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The Glory of the Night of the Nativity

Adoration of the Shepherds on the night of the nativityThe third and last segment of the visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich (1774- 1824) who was a mystic, visionary, and stigmatist whose visions of the Nativity of Jesus were recorded by the German poet Clemens Brentano. The first two postings can be found here and here.

“I saw in many places, even in the most distant countries, an unusual joy and an extraordinary movement during this night. I saw the hearts of many good men animated with a joyous desire, and those of the wicked full of anguish and trouble. I saw many animals show their joy by their movements, the flowers raise their heads, plants and trees receive as it were new life and spread far and wide their perfumes. I saw also springs burst out of the ground.

Thus at the moment that the Saviour was born an abundant spring burst forth in the grotto which is on the hill to the north of the Grotto of the Crib. Joseph saw it on the following day and prepared a place for it to run off. Over Bethlehem the sky was of a sombre red, whilst over the Grotto of the Crib, in the valley near the Grotto of Maraha, and over the Valley of the Shepherds there was a shining vapour.

In the Valley of the Shepherds, about a league and a half from the Grotto of the Crib, there was a hill at which vineyards commenced which extended from thence as far as Gaza. The cottages of three shepherds, who were the heads of the families of shepherds who lived in the neighbourhood, stood on the side of this hill. At a distance twice that from the Grotto of the Crib, was a tower called the Shepherd s Tower: it was a large pyramid shaped scaffolding of woodwork, having for its base blocks of stone placed in the midst of green trees, and built upon an isolated hill standing in the midst of the plain.

It was surrounded with staircases and galleries, with a kind of small round towers, the whole being as it were hung round with matting. It had some resemblance to those towers of wood from the top of which they observed the stars in the country of the three Magi kings, and which had in the distance the appearance of a large ship with many masts and sails. There was a very extensive view from this tower over the surrounding country. Jerusalem, and even the Mountain of the Temptation in the Desert of Jericho could be seen from here. The shepherds had watchers there to look after the movements of their flocks, and to warn them by sounding a horn, in case of an incursion of robbers or soldiers, and whom they could see for a long distance from this spot.

The families of the shepherds lived all about here within a radius of more than two leagues; they occupied small isolated farms surrounded with gardens and fields. The place where they assembled together was near this tower. The guardians appointed to watch over the common property dwelt here on the side of the hill where the tower stood; there were cottages, and separate from these a large shed with many apartments, where the wives of the guardians lived and prepared the food. On this night I saw the flocks near the tower; a part were in the open air, another part were under a shed near the hill of the three shepherds.

The shepherds on the night of the nativity

When Jesus was born I saw the three shepherds struck with the unusual aspect of this marvellous night. Standing near their cottages, they looked round and observed with wonder an extraordinary light above the Grotto of the Crib. I saw also that the shepherds who were near the tower were excited. I saw them mount the scaffolding and look towards the side of the Grotto of the Crib. While the three shepherds had their eyes turned towards heaven, I saw a luminous cloud descend before them. As it came near I observed a movement. I saw forms and figures become visible, and I heard harmonious songs of a joyful kind, and which became more and more distinct. The shepherds were at first afraid; but an angel appeared before them and said:

“Fear not; I come to announce to you great joy for all the people of Israel: for today is born for you in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign by which you shall know Him: you shall find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.”

Whilst the angel announced this the splendour increased all around him, and I saw six or seven large figures of angels, beautiful and shining. They had in their hands something like a long streamer, whereon was written something in large letters of the size of a hand, and I heard them praise God and sing:

“Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace to men of good will.”

The shepherds of the town had the same apparition, but a little later. The angels also appeared to a third group of shepherds near a fountain, situated three leagues from Bethlehem to the east of the Shepherd s Tower. I did not see the shepherds go immediately to the Grotto of the Crib, from which one part of them were a league and a half distant, and the others double that distance.

Adoration of the Shepherds

Sunday, the 25th of November. At the first break of day the three principal shepherds came from their little hill to the Grotto of the Crib, with the presents which they had prepared. They were little animals very much resembling roe deer: if they were small goats they differed from those of our country. They had long necks and beautiful shining eyes; they were very graceful and nimble in their pace. The shepherds led them along attached to thin cords: they also carried on their shoulders birds which they had killed, and other birds under their arms of a larger size.

They knocked timidly at the door of the Grotto of the Crib and Joseph came to meet them. They repeated to him what the angels had announced to them, and told him that they were come to pay their homage to the infant of promise and to present Him with their offerings. Joseph accepted their presents with humble gratitude, and conducted them to the Blessed Virgin, who was sitting near the crib and holding the Infant Jesus on her knees. The three shepherds knelt down humbly and remained a long time in silence absorbed in feelings of indescribable joy. They afterwards sang the canticle which they had heard the angels sing and a psalm which I have forgotten. When they wished to retire the Blessed Virgin gave them the little Jesus, whom they held in their arms one after another. Then, weeping, they gave Him back to her and quitted the grotto.

Sunday, the 25th of November, in the evening. The Sister was during the whole of this day in great suffering, both physical and mental. This evening, being just asleep, she found herself transported to the Promised Land; as, independently of her contemplations of the Nativity, she had besides a series of visions on the first year of the ministry of Jesus, and precisely at the same time on the fast of forty days she exclaimed with naive astonishment: “Ah, how touching is this! I see on one side Jesus at the age of thirty years fasting and tempted by the devil in a cavern of the desert; and on the other side I saw Him a new-born babe, adored by the shepherds in the Grotto of the Crib.” After these words she rose from her bed with surprising rapidity, ran to the opened door of her chamber, and as if intoxicated with joy, called the friends who were in the anteroom, saying to them: “Come, come quickly, and adore the infant who is near me.” She then returned to her bed with the same rapidity, and began, whilst her face shone with enthusiasm and fervour, to sing in a clear and marvellously expressive voice the Magnificat, the Gloria in Excelsis, and other unknown canticles in a simple style of profound meaning and partly in rhyme. She sang the seconds also of one of these airs. There appeared in her an emotion of joy singularly touching. This is what she related on the following morning:

Yesterday evening many shepherds, with their wives and even their children, came from the Shepherd’s Tower, which is four leagues from the grotto. They brought birds, eggs, honey, skeins of thread of different colours, small packets resembling raw silk, and bouquets of a plant resembling the rush, and which had large leaves. This plant had ears full of large grains. When they had given their presents to Joseph they humbly approached the crib and, kneeling, they sang some very beautiful psalms the Gloria in Excelsis and some short canticles I sang with them. They sang in several parts, and in one of these I took the second. I remember very nearly the following words: “Oh, little infant, red as the rose, you appear as the messenger of peace.” When they took leave they bent over the crib, as if they embraced the little Jesus.

Readings about Original Christianity:

  • The Christ of India — Jesus lived most of his life in India before becoming a missionary-martyr of Eternal Truth (Sanatana Dharma) in the West. This booklet presents the full story, including the historical texts about His life in India, and the inevitable conclusions that must be drawn about The Real Jesus and His Real Teachings.
  • Robe of Light — “Where am I?…How did I get here?” is more than a trite line from nineteenth century melodramas and novels. It is a query put forth by potential sages throughout the history of conscious mankind. When asked on a cosmic scale, it is bold indeed: What is this universe I keep finding myself in, and how did I get here? That is answered by esoteric Christian cosmology outlined in this article.
  • Esoteric Christian Insights Into Reincarnation — Contrary to popular thought, reincarnation is very much a Christian belief–first having been an orthodox Jewish belief.  Read about it here.

 

 

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