How can one tire reading about what actually happened in Bethlehem on the first Christmas? We have accounts of that from mystics, including Anna Catherine Emmerich whose account of the life of Jesus Christ was filmed under the title “The Passion.”
It would seem, however, that among mystics privileged by God to travel through time and witness the past, nothing could surpass Maria Valtorta who had, by God’s grace, witnessed the beginning of mankind in the persons of Adam and Eve, through Jesus Christ’s eartly sojourn and, alas, to episodes of the Final Judgement.
Valtora, by the way, is being pushed for sainthood.
With Christmas at hand, I am sharing with readers excerpts from her stupendous witnessing of Jesus’s birth, in her own words, as translated from Italian to English. For purposes of convenience, I am omitting quotes. The following are her own account that tells us that while Jesus lived as man like us, He was nevertheless born as God:
I still see the inside of the poor stony shelter, where Mary and Joseph have found refuge, sharing the lot of some animals.
The little fire is dozing together with its guardian.Mary lifts her head slowly from her bed and looks round. She sees that Joseph’s head is bowed over this chest, as if he were maditating, and she thinks that his good intention to remain awake has been overcome with tireness. She smiles lovingly and making less noise than a butterfly alighting on a rose, she sites up and then goes on her knees. She prays with a blissful smile on her face, She prays with her arms stretched out, almost in the shape of the cross, with the palms of her hands facing up and forward, and she never seems to tire in that position. She then prostrates herself with her face on the hay, in an even more ardent prayer. A long prayer.
Joseph rouses. He notices that the fire is almost out and the stable almost dark. He throws a handful of very slender heath on to the fire and the falmes are revived, he then adds some thicker twigs and finally some sticks, because the cold is really biting: the cold of a serene winter night that comes into the ruins from everywhere. Poor Joseph must be frozen sitting as he is near the door. if we can call a door the hole where Joseph’s mantle serves as a curtain. He warms his hands near the fire, then takes his sandals off and warms his feet. When the fire is gaily blazing and its light is stedy, he turns round. But he does not see anything, not even Mary’s white veil that formed a clear line on the dark hay. He gets up and slowly moves towards he pallet.
Are you sleeping Mary, he asks. He asks her three times until she turns round and replies, I am praying.
Is there anything you need? Josephs asks.
No, Joseph, she replies.
Try and sleep a little. At least try and rest.
I will try but I don’t get tired praying.
God be with you, Mary.
And with you, Joseph.
Mary resumes her position. Joseph to avoid falling asleep, goes on his knees nearh the fire and prays. He prays with his hands pressed against his face. He removes them now and again to feed the fire and then he resumed his ardent prayer. Apart from the noise of the crakling sticks and the noise made now and again by the donkey stamping its hooves on the ground, no other sound is heard.
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 ehr 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 on 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.
Her deep blue dress now seems of a pale myosotis blue, and her hands and face are becoming clear blue as it they were placed under the galre of a huge pale sapphire. This hue is spreading more and more on the things around her, it covers them, purifies them and brightens evferything. It reminds me, although it is somewhat softer, of the hue I see in the vision of Holy Paradise, and also of the colour I saw in the visit of the wise men.
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. She is to give this Light to the world. And this blissful, oncontainable, immeasuralbe, eternal, divine light is is about to be given, is heradlded by a dawn, a smoring star, a chorus of atoms of Light that increase continuously like atide, a rise more and more like incense, and descend like a large stream and stretch out like veils..
The vault, full of crevises, of sobwebs, or 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 flash, each cobweb a most precious canopy interwoven with silver and diamods. A huge green lizard, hibernating between two stones, seems an emerald jewel forgotten there by a queen; a bunck of hibernating bats is like a presious onyx chandelier. The hay from the upper manger is no longer grass blades: it is pure silver wires quiveirng in the air with the grace of a loose hair.
The dark wod of the lower manger is a block of burnished silver. The walls are covered with a brocase in which the white silk disapparears under the pearly embroidery of the relief, and the soil.. what is the soil now? It is a crystal lit up by white light. Its protrucions are like roses thrown in homage of the soil; the holes are precious cups from which perfumes and scents are to arise.
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 undurable 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 fee that could be contained in the hollow in the heart of a rose and is crying with a thin trembling voice, just like a new-born little lamb, opening His pretty little mouhth 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 ehad that His Mummy holds inthe 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 the wound in advance, with her immacute kiss.
And the mother, with her sweet, graceful gait, moves to the manger, lays Him in it, and covers Him with the strip of her mantle. She arranges it also around His bare head, almost completemen covered by the hay, from which it is protected only by Mary’s thin veil. Only His little face, the size of a man’s fist, is left uncovered. Mary and Joseph, bending over the manger, are blisffully happy watching Him sleep in His first sleep, because the wamth of the clothes and of the hay has appeased His crying and made Him sleepy.