Jesus before Pilate
IT was about eight in the morning, according to our method of counting time, when the procession reached the palace of Pilate. Annas, Caiphas, and the chiefs of the Sanhedrim stopped at a part between the forum and the entrance to the Praetorium, where some stone seats were placed for them. The brutal guards dragged Jesus to the foot of the flight of stairs which led to the judgment-seat of Pilate. Pilate was reposing in a comfortable chair, on a terrace which overlooked the forum, and a small three-legged table stood by his side, on which was placed the insignia of his office, and a few other things. He was surrounded by officers and soldiers dressed with the magnificence usual in the Roman army. The Jews and the priests did not enter the Praetorium, for fear of defiling themselves, but remained outside.
When Pilate saw the tumultuous procession enter, and perceived how shamefully the cruel Jews had treated their prisoner, he arose, and addressed them in a tone as contemptuous as could have been assumed by a victorious general towards the vanquished chief of some insignificant village: What are you come about so early? Why have you ill-treated this prisoner so shamefully? Is it not possible to refrain from thus tearing to pieces and beginning to execute your criminals even before they are judged? They made no answer, but shouted out to the guards, Bring him onbring him to be judged! and then, turning to Pilate, they said, Listen to our accusations against this malefactor; for we cannot enter the tribunal lest we defile ourselves. Scarcely had they finished these words, when a voice was heard to issue from the midst of the dense multitude; it proceeded from a venerable-looking old man, of imposing stature, who exclaimed, You are right in not entering the Praetorium, for it has been sanctified by the blood of Innocents; there is but one Person who has a right to enter, and who alone can enter, because he alone is pure as the Innocents who were massacred there. The person who uttered these words in a loud voice, and then disappeared among the crowd, was a rich man of the name of Zadoc, first-cousin to Obed, the husband of Veronica; two of his children were among the Innocents whom Herod had caused to be butchered at the birth of our Saviour. Since that dreadful moment he had given up the world, and, together with his wife, followed the rules of the Essenians. He had once seen our Saviour at the house of Lazarus, and there heard him discourse, and the sight of the barbarous manner in which he was dragged before Pilate recalled to his mind all he himself had suffered when his babes were so cruelly murdered before his eyes, and he determined to give this public testimony of his belief in the innocence of Jesus. The persecutors of our Lord were far too provoked at the haughty manner which Pilate assumed towards them, and at the humble position they were obliged to occupy, to take any notice of the words of a stranger.
The brutal guards dragged our Lord up the marble staircase, and led him to the end of the terrace, from whence Pilate was conferring with the Jewish priests. The Roman governor had often heard of Jesus, although he had never seen him, and now he was perfectly astonished at the calm dignity of deportment of a man brought before him in so pitiable a condition. The inhuman behaviour of the priests and ancients both exasperated him and increased his contempt for them, and he informed them pretty quickly that he had not the slightest intention of condemning Jesus without satisfactory proofs of the truth of their accusations. What accusation do you bring against this man? said he, addressing the priests in the most scornful tone possible. If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up to thee, replied the priests sullenly. Take him, said Pilate, and judge you him according to your law. Thou knowest well, replied they, that it is not lawful for us to condemn any man to death. The enemies of Jesus were furiousthey wished to have the trial finished off, and their victim executed as quickly as possible, that they might be ready at the festival-day to sacrifice the Paschal lamb, not knowing, miserable wretches as they were, that he whom they had dragged before the tribunal of an idolatrous judge (into whose house they would not enter, for fear of defiling themselves before partaking of the figurative victim), that he, and he alone, was the true Paschal Lamb, of which the other was only the shadow.
Pilate, however, at last ordered them to produce their accusations. These accusations were three in number, and they brought forward ten witnesses to attest the truth of each. Their great aim was to make Pilate believe that Jesus was the leader of a conspiracy against the emperor, in order that he might condemn him to death as a rebel. They themselves were powerless in such matters, being allowed to judge none but religious offences. Their first endeavour was to convict him of seducing the people, exciting them to rebellion, and of being an enemy to public peace and tranquility. To prove these charges they brought forward some false witnesses, and declared likewise that he violated the Sabbath, and even profaned it by curing the sick upon that day. At this accusation Pilate interrupted them, and said in a jeering tone, It is very evident you were none of you ill yourselves-had you been so you would not have complained of being cured on the Sabbath-day. He seduces the people, and inculcates the most disgusting doctrines. He even says, that no person can attain eternal life unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood. Pilate was quite provoked at the intense hatred which their words and countenances expressed, and, turning from them with a look of scorn, exclaimed, You most certainly must wish to follow his doctrines and to attain eternal life, for you are thirsting for both his body and blood.
The Jews then brought forward the second accusation against Jesus, which was that he forbad the people to pay tribute to the emperor. These words roused the indignation of Pilate, as it was his place to see that all the taxes were properly paid, and he exclaimed in an angry tone, That is a lie! I must know more about it than you. This obliged the enemies of our Lord to proceed to the third accusation, which they did in words such as these: Although this man is of obscure birth, he is the chief of a large party. When at their head, he denounces curses upon Jerusalem, and relates parables of double meaning concerning a king who is preparing a wedding feast for his son. The multitude whom he had gathered together on a mountain endeavoured once to make him their king; but it was sooner than he intended: his plans were not matured; therefore he fled and hid himself. Latterly he has come forward much more: it was but the other day that he entered Jerusalem at the head of a tumultuous assembly, who by his orders made the people rend the air with acclamations of "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be the empire of our Father David, which is now beginning." He obliges his partisans to pay him regal honours, and tells them that he is the Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, the Messiah, the king promised to the Jews, and he wishes to be addressed by these fine titles. Ten witnesses gave testimony concerning these things.
The last accusationthat of Jesus causing himself to be called kingmade some impression upon Pilate; he became a little thoughtful, left the terrace and, casting a scrutinising glance on Jesus, went into the adjoining apartment, and ordered the guards to bring him alone into his presence. Pilate was not only superstitious, but likewise extremely weak-minded and susceptible. He had often, during the course of his pagan education, heard mention made of sons of his gods who had dwelt for a time upon earth; he was likewise fully aware that the Jewish prophets had long foretold that one should appear in the midst of them who should be the Anointed of the Lord, their Saviour, and Deliverer from slavery; and that many among the people believed this firmly. He remembered likewise that kings from the east had come to Herod, the predecessor of the present monarch of that name, to pay homage to a newly-born king of the Jews, and that Herod had on this account given orders for the massacre of the Innocents. He had often heard of the traditions concerning the Messiah and the king of the Jews, and even examined them with some curiosity; although of course, being a pagan, without the slightest belief. Had he believed at all, he would probably have agreed with the Herodians, and with those Jews who expected a powerful and victorious king. With such impressions, the idea of the Jews accusing the poor miserable individual whom they had brought into his presence of setting himself up as the promised king and Messiah, of course appeared to him absurd; but as the enemies of Jesus brought forward these charges in proof of treason against the emperor, he thought it proper to interrogate him privately concerning them.
Art thou the king of the Jews? said Pilate, looking at our Lord, and unable to repress his astonishment at the divine expression of his countenance.
Jesus made answer, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me?
Pilate was offended that Jesus should think it possible for him to believe such a thing, and answered, Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me as deserving of death: what hast thou done?
Jesus answered majestically, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence.
Pilate was somewhat moved by these solemn words, and said to him in a more serious tone, Art thou a king, then?
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate looked at him, and rising from his seat said, The truth! what is truth?
They then exchanged a few more words, which I do not now remember, and Pilate returned to the terrace. The answers and deportment of Jesus were far beyond his comprehension; but he saw plainly that his assumption of royalty would not clash with that of the emperor, for that it was to no worldly kingdom that he laid claim; whereas the emperor cared for nothing beyond this world. He therefore again addressed the chief priests from the terrace, and said, I find no cause in him. The enemies of Jesus became furious, and uttered a thousand different accusations against our Saviour. But he remained silent, solely occupied in praying for his base enemies, and replied not when Pilate addressed him in these words, Answerest thou nothing? Behold in how many things they accuse thee! Pilate was filled with astonishment, and said, I see plainly that all they allege is false. But his accusers, whose anger continued to increase, cried out, You find no cause in him? Is it no crime to incite the people to revolt in all parts of the kingdom?to spread his false doctrines, not only here, but in Galilee likewise?
The mention of Galilee made Pilate pause: he reflected for a moment, and then asked, Is this man a Galilean, and a subject of Herods? They made answer, He is; his parents lived at Nazareth, and his present dwelling is in Capharnaum.
Since that is the case, replied Pilate, take him before Herod; he is here for the festival, and can judge him at once, as he is his subject. Jesus was immediately led out of the tribunal, and Pilate dispatched an officer to Herod, to inform him that Jesus of Nazareth, who was his subject, was about to be brought to him to be judged. Pilate had two reasons for following this line of conduct; in the first place he was delighted to escape having to pass sentence himself, as he felt very uncomfortable about the whole affair; and in the second place he was glad of an opportunity of pleasing Herod, with whom he had had a disagreement, for he knew him to be very curious to see Jesus.
The enemies of our Lord were enraged at being thus dismissed by Pilate in the presence of the whole multitude, and gave vent to their anger by ill-treating him even more than before. They pinioned him afresh, and then ceased not overwhelming him with curses and blows as they led him hurriedly through the crowd, towards the palace of Herod, which was situated at no great distance from the forum. Some Roman soldiers had joined the procession.
During the time of the trial Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, had sent him frequent messages to intimate that she wished extremely to speak to him; and when Jesus was sent to Herod, she placed herself on a balcony and watched the cruel conduct of his enemies with mingled feelings of fear, grief, and horror.
The Origin of the Way of the Cross
DURING the whole of the scene which we have just described, the Mother of Jesus, with Magdalen and John, had stood in a recess in the forum: they were overwhelmed with the most bitter sorrow, which was but increased by all they heard and saw. When Jesus was taken before Herod, John led the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen over the parts which had been sanctified by his footsteps. They again looked at the house of Caiphas, that of Annas, Ophel, Gethsemani, and the Garden of Olives; they stopped and contemplated each spot where he had fallen, or where he had suffered particularly; and they wept silently at the thought of all he had undergone. The Blessed Virgin knelt down frequently and kissed the ground where her Son had fallen, while Magdalen wrung her hands in bitter grief, and John, although he could not restrain his own tears, endeavoured to console his companions, supported, and led them on. Thus was the holy devotion of the Way of the Cross first practised; thus were the Mysteries of the Passion of Jesus first honoured, even before that Passion was accomplished, and the Blessed Virgin, that model of spotless purity, was the first to show forth the deep veneration felt by the Church for our dear Lord. How sweet and consoling to follow this Immaculate Mother, passing to and fro, and bedewing the sacred spots with her tears. But, ah! who can describe the sharp, sharp sword of grief which then transfixed her tender soul? She who had once borne the Saviour of the world in her chaste womb, and suckled him for so long,she who had truly conceived him who was the Word of God, in God from all eternity, and truly God,she beneath whose heart, full of grace, he had deigned to dwell nine months, who had felt him living within her before he appeared among men to impart the blessing of salvation and teach them his heavenly doctrines; she suffered with Jesus, sharing with him not only the sufferings of his bitter Passion, but likewise that ardent desire of redeeming fallen man by an ignominious death, which consumed him.
In this touching manner did the most pure and holy Virgin lay the foundation of the devotion called the Way of the Cross; thus at each station, marked by the sufferings of her Son, did she lay up in her heart the inexhaustible merits of his Passion, and gather them up as precious stones or sweet-scented flowers to be presented as a choice offering to the Eternal Father in behalf of all true believers. The grief of Magdalen was so intense as to make her almost like an insane person. The holy and boundless love she felt for our Lord prompted her to cast herself at his feet, and there pour forth the feelings of her heart (as she once poured the precious Ointment on his head as he sat at table); but when on the point of following this impulse, a dark gulf appeared to intervene between herself and him. The repentance she felt for her faults was immense, and not less intense was her gratitude for their pardon; but when she longed to offer acts of love and thanksgiving as precious incense at the feet of Jesus, she beheld him betrayed, suffering, and about to die for the expiation of her offences which he had taken upon himself, and this sight filled her with horror, and almost rent her soul asunder with feelings of love, repentance, and gratitude. The sight of the ingratitude of those for whom he was about to die increased the bitterness of these feelings tenfold, and every step, word, or movement demonstrated the agony of her soul. The heart of John was filled with love, and he suffered intensely, but he uttered not a word. He supported the Mother of his beloved Master in this her first pilgrimage through the stations of the Way of the Cross, and assisted her in giving the example of that devotion which has since been practised with so much fervour by the members of the Christian Church.
Pilate and his Wife
WHILST the Jews were leading Jesus to Herod, I saw Pilate go to his wife, Claudia Procles. She hastened to meet him, and they went together into a small garden-house which was on one of the terraces behind the palace. Claudia appeared to be much excited, and under the influence of fear. She was a tall, fine-looking woman, although extremely pale. Her hair was plaited and slightly ornamented, but partly covered by a long veil which fell gracefully over her shoulders. She wore earrings, a necklace, and her flowing dress was drawn together and held up by a species of clasp. She conversed with Pilate for a long time, and entreated him by all that he held sacred not to injure Jesus, that Prophet, that saint of saints; and she related the extraordinary dreams or visions which she had had on the previous night concerning him.
Whilst she was speaking I saw the greatest part of these visions: the following were the most striking. In the first place, the principal events in the life of our Lord the annunciation, the nativity, the adoration of the shepherds and that of the kings, the prophecy of Simeon and that of Anna, the flight into Egypt, the massacre of the Innocents, and our Lords temptation in the wilderness. She had likewise been shown in her sleep the most striking features of the public life of Jesus. He always appeared to her environed with a resplendent light, but his malicious and cruel enemies were under the most horrible and disgusting forms imaginable. She saw his intense sufferings, his patience, and his inexhaustible love, likewise the anguish of his Mother, and her perfect resignation. These visions filled the wife of Pilate with the greatest anxiety and terror, particularly as they were accompanied by symbols which made her comprehend their meaning, and her tender feelings were harrowed by the sight of such dreadful scenes. She had suffered from them during the whole of the night; they were sometimes obscure, but more often clear and distinct; and when morning dawned and she was roused by the noise of the tumultuous mob who were dragging Jesus to be judged, she glanced at the procession and instantly saw that the unresisting victim in the midst of the crowd, bound, suffering, and so inhumanely treated as to be scarcely recognisable, was no other than that bright and glorious being who had been so often brought before her eyes in the visions of the past night. She was greatly affected by this sight, and immediately sent for Pilate, and gave him an account of all that had happened to her. She spoke with much vehemence and emotion; and although there was a great deal in what she had seen which she could not understand, much less express, yet she entreated and implored her husband in the most touching terms to grant her request.
Pilate was both astonished and troubled by the words of his wife. He compared the narration with all he had previously heard concerning Jesus; and reflected on the hatred of the Jews, the majestic silence of our Saviour, and the mysterious answers he had given to all his questions. He hesitated for some time, but was at last overcome by the entreaties of his wife, and told her that he had already declared his conviction of the innocence of Jesus, and that he would not condemn him, because he saw that the accusations were mere fabrications of his enemies. He spoke of the words of Jesus to himself, promised his wife that nothing should induce him to condemn this just man, and even gave her a ring before they parted as a pledge of his promise.
The character of Pilate was debauched and undecided, but his worst qualities were an extreme pride and meanness which made him never hesitate in the performance of an unjust action, provided it answered his ends. He was excessively superstitious, and when in any difficulty had recourse to charms and spells. He was much puzzled and alarmed about the trial of Jesus; and I saw him running backwards and forwards, offering incense first to one god and then to another, and imploring them to assist him; but Satan filled his imagination with still greater confusion; he first instilled one false idea and then another into his mind. He then had recourse to one of his favourite superstitious practices, that of watching the sacred chickens eat, but in vain,his mind remained enveloped in darkness, and he became more and more undecided. He first thought that he would acquit our Saviour, whom he well knew to be innocent, but then he feared incurring the wrath of his false gods if he spared him, as he fancied he might be a species of demigod, and obnoxious to than. It is possible, said he inwardly, that this man may really be that king of the Jews concerning whose coming there are so many prophecies. It was a king of the Jews whom the Magi came from the East to adore. Perhaps he is a secret enemy both of our gods and of the emperor; it might be most imprudent in me to spare his life. Who knows whether his death would not be a triumph to my gods? Then he remembered the wonderful dreams described to him by his wife, who had never seen Jesus, and he again changed, and decided that it would be safer not to condemn him. He tried to persuade himself that he wished to pass a just sentence; but he deceived himself, for when he asked himself, What is the truth? he did not wait for the answer. His mind was filled with confusion, and he was quite at a loss how to act, as his sole desire was to entail no risk upon himself.
Jesus before Herod
THE palace of the Tetrarch Herod was built on the north side of the forum, in the new town; not very far from that of Pilate. An escort of Roman soldiers, mostly from that part of the country which is situated between Switzerland and Italy, had joined the procession. The enemies of Jesus were perfectly furious at the trouble they were compelled to take in going backwards and forwards, and therefore vented their rage upon him. Pilates messenger had preceded the procession, consequently Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors. The Chief Priests entered and placed themselves by his side, leaving Jesus at the entrance. Herod was much elated and pleased at Pilates having thus publicly acknowledged his right of judging the Galileans, and likewise rejoiced at seeing that Jesus who had never deigned to appear before him reduced to such a state of humiliation and degradation. His curiosity had been greatly excited by the high terms in which John the Baptist had announced the coming of Jesus, and he had likewise heard much about him from the Herodians, and through the many spies whom he had sent into different parts: he was therefore delighted at this opportunity of interrogating him in the presence of his courtiers and of the Jewish priests, hoping to make a grand display of his own knowledge and talents. Pilate having sent him word, that he could find no cause in the man, he concluded that these words were intended as a hint that he (Pilate) wished the accusers to be treated with contempt and mistrust. He, therefore, addressed them in the most haughty distant manner possible, and thereby increased their rage and anger indescribably.
They all began at once to vociferate their accusations, to which Herod hardly listened, being intent solely on gratifying his curiosity by a close examination of Jesus, whom he had so often wished to see. But when he beheld him stripped of all clothing save the remnant of a mantle, scarcely able to stand, and his countenance totally disfigured from the blows he had received, and from the mud and missiles which the rabble had flung at his head, the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state. The guards took Jesus into the outer court, and procured some water in a basin, with which they cleansed his soiled garments and disfigured countenance; but they could not restrain their brutality even while doing this, and paid no regard to the wounds with which he was covered.
Herod meantime accosted the priests in much the same strain as Pilate had done. Your behaviour vastly resembles that of butchers, he said, and you commence your immolations pretty early in the morning. The Chief Priests produced their accusations at once. Herod, when Jesus was again brought into his presence, pretended to feel some compassion, and offered him a glass of wine to recruit his strength; but Jesus turned his head away and refused this alleviation.
Herod then began to expatiate with great volubility on all he had heard concerning our Lord. He asked a thousand questions, and exhorted him to work a miracle in his presence; but Jesus answered not a word, and stood before him with his eyes cast down, which conduct both irritated and disconcerted Herod, although he endeavoured to conceal his anger, and continued his interrogations. He at first expressed surprise, and made use of persuasive words. Is it possible, Jesus of Nazareth, he exclaimed, that it is thou thyself that appearest before me as a criminal? I have heard thy actions so much spoken of. Thou art not perhaps aware that thou didst offend me grievously by setting free the prisoners whom I had confined at Thirza, but possibly thy intentions were good. The Roman governor has now sent thee to me to be judged; what answer canst thou give to all these accusations? Thou art silent? I have heard much concerning thy wisdom, and the religion thou teachest, let me hear thee answer and confound thy enemies. Art thou the king of the Jews? Art thou the Son of God? Who art thou? Thou art said to have performed wonderful miracles; work one now in my presence. I have the power to release thee. Is it true that thou hast restored sight to the blind, raised up Lazarus from the dead, and fed two or three thousand persons with a few loaves? Why dost thou not answer? I recommend thee to work a miracle quickly before me; perhaps thou mayest rejoice afterwards at having complied with my wishes.
Jesus still kept silence, and Herod continued to question him with even more volubility.
Who art thou? said he. From whence hast thou thy power? How is it that thou dost no longer possess it? Art thou he whose birth was foretold in such a wonderful manner? Kings from the East came to my father to see a newly-born king of the Jews: is it true that thou wast that child? Didst thou escape when so many children were massacred, and how was thy escape managed? Why hast thou been for so many years unknown? Answer my questions! Art thou a king? Thy appearance certainly is not regal. I have been told that thou wast conducted to the Temple in triumph a short time ago. What was the meaning of such an exhibition?speak out at once! Answer me!
Herod continued to question Jesus in this rapid manner; but our Lord did not vouchsafe a reply. I was shown (as indeed I already knew) that Jesus was thus silent because Herod was m a state of excommunication, both on account of his adulterous marriage with Herodias, and of his having given orders for the execution of St. John the Baptist. Annas and Caiphas, seeing how indignant Herod was at the silence of Jesus, immediately endeavoured to take advantage of his feelings of wrath, and recommenced their accusations, saying that he had called Herod himself a fox; that his great aim for many years had been the overthrow of Herods family; that he was endeavouring to establish a new religion, and had celebrated the Pasch on the previous day. Although Herod was extremely enraged at the conduct of Jesus, he did not lose sight of the political ends which he wished to forward. He was determined not to condemn our Lord, both because he experienced a secret and indefinable sensation of terror in his presence, and because he still felt remorse at the thought of having put John the Baptist to death, besides which he detested the High Priests for not having allowed him to take part in the sacrifices on account of his adulterous connection with Herodias.
But his principal reason for determining not to condemn Jesus was, that he wished to make some return to Pilate for his courtesy, and he thought the best return would be the compliment of showing deference to his decision and agreeing with him in opinion. But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.
Our Lord was immediately taken into a large court, where every possible insult and indignity was heaped upon him. This court was between the two wings of the palace, and Herod stood a spectator on a platform for some time. Annas and Caiphas were by his side, endeavouring to persuade him to condemn our Saviour. But their efforts were fruitless, and Herod answered in a tone loud enough to be heard by the Roman soldiers: No, I should act quite wrongly if I condemned him. His meaning was, that it would be wrong to condemn as guilty one whom Pilate had pronounced innocent, although he had been so courteous as to defer the final judgment to him.
When the High Priests and the other enemies of Jesus perceived that Herod was determined not to give in to their wishes, they dispatched emissaries to that division of the city called Acre, which was chiefly inhabited by Pharisees, to let them know that they must assemble in the neighbourhood of Pilates palace, gather together the rabble, and bribe them to make a tumult, and demand the condemnation of our Lord. They likewise sent forth secret agents to alarm the people by threats of the divine vengeance if they did not insist on the execution of Jesus, whom they termed a sacrilegious blasphemer. These agents were ordered likewise to alarm them by intimating that if Jesus were not put to death, he would go over to the Romans, and assist in the extermination of the Jewish nation, for that it was to this he referred when he spoke of his future kingdom. They endeavoured to spread a report in other parts of the city, that Herod had condemned him, but still that it was necessary for the people likewise to express their wishes, as his partisans were to be feared; for that if he were released he would join the Romans, make a disturbance on the festival day, and take the most inhuman revenge. Some among them circulated contradictory and alarming reports, in order to excite the people, and cause an insurrection; while others distributed money among the soldiers to bribe them to ill-treat Jesus, so as to cause his death, which they were most anxious should be brought about as quickly as possible, lest Pilate should acquit him.
Whilst the Pharisees were busying themselves in this manner, our Blessed Saviour was suffering the greatest outrages from the brutal soldiers to whom Herod had delivered him, that they might deride him as a fool. They dragged him into the court, and one of their number having procured a large white sack which had once been filled with cotton, they made a hole in its centre with a sword, and then tossed it over the head of Jesus, accompanying each action with bursts of the most contemptuous laughter. Another soldier brought the remnant of an old scarlet cloak, and passed it round his neck, while the rest bent their knee before himshoved himabused him spat upon himstruck him on the cheek, because he had refused to answer their king, mocked him by pretending to pay homagethrew mud upon himseized him by the waist, pretending to make him dance; then, having thrown him down, dragged him through a gutter which ran on the side of the court, thus causing his sacred head to strike against the columns and sides of the wall, and when at last they raised him up, it was only in order to recommence their insults. The soldiers and servants of Herod who were assembled in this court amounted to upwards of two hundred, and all thought to pay court to their monarch by torturing Jesus in some unheard-of way. Many were bribed by the enemies of our Lord to strike him on the head with their sticks, and they took advantage of the confusion and tumult to do so. Jesus looked upon them with compassion; excess of pain drew from him occasional moans and groans, but his enemies rejoiced in his sufferings, and mocked his moans, and not one among the whole assembly showed the slightest degree of compassion. I saw blood streaming from his head, and three times did the blows prostrate him, but angels were weeping at his side, and they anointed his head with heavenly balsam. It was revealed to me that had it not been for this, miraculous assistance he must have died from those wounds. The Philistines at Gaza, who gave vent to their wrath by tormenting poor blind Samson, were far less barbarous than these cruel executioners of our Lord.
The priests were, however, impatient to return to the Temple; therefore, having made certain that their orders regarding Jesus would be obeyed, they returned to Herod, and endeavoured to persuade him to condemn our Lord. But he, being determined to do all in his power to please Pilate, refused to accede to their wishes, and sent Jesus back again clothed in the fools garment.
Jesus led back from the Court of Herod to that of Pilate
THE enemies of Jesus were perfectly infuriated at being obliged to take Jesus back, still uncondemned, to Pilate, who had so many times declared his innocence. They led him round by a much longer road, in order in the first place to let the persons of that part of the town see him in the state of ignominy to which he was reduced, and in the second place to give their emissaries more time to stir up the populace.
This road was extremely rough and uneven; and the soldiers, encouraged by the Pharisees, scarcely refrained a moment from tormenting Jesus. The long garment with which he was clothed impeded his steps, and caused him to fall heavily more than once; and his cruel guards, as also many among the brutal populace, instead of assisting him in his state of exhaustion, endeavoured by blows and kicks to force him to rise.
To all these outrages Jesus offered not the smallest resistance; he prayed constantly to his Father for grace and strength that he might not sink under them, but accomplish the work of his Passion for our redemption.
It was about eight oclock when the procession reached the palace of Pilate. The crowd was dense, and the Pharisees might be seen walking to and fro, endeavouring to incite and infuriate them still more. Pilate, who remembered an insurrection which had taken place the year before at the Paschal time, had assembled upwards of a thousand soldiers, whom he posted around the Praetorium, the Forum, and his palace.
The Blessed Virgin, her elder sister Mary (the daughter of Heli), Mary (the daughter of Cleophas), Magdalen, and about twenty of the holy women, were standing in a room from whence they could see all which took place, and at first John was with them.
The Pharisees led Jesus, still clothed in the fools garment, through the midst of the insolent mob, and had done all in their power to gather together the most vile and wicked of miscreants from among the dregs of the people. A servant sent by Herod had already reached Pilate, with a message to the effect that his master had fully appreciated his polite deference to his opinion, but that he looked upon the far-famed Galilean as no better than a fool, that he had treated him as such, and now sent him back. Pilate was quite satisfied at finding that Herod had come to the same conclusion as himself, and therefore returned a polite message. From that hour they became friends, having been enemies many years; in fact, ever since the falling-in of the aqueduct.* Jesus was again
* The cause of the quarrel between Pilate and Herod was, according to the account of Sister Emmerich, simply this: Pilate had undertaken to build an aqueduct on the south-east side of the mountain on which the Temple stood, at the edge of the torrent into which the waters of the pool of Bethsaida emptied themselves, and this aqueduct was to carry off the refuse of the Temple. Herod, through the medium of one of his confidants, who was a member of the Sanhedrim, agreed to furnish him with the necessary materials, as also with twenty-eight architects, who were also Herodians. His aim was to set the Jews still more against the Roman governor, by causing the undertaking to fail. He accordingly came to a private understanding with the architects, who agreed to construct the aqueduct in such a manner that it would be certain to fall. When the work was almost finished, and a number of bricklayers from Ophel were busily employed in removing the scaffolding, the twenty-eight builders went on to the top of the Tower of Siloe to contemplate the crash which they knew must take place. Not only did the whole of the building crumble to pieces, fall, and kill ninety-three workmen, but even the tower containing the twenty-eight architects came down, and not one escaped death. This accident occurred a short time previous to the 8th of January, two years after Jesus had commenced preaching; it took place on Herods birthday, the same day that John the Baptist was beheaded in the Castle of Marcherunt. No Roman officer attended these festivities on account of the affair of the aqueduct, although Pilate had, with hypocritical politeness been requested to take a part in them. Sister Emmerich saw some of the disciples of Jesus carry the news of this event into Samaria, where he was teaching. on the 8th of January. Jesus went from thence to Hebron, to comfort the family of John; and she saw him, on the 13th of January cure many among the workmen of Ophel who had been injured by the fall of the aqueduct. We have seen by the relation previously given how little gratitude they showed him. The enmity of Herod towards Pilate was still farther increased by the manner in which the latter revenged himself on the followers of Herod. We will insert here a few details which were communicated at different times to Sister Emmerich. On the 25th of March, of the second year of our Lords preaching, when Jesus and his disciples were in the neighbourhood of Bethania, they were warned by Lazarus that Judas of Gaulon intended to excite an insurrection against Pilate. On the 28th of March, Pilate issued a proclamation to the effect that he intended to impose a tax, the proceeds of which were partly to cover the expenses he had incurred in raising the building which had just fallen to the ground. This announcement was followed by a sedition headed by Judas of Gaulon, who always stood up for liberty, and who was (unknown to himself) a tool in the hands of the Herodians. The Herodians were rather like our Freemasons. On the 30th of March, at ten oclock p.m., Jesus, dressed in a dark garment, was teaching in the Temple, with his Apostles and thirty disciples. The revolt of the Galileans against Pilate burst forth on this very day, and the rebels set free fifty of their number who had been imprisoned the day before; and many among the Romans were killed. On the 6th of April, Pilate caused the Galileans to be massacred at the moment of offering sacrifice, by disguised soldiers whom he had concealed in the Temple. Judas was killed with his companions. This massacre exasperated Herod still more against Pilate, and we have just seen by what means their reconciliation was effected.
led to the house of Pilate. The archers dragged him up the stairs with their usual brutality; his feet became entangled in his long robe, and he fell upon the white marble steps, which were stained with blood from his sacred head. His enemies had again taken their seats at the entrance of the forum; the mob laughed at his fall, and the archers struck their innocent victim, instead of assisting him to rise. Pilate was reclining on a species of easy-chair, with a little table before him, and surrounded with officers and persons who held strips of parchment covered with writing in their hands. He came forward and said to the accusers of Jesus: You have presented unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people, and behold I having examined him before you, find no cause in this man in those things wherein you accuse him. No, nor Herod neither. For I sent you to him, and behold, nothing worthy of death is done to him. I will chastise him, therefore, and release him.
When the Pharisees heard these words, they became furious, and endeavoured to the utmost of their power to persuade the people to revolt, distributing money among them to effect this purpose. Pilate looked around with contempt, and addressed them in scornful words.
It happened to be the precise time when, according to an ancient custom, the people had the privilege of demanding the deliverance of one prisoner. The Pharisees had dispatched emissaries to persuade the people to demand the death, and not the life, of our Lord. Pilate hoped that they would ask for Jesus, and determined to give them to choose between him and a criminal called Barabbas, who had been convicted of a dreadful murder committed during a sedition, as also of many other crimes, and was, moreover, detested by the people.
There was considerable excitement among the crowd; a certain portion came forward, and their orators, addressing Pilate in a loud voice, said: Grant us the favour you have always granted on the festival day. Pilate made answer: It is customary for me to deliver to you a criminal at the Paschal time; whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?
Although Pilate did not in his own mind feel at all certain that Jesus was the King of the Jews, yet he called him so, partly because his Roman pride made him take delight in humbling the Jews by calling such a despicable-looking person their king; and partly because he felt a kind of inward belief that Jesus might really be that miraculous king, that Messiah who had been promised. He saw plainly that the priests were incited by envy alone in their accusations against Jesus; this made him most anxious to disappoint them; and the desire was increased by that glimmering of the truth which partly enlightened his mind. There was some hesitation among the crowd when Pilate asked this question, and a few voices answered, Barabbas. A servant sent by Pilates wife asked for him at this moment; he left the platform, and the messenger presented the pledge which he had given her, saying at the same time: Claudia Procles begs you to remember your promise this morning. The Pharisees and the priests walked anxiously and hastily about among the crowd, threatening some and ordering others, although, in fact, little was required to incite the already infuriated multitude.
Mary, with Magdalen, John, and the holy women, stood in a corner of the forum, trembling and weeping; for although the Mother of Jesus was fully aware that the redemption of man could not be brought about by any other means than the death of her Son, yet she was filled with the anguish of a mother, and with a longing desire to save him from those tortures and from that death which he was about to suffer. She prayed God not to allow such a fearful crime to be perpetrated; she repeated the words of Jesus in the Garden of Olives: If it is possible, let this chalice pass away. She still felt a glimmering of hope, because there was a report current that Pilate wished to acquit Jesus. Groups of persons, mostly inhabitants of Capharnaum, where Jesus had taught, and among whom he had wrought so many miraculous cures, were congregated in her vicinity; they pretended not to remember either her or her weeping companions; they simply cast a glance now and then, as if by chance, at their closely-veiled figures. Many thought, as did her companions likewise, that these persons at least would reject Barabbas, and beg for the life of their Saviour and Benefactor; but these hopes were, alas, fallacious.
Pilate sent back the pledge to his wife, as an assurance of his intention to keep his promise. He again came forward on the platform, and seated himself at the little table. The Chief Priests took their seats likewise, and Pilate once more demanded: Which of the two am I to deliver up to you? A general cry resounded through the hall: Not this man, but Barabbas! But what am I to do with Jesus, who is called Christ? replied Pilate. All exclaimed in a tumultuous manner: Let him be crucified! let him be crucified! But what evil has he done? asked Pilate for the third time. I find no cause in him. I will scourge and then acquit him. But the cry, Crucify him! Crucify him! burst from the crowd, and the sounds echoed like an infernal tempest; the High Priests and the Pharisees vociferated and hurried backwards and forwards as if insane. Pilate at last yielded; his weak pusillanimous character could not withstand such violent demonstrations; he delivered up Barabbas to the people, and condemned Jesus to be scourged.
The Scourging of Jesus
THAT most weak and undecided of all judges, Pilate, had several times repeated these dastardly words: I find no crime in him: I will chastise him, therefore, and let him go; to which the Jews had continued to respond, Crucify him! Crucify him! but he determined to adhere to his resolution of not condemning our Lord to death, and ordered him to be scourged according to the manner of the Romans. The guards were therefore ordered to conduct him through the midst of the furious multitude to the forum, which they did with the utmost brutality, at the same time loading him with abuse, and striking him with their staffs. The pillar where criminals were scourged stood to the north of Pilates palace, near the guard-house, and the executioners soon arrived, carrying whips, rods, and ropes, which they tossed down at its base. They were six in number, dark, swarthy men, somewhat shorter than Jesus; their chests were covered with a piece of leather, or with some dirty stuff; their loins were girded, and their hairy, sinewy arms bare. They were malefactors from the frontiers of Egypt, who had been condemned for their crimes to hard labour, and were employed principally in making canals, and in erecting public buildings, the most criminal being selected to act as executioners in the Praetorium.
These cruel men had many times scourged poor criminals to death at this pillar. They resembled wild beasts or demons, and appeared to be half drunk. They struck our Lord with their fists, and dragged him by the cords with which he was pinioned, although he followed them without offering the least resistance, and, finally, they barbarously knocked him down against the pillar. This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building; it was not very high, for a tall man could touch the summit by stretching out his arm; there was a large iron ring at the top, and both rings and hooks a little lower down. It is quite impossible to describe the cruelty shown by these ruffians towards Jesus: they tore off the mantle with which he had been clothed in derision at the court of Herod, and almost threw him prostrate again.
Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her. Jesus put his arms round the pillar, and when his hands were thus raised, the archers fastened them to the iron ring which was at the top of the pillar; they then dragged his arms to such a height that his feet, which were tightly bound to the base of the pillar, scarcely touched the ground. Thus was the Holy of holies violently stretched, without a particle of clothing, on a pillar used for the punishment of the greatest criminals; and then did two furious ruffians who were thirsting for his blood begin in the most barbarous manner to scourge his sacred body from head to foot. The whips or scourges which they first made use of appeared to me to be made of a species of flexible white wood, but perhaps they were composed of the sinews of the ox, or of strips of leather.
Our loving Lord, the Son of God, true God and true Man, writhed as a worm under the blows of these barbarians; his mild but deep groans might be heard from afar; they resounded through the air, fording a kind of touching accompaniment to the hissing of the instruments of torture. These groans resembled rather a touching cry of prayer and supplication, than moans of anguish. The clamour of the Pharisees and the people formed another species of accompaniment, which at times as a deafening thunder-storm deadened and smothered these sacred and mournful cries, and in their place might be heard the words, Put him to death! Crucify him! Pilate continued parleying with the people, and when he demanded silence in order to be able to speak, he was obliged to proclaim his wishes to the clamorous assembly by the sound of a trumpet, and at such moments you might again hear the noise of the scourges, the moans of Jesus, the imprecations of the soldiers, and the bleating of the Paschal lambs which were being washed in the Probatica pool, at no great distance from the forum. There was something peculiarly touching in the plaintive bleating of these lambs: they alone appeared to unite their lamentations with the suffering moans of our Lord.
The Jewish mob was gathered together at some distance from the pillar at which the dreadful punishment was taking place, and Roman soldiers were stationed in different parts round about. Many persons were walking to and fro, some in silence, others speaking of Jesus in the most insulting terms possible, and a few appearing touched, and I thought I beheld rays of light issuing from our Lord and entering the hearts of the latter. I saw groups of infamous, bold-looking young men, who were for the most part busying themselves near the watch-house in preparing fresh scourges, while others went to seek branches of thorns. Several of the servants of the High Priests went up to the brutal executioners and gave them money; as also a large jug filled with a strong bright red liquid, which quite inebriated them, and increased their cruelty tenfold towards their innocent Victim. The two ruffians continued to strike our Lord with unremitting violence for a quarter of an hour, and were then succeeded by two others. His body was entirely covered with black, blue, and red marks; the blood was trickling down on the ground, and yet the furious cries which issued from among the assembled Jews showed that their cruelty was far from being satiated.
The night had been extremely cold, and the morning was dark and cloudy; a little hail had fallen, which surprised every one, but towards twelve oclock the day became brighter, and the sun shone forth.
The two fresh executioners commenced scourging Jesus with the greatest possible fury; they made use of a different kind of rod,a species of thorny stick, covered with knots and splinters. The blows from these sticks tore his flesh to pieces; his blood spouted out so as to stain their arms, and he groaned, prayed, and shuddered. At this moment, some strangers mounted on camels passed through the forum; they stopped for a moment, and were quite overcome with pity and horror at the scene before them, upon which some of the bystanders explained the cause of what they witnessed. Some of these travellers had been baptised by John, and others had heard the sermon of Jesus on the mountain. The noise and the tumult of the mob was even more deafening near the house of Pilate.
Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terriblethis heartrending scene!
The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him with even greater fury than before; and one among them struck him constantly on the face with a new rod. The body of our Lord was perfectly torn to shreds,it was but one wound. He looked at his torturers with his eyes filled with blood, as if entreating mercy; but their brutality appeared to increase, and his moans each moment became more feeble.
The dreadful scourging had been continued without intermission for three quarters of an hour, when a stranger of lowly birth, a relation to Ctesiphon, the blind man whom Jesus had cured, rushed from amidst the crowd, and approached the pillar with a knife shaped like a cutlass in his hand. Cease! he exclaimed, in an indignant tone; Cease! scourge not this innocent man unto death! The drunken miscreants, taken by surprise, stopped short, while he quickly severed the cords which bound Jesus to the pillar, and disappeared among the crowd. Jesus fell almost without consciousness on the ground, which was bathed with his blood. The executioners left him there, and rejoined their cruel companions, who were amusing themselves in the guard-house with drinking, and plaiting the crown of thorns.
Our Lord remained for a short time on the ground, at the foot of the pillar, bathed in his own blood, and two or three bold-looking girls came up to gratify their curiosity by looking at him. They gave a glance, and were turning away in disgust, but at the moment the pain of the wounds of Jesus was so intense that he raised his bleeding head and looked at them. They retired quickly, and the soldiers and guards laughed and made game of them.
During the time of the scourging of our Lord, I saw weeping angels approach him many times; I likewise heard the prayers he constantly addressed to his Father for the pardon of our sinsprayers which never ceased during the whole time of the infliction of this cruel punishment. Whilst he lay bathed in his blood I saw an angel present to him a vase containing a bright-looking beverage which appeared to reinvigorate him in a certain degree. The archers soon returned, and after giving him some blows with their sticks, bade him rise and follow them. He raised himself with the greatest difficulty, as his trembling limbs could scarcely support the weight of his body; they did not give him sufficient time to put on his clothes, but threw his upper garment over his naked shoulders and led him from the pillar to the guard-house, where he wiped the blood which trickled down his face with a corner of his garment. When he passed before the benches on which the High Priests were seated, they cried out, Put him to death! Crucify him! Crucify him! and then turned away disdainfully. The executioners led him into the interior of the guard-house, which was filled with slaves, archers, hodmen, and the very dregs of the people, but there were no soldiers.
The great excitement among the populace alarmed Pilate so much, that he sent to the fortress of Antonia for a reinforcement of Roman soldiers, and posted these well-disciplined troops round the guard-house; they were permitted to talk and to deride Jesus in every possible way, but were forbidden to quit their ranks. These soldiers, whom Pilate had sent for to intimidate the mob, numbered about a thousand.
Mary during the Flagellation of our Lord
I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continual ecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; she saw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all the torments he was enduring. She groaned feebly, and her eyes were red with weeping. A large veil covered her person, and she leant upon Mary of Heli, her eldest sister,* who was old and extremely like their mother, Anne. Mary of Cleophas, the daughter of Mary of Heli, was there also. The friends of Jesus and Mary stood around the latter; they wore large veils, appeared overcome with grief and anxiety, and were weeping as if in the momentary expectation of death. The dress of Mary was blue; it was long, and partly covered by a cloak made of white wool, and her veil was of rather a yellow white. Magdalen was totally beside herself from grief and her hair was floating loosely under her veil.
When Jesus fell down at the foot of the pillar, after the flagellation, I saw Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God. I know not whether she thought that Jesus would be set free, and that his Mother would then require linen to dress his wounds, or whether this compassionate lady was aware of the use which would be made of her present. At the termination of the scourging, Mary came to herself for a time, and saw her Divine Son all torn and mangled, being led away by the archers after the scourging: he wiped his eyes, which were filled with blood, that he might look at his Mother, and she stretched out her hands towards him, and continued to look at the bloody traces of his footsteps. I soon after saw Mary and Magdalen approach the pillar where Jesus had been scourged; the mob were at a distance, and they were partly concealed by the other holy women, and by a few kind-hearted persons who had joined them; they knelt down on the ground near the pillar, and wiped up the sacred blood with the linen which Claudia Procles had sent. John was not at that time with the holy women, who were about twenty in number. The sons of Simeon and of Obed, and Veronica, as also the two nephews of Joseph of ArimatheaAram and Themniwere in the Temple, and appeared to be overwhelmed with grief. It was not more than nine oclock A.M. when the scourging terminated.
* Mary of Heli is often spoken of in this relation. According to Sister Eminerich, she was the daughter of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and was born nearly twenty years before the Blessed Virgin. She was not the child of promise, and is called Mary of Heli, by which she is distinguished from the other of the same name, because she was the daughter of Joachim, or Heliachim. Her husband bore the name of Cleophas. and her daughter that of Mary of Cleophas. This daughter was, however, older than her aunt, the Blessed Virgin, and had been married first to Alpheus. by whom she had three sons, afterwards the Apostles Simon, James the Less and Thaddeus. She had one son by her second husband, Sabat, and another called Simon, by her third husband, Jonas. Simon was afterwards Bishop of Jerusalem.
Interruption of the Visions of the Passion
by the Appearance of
St. Joseph under the form of a Child
DURING the whole time of the visions which we have just narrated (that is to say, from the 18th of February until the 8th of March), Sister Emmerich continued to suffer all the mental and bodily tortures which were once endured by our Lord. Being totally immersed in these meditations, and, as it were, dead to exterior objects, she wept and groaned like a person in the hands of an executioner, trembled, shuddered, and writhed on her couch, while her face resembled that of a man about to expire under torture, and a bloody sweat often trickled over her chest and shoulders. She generally perspired so profusely that her bed and clothes were saturated. Her sufferings from thirst were likewise fearful, and she might truly be compared to a person perishing in a desert from the want of water. Generally speaking, her mouth was so parched in the morning, and her tongue so contracted and dried up, that she could not speak, but was obliged by signs and inarticulate sounds to beg for relief. Her constant state of fever was probably brought on by the great pains she endured, added to which she likewise often took upon herself the illnesses and temporal calamities merited by others. It was always necessary for her to rest for a time before relating the different scenes of the Passion, nor was it always that she could speak of what she had seen, and she was even often obliged to discontinue her narrations for the day. She was in this state of suffering on Saturday the 8th of March, and with the greatest difficulty and suffering described the scourging of our Lord which she had seen in the vision of the previous night, and which appeared to be present to her mind during the greatest part of the following day. Towards evening, however, a change took place, and there was an interruption in the course of meditations on the Passion which had latterly followed one another so regularly. We will describe this interruption, in order, in the first place, to give our readers a more full comprehension of the interior life of this most extraordinary person; and, in the second, to enable them to pause for a time to rest their minds, as I well know that meditations on the Passion of our Lord exhaust the weak, even when they remember that it was for their salvation that he suffered and died.
The life of Sister Emmerich, both as regarded her spiritual and intellectual existence, invariably harmonised with the spirit of the Church at different seasons of the year. It harmonised even more strongly than mans natural life does with the seasons, or with the hours of the day, and this caused her to be (if we may thus express ourselves) a realisation of the existence and of the various intentions of the Church. Her union with its spirit was so complete, that no sooner did a festival day begin (that is to say, on the eve), than a perfect change took place within her, both intellectually and spiritually. As soon as the spiritual sun of these festival days of the Church was set, she directed all her thoughts towards that which would rise on the following day, and disposed all her prayers, good works, and sufferings for the attainment of the special graces attached to the feast about to commence, like a plant which absorbs the dew, and revels in the warmth and light of the first rays of the sun. These changes did not, as will readily be believed, always take place at the exact moment when the sound of the Angelus announced the commencement of a festival, and summoned the faithful to prayer; for this bell is often, either through ignorance or negligence, run at the wrong time; but they commenced at the time when the feast really began.
If the Church commemorated a sorrowful mystery, she appeared depressed, faint, and almost powerless; but the instant the celebration of a joyful feast commenced, both body and soul revived to a new life, as if refreshed by the dew of new graces, and she continued in this calm, quiet, and happy state, quite released from every kind of suffering, until the evening. These things took place in her soul quite independently of her will; but as she had had from infancy the most ardent desire of being obedient to Jesus and to his Church, God had bestowed upon her those special graces which give a natural facility for practising obedience. Every faculty of her soul was directed towards the Church, in the same manner as a plant which, even if put into a dark cellar, naturally turns its leaves upwards, and appears to seek the light.
On Saturday, 8th of March, 1823, after sunset, Sister Emmerich had, with the greatest difficulty, portrayed the different events of the scourging of our Lord, and the writer of these pages thought that her mind was occupied in the contemplation of the crowning with thorns, when suddenly her countenance, which was previously pale and haggard, like that of a person on the point of death, became bright and serene, and she exclaimed in a coaxing tone, as if speaking to a child, 0, that dear little boy! Who is he?Stay, I will ask him. His name is Joseph. He has pushed his way through the crowd to come to me. Poor child, he is laughing; he knows nothing at all of what is going on. How light his clothing is! I fear he must be cold, the air is so sharp this morning. Wait, my child; let me put something more over you. After saying these words in such a natural tone of voice that it was almost impossible for those present not to turn round and expect to see the child, she held up a dress which was near her, as would be done by a kind-hearted person wishing to clothe a poor frozen child. The friend who was standing by her bedside had not sufficient time to ask her to explain the words she had spoken, for a sudden change took place, both in her whole appearance and manner, when her attendant pronounced the word obedience,one of the vows by which she had consecrated herself to our Lord. She instantly came to herself, and, like an obedient child awakening from a sound sleep and starting up at the voice of its mother, she stretched forth her hand, took the rosary and crucifix which were always at her side, arranged her dress, rubbed her eyes, and sat up. She was then carried from her bed to a chair, as she could neither stand nor walk; and it being the time for making her bed, her friend left the room in order to write out what he had heard during the day.
On Sunday, the 9th of March, the friend asked her attendant what Sister Emmerich meant the evening before when she spoke of a child called Joseph. The attendant answered, She spoke of him again many times yesterday evening; he is the son of a cousin of mine, and a great favourite of hers. I fear that her talking so much about him is a sign that he is going to have an illness, for she said so many times that the poor child was almost without clothing, and that he must be cold.
The friend remembered having often seen this little Joseph playing on the bed of Sister Emmerich, and he supposed that she was dreaming about him on the previous day. When the friend went to see her later in the day to endeavour to obtain a continuation of the narrations of the Passion, he found her, contrary to his expectation, more calm, and apparently better in health than on the previous day. She told him that she had seen nothing more after the scourging of our Lord; and when he questioned her concerning what she had said about little Joseph, she could not remember having spoken of the child at all. He then asked the reason of her being so calm, serene, and apparently well in health; and she answered, I always feel thus when Mid-Lent comes, for then the Church sings with Isaias in the introit at Mass; "Rejoice, 0, Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her; rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow, that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation." Mid-Lent Sunday is consequently a day of rejoicing; and you may likewise remember that, in the gospel of this day, the Church relates how our Lord fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, of which twelve baskets of fragments remained, consequently we ought to rejoice.
She likewise added, that our Lord had deigned to visit her on that day in the Holy Communion, and that she always felt especial spiritual consolation when she received him on that particular day of the year. The friend cast his eyes on the calendar of the diocese of Munster, and saw that on that day they not only kept Mid-Lent Sunday, but likewise the Feast of St. Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord; he was not aware of this before, because in other places the feast of St. Joseph is kept on the 19th, and he remarked this circumstance to Sister Emmerich, and asked her whether she did not think that was the cause of her speaking about Joseph. She answered that she was perfectly aware of its being the feast of the foster-father of Jesus, but that she had not been thinking of the child of that name. However, a moment after, she suddenly remembered what her thoughts had been the day before, and explained to her friend that the moment the feast of St. Joseph began, her visions of the sorrowful mysteries of the Passion ceased, and were superseded by totally different scenes, in which St. Joseph appeared under the form of a child, and that it was to him that the words we have mentioned above were addressed.
We found that when she received these communications the vision was often in the form of a child, especially in those cases when an artist would have made use of that simile to express his ideas. If, for instance, the accomplishment of some Scripture prophecy was being shown to her, she often saw by the side of the illustration a child, who clearly designated the characteristics of such or such a prophet, by his position, his dress, and the manner in which he held in his hand and waved to and fro and the prophetic roll appended to a staff.
Sometimes, when she was in extreme suffering, a beautiful child, dressed in green, with a calm and serene countenance, would approach, and seat himself in a posture of resignation at the side of her bed, allowing himself to be moved from one side to the other, or even put down on to the ground, without the smallest opposition and constantly looking at her affectionately and consoling her. If, when quite prostrate from illness and the sufferings of others which she had taken upon herself, she entered into communication with a saint, either by participation in the celebration of his feast, or from his relics being brought to her, she sometimes saw passages of the childhood of this saint, and at others the most terrible scenes of his martyrdom. In her greatest sufferings she was usually consoled, instructed, or reproved (whichever the occasion called for) by apparitions under the form of children. Sometimes, when totally overcome by trouble and distress, she would fall asleep, and be carried back in imagination to the scenes and perils of her childhood. She sometimes dreamed, as her exclamations and gestures demonstrated, that she was once more a little country girl of five years old, climbing over a hedge, caught in the briars, and weeping with fear.
These scenes of her childhood were always events which had really occurred, and the words which escaped her showed what was passing in her mind. She would exclaim (as if repeating the words of others): Why do you call out so? I will not hold the hedge back until you are quiet and ask me gently to do so. She had obeyed this injunction when she was a child and caught in the hedge, and she followed the same rule when grown up and suffering from the most terrible trials. She often spoke and joked about the thorn hedge, and the patience and prayer which had then been recommended to her, which admonition she, in after-life, had frequently neglected, but which had never failed her when she had recourse to it. This symbolical coincidence of the events of her childhood with those of her riper years shows that, in the individual no less than in humanity at large, prophetic types may be found. But, to the individual as well as to mankind in general, a Divine Type had been given in the person of our Redeemer, in order that both the one and the other, by walking in his footsteps and with his assistance, may surpass human nature and attain to perfect wisdom and grace with God and man. Thus it is that the will of God is done on earth as in heaven, and that his kingdom is attained by men of good will.
She then gave a short account of the visions which had, on the previous night, interrupted her visions of the Passion at the commencement of the feast of St. Joseph.
GO TO CHAPTER XXV