The Visitation: From the Visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich

When the Blessed Virgin felt that the Word was made Flesh in her, she was conscious of a great desire to pay an immediate visit to her cousin Elizabeth at Jutta, near Hebron, whom the angel had told her was now six months with child. It was close to the time of the Passover, which Joseph had wished to attend, in Jerusalem. Our Lady decided tp accompany him “into the hill country … into a city of Jutta. (St. Luke 1:39: says “into the hill country into a city of Juda.”

The Hill Country

The core of Judea was the upper hill country. It is very difficult to get in and out of these valleys with terraced sides.” Fair Use Disclaimer Carl Rasmusson The Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible

Anna Catherine Emmerich, being ill at the time of these heavenly scenes given to her throughout her life, gives single scenes from the journey of Joseph and Mary. She gives no description of their departure.

“They traveled in a southerly direction and had a donkey with them, on which Mary rode from time to time. Some baggage was packed on it, amongst which was a striped sack of Joseph’s (it seemed to me to be knitted) in which was a long brownish garment of Mary’s with ribbons. Mary put it on when she went into the Temple or into a synagogue. On the journey she wore a brown woolen undergarment and over this a grey dress with a girdle. Her head covering was yellowish in color. They made the journey rather quickly.

At this time, Joseph had no knowledge of the Annunciation.

Once I saw them spending the night in a shed; and one evening, when they were still twelve hours distant from Zacharias’ dwelling, I saw them in a wood, going into a hut of wattle-work, on which green leaves and beautiful white flowers were growing. This hut was meant for travelers: beside the roads in that country are many open arbors like this, and even solid buildings. Travelers can spend the night in them or shelter from the heat and prepare the food which they have brought with them.”

The following visions were communicated by Catherine Emmerich partly at the time of the Feast of the Visitation in July 1820 and partly at a time when she had heard the words of Eliud, an aged Essene from Nazareth. (The Essenes are the family from whom St. Anne, the mother of Mary, descended.

Eliud had accompanied Jesus on His journey to His Baptism by John in September of the first year of His ministry, and told Him many things about the history of His parents and of His earliest childhood, for Eliud was intimate with the Holy Family.

They finally see the house of Zacharias. It was “on top of a hill by itself. Not far from a biggish stream which . flowed down from the mountains. Zacharias was seen returning home from the Passover at Jerusalem. I saw Elizabeth, moved by a great longing, going a considerable distance to meet Mary. She had learnt in a dream that one of her family had become the Mother of the Messias. She had at once thought of Mary, her cousin, and longed to see her. She had, in spirit, perceived her in the distance on her way to her.

Elizabeth was a tall aged woman with a small delicate face. Her head was wrapped in a veil. She only knew the Blessed Virgin by hearsay. Mary saw her from far off and recognized her at once. She ran to meet her, while Joseph remained discreetly behind.

Mary ran to meet her cousin and they greeted each other with outstretched hands and at that moment I saw a shining brightness in the Blessed Virgin and as it were a ray of light passing from her to Elizabeth filling the latter with wonderful joy.

At the door of the house Elizabeth once more made Mary welcome. Joseph came into the court with and handed the donkey over to a man servant. He greeted the old priest, Zacharias, with great humility. Zacharias spoke to him by writing on his tablet.

Again I saw a radiance stream from Mary to Elizabeth, whereby Elizabeth was transfused with light. Her heart was filled with holy joy. She stepped back, her hand raised, and exclaimed full of humility, joy and exaltation: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that has believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

As she said the last words she led Mary into the little room which she had prepared, so that she might sit down and rest after her journey. Mary let go of Elizabeths arm, which she had clasped, crossed her hands over her breast and uttered the Magnificat. Elizabeth followed in prayer the whole of Mary’s song of praise.

Zacharias is a tall handsome old man, dressed as a priest. He and Joseph are sitting in an open hall at the side of the house, looking on to the garden. Mary and Elizabeth are sitting in the garden on a carpet under a big spreading tree; behind it is a water fountain. They are talking about the coming of the Messiah. Zachary is writing his words on his tablet.

Joseph will be staying a week. He knows nothing about Marys being with child.. Mary and Elizabeth were silent about it; in the depths of their being there was a secret understanding between them.

Next afternoon I saw Mary and Elizabeth working together in the house. The Blessed Virgin took part in all the household work. She made preparations for the child that was expected. I saw them both working together .They were knitting a big coverlet for Elisabeth’s lying-in. Jewish women used coverlets like these when in child-bed; an inner lining was fastened to the middle of it so that the mother could be wrapped up together in it with her child. It was as if she were in a little boat or in a big shoe, wrapped up herself like a child in swaddling-clothes. She was supported on pillows and could sit upright or lie down as she liked. The edges of the coverlet were sewn with flowers and tests.

The two women often sang the Magnificat, which Mary had received from the Holy Ghost at Elizabeths greeting of her. ”

Not many more details are given in this chapter of Anna Catherine Emmerichs’ visions of the Visitation. However, I found the following descriptions to be invaluable to my own understanding:

” With the angels’ salutation the Blessed Virgin was consecrated as the Church. With the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord be it done unto me according to thy word, the Word entered into her and was saluted by the Church, by his maidservant. God was now in His temple. Mary was now the Ark of the New Covenant.

Elizabeth’s greeting and the movement of John beneath his mother’s heart was the first act of worship of the community in the presence of this Holy Thing, When the Blessed Virgin uttered the Magnificat, the Church of the New Covenant, of the new Espousals, celebrated for the first time the fulfillment of the divine Promises of the Old Covenant, of the old Espousals, and poured forth thanks with ‘Te Deum Laudamus’

Ah …

Who can express the wonder of seeing the devotion of the Church towards the Saviour even before His Birth!

From: The Life of the Blessed Virgin From the Visions of Venerable Catherine Emmerich p.148-167

4 thoughts on “The Visitation: From the Visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich

Comments are closed.