In the School of Mary

The Creation and Fall of Man
TAKEN FROM THE CITY OF GOD, Book I [Abridged and Unabridged Versions]


N THE sixth day He formed and created Adam, as it were of the age of thirty-three years. This was the age in which Christ was to suffer death, and Adam in regard to his body was so like unto Christ, that scarcely any difference existed. Also according to the soul Adam was similar to Christ.

From Adam God formed Eve so similar to the Blessed Virgin, that she was like unto Her in personal appearance and in figure. God looked upon these two images of the great Originals with the highest pleasure and benevolence, and on account of the Originals He heaped many blessings upon them, as if He wanted to entertain Himself with them and their descendants until the time should arrive for forming Christ and Mary.

But the happy state in which God had created the parents of the human race lasted only a very short while. The envy of the serpent was immediately aroused against them, for satan was impatiently awaiting their creation, and no sooner were they created, than his hatred became active against them. However, he was not permitted to witness the formation of Adam and Eve, as he had witnessed the creation of all other things: for the Lord did not choose to manifest to him the creation of man, nor the formation of Eve from a rib; all these things were concealed from him for a space of time until both of them were joined. But when the demon saw the admirable composition of the human nature, perfect beyond that of any other creature, the beauty of the souls and also of the bodies of Adam and Eve; when he saw the paternal love with which the Lord regarded them, and how He made them the lords of all creation, and that He gave them hope of eternal life: the wrath of the dragon was lashed to fury, and no tongue can describe the rage with which that beast was filled, nor how great was his envy and his desire to take the life of these two beings. Like an enraged lion he certainly would have done so, if he had not known, that a superior force would prevent him. Nevertheless he studied and plotted out some means, which would suffice to deprive them of the grace of the Most High and make them God's enemies.

Here Lucifer was deceived; for the Lord had from the beginning mysteriously manifested to him, that the Word was to assume human nature in the womb of the most holy Mary, but not how and when; and thus He had also concealed the creation of Adam and the formation of Eve, in order that Lucifer might from the beginning labor under his ignorance concerning the mystery and the time of the Incarnation. As his wrath and his watchfulness had thus been so signally forestalled in regard to Christ and Mary, he suspected that Adam had come forth from Eve, and that she was the Mother and Adam the incarnate Word. His suspicions grew, when he felt the Divine power, which prevented him from harming the life of these creatures. On the other hand he soon became aware of the precepts of God, for these did not remain concealed from him, since he heard their conversation in regard to them. Being freed more and more from his doubt as he listened to the words of the first parents and sized up their natural gifts, he began to follow them like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5, 8), seeking an entrance through those inclinations, which he found in each of them. Nevertheless, until he was undeceived in the course of the Redemption, he continued to hesitate between his wrath against Christ and Mary and the dread of being overcome by Them. Most of all he dreaded the confusion of being conquered by the Queen of Heaven, who was to be a mere creature and not God.

Taking courage therefore in the precept, which was given to Adam and Eve, and having prepared the snare, Lucifer entered with all his energy upon the work of entrapping them and of opposing and hindering the execution of the Divine will. He first approached the woman, and not the man, because he knew her to be by nature more frail and weak, and because in tempting her he would be more certain that it was not Christ Whom he was encountering. Against her also he was more enraged ever since he had seen the sign in the Heaven and since the threat, which God had made in it against him. On all these accounts his wrath was greater against Eve than against Adam. Before he showed himself to her, however, he aroused in her many disturbing thoughts or imaginations, in order to approach her in a state of excitement and pre-occupation. But because I have written about this in another place, I will not enlarge here upon the violence and inhumanity of this temptation; it is enough for my purpose to mention what Scripture says: that he took the form of a serpent (Gen. 2, 1), and thus speaking to Eve drew her into a conversation, which she should not have permitted. Listening to him and answering, she began to believe him; then she violated the command of God, and finally persuaded her husband likewise to transgress the precept. Thus ruin overtook them and all the rest: for themselves and for us they lost the happy position, in which God had placed them.

When Lucifer saw the two fallen and their interior beauty and grace and original justice changed into the ugliness of sin, he celebrated his triumph with incredible joy and vaunting in the company of his demons. But he soon fell from his proud boasting, when he saw, contrary to his expectations, how kindly the merciful love of God dealt with the delinquents, and how He offered them a chance of doing penance by giving them hope of pardon and return of grace. Moreover he saw how they were disposing themselves toward this forgiveness by sorrow and contrition, and how the beauty of grace was restored to them. When the demons perceived the effect of contrition, all Hell was again in confusion. His consternation grew, when he heard the sentence, which God pronounced against the guilty ones, in which he himself was implicated. More especially and above all was he tormented by the repetition of that threat: The Woman shall crush thy head (Gen. 3, 15), which he had already heard in Heaven.

The offspring of Eve multiplied after the fall and so arose the distinction and the multiplication of the good and the bad, the elect and the reprobate, the ones following Christ the Redeemer, and the others following satan. The elect cling to their Leader by faith, humility, charity, patience and all the virtues and in order to obtain victory, they are assisted, helped and beautified by the Divine grace and the gifts, which the Redeemer and Lord of all merited for them. But the reprobate, without receiving any such benefits from their false leader, or earning any other reward than the eternal pain and the confusion of Hell, follow him in pride, presumption, obscenity and wickedness, being led into these disorders by the father of lies and the originator of sin.

Notwithstanding all this the Most High, in His ineffable kindness, gave our first parents his benediction, in order that the human race might grow and multiply (Gen. 4, 3). The most high Providence permitted, that Eve, in the unjust Cain, should bring forth a type of the evil fruits of sin, and in the innocent Abel, both in figure and in imitation, the type of Christ our Lord. For in the first just one the law and doctrine of Christ began to exert its effects. All the rest of the just were to follow it, suffering for justice sake (Matth. 10, 22), hated and persecuted by the sinners and the reprobate
and by their own brothers. Accordingly, patience, humility and meekness began to appear in Abel, and in Cain, envy and all wickedness, for the benefit of the just and for his own perdition. The wicked triumph and the good suffer, exhibiting the spectacle, which the world in its progress shows to this day, namely, the Jerusalem of the God-fearing and the Babylon of the God-forsaken, each with its own leader and head.

The Most High also wished that the first Adam should be the type of the second in the manner of their creation; for, just as before the creation of the first, He created and ordered for him the republic of all the beings, of which he was to be the lord and head; so before the appearance of His Only-begotten, He allowed many ages to pass by, in order that His Son might, in the multiplied numbers of the human race, find prepared for Himself a people, of which He was to be the Head, the Teacher, and the King. He was not to be even for a moment without a people and without followers: such is the wonderful harmony and order, in which the Divine wisdom disposed all things, making that later in the execution, which was first in the intention.

As the world progressed in its course, in order that the Word might descend from the bosom of the Father and clothe Itself in our mortality, God selected and prepared a chosen and most noble people, the most admirable of past and future times. Within it also He constituted a most illustrious and holy race, from which He was to descend according to the flesh. I will not linger in detailing the genealogy of Christ our Lord, for the account of the holy Evangelists has made that unnecessary. I will only say, in praise of the Most High, that He has shown to me many times the incomparable love, which He bore toward His people, the favors shown to it, and the mysteries and holy Sacraments, which He entrusted to it, as was afterwards made manifest through His holy Church. For at no time has slept nor slumbered He, Who has constituted Himself the watcher of Israel (Ps. 120, 4).

He reared most holy Prophets and Patriarchs, who in figures and prophecies announced to us from far off, that, which we have now in possession. He wishes us to venerate them, knowing how they esteemed the law of grace and how earnestly they yearned and prayed for it. To this people God manifested His immutable Essence by many revelations, and they again transmitted these revelations to us by the holy Scriptures, containing immense mysteries, which we grasp and learn to know by faith. All of them, however, are brought to perfection and are made certain by the incarnate Word, Who transmitted to us the secure rule of faith and the nourishment of the sacred Scriptures in His Church. Although the Prophets and the just ones of that people were not so far favored as to see Christ in His Body, they nevertheless experienced the liberality of the Lord, Who manifested Himself to them by prophecies and Who moved their hearts to pray for His coming and for the Redemption of the whole human race. The consonance and harmony of all these prophecies, mysteries and aspirations of the ancient fathers, were a sweet music to the Most High, which resounded in the secret recesses of the Divinity and which regaled and shortened the time (to speak in a human manner) until He should descend to converse with man.

Saint Joachim and Anne


HE POSTERITY and race of Adam spread out in great numbers, for the just and the unjust were multiplied; likewise did increase the clamors of the just for the Redeemer, and the transgressions of the wicked in demerit of that benefit. The people of the Most High and the plans for the triumph of the Lord in assuming human nature, were already in the last stages of preparation for the advent of the Messias.

 The kingdom of sin in the generation of the wicked had now spread its dominion to the utmost limits and the opportune time for the remedy had arrived.

When the ancient serpent had infected the whole earth with its poisonous breath and apparently enjoyed peaceful control over mortals who had become blind to the light of reason (Rom. 1, 20) and to the precepts contained in the ancient written law, when, instead of seeking the true Divinity, men set up for themselves many false laws and each one created a god for himself according to his liking, without considering, that the confusion of so many gods was repugnant to all goodness, order, and peace, when by these errors malice, ignorance and forgetfulness of the true God had become naturalized; when, ignorant of its mortal disease and lethargy, the world had grown mute in its prayer for deliverance; when pride reigned supreme and fools had become innumerable (Eccles. 9, 15); when Lucifer in his arrogance was about to swallow the pure waters of the Jordan (Job 40, 18): when through these injuries God was more and more deeply offended and less and less beholden to man; when His justice had such an excellent cause for annihilating all creation and reducing it to its original nothingness:

At this juncture (according to our way of understanding), the Most High directed His attention to the attribute of His mercy, counterbalanced the weight of His incomprehensible justice with the law of clemency, and chose to yield more to His Own goodness, to the clamors and faithful services of the just and the prophets of His people, than to His indignation at the wickedness and sins of all the rest of mankind. In this dark night of the ancient law, He resolved to give most certain pledges of the day of grace, sending into the world two most bright luminaries to announce the approaching dawn of the sun of Justice, Christ our Salvation. These were Saints Joachim and Anne, prepared and created by especial decree according to His Own heart. Saint Joachim had his home, his family and relations in Nazareth, a town of Galilee. He, always a just and holy man and illumined by especial grace and light from on high, had a knowledge of many mysteries of the holy Scriptures and of the olden Prophets. In continual and fervent prayer he asked of God the fulfillment of his promises, and his faith and charity penetrated the heavens. He was a man most humble and pure, leading a most holy and sincere life, yet he was most grave and earnest, and incomparably modest and honest.

The most fortunate Anne had a house in Bethlehem and was a most chaste, humble and beautiful maiden. From her childhood she led a most virtuous, holy and retired life, enjoying great and continual enlightenment in exalted contemplation. Withal she was most diligent and industrious, thus attaining perfection in both the active and the contemplative life. She had an infused knowledge of the Divine Scriptures and a profound understanding of its hidden mysteries and sacraments. In the infused virtues of faith, hope and love she was unexcelled. Equipped with all these gifts, she continued to pray for the coming of the Messias. Her prayers were so acceptable to the Lord, that to her He could but answer with the words of the Spouse: "Thou hast wounded my heart with one of the hairs of thy neck" (Cant. 4, 9). Therefore, without doubt, Saint Anne holds a high position among the Saints of the old Testament, who by their merits hastened the coming of the Redeemer.

This woman also prayed most fervently, that the Almighty deign to procure for her in matrimony a husband, who should help her to observe the ancient law and testament, and to be perfect in the fulfillment of all its precepts. At the moment in which Saint Anne thus prayed to the Lord, His Providence ordained, that Saint Joachim made the same petition: both prayers were presented at the same time before the tribunal of the holy Trinity, where they were heard and fulfilled, it being then and there divinely disposed, that Joachim and Anne unite in marriage and become the parents of Her, who was to be the Mother of the incarnate God. In furtherance of this Divine decree the Archangel Gabriel was sent to announce it to them both. To Saint Anne he appeared in visible form, while she was engaged in fervent prayer for the coming of the Savior and the Redeemer of men. When she saw the holy prince, most beautiful and refulgent, she was disturbed and frightened and yet at the same time interiorly rejoiced and enlightened.

The holy maiden prostrated herself in profound humility to reverence the messenger of Heaven; but he prevented and encouraged her, as being destined to be the ark of the true manna, Mary most holy, Mother of the Word. For this holy Angel had been informed of this sacramental mystery on being sent with this message. The other Angels did not yet know of it, as this revelation or illumination had been given directly from God only to Gabriel. Nevertheless the Angel did not then manifest this great sacrament to St. Anne; but he asked her to attend and said to her: "The Most High give thee his blessing, servant of God, and be thy salvation. His Majesty has heard thy petitions and He wishes thee to persevere therein and that thou continue to clamor for the coming of the Redeemer. It is His will, that thou accept Joachim as thy spouse, for he is a man of upright heart and acceptable to the Lord: in his company thou wilt be able to persevere in the observance of His law and in His service. Continue thy prayers and thy supplications and be not solicitous for anything else, for the Lord will see them fulfilled. Walk in the straight paths of justice and let thy soul's converse be in Heaven. Continuing to pray for the Messias, be thou joyful in the Lord, Who is thy salvation." With these words the Angel disappeared, leaving her enlightened in many mysteries of holy Scriptures, and comforted and renewed in spirit.

To Saint Joachim the Archangel did not appear in a corporeal manner, but he spoke to the man of God in sleep as follows: "Joachim, be thou blessed by the right hand of the Most High! Persevere in thy desires and live according to rectitude and perfection. It is the will of the Almighty, that thou receive Saint Anne as thy spouse, for her the Lord has visited with His blessing.

Take care of her and esteem her as a pledge of the most High and give thanks to His Majesty, because He has given her into thy charge." In consequence of this Divine message Saint Joachim immediately asked for the hand of the most chaste Anne and, in joint obedience to the Divine ordainment, they espoused each other. But neither of them manifested to each other the secret of what had happened until several years afterwards, as I will relate in its place. The two holy spouses lived in Nazareth, continuing to walk in the justification of the Lord. In rectitude and sincerity they practiced all virtue in their works, making themselves very acceptable and pleasing to the Most High and avoiding all blemish in all their doings. The rents and incomes of their estate they divided each year into three parts. The first one they offered to the temple of Jerusalem for the worship of the Lord; the second they distributed to the poor, and the third they retained for the decent sustenance of themselves and family. God augmented their temporal goods on account of their generosity and charity.

They themselves lived with each other in undisturbed peace and union of heart, without quarrel or shadow of a grudge. The most humble Anne subjected herself and conformed herself in all things to the will of Joachim: and that man of God, with equal emulation of humility, sought to know the desires of holy Anne, confiding in her with his whole heart (Prov. 31, 11), and he was not deceived. Thus they lived together in such perfect charity, that during their whole life they never experienced a time, during which one ceased to seek the same thing as the other (Matth. 27, 20). But rather as being united in the Lord, they enjoyed His presence in holy fear. Saint Joachim, solicitous to obey the command of the Angel, honored his spouse and lavished his attention upon her.

The Lord forestalled the holy Matron Anne with the blessings of His sweetness (Psalm 20, 4), communicating to her the most exalted graces and infused science, which prepared her for the happy destiny of becoming the mother of her, who was to be the Mother of God Himself. As the works of God are perfect and consummate, it was natural to expect, that He should make her a worthy mother of that most pure Creature, who should be superior in sanctity to all creatures and inferior only to God.

This fortunate couple passed twenty years of their married life without issue. In those times and among the people of the Jews this was held to be the greatest misfortune and disgrace. On this account they had to bear much reproach and insult from their neighbors and acquaintances, for all those that were childless, were considered as excluded from the benefits of the Messias. But the Most High wished to afflict them and dispose them for the grace which awaited them, in order that in patience and submission they might tearfully sow the glorious Fruit, which they were afterwards to bring forth. They continued in most fervent prayers from the bottom of their hearts, mindful of the command from on high. They made an express vow to the Lord, that if He should give them issue, they would consecrate it to his service in the temple of Jerusalem.

Having, at the command of the Lord, persevered a whole year in fervent petitions, it happened by Divine inspiration and ordainment, that Joachim was in the temple of Jerusalem offering prayers and sacrifices for the coming of the Messias, and for the fruit, which he desired. Arriving with others of his town to offer the common gifts and contributions in the presence of the high priest, Isachar, an inferior priest, harshly reprehended the old and venerable Joachim, for presuming to come with the other people to make his offerings in spite of his being childless. Among other things he said to him: "Why dost thou, Joachim, come with thy offerings and sacrifices, which are not pleasing in the eyes of God, since thou art a useless man? Leave this company and depart; do not annoy God with thy offerings and sacrifices, which are not acceptable to Him." The holy man, full of shame and confusion, in humble love thus addressed the Lord: "Most high Lord and God, at Thy command and desire I came to the temple; he that takes Thy place, despises me; my sins merit this disgrace; but since I accept it according to Thy will, do not cast away the creature of Thy hands" (Ps. 275, 10). Joachim hastened away from the temple full of sorrow, though peaceful and contented, to a farm or storehouse, which he possessed, and there in solitude he called upon the Lord for some days, praying as follows:

"Most high and eternal God, on Whom depends the whole existence and the reparation of the human race, prostrate in Thy living presence, I supplicate Thine infinite goodness to look upon the affliction of my soul and to hear my prayers and those of Thy servant Anne. To Thine eyes are manifest all our desires (Ps. 37, 10) and if I am not worthy to be heard, do not despise my humble spouse. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our first forefathers, do not hide thy kindness from us, nor permit, since Thou art a Father, that I be numbered among the reprobate and the outcasts in my offerings, because Thou givest me no issue. Remember, O Lord, the sacrifices (Deut. 11, 27) and oblations of Thy servants and prophets, my ancestors, and look upon their works, which were pleasing to Thy Divine eyes. Since Thou commandest me, my Lord to pray to Thee in confidence, grant me, according to the greatness of Thy mercy and power, that which at Thy wish I pray for. In beseeching Thee I fulfill Thy will and render the obedience, in which Thou hast promised to grant my petition. If my sins hinder the exercise of Thy mercies, take away what displeases and hinders Thee. Thou art mighty, Lord God of Israel, and all that Thou wishest, Thou canst accomplish without hindrance. Let my prayer reach Thy ears, and if I am poor and insignificant, Thou art infinite and always ready to exercise mercy with the downcast. Whither shall I flee from Thee, Who art the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Thou hast filled Thy sons and servants with benedictions in their generations and Thou hast instructed me to expect and desire from Thy bounty what Thou hast wrought in my brethren. If it is Thy pleasure to yield to my petition, and grant me issue I will offer it and consecrate it to Thy holy temple in perpetual service. I have riveted my eyes and my will on Thy holy Will and have always desired to keep them free from the vanishing things of this world. Fulfill in regard to me, what is according to Thy pleasure, and rejoice our spirit with the accomplishment of our hopes. Look down from Thy throne upon this vile dust, and raise it up, in order that it may magnify Thee and adore Thee, and let in all things be fulfilled Thy will, and not mine."

While Joachim was making these petitions in his retirement, the holy Angel manifested to holy Anne, that her prayer for an issue, accompanied by such holy desires and intentions, was pleasing to the Almighty. Having thus recognized the will of God and of her husband Joachim, she prayed with humble subjection and confidence, that it be fulfilled.

 "Most high God, my Lord, Creator and Preserver of the universe, Whom my soul reveres as the true God, infinite, holy and eternal! Prostrate in Thy real presence I will speak, though I am but dust and ashes (Esther 13, 9) proclaiming my need and my affliction. Lord God uncreated, make us worthy of Thy benediction, and give us holy fruit of the womb, in order that we may offer it to Thy service in the temple (Gen. 18, 27). Remember, O Lord, that Anne, Thy servant, the mother of Samuel, was sterile and that by Thy generous mercy she received the fulfillment of her desires. I feel within me a courage which incites and annihilates me to ask Thee to show me the same mercy. Hear then, O sweetest Lord and Master, my humble petition: remember the sacrifices, offerings and services of my ancestors and the favors, which Thy almighty arm wrought in them. I wish to offer to Thee, O Lord, an oblation pleasing and acceptable in Thine eyes: but the greatest in my power, is my soul, my faculties and inclinations given to Thee, and my whole being. If Thou look upon me from Thy throne giving me issue, I will from this moment sanctify and offer it for Thy service in the temple. Lord God of Israel, if it should be Thy pleasure and good will to look upon this lowly and impoverished creature, and to console Thy servant Joachim, grant me my prayer and may in all things be fulfilled Thy holy and eternal will."

These were the prayers, which Saint Joachim and Anne offered. On account of my great shortcoming and insufficiency I cannot fully describe what I was made to understand concerning the holiness of these prayers and of these saintly parents. It is impossible to tell all; nor is it necessary, since what I have said is sufficient for my purpose. In order to obtain a befitting idea of these Saints, it is necessary to estimate and judge them in connection with the most high end and ministry, for which they were chosen by God; for they were the immediate grandparents of Christ our Lord, and parents of His most holy Mother.

The petitions of the holy Joachim and Anne reached the throne of the holy Trinity, where they were accepted and the will of God was made known to the holy Angels. The three Divine Persons, according to our way of expressing such things, spoke to them as follows: "We have in Our condescension resolved, that the Person of the Word shall assume human flesh and that through Him all the race of mortals shall find a remedy. We have already manifested and promised this to Our servants, the Prophets, in order that they might announce it to the world. The sins of the living, and their malice are so great, that We are much constrained by the rigor of justice. But our goodness and mercy is greater than all their evil-doing, nor can it extinguish Our love toward men. We will look with mercy upon the works of Our hands, which We have created according to Our image and likeness, so as to enable them to become inheritors and participators of Our eternal glory (1 Pet. 3, 22). We will consider the services and the pleasure derived from Our servants and friends and regard the multitude of those, who shall distinguish themselves in Our praise and friendship. And above all have We before Our eyes her, who is to be the chosen one, who is to be acceptable above all creatures and singled out for Our delight and pleasure; because she is to conceive the person of the Word in her womb and clothe Him with human flesh. Since there must be a beginning of this work, by which We shall manifest to the world the treasures of the Divinity, this shall be the acceptable and opportune time for its execution. Joachim and Anne have found grace in Our eyes; We look upon them with pleasure and shall enrich them with choicest gifts and graces. They have been faithful and constant in their trials and in simplicity and uprightness their souls have become acceptable and pleasing before Us. Let Gabriel as Our ambassador bring tidings of joy for them and for the whole human race; let him announce to them, that in Our condescension We have looked upon them and chosen them."

Thus the celestial spirits were instructed in regard to the will and the decree of the Almighty. The holy Archangel Gabriel humbled himself before the throne of the most blessed Trinity, adoring and revering the Divine Majesty in the manner which befits these most pure and spiritual substances. From the throne an intellectual voice proceeded, saying: "Gabriel, enlighten, vivify and console Joachim and Anne, Our servants, and tell them, that their prayers have come to Our presence and their petitions are heard in clemency. Promise them, that by the favor of Our right hand they will receive the Fruit of benediction, and that Anne shall conceive a daughter, to whom We give the name of MARY."
Together with this mandate of the Most High many mysteries and sacraments pertaining to this message were revealed to Saint Gabriel. With it he descended from the vault of the empyrean heaven and appeared to holy Joachim, while he was in prayer, saying to him: "Just and upright man, the Almighty from His sovereign throne has taken notice of thy desires and has heard thy sighs and prayers, and has made thee fortunate on earth. Thy spouse Anne shall conceive and bear a daughter, who shall be blessed among women (Luke 42, 48). The nations shall know her as the Blessed. He Who is the eternal God, . . .  and the Creator of all, most upright in His judgments, powerful and strong, sends me to thee, because thy works and alms have been acceptable. Love has softened the heart of the Almighty, and has hastened His mercies, and in His liberality He wishes to enrich thy house and thy family with a daughter, whom Anne shall conceive; the Lord Himself has chosen for her the name of MARY. From her childhood let her be consecrated to the temple, and in it to God, as thou hast promised. She shall be elect, exalted, powerful and full of the Holy Ghost; on account of the sterility of Anne her conception shall be miraculous; she shall be a daughter wonderful in all her doings and in all her life. Praise the Lord, Joachim, for this benefit and magnify Him, for in no other nation has He wrought the like. Thou shalt go to give thanks in the temple of Jerusalem and in testimony of the truth of this joyful message, thou shalt meet, in the Golden Gate, thy sister Anne, who is coming to the temple for the same purpose. Remember that marvelous is this message, for the Conception of this child shall rejoice Heaven and earth."

In the meanwhile the thrice blessed Anne was exalted in prayer and Divine contemplation and totally wrapped up in the mystery of the Incarnation, which, after having been previously filled with a most high understanding and a specially infused light, she solicited from the eternal Word. With the profoundest humility and lively faith she was praying for the hastening of the coming of the Redeemer of the human race in the following words: "Most high King and Lord of all creation, I, a most vile and despicable creature, and yet the work of Thy hands, desire at the price of the life which Thou hast given me, to urge Thee to hasten in Thy mercy the time of our salvation. O may Thine infinite kindness incline toward our need! O that our eyes might look upon the Restorer and the Redeemer of men!

 Remember, O Lord, the mercies of old shown to Thy people, wherein Thou hast promised Thy Only-begotten, and may this promise of infinite kindness unbend Thee! May it come now, that day so much longed for! Is it possible, that the Most High should descend from His holy Heaven? Is it possible, that He is to have a terrestrial Mother? What woman shall she be, that is so fortunate and blessed? O who shall be so favored as to look upon her? Who shall be worthy to be the servant of her servants? Blessed the race, that shall be able to see Her and prostrate themselves at her feet to reverence her! How sweet shall be the sight of her and her company! Blessed the eyes, that shall see her and the ears, that shall listen to her words, and the family, from whom the Most High shall select His Mother! Execute, O Lord, this decree: fulfill thy Divine benevolence!"

"The humility, faith and the alms of Joachim and of thyself have come before the throne of the Most High and now He sends me, His Angel, in order to give thee news full of joy for thy heart: His Majesty wishes, that thou be most fortunate and blessed. He chooses thee to be the mother of her who is to conceive and bring forth the Only-begotten of the Father. Thou shalt bring forth a daughter, who by Divine disposition shall be called MARY. She shall be blessed among women and full of the Holy Ghost. She shall be the cloud that shall drop the dew of Heaven for the refreshment of mortals (3 Kings 18, 44) : and in her shall be fulfilled the prophecies of thy ancestors. She shall be the portal of life and salvation for the sons of Adam. Know also that I have announced to Joachim, that he shall have a daughter who shall be blessed and fortunate: but the full knowledge of the mystery is not given him by the Lord, for he does not know, that she is to be the Mother of the Messias. Therefore thou must guard this secret; and go now to the temple to give thanks to the Most High for having been so highly favored by His powerful right hand. In the Golden Gate thou shalt meet Joachim, where thou wilt confer with him about this tiding. Thou art the one, who art especially blessed of the Lord and whom He wishes to visit and enrich with more singular blessings. In solitude He will speak to thy heart and there give a beginning to the law of grace, since in thy womb He will give being to Her, who is to vest the Immortal with mortal flesh and human form. In this humanity, united with the Word, will be written, as with His Own Blood, the true law of Mercy."

In order that the humble heart of the holy Anne might not faint away with admiration and joy at these tidings of the holy Angel, she was strengthened by the Holy Spirit and thus she heard it and received it with magnanimity and incomparable joy. Immediately arising she hastened to the temple of Jerusalem, and there found Saint Joachim, as the Angel had foretold to them both. Together they gave thanks to the Almighty for this wonderful blessing and offered special gifts and sacrifices. They were enlightened anew by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and, full of Divine consolation, they returned to their home. Joyfully they conversed about the favors, which they had received from the Almighty, especially concerning each one's message of the Archangel Gabriel, whereby, on behalf of the Lord, they had been promised a daughter who should be most blessed and fortunate. On this occasion they also told each other, how the same, before their espousal, had commanded each to accept the other, in order that together they might serve God according to His Divine will. This secret they had kept from each other for twenty years, without communicating it, until the same  had promised them the issue of such a daughter. Anew they made the vow to offer her to the temple and that each year on this day they would come to the temple to offer special gifts, spend the day in praise and thanksgiving, and give many alms. This vow they fulfilled to the end of their lives, spending this day in great praise and exaltation of the Most High.

The prudent matron Anne never disclosed the secret, that her daughter was to be the Mother of the Messias, either to Joachim or to any other creature. Nor did that holy parent in the course of his life know any more than that she was to be a grand and mysterious woman. However, in the last moments of his life the Almighty made the secret known to him . . .