23rd August 1944.
Before writing the following, I wish to make a note.
The house did not seem to me the well known one of Nazareth. The location, at least, is quite different. Also the orchard garden is larger and beyond it fields can be seen, not many, but they are there. Later, when Mary is married, there is only the orchard, large, but not more than an orchard: and I have never seen in other visions the room that I saw. I do not know whether for financial reasons Mary's parents disposed of part of their property or whether Mary, when she left the Temple, moved into another house given to her perhaps by Joseph. I do not remember whether in past visions and instructions I had a clear sign that the house of Nazareth was the house where she was born.
My head is very heavy with fatigue. And then, particularly with dictations, I forget the words at once, although the commands remain recorded in my mind and illuminate my soul. But details fade away immediately. If after one hour I had to repeat what I heard, with the exception of one or two main sentences, I would not know anything else. Visions, on the contrary, remain clear in my mind because I had to watch them myself. I hear dictations but I see visions. Therefore they remain clear in my mind which functioned in following them through their various phases.
I was hoping there would be a declaration on yesterday's vision. Instead nothing.
I am beginning to see and I write.
Outside the walls of Jerusalem, on the hills and among the olive-trees, there is a large crowd. It looks like a large market. But there are no booths. There are no shouting charlatans or pedlars. No games. There are coarse wool tents, certainly proof against water, hanging on posts fixed to the ground, and tied to the posts there are green branches, providing both ornamental decoration and practical coolness. Other tents, instead, are made entirely of branches fixed to the ground and tied in ridge fashion, thus forming small green tunnels. Under each tent there are people of every age and condition, speaking quietly and earnestly, with the cry of a child breaking the quietness now and again.
It is nightfall and the lights of small oil lamps are glittering here and there throughout the odd camp. Around the lights some families are taking their supper on the ground, the mothers holding the little ones in their laps. Many of these tired infants fall asleep holding pieces of bread in their tiny pink fingers while their small heads fall on their mothers' breasts, like little chicks under hens. The mothers finish their meals, as best they can, each with only one hand free, while the other hand is holding the child against her heart. Meanwhile other families are not yet supping and are talking in the dimness of twilight, waiting for the food to be ready for eating. Small fires are lit here and there and women are busy around them. Slow somewhat plaintive lullabies soothe children who are having difficulty in going to sleep.
High above is a beautiful clear sky, which is becoming a deeper and deeper blue until it looks like an enormous black-bluish soft velvet velarium. On this cloth, a little at a time, invisible craftsmen and decorators fix gems and night lights, some isolated, some in odd geometrical patterns, amongst which stand out the Great Bear and the Little Bear, in the shape of a cart, with its shaft resting on the ground after the oxen have been freed from the yoke. The Pole Star is smiling in all its brightness.
I realise it is October because the loud voice of a man says so: « This month of October is beautiful as very rarely in past years! »
Here is Anne coming from a fire with something in her hands, spread over a loaf of bread which is large and flat like a cake and serves also as a tray. Little Alphaeus is holding on to her skirt and is prattling in his little voice. Joachim, when he sees Anne approaching, hastens to light his lamp; he is at the entrance of his little hut made of branches and is speaking to a man about thirty years old, whom Alphaeus greets from a distance in his shrill voice saying: « Daddy. »
Anne in her stately walk passes along the rows of huts. She is stately, yet humble. She is not haughty with anyone. She picks up the child of a very poor woman, as the urchin had fallen at her feet while running like a little scamp. Since he has dirtied his face and is crying, Anne cleans him, comforts him and hands him to his mother who has run towards them and is apologising. Anne says to her: « Oh! It's nothing. I am glad he did not hurt himself. He is a lovely child. What age is he? »
« Three years. He is my second youngest and I am expecting another one shortly. I have six boys. Now I would like to have a girl... A girl is a lot for her mother... »
« The Most High has consoled you very much, woman! » sighs Anne.
And the woman goes on: « Yes. I am poor, but the children are our joy and the bigger ones already help with the work. And, Madam, (it is very obvious that Anne is of a higher social standing and the woman realises it), how many children have you got? »
« None. »
« None? Isn't this one yours? »
« No, he is the son of a very good neighbour. He is my consolation... »
« Did yours die or...? »
« I never had any. »
« Oh! » The poor woman looks at her pitifully.
Anne says goodbye to her, sighing very heavily, and goes to her hut.
« I have kept you waiting, Joachim. I was held up by a poor woman, the mother of six boys. Fancy that! And she is expecting another child shortly. »
Alphaeus' father calls him, but he answers: « I am staying with Anne. I will help her. » Everybody laughs.
« Leave him. He does not disturb us. He is not bound by the Law yet. Here or there he is but a little bird eating » states Anne. And she sits down with the child in her lap and gives him some cake and, I think, some roasted fish. I can see that she does something before giving it to him; perhaps she removes a fishbone. She has served her husband first. She eats last.
The night is more and more crowded with stars and the camp with lights. Then little by little many lights go out. They are the lamps of those who were the first to have supper and who now go to sleep. Also the buzzing slowly decreases. No more children's voices are heard. Only some babies still unweaned raise their lamb-like little voices seeking their mothers' milk. The night blows her breath over places and people and obliterates pains and memories, hopes and ill-feelings. Nay, perhaps these last two survive in dreams, although alleviated by sleep.
Anne says so to her husband while lulling Alphaeus who is falling asleep in her arms: « Last night I dreamt that next year I will be coming to the Holy City for two feasts, instead of one only. And one will be the offering of my creature to the Temple... Oh! Joachim!... »
« Do hope, Anne. Did you not perceive anything else? Did the Lord not whisper anything to your heart? »
« Nothing. Only a dream... »
« Tomorrow is the last day of prayer. All the offerings have already been made. But we will renew them again tomorrow, solemnly. We shall gain our favour from God by our faithful love. I always think that it will happen to you as it did to Anne of Elkanah. »
« May God grant it... and I wish I had someone say to me now: “Go in peace. The God of Israel has granted the grace you asked for!”»
« If the grace comes, your child will tell you turning over for the first time in your womb; and it will be the voice of an innocent, therefore the voice of God. »
The camp is now silent in darkness. Anne also takes Alphaeus to the adjoining hut, and puts him on the bed near his little brothers, who are already asleep. Then she lies down beside Joachim and their lamp also goes out: one of the little stars on earth. More beautiful, the stars in the vault of heaven remain watching over mankind asleep.
« The just are always wise, because, as friends of God, they live in His company and are taught by Him, yes, by Him, Infinite Wisdom.
My grandparents were just and therefore they possessed wisdom. They could quote accurately from the Book, singing the praises of Wisdom from its context: “She it was I loved and searched for from my youth: I resolved to have her as my bride.”
Anne of Aaron was the strong woman of whom our Ancestor speaks. And Joachim, a descendant of king David, had not sought so much charm and wealth as virtue. Anne possessed a great virtue. All holy attributes joined together like a sweet-smelling bunch of flowers to become one beautiful thing that was: this exceptional Virtue. A real virtue, worthy of being set before the throne of God.
Joachim had therefore married wisdom twice, “loving her more than any other woman”: the Wisdom of God enshrined in the heart of a just woman. Anne of Aaron had not sought anything else but to join her life to that of an upright man, certain that family joy lies in uprighteousness. And to be the embodiment of the “strong woman” she lacked only the crown of children, the glory of the married woman, the justification of marriage, the one of which Solomon speaks, as for her happiness she lacked children, the flowers of a tree that has become one thing with the adjoining tree and obtains thereof abundance of new fruit, in which the two good qualities blend into one, because she had never experienced any disappointment on account of her husband.
Although she was now approaching old age and had been Joachim's wife for many years, she was always for him “the spouse of his youth, his joy, the most dear hind, the graceful fawn”, whose caresses always had the fresh charm of the first nuptial evening and sweetly fascinated his love, keeping it as fresh as a flower sprinkled with dew, and as ardent as a fire continuously kept burning. Therefore, in their affliction, their childless state, they spoke to each other “words of consolation in their thoughts and troubles”.
And eternal Wisdom, when the time came, besides teaching them in waking consciousness, enlightened them with dreams at night, visions of the poem of glory that was to come from them and was Most Holy Mary, My Mother. If their humility made them hesitant, their hearts trembled in hope at the first hint of God's promise. There was already certainty in Joachim's words: “Do hope... We shall gain our favour from God by our faithful love.” They were dreaming of a child: they got the Mother of God.
The words of the book of Wisdom appear to be written for them: “By means of her I shall acquire glory before the people... by means of her, immortality shall be mine and I shall leave an everlasting memory to my successors.” But to obtain all this they had to become masters of a true and lasting virtue which no event marred. Virtue of faith. Virtue of charity. Virtue of hope. Virtue of chastity. The chastity of a married couple! They possessed it, because it is not necessary to be virgins to be chaste. And chaste nuptial beds are guarded by angels and from them descend good children who make the virtue of their parents the rule of their lives.
But where are they now? Now children are not wanted, neither is chastity. I therefore say that love and marriage are desecrated. »