The Presentation of the Blessed virgin in the Temple

[On October 28 ^th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich described in these words what she was at that moment seeing in a waking vision:] The child Mary will, I think, soon be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. Already some days ago I saw the three-year-old child Mary standing before Anna in a room in her house and being instructed in her prayers, as the priests were soon to come to examine the child in preparation for her reception in the Temple. Today a feast in preparation for this event is taking place in Anna's house, and guests are gathering there -- relations, men, women, and children. There are also three priests, one from Sephoris (a nephew of Anna's father), one from Nazareth, and a third from a place on a mountain some four hours from Nazareth. The name of this place begins with the syllable Ma. [59] These priests have come partly to examine the child Mary to see whether she is fitted for dedication to the Temple, and partly to give directions about her clothing, which has to comply with a prescribed ecclesiastical pattern. There were three sets of garments, each consisting of a kind of petticoat, a bodice, and a robe of different colors. There were also two wreaths of silk and wool, and an arched crown. One of the priests himself cut out some pieces of these garments and arranged everything as it should be.

[A few days later (on November 2 ^nd) Catherine Emmerich continued:] Today I saw great festivities in the house of Mary's parents. (I am not sure whether this actually happened then or whether it was a repetition of an earlier vision, for I had seen something like it before during the last three days, but because of much suffering and many interruptions it escaped my mind.) The three priests were still there, and besides them there were several relations of the family with their little daughters; for instance, Mary Heli and her seven-year-old child Mary Cleophas, who is much stouter and sturdier than the child Mary. Mary is very delicately formed, and has reddish-fair hair, smooth, but curly at the ends. She can already read, and all are astonished at the wise answers she gives. Maraha, Anna's sister from Sephoris, is also there with a little daughter, and so are other relations with their little girls.

The garments, which had been partly cut out by the priests, had now been finished by the women. During the ceremony the child was dressed in them several times and asked various questions. It was all very solemn and serious, and though the old priests sometimes smiled gently during the proceedings, they were greatly impressed by Mary's wise answers and by her parents' tears of joy. The ceremony took place in a square room near the eating room. It was lit by an opening in the roof covered with gauze. A red carpet was spread on the floor, and on this stood an altar table with a red cloth and a white one over it. Above this table was a picture in some sort of embroidery or needlework which hung like a curtain in front of a kind of little cupboard containing scrolls of writings and prayers. (It was a picture of a man, I think of Moses. He was dressed in a flowing praying-mantle like the one he wore when he went up the mountain to ask something of God. In the picture he was not holding the Tables of the Law in his hand; they were hanging at his side or on his arm. Moses was very tall and broad-shouldered. He had red hair. His head was very long and pointed, like a sugarloaf, and he had a big hooked nose. On his broad forehead he had two protuberances like horns, turned inwards towards each other. They were not hard like animals' horns, but had soft skin, as it were ribbed or streaked, and only projected slightly from the forehead like two small lumps, brownish and wrinkled. He already had them as a child, but then they were little warts. This gave him a very strange appearance, which I never liked because it reminded me involuntarily of pictures of Satan. I have several times seen protuberances like these on the foreheads of old prophets and of some old hermits. Some of these had only one, in the middle of the forehead.) On the altar lay Mary's three sets of ceremonial garments as well as many other stuffs presented by her relations on the occasion of the child's entry into the Temple. There was a sort of little throne raised on steps in front of the altar. Joachim and Anna and the other relations were gathered round, the women standing at the back and the little girls beside Mary. The priests entered barefooted. There were five of them, but only three took part in the ceremony in their vestments. One of the priests took the garments from the altar, explained their significance, and handed them to Anna's sister from Sephoris, who dressed the child in them. First of all she put on her a little yellow knitted dress, and over it a colored scapulary or bodice decorated at the breast with cords. It was put over her head and tied round her. Over this she wore a brownish robe with armholes, over which hung pieces of the stuff. This robe was open at the neck, but closed from the breast downwards. Mary wore brown sandals with thick green soles. Her reddish-fair hair, curling at the ends, had been combed smooth, and she wore a wreath of white wool or silk ornamented at intervals with striped feathers, of a finger's breadth and curving inwards. I know the bird in that country from which these feathers come. A big square cloth, ash-gray in color, was then thrown over the child's head like a cloak. It could be drawn together under the arms, which rested in its folds as in slings. It seemed to be a penitential or praying garment or a traveling cloak.

As Mary stood there in this dress, the priests put to her all manner of questions which had to do with the way of life of the virgins of the Temple. Among other things they said to her: When your parents dedicated you to the Temple, they made a vow on your behalf that you should never taste wine, vinegar, grapes, or figs; what will you yourself now add to this? You may reflect on this during the meal. Now the Jews, and especially the Jewish girls, were very fond of drinking vinegar, and so was Mary. After more of such questions, the first set of garments was removed and the second put on. First a sky-blue dress, then a bodice more ornamented than the first one, a bluish-white robe, and a white veil shimmering like silk, with folds at the back of the neck like a nun's headdress and fastened round the head by a wreath of silk flower buds with little green leaves. Then the priests put a white veil over her face, drawn together above so as to cover her head like a hood. It was held by three clasps which enabled the veil to be thrown back to uncover either a third, a half, or the whole of the face. She was instructed in the use of this veil: how it was to be lifted and then dropped at meals, and when she had to give answers to questions, and so forth. She was also instructed in many other rules of behavior during the meal of which the whole party partook in the next room. Mary's place at table was between two priests, with another facing her. The women and little girls were at one end of the table, separate from the men. During the meal the child was examined several times by question and answer in the use of the veil. They also said to her: You are still allowed to eat any kind of food', and handed her various dishes in order to test her power of self-denial. But Mary partook of only few dishes and but little of each, and filled her hearers with great amazement by the childlike wisdom of her answers. I saw that during the meal and during the whole examination there were angels beside her, helping and guiding her.

When the meal was over, all went once more into the other room and stood before the altar, where the child was again undressed and then clothed in ceremonial garments. [Please refer to Figure 5.] This time she wore a violet-blue dress woven with a pattern of yellow flowers; over this was a bodice or corset embroidered in different colors ending in a point and fastening under the arms, where it gathered and held the fullness of the dress. Above this was a violet-blue robe, fuller and grander than the other ones, and ending in a short, rounded train. Down each side of the front of this robe were embroidered three silver stripes with what seemed to be little gold rosebuds strewn between them; the robe was fastened across the breast by a band which ran through and was held by a clasp on the bodice. The robe was open down to the lower edge of the bodice, and formed two pockets at the sides in which the arms rested. Below the bodice the robe was fastened with buttons or hooks, but showed five stripes of the silver embroidery running down to the hem. The hem itself was also embroidered. The back of this robe fell in ample folds, projecting beyond the arms on either side. Over this was thrown a great gleaming veil shot with colors, white and violet-blue. The crown which was now put on her head was a broad band of thin metal, wider above than below, its upper edge surmounted by points with knobs. Over the top of the crown five metal bands met in a central knob. These bands were covered with strands of silk, and the outside of the broad metal band was ornamented with little silk roses and five pearls or precious stones. The inside of the band shone like gold. Mary, dressed in these ceremonial garments, the significance of each of which had been explained to her by the priest, was led up the steps and placed before the altar. The little girls stood beside her. She then declared what she would bind herself to give up when in the Temple. She said that she would eat neither meat nor fish and would drink no milk, but only a drink made out of the pith of a reed and water, such as poor people drink in the Promised Land, like rice-water or barley-water with us; sometimes she would put a little terebinth juice into the water. This is like a white treacly oil, very refreshing but not so delicate as balsam. She gave up all spices, and said that she would eat no fruit except a kind of yellow berry that grows in clusters. I know it well; in that country it is eaten only by children and poor people. She said that she would sleep on the bare earth and would rise three times in the night to pray. The other temple maidens rose only once.

Figure 5. Mary in ceremonial garments.

Mary's parents were deeply moved by her words. Joachim, taking the child in his arms, said, weeping: O, my dear child, that is too hard, your old father will never see you again if you mean to live so austerely.' It was very touching to hear. The priests, however, told her that she was to rise only once in the night, like the others, and they made the other conditions milder. For example, on great feast days she was to eat fish. (There was a great fish market in Jerusalem in the lower part of the town supplied with water from the pool of Bethesda. Once when it dried up, Herod wanted to make an aqueduct and fountain, [60] and to meet the expense by selling sacred vessels and vestments from the Temple. This caused a real uproar. The Essenes came from all parts of the country to Jerusalem to resist it, for, as I have just remembered, it was the Essenes who had charge of the priestly vestments.)

The priests also said to the child Mary: Many of those virgins who are accepted by the Temple without payment or outfit are obliged, with the consent of their parents, to wash, as soon as they are strong enough, the bloodstained garments of the priests and other rough woolen cloths. This is hard work and often means bloody hands. But this you need not do, seeing that your parents are paying for your sojourn in the Temple.' Mary declared at once without hesitation that she would gladly undertake this work if she were considered worthy. While these questions and answers were being made, the clothing ceremony came to an end. During these holy proceedings I often saw Mary appear so tall among the priests that she stood high above them, whereby I was given a picture of her wisdom and grace. The priests were filled with joyful astonishment. At the end of the ceremony I saw Mary being blessed by the first among the priests. She stood on a little elevated throne between two priests, and the one who blessed her stood facing her, with others behind him. The priests prayed from scrolls, answering each other, and the first one held his hands over her as he blessed her. At this moment I was granted a wonderful insight into the inner being of the holy child Mary. I saw her as if transfused with light by the priest's blessing, and under her heart in an indescribable glory of light I saw the same appearance as I had seen in contemplating the Holy of Holies in the Ark of the Covenant. In a shining space shaped like Melchizedek's chalice I saw indescribable figures of the blessing in the form of light. It was as though corn and wine, flesh and blood, were striving to unite with each other. I saw at one and the same time how, above this appearance, her heart opened like a temple door; and how this mystery, surrounded by a kind of canopy of symbolic jewels, passed into her opened heart. It was as though I saw the Ark of the Covenant entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Thenceforth, the highest good then on earth was enshrined in her heart. Then I saw only the holy child Mary filled with a glow of burning devotion. I saw her as though transfigured and hovering above the ground. During this vision I perceived that one of the priests (I think it was Zechariah) had been inspired with an inner conviction that Mary was the chosen vessel of the mystery of salvation; for I saw him receive, a ray from the blessing which in my vision had entered into her.

The priests now led the child, blessed and arrayed in her finest ceremonial garments, up to her parents, who were much moved. Anna lifted Mary up to her breast and gave her an affectionate but solemn kiss. Joachim, with deep emotion, gave her his hand seriously and reverently. Mary's elder sister embraced the blessed child in her beautiful dress in a much more lively manner than Anna, who did everything with reflection and moderation. Mary Cleophas, Mary's niece, threw her arms joyfully round her neck like any child. After Mary had been saluted by all present, her ceremonial garments were taken off, and she appeared once more in her ordinary ones. Towards evening several of the guests, including some of the priests, went away to their homes. I saw them standing up to take a light meal; there were fruits and rolls of bread in bowls and dishes on a low table. They all drank out of one goblet. The women ate separately.


I came into the house of Mary's parents at nighttime, and saw several of their relations asleep there. The family themselves were busy with preparations for departure. The hanging lamp with many branches was burning before the hearth. Little by little I saw the whole house astir.

Joachim had sent menservants the morning before to the Temple with beasts for sacrifice; five of each kind, the best he had. They made a very fine herd. I saw him now busy loading the luggage on a pack animal standing before the house. Mary's clothes were neatly arranged in separate packages and tied onto the animal, together with presents for the priests. It made quite a heavy load. A broad package was arranged to make a comfortable seat in the middle of the animal's back. Anna and the other women had packed everything in bundles which were easy to load. I also saw several kinds of baskets hanging at the donkey's sides. In one of these baskets, rounded like the tureens that rich people have for their soup, with a lid opening in the middle, there were birds of the size of partridges. Other baskets, like the ones used for carrying grapes, contained different kinds of fruit. When the loading was quite finished, a big cover with heavy hanging tassels was put over everything. In the house I saw all the stir and agitation of departure. I saw a young woman, Mary's elder sister, moving about with a lamp. I saw her daughter Mary Cleophas following her about most of the time. I noticed yet another woman whom I took to be a maidservant. I also now saw two priests there. One was a very old man wearing a hood which hung down in a point on his forehead and had flaps over his ears. His upper garment was shorter than the under one and had straps like a stole hanging on it. It was he who had taken the chief part in Mary's examination yesterday and blessed her. I saw him continuing to talk to the child and teaching her different things. Mary was a little more than three years old, very delicately and finely made, and was as developed as a child of five with us. She had reddish-fair hair, smooth, but curly at the ends; it was longer than the seven-year old Mary Cleophas' fair hair, which was short and curly. Most of the children and grown-up people wore long robes of brownish undyed wool.

I was particularly struck by two boys among this company who did not seem to belong to the family at all and held no converse with any of them. It seemed as if no one even saw them, though they spoke to me, and were very charming and attractive with their fair curly hair. They had books which seemed to be for learning from. (Little Mary had no book, though she could read already.) Their books were not like ours, but strips some two feet wide rolled round a stick with a projecting knob at each end. The taller of the two boys opened his scroll and came up to me, and read something out of it which he explained to me. The golden letters, each one of which stood alone, were quite strange to me; they were written the wrong way round, and each letter seemed to signify a whole word. The language was completely strange to my ears, yet I understood it. Unfortunately I have now forgotten what he explained to me, but I think it had to do with Moses; perhaps it will come back to me. The younger of the boys held his scroll in his hands as if it were a toy; he jumped about like a child and played with his scroll, swinging it in the air. I cannot at all express how much I was attracted by these children; they were different from all the people there, who seemed not to notice them at all.

[Catherine Emmerich spoke for a long time with childlike delight of these two boys but could not clearly say who they really were. After, however, having eaten and then slept for a few minutes, she recollected herself and said:] It was the spiritual meaning of these boys that I saw; their presence there was not a natural one. They were only the symbolic representations of prophets. The taller of the two, the one who carried his scroll so solemnly, showed me in it the passage in the third chapter of the book of Exodus where Moses sees the Lord in the burning bush and is told to put off his shoes from his feet. He explained this to me; as the bush was on fire without being burnt, so now the fire of the Holy Spirit was burning in the child Mary, who, all unconscious of it, was bearing this holy flame within her. [61] This passage also, he said, foreshadowed the union, now approaching, of the Godhead with humanity. The fire signified God, the thorn bush mankind. The boy also explained to me the meaning of the putting off of the shoes, but I have no clear recollection of what he said; I think it signified the removal of the outer covering to disclose the reality within; and foreshadowed the fulfillment of the law and the coming of One greater than Moses and the prophets. The other boy carried his scroll at the end of a thin stick, blowing in the wind like a flag; this signified the joyous entry of Mary on the path which was leading her to her destiny as the Mother of the Redeemer. The childish behavior of this boy as he played with his scroll showed how Mary, though overshadowed by so great a Promise and called to so holy a destiny, kept all the innocent playfulness of a child. Actually these boys explained to me seven passages out of their scrolls, but in the interruptions and troubles of daily life I have forgotten everything except what I have now told. O my God [she here exclaimed], all that I see is so beautiful and so deep, so simple and so clear, and yet I cannot tell it properly and cannot help forgetting so much because of the miserable, detestable happenings of this wretched earthly life. [62]

[A year earlier, in the middle of November 1820, Catherine Emmerich, while communicating her visions of the Presentation, referred to the appearance of these boy-prophets in the following connection. On the evening of November 16 ^th a penitential girdle was brought near Catherine Emmerich when she was asleep. It had been made by a man who was striving to mortify himself but was without any spiritual advice or direction. He had made it with much exaggerated austerity out of leather straps pierced with nails, but he had been able to wear it for hardly an hour. Though it was two feet away from her, the sleeping Catherine Emmerich quickly drew her hands away from this girdle, saying:] O that is quite impossible and senseless! I, too, once wore a girdle like this for a long time, in accordance with an inner warning. It was a means of mortification and self-conquest, but was made of quite short spikes of brass wire set close together. This is a really murderous girdle; the man has taken great pains in making it, but could only wear it for a few minutes. One should never do anything like this without the approval of a wise director of souls: he did not know that, of course, because he had no director at hand. Such exaggeration does more harm than good!

[Next morning she recounted the visions of the night in the form of a dream-journey. She said, among other things:]

Hereupon I came to Jerusalem, at what period I am not sure, but it was in the time of the old Jewish kings. I have forgotten what I saw. Then I was made to go towards Nazareth to the house of Anna, the Blessed Virgin's holy mother. Before the city of Jerusalem two boys joined me who were going the same way: one held a scroll very solemnly in his hand, while the younger had tied his scroll to a little stick and was merrily playing with it in the wind as if it were a little flag. They spoke to me joyfully about the fulfillment of the time in their prophecies, for they were figures of prophets. I had with me that man's exaggerated penitential girdle which had been brought me, and showed it, by I know not what impulse, to the prophet boy who was Elijah. He said to me, That is a belt of torture not allowed to be worn. But on Mount Carmel I made and wore a girdle and have bequeathed it to all the children of my order, the Carmelites. That man should wear this girdle, it will profit him far more'. Thereupon he showed me a girdle of a hand's breadth on which all kinds of letters and lines were inscribed, signifying various conquests and struggles, and he indicated various parts of it, saying, That man could wear this for eight days and this for one day', and so on. O, how I wish the good man could know that!

When we came near to Anna's house and I wanted to go in, I could not do so, and my leader, my guardian angel, said to me: You must first of all lay much aside, you must be nine years old.' I did not know how this was to be done, but he helped me, I cannot remember how. Three years of my life had to disappear altogether, those three years when I was so vain about my clothes and always wanted to be a smart young girl. Well, I was suddenly nine years old, and now I was able to go into the house with the prophet boys. As I did so, the three-year-old child Mary came up to me and measured herself against me; she was just the same height as me when she stood up by me. How kind and friendly she was, and at the same time so serious!


Immediately after I was standing in the house beside the boy-prophets. Nobody seemed to notice us, and we got in nobody's way. Though they had been old men hundreds of years ago, they were not at all surprised at being present there as young boys: and I, though a nun over forty years old, was not at all surprised either at being now a poor peasant child of nine years. When one is with these holy people, one is surprised at nothing, except at the blindness and sinfulness of mankind.

I saw the travelers starting on their journey to Jerusalem at daybreak. The child Mary came running out of the house to the pack animals, so eager was she to go to the Temple. The boy-prophets and I stood at the door following her with our eyes. They again showed me passages in their scrolls, one of which spoke of the glory of the Temple, but added that even greater glory was contained within it. The travelers had two pack animals with them. One of the donkeys which was heavily loaded was led by a servant and was always a little ahead of the party. On the other donkey, which stood loaded before the house, a seat had been prepared, and Mary was placed on this. She wore the little yellow dress from the first set of garments, and was wrapped in the big cloak, which was drawn round her so that her arms rested in its folds. Joachim, who led this donkey, carried a tall staff like a pilgrim's with a big round knob at the top. Anna walked a short way ahead with little Mary Cleophas. A maidservant accompanied them on the whole journey, and some of the women and children went part of the way with them. They were relations, and turned off to their homes where the roads parted. One of the priests also accompanied the party for a little time.

They had a light with them, but it disappeared completely in the light which in my visions of night journeys always illuminates the road about the Holy Family and other holy persons, though they themselves never seem to see it. At first it seemed to me that I was walking with the boy-prophets behind the child Mary, and afterwards, when she was on foot, at her side. I sometimes heard the boys singing the 44 ^th Psalm (Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum) and the 49 ^th (Deus deorum Dominus locutus est), and they told me that these psalms would be sung by two choirs at the reception of the child in the Temple, as I should see when they arrived.

I saw the road going downhill at first and later rising again. When it was morning and full day, I saw the travelers resting beside a spring from which ran a brook; there was a meadow there, and they rested beside a hedge of balsam shrubs. These shrubs always had stone basins under them to catch the balsam that dripped from them, thus providing the passers-by with a refreshing drink, with which they could also fill their jugs. In the hedges there were berries which they picked and ate. They also had little rolls of bread to eat. The boy-prophets had by now disappeared. One of them was Elijah; I think the other was Moses. I am sure that the child Mary saw them, but she said nothing about it. She saw them just as, when one is a child, one often sees holy children appearing to one (or when one is grown-up, one sees holy virgins or youths) without saying anything of it to others, because in such moments one is in a state of quiet contemplation.

Later I saw the travelers stop at a house standing by itself, where they were made welcome and were given food. The people who lived there seemed to be relations. Little Mary Cleophas was sent back from here. During the day I had several glimpses of their journey, a rather difficult one. They had to pass over hill and dale, and in the valleys there were often cold mists and much dew, though here and there I saw sunny patches where flowers were showing. Before reaching their resting place for the night they crossed a little stream. They spent the night at an inn at the foot of a hill on which there is a town. Unfortunately I can no longer say for certain what was the name of this place. I saw it on other journeys of the Holy Family, and can easily be mistaken about its name. [63] I can only say this much, but not with certainty; they traveled in the same direction that Jesus followed in the September of His thirtieth year, when He went from Nazareth to Bethany and thence to be baptized by John. The Holy Family took the same way on their flight from Nazareth to Egypt. On that flight their first shelter was at Nazara, a small place between Massaloth and a hill town, but nearer the latter. I see so many places around me and hear so many names that I may very easily mix them up. This town stretches up the hillside and is divided into several different parts, though all belonging to each other. There is a great lack of water there, and it has to be drawn up from below with ropes. There are several old towers in ruins, and on the top of the hill is a sort of watchtower with a structure of beams and ropes for hauling things up from the town below. The many ropes make it look rather like the masts of a ship. It must be an hour's climb to the top of the hill. (The travelers stopped at an inn down below.) There is a very extensive view from this hill. Part of this town is inhabited by heathen people who were treated by the Jews as slaves and forced to do hard labor; for instance, they were made to work at the Temple and other buildings.

[On November 4 ^th, 1821, she said:] This evening I saw Joachim and Anna with the child Mary and a maidservant arrive at an inn twelve hours distant from Jerusalem. They were accompanied by a manservant who often went ahead with the heavily loaded donkey. Here they caught up with the herd of their beasts on the way to the Temple to be sacrificed; these, however, continued at once on their road. Joachim must have been very well known here, for he was as if in his own house. His beasts for sacrifice always used to stop here. He also came here when he returned to Nazareth from his hidden life among the shepherds. I saw the child Mary asleep here beside her mother. (I have had so much to do these days with the Holy Souls that I think it has made me forget part of the journey to the Temple.)

[On November 5 ^th, 1821, she related:] This evening I saw the child Mary with her parents arrive in a town to the northwest of Jerusalem, barely six hours' journey from it. This town is called Bethoron and lies at the foot of a hill. On the way they crossed a stream flowing westwards into the sea near Joppa, where Peter taught after the coming of the Holy Ghost. Great battles were once fought near Bethoron. I saw them, but have forgotten them again. [64] (See Joshua 10.11) It was about two hours' journey from here to a place on a high road from where one could see Jerusalem. I heard the name of this road or place, but cannot distinctly recall it. [65]

Bethoron is a large town, inhabited by Levites. Very fine, big grapes grow here, and many other fruits as well. The Holy Family stayed with friends in a well-kept house. The man was a schoolteacher; it was a Levite school, and there were a number of children in the house. I was much surprised to see here several women related to Anna, with their little daughters, who were, I had thought, on the way to their own homes. However, as I now saw, they had taken a shorter road and had arrived here first, I suppose in order to welcome the travelers. These women and children were from Nazareth, Sephoris, Zabulon, and thereabouts; some of them had already been in Anna's house during the examination; for instance, Mary's elder sister and her little daughter Mary Cleophas, and Anna's sister from Sephoris with her daughters. The stay here was made the occasion of great rejoicing over the child Mary. She was led into a big room accompanied by the other children, and was placed on a raised seat with a canopy, arranged for her like a little throne. The schoolteacher and others again asked her all manner of questions, putting wreaths on her head. All were astonished by the wisdom of her answers. I also heard about the cleverness of another girl who had passed through here a short time ago on her way home from the Temple school. Her name was Susanna, and later she followed Jesus with the holy women. It was her place that Mary was to take in the Temple, for there was a limited number of such places. Susanna was fifteen years old when she left the Temple, and thus about eleven years older than Mary. Anna, too, had been educated in the Temple, but did not go there till she was five years old. The child Mary was exceedingly joyful at being so near the Temple; I saw Joachim pressing her to his heart in tears, and saying: O my child, I fear I shall not see you again.'

A meal was now prepared, and while all were reclining at table I saw Mary running about full of loving gaiety, some times nestling against her mother or standing behind her and throwing her little arms round her neck.

[On November 6 ^th, 1821:] Today very early I saw the travelers leaving Bethoron for Jerusalem. All their relations, the children, and the people of the inn went with them. They took with them presents of clothing and fruit for the child. It looks to me as if there were going to be great festivities in Jerusalem. I learnt for certain that Mary was three years and three months old, but she was like a little girl of five or six in our country. Their journey did not take them through either Ussen Scheera or Gophna, though they were known in those places; but they must have passed near them.


[In the evening of November 6 ^th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich said:] Today at midday I saw the arrival in Jerusalem of the child Mary with those accompanying her. Jerusalem is a strange city; one must not picture it with crowded streets like, for instance, Paris. In Jerusalem are many valleys, steep ways winding behind city walls. No doors or windows are to be seen, for the houses, which stand on high ground, face away from the walls New quarters have been added one by one, each enclosing a fresh ridge of hill, but leaving the old town walls standing between them. These valleys are often spanned by solid stone bridges. The living rooms of the houses usually face on to inner courts; on the street side only the door is to be seen, or perhaps a terrace high up on the top of the wall. The houses are very much shut up. Unless the inhabitants have business in the markets or are visiting the Temple, they spend most of their time in the inner rooms and courtyards. In general the streets of Jerusalem are rather quiet, except near the markets and palaces, where crowds of travelers and soldiers and people going in and out of the houses fill the streets with life and movement. Rome is much more pleasantly situated; its streets are not so steep and narrow and are much more lively. When all the people of Jerusalem are assembled in the Temple, many of the districts of the city seem quite dead. (It was because of the seclusion of the inhabitants within their houses and of the number of deserted valley paths that Jesus was so often able to go about the city with His disciples undisturbed.) Water is scarce in Jerusalem, and one often sees great structures of arches with channels to carry it in different directions, also towers to the top of which it is driven or pumped. In the Temple, where a great deal of water is needed for washing and cleansing the vessels, it is used very carefully. It is brought up from below by means of large pumping works. There are a great many dealers in the city: they usually group themselves with others of the same trade, and set up lightly-made huts in open places and markets surrounded by porticoes. There are, for instance, not far from the Sheep Gate many dealers in every kind of metalwork, gold, and precious stones. They have light round huts, brown, as if smeared with pitch or resin. Although light, these huts are quite strong; they are used as dwellings, and awnings are stretched from one to another under which the wares are set out.

The gentler slope of the hill on which the Temple lies is terraced with several streets of houses, built one above the other behind thick walls. These are inhabited partly by priests and partly by inferior temple servants charged with menial duties, such as cleaning out the trenches into which is cast all the refuse from animals slaughtered in the Temple. On one side [she means the northern one] [66] the Temple hill falls very steeply into a black gully. Little gardens belonging to the priests make a green strip round the top of the hill. Work on the Temple never ceased: even in Christ's lifetime building was going on in different parts of it. There was a quantity of ore in the Temple hill, which was dug out in the course of building and made use of. There are many vaults and smelting furnaces under the Temple. I never found a good place in the Temple to pray in. It is all so extraordinarily solid, heavy, and high. And the little courts are themselves so narrow, and dark, and so encumbered with seats and other things, that when there are great multitudes, the narrow spaces and the crowds between the thick high walls and pillars, have a really terrifying effect. The perpetual slaughtering and all the blood filled me, too, with horror, though all is performed with incredible order and cleanliness. It is a long time, I think, since I saw so clearly as I do today all the buildings, inside and out; but there is so much to describe that I shall never be able to do so properly.

The travelers, with the child Mary, approached Jerusalem from the north, but did not enter it on that side. As soon as they reached the outlying gardens and palaces, they skirted the town, turning east through part of the valley of Josaphat, leaving the Mount of Olives and the road to Bethany on their left, and entered the city by the Sheep Gate, which leads to the cattle market. By this gate is a pool, in which the sheep destined for sacrifice are washed for the first time to remove the heavy dirt. But this is not the Pool of Bethesda. [67] The little company soon turned again to the right between walls as though going to another quarter of the town. On their way they passed through a long valley, on one side of which rose the towering walls of one of the upper parts of the city. They went towards the western side of Jerusalem, to the neighborhood of the fish market, where the ancestral house of Zechariah of Hebron stood. In it was a very old man; I think he was a brother of Zechariah's father. Zechariah always stayed here when he performed his service at the Temple. He was in the city now; his time of service had just come to an end, but he had remained a few days longer in Jerusalem on purpose to be present at Mary's reception in the Temple. He was not in his house when the company arrived. There were yet other relations in the house, from the neighborhood of Bethlehem and Hebron, with their children, amongst them two little nieces of Elizabeth, who was not there herself. These all went out with many young girls, carrying little garlands and branches, to meet the travelers, who were still a quarter of an hour away on the valley path. They gave them a joyful welcome, and led them to Zechariah's house, where great rejoicings took place. They were given some refreshment, and then preparations were made to conduct the whole company to a ceremonial inn in the neighborhood of the Temple. Joachim's beasts for sacrifice had already been brought from near the cattle market to stables near this special inn. Zechariah now came to lead the company from his house to the inn. The child Mary was dressed in the second set of ceremonial garments with the sky-blue dress. A procession was formed, headed by Zechariah with Joachim and Anna. Mary followed, surrounded by four girls dressed in white, and behind them came the other children and relations. They went along several streets, passing the palace of Herod and the house where, later, Pilate lived. Their way led them towards the northeastern corner of the Temple hill; behind them was the fortress Antonia, a big high building on the north-western side of the Temple. They had to climb a high wall by a flight of many steps. They wanted to take the child Mary by the hand, but to everyone's surprise she ran up swiftly and joyfully by herself.

The house they were going to was a ceremonial inn not far from the cattle market. There were four of these inns round the Temple, and this one had been hired for them by Zechariah. It was a large building, with a big courtyard surrounded by a kind of cloister with sleeping places and long, low tables. There was also a large room with a hearth for cooking. The place to which Joachim's sacrificial beasts had been taken was near by. On each side of it were the dwellings of the Temple servants who had charge of the animals for sacrifice.

When the company entered the inn, their feet were washed, as is the custom with new arrivals; the men's feet were washed by men, the women's by women. Then they went into a room where a big many-branched lamp hung from the middle of the ceiling over a large metal basin with handles, full of water, in which they washed their hands and faces. Joachim's pack-donkey was unloaded and led by the manservant to the stable.

Joachim, who had given notice of his intention to sacrifice, followed the Temple servants to the near-by stables, where they inspected his beasts.

Joachim and Anna then made their way with the child Mary to a priest's house higher up the hill. Here, too, the child ran up the steps with surprising energy as though upheld and urged by a spiritual force. The two priests in this house, one very old and one younger, gave them a friendly welcome; both had been present at Mary's examination in Nazareth and were expecting her. After they had spoken of the journey and of the approaching presentation ceremony, they summoned one of the Temple women, an aged widow who was to have charge of the child. (She lived near the Temple with other women who, like her, were occupied in various feminine employments and in the training of young girls. Their dwelling was farther away from the Temple than the rooms in which were the oratories of the women and of the maidens dedicated to the Temple. These rooms were built directly onto it, and from them one could look down unseen into the holy place below.) The woman who now came in was so muffled up that only a little of her face could be seen. The child Mary was introduced to her as her future foster-child by the priests and by her parents. She was grave but friendly, and the child was serious, humble, and respectful. They told her of Mary's disposition and character, and discussed various matters connected with the ceremony of her presentation. This elderly woman accompanied them to the inn and was given a package of the child's belongings, which she took back with her to arrange in Mary's new home. Those who had accompanied the party from Zechariah's house returned there, and only the relations who had come with the Holy Family remained in the inn hired by Zechariah. The women of the party settled themselves there and made preparations for a banquet on the following day.

[On November 7 ^th Catherine Emmerich said:] I spent the whole of today watching the preparations for Joachim's sacrifice and for Mary's reception in the Temple. Early in the morning Joachim and some other men drove the sacrificial animals to the Temple, where they underwent another inspection by the priests; some of them were rejected, and these were at once driven to the cattle market in the city. Those which were accepted were driven into the slaughtering-place, where I saw many things happening, but can no longer say in what order. I remember that Joachim laid his hand on the head of each animal before it was sacrificed. He had to catch the blood in a vessel, and had also to receive certain portions of the animal. There were all kinds of pillars, tables, and vessels there, where everything was cut up, distributed, and arranged in order. The bloody froth was taken away, while the fat, spleen, and liver were set apart. Everything was sprinkled with salt. The intestines of the lambs were cleansed and, after being filled with something, were put back into the body to make it seem whole again. The legs of all the animals were tied together crosswise. Some of the meat was taken into another court and given to the Temple virgins, who had to do something with it -- perhaps to prepare it for their own or for the priests' food. All was done with incredible orderliness. The priests and Levites moved about always two by two, and the most difficult and complicated tasks were accomplished as if by clockwork. The pieces of meat were not actually offered up till the following day; in the meantime they lay in salt.

There were great rejoicings in the inn today, and a banquet; there must have been a hundred people there, counting the children. There were present at least twenty-four girls of varying ages; among them I saw Seraphia, who after Jesus' death was known as Veronica. She was tall, and might have been ten or twelve years old. They were making wreaths and garlands for Mary and her companions, and decorating seven candles or torches. The candlesticks, which were without pedestals, were shaped like scepters; I cannot remember what fed the flame at the top, whether it was oil or wax or something else. During the festivities there were several priests and Levites going in and out of the inn, and these also took part in the banquet. When they expressed astonishment at the greatness of Joachim's sacrifice, he explained that he wished to show his gratitude to the best of his power; he could not forget how, by God's mercy, his shame in the Temple at the rejection of his sacrifice had been followed by the granting of his petitions. Today, too, I saw the child Mary going for a walk near the inn with the other little girls. Much else I have forgotten.


[On November 8 ^th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich related:] Today Joachim went first to the Temple with Zechariah and the other men. Afterwards Mary was taken there by her mother Anna in a festal procession. First came Anna and her elder daughter Mary Heli, with the latter's little daughter Mary Cleophas; then the holy child Mary followed in her sky-blue dress and robe, with wreaths round her arms and neck; in her hand she held a candle or torch entwined with flowers. Decorated candles like this were also carried by three maidens who walked on each side of her, wearing white dresses embroidered with gold. They, too, wore pale-blue robes; they were wreathed round with garlands of flowers, and wore little wreaths round their necks and arms as well. Next came the other maidens and little girls, all in festal dress but each different. They all wore little robes. The other women came at the end of the procession. They could not go direct from the inn to the Temple, but had to make a detour through several streets. The beautiful procession gave pleasure to all who saw it, and at several houses honor was paid to it as it passed. There was something indescribably moving in the holiness apparent in the child. As the procession approached the Temple, I saw many of the Temple servants struggling with great efforts to open an immensely large and heavy door, shining like gold and ornamented with a multitude of sculptured heads, bunches of grapes, and sheaves of corn. This was the Golden Gate. The procession passed under this gate, to which fifteen steps led up, but whether in a single flight I cannot remember. Mary would not take the hands held out to her; to the admiration of all she ran eagerly and joyfully up the steps without stumbling. She was received in the gateway by Zechariah, Joachim, and several priests, and led under the gate (which was a long archway) to the right into some large halls or high rooms, in one of which a meal was being prepared. Here the procession dispersed. Several of the women and children went to the women's praying-place in the Temple, while Joachim and Zechariah proceeded to the sacrifice. In one of the halls the priest again examined the child Mary by putting questions to her. They were astonished at the wisdom of her answers, and left her to be dressed by Anna in the third and most magnificent violet-blue ceremonial garment, with the robe, veil, and crown which I have already described at the ceremony in Anna's house.

In the meantime Joachim had gone with the priests to the sacrifice. He was given fire from the appointed place, and then stood between two priests at the altar. I am at present too ill and upset to describe all the circumstances of the sacrifice, but will tell what is still present to my mind.

The altar could be approached from three sides only. The meat prepared for the sacrifice was not put all together, but was divided into separate portions placed round the altar. Flat shelves could be drawn out of the three sides of the altar, and on these the offerings were laid to be pushed to the center of it; for the altar was too large for the officiating priest to be able to reach the center with his arm. At the four corners of the altar there stood little hollow columns of metal, crowned with chimneys or something similar -- wide funnels made of thin copper, ending in pipes curving outwards like horns, which carried away the smoke above the heads of the officiating priests. When Joachim's sacrifice started to burn, Anna went, with the child Mary in her ceremonial dress and with her companions, into the outer court of the women, which is the place in the Temple set apart for women. This court was separated from the court of the altar of sacrifice by a wall surmounted by a grille; there was, however, a door in the center of this dividing wall. The women's court slants upwards from the wall, so that a view of the altar of sacrifice cannot be had by all, but only by those standing at the back. When, however, the door in the dividing wall was opened, a number of the women were able to see the altar through it. Mary and the other little girls stood in front of Anna, and the other women of the family remained near the door. In a separate place there were a number of Temple boys dressed in white and playing flutes and harps. After the sacrifice, there was set up in the doorway leading from the court of sacrifice to the women's court a portable decorated altar [68] or sacrificial table, with several steps leading up to it.

Zechariah and Joachim came out of the court of sacrifice and went up to this altar with a priest, in front of whom stood another priest and two Levites with scrolls and writing materials. Anna led the child Mary up to them; the maidens who had accompanied Mary stood a little behind. Mary knelt on the steps, and Joachim and Anna laid their hands on her head. The priest cut off a few of her hairs and burnt them in a brazier. Her parents also said a few words, offering up their child; these were written down by two Levites. Meanwhile the maidens sang the 44 ^th Psalm (Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum) and the priests the 49 ^th Psalm ( Deus, deorum Dominus, locutus est ) accompanied by the boys with their instruments.

I then saw Mary being led by the hand by two priests up many steps to a raised place in the wall dividing the outer court of the Holy Place from the other court. They placed the child in a sort of niche in the middle of this wall, so that she could see into the Temple, where there were many men standing in ranks; they seemed to me to be also dedicated to the Temple. Two priests stood beside her, and still others on the steps below, singing and reading aloud from their scrolls. On the other side of the dividing wall there was an old high priest standing at an altar of incense, so high up that one could see half of his figure. I saw him offering incense and the smoke from it enveloping the child Mary.

During these ceremonies I saw a symbolic vision round the Blessed Virgin which eventually filled and dimmed the whole Temple. I saw a glory of light under Mary's heart, and understood that this glory encompassed the Promise, the most holy blessing of God. I saw this glory appear as if surrounded by the Ark of Noah, so that the Blessed Virgin's head projected above it. Then I saw the shape of the Ark about the glory change into the shape of the Ark of the Covenant, which in its turn changed into the shape of the Temple. Then I saw these shapes disappear, and out of the glory there rose before the Blessed Virgin's breast a shape like the Chalice of the Last Supper, and above this, before her mouth, a bread marked with a cross. On each side of her there streamed out manifold rays of light at the ends of which appeared in pictures many mysteries and symbols of the Blessed Virgin, as for example all the titles in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. Behind her shoulders two branches of olive and cypress or cedar and cypress stretched crosswise above a slender palm tree, which I saw appear just behind her with a little leafy shrub. In the spaces between this arrangement of green branches I saw all the instruments of Jesus' Passion. The Holy Ghost hovered over the picture in human rather than dove-like form, winged with rays of light: and above I saw the heavens open and disclose, floating in the air above the Blessed Virgin, the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, with all its palaces and gardens and the mansions of future saints. All were filled with angels, and the whole glory, which now surrounded the Blessed Virgin, was filled with angels' faces.

How can this be expressed? Its variations, its unfoldings, and its transformations were so innumerable that I have forgotten a very great deal. The whole significance of the Blessed Virgin in the Covenant of the Old and New Testaments and to all eternity was set forth therein. I can compare this vision with the smaller one which I had a short time ago of the holy Rosary in all its glory. (Seemingly clever people who speak slightingly of the Rosary are much less sensible than poor unimportant folk who pray with it in all simplicity, for these adorn it with the beauty of obedience and humble devotion, trusting in the Church's recommendation of it to the faithful.)

With this vision before me, all the splendor and magnificence of the Temple and the beautifully decorated wall behind the Blessed Virgin seemed quite dim and dingy, even the Temple itself seemed to be no longer there, so full was everything of Mary and her glory. As the whole significance of the Blessed Virgin unfolded itself before my eyes in these visions I saw her no longer as the child Mary, but as the Blessed Virgin, hovering tall above me. I saw the priests and the smoke of the offering and everything through the picture; it was as if the priests behind her were uttering prophecies and admonishing the people to thank God and to pray that this child should be magnified. All those who were present in the Temple were hushed and filled with solemn awe, though they did not see the picture that I saw. It disappeared again little by little just as I had seen it come. At last I saw nothing but the glory under Mary's heart, with the Blessing of the Promise shining within it. Then this disappeared, too, and I saw the holy dedicated child in her ceremonial dress standing alone once more between the priests. The priests took the wreaths from off the child's arms and the torch from her hand and gave them to her companions. They placed a brown veil or hood on her head, and led her down the steps through a door into another hall, where she was met by six other (but older) Temple virgins who strewed flowers before her. Behind her stood her teachers: Noemi, the sister of Lazarus' mother, the Prophetess Anna, and still a third woman; the priests gave the child Mary over to them and withdrew. Her parents and near relations now approached; the singing was over, and Mary said farewell. Joachim's emotion was particularly deep; he lifted Mary up, pressed her to his heart, and said to her with tears, Remember my soul before God!' Thereupon Mary with her teachers and several maidens went into the women's dwelling on the north side of the Temple itself. They lived in rooms built in the thickness of the Temple walls. Passages and winding stairs led up to little praying cells near the Holy Place and Holy of Holies.

Mary's parents and relations went back to the hall by the Golden Gate where they had first waited, and partook of a meal there with the priests. The women ate in a separate hall. I have forgotten much of what I saw and heard, amongst other things the exact reason why the ceremony was so rich and solemn; but I do recollect that it was so as a result of a revelation of the Divine Will.

(Mary's parents were really well off; it was only as mortification and for almsgiving that they lived so poorly. I forget for how long Anna ate nothing but cold food; but their servants were well fed and provided for.) I saw many people praying in the Temple, and many had followed the procession to its gates. Some of those present must have had some idea of the destiny of the Blessed Virgin, for I remember Anna speaking with enthusiastic joy to various women and saying to them, Now the Ark of the Covenant, the Vessel of the Promise, is entering the Temple'. Mary's parents and other relations reached Bethoron the same day on their journey home.

I now saw a festival among the Temple virgins. Mary had to ask the teachers and each of the young girls whether they would suffer her to be among them. This was the custom. Then they had a meal, and afterwards they danced amongst themselves. They stood opposite each other in pairs, and danced in various figures and crossings. There was no hopping. It was like a minuet. Sometimes there was a swaying, circular motion of the body, like the movements of the Jews when they pray. Some of the young girls accompanied the dancing with flutes, triangles, and bells. There was another instrument which sounded particularly strange and delightful. It was played by plucking the strings stretched on the steeply sloping sides of a sort of little box. In the middle of the box were bellows which when pressed up and down sent the air through several pipes, some straight and some crooked, and so made an accompaniment to the strings. The instrument was held on the player's knees.

In the evening I saw the teacher Noemi lead the Blessed Virgin to her little room, which looked into the Temple. It was not quite square, and the walls were inlaid with triangular shapes in different colors. There was a stool in it and a little table, and in the corners were stands with shelves for putting things on. Before this room was a sleeping place and a room for dresses, as well as Noemi's room. Mary spoke to her again about rising often to pray in the night, but Noemi did not yet allow this.

The Temple women wore long, full, white robes with girdles and very wide sleeves, which they rolled up when working. They were veiled.

I never remember seeing that Herod entirely rebuilt the Temple: I only saw various alterations being made in it during his reign. Now, when Mary came to the Temple, eleven years before Christ's birth, nothing was being built in the Temple itself, but (as always) in the outer portions of it: here the work never stopped.

[On November 21 ^st Catherine Emmerich said:] Today I had a view of Mary's dwelling in the Temple. On the northern side of the Temple hall, towards the Holy Place, there were several rooms high up which were connected with the women's dwellings. Mary's room was one of the outermost of these towards the Holy of Holies. From the passage one passed through a curtain into a sort of antechamber, which was divided off from the room itself by a partition, semicircular or forming an angle. In the corners to the right and left were shelves for keeping clothes and other things. Opposite the door in this partition steps led to an opening high up in the wall which looked down into the Temple. This opening had a carpet hanging before it and was curtained with gauze. Against the wall in the left-hand side of the room there was a rolled-up carpet, which, when spread out, made the bed on which Mary slept. A bracket-lamp was fixed in a niche in the wall, and today I saw the child standing on a stool and praying by its light from a parchment roll with red knobs. It was a very touching sight. The child was wearing a little blue-and-white striped dress woven with yellow flowers. There was a low round table in the room. I saw Anna come in and place on the table a dish with fruits of the size of beans and a little jug. Mary was skilful beyond her years: I saw her already working at little white cloths for the service of the Temple.

[Catherine Emmerich generally communicated the above visions about the time of the feast of the Presentation of Mary. Besides these, however, she related at different times the following accounts of Mary's eleven-year sojourn in the Temple:]


[58] The story of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple at the age of three years appears in the Apocryphal Gospels: Protev. 7, Ps-Matt. 6, Nat. Mar. 6, Hist. Jos. 3; and is attested by the liturgical feast on Nov. 21st. (SB)

[59] There is a place called Madin about twelve miles north-east of Nazareth on the high ground above the Lake of Galilee. Cf. Jos. 11. 1. (SB)

[60] Pilate, not Herod, proposed to make an aqueduct with Temple funds, and thereby caused a riot of 10,000 Jews, according to Josephus (Ant., XVIII, iii. 2). (SB)

[61] For the burning bush ( Ex. 3. 2) as a type of Our Lady, cf. the second antiphon at Lauds on Jan. 1st. (SB)

[62] One may well be alarmed by the power of the world over fallen mankind when one considers how earthly things brought forgetfulness upon this favored soul who was not at all attached to them. Every year about this time she saw this picture of Mary's departure for the Temple, and each time the appearance of the two prophets as boys was in some way interwoven with it. She sees them appear as boys and not at their real age, because they were not personally present at the proceeding but accompany her only as emblems. Painters, when making historical pictures, are in the habit of representing not in their real form, but as youths, genii, or angels, those persons who are intended to illustrate some truth or other. Thus we may see that this manner of representation is not a result of their poetical imagination, but lies in the nature of all visionary appearances. (CB)

[63] From the situation of this town and from the mention of its having some heathen inhabitants, and of Jesus having traveled in this direction in His thirtieth year on His way to His Baptism, we may conclude that it was Endor. For in her daily visions of the ministry of Our Lord, Catherine Emmerich saw Him celebrating the Sabbath in a small place near Endor in the middle of September of the first year of His ministry on His way to His Baptism. Also in this rather deserted hill-town she saw Him teaching the Canaanites settled here since the defeat of Sisera, in whose army their ancestors had served. (CB) Endor lies north-cast of the Plain of Esdrelon, where the battle was fought in which Sisera was defeated ( Judges 4). (SB)

[64] Upper Bethoron is on the hill and Lower Bethoron at the foot of the hill. Jos. 10. 11 mentions the battle in the descent of Beth-Horon'; and a big battle took place here as recorded in I-Macc. 3. 16-24. (SB)

[65] She remembered that the name sounded like Marion (possibly Marom', i.e. the height'). It is known that a road ran from Jerusalem past Bethoron to Nicopolis and Lydda. Catherine Emmerich gave all kinds of other details about the hills and valleys on the journey up to this point, but as she sees more distinctly than she can describe, it is impossible to reproduce these details, particularly as the topographical position from which she sees them cannot be determined. (CB)

[66] It is the eastern side of the Temple hill that falls steeply into the Valley of Kedron. (SB)

[67] John 5.. 2, usually rendered, There is at Jerusalem a pond Probatica (=sheep), which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida (or Bethesda or Bezatha)', seems to identify the sheep-pool and Bethsaida, which AC states are distinct. But the most probable rendering of the Greek is There is at Jerusalem by the Probatica (i.e. sheep gate) a swimming pool called in Hebrew Bezatha', and excavations have revealed traces of a swimming-pool with five porches' (John, ib.) (cf. Cath. Comm., 791c). This is evidently not the same as the sheep-dipping poo1 mentioned by AC. (SB)

[68] This altar-table was set up in this doorway because women were not permitted to go farther. When the meeting of Joachim and Anna took place, Joachim had gone through this door into the subterranean passage, while Anna had come from the opposite direction. (CB)

ii the immaculate conception
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