2. Joachim and Anne Make a Vow to the Lord.

22nd August 1944. prev home next

I see the inside of a house. In it there is an elderly woman sitting at a loom. I would say, noting that her hair, which formerly was certainly jet black, is now quite grey and her face, though not wrinkled, has the gravity that comes with age, that she must be fifty-five years old. Not more.

In estimating a woman's age, I found my calculations upon my mother's face, whose image is more than ever present to me in these times which remind me of her final days at my bedside... The day after tomorrow it will be a year since I had my last look at her... My mother had a very youthful face, but was prematurely grey. When she was fifty she was as grey as at the end of her life. But, apart from the maturity of her appearance, nothing betrayed her age. I could therefore be mistaken in estimating the age of an elderly woman.

The woman I see weaving in a room, bright with the light coming from a door wide open on to a large garden – a small holding I would call it because it smoothly extends up and down a green slope – the woman is beautiful in her definite Jewish features. Her eyes are black and deep and while I do not know why, they remind me of the Baptist's. But, although they are as proud as the eyes of a queen, they are also sweet, as if a veil of blue had been laid on the flash of an eagle: sweet and somewhat sad, as of a person who thinks of and regrets lost things. Her skin is brown, but not excessively so. Her mouth, slightly large, is well formed and is motionless in an austere setting, which, however, is not a hard one. Her nose is long and thin, slightly drooping, an aquiline nose, which suits her eyes. She is well built, but not fat, well proportioned and I think tall, judging her in a sitting position.

I think she is weaving a curtain or a carpet. The many-coloured shuttles move fast on the brown coloured weft, and what has already been woven shows a pretty plaited work of Greek frets and rosettes in which green, yellow, red and deep blue interweave and blend as in a mosaic.

The woman is wearing a very plain dark dress, a red violet colour, the hue of a special species of pansy.

She stands up when she hears someone knocking at the door. She is really tall. She opens the door.

A woman asks her: « Anne, will you give me your amphora? (1). I will fill it for you. »

(1) Amphora: a two-handled jar commonly used by the Greeks and Romans.

The woman has a lovely five year old child with her, who at once clings to Anne's dress, and she caresses him while going into another room, and returns with a beautiful copper amphora which she hands to the woman saying: « You are always good to old Anne, indeed you are. May God reward you with this son and the other children you will have, you fortunate one! » Anne sighs.

The woman looks at her and does not know what to say in the circumstances. To divert attention from the distressing situation of which she is aware, she remarks: « I am leaving Alphaeus with you, if you do not mind, so that I will be quicker and I will fill many jars and jugs for you. »

Alphaeus is very pleased to stay and the reason is clear. As soon as his mother is gone, Anne picks him up and takes him into the orchard, lifts him up to a pergola (2) of grapes as golden as a topaz and says to him: « Eat, eat, because they are good », and she kisses him on his little face soiled with the juice of the grapes which the child eats avidly. Then she laughs heartily and at once looks younger on account of the lovely set of teeth she displays, and the joy that shines on her face, dispelling her years, as the child asks: « And what are you going to give me now? » and he gazes at her with large wide open eyes of a deep grey-blue colour. She laughs and plays with him bending on her knees and goes on: « What will you give me if I give you?... if I give you?... guess! » And the child, clapping his little hands, with a big smile responds: « Kisses, kisses I will give you, nice Anne, good Anne, mamma Anne!... »

(2) Pergola: grape vines supported by poles and forming a kind of roof with their leaves.

Anne, when she hears him say: « mamma Anne », gives out a real cry of joyful love and cuddles the little one declaring: « My darling! Dear! Dear! Dear!» At each « dear » a kiss descends upon the rosy cheeks.

Then they go to a cupboard and from a plate she takes some honey cakes. « I made them for you, darling of poor Anne, because you love me. But tell me, how much do you love me? » And the child, thinking of what has impressed him most, says: « As much as the Temple of the Lord. » Anne kisses him again on his lively little eyes, his little red lips and the child cuddles against her like a kitten.

His mother goes back and forth with a full jar and smiles without saying anything. She leaves them to their effusiveness.

An elderly man comes in from the orchard. He is a little smaller than Anne, and his thick hair is completely white. His face is of a clear complexion with a squarely cut beard; his eyes are like blue turquoises and his eyelashes are light brown, almost fair. His robe is dark brown.

Anne does not see him because her back is turned to the door and he approaches her from behind questioning: « And nothing for me? » Anne turns round and says: « O Joachim! Have you finished your work? » At the same time little Alphaeus runs to the elderly man's knees exclaiming: « Also to you, also to you. » And when the man bends down to kiss him, the child clings to his neck, ruffling his beard with his little hands and his kisses.

Joachim also has his gift. He brings his left hand from behind his back and offers the child such a beautiful apple, that it seems made of the finest porcelain. Smiling he says to the child who is holding his hands out eagerly: « Wait, I will cut it for you! You cannot take it as it is. It is bigger than you! » With a small pruning knife, which he carries on his belt, he cuts the fruit into small slices. He seems to be feeding a nestling, such is the care with which he puts the morsels into the little wide open mouth that munches and chews.

« Look at his eyes, Joachim! Don't they look like two little wavelets of the Sea of Galilee when the evening wind draws a veil of cloud over the sky? » Anne is speaking, resting one hand on her husband's shoulder, and she is leaning slightly on him, too: an attitude revealing the deep love of a wife, a love still perfect after many years of marriage.

And Joachim looks at her lovingly and agrees, saying: « Most beautiful! And His curls? Aren't they the colour of crops dried in the sun? Look: in them there is a mixture of gold and copper. »

« Ah! If we had had a child, I would have liked him thus: with these eyes and this hair... » Anne has bent down, in fact she is on her knees and with a deep sigh she kisses the two large grey-blue eyes.

Joachim, too, sighs. But he wishes to comfort her. He puts his hand on her thick curly grey hair and whispers to her: « We must continue to hope. God can do everything. While we are alive, the miracle may happen, particularly when we love Him and we love each other. » Joachim stresses the final phrase.

But Anne is silent, dejected, and she is standing, her head bowed, to conceal two tears streaming down her face. Only little Alphaeus sees them and he is confounded and grieved that his great friend is crying, as he sometimes does. He lifts his hands and wipes the tears.

« Don't cry, Anne! We are happy just the same. At least I am, because I have you. »

« Also I have you. But I have not given you a child... I think I have distressed the Lord, because He has made my womb barren... »

« O my wife! How can you have distressed Him, you holy woman? Listen. Let us go once more to the Temple. For this reason. Not only for the Tabernacles! Let us say a long prayer... Perhaps it will happen to you as it did to Sarah... as it happened to Anne of Elkanah. They waited for a long time and they considered themselves dejected because they were barren. Instead a holy son was maturing for them in the Heavens of God. Smile, my wife. Your crying is a greater sorrow to me than being without offspring... We shall take Alphaeus with us. We shall make him pray, since he is innocent... and God will hear his prayer and ours together and will grant it. »

« Yes, let us make a vow to the Lord. The offspring will be His. As long as He grants it. Oh to hear me being called “mamma”! »

And Alphaeus, an astonished and innocent spectator, exclaims: « I will call you so! »

« Yes, my darling... but you have your mummy, and I have no baby... »

The vision ceases here.

I understand that Mary's birth cycle has begun. And I am very happy because I wanted it so much. And I think that you (3) will be happy, too.

(3) It is to be noted that Maria Valtorta often addresses her spiritual Father in the course of her work.

Before I began to write I heard Mother say to me: « So, My dear daughter, write about Me. All your grief will be comforted. » And while saying so She laid Her hand on my head caressing me kindly. Then the vision began. But at first, that is, until I heard the fifty-year-old woman being called by name, I did not realise that I was in the presence of mother's Mother and consequently of the grace of Her birth.

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