent history of this piece of linen, but I could not describe them coherently. After the resurrection it remained in the possession of the friends of Jesus, but fell twice in the hands of the Jews, and later was honoured in several different places. I have seen it in a city of Asia, in the possession of some Christians Who were hot Catholics. I have forgotten the name of the town, which is situated in a province near the country of the Three Kings.
 

CHAPTER LII
The Body of Our Lord Placed in the Sepulchre 



    THE men placed the sacred body on a species of leathern hand-barrow, which they covered with a brown-coloured cloth, and to which they fastened two long stakes. This forcibly reminded me of the Ark of the Covenant. Nicodemus and Joseph bore on their shoulders the front shafts, while Abenadar and John supported those behind. After them came the Blessed Virgin, Mary of Heli, her eldest sister, Magdalen and Mary of Cleophas, and then the group of women who had been sitting at some distance —Veronica, Johanna Chusa, Mary the mother of Mark, Salome the wife of Zebedee, Mary Salome, Salome of Jerusalem, Susanna, and Anne the niece of St. Joseph. Cassius and the soldiers closed the procession. The other women, such as Marone of Naïm, Dina the Samaritaness, and Mara the Suphanitess, were at Bethania, with Martha and Lazarus. Two soldiers, bearing torches in their hands, walked on first, that there might be some light in the grotto of the sepulchre; and the procession continued to advance in this order for about seven minutes, the holy men and women singing psalms in sweet but melancholy tones. I saw James the Greater, the brother of John, standing upon a hill the other side of the valley, to look at them as they passed, and he returned immediately afterwards, to tell the other disciples what he had seen.


    The procession stopped at the entrance of Joseph’s garden, which was opened by the removal of some stakes, afterwards used as levers to roll the stone to the door of the sepulchre. When opposite the rock, they placed the Sacred Body on a long board covered with a sheet. The grotto, which had been newly excavated, had been lately cleaned by the servants of Nicodemus, so that the interior was neat and pleasing to the eye. The holy women sat down in front of the grotto, while the four men carried in the body of our Lord, partially tilled the hollow couch destined for its reception with aromatic spices, and spread over them a cloth, upon which they reverently deposited the sacred body. After having once more given expression to their love by tears and fond embraces, they left the grotto. Then the Blessed Virgin entered, seated herself close to the head of her dear Son, and bent over his body with many tears. When she left the grotto, Magdalen hastily and eagerly came forward, and flung on the body some flowers and branches which she had gathered in the garden. Then she clasped her hands together, and with sobs kissed the feet of Jesus; but the men having informed her that they must close the sepulchre, she returned to the other women. They covered the sacred body with the extremities of the sheet on which it was lying, placed on the top of all the brown coverlet, and closed the folding-doors, which were made of a bronze-coloured metal, and had on their front two sticks, one straight down and the other across, so as to form a perfect cross.


    The large stone with which they intended to close the sepulchre, and which was still lying in front of the grotto, was in shape very like a chest* or tomb; its length was such that a man might have laid himself down upon it, and it was so heavy that it was only by means of levers that the men could roll it before the door of the sepulchre. The entrance of the grotto was closed by a gate made of branches twined together. Everything that was done within the grotto had to be accomplished by torchlight, for daylight never penetrated there.
    *Apparently Sister Emmerich here spoke of the ancient cases in which her poor countrymen keep their clothes. The lower part of these cases is smaller than the upper, and this gives them some likeness to a tomb. She had one of these cases, which she called her chest. She often described the stone by this comparison, but her descriptions have not, nevertheless, given us a very clear idea of its shape.
 



CHAPTER LIII
The Return from the Sepulchre.—Joseph of Arimathea is put in Prison

    THE Sabbath was close at hand, and Nicodemus and Joseph returned to Jerusalem by a small door not far from the garden, and which Joseph had been allowed by special favour to have made in the city wall. They told the Blessed Virgin, Magdalen, John, and some of the women, who were returning to Calvary to pray there, that this door, as well as that of the supper-room, would be opened to them whenever they knocked. The elder sister of the Blessed Virgin, Mary of Heli, returned to the town with Mary the mother of Mark, and some other women. The servants of Nicodemus and Joseph went to Calvary to fetch several things which had been left there.
    The soldiers joined those who were guarding the city gate near Calvary; and Cassius went to Pilate with the lance, related all that he had seen, and promised to give him an exact account of everything that should happen, if he would put under his command the guards whom the Jews would not fail to ask to have put round the tomb. Pilate listened to his words with secret terror, but only told him in reply that his superstition amounted to madness.


    Joseph and Nicodemus met Peter and the two Jameses in the town. They all shed many tears, but Peter was perfectly overwhelmed by the violence of his grief. He embraced them, reproached himself for not having been present at the death of our Saviour, and thanked them for having bestowed the rites of sepulture upon his sacred body. It was agreed that the door of the supper-room should be opened to them whenever they knocked, and then they went away to seek some other disciples who were dispersed in various directions. Later I saw the Blessed Virgin and her companions enter the supper-room; Abenadar next came and was admitted; and by degrees the greatest part of the Apostles and disciples assembled there. The holy Women retired to that part of the building where the Blessed Virgin was living. They took some food, and spent a few minutes more in tears, and in relating to one another what each had seen. The men changed their dresses, and I saw them standing under the lamp, and keeping the Sabbath. They ate some lambs in the supper-room, but without observing any ceremony, for they had eaten the Paschal lamb the evening before. They were all perturbed in spirit, and filled with grief. The holy women also passed their time in praying with the Blessed Virgin under the lamp. Later, when night had quite fallen, Lazarus, the widow of Naïm, Dina the Samaritan woman, and Mara of Suphan,* came from Bethania, and then, once more, descriptions were given of all that had taken place, and many tears shed.
    * According to the visions of Sister Emmerich, the three women named in the text had been living for some time at Bethania, in a sort of community established by Martha for the purpose of providing for the maintenance of the disciples when our Lord was moving about, and for the division and distribution of the alms which were collected. The widow of Naïm, whose son Martial was raised from the dead by Jesus, according to Sister Emmerich, on the 28th Marcheswan (the 18th of November), was named Maroni. She was the daughter of an uncle, on the father’s side, of St. Peter. Her first husband was the son of a sister of Elizabeth who herself was the daughter of a sister of the mother of St. Anne. Maroni’s first husband having died without children, she had married Elind, a relation of St. Anne, and had left Chasaluth, near Tabor, to take up her abode at Naïm, which was not far off, and where she soon lost her second husband.
    Dina, the Samaritan woman, was the same who conversed with Jesus by Jacobs well. She was born near Damascus, of parents who were half Jewish and half Pagan. They died while she was yet very young, and she being brought up by a woman of bad character, the seeds of the most evil passions were early sown in her heart. She had had several husbands, who supplanted one another in turn, and the last lived at Sichar, whither she had followed him and changed her name from Dina to Salome. She had three grownup daughters and two sons, who afterwards joined the disciples. Sister Emmerich used to say that the life of this Samaritan woman was prophetic—that Jesus had spoken to the entire sect of Samaritans in her person, and that they were attached to their errors by as many ties as she had committed adulteries.
    Mara of Suphan was a Moabitess, came from the neighbourhood of Suphan, and was a descendant of Orpha, the widow of Chélion, Noëmi’s son. Orpha had married again in Moab. By Orpha, the sister-in-law of Ruth, Mara was connected with the family of David, from whom our Lord was descended. Sister Emmerich saw Jesus deliver Mara from four devils and grant her forgiveness of her sins on the 17th Elud (9th September) of the second year of his public life. She was living at Ainon, having been repudiated by her husband, a rich Jew, who had kept the children he had had by her with him. She had with her three others, the offspring of her adulteries.
    ‘I saw.’ Sister Emmerich would say.—’I saw how the stray branch of the stock of David was purified within her by the grace of Jesus, and admitted into the bosom of the Church. I cannot express how many of these roots and offshoots I see become entwined with each other, lost to view, and then once wore brought to light.’
 
    Joseph of Arimathea returned home late from the supper-room, and he was sorrowfully walking along the streets of Sion, accompanied by a few disciples and women, when all of a sudden a band of armed men, who were lying in ambuscade in the neighbourhood of Caiphas’s tribunal, fell upon them, and laid hands upon Joseph, whereupon his companions fled, uttering loud cries of terror. He was confined in a tower contiguous to the city wall, not far from the tribunal. These soldiers were pagans, and had not to keep the Sabbath, therefore Caiphas had been able to secure their services on this occasion. The intention was to let Joseph die of hunger, and keep his disappearance a secret.
    Here conclude the descriptions of all that occurred on the day of the Passion of our Lord; but we will add some supplementary matter concerning Holy Saturday, the Descent into Hell, and the Resurrection.

The Opening of the Side of Jesus and death of the two thieves from the visions Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER XLVIII
The Opening of the Side of Jesus.—Death of the Two Thieves


While these events were taking place in Jerusalem, silence reigned around Calvary. The crowd which had been for a time so noisy and tumultuous was dispersed; all were panic-stricken; in scene that panic had produced sincere repentance, but on others it had had no beneficial effects. Mary, John, Magdalen, Mary of Cleophas, and Salome had remained, either standing or sitting before the Cross, closely veiled and weeping silently. A few soldiers were leaning over the terrace which enclosed the platform; Cassius rode up and down; the sky was lowering, and all nature wore a garb of mourning. Six archers soon after made their appearance, bringing with them ladders, spades, ropes, and large iron staves for the purpose of breaking the legs of the criminals, in order to hasten their deaths. When they approached our Lord’s Cross, his friends retired a few paces back, and the Blessed Virgin was seized with fear lest they should indulge their hatred of Jesus by insulting even his dead body. Her fears were not quite unfounded, for when they first placed their ladders against the Cross they declared that he was only pretending to be dead; in a few moments, however, seeing that he was cold and stiff, they left him, and removed their ladders to the crosses on which the two thieves were still hanging alive. They took up their iron staves and broke the arms of the thieves above and below the elbow; while another archer at the same moment broke their legs, both above and below the knee. Gesmas uttered frightful cries, therefore the executioner finished him off by three heavy blows of a cudgel on his chest. Dismas gave a deep groan, and expired: he was the first among mortals who had the happiness of rejoining his Redeemer. The cords were then loosened, the two bodies fell to the ground, and the executioners dragged them to a deep morass, which was between Calvary and the walls of the town, and buried them there.
 

    The archers still appeared doubtful whether Jesus was really dead, and the brutality they had shown in breaking the legs of the thieves made the holy women tremble as to what outrage they might next perpetrate on the body of our Lord. But Cassius, the subaltern officer, a young man of about five-and-twenty, whose weak squinting eyes and nervous manner had often excited the derision of his companions, was suddenly illuminated by grace, and being quite overcome at the sight of the cruel conduct of the soldiers, and the deep sorrow of the holy women, determined to relieve their anxiety by proving beyond dispute that Jesus was really dead. The kindness of his heart prompted him, but unconsciously to himself he fulfilled a prophecy. He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.
 

    The Blessed Virgin and her companions were still standing near, with their eyes fixed upon the Cross, but when Cassius thrust his lance into the side of Jesus they were much startled, and rushed with one accord up to it. Mary looked as if the lance had transfixed her heart instead of that of her Divine Son, and could scarcely support herself. Cassius meantime remained kneeling and thanking God, not only for the graces he had received but likewise for the cure of the complaint in his eyes, which had caused the weakness and the squint. This cure had been effected at the same moment that the darkness with which his soul was previously filled was removed. Every heart was overcome at the sight of the blood of our Lord, which ran into a hollow in the rock at the foot of the Cross. Mary, John, the holy women, and Cassius, gathered up the blood and water in flasks, and wiped up the remainder with pieces of linen.*
    Cassius, whose sight was perfectly restored at the same moment that the eyes of his soul were opened, was deeply moved, and continued his humble prayer of thanksgiving. The soldiers were struck with astonishment at the miracle which had taken place, and cast themselves on their knees by his side, at the same time striking their breasts and confessing to Jesus. The water and blood continued to flow from the large wound in the side of our Lord; it ran into the hollow in the rock, and the holy women put it in vases, while Mary and Magdalen mingled their tears. The archers, who had received a message from Pilate, ordering them not to touch the body of Jesus, did not return at all.
    All these events took place near the Cross, at a little before four o’clock, during the time that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were gathering together the articles necessary for the burial of Jesus. But the servants of Joseph having been sent to clean out the tomb, informed the friends of our Lord that their master intended to take the body of Jesus and place it in his new sepulchre. John immediately returned to the town with the holy women; in the first place, that Mary might recruit her strength a little, and in the second, to purchase a few things which would be required for the burial. The Blessed Virgin had a small lodging among the buildings near the Cenaculum. They did not re-enter the town through the gate which was the nearest to Calvary, because it was closed, and guarded by soldiers placed there by the Pharisees; but they went through that gate which leads to Bethlehem.
    *Sister Emmerich added: ‘Cassius was baptised by the name of Longinus; and was ordained deacon, and preached the faith. He always kept some of the blood of Christ,—it dried up, but was found in his coffin in Italy. He was buried in a town at no great distance from the locality where St. Clare passed her life. There is a lake with an island upon it near this town, and the body of Longinus must have been taken there.’ Sister Emmerich appears to designate Mantua by this description, and there is a tradition preserved in that town to the same effect. I do not know which St. Clare lived in the neighbourhood.

The Earthquake and Apparitions of the dead in Jerusalem from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER XLVI
The Earthquake.—Apparitions of the Dead in Jerusalem
 


    I saw the soul of Jesus, at the moment he expired, appear under the form of a bright orb, and accompanied by angels, among whom I distinguished the angel Gabriel penetrate the earth at the foot of the Cross. I likewise saw these angels cast a number of evil spirits into the great abyss, and I heard Jesus order several of the souls in Limbo to re-enter the bodies in which they once dwelt, in order that the sight might fill sinners with a salutary terror, and that these souls might render a solemn testimony to his divinity.
    The earthquake which produced the deep chasm at Calvary did much damage in different parts of Palestine, but its effects were even more fatal in Jerusalem. Its inhabitants were just beginning to be a little reassured by the return of light, when their terror was reawakened with double force by the shocks of the earthquake, and the terrible noise and confusion caused by the downfall of houses and walls on all sides, which panic was still farther increased by the sudden appearance of dead persons, confronting the trembling miscreants who were flying to hide themselves, and addressing them in the most severe and reproachful language.
    The High Priests had recommenced the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb (which had been stopped by the unexpected darkness), and they were triumphing at the return of light, when suddenly the ground beneath them trembled, the neighbouring buildings fell down, and the veil of the Temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. Excess of terror at first rendered those on the outside speechless, but after a time they burst forth into cries and lamentations. The confusion in the interior of the Temple was not, however, as great as would naturally have been expected, because the strictest order and decorum were always enforced there, particularly with regard to the regulations to be followed by those who entered to make their sacrifice, and those who left after having offered it. The crowd was great, but the ceremonies were so solemnly carried out by the priests, that they totally engrossed the minds of the assistants. First came the immolation of the lamb, then the sprinkling of its blood, accompanied by the chanting of canticles and the sounding of trumpets. The priests were endeavouring to continue the sacrifices, when suddenly an unexpected and most appalling pause ensued; terror and astonishment were depicted on each countenance; all was thrown into confusion; not a sound was heard; the sacrifices ceased; there was a general rush to the gates of the Temple; every one endeavoured to fly as quickly as possible. And well might they fly, well might they fear and tremble; for in the midst of the multitude there suddenly appeared persons who had been dead and buried for many years! These persons looked at them sternly, and reproved them most severely for the crime they had committed that day, in bringing about the death of ‘the just man,’ and calling down his blood upon their heads. Even in the midst of this confusion, some attempts were, however, made by the priests to preserve order; they prevented those who were in the inner part of the Temple from rushing forward, pushing their way through the crowds who were in advance of them, and descending the steps which led out of the Temple: they even continued the sacrifices in some parts, and endeavoured to calm the fears of the people.
 
    The appearance of the Temple at this moment can only be described by comparing it to an ant-hill on which persons have thrown stones, or which has been disturbed by a stick being driven into its centre. The ants in those parts on which the stones have fallen, or which the stick has disturbed, are filled with confusion and terror; they run to and fro and do nothing; while the ants in those parts which have not been disturbed continue to labour quietly, and even begin to repair the damaged parts.
    The High Priest Caiphas and his retinue did not lose their presence of mind, and by the outward tranquility which their diabolical hardness of heart enabled them to preserve, they calmed the confusion in a great degree, and then did their utmost to prevent the people from looking upon these stupendous events as testimonies of the innocence of Jesus. The Roman garrison belonging to the fortress of Antonia likewise made great efforts to maintain order; consequently, the disturbance of the festival was not followed by an insurrection, although every heart was fixed with fear and anxiety, which anxiety the Pharisees endeavoured (and in some instances with success) to calm.
    I remember a few other striking incidents: in the first place, the two columns which were placed at the entrance of their Holy of Holies, and to which a magnificent curtain was appended, were shaken to the very foundations; the column on the left side fell down in a southerly, and that on the right side in a northerly direction, thus rending the veil in two from the top to the bottom with a fearful sound, and exposing the Holy of Holies uncovered to the public gaze. A large stone was loosened and fell from the wall at the entrance of the sanctuary, near where the aged Simeon used to kneel, and the arch was broken. The ground was heaved up, and many other columns were thrown down in other parts of the Temple.
 
    An apparition of the High Priest Zacharias, who was slain between the porch and the altar, was seen in the sanctuary. He uttered fearful menaces, spoke of the death of the second Zacharias,* and of that of St. John Baptist, as also of the violent deaths of the other prophets. The two sons of the High Priest Simon, surnamed the Just (ancestors of the aged Simeon who prophesied when Jesus was presented in the Temple), made their appearance in the part usually occupied by the doctors of the law; they also spoke in terrific terms of the deaths of the prophets, of the sacrifice of the old law which was now about to cease, and they exhorted all present to be converted, and to embrace the doctrines which had been preached by him whom they had crucified. The prophet Jeremiah likewise appeared; he stood near the altar, and proclaimed, in a menacing tone, that the ancient sacrifice was at an end, and that a new one had commenced. As these apparitions took place in parts where none but priests were allowed to enter, Caiphas and a few others were alone cognisant of them, and they endeavoured, as far as possible, either to deny their reality, or to conceal them. These prodigies were followed by others still more extraordinary. The doors of the sanctuary flew open of themselves, and a voice was heard to utter these words: ‘Let us leave this place;’ and I saw all the angels of the Lord instantly leave the Temple. The thirty-two Pharisees who went to Calvary a short time before our Lord expired were almost all converted at the foot of the Cross. They returned to the Temple in the midst of the confusion, and were perfectly thunderstruck at all which had taken place there. They spoke most sternly, both to Annas and to Caiphas, and left the Temple. Annas had always been the most bitter of the enemies of Jesus, and had headed every proceeding against him; but the supernatural events which had taken place had so completely unnerved him that he knew not where to hide himself. Caiphas was, in reality, excessively alarmed, and filled with anxiety, but his pride was so great that he concealed his feelings as far as possible, and endeavonred to reassure Annas. He succeeded for a time; but the sudden appearance of a person who had been dead many years marred the effect of his words, and Annas became again a prey to the most fearful terror and remorse.
    * The Zacharias here referred to was the father of John the Baptist who was tortured and afterwards put to death by Herod, because he would not betray John into the hands of the tyrant. He was buried by his friends within the precincts of the Temple.
 

    Whilst these things were going on in the Temple, the confusion and panic were not less in Jerusalem. Dead persons were walking about, and many walls and buildings had been shaken by the earthquake, and parts of them fallen down. The superstition of Pilate rendered him even more accessible to fear; he was perfectly paralysed and speechless with terror; his palace was shaken to the very foundation, and the earth quaked beneath his feet. He ran wildly from room to room, and the dead constantly stood before him, reproaching him with the unjust sentence he had passed upon Jesus. He thought that they were the gods of the Galilean, and took refuge in an inner room, where he offered incense, and made vows to his idols to invoke their assistance in his distress. Herod was equally alarmed; but he shut himself up in his palace, out of the sight of every one.
    More than a hundred persons who had died at different epochs re-entered the bodies they had occupied when on earth, made their appearance in different parts of Jerusalem, and filled the inhabitants with inexpressible consternation. Those souls which had been released by Jesus from Limbo uncovered their faces and wandered to and fro in the streets, and although their bodies were the same as those which they had animated when on earth, yet these bodies did not appear to touch the ground as they walked. They entered the houses of their descendants, proclaimed the innocence of Jesus, and reproved those who had taken part in his death most severely. I saw them passing through the principal streets; they were generally in couples, and appeared to me to glide through the air without moving their feet. The countenances of some were pale; others of a yellow tint; their beards were long, and their voices sounded strange and sepulchral. Their grave-clothes were such as it was customary in use at the period of their decease. When they reached the place where sentence of death was proclaimed on Jesus before the procession started for Calvary, they paused for a moment, and exclaimed in a loud voice: ‘Glory be to Jesus for ever and ever, and destruction to his enemies!’ Towards four o’clock all the dead returned to their graves. The sacrifices in the Temple had been so interrupted, and the confusion caused by the different prodigies was so great, that very few persons ate the Paschal lamb on that evening.
 


CHAPTER XLVII
The Request of Joseph of Arimathea to be allowed to have the Body of Jesus


Scarcely had the commotion which the town had been thrown into begun to subside in a degree, when the Jews belonging to the Council sent to Pilate to request that the legs of the criminals might be broken, in order to put an end to their lives before the Sabbath day dawned. Pilate immediately dispatched executioners to Calvary to carry out their wishes.


    Joseph of Arimathea then demanded an audience; be had heard of the death of Jesus, and he and Nicodemus had determined to bury him In a new sepulchre which he had made at the end of his garden, not far from Calvary. Pilate was still filled with anxiety and solicitude, and was much astonished at seeing a person holding a high position like Joseph so anxious for leave to give honourable burial to a criminal whom he had sentenced to be ignominiously crucified. He sent for the centurion Abenadar, who returned to Jerusalem after he had conferred with the disciples who were hidden in the caverns, and asked him whether the King of the Jews was really dead. Abenadar gave Pilate a full account of the death of our Lord, of his last words, and of the loud cry he uttered immediately before death, and of the earthquake which had rent the great chasm in the rock. The only thing at which Pilate expressed surprise was that the death of Jesus should have taken place so quickly, as those who were crucified usually lived much longer; but although he said so little, every word uttered by Joseph increased his dismay and remorse. He instantly gave Joseph an order, by which he was authorised to take down the body of the King of the Jews from the Cross, and to perform the rites of sepulture at once. Pilate appeared to endeavour, by his readiness in granting this request, to wish to make up, in a degree, for his previous cruel and unjust conduct, and he was likewise very glad to do what he was certain would annoy the priests extremely, as he knew their wish was to have Jesus buried ignominiously between the two thieves. He dispatched a messenger to Calvary to see his orders executed. I believe the messenger was Abenadar, for I saw him assisting in taking Jesus down from the Cross.  
    When Joseph of Arimathea left Pilate’s palace, he instantly rejoined Nicodemus, who was waiting for him at the house of a pious woman, which stood opposite to a large street, and was not far from that alley where Jesus was so shamefully ill-treated when he first commenced carrying his Cross. The woman was a vendor of aromatic herbs, and Nicodemus had purchased many perfumes which were necessary for embalming the body of Jesus from her. She procured the more precious kinds from other places, and Joseph went away to procure a fine winding-sheet. His servants then fetched ladders, hammers, pegs, jars of water, and sponges, from a neighbouring shed, and placed them in a hand-barrow similar to that on which the disciples of John the Baptist put his body when they carried it off from the castle of Macherus.

The Crucifixion from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER XXXVIII 
The Nailing of Jesus to the Cross

 

 The preparations for the crucifixion being finished four archers went to the cave where they had confined our Lord and dragged him out with their usual brutality, while the mob looked on and made use of insulting language, and the Roman soldiers regarded all with indifference, and thought of nothing but maintaining order. When Jesus was again brought forth, the holy women gave a man some money, and begged him to pay the archers anything they might demand if they would allow Jesus to drink the wine which Veronica had prepared; but the cruel executioners, instead of giving it to Jesus, drank it themselves. They had brought two vases with them, one of which contained vinegar and gall, and the other a mixture which looked like wine mixed with myrrh and absinthe; they offered a glass of the latter to our Lord, which he tasted, but would not drink.
    There were eighteen archers on the platform; the six who had scourged Jesus, the four who had conducted him to Calvary, the two who held the ropes which supported the cross, and six others who came for the purpose of crucifying him. They were strangers in the pay of either the Jews or the Romans; and were short thick-set men, with most ferocious countenances, rather resembling wild beasts than human beings, and employing themselves alternately in drinking and in making preparations for the crucifixion.
 
  
    This scene was rendered the more frightful to me by the sight of demons, who were invisible to others, and I saw large bodies of evil spirits under the forms of toads, serpents, sharp-clawed dragons, and venomous insects, urging these wicked men to still greater cruelty, and perfectly darkening the air. They crept into the mouths and into the hearts of the assistants, sat upon their shoulders, filled their minds with wicked images, and incited them to revile and insult our Lord with still greater brutality. Weeping angels, however, stood around Jesus, and the sight of their tears consoled me not a little, and they were accompanied by little angels of glory, whose heads alone I saw. There were likewise angels of pity and angels of consolation among them; the latter frequently approached the Blessed Virgin and the rest of the pious persons who were assembled there, and whispered words of comfort which enabled them to bear up with firmness. 
    The executioners soon pulled off our Lord’s cloak, the belt to which the ropes were fastened, and his own belt, when they found it was impossible to drag the woollen garment which his Mother had woven for him over his head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the garment, tore it mercilessly over his bleeding and wounded head. Our dear Lord and Saviour then stood before his cruel enemies, stripped of all save the short scapular which was on his shoulders, and the linen which girded his loins. His scapular was of wool; the wool had stuck to the wounds, and indescribable was the agony of pain he suffered when they pulled it roughly off. He shook like the aspen as he stood before them, for he was so weakened from suffering and loss of blood that he could not support himself for more than a few moments; he was covered with open wounds, and his shoulders and back were torn to the bone by the dreadful scourging he had endured. He was about to fall when the executioners, fearing that he might die, and thus deprive them of the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, led him to a large stone and placed him roughly down upon it, but no sooner was he seated than they aggravated his sufferings by putting the crown of thorns again upon his head. They then offered him some vinegar and gall, from which, however, he turned away in silence. The executioners did not allow him to rest long, but bade him rise and place himself on the cross that they might nail him to it. Then seizing his right arm they dragged it to the hole prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one of them knelt upon his sacred chest, a second held his hand flat, and a third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours on the ungrateful Jews, and with a great iron hammer drove it through the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross. Our Lord uttered one deep but suppressed groan, and his blood gushed forth and sprinkled the arms of the archers. I counted the blows of the hammer, but my extreme grief made me forget their number. The nails were very large, the heads about the size of a crown piece, and the thickness that of a man’s thumb, while the points came through at the back of the cross. The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted. They again knelt upon him, tied down his arms, and drove the second nail into his left hand; his blood flowed afresh, and his feeble groans were once more heard between the blows of the hammer, but nothing could move the hard-hearted executioners to the slightest pity. The arms of Jesus, thus unnaturally stretched out, no longer covered the arms of the cross, which were sloped; there was a wide space between them and his armpits. Each additional torture and insult inflicted on our Lord caused a fresh pang in the heart of his Blessed Mother; she became white as a corpse, but as the Pharisees endeavoured to increase her pain by insulting words and gestures, the disciples led her to a group of pious women who were standing a little farther off.
 
    The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heels These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn open by the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued to vociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we will help him;’ they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words ‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out; I counted at least six and thirty blows of the hammer. During the whole time of the crucifixion our Lord never ceased praying, and repeating those passages in the Psalms which he was then accompanying, although from time to time a feeble moan caused by excess of suffering might be heard. In this manner he had prayed when carrying his cross, and thus he continued to pray until his death. I heard him repeat all these prophecies; I repeated them after him, and I have often since noted the different passages when reading the Psalms, but I now feel so exhausted with grief that I cannot at all connect them.
 
     When the crucifixion of Jesus was finished, the commander of the Roman soldiers ordered Pilate’s inscription. to be nailed on the top of the cross. The Pharisees were much incensed at this, and their anger was increased by the jeers of the Roman soldiers, who pointed at their crucified king; they therefore hastened back to Jerusalem, determined to use their best endeavours to persuade the governor to allow them to substitute another inscription. 
    It was about a quarter past twelve when Jesus was crucified; and at the moment the cross was lifted up, the Temple resounded with the blast of trumpets, which were always blown to announce the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb.

 

CHAPTER XXXIX
Erection of the Cross


 When the executioners had finished the crucifixion of our Lord, they tied ropes to the trunk of the cross, and fastened the ends of these ropes round a long beam which was fixed firmly in the ground at a little distance, and by means of these ropes they raised the cross. Some of their number supported it while others shoved its foot towards the hole prepared for its reception—the heavy cross fell into this hole with a frightful shock—Jesus uttered a faint cry, and his wounds were torn open in the most fearful manner, his blood again burst forth, and his half dislocated bones knocked one against the other. The archers pushed the cross to get it thoroughly into the hole, and caused it to vibrate still more by planting five stakes around to support it. 
    A terrible, but at the same time a touching sight it was to behold the cross raised up in the midst of the vast concourse of persons who were assembled all around; not only insulting soldiers, proud Pharisees, and the brutal Jewish mob were there, but likewise strangers from all parts. The air resounded with acclamations and derisive cries when they beheld it towering on high, and after vibrating for a moment in the air, fall with a heavy crash into the hole cut for it in the rock. But words of love and compassion resounded through the air at the same moment; and need we say that these words, these sounds, were emitted by the most saintly of human beings—Mary—John—the holy women, and all who were pure of heart? They bowed down and adored the ‘Word made flesh,’ nailed to the cross; they stretched forth their hands as if desirous of giving assistance to the Holy of Holies, whom they beheld nailed to a cross and in the power of his furious enemies. But when the solemn sound of the fall of the cross into the hole prepared for it in the rock was heard, a dead silence ensued, every heart was filled with an undefinable feeling of awe—a feeling never before experienced, and for which no one could account, even to himself; all the inmates of hell shook with terror, and vented their rage by endeavouring to stimulate the enemies of Jesus to still greater fury and brutality; the souls in Limbo were filled with joy and hope, for the sound was to them a harbinger of happiness, the prelude to the appearance of their Deliverer. Thus was the blessed cross of our Lord planted for the first time on the earth; and well might it be compared to the tree of life in Paradise, for the wounds of Jesus were as sacred fountains, from which flowed four rivers destined both to purify the world from the curse of sin, and to give it fertility, so as to produce fruit unto salvation. 
    The eminence on which the cross was planted was about two feet higher than the surrounding parts; the feet of Jesus were sufficiently near the ground for his friends to be able to reach to kiss them, and his face was turned to the north-west.

CHAPTER XL
Crucifixion of the Thieves


    DURING the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the two thieves were left lying on the ground at some distance off; their arms were fastened to the crosses on which they were to be executed, and a few soldiers stood near on guard. The accusation which had been proved against them was that of having assassinated a Jewish woman who, with her children, was travelling from Jerusalem to Joppa. They were arrested, under the disguise of rich merchants, at a castle in which Pilate resided occasionally, when employed in exercising his troops, and they had been imprisoned for a long time before being brought to trial. The thief placed on the left-hand side was much older than the other; a regular miscreant, who had corrupted the younger. They were commonly called Dismas and Gesmas, and as I forget their real names I shall distinguish them by these terms, calling the good one Dismas, and the wicked one Gesmas. Both the one and the other belonged to a band of robbers who infested the frontiers of Egypt; and it was in a cave inhabited by these robbers that the Holy Family took refuge when flying into Egypt, at the time of the massacre of the Innocents. The poor leprous child, who was instantly cleansed by being dipped in the water which had been used for washing the infant Jesus, was no other than this Dismas, and the charity of his mother, in receiving and granting hospitality to the Holy Family, had been rewarded by the cure of her child; while this outward purification was an emblem of the inward purification which was afterwards accomplished in the soul of Dismas on Mount Calvary, through that Sacred Blood which was then shed on the cross for our redemption. Dismas knew nothing at all about Jesus, but as his heart was not hardened, the sight of the extreme patience of our Lord moved him much. When the executioners had finished putting up the cross of Jesus, they ordered the thieves to rise without delay, and they loosened their fetters in order to crucify them at once, as the sky was becoming very cloudy and bore every appearance of an approaching storm. After giving them some myrrh and vinegar, they stripped off their ragged clothing, tied ropes round their arms, and by the help of small ladders dragged them up to their places on the cross. The executioners then bound the arms of the thieves to the cross, with cords made of the bark of trees, and fastened their wrists, elbows, knees, and feet in like manner, drawing the cords so tight that their joints cracked, and the blood burst out. They uttered piercing cries, and the good thief exclaimed as they were drawing him up, ‘This torture is dreadful, but if they had treated us as they treated the poor Galilean, we should have been dead long ago.’
  

      The executioners had divided the garments of Jesus, in order to draw lots for them; his mantle, which was narrow at the top, was very wide at the bottom, and lined over the chest, thus forming a pocket between the lining and the material itself; the lining they pulled out, tore into bands, and divided. They did the same with his long white robe, belt, scapular, and undergarment, which was completely saturated with his Sacred Blood. Not being able to agree as to who was to be the possessor of the seamless robe woven by his Mothers which could not be cut up and divided, they brought out a species of chessboard marked with figures, and were about to decide the point by lots, when a messenger, sent by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, informed them that there were persons ready to purchase all the clothes of Jesus; they therefore gathered them together and sold them in a bundle. Thus did the Christians get possession of these precious relics.
 
 

CHAPTER XLI
Jesus Hanging on the Cross Between Two Thieves



The tremendous concussion caused by the fall of the cross into the hole prepared for it drove the sharp points of the crown of thorns, which was still upon the head of our dear Saviour, still deeper into his sacred flesh, and blood ran down again in streams, both from it and from his hands and feet. The archers then placed ladders against the sides of the cross, mounted them and unfastened the ropes with which they had bound our Lord to the cross, previous to lifting it up, fearing that the shock might tear open the wounds in his hands and feet, and that then the nails would no longer support his body. His blood had become, in a certain degree, stagnated by his horizontal position and the pressure of the cords, but when these were withdrawn, it resumed its usual course, and caused such agonising sensations throughout his countless wounds, that he bowed his head, and remained as if dead for more than seven minutes. A pause ensued; the executioners were occupied with the division of his garments; the trumpets in the temple no longer resounded; and all the actors in this fearful tragedy appeared to be exhausted, some by grief, and others by the efforts they had made to compass their wicked ends, and by the joy which they felt now at having at last succeeded in bringing about the death of him whom they had so long envied. With mixed feelings of fear and compassion I cast my eyes upon Jesus,—Jesus my Redeemer,—the Redeemer of the world. I beheld him motionless, and almost lifeless. I felt as if I myself must expire; my heart was overwhelmed between grief, love, and horror; my mind was half wandering, my hands and feet burning with a feverish heat; each vein, nerve, and limb was racked with inexpressible pain; I saw nothing distinctly, excepting my beloved Spouse hanging on the cross. I contemplated his disfigured countenance, his head encircled with that terrible crown of thorns, which prevented his raising it even for a moment without the most intense suffering, his mouth parched and half open from exhaustion, and his hair and beard clotted with blood. His chest was torn with stripes and wounds, and his elbows, wrists, and shoulders so violently distended as to be almost dislocated; blood constantly trickled down from the gaping wounds in his hands, and the flesh was so torn from his ribs that you might almost count them. His legs and thighs, as also his arms, were stretched out almost to dislocation, the flesh and muscles so completely laid bare that every bone was visible, and his whole body covered with black, green, and reeking wounds. The blood which flowed from his wounds was at first red, but it became by degrees light and watery, and the whole appearance of his body was that of a corpse ready for interment. And yet, notwithstanding the horrible wounds with which he was covered, notwithstanding the state of ignominy to which he was reduced, there still remained that inexpressible look of dignity and goodness which had ever filled all beholders with awe.
 
    The complexion of our Lord was fair, like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposure to the weather during the last three years had tanned him considerably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St. John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy; his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case with those who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long, with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his hands beautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although not delicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of a man who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with a well-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large and high; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of a golden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over his shoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed and divided under the chin. When I contemplated him on the cross, his hair was almost all torn off, and what remained was matted and clotted with blood; his body was one wound, and every limb seemed as if dislocated. 
    The crosses of the two thieves were placed, the one to the right and the other to the left of Jesus; there was sufficient space left for a horseman to ride between them. Nothing can be imagined more distressing than the appearance of the thieves on their crosses; they suffered terribly, and the one on the left-hand side never ceased cursing and swearing. The cords with which they were tied were very tight, and caused great pain; their countenances were livid, and their eyes inflamed and ready to start from the sockets. The height of the crosses of the two thieves was much less than that of our Lord.
 
 

CHAPTER XLII
First Word of Jesus on the Cross



     As soon as the executioners had crucified the two thieves and divided the garments of Jesus between them, they gathered up their tools, addressed a few more insulting words to our Lord, and went away. The Pharisees, likewise, rode up to Jesus, looked at him scornfully, made use of some opprobrious expressions, and then left the place. The Roman soldiers, of whom a hundred had been posted round Calvary, were marched away, and their places filled by fifty others, the command of whom was given to Abenadar, an Arab by birth, who afterwards took the name of Ctésiphon in baptism; and the second in command was Cassius, who, when he became a Christian, was known by the name of Longinus: Pilate frequently made use of him as a messenger. Twelve Pharisees, twelve Sadducees, as many Scribes, and a few Ancients, accompanied by those Jews who had been endeavouring to persuade Pilate to change the inscription on the Cross of Jesus, then came up: they were furious, as the Roman governor had given them a direct refusal. They rode round the platform, and drove away the Blessed Virgin, whom St. John led to the holy women. When they passed the Cross of Jesus, they shook their heads disdainfully at him, exclaiming at the same time, ‘Vah! thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself, coming down from the Cross. Let Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the Cross, that we may see and believe.’ The soldiers, likewise, made use of deriding language.
    The countenance and whole body of Jesus became even more colourless: he appeared to be on the point of fainting, and Gesmas (the wicked thief) exclaimed, ‘The demon by whom he is possessed is about to leave him.’ A soldier then took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, put it on a reed, and presented it to Jesus, who appeared to drink. ‘If thou art the King of the Jews,’ said the soldier, ‘save thyself, coming down from the Cross.’ These things took place during the time that the first band of soldiers was being relieved by that of Abenadar. Jesus raised his head a little, and said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And Gesmas cried out, ‘If thou art the Christ, save thyself and us.’ Dismas (the good thief) was silent, but he was deeply moved at the prayer of Jesus for his enemies. When Mary heard the voice of her Son, unable to restrain herself, she rushed forward, followed by John, Salome, and Mary of Cleophas, and approached the Cross, which the kind-hearted centurion did not prevent. The prayers of Jesus obtained for the good thief a most powerful grace; he suddenly remembered that it was Jesus and Mary who had cured him of leprosy in his childhood, and he exclaimed in a loud and clear voice, ‘How can you insult him when he prays for you? He has been silent, and suffered all your outrages with patience; he is truly a Prophet—he is our King—he is the Son of God.’ This unexpected reproof from the lips of a miserable malefactor who was dying on a cross caused a tremendous commotion among the spectators; they gathered up stones, and wished to throw them at him; but the centurion Abenadar would not allow it.
    The Blessed Virgin was much comforted and strengthened by the prayer of Jesus, and Dismas said to Gesmas, who was still blaspheming Jesus, ‘Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation. And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. Remember thou art now at the point of death, and repent.’ He was enlightened and touched: he confessed his sins to Jesus, and said: ‘Lord, if thou condemnest me it will be with justice.’ And Jesus replied, ‘Thou shalt experience my mercy.’ Dismas, filled with the most perfect contrition, began instantly to thank God for the great graces he had received, and to reflect over the manifold sins of his past life. All these events took place between twelve and the half-hour shortly after the crucifixion; but such a surprising change had taken place in the appearance of nature during that time as to astonish the beholders and fill their minds with awe and terror.
 
 

CHAPTER XLIII
Eclipse of the Sun.—Second and Third Word of Jesus on the Cross



    A LITTLE hail had fallen at about ten o’clock,—when Pilate was passing sentence,—and after that the weather cleared up, until towards twelve, when the thick red-looking fog began to obscure the sun. Towards the sixth hour, according to the manner of counting of the Jews, the sun was suddenly darkened. I was shown the exact cause of this wonderful phenomenon; but I have unfortunately partly forgotten it, and what I have not forgotten I cannot find words to express; but I was lifted up from the earth, and beheld the stars and the planets moving about out of their proper spheres. I saw the moon like an immense ball of fire rolling along as if flying from the earth. I was then suddenly taken back to Jerusalem, and I beheld the moon reappear behind the Mountain of Olives, looking pale and full, and advancing rapidly towards the sun, which was dim and over shrouded by a fog. I saw to the east of the sun a large dark body which had the appearance of a mountain, and which soon entirely hid the sun. The centre of this body was dark yellow, and a red circle like a ring of fire was round it. The sky grew darker and the stars appeared to cast a red and lurid light. Both men and beasts were struck with terror; the enemies of Jesus ceased reviling him, while the Pharisees endeavoured to give philosophical reasons for what was taking place, but they failed in their attempt, and were reduced to silence. Many were seized with remorse, struck their breasts, and cried out, ‘May his blood fall upon his murderers!’ Numbers of others, whether near the Cross or at a distance, fell on their knees and entreated forgiveness of Jesus, who turned his eyes compassionately upon them in the midst of his sufferings. However, the darkness continued to increase, and every one excepting Mary and the most faithful among the friends of Jesus left the Cross. Dismas then raised his head, and in a tone of humility and hope said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.’ And Jesus made answer, ‘Amen, I say to thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’ Magdalen, Mary of Cleophas, and John stood near the Cross of our Lord and looked at him, while the Blessed Virgin, filled with intense feelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to die with him, but he, casting a look of ineffable tenderness upon her, turned to John and said, ‘Woman, behold thy son;’ then he said to John, ‘Behold thy mother’ John looked at his dying Redeemer, and saluted this beloved mother (whom he henceforth considered as his own) in the most respectful manner. The Blessed Virgin was so overcome by grief at these words of Jesus that she almost fainted, and was carried to a short distance from the Cross by the holy women.
 

    I do not know whether Jesus really pronounced these words, but I felt interiorly that he gave Mary to John as a mother, and John to Mary as a son. In similar visions a person is often conscious of things which are not written, and words can only express a portion of them, although to the individual to whom they are shown they are so clear as not to require explanation. For this reason it did not appear to me in the least surprising that Jesus should call the Blessed Virgin ‘Woman, instead of ‘Mother.’ I felt that he intended to demonstrate that she was that woman spoken of in Scripture who was to crush the head of the serpent, and that then was the moment in which that promise was accomplished in the death of her Son. I knew that Jesus, by giving her as a mother to John, gave her also as a mother to all who believe in him, who become children of God, and are not born of flesh and blood, or of the will of man, but of God. Neither did it appear to me surprising that the most pure, the most humble, and the most obedient among women, who, when saluted by the angel as ‘full of grace,’ immediately replied, ‘Behold Me handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word,’ and in whose sacred womb the Word was instantly made flesh,—that she, when informed by her dying Son that she was to become the spiritual mother of another son, should repeat the same words with humble obedience, and immediately adopt as her children all the children of God, the brothers of Jesus Christ. These things are much easier to feel by the grace of God than to be expressed in words. I remember my celestial Spouse once saying to me, ‘Everything is imprinted in the hearts of those children of the Church who believe, hope, and love.’
 
 

CHAPTER XLIV
The Fear felt by the Inhabitants of Jerusalem.—Fourth Word of Jesus on the Cross



    IT was about half-past one o’clock when I was taken into Jerusalem to see what was going on there. The inhabitants were perfectly overcome with terror and anxiety; the streets dark and gloomy, and some persons were feeling their way about, while others, seated on the ground with their heads veiled, struck their breasts, or went up to the roofs of their houses, looked at the sky, and burst forth in bitter lamentations. Even the animals uttered mournful cries, and hid themselves; the birds flew low, and fell to the ground. I saw Pilate conferring with Herod on the alarming state of things: they were both extremely agitated, and contemplated the appearance of the sky from that terrace upon which Herod was standing when he delivered up Jesus to be insulted by the infuriated rabble. ‘These events are not in the common course of nature,’ they both exclaimed: ‘they must be caused by the anger of the gods, who are displeased at the cruelty which has been exercised towards Jesus of Nazareth.’ Pilate and Herod, surrounded by guards, then directed their hasty trembling steps through the forum to Herod’s palace. Pilate turned away his head when he passed Gabbatha, from whence he had condemned Jesus to be crucified, the square was almost empty; a few persons might be seen re-entering their houses as quickly as possible, and a few others running about and weeping, while two or three small groups might be distinguished in the distance. Pilate sent for some of the Ancients and asked them what they thought the astounding darkness could possibly portend, and said that he himself considered it a terrific proof of the anger of their God at the crucifixion of the Galilean, who was most certainly their prophet and their king: he added that he had nothing to reproach himself with on that head, for he had washed his hands of the whole affair, and was, therefore, quite innocent. The Ancients were as hardened as ever, and replied, in a sullen tone, that there was nothing unnatural in the course of events, that they might be easily accounted for by philosophers, and that they did not repent of anything they had done. However, many persons were converted, and among others those soldiers who fell to the ground at the words of our Lord when they were sent to arrest him in the Garden of Olives.
 
    The rabble assembled before Pilate’s house, and instead of the cry of ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ which had resounded in the morning, you might have heard vociferations of ‘Down with the iniquitous judge!’ ‘May the blood of the just man fall upon his murderers!’ Pilate was much alarmed; he sent for additional guards, and endeavoured to cast all the blame upon the Jews. He again declared that the crime was not his; that he was no subject of this Jesus, whom they had put to death unjustly, and who was their king, their prophet, their Holy One; that they alone were guilty, as it must be evident to all that he condemned Jesus solely from compulsion.
    The Temple was thronged with Jews, who were intent on the immolation of the Paschal lamb; but when the darkness increased to such a degree that it was impossible to distinguish the countenance of one from that of the other, they were seized with fear, horror, and dread, which they expressed by mournful cries and lamentations. The High Priests endeavoured to maintain order and quiet. All the lamps were lighted; but the confusion became greater every moment, and Annas appeared perfectly paralysed with terror. I saw him endeavouring to hide first in one place, and then in another. When I left the Temple, and walked through the streets, I remarked that, although not a breath of wind was stirring, yet both the doors and windows of the houses were shaking as if in a storm, and the darkness was becoming every moment more dense.
 
     The consternation produced by the sudden darkness at Mount Calvary was indescribable. When it first commenced, the confusion of the noise of the hammers, the vociferations of the rabble, the cries of the two thieves on being fastened to their crosses, the insulting speeches of the Pharisees, the evolutions of the soldiers, and the drunken shouts of the executioners, had so completely engrossed the attention of every one, that the change which was gradually coming over the face of nature was not remarked; but as the darkness increased, every sound ceased, each voice was hushed, and remorse and terror took possession of every heart, while the bystanders retired one by one to a distance from the Cross. Then it was that Jesus gave his Mother to St. John, and that she, overcome by grief, was carried away to a short distance. As the darkness continued to grow more and more dense, the silence became perfectly astounding; every one appeared terror-struck; some looked at the sky, while others, filled with remorse, turned towards the Cross, smote their breasts, and were converted. Although the Pharisees were in reality quite as much alarmed as other persons, yet they endeavoured at first to put a bold face on the matter, and declared that they could see nothing unaccountable in these events; but at last even they lost assurance, and were reduced to silence. The disc of the sun was of a dark-yellow tint, rather resembling a mountain when viewed by moonlight, and it was surrounded by a bright fiery ring; the stars appeared, but the light they cast was red and lurid; the birds were so terrified as to drop to the ground; the beasts trembled and moaned; the horses and the asses of the Pharisees crept as close as possible to one another, and put their heads between their legs. The thick fog penetrated everything.
 

    Stillness reigned around the Cross. Jesus hung upon it alone; forsaken by all,—disciples, followers, friends, his Mother even was removed from his side; not one person of the thousands upon whom he had lavished benefits was near to offer him the slightest alleviation in his bitter agony,—his soul was overspread with an indescribable feeling of bitterness and grief,—all within him was dark, gloomy, and wretched. The darkness which reigned around was but symbolical of that which overspread his interior; he turned, nevertheless, to his Heavenly Father, he prayed for his enemies, he offered the chalice of his sufferings for their redemption, he continued to pray as he had done during the whole of his Passion, and repeated portions of those Psalms the prophecies of which were then receiving their accomplishment in him. I saw angels standing around. Again I looked at Jesus—my beloved Spouse—on his Cross, agonising and dying, yet still in dreary solitude. He at that moment endured anguish which no mortal pen can describe,—he felt that suffering which would overwhelm a poor weak mortal if deprived at once of all consolation, both divine and human, and then compelled, without refreshment, assistance, or light, to traverse the stormy desert of tribulation upheld by faith, hope, and charity alone.
 

    His sufferings were inexpressible; but it was by them that he merited for us the grace necessary to resist those temptations to despair which will assail us at the hour of death,—that tremendous hour when we shall feel that we are about to leave all that is dear to us here below. When our minds, weakened by disease, have lost the power of reasoning, and even our hopes of mercy and forgiveness are become, as it were, enveloped in mist and uncertainty, —then it is that we must fly to Jesus, unite our feelings of desolation with that indescribable dereliction which he endured upon the Cross, and be certain of obtaining a glorious victory over our infernal enemies. Jesus then offered to his Eternal Father his poverty, his dereliction, his labours, and, above all, the bitter sufferings which our ingratitude had caused him to endure in expiation for our sins and weaknesses; no one, therefore, who is united to Jesus in the bosom of his Church must despair at the awful moment preceding his exit from this life, even if he be deprived of all sensible light and comfort; for he must then remember that the Christian is no longer obliged to enter this dark desert alone and unprotected, as Jesus has cast his own interior and exterior dereliction on the Cross into this gulf of desolation, consequently he will not be left to cope alone with death, or be suffered to leave this world in desolation of spirit, deprived of heavenly consolation. All fear of loneliness and despair in death must therefore be cast away; for Jesus, who is our true light, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, has preceded us on that dreary road, has overspread it with blessings, and raised his Cross upon it, one glance at which will calm our every fear. Jesus then (if we may so express ourselves) made his last testament in the presence of his Father, and bequeathed the merits of his Death and Passion to the Church and to sinners. Not one erring soul was forgotten; he thought of each and every one; praying, likewise, even for those heretics who have endeavoured to prove that, being God, he did not suffer as a man would have suffered in his place. The cry which he allowed to pass his lips in the height of his agony was intended not only to show the excess of the sufferings he was then enduring, but likewise to encourage all afflicted souls who acknowledge God as their Father to lay their sorrows with filial confidence at his feet. It was towards three o’clock when he cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani?’ ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ These words of our Lord interrupted the dead silence which had continued so long; the Pharisees turned towards him, and one of them said, ‘Behold, he calleth Elias;’ and another, ‘Let us see whether Elias will come to deliver him.’ When Mary heard the voice of her divine Son, she was unable to restrain herself any longer, but rushed forwards, and returned to the foot of the Cross, followed by John, Mary the daughter of Cleophas, Mary Magdalen, and Salome. A troop of about thirty horsemen from Judaea and the environs of Joppa, who were on their way to Jerusalem for the festival, passed by just at the time when all was silent round the Cross, both assistants and spectators being transfixed with terror and apprehension. When they beheld Jesus hanging on the Cross, saw the cruelty with which he had been treated, and remarked the extraordinary signs of God’s wrath which overspread the face of nature, they were filled with horror and exclaimed, ‘If the Temple of God were not in Jerusalem, the city should be burned to the ground for having taken upon itself so fearful a crime.’ These words from the lips of strangers—strangers too who bore the appearance of persons of rank—made a great impression on bystanders, and loud murmurs and exclamations of grief were heard on all sides; some individuals gathered together in groups, most freely to indulge their sorrow, although a certain portion of the crowd continued to b1aspheme and revile all around them. The Pharisees were compelled to assume a more humble tone, for they feared an insurrection among the people, being well aware of the great existing excitement among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They therefore held a consultation with Abenadar, the centurion, and agreed with him that the gate of the city, which was in the vicinity, should be closed, in order to prevent farther communication, and that they should send to Pilate and Herod for 500 men to guard against the chance of an insurrection, the centurion, in the meantime, doing all in his power to maintain order, and preventing the Pharisees from insulting Jesus, lest it should exasperate the people still more.
    Shortly after three o’clock the light 

reappeared in a degree, the moon began to pass away from the disc of the sun, while the sun again shone forth, although its appearance was dim, being surrounded by a species of red mist; by degrees it became more bright, and the stars vanished, but the sky was still gloomy. The enemies of Jesus soon recovered their arrogant spirit when they saw the light returning; and it was then that they exclaimed, ‘Behold, he calleth Elias.’
 

CHAPTER XLV
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Words of Jesus on the Cross.—His Death



    THE light continued to return by degrees, and the livid exhausted countenance of our Lord again became visible. His body was become much more white from the quantity of blood he had lost; and I heard him exclaim, ‘I am pressed as the grape, which is trodden in the winepress. My blood shall be poured out until water cometh, but wine shall here be made no more.’ I cannot be sure whether he really pronounced these words, so as to be heard by others, or whether they were only an answer given to my interior prayer. I afterwards had a vision relating to these words, and in it I saw Japhet making wine in this place.
    Jesus was almost fainting; his tongue was parched, and he said: ‘I thirst.’ The disciples who ware standing round the Cross looked at him with the deepest expression of sorrow, and he added, ‘Could you not have given me a little water?’ By these words he gave them to understand that no one would have prevented them from doing so during the darkness. John was filled with remorse, and replied: ‘We did not think of doing so, O Lord.’ Jesus pronounced a few more words, the import of which was: ‘My friends and my neighbours were also to forget me, and not give me to drink, that so what was written concerning me might be fulfilled.’ This omission had afflicted him very much. The disciples then offered money to the soldiers to obtain permission to give him a little water: they refused to give it, but dipped a sponge in vinegar and gall, and were about to offer it to Jesus, when the centurion Abenadar, whose heart was touched with compassion, took it from them, squeezed out the gall, poured some fresh vinegar upon it, and fastening it to a reed, put the reed at the end of a lance, and presented it for Jesus to drink. I heard our Lord say several other things, but I only remember these words: ‘When my voice shall be silent, the mouths of the dead shall be opened.’ Some of the bystanders cried out: ‘He blasphemeth again.’ But Abenadar compelled them to be silent.


 
    The hour of our Lord was at last come; his death-struggle had commenced; a cold sweat overspread every limb. John stood at the foot of the Cross, and wiped the feet of Jesus with his scapular. Magdalen was crouched to the ground in a perfect frenzy of grief behind the Cross. The Blessed Virgin stood between Jesus and the good thief, supported by Salome and Mary of Cleophas, with her eyes riveted on the countenance of her dying Son. Jesus then said: ‘It is consummated;’ and, raising his head, cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ These words, which he uttered in a clear and thrilling tone, resounded through heaven and earth; and a moment after, he bowed down his head and gave up the ghost. I saw his soul, under the appearance of a bright meteor, penetrate the earth at the foot of the Cross. John and the holy women fell prostrate on the ground. The centurion Abenadar had kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on the disfigured countenance of our Lord, and was perfectly overwhelmed by all that had taken place. When our Lord pronounced his last words, before expiring, in a loud tone, the earth trembled, and the rock of Calvary burst asunder, forming a deep chasm between the Cross of our Lord and that of Gesmas. The voice of God—that solemn and terrible voice—had re-echoed through the whole universe; it had broken the solemn silence which then pervaded all nature. All was accomplished. The soul of our Lord had left his body: his last cry had filled every breast with terror. The convulsed earth had paid homage to its Creator: the sword of grief had pierced the hearts of those who loved him. This moment was the moment of grace for Abenadar; his horse trembled under him; his heart was touched; it was rent like the hard rock; he threw his lance to a distance, struck his breast, and cried out: ‘Blessed be the Most High God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; indeed this Man was the Son of God!’ His words convinced many among the soldiers, who followed his example, and were likewise converted.
 
    Abenadar became from this moment a new man; he adored the true God, and would no longer serve his enemies. He gave both his horse and his lance to a subaltern of the name of Longinus, who, having addressed a few words to the soldiers, mounted his horse, and took the command upon himself. Abenadar then left Calvary, and went through the Valley of Gihon to the caves in the Valley of Hinnom, where the disciples were hidden, announced the death of our Lord to them, and then went to the town, in order to see Pilate. No sooner had Abenadar rendered public testimony of his belief in the divinity of Jesus, than a large number of soldiers followed his example, as did also some of the bystanders, and even a few Pharisees. Many struck their breasts, wept, and returned home, while others rent their garments, and cast dust on their heads, and all were filled with horror and fear. John arose; and some of the holy women who were at a short distance came up to the Blessed Virgin, and led her away from the foot of the Cross.


    When Jesus, the Lord of life and death, gave up his soul into the hands of his Father, and allowed death to take possession of his body, this sacred body trembled and turned lividly white; the countless wounds which were covered with congealed blood appeared like dark marks; his cheeks became more sunken, his nose more pointed, and his eyes, which were obscured with blood, remained but half open. He raised his weary head, which was still crowned with thorns, for a moment, and then dropped it again in agony of pain; while his parched and torn lips, only partially closed, showed his bloody and swollen tongue. At the moment of death his hands, which were at one time contracted round the nails, opened and returned to their natural size, as did also his arms; his body became stiff, and the whole weight was thrown upon the feet, his knees bent, and his feet twisted a little on one side.
 

    What words can, alas, express the deep grief of the Blessed Virgin? Her eyes closed, a death-like tint overspread her countenance; unable to stand, she fell to the ground, but was soon lifted up, and supported by John, Magdalen, and the others. She looked once more upon her beloved Son—that Son whom she had conceived by the Holy Ghost, the flesh of her flesh, the bone of her bone, the heart of her heart—hanging on a cross between two thieves; crucified, dishonoured, condemned by those whom he came on earth to save; and well might she at this moment be termed ‘the queen of martyrs.’ 
    The sun still looked dim and suffused with mist; and during the time of the earthquake the air was close and oppressive, but by degrees it became more clear and fresh.
    It was about three o’clock when Jesus expired. The Pharisees were at first much alarmed at the earthquake; but when the first shock was over they recovered themselves, began to throw stones into the chasm, and tried to measure its depth with ropes. Finding, however, that they could not fathom its bottom, they became thoughtful, listened anxiously to the groans of the penitents, who were lamenting and striking their breasts, and then left Calvary. Many among the spectators were really converted, and the greatest part returned to Jerusalem perfectly overcome with fear. Roman soldiers were placed at the gates, and in other principal parts of the city, to prevent the possibility of an insurrection. Cassius remained on Calvary with about fifty soldiers. The friends of Jesus stood round the Cross, contemplated our Lord, and wept; many among the holy women had returned to their homes, and all were silent and overcome with grief.

The Via Dolorosa from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 

CHAPTER XXXI
The First Fall of Jesus


    THE street of which we have just spoken, after turning a little to the left, became rather steep, as also wider, a subterranean aqueduct proceeding from Mount Sion passed under it, and in its vicinity was a hollow which was often filled with water and mud after rain, and a large stone was placed in its centre to enable persons to pass over more easily. When Jesus reached this spot, his strength was perfectly exhausted; he was quite unable to move; and as the archers dragged and pushed him without showing the slightest compassion, he fell quite down against this stone, and the cross fell by his side. The cruel executioners were obliged to stop, they abused and struck him unmercifully, but the whole procession came to a standstill, which caused a degree of confusion. Vainly did he hold out his hand for some one to assist him to rise: ‘Ah!’ he exclaimed, ‘all will soon be over;’ and he prayed for his enemies. ‘Lift him up,’ said the Pharisees, ‘otherwise he will die in our hands.’ There were many women and children following the procession; the former wept, and the latter were frightened. Jesus, however, received support from above, and raised his head; but these cruel men, far from endeavouring to alleviate his sufferings, put the crown of thorns again on his head before they pulled him out of the mud, and no sooner was he once more on his feet than they replaced the cross on his back. The crown of thorns which encircled his head increased his pain inexpressibly, and obliged him to bend on one side to give room for the cross, which lay heavily on his shoulders.

 

CHAPTER XXXII
The Second Fall of Jesus

 
    THE afflicted Mother of Jesus had left the forum, accompanied by John and some other women, immediately after the unjust sentence was pronounced. She had employed herself in walking to many of the spots sanctified by our Lord and watering them with her tears; but when the sound of the trumpet, the rush of people, and the clang of the horsemen announced that the procession was about to start for Calvary, she could not resist her longing desire to behold her beloved Son once more, and she begged John to take her to some place through which he must pass. John conducted her to a palace, which had an entrance in that street which Jesus traversed after his first fall; it was, I believe, the residence of the high priest Caiphas, whose tribunal was in the division called Sion. John asked and obtained leave from a kind-hearted servant to stand at the entrance mentioned above, with Mary and her companions. The Mother of God was pale, her eyes were red with weeping, and she was closely wrapped in a cloak of a bluish-grey colour. The clamour and insulting speeches of the enraged multitude might be plainly heard; and a herald at that moment proclaimed in a loud voice, that three criminals were about to be crucified. The servant opened the door; the dreadful sounds became more distinct every moment; and Mary threw herself on her knees. After praying fervently, she turned to John and said, ‘Shall I remain? ought I to go away? shall I have strength to support such a sight?’ John made answer, ‘If you do not remain to see him pass, you will grieve afterwards.’ They remained therefore near the door, with their eyes fixed on the procession, which was still distant, but advancing by slow degrees. When those who were carrying the instruments for the execution approached, and the Mother of Jesus saw their insolent and triumphant looks, she could not control her feelings, but joined her hands as if to implore the help of heaven; upon which one among them said to his companions: ‘What woman is that who is uttering such lamentations?’ Another answered: ‘She is the Mother of the Galilean.’ When the cruel men heard this, far from being moved to compassion, they began to make game of the grief of this most afflicted Mother: they pointed at her, and one of them took the nails which were to be used for fastening Jesus to the cross, and presented them to her in an insulting manner; but she turned away, fixed her eyes upon Jesus, who was drawing near, and leant against the pillar for support, lest she should again faint from grief, for her cheeks were as pale as death, and her lips almost blue. The Pharisees on horseback passed by first, followed by the boy who carried the inscription. Then came her beloved Son. He was almost sinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, still crowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. He cast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered, and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary was perfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she saw neither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but her dearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midst of the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herself on her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heard were, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’ but I do not know whether these words were really uttered, or whether they were only in my own mind.
 
    A momentary confusion ensued. John and the holy women endeavoured to raise Mary from the ground, and the archers reproached her, one of them saying, ‘What hast thou to do here, woman? He would not have been in our hands if he had been better brought up.’
    A few of the soldiers looked touched; and, although they obliged the Blessed Virgin to retire to the doorway, not one laid hands upon her. John and the women surrounded her as she fell half fainting against a stone, which was near the doorway, and upon which the impression of her hands remained. This stone was very hard, and was afterwards removed to the first Catholic church built in Jerusalem, near the Pool of Bethsaida, during the time that St. James the Less was Bishop of that city. The two disciples who were with the Mother of Jesus carried her into the house, and the door was shut. In the meantime the archers had raised Jesus, and obliged him to carry the cross in a different manner. Its arms being unfastened from the centre, and entangled in the ropes with which he was bound, he supported them on his arm, and by this means the weight of the body of the cross was a little taken off, as it dragged more on the ground. I saw numbers of persons standing about in groups, the greatest part amusing themselves by insulting our Lord in different ways, but a few veiled females were weeping.

CHAPTER XXXIII
Simon of Cyrene.—Third Fall of Jesus


 The procession had reached an arch formed in an old wall belonging to the town, opposite to a square, in which three streets terminated, when Jesus stumbled against a large stone which was placed in the middle of the archway, the cross slipped from his shoulder, he fell upon the stone, and was totally unable to rise. Many respectable looking persons who were on their way to the Temple stopped, and exclaimed compassionately: ‘Look at that poor man, he is certainly dying!’ but his enemies showed no compassion. This fall caused a fresh delay, as our Lord could not stand up again, and the Pharisees said to the soldiers: ‘We shall never get him to the place of execution alive, if you do not find some one to carry his cross.’ At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them. Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight; and when all was arranged, the procession moved forward. Simon was a stout-looking man, apparently about forty years of age. His children were dressed in tunics made of a variegated material; the two eldest, named Rufus and Alexander, afterwards joined the disciples; the third was much younger, but a few years later went to live with St. Stephen. Simon had not carried the cross after Jesus any length of time before he felt his heart deeply touched by grace.
 
 

CHAPTER XXXIV
The Veil of Veronica


 While the procession was passing through a long street, an incident took place which made a strong impression upon Simon. Numbers of respectable persons were hurrying towards the Temple, of whom many got out of the way when they saw Jesus, from a Pharisaical fear of defilement, while others, on the contrary, stopped and expressed pity for his sufferings. But when the procession had advanced about two hundred steps from the spot where Simon began to assist our Lord in carrying his cross, the door of a beautiful house on the left opened, and a woman of majestic appearance, holding a young girl by the hand, came out, and walked up to the very head of the procession. Seraphia was the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront the enraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of the councillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known by the name of Veronica, which name was given from the words vera icon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on this day.
    Seraphia had prepared some excellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present to our Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She had been standing in the street for some time, and at last went back into the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, enveloped in a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of age whom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewise hanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide the jar of wine when the procession approached. Those who were marching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; but she made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers, reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented the veil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the face of my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped his bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it, and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered the wine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it. The suddenness of this courageous act of Seraphia had surprised the guards, and caused a momentary although unintentional halt, of which she had taken advantage to present the veil to her Divine Master. Both the Pharisees and the guards were greatly exasperated, not only by the sudden halt, but much more by the public testimony of veneration which was thus paid to Jesus, and they revenged themselves by striking and abusing him, while Seraphia returned in haste to her house.
 
    No sooner did she reach her room than she placed the woollen veil on a table, and fell almost senseless on her knees. A friend who entered the room a short time after, found her thus kneeling, with the child weeping by her side, and saw, to his astonishment, the bloody countenance of our Lord imprinted upon the veil, a perfect likeness, although heartrending and painful to look upon. He roused Seraphia, and pointed to the veil. She again knelt down before it, and exclaimed through her tears, ‘Now I shall indeed leave all with a happy heart, for my Lord has given me a remembrance of himself.’ The texture of this veil was a species of very fine wool; it was three times the length of its width, and was generally worn on the shoulders. It was customary to present these veils to persons who were in affliction, or over-fatigued, or ill, that they might wipe their faces with them, and it was done in order to express sympathy or compassion. Veronica kept this veil until her death, and hung it at the head of her bed; it was then given to the Blessed Virgin, who left it to the Apostles, and they afterwards passed it on to the Church.
 
 
     Seraphia and John the Baptist were cousins, her father and Zacharias being brothers. When Joachim and Anna brought the Blessed Virgin, who was then only four years old, up to Jerusalem, to place her among the virgins in the Temple, they lodged in the house of Zacharias, which was situated near the fish-market. Seraphia was at least five years older than the Blessed Virgin, was present at her marriage with St. Joseph, and was likewise related to the aged Simeon, who prophesied when the Child Jesus was put into his arms. She was brought up with his sons, both of whom, as well as Seraphia, he imbued with his ardent desire of seeing our Lord. When Jesus was twelve years old, and remained teaching in the Temple, Seraphia, who was not then married, sent food for him every day to a little inn, a quarter of a mile from Jerusalem, where he dwelt when he was not in the Temple. Mary went there for two days, when on her way from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to offer her Child in the Temple. The two old men who kept this inn were Essenians, and well acquainted with the Holy Family; it contained a kind of foundation for the poor, and Jesus and his disciples often went there for a night’s lodging.
    Seraphia married rather late in life; her husband, Sirach, was descended from the chaste Susannah, and was a member of the Sanhedrim. He was at first greatly opposed to our Lord, and his wife suffered much on account of her attachment to Jesus, and to the holy women, but Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus brought him to a better state of feeling, and he allowed Seraphia to follow our Lord. When Jesus was unjustly accused in the court of Caiphas, the husband of Seraphia joined with Joseph and Nicodemus in attempts to obtain the liberation of our Lord, and all three resigned their seats in the Council.
    Seraphia was about fifty at the time of the triumphant procession of our Lord when he entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and I then saw her take off her veil and spread it on the ground for him to walk upon. It was this same veil, which she presented to Jesus, at this his second procession, a procession which outwardly appeared to be far less glorious, but was in fact much more so. This veil obtained for her the name of Veronica, and it is still shown for the veneration of the faithful.

 

CHAPTER XXXV
The Fourth and Fifth Falls of Jesus.—The Daughters of Jerusalem


    THE procession was still at some distance from the south-west gate, which was large, and attached to the fortifications, and the street was rough and steep; it had first to pass under a vaulted arch, then over a bridge, and finally under a second arch. The wall on the left side of the gate runs first in a southerly direction, then deviates a little to the west, and finally runs to the south behind Mount Sion. When the procession was near this gate, the brutal archers shoved Jesus into a stagnant pool, which was close to it; Simon of Cyrene, in his endeavours to avoid the pool, gave the cross a twist, which caused Jesus to fall down for the fourth time in the midst of the dirty mud, and Simon had the greatest difficulty in lifting up the cross again. Jesus then exclaimed in a tone which, although clear, was moving and sad: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not?’ When the Pharisees heard these words, they became still more angry, and recommencing their insults and blows endeavoured to force him to get up out of the mud. Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed, ‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me for it.’
 

     A narrow and stony path was visible as soon as the gate was passed, and this path ran in a northerly direction, and led to Calvary. The high road from which it deviates divided shortly after into three branches, one to the southwest, which led to Bethlehem, through the vale of Gihon; a second to the south towards Emmaus and Joppa; a third, likewise to the south-west, wound round Calvary, and terminated at the gate which led to Bethsur. A person standing at the gate through which Jesus was led might easily see the gate of Bethlehem. The officers had fastened an inscription upon a post which stood at the commencement of the road to Calvary, to inform those who passed by that Jesus and the two thieves were condemned to death. A group of women had gathered together near this spot, and were weeping and lamenting; many carried young children in their arms; the greatest part were young maidens and women from Jerusalem, who had preceded the procession, but a few came from Bethlehem, from Hebron, and from other neighbouring places, in order to celebrate the Pasch.
    Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground. When the women and children of whom we have spoken above, saw the deplorable condition to which our Lord was reduced, they uttered loud cries, wept, and, according to the Jewish custom, presented him cloths to wipe his face. Jesus turned towards them and said: ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days shall come wherein they will say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the paps that have not given suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us, and to the hills, Cover us. For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?’ He then addressed a few words of consolation to them, which I do not exactly remember.  
    The procession made a momentary halt. The executioners, who set off first, had reached Calvary with the instruments for the execution, and were followed by a hundred of the Roman soldiers who had started with Pilate; he only accompanied the procession as far as the gateway, and returned to the town.
 


CHAPTER XXXVI
Jesus on Mount Golgotha.—Sixth and Seventh Falls of Jesus


    The procession again moved on; the road was very steep and rough between the walls of the town and Calvary, and Jesus had the greatest difficulty in walking with his heavy burden on his shoulders; but his cruel enemies, far from feeling the slightest compassion, or giving the least assistance, continued to urge him on by the infliction of hard blows, and the utterance of dreadful curses. At last they reached a spot where the pathway turned suddenly to the south; here he stumbled and fell for the sixth time. The fall was a dreadful one, but the guards only struck him the harder to force him to get up, and no sooner did he reach Calvary than he sank down again for the seventh time.


    Simon of Cyrene was filled with indignation and pity; notwithstanding his fatigue, he wished to remain that he might assist Jesus, but the archers first reviled, and then drove him away, and he soon after joined the body of disciples. The executioners then ordered the workmen and the boys who had carried the instruments for the execution to depart, and the Pharisees soon arrived, for they were on horseback, and had taken the smooth and easy road which ran to the east of Calvary. There was a fine view of the whole town of Jerusalem from the top of Calvary. This top was circular, and about the size of an ordinary riding-school, surrounded by a low wall, and with five separate entrances. This appeared to be the usual number in those parts, for there were five roads at the baths, at the place where they baptised, at the pool of Bethsaida, and there were likewise many towns with five gates. In this, as in many other peculiarities of the Holy Land, there was a deep prophetic signification; that number five, which so often occurred, was a type of those five sacred wounds of our Blessed Saviour, which were to open to us the gates of Heaven.
 
 
     The horsemen stopped on the west side of the mount, where the declivity was not so steep; for the side up which the criminals were brought was both rough and steep. About a hundred soldiers were stationed on different parts of the mountain, and as space was required, the thieves were not brought to the top, but ordered to halt before they reached it, and to lie on the ground with their arms fastened to their crosses. Soldiers stood around and guarded them, while crowds of persons who did not fear defiling themselves, stood near the platform or on the neighbouring heights; these were mostly of the lower classes—strangers, slaves, and pagans, and a number of them were women.
    It wanted about a quarter to twelve when Jesus, loaded with his cross, sank down at the precise spot where he was to be crucified. The barbarous executioners dragged him up by the cords which they had fastened round his waist, and then untied the arms of the cross, and threw them on the ground. The sight of our Blessed Lord at this moment was, indeed, calculated to move the hardest heart to compassion; he stood or rather bent over the cross, being scarcely able to support himself; his heavenly countenance was pale and wan as that of a person on the verge of death, although wounds and blood disfigured it to a frightful degree; but the hearts of these cruel men were, alas! harder than iron itself, and far from showing the slightest commiseration, they threw him brutally down, exclaiming in a jeering tone, ‘Most powerful king, we are about to prepare thy throne.’ Jesus immediately placed himself upon the cross, and they measured him and marked the places for his feet and hands, whilst the Pharisees continued to insult their unresisting Victim. When the measurement was finished, they led him to a cave cut in the rock, which had been used formerly as a cellar, opened the door, and pushed him in so roughly that had it not been for the support of angels, his legs must have been broken by so hard a fall on the rough stone floor. I most distinctly heard his groans of pain, but they closed the door quickly, and placed guards before it, and the archers continued their preparations for the crucifixion. The centre of the platform mentioned above was the most elevated part of Calvary,—it was a round eminence, about two feet high, and persons were obliged to ascend two or three steps to reach its top. The executioners dug the holes for the three crosses at the top of this eminence, and placed those intended for the thieves one on the right and the other on the left of our Lord’s; both were lower and more roughly made than his. They then carried the cross of our Saviour to the spot where they intended to crucify him, and placed it in such a position that it would easily fall into the hole prepared for it. They fastened the two arms strongly on to the body of the cross, nailed the board at the bottom which was to support the feet, bored the holes for the nails, and cut different hollows in the wood in the parts which would receive the head and back of our Lord, in order that his body might rest against the cross, instead of being suspended from it. Their aim in this was the prolongation of his tortures, for if the whole weight of his body was allowed to fall upon the hands the holes might be quite torn open, and death ensue more speedily than they desired. The executioners then drove into the ground the pieces of wood which were intended to keep the cross upright, and made a few other similar preparations.
 
 
 

CHAPTER XXXVII
The Departure of Mary and the Holy Women of Calvary


 Although the Blessed Virgin was carried away fainting after the sad meeting with her Son loaded with his cross, yet she soon recovered consciousness; for love, and the ardent desire of seeing him once more, imparted to her a supernatural feeling of strength. Accompanied by her companions she went to the house of Lazarus, which was at the bottom of the town, and where Martha, Magdalen, and many holy women were already assembled. All were sad and depressed, but Magdalen could not re- strain her tears and lamentations. They started from this house, about seventeen in number, to make the way of the cross, that is to say, to follow every step Jesus had taken in this most painful journey. Mary counted each footstep, and being interiorly enlightened, pointed out to her companions those places which had been consecrated by peculiar sufferings. Then did the sharp sword predicted by aged Simeon impress for the first time in the heart of Mary that touching devotion which has since been so constantly practised in the Church. Mary imparted it to her companions, and they in their turn left it to future generations,—a most precious gift indeed, bestowed by our Lord on his beloved Mother, and which passed from her heart to the hearts of her children through the revered voice of tradition.
 
 
    When these holy women reached the house of Veronica they entered it, because Pilate and his officers were at that moment passing through the street, on their way home. They burst forth into unrestrained tears when they beheld the countenance of Jesus imprinted on the veil, and they returned thanks to God for the favour he had bestowed on his faithful servant. They took the jar of aromatic wine which the Jews had prevented Jesus from drinking, and set off together towards Golgotha. Their number was considerably increased, for many pious men and women whom the sufferings of our Lord had filled with pity had joined them, and they ascended the west side of Calvary, as the declivity there was not so great. The Mother of Jesus, accompanied by her niece, Mary (the daughter of Cleophas), John, and Salome went quite up to the round platform; but Martha, Mary of Heli, Veronica, Johanna, Chusa, Susanna, and Mary, the mother of Mark, remained below with Magdalen, who could hardly support herself. Lower down on the mountain there was a third group of holy women, and there were a few scattered individuals between the three groups, who carried messages from one to the other. The Pharisees on horseback rode to and fro among the people, and the five entrances were guarded by Roman soldiers. Mary kept her eyes fixed on the fatal spot, and stood as if entranced,—it was indeed a sight calculated to appall and rend the heart of a mother. There lay the terrible cross, the hammers, the ropes, the nails, and alongside of these frightful instruments of torture stood the brutal executioners, half drunk, and almost without clothing, swearing and blaspheming, whilst making their preparations. The sufferings of the Blessed Virgin were greatly increased by her not being able to see her Son; she knew that he was still alive, and she felt the most ardent desire once more to behold him, while the thought of the torments he still had to endure made her heart ready to burst with grief.
    A little hail had been falling at times during the morning, but the sun came out again after ten o’clock, and a thick red fog began to obscure it towards twelve.