Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 7  Chapter  4    Verses:  39-57

39. I again remind those who shall read this history
not to be astonished at the hidden sacraments recorded
of the most blessed Mary therein, nor to hold them un
worthy of belief, because they have not been until now
revealed to the world. For, even setting aside the fact
that they are all worthy and befitting this great Queen,
we cannot deny, that, though we have until now no writ
ten record of her wonderful doings after the Ascension
of the Lord, yet we must suppose Her to have wrought
many and exceeding great wonders in her office as
Teacher, Protectress and Mother of the new evangelical
Church, which was to be introduced into the world under
her assistance and supervision. And if the Lord reno
vated Her in all her powers, as was stated, and if He ex
erted all his Omnipotence through Her, no favor or
blessing, no matter how great, can consistently with the
Catholic truth be disputed as pertaining justly to this
peerless and singular Creature.
40. Mary was three days in heaven enjoying the bea
tific vision (as I said in the first chapter) and She came
back from her heavenly seat on the day which corre
sponds to the Sunday after the day of the Ascension,
called in the holy Church the Sunday within the octave
of that feast. She remained in the Cenacle three suc
ceeding days enjoying the after-effects of the beatific
vision. During this time the heavenly splendors, which
still clothed Her, were tempered and only the Evangelist
saint John had full knowledge of the mystery; for it was
not opportune, that it should become known to the rest of
the Apostles at that time, because they were scarcely as
yet capable of such sacraments. Although She remained
in their company, it was necessary that her glory should
be hidden from them. For even the Evangelist, though
he was especially strengthened by grace for the privilege
of looking upon Her with that veil withdrawn, fell pros
trate upon the ground as soon as he came into her pres
ence. Nor, on the other hand, was it befitting that the
Lord should suddenly deprive our great Queen of her
refulgence and the other exterior and interior effects of
her admission into the glory of his throne. He ordained
in his infinite wisdom, that the effects of those divine
gifts and favors diminish by degrees and that her vir
ginal body return gradually to the more common visible
state for conversing with the Apostles and the rest of the
faithful of the holy Church.
41. I have also said above, that this miracle of Mary s
admission into heaven does not conflict with what is
written in the Acts of the Apostles, though we there read,
that the Apostles and the holy women persevered unani
mously in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and
with his brethren after the Lord had ascended into heav
en (Acts 1, 14). What I have said evidently agrees
with this passage; for saint Luke writes his history ac
cording to what he and the Apostles saw in the Cenacle
of Jerusalem, and irrespective of the mystery of which
they were ignorant. The sacred body of Mary was in
two places at the same time. Although the attention and
use of the senses and faculties was more perfect and real
in heaven, nevertheless it could be truly said, that She
was in the company of the Apostles and that She was
seen by all. Moreover it was true that the most blessed
Mary persevered with them in prayer ; for She saw them
from her place in heaven and there She united her
prayers and petitions with those of all the holy refugees
of the Cenacle ; She presented them to her divine Son, at
whose right hand She was seated, and obtained for them
perseverance and many other great favors of the Most
42. The three days in which the great Lady enjoyed
the after-effects of glory and while the redundance of
its splendors gradually lessened, She spent in most ardent
and divine sentiments of love, gratitude and ineffable
humility, beyond all the terms or words, which I can find
for manifesting what I have been made to understand of
this sacrament, for they fall far short of the truth. The
angels and seraphim, who attended upon Her, conferred
in new wonder with each other on these miracles, and
they discussed among themselves, which was the greatest
miracle : that the Most High should raise a mere Crea
ture to such favors and greatness, or that any one, after
having been raised to such heights of grace and glory,
should abase Herself beneath the lowest of creation and
deem Herself the most insignificant of all that is created.
I perceived that the highest seraphim stood, as it were,
with bated breath at beholding the doings of their Queen.
Speaking to each other they said: "If the demons before
their fall had been privileged to behold this example of
humility, it would have been impossible for them to yield
to their pride. This our great Lady is She, who, without
any defect, without any deficiency, not only in part, but
in all plenitude, has filled up the vast voidness of humil
ity in all creatures. She alone has worthily conceived
the majesty and supereminent greatness of the Creator
and the littleness of all creation. She is the One, that
knows when and how He must be obeyed and reverenced ;
and She faithfully acts out her knowledge. Is it pos
sible, that among the thorns sown by sin among the chil
dren of Adam the earth should produce such a pure Lily,
emitting such fragrance for the delight of the Creator
and for mortals? (Cant. 2, 2), that from the desert of
the world, void of grace and full of earthliness, such a
heavenly Creature, affluent with the delights of the Al
mighty, should arise? (Cant. 8, 5). Let Him be eter
nally praised in his wisdom and goodness, who formed
such a Creature, so wonderfully appointed for our emu
lation in holiness and for an example and for the glory
of the human kind. And Thou, blessed among women,
distinguished and chosen among all creatures, be Thou
congratulated, known and praised by all generations!
(Luke 1, 48). Mayest Thou enjoy for all eternity the
excellence given to Thee by thy Son and Creator ! May
He find his pleasure and complaisance in Thee on ac
count of the beauty of thy works and gifts; may in Thee
be satiated his immense charity for the justification of
all men. Thou, for all of them dost render Him satisfac
tion, and looking upon Thee He shall not repent of hav
ing called into existence ungrateful man. If they grieve
and irritate Him, Thou appeasest Him and turnest Him
to mercy and kindness. We do not wonder that He
should favor men so much, since Thou, our Lady and
Queen, livest among them and callest them thy people."
43. With these praises and many other hymns the
holy angels celebrated the humility and the works of the
most blessed Mary after She descended from heaven;
and to some of these praises She herself joined her re
sponses. After dismissing the host of the angels, who
had accompanied Her from heaven, and after having re
mained in seclusion still filled with the splendors of
heaven perceived only by saint John, She knew that it was
time to deal and converse with the faithful. She there
fore left her retirement and, like a loving Mother, began
to hold tender intercourse with the Apostles and dis
ciples. With them She offered tearful prayers to her
divine Son, including them and all who in future ages
were to receive the grace of the holy Catholic faith.
From that day also, as long as She lived upon earth, She
asked the Lord to hasten the times, when the feasts of
the sacred mysteries should be celebrated on earth in the
same way as She knew they would be celebrated in
heaven. She also asked the Lord to send men of exalted
and distinguished holiness for the conversion of sinners,
having at the same time a foreknowledge of their send
ing. In these prayers her burning charity for men rose
to such a pitch, that according to the natural course it
would have destroyed her life. In order to sustain Her
and moderate the force of these desires, her divine Son
frequently sent one of his highest seraphim, who should
answer Her and promise Her the fulfillment of her de
sires and petitions, at the same time revealing to Her in
what order the divine Providence would arrange all this
for the greater advantage of mortals.
44. By the abstractive vision of the Divinity, which,
as I have said, She continued to enjoy, the conflagration
of love which swept through that purest and chastest of
hearts, became so ineffable, that beyond all comparison it
exceeded that of the most love-inflamed seraphim next
to the throne of the Godhead. If at times She permitted
these flames of divine love to abate somewhat, it was in
order to contemplate the humanity of her most holy Son ;
for no other image of visible things was ever allowed to
take up her interior faculties, except when She actually
employed her senses in dealing with creatures. At the
consciousness and memory of her absent Son She felt
some natural tenderness ; but this was always a moderate
and reasonable one, as She was the most prudent Mother.
But as the heart of the Son re-echoed to this love, He
permitted Himself to be wounded by the loving desires
of his Mother: and the words of the Canticle were lit
erally fulfilled, that the eyes of his beloved Spouse and
Mother drew Him down to the earth (Cant. 4, 4).
45. This happened many times, as will be said later
on, and it took place the first time during the few days
which passed between her descent from heaven and the
coming of the Holy Ghost, not more than six days after
She again began to converse with the Apostles. Christ
our Savior would not permit Himself a longer delay than
these few days before He again descended personally to
visit and fill Her with new gifts and ineffable consolation.
The purest Dove was fainting with love and with those
pangs, which She says, cause well ordered charity in the
wine-cellar of the King (Cant. 2, 4). The Lord then
coming to Her permitted Her to recline upon his breast
in the left arm of his humanity, and with the right arm
of his Divinity He illumined Her and enriched Her, filled
Her anew with vivifying and strengthening influences.
Then again were quieted the loving anxieties of this
wounded Deer, now drinking to her satisfaction from
the fountain of the Savior. She was refreshed and
strengthened anew, in order that She might be inflamed
still more by the fires of her inextinguishable love. She
was made whole by being so much the more deeply
wounded ; She was healed by a new sickness and vivified
by delivering Herself over so much the more completely
to the agonies of her affection; for this kind of sickness
neither knows nor admits of any other kind of remedy.
When the sweetest Mother by these favors had regained
strength and when the presence of the Savior was re
vealed to her senses, She prostrated Herself before his
royal Majesty in order to ask Him humbly for his bless
ing and to give Him most fervent thanks for the favor
of his visit.
46. The most prudent Lady was surprised at this favor
not only because it was such a short time since She was
deprived of her divine Son, but also because the Lord had
not informed Her of the time of his visit, nor had her
most profound humility permitted Her to expect such a
divine condescension in affording Her relief. As this
was the first favor of this kind, She was so much the
more abashed and annihilated in her own mind. She
spent five hours with the Word enjoying his presence;
and none of the Apostles at that time knew of the favor,
although they knew, from what they noticed in the coun
tenance and in the bearing of their blessed Lady, that
something wonderful was transpiring. None of them,
however, on account of their timidity and reverence, pre
sumed to inquire further into the cause. In order to
take leave of her divine Son, when She became aware
that He wished to return to heaven, She prostrated Her
self again to the ground, asking Him for his blessing and
for his guidance in correcting any deficiency in her be
havior for the time when He should return to visit Her
in the future. She asked this favor, because the Lord
himself had offered to visit Her sometimes in her lone
liness. Moreover, often before his Ascension, She had
prostrated Herself at his feet in acknowledgment of her
unworthiness and of her want of fervor thanking Him
for his favors, as I have narrated in the first part. Al
though She could accuse Herself of no fault, because as
the Mother of holiness, She never committed any; and
although She could not, as the Mother of wisdom, com
mit any fault; yet the Lord permitted full sway to her
humility and love in the worthy acknowledgment of her
debt to God as a mere creature. In her most exalted
knowledge and humility all that She did seemed small in
recompense for the supernatural blessings. This inequal
ity She attributed to Herself and although this could not
be called a fault, She wished to acknowledge the inferior
ity of earthly things in comparison with divine excellence.
47. But among the ineffable mysteries and favors
which She received since the day of the Ascension of her
divine Son our Savior, were those connected with the
worthy preparation of the Apostles and disciples for the
advent of the Holy Ghost. The great Queen well knew
how estimable and divine was to be the blessing which
was held in store for them by the Father of lights ; She
considered also the fleshly affection of the Apostles for
the humanity of their Master Jesus. For the purpose of
correcting this defect and perfecting them in all things,
as a tender Mother and powerful Queen, She, on arriving
in heaven with her divine Son, sent some of her angels
to the Cenacle as her messengers in order to intimate to
the faithful her own and her Son s will, that they should
raise themselves above themselves and henceforth live
more by faith and love of God, than in the operations of
their sensual nature ; that they should not be borne along
solely by the sight of God s humanity, but that they let it
serve them as a portal and a path to the Divinity, where
they would find adequate satisfaction and repose. Such
advice and exhortation the heavenly Queen ordered the
angel to give to the Apostles. Afterwards, when She
again descended from on high, She consoled them in their
sorrow and soothed them in their dismay, speaking to
them for one hour every day and explaining to them the
mysteries of the faith taught Her by her divine Son.
She did this however not by any formal instruction, but
in the manner of a conference, exhorting them also to
spend another hour during the day in discussing among
themselves the admonitions, promises, doctrine and teach
ings of their divine Master Jesus and to occupy them
selves during some other part of the day in reciting vo
cally the Our Father and some psalms, while the rest of
the time they were to spend in mental prayer. Towards
evening they were to partake of bread and fish and then
indulge in moderate sleep. Through these prayers and
fasts they were to dispose themselves for the advent and
reception of the Holy Ghost.
48. The vigilant Mother, empowered by the right
hand of her divine Son, took care of that happy family
in order to bring all their works up to the highest per
fection. After her descent from heaven, She instructed
the Apostles, yet She never entered upon this duty with
out first being requested by saint Peter or saint John.
Through her prayers She moved her divine Son to in
spire them with these commands, in order that She might
obey them as his vicars and priests. Thus all things hap
pened as arranged by the Mother of humility and She
obeyed as a handmaid. Laying aside all pretense to her
dignity as Queen and Lady, and making no use of her
sovereignty and dominion, She obeyed as a servant and
conducted Herself as if She were an inferior, and in this
spirit She conferred with the Apostles and the other faith
ful. During those days She explained to them the mys
tery of the blessed Trinity in terms most exalted and
mysterious, yet suited to the understanding of all. She
explained also the mystery of the hypostatic union, and
those of the Incarnation, adding many others, which
they had already been taught by the Master ; telling them
at the same time that they would be enlightened by the
Holy Ghost for a deeper understanding of all these
49. She taught them how to pray mentally, insisting
on the excellence and necessity of that kind of prayer;
how the principal duty and the most noble occupation
of the rational creature was to raise itself, by the under
standing and the will, above all that is created to the
knowledge and love of God; and that no other object or
occupation should ever be preferred or should ever inter
rupt this duty, so as not to deprive the soul of this su
preme benefit, the beginning of eternal life and happi
ness. She taught them also how to thank the eternal
Father for having given us his only Son for our Re
deemer and Master, and for the love with which the Lord
redeemed us at the cost of his Passion and Death. She
exhorted them to give thanks to God for having singled
them out as his Apostles, as his companions and as the
founders of his holy Church. Such were the exhorta
tions and teachings, with which the heavenly Mother at
that time enlightened the hearts of the eleven Apostles
and the other disciples and by which She prepared and
disposed them for the reception of the Holy Ghost and
his divine effects. As She saw into the inmost recesses
of their hearts and knew the natural condition and char
acter of each one, She accommodated Herself to the ne
cessities, the bent of mind and the graces of each in order
to fill them with joy, consolation and constancy in the
practice of virtue. She exhorted them to persevere in
humble prostrations and other actions of worship and
reverence in adoring the greatness and majesty of the
Most High.
50. Every morning and evening She approached the
Apostles to receive their benediction, first that of saint
Peter, as their chief, then of saint John and of the rest
according to their age. At first they all shrank from
performing this ceremony, beholding in Her their Queen
and the Mother of their Master Jesus. But the most
prudent Lady insisted that all should bless Her as minis
ters and priests of the Most High, explaining to them
how the highest reverence and respect was due to them
on account of their supreme dignity and office. As this
was a contest of humility, it was certain that the Mother
of humility would be victorious and the disciples would
be overcome and instructed by her example. Besides,
the words of Mary were so sweet and persuasive for
moving the hearts of those first believers, that She urged
them on with a heavenly force and enlightened them to
practice the highest perfections of virtue and holiness.
Perceiving these wonderful effects upon themselves, they
wonderingly commented upon them among each other,
saying: "Truly in this pure Creature we have found
again the teaching and consoling doctrine, of which we
are deprived by the absence of her Son, our Master. Her
words and doings, her counsels, her sweet and gentle in
tercourse, teach us and draw us on in the same way as
the conversation of the Lord, when He lived in our
midst. Our hearts are inflamed by the teachings and
exhortations of this wonderful Being as with those of
Jesus our Savior. There is no doubt that He as the om
nipotent God, has deposited in the Mother of the Onlybegotten
his own divine wisdom and grace. We can now
dry our tears, since for our instruction and consolation
He has given us such a Mother and Mistress, and since
He has left with us this living ark of the Testament,
wherein He has placed for us his law, his wonderful
staff, and the sweetest manna for our sustenance and
comfort" (Heb. 9, 4).
51. If the holy Apostles and the other firstborn chil
dren of the Church had recorded in writing what they
saw as eye-witnesses of her deeds of eminent wisdom;
what they heard and what passed in their intercourse
with Her for so long a time, then we might be filled with
higher conceptions of the holy and heroic works of the
sovereign lady. We would then see that as well in the
doctrine which She taught, as in the wonders which She
wrought, her most holy Son had communicated to Her
a virtue, which although coming from the Lord as from
its fountain, yet, in the heavenly Lady, was in a certain
manner divine and was distributed from Her as from an
aqueduct to all the mortals. The Apostles however had
the happiness and good fortune of drinking the waters
of the Savior and of the teachings of his purest Mother
in their very fount, receiving them in a sensible manner
and thus preparing them for their office and ministry in
founding the holy Church and planting the evangelic
faith throughout the world.
52. By the treason and death of that unhappy one
among all mortals, his episcopacy, as David says, had
become vacant and it was necessary to provide some other
one worthy of the apostolate (Ps. 108, 8). For it was
the will of the Most High, that the number twelve,
which had been determined upon by the Master of life
as the proper number when He chose his Apostles, should
also be their number at the coming of the Holy Ghost.
This decree of the Lord was explained to the Apostles
by the blessed Mary in one of her instructions; all of
them acceded to it and they asked Her as their Mother
and Mistress to choose one who should seem worthy
and most fit for the apostolate. The heavenly Lady knew
beforehand who was to be chosen; for the names of
the twelve, including saint Mathias, were written in her
heart, as is said in the third chapter. But in her pro
found humility and wisdom She judged it right to leave
this to saint Peter in order that he might begin to ex
ercise in the new Church the office of pontiff and head,
as vicar of Jesus Christ, its Author and Master. She
therefore instructed the Apostle to hold this election in
the presence of all the disciples and other faithful so that
all might see him act as the supreme head of the Church.
Saint Peter thereupon arranged it all according to her
53. The proceedings of this first election in the Church
are related by saint Luke in the first chapter of the Acts
of the Apostles. He says, that in the days intervening
between the Ascension of Christ and the coming of the
Holy Ghost, the Apostle saint Peter, having called to
gether the one hundred and twenty, who had been present
at the Ascension, reminded them that the prophecy of
David concerning the treason of Judas in the fortieth
psalm must be fulfilled ; that Judas, having been chosen
as one of the twelve Apostles, had unhappily prevaricated
and made himself the leader of those that captured Jesus ;
that with the price of his treason had been bought the
field called Haceldama; that at the end, as unworthy of
divine mercy, he had hung himself, had burst in the
middle and his entrails had fallen out, as was known to
all who lived in Jerusalem; that therefore it was be
coming, another should be chosen to the apostolate in
his place in order to give testimony to the resurrection
of the Savior, in accordance with another prophecy of
David (Ps. 108, 8) ; and that the one to be chosen should
be from the number of those who had followed Christ
the Master in his preaching ever since his Baptism by
saint John.
54. Having1 thus persuaded all the faithful of the
propriety of electing the twelfth Apostle, they left it
to saint Peter to determine the manner of this election.
The Apostle then ordained, that from the seventy-two
disciples two, Joseph, called the just, and Mathias, should
be selected. Between these two lots were to be drawn and
that one should be assigned to the apostleship, who would
draw the proper lot. All approved of this manner of
election, which at that time was a very secure way,
since the divine power wrought great miracles for the
foundation of the Church. They wrote the two names,
with the title of Disciple and Apostle of Christ, upon as
many cards and placed them in an urn, where they could
not be seen. All of them then fell to prayer, asking God
to choose the one pleasing to Him, since, as the Lord,
He knew the hearts of all (Acts 1, 25). Saint Peter
thereupon drew out one of the lots, on which was written
the name of Mathias as Apostle and Disciple of Christ;
joyfully Mathias was accepted and acknowledged as the
legitimate Apostle, and the eleven embraced him. The
most holy Mary, who was present at all these proceed
ings, asked his blessing and, in imitation of Her, all
the other faithful did the same. Then all of them con
tinued their prayers and fasting until the coming of the
Holy Ghost.
55. My daughter, thou hast rightly wondered at the
hidden and supernal favors, which I received at the hands
of my Son, and at the humility and thankfulness, with
which I received them; likewise the loving attention
which I paid to the necessities of the Apostles and the
faithful of the Church amid all my joy. It is time, my
dearest, that thou gather the fruits of this knowledge ; for
neither canst thou now comprehend more, nor do I desire
less of thee than that thou be to me a faithful daughter,
who imitates me fervently, and a disciple, who listens to
me and follows me with all her heart. Stir up thy faith
then in order to be convinced, that I am powerful to con
fer favors, and trust, that I will enrich thee in unstinted
liberality with gifts beyond all thy desires. But at the
same time do thou humiliate thyself to the very earth
and shrink to the very last place among creatures; for
of thyself thou art more useless than the most vile and
despicable dust and thou canst call nothing thy own
except misery and want. Consider well within thyself
how great and exquisite is the kindness and condescension
of the Most High in regard to thee, and what kind of
thanks thou owest Him. If the one who pays his debts,
even entirely, cannot take to himself special credit; then
it is just, that thou, who canst not satisfy thy debt,
shouldst remain humble, for though thou labor ever
so much and according to all thy powers, thou shalt
nevertheless remain a debtor. What shall then be thy
indebtedness, if thou remain remiss and negligent?
56. In this prudent alertness thou wilt understand, how
closely thou must imitate me in living faith, in confident
hope and in fervent love, in profound humility and in
the worship and reverence due to the infinite greatness
of the Lord. I warn thee again of the cunning vigilance
of the serpent, who seeks to induce mortals to neglect
the veneration and worship due to God and presump
tuously to despise this virtue and what it implies. Into
the minds of the worldly and of the vicious he instills a
most foolish forgetfulness of the Catholic truths, in
order that divine faith may not keep alive in them the
fear and veneration of the Most High ; and thus he suc
ceeds in making them like to the heathens, who do not
know the true God. Others, who strive after virtue and
perform some good works, the enemy leads into a dan
gerous lukewarmness and negligence, wherein they over
look what they are losing on account of their want of
fervor. Those that concern themselves more earnestly
about perfection, the dragon deceives with a certain
coarse over-confidence, so that on account of the favors
they receive and on account of the divine mercy which
they experience, they begin to consider themselves as
special favorites of the Lord, forgetting the humble fear
and veneration, which they ought to experience in the
presence of Him, before whom, according to the teaching
of the holy Church, the powers of heaven tremble. But
since I have on other occasion reminded and admonished
thee concerning this danger, let my mentioning it here
57. In this manner I desire that thou be faithful and
punctual in the practice of this doctrine, exercising it in
all thy exterior actions without affectation or excess, and
teaching others by thy own example the holy fear and
veneration due from creatures to their Creator. I desire
that thou teach and impress this science especially upon
thy religious, so that they may not be ignorant of the
humility and reverence, with which they are to converse
with God. The most efficacious instruction thou canst
give, will be thy example in fulfilling all thy obligations ;
for these works thou must neither conceal, nor ever omit
for fear of vanity. This example is due in much greater
degree from those that govern others, since it is their
duty to exhort, move and accompany their subjects in
the holy fear of the Lord, which is done more effica
ciously by example than by words. Admonish them
particularly to hold in veneration the priests as the
anointed of the Lord. In imitation of me do thou always
ask for their blessing, when thou approachest or leavest
them. The more thou seest thy own self favored by
the divine condescension, so much the more bear in mind
the necessities and the afflictions of thy neighbors and
the dangers of those in sin, praying for all in great faith
and confidence. For, thy love of God cannot be true, if
thou art content with enjoying only thyself, and in the
meanwhile forgetest thy brethren. Thou must anxiously
solicit the highest goods, which thou knowest of and
participatest in, for all men, since no one is excluded
therefrom and since all need the help and communication
of God. In the love of me thou wilt understand, how
thou must imitate me in all things.
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