Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  1    Verses:  1-14

1.* Already Jesus, Mary and Joseph had settled in
Nazareth and thus changed their poor and humble dwell
ing into a heaven. In order to describe the mysteries and
sacraments which passed between the divine Child and
his purest Mother before his twelfth year and later on,
until his public preaching, many chapters and many
books would be required; and in them all, I would be
able to relate but the smallest part in view of the vastness
of the subject and the insignificance of such an
ignorant woman as I am. Even with the light given
me by this great Lady I can speak of only a few inci
dents and must leave the greater part unsaid. It is not
possible or befitting to us mortals to comprehend all
these mysteries in this life, since they are reserved for
the future life.
*To find corresponding paragraphs in the new Spanish edition add
to eachof the paragraph numbers of this volume.
2. Shortly after, their return from Egypt to Nazareth
the Lord resolved to try his most holy Mother in the
same manner as He had tried Her in her childhood and
as was mentioned in the second book of the first part,
chapter twenty-seventh. Although She was now vastly
grown in the exercise of her love and wisdom, yet as
the power of God and the object of divine charity is
infinite, and as moreover the capacity of the Queen
exceeded that of all creatures, the Lord wished to raise
Her to a higher level of holiness and merit. Moreover,
being a true Educator of the spirit, He wished to form
of Her a disciple of such exalted knowledge, that She
would truly be for us a consummate Teacher and a
living example of his own doctrines. For such was to
be her office after the ascension of her Son and Re
deemer, as I will relate in the third part. It was also
befitting and necessary for the honor of Christ, our
Redeemer, that the teaching of the Gospel, by which
and on which He was to found the law of grace, holy,
immaculate and without a wrinkle, should give full evi
dence of its efficacy and power in a mere creature, and
that all its adequate and supereminent effects should be
exhibited in some one, who could be a standard for all
men. It is clear, that this creature could be none else
than the most blessed Mary, who, as his Mother, stood
so close to the Master and Teacher of all holiness.
3. The Most High therefore resolved that the heavenly
Lady should be the first disciple of his school and the
first-born Daughter of the new Law of grace, the most
perfect copy of his ideals and the most pliant material,
upon which, as on liquid wax, should be set the seal of
his doctrine of holiness, so that the Son and the Mother
might be the two true tablets of the new law of the
world (Exod. 31, 18). For this purpose of the infinite
wisdom He manifested to Her all the mysteries of the
evangelical law and of his doctrine; and this was the
subject of his instructions from the time of their return
from Egypt until his public preaching, as we shall see
in the course of this history. In these hidden sacraments
the incarnate Word and his holy Mother occupied them
selves during the twenty-three years of their stay in
Nazareth. As all this concerned the heavenly Mother
alone (whose life the holy Evangelists did not profess
to narrate), the writers of the Gospel made no mention
of it, excepting that which was related of the Child
Jesus, when, in his twelfth year, He was lost in Jeru
salem. During all those years Mary alone was the dis
ciple of Christ. In addition therefore to the ineffable
gifts of grace and holiness, which He had conferred upon
Her until their arrival in Nazareth, He infused into Her
new light and made Her a participant in his divine
knowledge, depositing and engraving into her heart the
whole law and doctrine of grace, which to the end of
the world was to be dispensed by his holy Church. This
was moreover effected in such an exalted manner that no
human thought or words can express it; and the great
Lady was thereby filled with such wisdom and knowl
edge, that it would suffice to enlighten many worlds, if
there were more than one.
4. In order to rear in the heart of the purest Virgin
this edifice of holiness to a height beyond all that is not
God, the Lord laid its foundations accordingly, trying
the strength of her love and of all her other virtues. For
this purpose the Lord withdrew Himself, causing Her
to lose Him from her sight, which until then had caused
Her to revel in continual joy and delight. I do not wish
to say, that the Lord left Her bodily; but, still remaining
with Her and in Her by an ineffable presence and grace,
He hid Himself from her interior sight and suspended
the tokens of his most sweet affection. The heavenly
Lady in the meanwhile knew not the inward cause of
this behavior, as the Lord gave Her no explanation.
Moreover her divine Son, without any forewarning
showed Himself very reserved and withdrew from her
society. Many times He retired and spoke but few
words to Her, and even these with great earnestness and
majesty. But what was apt to afflict Her most, was the
eclipse of the light by which She was wont to see re
flected as in a crystal the human operations of his most
pure soul. This light was suddenly dimmed so much,
that She could not thenceforth distinguish them as a
living copy for her own actions.
5. This unannounced and unexpected change was
the crucible in which the purest gold of the love of our
Queen was cleansed and assayed. Surprised at what was
happening, She immediately took refuge in the humble
opinion She had of Herself, deeming Herself unworthy
of the vision of the Lord, who now had hidden Himself.
She attributed it all to her want of correspondence and
to her ingratitude for the blessings She had obtained
from the most generous and exalted Father of mercies.
The most prudent Queen did not feel so much the pri
vation of his delightful caresses, as the dread of having
displeased Him and of having fallen short in his service.
This was the arrow that pierced her heart with grief.
One filled with such true and noble love could not feel
less; for all delight of love is founded in the pleasure
and satisfaction given by the lover to the one beloved,
and therefore He cannot rest, when he suspects that the
beloved is not contented or pleased. The loving sighs
of his Mother were highly pleasing to her most holy
Son. He was enamored with Her anew and the tender
affection of his only and chosen One wounded his heart
(Cant. 4, 9). But whenever the sweet Mother sought
Him out in order to hold converse with Him He con
tinued to show exterior reserve. Just as the flame of
a forge or a conflagration is intensified by the applica
tion of insufficient water, so the flame of love in the
heart of the sweetest Mother was fanned to an intenser
blaze by this adversity.
6. The single-hearted Dove exercised Herself in
heroic acts of all the virtues. She humbled Herself
below the dust; She reverenced Her Son in deepest ado
ration; She blessed the Father, thanking Him for his
admirable works and blessings and conforming Herself
to his wishes and pleasure; She sought to know his will
in order to fulfill it in all things ; She unceasingly renewed
her acts of faith, hope and burning love; and in all her
actions and in all circumstances this most fragrant spike
nard gave forth the odor of sweetness for Him, the
King of kings, who rested in her heart as in his flowery
and perfumed couch (Cant. 1, 11). She persevered in
her tearful prayers, with continual sighing and longing
from her inmost heart ; She poured forth her prayers in
the presence of the Lord and recounted her tribulation
before the throne of the God (Ps. 141, 3). And many
times She broke out in words of ineffable sweetness and
loving sorrow, such as these:
7. "Creator of all the universe," She would say,
"eternal and almighty God, infinite is thy wisdom and
goodness, incomprehensible in essence and perfection:
well do I know that my sighs are not hidden to Thee
and that Thou knowest of the wound that pierces my
heart. If as a useless handmaid I have fallen short in
thy service and in pleasing Thee, why, O Life of my
soul, dost Thou not afflict me and chastise me with all
the pains and sufferings of this my mortal life, so that
I may not be obliged to endure the turning away of thy
eyes, though I have deserved this treatment through my
default? All punishments would be less than this; for
my heart cannot bear thy displeasure; Thou alone, O
Lord, art my life, my happiness, my glory, and my
treasure. My soul counts for nothing all that Thou hast
created and their image lives not in my soul, except in
order to magnify thy greatness and to acknowledge
Thee as Creator and Lord of all. What shall I then
do, if Thou, my blessed Lord, the light of my eyes,
the goal of my desires, the northstar of my pilgrimage,
the life of my being and the essence of my life, fail me?
Who will give fountains to my eyes to bewail my want
of correspondence to all the blessings I have received
and my ingratitude for my benefits? My Lord, my
light, my guide and teacher on the way, who by thy
most exalted and perfect operations directest my fragile
and lukewarm undertakings, how can I regulate my life,
if Thou fail me as my model? Who will guide me
securely through this desert? What shall I do and
whither shall I turn, if Thou deprivest me of thy
assistance ?"
8. Nor did this wounded Deer rest satisfied there
with, but, thirsting after the purest fountains of grace,
She addressed Herself also to the holy angels and held
long conferences and colloquies with them, saying:
"Sovereign princes and intimate friends of the highest
King, my guardians, by your felicitous vision of his
divine countenance (Matth. 18, 10) and the ineffable
light (I Tim. 6, 16), I conjure you to tell me the cause
of his displeasure, if such He has conceived against me.
Intercede for me in his real presence, that through your
prayers He may pardon me, if I have offended Him.
Remind Him, my friends, that I am but dust (Job 10, 9),
although I am formed by his hands and have upon me
the seal of his image; beseech Him not to forget his
needy one to the end, so that she may confess and mag
nify his name (Ps. 73, 19). Ask Him to give back to
me the breath of life which fails me at the dread of
having lost his love. Tell me, how and by what means
I can please Him and regain the joy of his countenance?"
The holy angels answered : "Our Queen and Sovereign,
dilated is thy heart so that Thou canst not be vanquished
by tribulation ; and none is so able as Thou to understand
how near the Lord is to the afflicted, who call upon Him
(Ps. 40, 15). Without doubt He recognizes thy affec
tion and does not despise thy loving sighs (Ps. 37, 10).
Even shalt Thou find Him a kind Father and his Onlybegotten
a most affectionate Son, looking upon thy afflic
tion." The lovelorn Mother replied: "Will it perhaps
be presumption to appear before Him and prostrate my
self before Him, asking his pardon for any fault He
might find in me? What shall I do? What relief can
I find in my anxieties ?" And the holy princes answered :
"An humble heart does not displease our King (50, 9) ;
upon it He fixes his loving regard and He is never dis
pleased by the clamors of those who act in love."
9. These colloquies and answers of the holy angels
somewhat gladdened and consolated their Queen and
Mistress, since they confirmed Her in her own interior
conviction, that these sweetest sighs would excite the
special love and delight of the Most High. They would
not speak more openly, because the Lord on his own
account wished to prolong these delights (Prov. 8, 31).
Although her most holy Son, on account of his natural
love toward his Mother (a Mother only, not having any
father), was often deeply touched with compassion at
seeing Her so afflicted ; yet He would not show any signs
thereof, hiding his compassion under a severe counte
nance. Sometimes, when the most loving Mother called
Him to his meals, He would delay; at other times He
would partake of them without looking at Her or speak
ing to Her. But although the great Lady at such times
shed many tears and lovingly sighed in her heart, She
always put upon Herself such restraint and weighed all
her actions so wisely, that, if it were possible for God
to give way to wonder (which certainly He cannot), He
would have yielded to such a feeling in the presence of
such plenitude of holiness and perfection in this mere
Creature. In as far as He was man, the Child Jesus
delighted especially in seeing his divine love and grace
bring forth such abundant fruits in his Virgin Mother.
The holy angels sang to Him new hymns of praise for
this admirable and unheard-of prodigy of virtues.
10. Upon the request of the loving Mother saint
Joseph had made a couch, which She covered with a
single blanket and upon which the Child Jesus rested
and took his sleep; for from the time in which He had
left the cradle, when they were yet in Egypt, He would
not accept of any other bed or of more covering. Al
though He did not stretch Himself out on this couch,
nor even always made use of it, He sometimes reclined
in a sitting posture upon it, resting upon a poor pillow
made of wool by the same Lady. When She spoke of
preparing for Him a better resting-place, her most holy
Son answered, that the only couch upon which He was
to be stretched out, was that of his Cross, in order to
teach men by his example (I Pet. 2, 21), that no one
can enter eternal rest by things beloved of Babylon and
that to suffer is our true relief in mortal life. Thence
forward the heavenly Lady imitated Him in this manner
of taking rest with new earnestness and attention. When
at night the time for repose had come the Mistress of
humility had been accustomed to prostrate Herself before
her Son as He reclined on his couch, asking his pardon
for not having fulfilled all her duty in serving Him and
for not having been sufficiently grateful for the blessings
of the day. She poured out her thanks anew and with
many tears acknowledged Him as true God and Re
deemer of the world; and She would not rise from the
ground until her Son commanded Her and gave Her
his blessing. This same behavior She observed also in
the morning, requesting her divine Teacher and Master
to impose upon Her all that She was to do during the
day in his service; which Jesus did with tokens of great
11. But now He changed his bearing and manner to
ward Her. When the most innocent Mother approached
to reverence and adore Him as She was wont, although
her tears and sighs issued ever more abundantly from
her inmost heart, He would not answer Her a word, but
listened to Her unmoved, commanding Her to betake
Herself away. To see her Son, the true God and Man,
so different in his behavior and so distant in his action,
so sparing of words, and, in all his exterior bearing, so
changed, ineffably affected the purest and dove-like heart
of the loving Mother. The heavenly Lady examined
her interior, searched all the conditions, circumstances
and sequence of her actions and racked her memory in
her inquiry into the celestial workings of her soul and
faculties. Although She could find no shadow of dark
ness, where all was light, holiness, purity and grace ; yet,
since She knew, as Job says, that neither the heavens nor
the stars are pure in the eyes of God (Job 15, 15), and
since He finds fault even in the angelic spirits (Job 25,
5), the great Queen feared lest She should have over
looked some defect, which was known to the Lord. In
this anxiety She, though filled with supreme wisdom,
suffered agonies of love. For her love, being strong as
death (Cant. 8, 6), caused in Her an emulation enkindled
by an unquenchable fire of suffering and tribulation.
This trial of our Queen lasted many days, during which
her most holy Son looked upon Her with incomparable
pleasure, by which He raised Her to the position of a
Teacher of all the creatures. He rewarded her loyalty
and exquisite love with abundant graces in addition to
those which She already possessed. Then happened what
I shall relate in the following chapter.
12. My daughter, I see that thou art desirous of
being a disciple of my most holy Son, since now thou
hast understood and described my own behavior in this
regard. For thy consolation take notice, that He has
exercised this office of Teacher not only once and not
only at the time, when He taught his holy doctrine
while yet in mortal flesh, as is related in the Gospels
(Matth. 28, 20) ; but that He continues to be the Teacher
of souls to the end of the world. He admonishes,
instructs, and inspires them, urging them to put in prac
tice whatever is most perfect and most holy. Thus He
acts toward all without exception, although according
to his divine ordainment, and according to the disposi
tion and attentiveness of each soul, every one receives
more or less of the benefits (Matth. 11, 5). If thou
hadst always applied this truth, thou wouldst have
known by abundant experience, that the Lord does not
refuse to act as the Teacher of the poor, of the de
spised and of the sinners, if they wish to listen to his
secret doctrines. As thou now desirest to know what
disposition He requires of thee in order to have Him
teach Thee to thy heart s content, I shall in his name
inform thee of it. I assure thee, that if He shall find
thee well disposed He will, as a true and wise Teacher,
communicate to thee the plenitude of his wisdom and
13. First of all thou must keep thy conscience pure,
undented, serene and quiet, keeping a constant watch
against falling into any sin or imperfection throughout
all the events of this life. At the same time thou must
withdraw thyself and disentangle thyself from all that is
earthly, so much so that (as I have already formerly
admonished thee) thou do not retain any image or mem
ory of human or visible things, but maintain the utmost
sincerity, purity and serenity of heart. When thou thus
hast cleared thy interior from the images and shadows
of earthly things, then thou wilt pay attention to the
voice of thy God like a beloved daughter, forgetting the
voice of Babylon, the house of her father Adam and
all the aftertastes of sin. I assure thee, that He will
speak to thee words of eternal life (John 6, 69). It
will be thy duty to listen to Him with reverence and
humble gratitude; to appreciate his teachings, and to
follow them in practice with all diligence and punctu
ality. Nothing can be hid from this great Master and
Teacher (Heb. 4, 13), and He withdraws in disgust
from those who are ungrateful and disobedient. No
one must think that these withdrawals of the Most High
always happen in the same way as they happened to me.
For the Lord withdrew from me, not on account of any
fault of mine, but out of exceeding love. He is accus-
tomed to withdraw from other creatures in order to visit
them with merited punishment for their many sins, out
rages, ingratitudes and negligences.
14. Therefore, my daughter, in gaging thy reverence
and esteem for the teaching and enlightenment of thy
divine Master and for my own exhortations, thou must
take into account thy omissions and faults. Moderate
thy inordinate fears and do not any more doubt that it
is the Lord, who speaks to thee and teaches thee, since
his doctrine of itself gives testimony of its own truth
and assures thee, that God is its Author; for thou seest
that it is holy, pure, perfect and without error. It
inculcates whatever is best and reprehends thy least
fault, and it is moreover approved by thy instructors and
spiritual directors. As I am thy Teacher, I wish that
thou also, in imitation of me, come every morning and
night humbly and sorrowfully to confess thy faults, in
order that I may intercede for thee and as thy Mother
obtain for thee the pardon of the Lord. As soon as
thou commitest any imperfection, acknowledge it with
out delay and ask the Lord pardon, promising to amend.
If thou attend to these things, which I here tell thee, thou
wilt be a disciple of the Most High and of me as thou
desirest to be. Purity of soul and the divine grace is
the most exquisite and adequate preparation for par
taking of the influences of divine light and science, and
the Redeemer of the world communicates it to his true
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