Mandeville, LA – Excerpted from Life of The Blessed Virgin, visions dictated by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.
XIX. THE BURIAL AND ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
The funeral procession followed the Way of the Cross set up by the Blessed Virgin right up to the last Station, and then went over the hill in front of that Station and stopped at the right of the entrance to the tomb. Here they laid down the holy body, and then four of them carried it into the burial-chamber in the rock and laid it in the place hollowed out for it. All those present went in one by one and laid spices and flowers beside the body, kneeling down and offering up their prayers and their tears.
Many lingered there in love and sorrow, and night had fallen when the Apostles closed the entrance to the tomb. They dug a trench before the narrow entrance of the rock-tomb, and planted in it a hedge of various shrubs brought with their roots from elsewhere. Some had leaves, some blossoms, and some berries. They made the water from a near-by spring flow in front of the hedge, so that no trace of the entrance to the tomb could be seen and none could enter the cave without forcing a way round behind the hedge. They went away in scattered groups, some remaining to pray and watch by the tomb, others stopping to pray here and there at the Stations of the Cross. Those who were on their way home saw from the distance a strange radiance over Mary’s tomb, which moved them to wonder, though they did not know what it really was. I saw it, too, but of all that I saw I remember only the following. It was as if a shaft of light descended from heaven towards the tomb, and in this shaft was a lovely form like the soul of the Blessed Virgin, accompanied by the form of Our Lord. Then the body of the Blessed Virgin, united to the shining soul, rose shining out of the grave and soared up to heaven with the figure of Our Lord. All this lies in my memory as something half realized and yet distinct.
In the night I saw several of the Apostles and holy women praying and singing in the little garden in front of the rock-tomb. A broad shaft of light came down from heaven to the rock, and I saw descending in it a triple-ringed glory of angels and spirits surrounding the appearance of Our Lord and of the shining soul of Mary. The appearance of Jesus Christ, whose wound-marks were streaming with light, moved down in front of her soul. Round the soul of Mary, in the innermost circle of the glory, I saw only little figures of children; in the midmost circle they appeared as six-year-old children; and in the outermost circle as grown-up youths. I could see only the faces clearly, all the rest I saw as shimmering figures of light. As this vision, becoming ever clearer, streamed down upon the rock, I saw a shining path opened and leading up to the heavenly Jerusalem. Then I saw the soul of the Blessed Virgin, which had been following the appearance of Jesus, pass in front of Him, and float down into the tomb. Soon afterwards I saw her soul, united to her transfigured body, rising out of the tomb far brighter and clearer, and ascending into the heavenly Jerusalem with Our Lord and with the whole glory. Thereupon all the radiance faded again, and the quiet starry sky covered the land.
I do not know whether the Apostles and holy women praying before the tomb saw all this in the same manner, but I saw them looking upwards in adoration and amazement, or throwing themselves down full of awe with their faces to the ground. I saw, too, how several of those who were praying and singing by the Way of the Cross as they carried home the empty bier turned back with great reverence and devotion towards the light above the rock-tomb.
Thus I did not see the Blessed Virgin die in the usual manner, nor did I see her go up to heaven; but I saw that first her soul and then her body were taken from the earth.
On returning to the house the Apostles and disciples partook of a little food and then went to rest. They slept outside the house in sheds built onto it. Mary’s maidservant, who had remained in the house to set things in order, and the other women who had stayed there to help her, slept in the room behind the hearth. During the burial the maidservant had cleared everything out of this, so that it now looked like a little chapel; and thenceforward the Apostles used it for prayer and for offering the Holy Sacrifice. This evening I saw them still in their own room, praying and mourning. The women had already gone to rest. Then I saw the Apostle Thomas and two companions, all girt up, arrive at the gate of the courtyard and knock to be let in. There was a disciple with him called Jonathan, who was related to the Holy Family. His other companion was a very simple-minded man from the land of the farthest of the three holy kings, which I always call Partherme, not being able to recall names exactly. Thomas had brought him from there; he carried his cloak and was an obedient, child-like servant. A disciple opened the gate, and Thomas went with Jonathan into the Apostles’ room, telling his servant to sit at the gate and wait. The good brown man, who did everything that he was told, at once sat quietly down. O, how distressed they were to learn that they had come too late! Thomas cried like a child when he heard of Mary’s death. The disciples washed his and Jonathan’s feet, and gave them some refreshment. In the meantime the women had woken and got up, and when they had retired from the Blessed Virgin’s room, Thomas and Jonathan were taken to the place where the Blessed Virgin had died. They threw themselves to the ground and watered it with their tears. Thomas knelt long in prayer at Mary’s little altar. His grief was inexpressibly moving; it makes me cry even now when I think of it. When the Apostles had finished their prayers (which they had not interrupted), they all went to welcome the new arrivals. They took Thomas and Jonathan by the arms, lifted them from their knees, embraced them, and led them into the front part of the house, where they gave them honey and little loaves of bread to eat. They drank from little jugs and goblets. They prayed together once more, and all embraced each other.
But now Thomas and Jonathan begged to be shown the tomb of the Blessed Virgin, so the Apostles kindled lights fastened to staves, and they all went out along Mary’s Way of the Cross to her tomb. They spoke little, stopping for a short time at the stones of the Stations, and meditating on the Via Dolorosa of Our Lord and the compassionate love of His Mother, who had placed these stones of remembrance here and had so often wetted them with her tears. When they came to the rock-tomb, they all threw themselves on their knees. Thomas and Jonathan hurried towards the tomb, followed by John. Two disciples held back the bushes from the entrance, and they went in and knelt in reverent awe before the resting-place of the Blessed Virgin. John then drew near to the light wicker coffin, which projected a little beyond the ledge of rock, undid the three gray bands which were round it and laid them aside. When the light of the torches shone into the coffin, they saw with awe and amazement the grave-clothes lying before them still wrapped round as before, but empty. About the face and breast they were undone; the wrappings of the arms lay slightly loosened, but not unwound. The transfigured body of Mary was no longer on earth. They gazed up in astonishment, raising their arms, as though the holy body had only then vanished from among them; and John called to those outside the cave: ‘Come, see, and wonder, she is no longer here.’ All came two by two into the narrow cave, and saw with amazement the empty grave-clothes lying before them. They looked up to heaven with uplifted arms, weeping and praying, praising the Lord and His beloved transfigured Mother (their true dear Mother, too) like devoted children, uttering every kind of loving endearment as the spirit moved them. They must have remembered in their thoughts that cloud of light which they had seen from afar on their way home immediately after the burial, how it had sunk down upon the tomb and then soared upwards again. John took the Blessed Virgin’s grave-clothes with great reverence out of the wicker coffin, folded and wrapped them carefully together, and took them away, after closing the lid of the coffin and fastening it again with the bands. Then they left the tomb, closing the entrance again with the bushes. They returned to the house by the Way of the Cross, praying and singing hymns. On their return they all went into the Blessed Virgin’s room. John laid the grave-clothes reverently on the little table before the place where the Blessed Virgin used to pray. Thomas and the others prayed again at the place where she died. Peter went apart as if in spiritual meditation; perhaps he was making his preparation, for afterwards I saw the altar being set up before the Blessed Virgin’s place of prayer where her cross stood, and I saw Peter holding a solemn service there, the others standing behind him in rows and praying and singing alternately. The holy women stood farther back by the doors, behind the hearth.
Thomas’ simple-minded servant had followed him from the distant land which he had last visited. His appearance was very strange. He had small eyes, a flat forehead and nose, and high cheek-bones. His skin was of a browner color than one sees here. He had been baptized; apart from that he was just like an ignorant, obedient child. He did everything that he was told—stood still where he was put, looked in the direction he was told to, and smiled at everybody. He remained seated in the place where Thomas had said he was to wait, and when he saw Thomas in tears, he wept bitterly, too. This man always stayed with Thomas; he was able to carry great weights, and I have seen him dragging up enormous stones when Thomas was building a chapel.
After the Blessed Virgin’s death I saw the assembled Apostles and disciples often standing together in a group and telling each other where they had been and what had befallen them. I heard it all, and if it be God’s will I shall recollect it.