The Holy Day of Pentecost
The whole interior of the Last Supper room was, on the eve of the feast, ornamented with green bushes in whose branches were placed vases of flowers. Garlands of green were looped from side to side. The screens that cut off the side halls and the vestibule were removed; only the gate of the outer court was closed. Peter in his episcopal robe stood at a table covered with red and white under the lamp in front of the curtained Holy of Holies. On the table lay rolls of writing. Opposite him in the doorway leading from the entrance hall stood the Blessed Virgin, her face veiled, and behind her in the entrance hall stood the holy women. The Apostles stood in two rows turned toward Peter along either side of the hall, and from the side halls, the disciples ranged behind the Apostles took part in the hymns and prayers. When Peter broke and distributed the bread that he had previously blessed, first to the Blessed Virgin, then to the Apostles and disciples who stepped forward to receive it, they kissed his hand, the Blessed Virgin included. Besides the holy women, there were in the house of the Last Supper and its dependencies one hundred and twenty of Jesus’ followers.
After midnight there arose a wonderful movement in all nature. It communicated itself to all present as they stood in deep recollection, their arms crossed on their breast, near the pillars of the Supper Room and in the side halls, silently praying. Stillness pervaded the house, and silence reigned throughout the whole enclosure.
Toward morning I saw above the Mount of Olives a glittering white cloud of light coming down from Heaven and drawing near to the house. In the distance it appeared to me like a round ball borne along on a soft, warm breeze. But coming nearer, it looked larger and floated over the city like a luminous mass of fog until it stood above Sion and the house of the Last Supper. It seemed to contract and to shine with constantly increasing brightness, until at last with a rushing, roaring noise as of wind, it sank like a thunder cloud floating low in the atmosphere. I saw many Jews, who espied the cloud, hurrying in terror to the Temple. I myself experienced a childlike anxiety as to where I should hide if the stroke were to follow, for the whole thing was like a storm that had suddenly gathered, that instead of rising from the earth came down from Heaven, that was light instead of dark, that instead of thundering came down with a rushing wind. I felt that rushing motion. I t was like a warm breeze full of power to refresh and invigorate.
The luminous cloud descended low over the house, and with the increasing sound, the light became brighter. I saw the house and its surroundings more clearly, while the Apostles, the disciples, and the women became more and more silent, more deeply recollected. Afterward there shot from the rushing cloud streams of white light down upon the house and its surroundings. The streams intersected one another in sevenfold rays, and below each intersection resolved into fine threads of light and fiery drops. The point at which the seven streams intersected was surrounded by a rainbow light, in which floated a luminous figure with outstretched wings, or rays of light that looked like wings, attached to the shoulders. In that same instant the whole house and its surroundings were penetrated through and through with light. The five-branched lamp no longer shone. The assembled Faithful were ravished in ecstasy. Each involuntarily threw back his head and raised his eyes eagerly on high, while into the mouth of everyone there flowed a stream of light like a burning tongue of fire. It looked as if they were breathing, as if they were eagerly drinking in the fire, and as if their ardent desire flamed forth from their mouth to meet the entering flame. The sacred fire was poured forth also upon the disciples and the women present in the antechamber, and thus the resplendent cloud gradually dissolved as if in a rain of light. The flames descended on each in different colors and in different degrees of intensity. After that effusion of heavenly light, a joyous courage pervaded the assembly. All were full of emotion, and as if intoxicated with joy and confidence. They gathered around the Blessed Virgin who was, I saw, the only one perfectly calm, the only one that retained a quiet, holy self-possession. The Apostles embraced one another and, urged by joyous confidence, exclaimed: “What were we? What are we now?” The holy women too embraced. The disciples in the side halls were similarly affected, and the Apostles hastened out to them. A new life full of joy, of confidence, and of courage had been infused into all. Their joy found vent in thanksgiving. They ranged for prayer, gave thanks and praised God with great emotion. The light meanwhile vanished. Peter delivered an instruction to the disciples, and sent several of them out to the inns of the Pentecost guests.
Between the house of the Last Supper and the Pool of Bethsaida there were several sheds and pub-lic lodging houses for the accommodation of guests come up for the feast. They were at this time very numerous, and they too received the grace of the Holy Ghost. An extraordinary movement pervaded all nature. Good people were roused interiorly, while the wicked became timid, uneasy, and still more stiff-necked. Most of these strangers had been encamped here since the Pasch, because the distance from their homes rendered a journey to and fro between that feast and Pentecost altogether impracticable. They were become, by all that they had seen and heard, quite intimate and kindly disposed toward the disciples, so that the latter, intoxicated with joy, announced to them the Promise of the Holy Ghost as fulfilled. Then too did they become conscious of a change within their own souls and, at the summons of the disciples, they gathered around the Pool of Bethsaida.
In the house of the Last Supper, Peter imposed hands on five of the Apostles who were to help to teach and baptize at the Pool of Bethsaida. They were James the Less, Bartholomew, Mathias, Thomas, and Jude Thaddeus. The last-named had a vision during his ordination. It seemed to him that he was clasping to his breast the Body of the Lord.
Before departing for the Pool of Bethsaida to consecrate the water and administer Baptism, they received on their knees the benediction of the Blessed Virgin. Before Jesus’ Ascension, this ceremony was performed standing. On the following days I saw this blessing given whenever the Apostles left the house, and also on their return. The Blessed Virgin wore on such occasions, and generally when she appeared among the Apostles in her post of dignity, a large white mantle, a creamy white veil, and a scarf of sky-blue stuff that hung from her head down both sides to the ground. It was ornamented with embroidery, and was held firmly on the head by a white silken crown.
Baptism at the Pool of Bethsaida had been arranged by Jesus Himself for this day’s feast, and the disciples had, in consequence, made all kinds of preparations at the pool, as well as in the old synagogue that they had appropriated for their own use. The walls of the synagogue were hung with tapestry, and from the building down to the pool a covered tent-way was erected.
The Apostles and disciples went in solemn procession, two by two, from the house of the Last Supper to the Pool. Some of the disciples carried a leathern bottle of holy water and an asperges. The five Apostles upon whom Peter had imposed hands separated, each taking one of the five entrances to the pool, and addressed the people with great enthusiasm. Peter stepped upon the teacher’s chair that had been prepared for him in the third circle of the Pool, counting from the outside one. This terrace was the broadest. The hearers filled all the terraces of the pool. When the Apostles spoke, the multitude hearkened in amazement, for everyone listened to what sounded to him his own language. It was owing to this astonishment of the people that Peter lifted up his voice, as is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
As many presented themselves for Baptism, Peter, assisted by John and James the Less, solemnly blessed the water. The holy water, which they had brought in a leathern bottle from the house of the Last Supper, Peter sprinkled in fine streams far over
the pool with an asperges. The preparations for Baptism and the Baptism itself occupied the whole day. The neophytes approached Peter’s chair in bands and by turns, the other Apostles preaching and baptizing at the entrances. The Blessed Virgin and the holy women were busy in the synagogue near the pool, distributing the white garments to the neophytes. The sleeves of these garments were bound over the hands with black bands, which were taken off after Baptism and laid together in a pile. The neophytes leaned upon a railing. The water was scooped up in a basin and then with the hand poured three times over the head. It flowed again through a channel into the pool below. One basin held enough water for about ten couples. Every two baptized gave place to two neophytes upon whom they laid their hands as sponsors. Those baptized here today were they that had received John’s baptism only. The holy women too were baptized. The people added to the Community today amounted to three thousand. That evening the Apostles and disciples returned to the house of the Last Supper, where they took a repast and distributed blessed bread. Then came the evening prayer.
The Jews offered today in the Temple little baskets containing two small loaves made of this year’s grain. The baskets were deposited one upon another, until they formed high heaps, and they were afterward distributed to the poor. Once I saw that the High Priest had in his hand a bunch of ears, thick like maize. Something like roots also was offered, and some kind of fruit unknown to me. The strangers under the sheds had asses laden with them, and the people made purchases of them. The bread was of their own baking. The Apostles offered only the two loaves through Peter.
On the following days also, preaching and baptizing went on at the pool. Before the Apostles and disciples went down for these duties, they received the blessing of the Blessed Virgin.
The Church at the Pool of Bethsaida
The Pool of Bethsaida lay in a ravine of the valley that separated Mount Sion from the Temple and the rest of that quarter of the city, and which declined eastward into the Valley of Josaphat. It seemed to have been constructed in such a way as to cut off the view of the Temple on the west, for on one side one could not see all around, as could be done on the others. The way to it was indeed broad enough, but the walls were partly overturned and the road was full of grass and sedge. Just at that point it ran down into a ravine which became greener in proportion to its depth. From the pool could be seen off to the southwest an angle of the Holy of Holies. The sheep pool lay to the north of the Temple near the cattle market, and was entirely enclosed by a wall. From the house of the Last Supper, which stood on the eastern height of Mount Sion, the way led to the Pool of Bethsaida first to the east around the height of Sion, then wound in a half-circle to the north, then turned to the west, and lastly eastward again down into a curve. The whole of this quarter of Sion as far as the pool and across down into the Valley of Josaphat, presented an appearance of desolation. In the dilapidated buildings were formed dwellings for the poor, on the slopes grew groves of juniper trees, and the hollows were covered with high grass and reeds. The Jews shunned this locality, so the new converts now began to settle in it.
The Pool of Bethsaida was oval in form and surrounded by five terraces, like an amphitheater. Five flights of steps led down to the pool from these terraces to the little trough like skiffs in which the sick who were seeking a cure were laid when waiting to be sprinkled by the bubbling waters. There was also in the pool a copper pump, which arose to nearly the height of a man above the surface of the water and was about as large around as a churn. A little wooden bridge with a railing led to it. I saw by the bridge a tube and piston, which were connected with the pump. When the piston was forced down, a valve was opened and a stream of water squirted out of the pump. By changes made in the opening, the stream could be increased or diminished and made to flow in different directions. The top of the pump could be closed also, and from side jets the streams could be made to spurt all around, like water from a watering pot. I often saw the sick in the skiffs rowing up to the pump to receive the streams over them. The entrance to the Pool was usually closed. It was opened for the sick only. This pump was out of use, and on the feast of Pentecost was not yet repaired, but a few days later I saw it restored. The terrace walls contained little vaulted halls in which were stone benches hollowed out in the form of a trough. They were for the accommodation of the sick. They could from all sides look down upon the pool, to see whether the waters were being stirred or not. The lowest terrace, the one nearest the pool, was provided with little parapets, or bars. The bottom of the pool was covered with shining white sand, through which three springs bubbled up and sometimes jetted above the surface of the water. The blood of the animals offered in sacrifice flowed through pipes under the altar in the Temple down into the Pool. With its surroundings and the old buildings in its vicinity, the pool covered a very large area. Before reaching it, one had to pass a wall through which there were only three openings. To the east of the pool, the valley made a steep descent, but westward, back of the pool, it was less deep and was spanned by a little bridge. The north side too was steep and overgrown, and on the northeast was a road conducting to the Temple. But it was now gone to ruin and altogether impracticable. Little footpaths, however, led into the city, so that one did not have to go by the public gates. Jesus had often made use of these paths.
The whole pool had hitherto been out of use, for it as well as its surroundings had been allowed to fall to decay. Like many old sanctuaries of our own day, it was quite neglected. Only some poor people with lively faith still held it in veneration and visited it. After the healing of the paralytic by Jesus, the pool was again more frequented, though all the more hateful to the Pharisees. The outer walls were in some places quite in ruins, and many parts of the terraces were in a dilapidated condition. But now all was repaired. The fallen walls were partly replaced by movable screens, and from the pool to the synagogue was raised a covered tent-way.
The old synagogue, which was now erected into a church, was less hemmed in by buildings than the house of the Last Supper, whose court on one side adjoined a row of houses. I saw the Apostles and disciples, after the Feast of Pentecost, working continually at the interior arrangements of the Church. Peter, John, Andrew, and James the Less took turns in preaching at three different places around the pool and on the third terrace, upon which was Peter’s chair of instruction. A great many of the Faithful were always in attendance, and I often saw them prostrate on the ground in ardent prayer.
Words cannot say what activity reigned throughout the whole Community at all times. Weaving, plaiting, and every kind of work for the new church and for the poor were carried on.
The church was a large, long, quadrangular edifice with real windows high up in the walls. By means of steps in the wall, one could mount up on the outside to the flat roof, which was surrounded by a gallery. On it were three little cupolas that could be opened like draught holes. The inside, on the two lengths and one of the ends, was furnished with stone benches for the congregation, and the building was in all respects turned into a church. At one end was the altar, at such a distance from the wall that sufficient space was left behind for a sacristy, which was formed by wickerwork screens that reached from the altar to the side walls. These screens were covered in front with fine white stuff, on the other side with coarser. The altar was portable. It consisted of a long, four-cornered piece of wood covered, and resting on three steps. On either side, however, there was only a single step, which could be opened to allow carpets to be laid in, and the back of the altar likewise opened to receive the vestments. On it was a bell-shaped tabernacle with a fine white cover closed in front by two little metallic shields. There was a knob on top, by which it could be lifted. On either side of the tabernacle were branched lamps with burning wicks. The whole altar was enclosed by a white curtain with colored stripes, which was supported by a canopy. It hung down only a little below the top of the altar. The canopy itself formed a niche and depended by five straps from the hand of a figure embroidered by the holy women. It represented an old man in the robes of a High Priest, a triangular halo around the head. It stood in a bowed posture, as if looking down through an opening in the cover, one hand outstretched as if giving a blessing, the other grasping the five straps of the canopy. The curtain was in one piece at the back, but in front it could be drawn to either side or closed with metal clasps.
From the raised altar down to the pulpit was a space set aside apart for the choir ceremonies of the Apostles and disciples. After the holy Resurrection I saw them assembled every day in the Last Supper room for prayer in choir. The Apostles stood along either side of the hall facing the Holy of Holies, while the disciples occupied the vestibule thrown open for the occasion. They sang and prayed, choir and choir. I saw Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Obed present also. The Blessed Virgin usually stood under the middle entrance of the vestibule, her face turned toward the Holy of Holies. She wore the long white mantle and was veiled. Jesus had Himself arranged the choral service, and about the time of the eating of the fish at Tiberias, or perhaps during the meal itself, explained to the Apostles the mysterious signification of this religious ceremony. He had repeated the same on the occasion of Thomas’ touching His sacred wounds and giving testimony of his faith. Once also I saw that Jesus appeared to them while they were chanting in choir before daybreak. They daily assembled twice, in the evening till after dark, and before dawn in the morning. Below the pulpit the congregation was cut off from the choir by a grating, through many places of which the Blessed Sacrament could be reached to them. It was almost like the grating seen in cloisters. On either side of the pulpit there were small doors by which the Apostles and disciples could enter the choir. The congregation was arranged in a certain order, the women separate from the men.
I saw the Apostles and disciples going in procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the house of the Last Supper to the new church. Before setting out, Peter, standing in the entrance to the courtyard and surrounded by about twenty of the disciples, delivered a public discourse before many people. He spoke in fiery words. Many Jews ran to hear, and tried to interrupt him by advancing objections, but their efforts were fruitless. The discourse over, the procession wound down to the new church near the Pool, Peter bearing in his hands the chalice containing the Blessed Sacrament. The chalice was covered with a white linen, something like a bag, which was suspended from his neck. The Blessed Virgin walked after the Apostles with the other women and the disciples. A part of the way was hung with screens of matting, and in the vicinity of the church, the road was even covered in with awnings. The Blessed Sacrament was placed in the new tabernacle on the altar. The tray full of blessed bread had also been brought.
The floor of the church, like that of the house of the Last Supper in these latter days, was covered with colored carpets. The Faithful entered barefoot.
The Blessed Sacrament was deposited in a vessel whose cover could be turned to one side. It lay in morsels on a plate that covered the bottom of the vessel and which could be raised by means of a handle, the more conveniently to get at them.
Peter Celebrates the First Holy Mass in the Last Supper Room
On the eighth day after Pentecost, I saw the Apostles busily engaged the whole night in the house of the Last Supper, praying, etc. At daybreak they went with many of the disciples into the Temple, to which the Blessed Virgin and the holy women had preceded them. There appeared to be a feast going on, for in front of the entrance a triumphal arch had been erected upon which stood a figure holding a conqueror’s sword. Beneath this arch Peter addressed a great crowd of people in powerful language. He told them openly that no punishment, neither scourging nor crucifixion, should deter them from publicly proclaiming Jesus Christ. He then entered the Temple and preached from the teacher’s chair that Jesus had so often occupied. Once I heard all the Apos-tles and disciples interrupting Peter’s discourse with a loud “Yes,” as if in confirmation of his words. Afterward, when they were engaged in prayer, I saw a cloud of light hovering over the Temple, and such rays streaming down upon them that the tiny flames of the lamps looked quite dim and red compared with them.
Toward eight o’clock that morning, they left the Temple. In the court of the heathens they formed in a long procession, two by two, first the Apostles, after them the disciples, then the baptized and the newly converted. They proceeded across the cattle market to the sheep gate, out into the Valley of Josaphat, and thence up Sion to the house of the Last Supper. The Blessed Virgin and the other women had left the Temple some time previously, in order to kneel alone before the Blessed Sacrament and pray. Magdalen prayed in the entrance hall sometimes standing, sometimes kneeling, or again prostrate on the ground, her arms outstretched. The other women had retired into their cells adjoining the church of Bethsaida. There they dwelt two together, occupying their time in washing and preparing the baptismal garments for the neophytes, and with the arrangement of such things for distribution.
When the procession reached the court of the Last Supper house, the new converts were ranged in order by the Apostles outside the entrance hall. Peter and John went into the house and escorted the Blessed Virgin to the door of the entrance hall. She was clothed in robes of ceremony. She wore the long white mantle with the embroidered facing down the sides, and over her veil the narrow scarf that hung down on either side and was kept in place by a wreath. Peter addressed the new converts and presented them to the Blessed Virgin as to their common Mother. He led them forward in bands of about twenty, one after another, and they received the benediction of the Blessed Virgin.
After that I saw solemn service celebrated in the Last Supper room, into which the side halls and entrance hall were thrown open. In the sanctuary over the altar hung a festal wreath of green leaves and flowers. On either side of the chalice, that used at the Last Supper, were lighted lamps. The chalice was raised on a stand of some kind, and concealed under a little white cover. There was also on the altar a smaller chalice and some bread, both covered, and behind them a plate upon which stood two vessels, one for water, the other for wine. The plate was put aside; then the water vessel was placed at one end of the altar, the wine vessel at the other.
Peter, vested in his episcopal mantle, celebrated holy Mass. John and James the Less served him. I saw all the ceremonies performed just as Jesus had performed them at the institution of the Holy Eucharist: the Offertory, the pouring of wine into the chalice, the washing of the fingers, and the Consecration. Wine and water were poured at different sides of the altar, on one end of which were lying the rolls of Scripture. They were written in two columns and, by means of pegs placed higher or lower on the desk that supported them, they could be rolled or unrolled. When one leaf was read, it was thrown over the desk. There were many leaves lying one over another. After Peter had communicated, he handed his two assistants the Sacrament, the Bread and the Chalice. Then John handed the Sacrament first to the Blessed Virgin, then to the Apostles and the six disciples, who afterward received priestly ordination, and to many others. The communicants were kneeling, before them a narrow linen cloth, which two held on either side. I did not see the Faithful partake of the chalice.
The six disciples who now received ordination were thereby advanced to a rank above the disciples, though below that of the Apostles. Mary brought the vestments for them and laid them on the altar. The disciples ordained were Zacheus, Nathanael, Joses Barsabas, Barnabas, John Mark, and Eliud, a son of the aged Simeon. They knelt, two by two, before Peter, who addressed them and read prayers from a little roll. John and James held lights in one hand and laid the other on their shoulders, while Peter imposed his on their head. Peter cut some hair from their head and placed it on the altar in the little plate; then he anointed their head and fingers from a box that John was holding. The vestments were next put on, the stole being crossed first under the arm and then in front over the breast. I saw that the ceremonies, though more solemn, were shorter than at the present day. At the close of the solemnity, Peter blessed the Faithful with the large chalice of the Last Supper in which reposed the Blessed Sacrament.
Mary and the other women went after that to the church of the Pool of Bethsaida. The Apostles, disciples, and the neophytes went thither also in procession with singing. Mary prayed there kneeling before the altar in the choir. Peter gave an instruction from the pulpit in reference to the order to be observed in the new Community. No one, he said, was to have more than the others. All must share what they had and provide for the poor newcomers. His discourse, moreover, embodied thanks for the Saviour’s graces, and blessings upon the Community.
Baptism was next administered, and several of the Apostles were engaged in it. Two laid their hands upon the neophytes who, holding the railing of the little bridge that led to the pump, bowed their head to the stream issuing from it. Peter, who had put on his girdle over his white garment, turned the stream three times with his hand over the head of the neophyte, pronouncing the words at the same moment. I often saw a radiant cloud dissolving over the baptized, or a ray of light falling upon them, I saw that they were marvelously strengthened and, as it were, transfigured, transformed. It was most touching to see people from far-off countries leaving all that belonged to them, and coming hither to form one with the Community of Jesus. At the edge of the pool burned a light on a pole, just such a one as those used by the guards at the Holy Sepulcher.
That evening in the entrance hall of the house of the Last Supper, a meal was spread during which the Blessed Virgin sat at table with the Apostles, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and Lazarus.
First General Communion of The New Converts. Choice of the Seven Deacons
All the baptized since Pentecost were instructed in the Bethsaida church upon the Most Blessed Sacrament and prepared for Its reception by six of the Apostles robed in long white garments. They received It at the Holy Mass celebrated by Peter in the Bethsaida church, assisted by two of the Apostles. Peter wore over his long, white robe and broad girdle with its flowing ends, a mantle that was taken out from the chest formed in the back of the altar. It was red and shining gold. It was like a large cape, deep in the back and pointed in front; and it fell so low over the shoulders that only the girdle could be seen at the side. It was fastened on the breast with three little shields. On the middle one just in front of the breast was the representation of a figure holding a loaf in one hand. The lowest shield, that nearest the points, or the ends of the mantle, bore on it a cross. On either shoulder was a figure formed of precious stones.
The altar was covered first with a red and over that a white transparent cloth, on which was laid another little white linen cloth like a corporal. On an oval plate lay a little pile of white bread sliced very thin and furrowed with lines for breaking. Beside it stood a white bowl with a foot like a low chalice, or ciborium, in which after being consecrated by Peter the bread broken into morsels was placed for distribution among the Faithful. Besides all this, the chalice used at the Last Supper was standing full of wine on the altar. When, during Holy Mass, Peter uttered the words of consecration over the bread and wine, I saw the bread become luminous, while above the altar, as if issuing from a cloud, appeared a resplendent hand. It accompanied the movements of Peter’s hand as he blessed the bread and wine, and did not disappear till all dispersed after receiving Communion.
The Apostles and disciples were the first to receive the Blessed Sacrament from Peter after his own Communion. When the bowl, or ciborium, was emptied, Peter replenished it from the plate on the altar, and then proceeded with the distribution of the Sacred Species. The chalice also was handed by him to the Apostles and to all the others. The communicants were so numerous that the church could not contain them, and many had to stand outside. The first to receive Holy Communion left the church in order to allow others to enter. The communicants did not kneel, but while receiving stood reverently bowed.
Before choosing the seven deacons, I saw the Apostles gathered around Peter in the Last Supper room, where they assisted him in a solemn ceremony. They accompanied him to the Holy of Holies, where John laid upon him the mantle, another placed the miter on his head, and another put the crosier into his hand. After all had received Communion from Peter, robed in his sacred vestments and surrounded by the Apostles, he addressed in the entrance hall a large crowd of disciples and new converts. He said among other things that it was not becoming for the Word of God to be neglected for the care of clothing and nourishment; consequently Lazarus, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea could not with propriety longer oversee the temporal interests of the Community as they had hitherto done, for they now had become priests. Then he added some words relative to the order observed in the distribution of alms, of household affairs, of widows and orphans. Stephen, a slender, handsome youth, stepped forward and offered himself for the services needed. Among others that did the same, I recognized Parmenas, who was one of the elder disciples. There were among them some Moors, still very young, who had not yet received the Holy Ghost. Peter laid his hands upon them and the stole crossed under their arm. While he did so a light was infused upon those that had not yet received the Holy Ghost. After that the treasures and goods of the Community were delivered over to the seven deacons, and for their accommodation was assigned Joseph of Arimathea’s house, which was not far from that of John Mark. John Mark helped them. The money was carried on asses, and consisted of bags filled with different kinds of coins. Some were like little stalks twisted into screws, others like stamped plate strung together on a little chain, and others again were in small, oval leaves.
Most of the movables consisted of large packs of different stuffs, coverlets, clothing, also numbers of vessels and various kinds of furniture suitable for plain housekeeping.
On the day following the giving over of Joseph of Arimathea’s house to the deacons, I saw the Apostles dispersing into Judea.
Peter wrought more miracles than all the others. He drove out devils, raised the dead—yes, I even saw an angel going before him to the people and telling them that they should do penance and ask Peter for help.
I saw the healing of the lame man. It was about three hours after noon when Peter and John went up to the Temple with several of the disciples. Mary and some of the holy women went too. A lame man had been brought on a litter and laid at the door of the Temple. Peter and John, on their arrival, exchanged some words with him. Then I saw Peter standing under an awning in the open square on the south side of the Temple, his back turned to that part of the edifice in which was the altar of sacrifice, and addressing the people in a fiery speech. During his instruction I saw the door of egress beset by soldiers and priests conferring together. And now I saw Peter and John, as they turned again toward the Temple, accosted by the lame man and petitioned for alms. He was lying outside the door, a perfect cripple, leaning on the left elbow, while vainly striving to raise something with the crutch in his right hand. Peter said to him: “Look up!” and when the man obeyed, he continued: “I have no silver nor gold, but what I have, I give to thee! In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk!” Peter raised him by the right hand, while John grasped him under the shoulder. The man, full of joy and vigor, stood upon his feet, and I saw him leaping about cured, and running with shouts of triumph through the halls of the Temple.
Twelve Jewish priests who were there seated on their chairs looked, with outstretched necks, in the direction of the tumult, and as the crowd around the cured man increased at every moment, they left their seats and withdrew. Peter and John went into the forecourt, and I saw the former mounting the teacher’s chair from which Jesus had taught as a Boy of twelve. The cured man was standing before him encompassed by a multitude of people, some from the city, others strangers from a distance. Peter preached long and in words full of inspiration. It was already dark when I saw him, along with John and the cured man, seized by the Temple soldiers and thrown into a prison near the judgment hall in which he had denied the Lord. Next day all three were taken by the soldiers, and with much ill-usage, up the same flight of steps upon which Jesus had stood, and there tried by Caiaphas and the other priests. Peter spoke with great warmth, after which they were set free.
The rest of the Apostles had passed the night in the house of the Last Supper in continual prayer for the prisoners. When Peter and John returned and told them all that had taken place, their joy burst out into a loud act of thanksgiving, and the whole house shook, as if the Lord wanted to remind them thereby that He was still among them and had heard their prayer. Upon that, James the Less said that Jesus, when He appeared to him alone on the mountain in Galilee, had told him that after Peter and John, on going up to the Temple, would be imprisoned and then set free, they should keep themselves somewhat retired for awhile.
On this news, I saw the Apostles shutting up everything, and Peter, with the Blessed Sacrament suspended round his neck in a bag, going with the others to Bethania. They made the journey in three bands. The Mother of God and other women went also. While in Bethania, the Apostles preached enthusiastically at the disciples’ inn, at Simon’s, and at Lazarus’. When they again returned to Jerusalem, they were more enthusiastic, more determined than ever. Peter, when teaching in the house of the Last Supper and in the church at the Pool of Bethsaida, declared that now was the time to discover who had preserved the Spirit sent by Jesus, now was the time to labor, to suffer persecution, and to give up all things. Whoever did not feel himself strong enough for this should depart. I saw that about a hundred of those that had most recently joined the Community withdrew from the great crowd in the Bethsaida church.
When Peter, accompanied by John and seven other Apostles, went again to teach in the Temple, he found numbers of sick lying on litters under tents in the Valley of Josaphat. Many others were lying around the Temple in the court of the heathens and even up as far as the steps. I saw Peter performing most of the cures. The others did indeed effect some, but they helped Peter more than they cured. Peter cured those only that believed and were desirous of joining the Community. In those places in which the sick lay in two rows opposite each other, I saw cured, Peter willing it, those upon whom his shadow fell, while he was busied with the opposite row.
THE LIFE OF MARY AFTER CHRIST’S ASCENSION
The Blessed Virgin Goes with John To the Neighborhood of Ephesus
About one year after the Crucifixion of Our Lord, Stephen was stoned, though no further persecution of the Apostles took place at that time. The rising settlement of new converts around Jerusalem, however, was dissolved, the Christians dispersed, and some were murdered. A few years later, a new storm arose against them. Then it was that the Blessed Virgin, who until that time had dwelt in the small house near the Coenaculum and in Bethania, allowed herself to be conducted by John to the region of Ephesus, where the Christians had already made settlements. This happened a short time after the imprisonment of Lazarus and his sisters by the Jews and their setting out over the sea. John returned again to Jerusalem, where the other Apostles still were. James the Greater was one of the first of the Apostles who, after the division of the different countries had been made, left Jerusalem and started for Spain. I saw him on his departure in Bethlehem, where he concealed himself in the Crib Cave and then with his companions secretly wandering through the country, for there were spies in search of them with orders to prevent their leaving Palestine. But James had friends in Joppa, and he succeeded in embarking. He sailed first to Ephesus in order to visit Mary, and thence to Spain. Shortly before his death, he visited Mary and John a second time in their home at Ephesus. Here Mary told him that his death would soon take place in Jerusalem. She encouraged and consoled him. James took leave of her and his brother John, and started for Jerusalem. It was at this period that he was brought into contact with Hermogenes and his pupil, both of whom he converted by his miracles. James was several times apprehended and taken before the Synagogue. I saw that shortly before Easter, while he was preaching on a hill in an open square of Jerusalem, he was arrested. It must have been about this time, for I saw the customary encampments around the city. James was not imprisoned long. He was sentenced to death in the same place of trial as Jesus. The whole place, however, had undergone a change. Those sites upon which Jesus had trodden were no longer in existence, and I have always thought that none other ever after trod the same. I saw James led out toward Mount Calvary. He continued his preaching all along the way, and thereby made many converts. When they bound his hands, he remarked: “Ye can bind my hands, but ye cannot bind the blessing, ye cannot bind my tongue!” A lame man was sitting by the roadside. He called to James, begging him to extend his hand and help him. James responded: “Come thou to me, and reach out thine hand to me!” The lame man arose, seized the fettered hands of the Apostle, and was cured. I saw also the man that had denounced him. He was named Josias. His heart smote him. He hurried to the Apostle and begged forgiveness. He declared himself for Christ and was likewise put to death. James asked him whether he desired Baptism, and when Josias answered yes, he embraced and kissed him, saying: “Thou wilt be baptized in thy blood!” I saw a woman running with her blind child to James on the place of execution, and imploring its restoration to sight.
James was at first stationed near Josias on an elevated place, and the sentence proclaimed aloud. Then he was laid on a large stone, his hands bound to it, his eyes blindfolded, and his head struck off. This took place in the twelfth year after Jesus’ death, or between 46 and 47 after the Birth of Christ. I did not see James present at the death of the Blessed Virgin in Ephesus. There was another in his place, a relative of the Holy Family, and one of the first among the seventy-two disciples. Mary died in the year 48 after the Birth of Christ, thirteen years and two months after Christ’s Ascension. This was shown me in numbers, not in writing. First, I saw IV, and then VIII, which denoted the year 48; lastly, I saw XIII, and two full months.
The Blessed Virgin’s dwelling was not in Ephesus itself, but from three to four hours distant. It stood on a height upon which several Christians from Judea, among them some of the holy women related to her, had taken up their abode. Between this height and Ephesus glided, with many a crooked curve, a little river. The height sloped obliquely toward Ephesus. From the southeast one beheld the city as if lying just before him, at the foot of a mountain, but on nearer approach, he found the latter stretching still further away. From Ephesus, before which I saw great avenues with yellow fruit strewing the ground, narrow footpaths led up to this wild, overgrown height, upon which, to the circumference of about an hour, stretched a very solitary but fertile plain covered with smooth-trunked, wide-spreading trees, and containing clean rocky caves. These latter had, by means of light woodwork, been converted into hermitages by the early Christian settlers who had fled thither for refuge. These abodes, along with others that stood alone scattered here and there over the whole country, gave the region the appearance of a little village. From the top of this elevated plain, which was nearer to the sea than Ephesus, one could see both the city itself and the sea with its numerous islands. Not very far from the Christian settlement rose a castle whose occupant appeared to be a deposed king. John often visited him and finally converted him. At a later period, this place became a bishopric. Among the Christians settled here, I saw women, children, and some men. Not all of these people had intercourse with the Blessed Virgin. Only some holy women came now and then for a visit, or to render her some assistance, for they saw to her needs. The locality was very retired and seldom visited by anyone, for no highway ran through it. The people of Ephesus did not trouble themselves about the little colony, and so they lived as if forgotten. The soil was fruitful, and the settlers owned some gardens and orchards. The only animals I saw in this place were wild goats.
Before John brought the Blessed Virgin to this settlement, he had built for her a dwelling of stone very similar to her own at Nazareth. It stood among trees, and was divided into two apartments by the fireplace in the center. The fire was on the earth opposite the entrance, in a kind of furnace formed by the wall, which rose up on either side like steps to the roof of the house. In it was cut the flue, from which the smoke escaped through a tube that protruded above the flat roof.
The front room of the house was separated from the back by wicker screens placed on either side of the fireplace. Similar screens rested against the walls, right and left, the whole length of the house. They were used to form little apartments when needed, and could be easily put aside when the room was to be used as one. Mary’s maidservant used one of them as a sleeping apartment, and the others were occupied by the holy women of the settlement when they happened to come on a visit of some length.
To the right and left on either side of the fireplace, light doors opened through the wicker partition into the two back rooms, whose end walls were rounded and very pleasing to the eye, covered as they were with neatly wrought woodwork. The roof was rounded on the sides, and the beams above it were bound with wainscoting and twisted work, and ornamented with some simple imitation of foliage. In the most remote space of the rounded end Mary had her oratory, before which hung a curtain. Here in a niche in the wall was a kind of closet which, like a certain kind of tabernacle, could be made to open and close by revolving. In it was a Crucifix about the length of one’s arm. The arms were set into the trunk in an obliquely raised direction like that of Christ. This most simply carved Crucifix was, I think, made by the Blessed Virgin herself and John. It was constructed of three different kinds of wood: the whitish trunk was cypress wood, one arm of a brownish color was cedar, the other, which was yellowish, was made from wood of the palm tree. The top piece that supported the inscription was of polished yellow olive wood. The foot of the Crucifix was set firmly in a stone like Christ’s in the rock of Calvary. At its foot lay a strip of parchment on which were inscribed some words of the Saviour. The figure representing the Lord was formed simply of dark-colored lines cut into the cross. On either side of the Crucifix stood a pot of flowers. I saw also lying near the cross a little linen, of which I had the intuitive knowledge that it was the one with which the Blessed Virgin, after the taking down of the Sacred Body from the cross, had cleansed the wounds from blood; for as soon as I saw the little cloth, I had a vision of that exercise of her most sacred mother-love, in which she held the little linen in the same way as does the priest at the holy Mass when he is purifying the chalice. Mary had a similar Crucifix, though only half as large, in the alcove in which she slept.
On the right of the oratory and against the rounded wall, was the alcove of the Blessed Virgin. It was formed of two lightly woven screens of sapwood in its natural color. These stood at the head and the foot of the couch respectively; in front hung two curtains of tapestry that could be drawn and looped to either side. The couch was placed along the wall, which too was hung with tapestry. It was the length and breadth of a small bed, and consisted of a wooden frame about a foot and a half high. Over it a tester was stretched and fastened on the knobs of the four corners. The sides of the frame also were covered with tapestry, which hung down to the floor and was fringed with tassels. A round roll served as a pillow. The cover was of brownish checkered stuff. The ceiling of this little sleeping apartment was the loftiest in the house. It too was formed of wickerwork and, from the four corners to the center, ran up into a concave dome from which was suspended a branched lamp.
Here, on the last days before her death, I saw the Blessed Virgin lying entirely enveloped in a white sleeping sheet; even her arms were wound up in it. The veil over her head was thrown up in cross-folds, but when conversing with men, she lowered it. Even her hands were uncovered only when she was alone. During those last days, I did not see her taking anything excepting the juice of a grapelike fruit with yellow berries, which the maid pressed out for her into a little cup.
By the wall to the left of the oratory and directly opposite the alcove, a recess was formed by means of wicker screens in which clothes and other things were kept. Besides some veils and girdles and the upper garment that Mary always wore when making the holy Way of the Cross, there hung in that recess two long robes, one white, the other sky-blue. The latter was a very delicate blue, and there was likewise a mantle of the same color. This was the robe in which Mary was married to Joseph. I saw too that Mary kept near her many of the garments of her Divine Son, among them His woven tunic.
From that recess to the alcove extended a curtain by which the oratory could be concealed. When at work, Mary used to sit before this curtain and just between the recess and the alcove.
In this most silent and solitary little dwelling, from which the abodes of the other settlers were distant about a quarter of an hour, lived the Blessed Virgin alone with her maid, who procured for her the little that she needed for her support. There was no man in the house, and only at times was Mary visited by John or some other travelling Apostle and disciple. Once I saw John entering the house, He was thin and looked older. He wore a long white garment girdled in folds, but which was now tucked up. He laid it aside on entering, and taking out another from under his mantle, put it on instead. There was an inscription in letters on this second one. He laid a maniple on his arm. The Blessed Virgin was in a little private room from which the maid conducted her to John. She was enveloped in a white robe and looked very weak, Her face was, as it were, transparent and white as snow. She appeared to be soaring upward on the wings of her ardent desires. Her whole life after her Son’s Ascension into Heaven was stamped by an ever-increasing longing to be freed from earth. She retired with John to her oratory, pulled a band, or strap, upon which the tabernacle in the niche revolved and disclosed the Crucifix of the length of one’s arm standing between two vases of natural flowers. After Mary and John had prayed long on their knees before the Crucifix, the latter arose and took from a metal box a roll of fine woolen stuff. Opening this, he took out a small piece of white bread, in shape four-cornered, that was carefully folded in white linen cloths. It was the Most Blessed Sacrament, which with some words he gave to Mary. He presented to her no cup.