Mary's House   

The Life of The

Anne Catherine Emmerich

Translated by

With supplementary notes by

With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1954


The Death of the Blessed Virgin at Ephesus
Part 2

     [The morning of August 9th, 1821:] I came into Mary's house . . . I saw her lying on a low, very narrow couch in her little sleeping-alcove all hung with white, in the room behind and to the right of the hearth-place. Her head rested on a round cushion. She . . . seemed as though completely consumed with yearning. Her head and whole figure were wrapped in a long cloth; she was covered by a brown woolen blanket. I saw several women [five, I think] going into her room one after the other, and coming out again as though they were saying farewell to her. As they came out they made affecting gestures of prayer or grief. I again noticed amongst them Anna the niece of the prophetess, and Mara, Elisabeth's niece, whom I had seen at the Stations of the Cross. I now saw six of the Apostles already gathered here-----Peter, Andrew, John, Thaddaeus, Bartholomew, and Matthias . . . I saw the Apostles standing in prayer together on the right-hand side of the front part of the house, where they had arranged an oratory.

     [August 10th, 1821:] . . .  Today I saw two more Apostles coming . . . These were James the Less and Matthew . . . Yesterday evening and this morning I saw the assembled Apostles holding a service in the front part of the house. For this purpose they had taken away or arranged differently the movable wickerwork screens which divided it into sleeping compartments.  . . . In front of the altar was a stand covered with a cloth over which hung a scroll. Lamps were burning above the altar.  On the altar had been placed a vessel in the shape of a cross made of a substance lustrous with mother-of-pearl. It was barely nine inches in length and breadth and contained five boxes closed by silver lids. In the center one was the Blessed Sacrament, and in the others chrism, oil, salt, other holy things, and some shreds of what was perhaps cotton. Everything was tightly closed and packed together to prevent any leakage. It was the Apostles' custom to carry this cross on their travels hanging on their breasts under their garments. They were then greater than the high priest when he carried on his breast the holy treasure of the Old Covenant. I cannot clearly recollect whether there were holy bones in one of the boxes or elsewhere. But I do know that in the sacrifice of the New Covenant they always had near the altar the bones of prophets ahd later of Martyrs, just as the Patriarchs at their sacrifices always placed on the altar the bones of Adam or of other progenitors on whom the Promise rested. At the Last Supper Christ had taught the Apostles to do the same.

    Peter stood in priestly vestments before the altar, with the others behind him as if in choir. The women stood in the background.

     [August 11th, 1821:] Today I saw a ninth Apostle, Simon, arrive. James the Greater, Philip and Thomas were the only ones missing. I also saw that several disciples had arrived, among whom I remember John Mark and the aged Simeon's son or grandson, who had killed Jesus' last Easter lamb and had the duty of supervising the sacrificial animals in the Temple. There were now some ten men assembled there.  . . . In front of the Blessed Virgin's bed stood a small, low, three-
cornered stool, like the one on which the kings had laid their presents before her in the Cave of the Nativity. On it was a little bowl with a small brown transparent spoon.  . . . I saw Peter again bringing her the Blessed Sacrament . . . The Apostles stood in two rows reaching from the altar to her couch, and bowed low as Peter passed between them bearing the Blessed Sacrament. The screens round the Blessed Virgin's couch were pushed back on all sides.

     After witnessing all this in Ephesus, I had a longing to see what was going on in Jerusalem at this time, but shrank from the long journey thither from Ephesus. Whereupon the holy virgin and Martyr Susanna [1] came to me and encouraged me, saying that she would be my companion on the journey. [Today is her feast day, and I have a relic of her, and she was with me the whole night.] So I went with her over sea and land, and we soon reached Jerusalem. She was, however, quite different from me, as light as air, and when I tried to take hold of her I could not do it. As soon as I came to a definite place, as for instance Jerusalem yesterday, she disappeared; but in all my passages from one vision to another, she was there to accompany and encourage me.

     I came to the Mount of Olives . . . there to pray, . . . When Our Lord appeared to me I no longer saw St. Susanna beside me.

    Afterwards I entered into a vision of Christ's miracles and acts of healing near Jerusalem, and saw many of these healings again. This made me think of the power of healing in the name of Jesus which is specially bestowed upon priests, . . .

     [August 12th, 1821: ] There are now not more than twelve men gathered together in Mary's house. Today I saw a service being held in her sleeping-alcove; Mass was said there. Her little room was open on all sides. A woman was kneeling beside Mary's couch and every now and then held her upright. I see this being done throughout the day, and I see the women giving the Blessed Virgin a spoonful of liquid from the bowl. Mary had a cross on her couch, half an arm's length long and shaped like the letter Y, as I always see the Holy Cross. The upright piece is somewhat broader than the arms. I t seems to be made of different woods, and the figure of Christ is white. The Blessed Virgin received the Blessed Sacrament. After Christ's Ascension she lived fourteen years and two months.  . . .  
     [August 13th, 1821:] I saw the service being celebrated today as before. I saw the Blessed Virgin being lifted up several times in the day to be given nourishment from the spoon. In the evening about seven o'clock she said in her sleep: 'Now James the Greater has come from Spain by Rome with three companions . . .' Later Philip came with a companion from Egypt. I saw the Apostles and disciples arrive mostly in a very tired condition. [2] They had long staffs with crooks and knobs of different shapes in their hands which showed their rank.  . . . The newcomers tenderly embraced those who were already there, and I saw many of them weeping for joy and for sorrow, too-----happy to see each other again and grieved that the occasion for their meeting was so sad. They laid aside their staffs, cloaks, girdles, and pouches . . . After their feet had been washed, they approached Mary's couch and greeted her with reverence. She could only say a few words to them. I saw that they took no nourishment except little loaves; they drank from the little flasks hanging from their girdles.

    A short time before the Blessed Virgin's death, as she felt the approach of her reunion with her God, her Son, and her Redeemer, she prayed that there might be fulfilled what Jesus had promised to her in the house of Lazarus at Bethany on the day before His Ascension. It was shown to me in the spirit how at that time, when she begged Him that she might not live for long in this vale of tears after He had ascended, Jesus told her in general what spiritual works she was to accomplish before her end on earth. He told her, too, that in answer to her prayers the Apostles and several disciples would be present at her death, and what she was to say to them and how she was to bless them. I saw, too, how He told the inconsolable Mary Magdalene to hide herself in the desert, and her sister Martha to found a community of women; He Himself would always be with them.

     After the Blessed Virgin had prayed that the Apostles should come to her, I saw the call going forth to them in many different parts of the world. At this moment I can remember what follows.

     In many of the places where they had taught, the Apostles had already built little churches. Some of them had not yet been built in stone, but were made of plaited reeds plastered with clay; yet all those I saw had at the back the semicircular or three-sided apse, like Mary's house at Ephesus. They had altars in them and offered the holy Sacrifice of the Mass there.

      I saw all, the farthest as well as the nearest, being summoned by visions to come to the Blessed Virgin. The indescribably long journeys made by the Apostles were not accomplished without miraculous assistance from the Lord, I think that they often traveled in a supernatural manner without knowing it, for I often saw them passing through crowds of men apparently without anyone seeing them.

I saw that the miracles which the Apostles worked . . . Everywhere they worked miracles according to the needs of the people. I saw that they all took with them on their travels the bones of the Prophets or of Martyrs done to death in the first persecutions, and kept them at hand when praying and offering the Holy Sacrifice.

    When the Lord's summons to Ephesus came to the Apostles, Peter, and I think also Matthias, were in the region of Antioch. Andrew, who was on his way from Jerusalem, where he had suffered persecution, was not far from him. In the night I saw Peter and Andrew asleep on their journey in different places but not very far apart from each other. Neither of them were in a town, but were taking their rest in public shelters such as are found by the roadside in these hot countries. Peter was lying against a wall. I saw a shining youth approach and wake him by taking him by the hand and telling him to rise and hurry to Mary, and that he would meet Andrew on the way. I saw that Peter, who was already stiff from age and his exertions, sat up and rested his hands on his knees as he listened to the Angel. Hardly had the vision vanished when he got up, wrapped himself in his cloak, fastened his girdle, grasped his staff and set forth, He was soon met by Andrew, who had been summoned by the same vision; later they met with Thaddaeus, to whom the same message had been given. Thus all three came to Mary's house, where they met John.

    James the Greater, who had a narrow pale face and black hair, came from Spain to Jerusalem with several disciples, and stayed some time in Sarona near Joppa. It was here that the summons to Ephesus reached him. After Mary's death he went with some six others back to Jerusalem and suffered a Martyr's death. The man who denounced him was converted, was Baptized by him, and beheaded with him.

    Judas Thaddaeus and Simon were in Persia when the summons reached them.
    Thomas was of low stature and had red-brown hair. He was the farthest off, and did not arrive until after Mary's death. I saw the summoning Angel come to him. He was a very long way off. He was not in any town, but in a reed-hut, where he was praying, when the Angel told him to go to Ephesus.  . . .  He was in India when he received the warning . . . The servant whom he had with him was a Tartar whom he had Baptized.

. . . after Mary's death . . . He was killed in India by being pierced with a lance. I saw that he set up a stone in that country on which he knelt and prayed, and that the marks of his knees were imprinted upon the stone. He foretold that when the sea should reach this stone, another would come to that country preaching Jesus Christ.

    John had been in Jericho a short time before; he often traveled to the Promised Land. He usually stayed in Ephesus and its neighborhood, and it was here that the summons reached him.

    Bartholomew was in Asia, east of the Red Sea.  . . . He had just converted a king and his family.  . . . When he returned there he was murdered by the king's brother.

    I forget where James the Less was when the summons reached him. He was very handsome and had a great resemblance to Our Lord . . . Paul was not summoned. Only those were summoned who were relations or acquaintances of the Holy Family.

    During these visions I had by my side, amongst the many relics I possess, those of Andrew, Bartholomew, James the Greater, James the Less, Thaddaeus, Simon Zelotes, Thomas, and several disciples and holy women. All these came up to me in that order more clearly and distinctly than the others, and then entered into the vision that I saw. I saw Thomas come up to me like the others, but he did not come into the vision of Mary's death; he was far away and came too late.  . . .

[On the afternoon of August 4th Catherine Emmerich said to the writer: 'Now I will tell of the death of the Blessed Virgin if only I am not disturbed by visits. Tell my little niece not to interrupt me but to wait patiently in the other room for a time.' The writer, having done this and returned, said to her, 'Now tell', whereupon she answered, gazing before her with a fixed stare: 'Where am I, then? Is it morning or evening?' The writer: 'You are going to tell of the death of the Blessed Virgin.' 'Well, there they are, the Apostles, ask them yourself, you are much more learned than I am, you can ask them better than I can. They are following the Way of the Cross and are preparing the grave of the Mother of God.' When she said this, she was already seeing what happened after Mary's death.  . . .

Yesterday at midday I saw that there was already great grief and mourning in the Blessed Virgin's house.  . . . The Blessed Virgin lay still and as though near death in her little cell. She was completely enveloped in a white sleeping coverlet, even her arms being wrapped in it. It was like the one I described when she went to bed in Elisabeth's house at the Visitation. The veil over her head was arranged in folds across her forehead; when speaking with men she lowered it over her face. Even her hands were covered except when she was alone. In the last days of her life I never saw her take any nourishment except now and then a spoonful of juice which her maidservant pressed from a bunch of yellow berries like grapes into a bowl near her couch. Towards evening the Blessed Virgin realized that her end was approaching and therefore signified her desire, in accordance with Jesus' will, to bless and say farewell to the Apostles, disciples and women who were present. Her sleeping cell was opened on all sides, and she sat upright on her couch, shining white as if suffused with light. The Blessed Virgin, after praying, blessed each one by laying her crossed hands on their foreheads. She then once more spoke to them all, doing everything that Jesus had commanded her at Bethany. When Peter went up to her, I saw that he had a scroll of writing in his hand. She told John what was to be done with her body, and bade him divide her clothes between her maidservant and another poor girl from the neighborhood who sometimes came to help.  . . . After the Apostles, the disciples who were present approached the Blessed Virgin's couch and received the same blessing. The men then went back into the front part of the house and prepared for the service, whilst the women who were present came up to the Blessed Virgin's couch, knelt down and received her blessing. I saw that one of them bent right down over Mary and was embraced by her.

    In the meantime the altar was set up and the Apostles vested themselves for the service in their long white robes and broad girdles with letters on them. Five of them who assisted in offering the Holy Sacrifice [just as I had seen done when Peter first officiated in the new church at the pool of Bethsaida after Our Lord's Ascension] put on the big, rich, priestly vestments. Peter, who was the celebrant, wore a robe which was very long at the back but did not trail on the ground. There must have been some sort of stiffening round its hem, for I see it standing out all round. They were still engaged in putting on their vestments when James the Greater arrived with three companions. He came with Timon the deacon from Spain, and after passing through Rome had met with Eremensear and still another. The Apostles already present, who were just going up to the altar, greeted him with grave solemnity, telling him in few words to go to the Blessed Virgin. He and his companions, after having had their feet washed and after arranging their garments, went in their traveling dress to the Blessed Virgin's room. She gave her blessing first to James alone, and then to his three companions together, after which James went to join in the service. The latter had been going on for some time when Philip arrived from Egypt with a companion. He at once went to the Mother of Our Lord, and wept bitterly as he received her blessing. In the meantime Peter had completed the Holy Sacrifice. He had performed the act of Consecration, had received the Body of the Lord, and had given Communion to the Apostles and disciples. The Blessed Virgin could not see the altar from her bed, but during the Holy Sacrifice she sat upright on her couch in deep devotion. Peter, after he and the other Apostles had received Communion, brought Our Lady the Blessed Sacrament and administered Extreme Unction to her.  

The Apostles accompanied him in a solemn procession. Thaddaeus went first with a smoking censer, Peter bore the Blessed Sacrament in the cruciform vessel of which I have spoken, and John followed him, carrying a dish on which rested the Chalice with the Precious Blood and some small boxes. The Chalice was small, white and thick as though of cast metal; its stem was so short that it could only be held with two or three fingers. It had a lid, and was of the same shape as the Chalice at the Last Supper. A little altar had been set up by the Apostles in the alcove beside the Blessed Virgin's couch. The maidservant had brought a table which she covered with red and white cloths. Lights  . . . were burning on it. The Blessed Virgin lay back on her pillows pale and still. Her gaze was directed intently upwards; she said no word to anyone and seemed in a state of perpetual ecstasy. She was radiant with longing; I could feel this longing, which was bearing her upwards-----ah, my heart was longing to ascend with hers to God!

    Peter approached her and gave her Extreme Unction, much in the way in which it is administered now. From the boxes which John held he anointed her with holy oil on her face, hands, and feet, and on her side . . . While this was being done the Apostles were reciting prayers as if in choir. Peter then gave her Holy Communion. She raised herself to receive it, without supporting herself, and then sank back again. The Apostles prayed for a while, and then, raising herself rather less, she received the Chalice from John. As she received the Blessed Sacrament I saw a radiance pass into Mary, who sank back as though in ecstasy, and spoke no more. The Apostles then returned to the altar in the front part of the house in a solemn procession with the sacred vessels and continued the service."  . . .

Afterwards I saw the Apostles and disciples once more standing round the Blessed Virgin's bed and praying. Mary's face was radiant with smiles as in her youth. Her eyes were raised towards Heaven in holy joy. Then I saw a wonderfully moving vision. The ceiling of Our Lady's room disappeared, the lamp hung in the open air, and I saw through the sky into the heavenly Jerusalem. Two radiant clouds of light sank down, out of which appeared the faces of many Angels. Between these clouds a path of light poured down upon Mary, and I saw a shining mountain leading up from her into the heavenly Jerusalem. She stretched out her arms towards it in infinite longing, and I saw her body, all wrapped up, rise so high above her couch that one could see right under it. I saw her soul leave her body like a little figure of infinitely pure light, soaring with outstretched arms up the shining mountain to Heaven. The two Angel-choirs in the clouds met beneath her soul and separated it from her holy body, which in the moment of separation sank back on the couch with arms crossed on the breast. [3] My gaze followed her soul and saw it enter the heavenly Jerusalem by that shining path and go up to the throne of the most Holy Trinity. I saw many souls coming forward to meet her in joy and reverence; amongst them I recognized many patriarchs, as well as Joachim, Anna, Joseph, Elisabeth, Zacharias, and John the Baptist. The Blessed Virgin soared through them all to the Throne of God and of her Son, whose wounds shone with a light transcending even the light irradiating His whole Presence. He received her with His Divine Love, and placed in her hands a sceptre with a gesture towards the earth as though indicating the power which He gave her.  . . .

1. St. Susanna was a Roman maiden, Martyred in A.D. 295. (SB)
2. The mission-fields of the various Apostles as mentioned by AC on these pages generally correspond to the traditional legends as preserved in the Lives of the Saints, the Breviary, the Acta Bollandiana, and local cult.
3. All accounts in Tradition describe the pure soul of Mary leaving her body. The dogmatic decree of Nov. 1st, 1950, however, makes no pronouncement about the death of Our Lady. It is worth here quoting the actual definition: 'That Mary, the Immaculate and ever Virgin Mother of God, at the end of the course of her life on earth, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of Heaven.' (SB)

Later the visionary recounts [not given in this presentation] the body of Our Lady ascending rejoined to the soul as is the account [the conclusion of this presentation] by another other great mystic on the life of Our Lord and Our Lady, Ven. Mary of Agreda. We know from Tradition that the Apostles did prepare a sepulchre for Our Lady;  that one of the churches on Mount Zion is called the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin and that the Church teaches that because Our Lady was born without Original Sin that her death, which was real, was free of bodily corruption and decay. (CT-Webmaster)




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