Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 8  Chapter  2    Verses:  392-412

392. Our great apostle saint James came to Jerusalem
at a time when that whole city was very much incensed
against the disciples and followers of Christ our Lord.
This new fury the demons had secretly roused by stirring
up the zeal of the Jews for the old Law and their jealousy
against the new evangelical Law. The immediate cause
of these movements was the preaching of saint Paul, who,
although he remained not more than fifteen days in Jeru
salem, nevertheless in that short time, by the divine
power, had converted many and excited the wonder and
admiration of all the people. Although the unbelieving
Jews felt relieved somewhat by the news of his having
left Jerusalem, yet they were again thrown into conster
nation by the speedy arrival of saint James, who showed
no less zeal and heavenly wisdom in proclaiming the
name of Christ our Redeemer. Lucifer, who was not ig
norant of his coming, availed himself of it as a new means
of exciting the spleen and rousing the wrath of the highpriests,
priests and scribes. Saint James began to preach
most fervently the name of the Crucified, his mysterious
Death and Resurrection. In the first few days he con
verted to the faith some of the Jews, among whom were
especially Hermogenes and Philetus, both of them ma
gicians and sorcerers, who had a pact with the devil. Her
mogenes was deeply versed in magic and Philetus was
his disciple; the Jews wanted to engage the services of
these two in order either to overcome saint James in dis
pute, or if that was impossible, to take away his life by
their magic arts.
393. This wickedness the devils had intended to exe
cute through the instrumentality of the unbelieving Jews;
for they themselves could not come near saint James
on account of the terrors of the divine grace emanating
from the Apostle. Philetus first began the dispute with
saint James, so that, if he should gain no advantage, Hermogenes,
as the more skillful master in the magic art,
might enter the combat. Philetus brought forth his
sophistical and false arguments, but the holy Apostle
spoke with such wisdom and force, that all his sophism
yielded as the darkness before the light: Philetus was
overcome and converted to the truth of Christ, becoming
from that time on a defender of the Apostle, and his doc
trine. But fearing the diabolical arts of his master Hermogenes,
he sought the protection of saint James. The
holy Apostle gave him a piece of cloth or linen, which he
had received from Mary, and with this relic Philetus
protected himself against the power of Hermogenes for
some days, until the latter himself entered the dispute.
394. Although Hermogenes feared saint James, he
could not evade the meeting, because he had pledged him
self to the Jews to enter the discussion and convince saint
James. Accordingly he tried to enforce his errors by more
cogent arguments than his disciple. But all that he could
do was unavailing against the heavenly force and wisdom
of the Apostle, which was like an impetuous torrent. He
brought Hermogenes to silence and obliged him to confess
his belief in the mysteries of the faith of Christ, just as
he had done with Philetus : both of them accepted the
faith and doctrine preached by the Apostle. The demons
were roused to fury against Hermogenes and, through the
power they had acquired over him, began to maltreat him
on account of his conversion. As he learned how Philetus
had defended himself by the relic obtained from the
Apostle, he sought a like favor against his enemies. Saint
James gave him the scarf he had used in his travels and
with it Hermogenes put to flight the demons and made
them powerless to approach or afflict him further.
395. These conversions and others made by saint James
in Jerusalem were hastened by the tearful sighs and
prayers of the great Queen in her retreat at Ephesus,
where (as I have often said) She knew by vision all that
was done by the Apostles and the other faithful of the
Church ; and particularly what happened with the beloved
Apostle James for whom She was especially solicitous as
being so near his martyrdom. Hermogenes and Philetus
persevered for some time in the faith of Christ ; but after
wards they fell away and lost it in Asia, as is evident from
the second epistle to Timothy, where saint Paul says that
Figelus, or Philetus, and Hermogenes had left him. Al
though the seed of the faith had sprung up in the hearts
of these men, it took no sufficient root to resist the tempta
tions of the demon, whom they had served and familiarly
entertained for so long a time. The evil and perverse in
clinations of their vices still remained and again prevailed,
withdrawing them from the faith they had accepted.
396. When the Jews, through the conviction and con
version of Philetus and Hermogenes, saw their hopes
frustrated, they were rilled with new anger against the
apostle saint James and they determined to put an end to
his life. For this purpose they bribed Democritus and
Lysias, centurions of the Roman militia, to furnish them
with soldiers for the arrest of the Apostle. In order to
hide their treachery they were to raise a feigned quarrel
or disturbance on a certain day during his preaching and
thus get him within their power. The execution of this
wicked design was left to Abiator, the high-priest of that
year, and to Josias, a scribe of the same mind as the highpriest.
As they had planned, so they executed their
scheme ; for, while the saint was preaching to the people
about the mystery of the Redemption, proving it to them
with admirable wisdom from the testimonies of the an
cient writings and moving his audience to tears of com
punction, the priest and the scribe were roused to dia
bolical fury. Giving the signal to the Roman soldiers,
the priest sent Josias to throw a rope around the neck
of saint James and fell upon him, proclaiming him a dis
turber of the people and the author of a new religion in
opposition to the Roman empire.
397. Democritus and Lysias thereupon rushed up with
their soldiers and brought the Apostle bound to Herod,
the son of Archelaus, whose malice had been roused in
teriorly through the astuteness of Lucifer and exteriorly
by the evil-minded and hateful Jews. Thus doubly incited,
Herod began against the disciples of the Lord, whom he
abhorred, the persecution mentioned by saint Luke in
the twelfth chapter of the Acts and sent his soldiers to
afflict and imprison them. He instantly commanded saint
James to be beheaded, as the Jews had asked. Incredible
was the joy of the holy Apostle at being seized and bound
like his Master and at seeing himself conducted to the
place, where he was to pass from this mortal life to the
eternal through martyrdom, as he had been informed by
the Queen of heaven. He offered most humble thanks for
this benefit and publicly reiterated the open profession of
his faith in Christ our Lord. Remembering the petition
he had made in Ephesus, that She be present at his death,
he called upon Her from his inmost Soul.
398. The most holy Mary from her oratory heard
these prayers of her beloved Apostle and cousin; for
She was attentive to all that happened to him and She
helped and favored him with her own efficacious peti
tions. During this her prayer, She saw a great multi
tude of angels and heavenly spirits of all hierarchies
descending from heaven, part of them surrounding the
Apostle in Jerusalem as he was led to the place of execu
tion, while numerous others approached their Queen at
Ephesus. Presently one of them addressed Her saying:
"Empress of heaven and our Lady, the most high Lord
and God bids you immediately to hasten to Jerusalem to
console his great servant James, to assist him in his
death and to grant all his loving and holy desires." This
favor the most blessed Mary joyfully and gratefully
acknowledged. She praised the Most High for the pro
tection granted to those who trust .in his mercy and put
their lives in his hands. In the meanwhile the Apostle
was led to execution and on the way thereto he wrought
great miracles upon the sick and ailing and on some pos
sessed by the demons. There were a great number of
them, because the rumor of his execution by Herod had
spread about and many of the unfortunates hastened to
receive his last ministrations and counsels. All that
applied were healed by the great Apostle.
399. In the meanwhile the holy angels placed their
Queen and Mistress upon a most refulgent throne, as they
had done on other occasions, and on it bore Her to Jeru
salem and to the place of the execution of saint James.
The holy Apostle fell upon his knees in order to offer his
life to the Most High in sacrifice, and when he raised his
eyes toward heaven, he saw in the air near him the Queen
of heaven, whom he had been invoking in his heart. He
beheld Her clothed in divine splendors and great beauty,
surrounded by multitudes of the angels. At this heavenly
spectacle the soul of James was moved to new jubilee and
his heart was seized with the ardors of a divine love. He
wished to proclaim the most blessed Mary as the Mother
of God and the Mistress of all creation. But one of the
sovereign spirits restrained him in this fervent desire and
said : "James, servant of our Creator, restrain within
thy own bosom these precious sentiments and do not mani
fest to the Jews the presence and assistance of our Queen ;
for they are not worthy or capable of knowing Her, but
instead of reverencing Her will only harden themselves
in their hatred." Thus advised the Apostle forebore and
moving his lips in silence, he spoke to the heavenly Queen
as follows :
400. "Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, my Mistress
and Protectress, Thou consolation of the afflicted and
refuge of the needy, in this hour bestow upon me, my
Lady, thy so much desired blessing. Offer for me to thy
Son and Redeemer of the world, the sacrifice of my life,
since I am burning with desire to be a holocaust for the
glory of his name. Let today thy most pure and spotless
hands be the altar of my sacrifice, in order that it may
become acceptable in the eyes of Him, who died for me
upon the cross. Into thy hands, and through them into
the hands of my Creator, I commend my spirit." Having
said these words, and keeping his eyes fixed upon the most
holy Mary, who spoke to his heart, the holy Apostle was
beheaded by the executioner. The great Lady and Queen
of the world (O wonderful condescension!) received the
soul of her beloved Apostle and placing it at her side on
the throne, ascended with it to the empyrean heavens and
presented it to her divine Son. As the most blessed Mary
entered the heavenly court with this offering, She caused
new joy and accidental glory to all the heavenly inhabi
tants and was received with songs of praise. The Most
High received the soul of James and placed it in eminent
glory among the princes of his people. The most blessed
Mary, prostrate before the throne of the Almighty, com
posed a song of praise and thanksgiving for the triumphal
martyrdom first gained by one of his Apostles. On this
occasion the great Lady did not see the Divinity by in
tuitive vision, but by an abstractive one, such as I have
described before this. But the blessed Trinity filled Her
with new blessings and favors for Herself and for the
holy Church, for which She had made great preparations.
All the saints likewise blessed her and then the holy
angels brought Her back to her oratory in Ephesus, where
in the meanwhile an angel had impersonated Her. On
arriving the heavenly Mother of virtues prostrated Her
self as usual in order to give thanks to the Most High for
all that had happened.
401. The disciples of saint James during the following
night secured his sacred body and secretly brought it to
Jaffa, where by divine disposition they embarked with it
for Galicia in Spain. The heavenly Lady sent an angel
to guide and accompany them to the port, where according
to the divine will they were to disembark. Although they
did not see the angel, they felt his protection during the
whole voyage and often in a miraculous manner. Thus
Spain, just as it owed its first instruction in the faith so
deeply rooted in the hearts of its people, to the protec
tion lavished by most holy Mary upon the Apostle, now
also owes to Her the possession of his sacred body for its
consolation and defense. Saint James died in the year
forty-one of our Lord, on the twenty-fifth of March, five
years and seven months after his setting out to preach in
Spain. According to this count and that which I gave
above, the martyrdom of saint James happened seven full
years after the death of our Savior Jesus Christ.
402. That his martyrdom was at the end of March is
clear from the twelfth chapter of the Acts, where saint
Luke says, that because of the rejoicings of the Jews in
the death of saint James, Herod imprisoned also saint
Peter with the intention of beheading him after the feast
of the Pasch, which was that of the paschal lamb, or of
unleavened bread. This the Jews celebrated on the four
teenth of the moon of March. From this passage it ap
pears that the seizure of saint Peter was during this Pasch
or very near it ; and that the death of James had preceded
it a few days, the fourteenth of the moon of March in the
year forty-one, according to our present computation of
the years and months, occurred in the last days of March.
Accordingly the death of saint James happened on the
twenty-fifth, before the fourteenth of the moon, and soon
thereupon took place the imprisonment of Peter and the
Pasch of the Jews. The holy Church does not celebrate
the feast of saint James on the day of his death, because
it falls on the same day as the Incarnation and ordinarily
also in the time of the Lord s passion. It was therefore
transferred to the twenty-fifth of July, which is the day on
which the body of the Apostle was brought to Spain.
403. The death of saint James and the haste of Herod
in inflicting it, greatly increased the most impious cruelty
of the Jews; for in the savage brutality of the wicked king
they saw a valuable means of pursuing their vengeance
against the followers of Christ the Lord. Lucifer and his
demons were of like opinion; they, by their suggestions,
and the Jews, by their insistent flatteries, persuaded him
to seize upon saint Peter, which he readily did in order to
gain the good will of the Jews for his own temporal ends.
The demons stood in great awe of the vicar of Christ on
account of the power emanating from him against them ;
and therefore they secretly sought to hasten his imprison
ment. Saint Peter, bound with many chains, lay in the
dungeon awaiting his execution after the holidays of the
Pasch. (Acts 12, 4). Although the undaunted heart
of the Apostle was as free from anxiety or solicitude as
if he had been at liberty, yet the whole body of the
Church of Jerusalem was in consternation, and all the
disciples and the faithful were greatly afflicted at the news
that Herod was to execute him without delay. In their
affliction they multiplied their prayers and petitions to
the Lord for the preservation of saint Peter, whose death
threatened the whole Church with great havoc and tribu
lation. They invoked also the protection and powerful
intercession of the most blessed Mary, from whom they
all expected deliverance.
404. The dangerous crisis impending over the Church
was not unknown to the heavenly Mother, for, from her
retreat in Ephesus, by her clearest interior vision of all
things, She saw all things that passed in Jerusalem. She
likewise increased her ardent requests, her sighs, prostra
tions and bloody tears, supplicating the Lord for the lib
eration of saint Peter and the protection of the holy
Church. These prayers of the blessed Mother penetrated
the heavens and wounded the heart of her Son Jesus, our
Savior. In response the Lord descended in person to her
oratory, where She was lying prostrate with her virginal
face upon the ground mingling with the dust. The sover
eign King entered and raised Her lovingly from the
ground, saying : "My Mother, moderate thy sorrow and
ask whatever thou wishest; for I shall grant it all and
thou shalt find grace in my eyes to obtain it."
405. By the presence and loving caresses of her Son
the heavenly Mother was reanimated and filled with glad
consolation; for the tribulations of the Church were the
sole cause of her martyrdom, and to see saint Peter in
prison condemned to death, and the dangers thus threaten
ing the primitive Church, afflicted Her more than can be
conceived. She renewed her petition in the presence of
Christ the Redeemer, and said: "Lord and true God,
my Son, Thou knowest the tribulations of thy holy Church
and her clamors sound in thy ears, while they penetrate
to the inmost of my afflicted heart. Thy enemies are re
solved to take away the life of her Pastor, thy vicar;
and if Thou, my Lord permit it now, they will scatter thy
little flock and the infernal wolves will triumph over thy
name in seeing their wishes fulfilled. Issue then, my
Lord God and life of my soul, thy sovereign command
over this sea of tribulation, and the winds and waves,
that batter this little ship, shall be quieted and I shall live.
Protect thy vicar and confound thy enemies. And if it
is to thy glory and according to thy will let these tribula
tions come over me, so that I may suffer for thy faithful
children and be the aid of thy right arm I may battle with
the invisible enemies in the defense of thy holy Church."
406. Her divine Son answered: "I desire that thou
act according to thy wishes, using the powers I have
given Thee: do or undo whatever is necessary for the
welfare of my Church, and Thou mayest be sure, that all
the fury of the demons will be turned toward Thee." She
thanked him for this new favor and offered to undertake
the battles of the Lord for his faithful, saying: "Most
High Lord, hope and life of my soul, prepared is the heart
and spirit of thy servant to labor for the souls bought
with thy blood and life. Although I am but useless dust, I
know Thee to be infinite in power and wisdom ; with the
favor of thy assistance I fear not the infernal dragon. As
Thou wishest me to dispose and act in thy name for the
welfare of the Church, I now command Lucifer and all
his ministers of wickedness, who are disturbing the
Church, to descend to the abyss and there be silenced
until it shall please thy Providence to permit their return
to the earth/ This command of the Queen of the world
in Ephesus was so powerful, that at the very moment
of her issuing it, all the demons in Jerusalem were pre
cipitated into hell, the whole multitude descending into
the eternal caverns without power of resisting the divine
force exerted through the most blessed Mary.
407. Lucifer and his companions knew that this chas
tisement proceeded from our Queen, whom they called
their enemy because they dared not pronounce her name.
They remained in hell, confounded and dismayed as on
other occasions, until they were permitted to rise in order
to battle against Mary, as will be related further on.
During that time they consulted anew about the means
of attaining this end. Having obtained this triumph over
the demons the most blessed Mary bethought Herself of
overcoming likewise the opposition of Herod and the
Jews, and therefore She said to her divine Son : "Now,
my Son and Lord, if it is thy will, let one of thy holy
angels be sent to deliver thy servant Peter from prison."
Christ our Lord approved of her wish and, at the orders
of both these Sovereigns, one of the heavenly spirits there
present hastened to liberate saint Peter from his prison in
408. The angel executed these orders very swiftly.
Coming to the dungeon, he found saint Peter fastened
with two chains, guarded by two soldiers at his side and
by a number of other soldiers at the entrance of the prison.
The Pasch had already been celebrated and it was the
night before he was to be executed according to the
sentence passed upon him. But the Apostle was so little
disturbed that he was sleeping with as much unconcern
as his guards (Acts 12, 6). When the angel arrived, he
was obliged to wake him by force and while saint Peter
was still drowsy, said to him : "Arise quickly ; put on thy
girdle and thy shoes, take thy mantle and follow me."
Saint Peter found himself free of the chains and, without
understanding what was happening to him and ignorant
of what this vision could mean, followed the angel. Having
conducted him through some streets, the angel told him,
that the Almighty had freed him from prison through
the intercession of his most blessed Mother, and thereupon
disappeared. Saint Peter, coming to himself understood
the mystery and gave thanks to the Lord for this favor.
409. Saint Peter thought it best first to give an account
of his liberation and consult with James the Less and
others of the faithful, before seeking safety in flight.
Hastening his steps he came to the house of Mary, the
mother of John, who was also called Mark. This was
the house of the Cenacle, where many of the disciples had
gathered in their affliction. Saint Peter called to them
from the street, and a servant-maid, by the name of Rhode,
descended to see who was calling. As she recognized the
voice of Peter, she left him standing at the door outside
and fled excitedly to the disciples, telling them that it was
Peter. They thought it some foolish misunderstanding of
the servant ; but she maintained, that it was Peter ; so they,
far from guessing the liberation of Peter, concluded that
it might be his angel. During these questions and answers
saint Peter was in the street clamoring at the door, until
they opened it and with incredible joy and gladness saw
the holy Apostle and head of the Church freed from the
sorrows of prison and death. He gave them an account of
all that had happened to him through aid of the angel,
in order that they might in strict secrecy notify saint James
and all his brethren. Foreseeing that Herod would search
for him with great diligence, they unanimously decided
that he leave Jerusalem that very night and not return,
lest he should be taken in some future search. Saint Peter
therefore fled, and Herod, having instituted a search in
vain, chastised the guards, and was roused to new fury
against the disciples. But on account of his pride and
impious designs, God cut short his activity by a severe
punishment, of which I shall speak in the following
410. My daughter, thy astonishment at the singular
favor conferred by me on my servant James at his death,
affords me an occasion to tell thee of a privilege confirmed
to me by the Almighty at the time when I bore the soul of
the Apostle to heaven. Although I have already on other
occasions revealed to thee something of this secret, thou
shalt now understand it more fully in order to increase thy
filial devotion toward me. When I brought to heaven the
happy soul of James, the eternal Father spoke to me in
the hearing of all the blessed : "My Daughter and Dove,
chosen for my acceptation from all the creatures, let my
courtiers, angels and saints understand that, for the exal
tation of my holy name, for thy glory and for the benefit
of mortals, I now give thee my royal word, that if men,
in the hour of their death invoke thee and call upon thee
with affection in imitation of my servant James, soliciting
thy intercession with me, I will bend to them in clemency
and look upon them with eyes of fatherly mercy ; I will de
fend and guard them against the dangers of that last
hour ; I will ward off the cruel enemies that seek the per
dition of souls in that hour ; I will furnish them through
thee with great helps for resisting these enemies and
gaining grace, if they wish to avail themselves of this
help; and thou shalt present to Me their souls to be re
warded by my liberal hands."
411. For this privilege the whole triumphant Church,
and I with it, sang hymns of thanks and praise to the Most
High. Although the angels have the office of presenting
the souls when they issue from the captivity of mortal
life, to the tribunal of the just Judge, yet I have this same
privilege in a more exalted degree than is granted to any
other creature by the Omnipotent ; for I possess it by an
other title and by a particular and supereminent right.
Many times I make use of this privilege and I have done
so with some of the Apostles. Since I see thee desirous of
knowing how thou canst obtain from me this favor so
precious to the soul, I answer thy pious wish by exhorting
thee to take care lest thou make thyself unworthy by
ingratitude and forgetfulness ; and before all, to gain for
thyself that inviolate purity, which I expect of thee and of
the other souls. For the great love which I owe and cherish
toward God, obliges me, with sincerest affection and char
ity to demand of all men the observance of his holy law
and the preservation of their friendship and grace with
God. This thou must prefer before thy life and be willing
to die rather than offend thy God and highest Good.
412. I wish that thou set about obeying me, act out
my instructions, and work with all thy might to imitate
what thou seest and writest of me ; that thou permit no
intermission in thy love, nor forget for one moment the
heartfelt affection thou owest to the liberal mercy of thy
Lord; that thou be thankful for all his blessings and to
me, since thy obligations are far beyond the power of ful
fillment by thee in this mortal life. Be faithful in thy
correspondence, fervent in thy devotion, ready to do what
is most holy and perfect. Let thy heart expand and do not
narrow it in pusillanimity, following the instigations of
the devil. Extend thy hand to strong and powerful deeds,
filled with confidence in the Lord; be not oppressed by
adversities, thus impeding the will of the Lord in thee, and
the high ends of his glory. Retain vivid faith and hope,
even in the greatest assaults and temptations. In all this
let the example of my servants James and Peter assist
thee, and the certain knowledge of possessing through me
the happy security of those who live under the protection
of the Most High. In this confidence and in devotion to
me James obtained the singular favor I showed him in
his martyrdom; trusting in me he undertook immense
labors in order to reach that crown. In this confidence
saint Peter remained so tranquil and content in his prisonchains,
nor lost for a moment the serenity of his soul.
Thus he merited at the same time, that my divine Son and
myself should plan his liberation. Of such favors the chil
dren of darkness make themselves unworthy, because they
build all their hopes on that which is visible and on their
diabolical earthly astuteness. Raise up thy heart, my
daughter, and withdraw it from these deceits; aspire to
that which is most pure and holy, since with thee shall be
the arm of the Almighty, who wrought such great
wonders in Me.
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