The bitter Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ – Part 4

Jesus before Annas.

It was towards midnight when Jesus reached the palace of Annas, and his guards
immediately conducted him into a very large hall, where Annas, surrounded by twentyeight
councillors, was seated on a species of platform, raised a little above the level of the
floor, and placed opposite to the entrance. The soldiers who first arrested Jesus now dragged
him roughly to the foot of the tribunal. The room was quite full, between soldiers, the
servants of Annas, a number of the mob who had been admitted, and the false witnesses
who afterwards adjourned to Caiphas’s hall.
Annas was delighted at the thought of our Lord being brought before him, and was
looking out for his arrival with the greatest impatience. The expression of his countenance
was most repulsive, as it showed in every lineament not only the infernal joy with which he
was filled, but likewise all the cunning and duplicity of this heart. He was the president of a
species of tribunal instituted for the purpose of examining persons accused of teaching false
doctrines; and if convicted there, they were then taken before the High Priest.
Jesus stood before Annas. He looked exhausted and haggard; his garments were covered
with mud, his hands manacled, his head bowed down, and he spoke not a word. Annas was
a thin ill-humoured-looking old man, with a scraggy beard. His pride and arrogance were
great; and as he seated himself he smiled ironically, pretending that he knew nothing at all,
and that he was perfectly astonished at finding that the prisoner, whom he had just been
informed was to be brought before him, was no other than Jesus of Nazareth. ‘Is it possible,’
said he, ‘is it possible that thou art Jesus of Nazareth? Where are thy disciples, thy
numerous followers? Where is thy kingdom? I fear affairs have not turned out as thou didst
expect. The authorities, I presume, discovered that it was quite time to put a stop to thy
conduct, disrespectful as it was towards God and his priests, and to such violations of the
Sabbath. What disciples hast thou now? Where are they all gone? Thou are silent! Speak
out, seducer! Speak out, thou inciter of rebellion! Didst thou not eat the Paschal lamb in an
unlawful manner, at an improper time, and in an improper place? Dost thou not desire to
introduce new doctrines? Who gave thee the right of preaching? Where didst thou study?
Speak, what are the tenets of thy religion?’
Jesus then raised his weary head, looked at Annas, and said, ‘I have spoken openly to the
world; I have always taught in the synagogue, and in the Temple, whither all the Jews resort; and in
secret I have spoken nothing. Why askest thou me? Ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto
them; behold, they know what thing I have said.’
At this answer of Jesus the countenance of Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A
base menial who was standing near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lord on
the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment, ‘Answerest thou the High
Priest so?’ Jesus was so nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when the guards
likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, and blood trickled from his face on to
the floor. Laughter, insults, and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers
dragged him roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If I have spoken evil, give testimony of
the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?’
Annas became still more enraged when he saw the calm demeanour of Jesus, and,
turning to the witnesses, he desired them to bring forward their accusations. They all began
to speak at once:—‘He has called himself king; he says that God is his Father; that the
Pharisees are an adulterous generation. He causes insurrection among the people; he cures
the sick by the help of the devil on the Sabbath-day. The inhabitants of Ophel assembled
round him a short time ago, and addressed him by the titles of Saviour and Prophet. He lets
himself be called the Son of God; he says that he is sent by God; he predicts the destruction
of Jerusalem. He does not fast; he eats with sinners, with pagans, and with publicans, and
associates with women of evil repute. A short time ago he said to a man who gave him
some water to drink at the gates of Ophel, “that he would give unto him the water of eternal
life, after drinking which he would thirst no more.” He seduces the people by words of
double meaning,’ etc., etc.
These accusations were all vociferated at once; some of the witnesses stood before Jesus
and insulted him while they spoke by derisive gestures, and the archers went so far as even
to strike him, saying at the same time, ‘Speak; why dost thou not answer?’ Annas and his
adherents added mockery to insult, exclaiming at every pause in the accusations, ‘This is thy
doctrine, then, is it? What canst thou answer to this? Issue thy orders, great King; man sent
by God, give proofs of thy mission.’ ‘Who art thou?’ continued Annas, in a tone of cutting
contempt; ‘by whom art thou sent? Art thou the son of an obscure carpenter, or art thou
Elias, who was carried up to heaven in a fiery chariot? He is said to be still living, and I have
been told that thou canst make thyself invisible when thou pleasest. Perhaps thou art the
prophet Malachy, whose words thou dost so frequently quote. Some say that an angel was
his father, and that he likewise is still alive. An impostor as thou art could not have a finer
opportunity of taking persons in than by passing thyself off as this prophet. Tell me, without
farther preamble, to what order of kings thou dost belong? Thou art greater than
Solomon,—at least thou pretendest so to be, and dost even expect to be believed. Be easy, I
will no longer refuse the title and the sceptre which are so justly thy due.’
Annas then called for the sheet of parchment, about a yard in length, and six inches in
width; on this he wrote a series of words in large letters, and each word expressed some
different accusation which had been brought against our Lord. He then rolled it up, placed it
in a little hollow tube, fastened it carefully on the top of a reed, and presented this reed to
Jesus, saying at the same time, with a contemptuous sneer, ‘Behold the sceptre of thy
kingdom; it contains thy titles, as also the account of the honours to which thou art entitled,
and thy right to the throne. Take them to the High Priest, in order that he may acknowledge
thy regal dignity, and treat thee according to thy deserts. Tie the hands of this king, and take
him before the High Priest.’
The hands of Jesus, which had been loosened, were then tied across his breast in such a
manner as to make him hold the pretended sceptre, which contained the accusations of
Annas, and he was led to the Court of Caiphas, amidst the hisses, shouts, and blows
lavished upon him by the brutal mob.
The house of Annas was not more than three hundred steps from that of Caiphas; there
were high walls and common-looking houses on each side of the road, which was lighted up
by torches and lanterns placed on poles, and there were numbers of Jews standing about
talking in an angry excited manner. The soldiers could scarcely make their way through the
crowd, and those who had behaved so shamefully to Jesus at the Court of Annas continued
their insults and base usage during the whole of the time sent in walking to the house of
Caiphas. I saw money given to those who behaved the worst to Jesus by armed men
belonging to the tribunal, and I saw them push out of the way all who looked
compassionately at him. The former were allowed to enter the Court of Caiphas.

The Tribunal of Caiphas.

To enter Caiphas’s tribunal persons had to pass through a large court, which may be
called the exterior court; from thence they entered into an inner court, which extended all
round the building. The building itself was of far greater length than breadth, and in the
front there was a kind of open vestibule surrounded on three sides by columns of no great
height. On the fourth side the columns were higher, and behind them was a room almost as
large as the vestibule itself, where the seat of the members of the Council were placed on a
species of round platform raised above the level of the floor. That assigned to the High
Priest was elevated above the others; the criminal to be tried stood in the centre of the halfcircle
formed by the seats. The witnesses and accusers stood either by the side or behind the
prisoner. There were three doors at the back of the judges’ seats which led into another
apartment, filled likewise with seats. This room was used for secret consultation. Entrances
placed on the right and left hand sides of this room opened into the interior court, which
was round, like the back of the building. Those who left the room by the door on the righthand
side saw on the left-hand side of the court the gate which led to a subterranean prison
excavated under the room. There were many underground prisons there, and it was in one
of these that Peter and John were confined a whole night, when they had cured the lame
man in the Temple after Pentecost. Both the house and the courts were filled with torches
and lamps, which made them as light as day. There was a large fire lighted in the middle of
the porch, on each side of which were hollow pipes to serve as chimneys for the smoke, and
round this fire were standing soldiers, menial servants, and witnesses of the lowest class who
had received bribes for giving their false testimony. A few women were there likewise,
whose employment was to pour out a species of red beverage for the soldiers, and to bake
cakes, for which services they received a small compensation. The majority of the judges
were already seated around Caiphas, the others came in shortly afterwards, and the porch
was almost filled, between true and false witnesses, while many other persons likewise
endeavoured to come in to gratify their curiosity, but were prevented. Peter and John
entered the outer court, in the dress of travellers, a short time before Jesus was led through,
and John succeeded in penetrating into the inner court, by means of a servant with whom
he was acquainted. The door was instantly closed after him, therefore Peter, who was a little
behind, was shut out. He begged the maid-servant to open the door for him, but she refused
both his entreaties and those of John, and he must have remained on the outside had not
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who came up at this moment, taken him with them.
The two Apostles then returned the cloaks which they had borrowed, and stationed
themselves in a place from whence they could see the judges, and hear everything that was
going on. Caiphas was seated in the centre of the raised platform, and seventy of the
members of the Sanhedrin were placed around him, while the public officers, the scribes,
and the ancients were standing on either side, and the false witnesses behind them. Soldiers
were posted from the base of the platform to the door of the vestibule through which Jesus
was to enter. The countenance of Caiphas was solemn in the extreme, but the gravity was
accompanied by unmistakable signs of suppressed rage and sinister intentions. He wore a
long mantle of a dull red colour, embroidered in flowers and trimmed with golden fringe; it
was fastened at the shoulders and on the chest, besides being ornamented in the front with
gold clasps. His head-attire was high, and adorned with hanging ribbons, the sides were
open, and it rather resembled a bishop’s mitre. Caiphas had been waiting with his adherents
belonging to the Great Council for some time, and so impatient was he that he arose several
times, went into the outer court in his magnificent dress, and asked angrily whether Jesus of
Nazareth was come. When he saw the procession drawing near he returned to his seat.

Jesus before Caiphas.

Jesus was led across the court, and the mob received him with groans and hisses. As he
passed by Peter and John, he looked at them, but without turning his head, for fear of
betraying them. Scarcely had he reached the council-chamber, than Caiphas exclaimed in a
loud tone, ‘Thou art come, then, at last, thou enemy of God, thou blasphemer, who dost
disturb the peace of this holy night!’ The tube which contained the accusations of Annas,
and was fastened to the pretended sceptre in the hands of Jesus, was instantly opened and
Caiphas made use of the most insulting language, and the archers again struck and
abused our Lord, vociferating at the same time, ‘Answer at once! Speak out! Art thou
dumb?’ Caiphas, whose temper was indescribably proud and arrogant, became even more
enraged than Annas had been, and asked a thousand questions one after the other, but Jesus
stood before him in silence, and with his eyes cast down. The archers endeavoured to force
him to speak by repeated blows, and a malicious child pressed his thumb into his lips,
tauntingly bidding him to bite. The witnesses were then called for. The first were persons of
the lowest class, whose accusations were as incoherent and inconsistent as those brought
forward at the court of Annas, and nothing could be made out of them; Caiphas therefore
turned to the principal witnesses, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who had assembled from
all parts of the country. They endeavoured to speak calmly, but their faces and manner
betrayed the virulent envy and hatred with which their hearts were overflowing, and they
repeated over and over again the same accusations, to which he had already replied so
many times: ‘That he cured the sick, and cast out devils, by the help of devils—that he
profaned the Sabbath—incited the people to rebel—called the Pharisees a race of vipers and
adulterers—predicted the destruction of Jerusalem—frequented the society of publicans and
sinners—assembled the people and gave himself out as a king, a prophet, and the Son of
God.’ They deposed ‘that he was constantly speaking of his kingdom,—that he forbade
divorce,—called himself the Bread of Life, and said that whoever did not eat his flesh and
drink his blood would not have eternal life.’
Thus did they distort and misinterpret the words he had uttered, the instructions he had
given and the parables by which he had illustrated his instructions, giving them the
semblance of crimes. But these witnesses could not agree in their depositions, for one said,
‘He calls himself king;’ and a second instantly contradicted, saying, ‘No, he allows persons
to call him so; but directly they attempted to proclaim him, he fled.’ Another said, ‘He calls
himself the Son of God,’ but he was interrupted by a fourth, who exclaimed, ‘No, he only
styles himself the Son of God because he does the will of his Heavenly Father.’ Some of the
witnesses stated that he had cured them, but that their diseases had returned, and that his
pretended cures were only performed by magic. They spoke likewise of the cure of the
paralytic man at the pool of Bethsaida, but they distorted the facts so as to give them the
semblance of crimes, and even in these accusations they could not agree, contradicting one
another. The Pharisees of Sephoris, with whom he had once had a discussion on the subject
of divorces, accused him of teaching false doctrines, and a young man of Nazareth, whom
he had refused to allow to become one of his disciples, was likewise base enough to bear
witness against him.
It was found to be utterly impossible to prove a single fact, and the witnesses appeared to
come forward for the sole purpose of insulting Jesus, rather than to demonstrate the truth of
their statements. Whilst they were disputing with one another, Caiphas and some of the
other members of the Council employed themselves in questioning Jesus, and turning his
answers into derision. ‘What species of king art thou? Give proofs of thy power! Call the
legions of angels of whom thou didst speak in the Garden of Olives! What hast thou done
with the money given unto thee by the widows, and other simpletons whom thou didst
seduce by thy false doctrines? Answer at once: speak out,—art thou dumb? Thou wouldst
have been far wiser to have kept silence when in the midst of the foolish mob: there thou
didst speak far too much.’
All these questions were accompanied by blows from the under-servants of the members
of the tribunal, and had our Lord not been supported from above, he could not have
survived this treatment. Some of the base witnesses endeavoured to prove that he was an
illegitimate son; but others declared that his mother was a pious Virgin, belonging to the
Temple, and that they afterwards saw her betrothed to a man who feared God. The
witnesses upbraided Jesus and his disciples with not having offered sacrifice in the Temple.
It is true that I never did see either Jesus or his disciples offer any sacrifice in the Temple,
excepting the Paschal lamb; but Joseph and Anna used frequently during their lifetime to
offer sacrifice for the Child Jesus. However, even this accusation was puerile, for the
Essenians never offered sacrifice, and no one thought the less well of them for not doing so.
The enemies of Jesus still continued to accuse him of being a sorcerer, and Caiphas affirmed
several times that the confusion in the statements of the witnesses was caused solely by
Some said that he had eaten the Paschal lamb on the previous day, which was contrary
to the law, and that the year before he had made different alterations in the manner of
celebrating this ceremony. But the witnesses contradicted one another to such a degree that
Caiphas and his adherents found, to their very great annoyance and anger, that not one
accusation could be really proved. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were called up, and
being commanded to say how it happened that they had allowed him to eat the Pasch on
the wrong day in a room which belonged to them, they proved from ancient documents that
from time immemorial the Galileans had been allowed to eat the Pasch a day earlier than
the rest of the Jews. They added that every other part of the ceremony had been performed
according to the directions given in the law, and that persons belonging to the Temple were
present at the supper. This quite puzzled the witnesses, and Nicodemus increased the rage
of the enemies of Jesus by pointing out the passages in the archives which proved the right
of the Galileans, and gave the reason for which this privilege was granted. The reason was
this: the sacrifices would not have been finished by the Sabbath if the immense multitudes
who congregated together for that purpose had all been obliged to perform the ceremony on
the same day; and although the Galileans had not always profited by this right, yet its
existence was incontestably proved by Nicodemus; and the anger of the Pharisees was
heightened by his remarking that the members of the Council had cause to be greatly
offended at the gross contradictions in the statements of the witnesses, and that the
extraordinary and hurried manner in which the whole affair had been conducted showed
that malice and envy were the sole motives which induced the accusers, and made them
bring the case forward at a moment when all were busied in the preparations for the most
solemn feast of the year. They looked at Nicodemus furiously, and could not reply, but
continued to question the witnesses in a still more precipitate and imprudent manner. Two
witnesses at last came forward, who said, ‘This man said, “I will destroy this Temple made with
hands, and within three days I will build another not made with hands;”’ however, even these
witnesses did not agree in their statements, for one said that the accused wished to build a
new Temple, and that he had eaten the Pasch in an unusual place, because he desired the
destruction of the ancient Temple; but the other said, ‘Not so: the edifice where he ate the
Pasch was built by human hands, therefore he could not have referred to that.’
The wrath of Caiphas was indescribable; for the cruel treatment which Jesus had
suffered, his Divine patience, and the contradiction of the witnesses, were beginning to
make a great impression on many persons present, a few hisses were heard, and the hearts
of some were so touched that they could not silence the voice of their consciences. Ten
soldiers left the court under pretext of indisposition, but in reality overcome by their
feelings. As they passed by the place where Peter and John were standing, they exclaimed,
‘The silence of Jesus of Nazareth, in the midst of such cruel treatment, is superhuman: it
would melt a heart of iron: the wonder is, that the earth does not open and swallow such
reprobates as his accusers must be. But tell us, where must we go?’ The two Apostles either
mistrusted the soldiers, and thought they were only seeking to betray them, or they were
fearful of being recognised by those around and denounced as disciples of Jesus, for they
only made answer in a melancholy tone: ‘If truth calls you, follow it, and all will come right
of itself.’ The soldiers instantly went out of the room, and left Jerusalem soon after. They
met persons on the outskirts of the town, who directed them to the caverns which lay to the
south of Jerusalem, on the other side of Mount Sion, where many of the Apostles had taken
refuge. These latter were at first alarmed at seeing strangers enter their hiding-place; but the
soldiers soon dispelled all fear, and gave them an account of the sufferings of Jesus.
The temper of Caiphas, which was already perturbed, became quite infuriated by the
contradictory statements of the two last witnesses, and rising from his seat he approached
Jesus, and said: ‘Answerest thou nothing to the things which these witness against thee?’
Jesus neither raised his head nor looked at the High Priest, which increased the anger of
the latter to the greatest degree; and the archers perceiving this seized our Lord by the hair,
pulled his head back, and gave him blows under the chin; but he still kept his eyes cast
down. Caiphas raised his hands, and exclaimed in an enraged tone: ‘I adjure thee by the living
God that thou tell us if thou be Christ the Messiah, the son of the living God?’
A momentary and solemn pause ensued. Then Jesus in a majestic and superhuman voice
replied, ‘Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man
sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of Heaven.’ Whilst
Jesus was pronouncing these words, a bright light appeared to me to surround him; Heaven
was opened above his head; I saw the Eternal Father; but no words from a human pen can
describe the intuitive view that was then vouchsafed me of him. I likewise saw the angels,
and the prayers of the just ascending to the throne of God.
At the same moment I perceived the yawning abyss of hell like a fiery meteor at the feet
of Caiphas; it was filled with horrible devils; a slight gauze alone appeared to separate him
from its dark flames. I could see the demoniacal fury with which his heart was overflowing,
and the whole house looked to me like hell. At the moment that our Lord pronounced the
solemn words, ‘I am the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ hell appeared to be shaken from one
extremity to the other, and then, as it were, to burst forth and inundate every person in the
house of Caiphas with feelings of redoubled hatred towards our Lord. These things are
always shown to me under the appearance of some material object, which renders them less
difficult of comprehension, and impresses them in a more clear and forcible manner on the
mind, because we ourselves being material beings, facts are more easily illustrated in our
regard if manifested through the medium of the senses. The despair and fury which these
words produced in hell were shown to me under the appearance of a thousand terrific
figures in different places. I remember seeing, among other frightful things, a number of
little black objects, like dogs with claws, which walked on their hind legs; I knew at the time
what kind of wickedness was indicated by this apparition, but I cannot remember now. I
saw these horrible phantoms enter into the bodies of the greatest part of the bystanders, or
else place themselves on their head or shoulders. I likewise at this moment saw frightful
spectres come out of the sepulchres on the other side of Sion; I believe they were evil spirits.
I saw in the neighbourhood of the Temple many other apparitions, which resembled
prisoners loaded with chains: I do not know whether they were demons, or souls
condemned to remain in some particular part of the earth, and who were then going to
Limbo, which our Lord’s condemnation to death had opened to them.
It is extremely difficult to explain these facts, for fear of scandalising those who have no
knowledge of such things; but persons who see feel them, and they often cause the very hair
to stand on end on the head. I think that John saw some of these apparitions, for I heard
him speak about them afterwards. All whose hearts were not radically corrupted felt
excessively terrified at these events, but the hardened were sensible of nothing but an
increase of hatred and anger against our Lord.
Caiphas then arose, and, urged on by Satan, took up the end of his mantle, pierced it
with his knife, and rent it from one end to the other, exclaiming at the same time, in a loud
voice, ‘He hath blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the
blasphemy: what think you?’ All who were then present arose, and exclaimed with astounding
malignancy, ‘He is guilty of death!’
During the whole of this frightful scene, the devils were in the most tremendous state of
excitement; they appeared to have complete possession not only of the enemies of Jesus, but
likewise of their partisans and cowardly followers. The powers of darkness seemed to me to
proclaim a triumph over the light, and the few among the spectators whose hearts still
retained a glimmering of light were filled with such consternation that, covering their heads,
they instantly departed. The witnesses who belonged to the upper classes were less hardened
than the others; their consciences were racked with remorse, and they followed the example
given by the persons mentioned above, and left the room as quickly as possible, while the
rest crowded round the fire in the vestibule, and ate and drank after receiving full pay for
their services. The High Priest then addressed the archers, and said, ‘I deliver this king up
into your hands; render the blasphemer the honours which are his due.’ After these words
he retired with the members of his Council into the round room behind the tribunal, which
could not be seen from the vestibule.
In the midst of the bitter affliction which inundated the heart of John, his thoughts were
with the Mother of Jesus; he feared that the dreadful news of the condemnation of her Son
might be communicated to her suddenly, or that perhaps some enemy might give the
information in a heartless manner. He therefore looked at Jesus, and saying in a low voice,
‘Lord, thou knowest why I leave thee,’ went away quickly to seek the Blessed Virgin, as if
he had been sent by Jesus himself. Peter was quite overcome between anxiety and sorrow,
which, joined to fatigue, made him chilly; therefore, as the morning was cold, he went up to
the fire where many of the common people were warming themselves. He did his best to
hide his grief in their presence, as he could not make up his mind to go home and leave his
beloved Master.

The Insults received by Jesus in the Court of Caiphas.

No sooner did Caiphas, with the other members of the Council, leave the tribunal than a
crowd of miscreants—the very scum of the people—surrounded Jesus like a swarm of
infuriated wasps, and began to heap every imaginable insult upon him. Even during the
trial, whilst the witnesses were speaking, the archers and some others could not restrain
their cruel inclinations, but pulled out handfuls of his hair and beard, spat upon him, struck
him with their fists, wounded him with sharp-pointed sticks, and even ran needles into his
body; but when Caiphas left the hall they set no bounds to their barbarity. They first placed
a crown, made of straw and the bark of trees, upon his head, and then took it off, saluting
him at the same time with insulting expressions, like the following: ‘Behold the Son of
David wearing the crown of his father.’ ‘A greater than Solomon is here; this is the king
who is preparing a wedding feast for his son.’ Thus did they turn into ridicule those eternal
truths which he had taught under the from of parables to those whom he came from heaven
to save; and whilst repeating these scoffing words, they continued to strike him with their
fists and sticks, and to spit in his face. Next they put a crown of reeds upon his head, took
off his robe and scapular, and then threw an old torn mantle, which scarcely reached his
knees, over his shoulders; around his neck they hung a long iron chain, with an iron ring at
each end, studded with sharp points, which bruised and tore his knees as he walked. They
again pinioned his arms, put a reed into his hand, and covered his Divine countenance with
spittle. They had already thrown all sorts of filth over his hair, as well as over his chest, and
upon the old mantle. They bound his eyes with a dirty rag, and struck him, crying out at the
same time in loud tones, ‘Prophesy unto us, O Christ, who is he that struck thee?’ He answered
not one word, but sighed, and prayed inwardly for them.
After many more insults, they seized the chain which was hanging on his neck, dragged
him towards the room into which the Council had withdrawn, and with their stick forced
him in, vociferating at the same time, ‘March forward, thou King of Straw! Show thyself to
the Council with the insignia of the regal honours we have rendered unto thee.’ A large
body of councillors, with Caiphas at their head, were still in the room, and they looked with
both delight and approbation at the shameful scene which was enacted, beholding with
pleasure the most sacred ceremonies turned into derision. The pitiless guards covered him
with mud and spittle, and with mock gravity exclaimed, ‘Receive the prophetic unction—
the regal unction.’ Then they impiously parodied the baptismal ceremonies, and the pious
act of Magdalen in emptying the vase of perfume on his head. ‘How canst thou presume,’
they exclaimed, ‘to appear before the Council in such a condition? Thou dost purify others,
and thou art not pure thyself; but we will soon purify thee.’ They fetched a basin of dirty
water, which they poured over his face and shoulders, whilst they bent their knees before
him, and exclaimed, ‘Behold thy precious unction, behold the spikenard worth three
hundred pence; thou hast been baptised in the pool of Bethsaida.’ They intended by this to
throw into ridicule the act of respect and veneration shown by Magdalen, when she poured
the precious ointment over his head, at the house of the Pharisee.
By their derisive words concerning his baptism in the pool of Bethsaida, they pointed out,
although unintentionally, the resemblance between Jesus and the Paschal lamb, for the
lambs were washed in the first place in the pond near the Probatica gate, and then brought
to the pool of Bethsaida, where they underwent another purification before being taken to
the Temple to be sacrificed. The enemies of Jesus likewise alluded to the man who had been
infirm for thirty-eight years, and who was cured by Jesus at the pool of Bethsaida; for I saw
this man either washed or baptised there; I say either washed or baptised, because I do not
exactly remember the circumstances.
They then dragged Jesus round the room, before all the members of the Council, who
continued to address him in reproachful and abusive language. Every countenance looked
diabolical and enraged, and all around was dark, confused, and terrified. Our Lord, on the
contrary, was from the moment that he declared himself to be the Son of God, generally
surrounded with a halo of light. Many of the assembly appeared to have a confused
knowledge of this fact, and to be filled with consternation at perceiving that neither outrages
or ignominies could alter the majestic expression of his countenance.
The halo which shone around Jesus from the moment he declared himself to be the
Christ, the Son of the Living God, served but to incite his enemies to greater fury, and yet it
was so resplendent that they could not look at it, and I believe their intention in throwing
the dirty rag over his head was to deaden its brightness.

The Denial of St. Peter

At the moment when Jesus uttered the words, ‘Thou hast said it,’ and the High Priest rent
his garment, the whole room resounded with tumultuous cries. Peter and John, who had
suffered intensely during the scene which had just been enacted, and which they had been
obliged to witness in silence, could bear the sight no longer. Peter therefore got up to leave
the room, and John followed soon after. The latter went to the Blessed Virgin, who was in
the house of Martha with the holy women, but Peter’s love for Jesus was so great, that he
could not make up his mind to leave him; his heart was bursting, and he wept bitterly,
although he endeavoured to restrain and hide his tears. It was impossible for him to remain
in the tribunal, as his deep emotion at the sight of his beloved Master’s sufferings would
have betrayed him; therefore he went into the vestibule and approached the fire, around
which soldiers and common people were sitting and talking in the most heartless and
disgusting manner concerning the sufferings of Jesus, and relating all that they themselves
had done to him. Peter was silent, but his silence and dejected demeanour made the
bystanders suspect something. The portress came up to the fire in the midst of the
conversation, cast a bold glance at Peter and said, ‘Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean.’
These words startled and alarmed Peter; he trembled as to what might ensue if he owned the
truth before his brutal companions, and therefore answered quickly, ‘Woman, I know him
not,’ got up, and left the vestibule. At this moment the cock crowed somewhere in the
outskirts of the town. I do not remember hearing it, but I felt that is was crowing. As he
went out, another maid-servant looked at him, and said to those who were with her, ‘This
man was also with him,’ and the persons she addressed immediately demanded of Peter
whether her words were true, saying, ‘Art thou not one of this man’s disciples?’ Peter was
even more alarmed than before, and renewed his denial in these words, ‘I am not; I know not
the man.’
He left the inner court, and entered the exterior court; he was weeping, and so great was
his anxiety and grief, that he did not reflect in the least on the words he had just uttered. The
exterior court was quite filled with persons, and some had climbed on to the top of the wall
to listen to what was going on in the inner court which they were forbidden to enter. A few
of the disciples were likewise there, for their anxiety concerning Jesus was so great that they
could not make up their minds to remain concealed in the caves of Hinnom. They came up
to Peter, and with many tears questioned him concerning their loved Master, but he was so
unnerved and so fearful of betraying himself, that he briefly recommended them to go away,
as it was dangerous to remain, and left them instantly. He continued to indulge his violent
grief, while they hastened to leave the town. I recognised among these disciples, who were
about sixteen in number, Bartholomew, Nathaniel, Saturninus, Judas Barsabeas, Simon,
who was afterwards bishop of Jerusalem, Zacheus, and Manahem, the man who was born
blind and cured by our Lord.
Peter could not rest anywhere, and his love for Jesus prompted him to return to the inner
court, which he was allowed to enter, because Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had, in
the first instance, taken him in. He did not re-enter the vestibule, but turned to the right and
went towards the round room which was behind the tribunal, and in which Jesus was
undergoing every possible insult and ignominy from his cruel enemies. Peter walked timidly
up to the door, and although perfectly conscious that he was suspected by all present of
being a partisan of Jesus, yet he could not remain outside; his love for his Master impelled
him forward; he entered the room, advanced, and soon stood in the very midst of the brutal
throng who were feasting their cruel eyes on the sufferings of Jesus. They were at that
moment dragging him ignominiously backwards and forwards with the crown of straw
upon his head; he cast a sorrowful and even severe glance upon Peter, which cut him to the
heart, but as he was still much alarmed, and at that moment heard some of the bystanders
call out, ‘Who is that man?’ he went back again into the court, and seeing that the persons in
the vestibule were watching him, came up to the fire and remained before it for some time.
Several persons who had observed his anxious troubled countenance began to speak in
opprobrious terms of Jesus, and one of them said to him, ‘Thou also art one of his disciples; thou
also art a Galilean; thy very speech betrays thee.’ Peter got up, intending to leave the room, when
a brother of Malchus came up to him and said, ‘Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Didst
thou not cut off my brother’s ear?’
Peter became almost beside himself with terror; he began to curse and to swear ‘that he
knew not the man,’ and ran out of the vestibule into the outer court; the cock then crowed
again, and Jesus, who at that moment was led across the court, cast a look of mingled
compassion and grief upon his Apostle. This look of our Lord pierced Peter to the very
heart,—it recalled to his mind in the most forcible and terrible manner the words addressed
to him by our Lord on the previous evening: ‘Before the cock crows twice, thou shalt thrice deny
me.’ He had forgotten all his promises and protestations to our Lord, that he would die
rather than deny him—he had forgotten the warning given to him by our Lord;—but when
Jesus looked at him, he felt the enormity of his fault, and his heart was nigh bursting with
grief. He had denied his Lord, when that beloved Master was outraged, insulted, delivered
up into the hands of unjust judges,—when he was suffering all in patience and in silence.
His feelings of remorse were beyond expression; he returned to the exterior court, covered
his face and wept bitterly; all fear of being recognised was over;—he was ready to proclaim
to the whole universe both his fault and his repentance.
What man will dare assert that he would have shown more courage than Peter if, with
his quick and ardent temperament, he were exposed to such danger, trouble, and sorrow, at
a moment, too, when completely unnerved between fear and grief, and exhausted by the
sufferings of this sad night? Our Lord left Peter to his own strength, and he was weak; like
all who forget the words: ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’