The miraculous virgin birth of the Virgin Mary

From the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:

Several days previously, Anne informed Joachim that the time of her delivery was at hand. She sent messengers to her sister Maraha, at Sephoris, also to the widow Enue, Elizabeth’s sister, in the valley of Zabulon, and to her sister Sobe’s daughter Salome, the wife of Zebedee, of Bethsaida. The sons of Sobe and Zebedee, James the greater and John, were not yet born. Anne sent for these three women to come to her. I saw them on their journey. Two of them were accompanied by their husbands, who returned, however, when they had reached the neighborhood of Nazareth. Joachim had sent the men servants off to the herds, and had otherwise disposed of the domestics not absolutely needed in the house. Mary Heli, Anne’s eldest daughter, now the wife of Cleophas, took charge of the household affairs.

On the evening before the birth of the child, Joachim himself went to his herds in the field nearest to his home. I saw him with some of his servants, who were related to him. He called them brothers, but they were only his brother’s children. The pasture grounds were beautifully divided off and hedged in. In the corners were huts wherein the servants were provided with food supplied from Anne’s house. There was also a stone altar before which they prayed. Steps led down to it, and the space around it was neatly paved with triangular stones. Behind the altar was a wall with steps at the sides. The whole place was surrounded by trees.

Joachim, after praying here awhile, selected the finest lambs, young goats, and bullocks from his herds, and sent them by his servants to the Temple as offerings. He did not return to his home before night.

I saw the three women approaching Anne’s abode toward evening. When they arrived, they went straight to her room, in back of the fireplace. Anne embraced them, and told them that her time had drawn near. And standing up, she entoned with them a Psalm: “Praise God, the Lord. He has had pity on His people, and has freed Israel. Truly, He has fulfilled the promise that He made to Adam in Paradise: “The seed of the woman shall crush the serpent’s head.”

I do not remember all, verse for verse. But Anne recounted the different figures of Mary, and said: “The germ that God gave to Abraham has ripened in me. The promise made to Sarah and the blossom of Aaron’s rod are fulfilled in me.” During all this time, Anne was shining with light. The room was full of glory, and over Anne hovered Jacob’s ladder. The women around her were amazed, entranced. I think that they, too, saw the ladder.

And now a light refreshment was placed before the visitors. They ate and drank standing. And toward midnight, they lay down to rest. But Anne remained up in prayer. After awhile, she went and awakened the women. She felt that her time was near, and she desired them to pray with her. They all withdrew behind a curtain that concealed an oratory. Anne opened the doors of a little closet built in the wall. In it, there was a box containing sacred treasures. And on either side, there were lights, arranged so that they could be raised in their sockets at will, and so that they rested on upright supports. These lamps were now lighted. At the foot of the little altar was a cushioned stool.

[…]

Anne knelt before the shrine, with one of the women on either side, and the third behind her. Again, I heard them reciting a Psalm. I think that the burning bush on Horeb was mentioned in it. And now a supernatural light began to fill the chamber and to hover around Anne. The three women fell prostrate, as if stunned. Around Anne, the light took the exact form of the thornbush on Horeb, so that I could no longer see her. The flame streamed inward, and all at once I saw Anne receiving into her arms the shining child Mary. She wrapped it in her mantle, pressed it to her heart, laid it on the stool before the relics, and went on with her prayer.

Then I heard the child crying, and I saw Anne drawing forth some linen from under the large veil that enveloped her. She swathed the child first in gray and then in red, leaving the breast, arms, and head bare, and then the luminous thornbush vanished. The holy women arose and in glad surprise received the newborn child into their arms. They wept for joy. All entoned a hymn of praise, while Anne held the child on high. I saw the chamber again filled with light and myriads of angels. They announced the child’s name, singing: “On the twentieth day, this child shall be called Mary.” Then they sang ‘Gloria’ and ‘Allelujah’. I heard all these words.

[Blessed Emmerich describes the birth of Mary as occurring in an entirely miraculous and virginal manner (though Anne herself was not a virgin), in a manner similar to the Birth of Jesus. More on this topic in my booklet, the Virginity of Jesus and Mary]

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