606. The Burial of Jesus and the Spiritual Distress of Mary.
19th February 1944.
It is useless to say what I feel. It would only be a description of my suffering, and therefore with no value as compared with the suffering that I see. So I will describe it, without any comment on myself.
I am present at Our Lord's burial.
The little procession, after descending Calvary, at the foot of it finds the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, hewn out of the limestone of the mountain. The compassionate disciples enter it with Jesus' Body.
I see the sepulchre made as follows. It is a room dug in the stone, at the end of a vegetable garden all in blossom. It looks like a grotto,
but it is evident that it has been dug by man. There is the burial room proper with its loculi (they are different from those of the catacombs). These are like round cavities, that penetrate into the stone, like the cells of a beehive, to give an idea. At present they are all empty. The empty opening of each loculus looks like a black spot on the grey stone. Before this room there is a kind of anteroom, in the middle of which there is a slab of stone for anointing. Jesus is placed on it, enveloped in His sheet.
Also John and Mary go in. But nobody else, because the preparatory room is small, and if more people were in it, they would not be able to move. The other women are near the door, that is near the opening, because there is not a proper door.
The two bearers uncover Jesus.
While they prepare the bandages and spices on a sort of shelf in a corner, in the light of two torches, Mary bends over Her Son weeping. And once again She wipes Him with Her veil, which is still round Jesus' loins. It is the only washing that Jesus' Body has, this one with His Mother's tears, and if they are copious and abundant, they serve to remove the dust, sweat and blood of that tortured Body only superficially and partly.
Mary never tires of caressing those frozen limbs. With even greater delicacy than if She were touching those of a new-born baby, She takes the poor tortured hands, She clasps them in Her own, She kisses the fingers and stretches them, She tries to connect the gaping wounds, as if She wished to doctor them, so that they may not ache so much and She presses those hands, which can no longer caress, against Her cheeks, and moans and moans in Her dreadful grief. She straightens and joins the poor feet, which are so limp, as if they were deadly tired of walking so far on our behalf. But they have been displaced too much on the cross, and the left one in particular is almost flat, as if it had no ankle.
She then reverts to the body and caresses it, so cold and already stiff, and when once again She sees the gash of the lance, which is now wide open like a mouth, as Jesus is lying on His back on the stone slab, and so the cavity of the thorax can be seen more clearly - the point of the heart can be seen distinctly between the breastbone and the left costal arch, and about two centimetres above it there is the cut made by the point of the lance in the pericardium and in the heart, a cut about a good centimetre and a half long, whereas the external one on the right side is at least seven centimetres long - Mary utters a cry again as on Calvary. A lance seems to be piercing Her, so much She writhes in Her pain, pressing Her hands on Her heart, pierced like Jesus'. How many kisses on that wound, poor Mother!
She then attends to Jesus' head again and straightens it, because it is lightly bent back and much to the right. She tries to close His eyelids, which persist in remaining half-open, and His mouth, which has remained open, contracted and a little twisted to the right. She tidies His hair, which only yesterday was beautiful and tidy, and now has become a tangle heavy with blood. She disentangles the longer locks, She smoothes them on Her fingers and curls them to give them back the form of the lovely hair of Her Jesus, so soft and curly. And She moans and moans, because She remembers when He was a little boy… It is the fundamental reason for Her grief: the recollection of Jesus' childhood, of Her love for Him, of Her carefulness, which was afraid also of the most wholesome air for Her little divine Child, and the comparison with what men have now done to Him.
Her lamentation makes me suffer. And when moaning She says: « What have they done to You, Son? », not being able to Put up with seeing Him thus, naked, rigid, on a stone, She takes Him in Her arms, passing Her arm under His shoulders and pressing Him to Her heart with the other hand and lulling Him, moving exactly as in the grotto of the Nativity, Her gesture makes me weep and suffer, as if a hand rummaged in my heart.
4th October 1944.
The terrible spiritual distress of Mary.
The Mother is standing near the anointing stone caressing, contemplating, moaning, weeping. The flickering light of the torches illuminates Her face now and again, and I see large tear drops stream down the cheeks of Her ravaged face. And I can hear Her words. Every one of them. All of them, very clearly, although whispered between Her lips, a real conversation of a mother's soul with the soul of Her Son. I am told to write them.
« Poor Son! How many wounds!… How much You have suffered! Look what they have done to You!… How cold You are, Son! Your fingers are ice-cold. And how motionless they are! They seem to be broken. Never, not even in the sound sleep of a child, or in the heavy sleep after working as an artisan, were they so inert… And how cold they are! Poor hands! My darling, My love, My holy love, give them to Your Mother! Look how lacerated they are! John, look what a gash! Oh! cruel men! Here, give Me this wounded hand of Yours. That I may dress it. Oh! I will not hurt You… I will use kisses and tears, and I will warm it with My breath and My love.
Caress Me, Son! You are ice-cold, I am burning with fever. My fever will be relieved by Your ice, and Your ice will be mitigated by My fever. A caress, Son! Only a few hours have gone by since You last caressed Me, and they seem ages to Me. For months I was without Your caresses, and they seemed hours to Me, because I was always waiting for You to come back, and I considered each day an hour, and each hour a minute, to say to Myself that You had not been away for one or more months, but only for a few days, for a few hours. Why is time so long now? Ah! inhuman torture! Because you are dead.
They have killed You! You are no longer on the Earth! No longer! Wherever I send My soul to look for Yours and embrace it, because finding You, having You, feeling You was the life of My body and of My spirit, wherever I look for You with the wave of My love, I no longer find you, I do not find You any more. Nothing of You is left to Me but these cold soulless remains!
O soul of My Jesus, o soul of My Christ, o soul of My Lord, where are You? O cruel hyenas joined to Satan, why have you taken away the soul of My Son? And why have you not crucified Me with Him? Were you afraid of committing a second crime? (Her voice is becoming stronger and stronger and more and more heart-rending). And what was it for you killing a poor woman, since you did not hesitate to kill God Incarnate? Have you not committed a second crime? And is letting a mother outlive her murdered son not the most nefarious crime? »
The Mother, Who with Her voice had raised also Her head, now bends again over the lifeless face and speaks in a low voice, to Him alone: « At least we would have been together in here, in the tomb, as we would have been together in the agony on the cross, and together in the journey beyond life and towards the Life. But if I cannot follow You in the journey beyond life, I can remain here waiting for You. »
She straightens Herself up again and says to those present in a loud voice: « Go away, all of you. I will stay. Close Me in here with Him. I will wait for Him. What are you saying? That it is not possible? Why is it not possible'? If I had died, would I not be here, lying beside Him, waiting to be put in order? I will be beside Him, but on My knees. I was there when He, a delicate rosy baby, cried on a December night. I will be here now, on this night of the world, that no longer has the Christ. Oh! true night' The Light is no longer!… O ice-cold night! The Love is dead' What are you saying, Nicodemus? Shall I be contaminated? His Blood is not contamination. I was not contaminated even when I gave birth to Him. Ah! How you came out, You, Flower of My womb, without tearing any fibre, just like a flower of scented narcissus, that blooms from the soul of the matrix bulb and yields a flower even if the embrace of the earth has not been on the matrix. A virginal blooming that can be compared with You Son, Who came through a heavenly embrace and were born in the Diffusion of heavenly splendour. »
Now the heart-broken Mother bends once again over Her Son, estranged to everything that is not He, and She whispers slowly: « But do You remember, Son, that sublime show of brightness that filled everything when Your smile was born in the world? Do You remember that beatific light that the Father sent from Heaven to envelop the mystery of Your flowering and to make You find this dark world less repellent, since You were the Light and You were corning from the Light of the Father and of the Paraclete Spirit? And now?… Now darkness and cold… How cold! I am shivering all over. More than that December night. Then there was the joy of having You to warm My heart. And You had two people loving You… Now… Now I am alone and I am dying, too. But I will love You for two: for those who have loved You so little that they abandoned You at the moment of sorrow; I will love You for those who have hated You, I will love You for the whole world, Son. You will not feel the chill of the world. No, You will not feel it. You did not tear My viscera to be born, but I am ready to tear them and enclose You in the embrace of My womb in order not to make You feel cold. Do you remember how My womb loved You, little throbbing embryo?… It is still the same womb. Oh! it is My right and My duty as a Mother. It is My wish. There is no one but the Mother Who can have it, Who can have a love as big as the universe for Her Son. »
Her voice has been rising, and now, with all its strength She says: « Go. I will stay. You will come back in three days' time and we will go out together. Oh! to see the world again leaning on Your arm, Son! How beautiful the world will be in the light of Your risen smile! The world thrilling in its Lord's steps! The Earth trembled when death extirpated Your soul and Your spirit departed from Your heart. But now it will tremble… oh! no longer with horror and spasm, but with a gentle throb, unknown to Me, but apprehended by My feminine insight that thrills a virgin when, after an absence, she hears the step of her bridegroom coming for the wedding. Even more: the Earth will tremble with a holy throb, as I was shaken in the deepest depth when I had the Lord One and Trine in Me, and the will of the Father with the fire of the Love created the seed from which You came, of holy Baby, My Son, all Mine! All of Your Mother! of Your Mother!… »
Every child has a father and mother. Also an illegitimate boy has a father and a mother. But You had only Your Mother to make Your flesh of rose and lily, to make these embroidered veins, as blue as our streams in Galilee, and these lips of pomegranate, and this hair more graceful than the blond fleece of the goats of our hills, and these eyes: two little lakes of Paradise. No, more than that, they are of the water that comes from the Unique and Quadruple River of the Place of Delight, and carries with it, in its four branches, gold, onyx, beryl and ivory, and diamonds, and palms, and honey, and roses, and infinite riches, o Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates: way for the angels exulting in God, way for the kings adoring You known or unknown Essence, but Living and Present even in the most obscure heart! Only Your Mother did that for You, by means of Her "yes"… I formed You with music and love, I made You with purity and obedience, My Joy!
What is Your Heart? The flame of Mine, that split to condense in a crown around the kiss given by God to His Virgin. That is what your Heart is. Ah! (The shout is so heart-rending that the Magdalene hastens to succour Her with John. The other women dare not Move and weeping and veiled, look stealthily from the opening). Ah! they have broken it! That is why You are so cold, and I am so cold! There is no longer inside You the flame of My heart, and I can no longer continue to live through the reflection of that flame, which was Mine and which I gave You to make Your heart. Here, here, here, on My breast! Before death kills Me, I want to warm You up, I want to lull You. I used to sing to You: "There is no home, there is no food, there is nothing but sorrow". O prophetic words! Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow for You, for Me! I used to sing to You: "Sleep, sleep on My heart". Also now: here, here, here… , And sitting on the edge of the stone, She takes Him in Her lap, passing one arm of Her Son round Her shoulders, resting His head on Her shoulder, and bending Her head on His, holding Him close to Her breast, lulling and kissing Him, heart-broken and heart-rending.
Nicodemus and Joseph approach Her, laying vases and bandages, and the clean Shroud, and a basin of water, I think, and what seem lint wads, on a kind of seat, which is on the other side of the stone.
Mary notices it and asks in a loud voice: « What are you doing? What do you want? To prepare Him? For what? Leave Him in the lap of His Mother. If I succeed in warming Him up, He will rise sooner. If I succeed in consoling the Father and in comforting Him for the deicide hatred, the Father will forgive sooner, and He will come back sooner. » The Sorrowful Mother is almost raving.
« I will not give Him to you! I gave Him once, I gave Him once to the world, and the world did not want Him. It killed Him, because it did not want Him. Now I am not giving Him any more! What are you saying? That you love Him? Of course! Then, why did you not defend Him? You have waited, to say that you loved Him, until He could no longer hear you. What a poor love yours is! But if you were so afraid of the world that you did not dare to defend an innocent, you should at least have handed Him back to Me, to His Mother, so that She might defend Her Son. She knew who He was and what He deserved. You!… You have had Him as your Master, but you have learned nothing. Is that not true? Am I perhaps telling lies? But do you not see that you do not believe in His Resurrection? You believe in it? No. Why are you standing there, preparing bandages and spices? Because you consider Him a poor dead man, cold today, putrified tomorrow, and that is why you want to embalm Him.
'Leave your pomades. Come and worship the Saviour with the pure hearts of the shepherds of Bethlehem. Look: in His sleep He is only one who is tired and is resting. How much He worked in His lifetime! He has worked more and more, not to mention these last hours!… Now He is resting. As far as I, His Mother, am concerned, He is nothing but a big Boy who is tired and is sleeping. His bed and room are really miserable! But neither was His first pallet more beautiful, nor was His first dwelling place more cheerful. The shepherds worshipped the Saviour in His sleep as an Infant. Worship the Saviour in His sleep as Triumpher of Satan. Then, like the shepherds, go and say to the world: "Glory to God! Sin is dead! Satan is defeated! Peace be on the Earth and in Heaven between God and man!" Prepare the ways for His return. I am sending you. I, Whom Maternity makes the Priestess of the rite. Go. I said that I do not want it. I have washed Him with My tears. And it is enough. The rest is not necessary. And do not think that you will put it on Him. It will be easier for Him to rise if He is free from those funereal useless bandages.
Why are you looking at Me so, Joseph? And you, Nicodemus? Has the horror of this day made you dull-witted or absent-minded? Do you not remember? "This evil and adulterous generation, which asks for a sign, will be given no other sign but that of Jonah… So the Son of man will be for three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth". Do you not remember? "The Son of man is going to be handed over to the power of men, who will kill Him, but on the third day He will be raised again". Do you not remember? "Destroy this Temple of the true God and in three days I will rebuild it". O men, the Temple was His Body. Are you shaking your heads? Are you pitying Me? Do you think that I am insane? What? He raised the dead and will He not be able to raise Himself? John? »
« Mother! »
« Yes, call Me "mother". I cannot live thinking that I shall not be called so! John, you were present when He raised the young daughter of Jairus and the young man of Nain from the dead. They were really dead, were they not? It was not just a heavy sleep? Tell Me. »
« They were dead. The girl had been dead two hours, the young man a day and a half. »
« And did they rise at His order? »
« The rose at His order. »
« Have you heard that? You two, have you heard? But why are you shaking your heads? Ah! perhaps you mean that life comes back quicker in those who are innocent and young. But My Child is the Innocent! And He is the Always Young One. He is God, My Son!… » With tormented feverish eyes Mary looks at the two preparers, who, depressed but inflexible, are laying the rolls of bandages already soaked in the spices. Mary takes two steps. She has laid Her Son down again on the stone with the delicacy of one who lays a new-born baby in a cradle. She takes two steps, She bends at the foot of the funereal bed, where the Magdalene is weeping on her knees, She gets hold of her shoulder, shakes her and calls her: « Mary. Tell Me. These people think that Jesus cannot rise from the dead, because He is a man and He died of wounds. But is you brother not older than He is? »
« Yes, he is. »
« Was he not one big sore? »
« Yes, he was. »
« Was he not already putrid before descending into his sepulchre? »
« Yes, he was. »
« And did he not rise from the dead after four days of asphyxia and putrefaction? »
« Yes, he did. »
« So? »
There is a long grave silence. Then an inhuman howl. Mary staggers, pressing a hand against Her breast. They support Her. She repels them. She seems to repel the compassionate people. In actual fact She repels what She alone can see. And She shouts: « Back! Back, you cruel one! Not this revenge! Be silent! I do not want to hear you! Be silent! Ah! he is biting at My heart! »
« Who, Mother? »
« O John! It is Satan! Satan who is saying: "He will not rise. No prophet said that". O Most High God! Help Me all of you, good spirits, and you compassionate men! My reason is wavering! I do not remember anything any more. What do the prophets say? What does the Psalm say? Oh! who will repeat to Me the passages that speak of My Jesus? »
It is the Magdalene who in her melodious voice recites David's psalm on the Passion of the Messiah.
Mary weeps more bitterly, supported by John, and Her tears fall on Her dead Son, wetting Him completely. Mary notices that and wipes Him saying in a low voice: « So many tears. And when You were so thirsty I could not give You even one drop. And now… I am wetting You completely! You look like a shrub under heavy dew. Here, Your Mother will dry You now, Son! You have tasted so much bitterness! Do not let also the bitterness and the salt of Your Mother's tears fall on Your wounded lips!… »
Then in a loud voice She calls: « Mary. David does not say… Do You know Isaiah? Repeat his words… »
The Magdalene repeats the passage on the Passion and she ends saying with a sob: « … He surrendered His life to death and was taken for a sinner, He Who took away the sins of the world and prayed for sinners. »
« Oh! Be silent! Death no! Not delivered to death! No! No! Oh! your lack of faith, forming an alliance with Satan's temptation, maker, My heart doubt! And should I not believe You, Son? Should I not believe Your holy Word?! Oh! tell My soul! Speak. From the far away shores, where You have gone to free those awaiting Your coming, cast the voice of Your soul to My anxious soul, to Mine which is here, all open to receive Your voice. Tell Your Mother that You are coming back! Say: "On the third day I will rise from the dead". I implore You, Son and God! Help Me to protect My Faith. Satan is crushing it in his coils to strangle it. Satan has removed his mouth of a snake from the flesh of man, because You have torn that prey away from him, and now with his hooked poisonous teeth he is piercing the flesh of My heart paralysing its throbs, its strength and warmth. God! God! God! Do not allow Me to be distrustful! Do not allow doubt to freeze Me! Do not let Satan be free to lead Me to despair! Son! Son! Put Your hand on My heart. It will drive Satan away. Lay it on My head. It will bring the Light back to it. Sanctify My lips with a caress, so that they may be fortified to say: "I believe" even against a whole world that does not believe. Oh! how grievous it is not to believe! Father! Those who do not believe are to be forgiven much. Because, when one no longer believes… when one no longer believes… all horror becomes easy. I tell You… I, Who am experiencing this torture. Father, have mercy on the faithless! Holy Father, for the sake of this Victim Which has been consumed, and of Me, a victim which is still consuming, give them, give the faithless Your faith! »
A long silence.
Nicodemus and Joseph beckon to John and the Magdalene. « Come, Mother. » It is the Magdalene who says so, trying to take Mary away from Her Son and to separate Jesus' fingers which are interlaced with Mary's, Who is kissing them weeping.
The Mother straightens Herself up. She is impressive. For the last time She stretches out the poor bloodless fingers and lays the inert hand along the side of the body. Then She lowers Her arms towards the ground, and standing upright, Her head bent lightly back, She prays and offers. Not a word is heard. But from Her whole appearance it is clear that She is praying. She is really the Priestess at the altar, the Priestess at the moment of the offertory. « Offerimus praeclarae majestati tuae de tuis donis, ac datis, hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam… »
Then She turns round and says: « You may continue. But He will rise from the dead. In vain you mistrust My reason and are blind to the truth He spoke to you. In vain Satan tries to lay snares to My faith. To redeem the world also the torture given to My heart by Satan defeated is required. I suffer it and I offer it for future men. Goodbye, Son! Goodbye, My Child! Goodbye, My little Boy! Goodbye… Goodbye.. Holy… Good… Beloved and lovable… Beauty…Joy...Source of health… Goodbye On Your eyes on Your lips on Your golden hair on Your frozen limbs on Your pierced heart oh! on Your pierced heart My kiss My kiss My kiss Goodbye Goodbye Lord! Have mercy on Me! »
[19th February 1944].
The two preparers have finished preparing the bandages.
They come to the table and they denude Jesus also of His veil. They pass a sponge, I think, or a linen cloth, on the body in a very rapid preparation of the limbs dripping from countless parts. Then they spray ointments on all the Body. In fact they bury it under a layer of pomade. First they lift it up, cleaning also the stone slab, on which they lay the Shroud, more than half of which hangs from the head of the bed. They lay Him down again, on His chest, and spread the ointments on all His back, thighs and legs, on all the posterior part. Then they turn Him round delicately, watching that the pomade of spices is not removed, and they spread also the front, first the trunk, then the limbs. First the feet, then the hands, which they join on the lower belly.
The mixture of spices must be as sticky as gum, because I see that His hands remain in place, whereas before they always slid because of their weight of dead limbs. His feet do not slide. They remain in position: one is more straight, the other more stretched.
His head is the last. After spreading it diligently, so that its features disappear under the layer of ointment, they tie it with a chin-bandage to keep the mouth closed. Mary moans more loudly.
Then they lift the hanging side of the Shroud and fold it on Jesus. He disappears under the thick cloth of the Shroud. It is nothing but a form covered with a cloth.
Joseph ensures that everything is in order and on the Face he lays another linen sudarium and other cloths of the kind, similar to wide rectangular strips, that pass from right to left, above the Body, making the Shroud adhere to the Body. It is not the typical dressing as seen in mummies and also in Lazarus' resurrection. It is a rudimentary dressing.
Jesus is now annulled. Even His shape is confused under the linens. It looks like a long heap of cloths, narrower at the ends and wider at the centre, laid on the grey stone. Mary weeps louder.
[4th October 1944]
« And the torture continued with periodic attacks until dawn on Sunday. In My Passion I had only one temptation. But the Mother, the Woman, expiated on behalf of woman, guilty, several times, of every evil. And Satan behaved mercilessly with infinite cruelty towards the conqueress.
Mary had defeated him. The most atrocious temptation for Mary. Temptation against the flesh of the Mother. Temptation against the heart of the Mother. Temptation against the spirit of the Mother. The world thinks that Redemption ended with My last breath. No, it did not. The Mother completed it by adding Her treble torture to redeem the treble concupiscence, struggling for three days against Satan, who wanted to induce Her to deny My word and not to believe in My Resurrection. Mary was the only one who continued to believe. She is great and blessed also because of that faith.
You have become acquainted also with that. A torture corresponding to My torture at Gethsemane. The world will not understand this page. But "those who are in the world without being of the world" will understand it and they will have an increased love for the Sorrowful Mother. That is why I gave it. Go in peace with our blessing. »
Lamentation of Mary Giotto
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume 5, Chapter 606.
Copyright 1990 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reserved in all countries.