BLESSED ANNE Catherine Emmerich could have been another source of what really happened on the first Christmas in Bethlehem, but it is said that her account was so edited by overly rigid church people in her time that the reality she saw churned out much fiction in print.
Instead, I share with you the writings of mystic Maria Valtorta (1897-1961) whose book initially titled Poem of Man-God was mired in controversies and at one time included in the list of the Church’s forbidden books, but later hailed by experts in all fields, including scientists, as stupendously credible. Valtorta was transported in time to witness details of biblical episodes, from Adam and Eve, through Jesus, to the Last Judgement.
Christmas being around the corner, let me share her account of the First Christmas in a cave for animals in Bethlehem, as follows (though abridged due to limited space and spared of quotes for convenience):
A thin ray of moonlight creeps in through a crack in the vault and it seems a blade of unearthly silver looking for Mary. It stretches in length as the moon climbs higher in the sky and at last reaches Her. It is now on Her head, where it forms a halo of pure light.
Mary lifts Her head, as if She had a celestial call, and She gets up and goes on to Her knees again. Oh! How beautiful it is here now! She raises Her head, and Her face shines in the white moonlight and becomes transfigured by a supernatural smile. What does She see? What does She hear? What does She feel? She is the only one who can tell what She saw, heard and felt in the refulgent hour of Her Maternity. I can only see that the light around Her is increasing more and more. It seems to come down from Heaven, to arise from the poor things around Her, above all it seems to originate from Herself…
The light is given off more and more intensely from Mary’s body, it absorbs the moonlight. She seems to be drawing to Herself all the light that can descend from Heaven. She is now the Depository of the Light. …
The vault, full of crevices, of cobwebs, of protruding rubble balanced by a miracle of physics, the dark, smokey repellent vault, now seems the ceiling of a royal hall. Each boulder is a block of silver, each crack an opal fl ash, each cobweb a most precious canopy interwoven with silver and diamonds….
And the light increases more and more. It is now unbearable to the eye. And the Virgin disappears in so much light, as if She had been absorbed by an incandescent curtain…and the Mother emerges….
Yes. When the light becomes endurable once again to my eyes, I see Mary with the new-born Son in Her arms. A little Baby, rosy and plump, bustling with His little hands as big as rose buds and kicking with His tiny feet that could be contained in the hollow of the heart of a rose: and is crying with a thin trembling voice, just like a new-born little lamb, opening His pretty little mouth that resembles a wild strawberry, and showing a tiny tongue that trembles against the rosy roof of His mouth. And He moves His little head that is so blond that it seems without any hair, a little round head that His Mummy holds in the hollow of Her hand, while She looks at Her Baby and adores Him weeping and smiling at the same time, and She bends down to kiss Him not on His innocent head, but on the centre of His chest, where underneath there is His little heart beating for us… where one day there will be the Wound. And His Mother is doctoring that wound in advance, with Her immaculate kiss….
Also Joseph, who almost enraptured, was praying so ardently as to be isolated from what was around him, now rouses and he sees a strange light filter through the fingers of his hands pressed against his face. He removes his hands, lifts his head and turns round. The ox, standing as it is, hides Mary. But She calls him: ‘Joseph, come.’
Joseph rushes. And when he sees, he stops, struck by reverence, and he is about to fall on his knees where he is. But Mary insists: ‘Come, Joseph’ and She leans on the hay with Her left hand and, holding the Child close to Her heart with Her right one, She gets up and moves towards Joseph, who is walking embarrassed, because of a conflict in him between his desire to go and his fear of being irreverent.
Then Mary bends down and says: ‘Here, Joseph, take Him,’ and offers him the Child.
‘What! I?… Me?… Oh, no! I am not worthy!’ Joseph is utterly dumbfounded at the idea of having to touch God.
But Mary insists smiling: ‘You are well worthy. No one is more worthy than you are, and that is why the Most High chose you. Take Him, Joseph, and hold Him while I look for the linens.’
Joseph, blushing almost purple, stretches his arms out and takes the Baby, Who is screaming because of the cold and when he has Him in his arms, he no longer persists in the intention of holding Him far from himself, out of respect, but he presses Him to his heart and bursts into tears exclaiming: ‘Oh! Lord! My God!’
And he bends down to kiss His tiny feet and feels them cold. He then sits on the ground, and holds Him close to his chest and with his brown tunic and his hands he tries to cover Him, and warm Him, defending Him from the bitterly cold wind of the night. He would like to go near the fire, but there is a cold draft there coming in from the door. It is better to stay where he is. No, it is better to go between the two animals which serve as a protection against the air and give out warmth. Thus, he goes between the ox and the donkey, with his back to the door, bending over the New-Born to form with his body a shelter, the two sides of which are a grey head with long ears, and a huge white muzzle with a steaming nose and two gentle soft eyes.
Mary has opened the trunk and has pulled out the linens and swaddling clothes. She has been near the fire warming them. She now moves towards Joseph and envelops the Baby with lukewarm linen and then with Her veil to protect His little head. ‘Where shall we put Him now?’ She asks.
ME: WE CAN PUT JESUS IN OUR HEARTS THIS CHRISTMAS. BETTER, EVERYDAY FROM NOW ON.