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.
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.
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.
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.