265. The further wording of the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse is as follows :
9. “And there came one of the seven angels, who had the vials full of the seven last plagues, and spoke with me, saying: Come, and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
10. And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
11. Having the glory of God; and the light thereof was like to a precious stone, as to the jasper-stone, even as crystal.
12. And it had a great wall and high, having twelve gates ; and in the gates twelve angels, and names writ ten thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
13. On the east, three gates; and on the north, three gates ; and on the south, three gates ; and on the west, three gates.
14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them, the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15. And he that spoke with me had a measure of reed, of gold, to measure the city and the gates there of, and the wall;
16. And the city lieth in a four-square, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth ; and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thou sand furlongs; and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal.
17. And he measured the wall thereof a hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel.
18. And the buildings of the wall thereof was of jasper-stone; but the city itself pure gold,, like to pure glass.”
266. The angels of which the Evangelist speaks in this place, are seven of those who attend in a special manner at the throne of God and who have received commission and power to punish some of the sins of men. This vengeance of the wrath of the Omnipotent (Apoc. 15, 1) will happen in the last ages of the world; but it shall be a new punishment, greater than which neither before nor after is possible during mortal existence. But since these mysteries are deeply hidden and since not all have been revealed to me, nor concern this history, I do not consider it proper to expatiate upon them, but I will pass on to what more closely concerns my task. This angel, of which St. John speaks, is the one through whom God will avenge with an especial and dreadful chastisement the injuries committed against his most holy Mother ; for the insane daring, with which they have despised Her, has roused the indignation of his Omnipotence. As the most holy Trinity has pledged Itself to honor and exalt this Queen of heaven above all human creatures and above the angels, placing Her in this world as a Mirror of the Divinity and as the special Mediatrix of mortals, God has taken it in a particular manner upon Himself to avenge the heresies, errors, outrages, and all injuries committed against Her, since thereby men have not glorified, acknowledged and adored Him in this tabernacle and have not made use of this incomparable mercy. These punishments are prophesied to the holy Church. Although the mysterious words of the Apocalypse enshroud in obscurity the rigor of this punishment, yet woe to the unhappy ones, that shall be overtaken by it ! Woe to me, who have offended a God so strong and powerful to chastise! I am over whelmed in the expectation of the great calamity here threatened.
267. The angel spoke to the Evangelist saying:
“Come, and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” etc. The angel declares in this passage, that the holy city of Jerusalem, which he showed to him, is the espoused wife of the Lamb, referring by this metaphor (as I have already said No. 248) to the most holy Mary, whom St. John saw both as a Mother, or Woman, and as a Spouse of the Lamb, that is Christ. The Queen held and fulfilled in divine manner both offices. She was the Spouse of the Divinity, the only One (Cant. 6, 8) and incomparable on account of the unequalled faith and love, with which the espousals were entered into and accomplished ; and She was the Mother of the same Lord incarnate, giving Him his mortal substance and flesh, nourishing and sustaining Him in his existence as man, which He derived from Her. In order to see and under stand such high mysteries the Evangelist was exalted in spirit to a great height of sanctity and light; for with out going out of himself and being raised above human weakness, he could not understand them; just as we, imperfect, earthly and abject creatures, cannot encompass them for the same reason. Then elevated thus high, he says: He showed me the holy city of Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven,” for Mary was built up and formed, not on earth, where She was like a pil grim and a stranger, but in heaven, where the common, earthly material was excluded. For though the material of her being was taken from the earth, it was at the same time so elevated in heavenly perfection as to be fit for the building up of that mystical City in a celestial and angelic, yea divine manner, effulgent with the Divinity.
268. Therefore he adds: “Having the glory of God,” for the most holy soul of Mary was favored with such a participation of the Divinity and of its attributes and perfections, that if it were possible to see Her in her own essence, She would appear as if illumined with the eternal splendor of God himself. Great and (Ps. 86, 3) glorious things are said in the Catholic church of this City of God, and of the splendor, which She has received from that same Lord; but all of it is insignificant, and all human words fall short of the truth. The created intellect, entirely overcome, can but assert, that the most holy Mary partakes of the Divinity more than can be comprehended; confessing thereby the substance of the reality as well as the incapability of the mind to express in a proper manner, that which it wishes to confess. She is formed in the heavens, and only the Artificer who formed Her, is able to comprehend her greatness, He alone can estimate her origin and the affinity, which He contracted with most holy Mary, by perfecting her gifts to a semblance of the attributes of his infinite greatness and Divinity.
269. “And the light thereof was like to a precious stone, the jasper-stone, even as crystal,” etc. It is not so difficult to understand how She can be similar at the same time to two such dissimilar stones as crystal and jasper, as it is to understand how She can be similar to God. But from this comparison we derive a certain understanding of similarity to God. The jasper sparkles and glitters in colors of many different shades, while the crystal is characterized by limpid and uniform transparency; both combined form a rare and beautiful variety. The most pure Mary, in her formation, was endowed with the variety of virtues and perfections, which the hand of God itself selected and interwove in her soul. These graces and perfections made her soul like unto a most pure crystal, without blemish or stain of guilt; in her purity and transparency it scattered the enrapturing rays of the Divinity, just as the crystal meeting the sun, seems to absorb and again send forth its rays as if it were itself the sun. Nevertheless this crystal-jasper sparkles also in many-colored hues because She is a Daughter of Adam and a mere creature, and all the splendors of the Divinity contained within Her are only a participation. Although it appears to be a divine light, it is not a part of her nature, but communicated and conferred by grace. She is truly a creature formed and shaped by the hand of God himself, but in a manner befitting one who was to be his Mother.
270. “And it had a great wall and high, having twelve gates.” The mysteries enclosed in the walls and portals of this mystical City, most holy Mary, are so hidden and great that I, an ignorant and obscure woman, can with difficulty reduce to words that which was shown to me. However, in order to proceed : At the first moment of the Conception of the most holy Mary, when the Divinity manifested Itself to Her in the vision above referred to (No. 228-236), the whole blessed Trinity, as if renewing the ancient decrees of her creation and exaltation, made a kind of agreement or contract with this Lady, without however making it fully known to Her. It was as if the three Divine Persons conferred among Themselves and spoke to each other in the following manner:
271. “It is befitting to the dignity of our Bride and the Mother of the Word, that She be constituted the Queen and Mistress of all creation. Besides the gifts and riches of the Divinity, which We give and confer upon Her for her own sake, it is meet that She exercise the right of distributing the treasures of our mercy, so that She may communicate according to her pleasure the graces and favors necessary to mortals, especially to those who invoke Her as her children and clients, thus enriching the needy, freeing the sinners, elevating the just and affording a universal refuge to all men. And in order that all creatures may recognize Her as their Queen and Mistress, and as the Treasurer of our infinite bounties, from whence they are to be distributed, We entrust Her with the keys of our will and heart; She shall be in all things the Executrix of our pleasure to ward the creatures. Above all We shall give to Her do minion and power over the dragon, our enemy, and over all his allied demons. Let them fear her presence and her name and in it, let their deceits be crushed and annihilated. Let all the mortals that fly to this City of refuge, find in it a sure and certain protection, free from all the dread of the demons and their snares.”
272. Without revealing to the soul of the most holy Mary all that is contained in this decree or proposal, the Lord directed Her in that first instant to pray with great love, to intercede for all the souls, and to solicit and procure for them eternal life, especially for those, who in the course of their lives should commend themselves to her care. The blessed Trinity made known to Her that before his most just tribunal nothing would ever be denied to Her; that She should command the devil and that She should have power, by virtue of her commands, to keep him away from souls, since She would have at her disposal the arm of the Almighty. But the reason of this favor was not made known to Her, nor the reason for all her other gifts, and this reason was no other than that She was to be the Mother of the Word. In saying that this City was surrounded by a great and high wall St. John refers to this god-given prerogative of his Mother, that She was to be the secret refuge, protection and defense of all men, wherein they would find all the security of a city of refuge and of a strong for tress against their enemies. To this powerful Queen and Lady of all creation and to this dispensatrix of all the treasures of heavenly grace, all the sons of Adam were to fly. He says that the walls are very high, for the power of the most pure Mary to overcome the demon and to raise the souls to grace is so great that it is inferior only to that of God himself. So well armed for all this and so well defended and secure for Herself and for all those, who seek her protection, is this City, that not all the forces created by God outside of Her can overthrow or surmount its walls.
273. “Having twelve gates,” for the entrance into this holy City is free to all nations and generations excluding none, but inviting all; so that no one shall be deprived of the mediation of this Queen of mercy for obtaining the gifts and graces, nor the eternal glory of the Most High. In the gates were twelve angels. These twelve princes are those mentioned above as being among the ones selected as the guardians of the Mother of the incarnate Word. The service of these twelve angels, besides attending to their Queen, was to assist especially and to defend those souls who devoutly call on Mary, our Queen, for help, and who distinguish themselves in their devotion, veneration and love for Her. Therefore the Evangelist says that he saw them in the gates of that City; they are the ministers and as it were, the servants, who are to help, encourage and accompany the mortals in entering into the portals of piety, opened by the most holy Mary to eternal happiness. Many times does She send them with inspirations and favors in order to snatch those from the dangers of body and soul, who invoke Her and are her devout servants.
274. He continues: “And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel;” for the angels receive their names according to the ministry and service, for which they are sent to the earth. And because these twelve princes are especially attached to the service of the Queen of heaven in order that they may assist in the salvation of men, and because all the elect are included with the twelve tribes of Israel, forming the holy people of God : therefore the Evangelist says that the angels bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. To each one of the twelve tribes one of these angels is assigned. Under their charge and protection are all those that from every nation and generation enter through the portals of the intercession of most holy Mary into the celestial Jerusalem.
275. Wondering at this exaltation of the most pure Mary and that She should be the Mediatrix and the portal of all the predestined, I was given to understand that this prerogative befits Her, who as Mother of Christ was to do such great things for men conjointly with her most holy Son. For She furnished Him from her own purest blood and substance with a body, in which He suffered and redeemed men. On account of her close connection with his flesh and blood, She in a manner died and suffered in Christ, freely of her own will ac companying Him in his Passion and Death, suffering with Him according to Her power with heavenly humility and fortitude. Thus, as She cooperated in his Passion and offered Herself as a victim for the human race, so the same Lord made Her a participant in his dignity of Redeemer and placed Her in charge of the merits and fruits of the Redemption, to be distributed by her own hand and communicated to the redeemed. O, admirable Treasurer of God! How secure are in thy heavenly and bountiful hands the riches of the Omnipotent! Hence this City “had three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west,” etc. The three gates, corresponding to each of the four quarters of the world, invite all the mortals to draw near to Him, who is the Creator of all, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Each of the three Persons, desires and ordains, that most holy Mary should be in possession of the gates for soliciting the divine treasures for mortals. Although there is but one God in three Persons, each one for Himself con cedes free entrance and admission to this most pure Queen, in order that before the tribunal of the immutable and triune Being She may intercede, solicit and receive gifts and graces for those that seek Her and honor Her in the world. Therefore as there are not one, but three portals in every direction, none of the mortals any where in the universe and of any nation and tribe shall have an excuse. The entrance into free and open city gates is so easy, that if any one fails to enter, it is not because the gates prevent him, but because he himself tarries and does not wish to seek safety. What then shall the infidels, heretics and pagans say? and what excuse have the bad Christians and the obstinate sinners? If the treasures of heaven are in the hands of our Mother and Lady, if She continues to call us and solicit us through her angels, if She opens not one but many gates to heaven, how is it that there are so many who remain outside and so few who enter through them?
276. “And the walls of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the twelve names of the apostles of the Lamb.” The strong and unshakable foundations, upon which God built up the holy City of Mary his Mother, are her virtues, as governed and proportioned in Her by the Holy Ghost. He enumerated twelve, corresponding with the names of the Apostles, in order to show that it is founded upon the surpassing sanctity of the Apostles, who are the leaders among the saints. For according to the saying of David, the foundations of the city of God are placed upon the holy mountains, and also inversely, the sanctity and wisdom of Mary grounded and confirmed the Apostles after the Death and Ascension of Christ. Although She was always their Instructress and model, yet in those times She alone was the chief support of the primitive Church. Now, be cause She was destined and endowed for this office by the corresponding virtues and gifts from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, therefore they are called the twelve foundations of this City of God.
277. “And he that spoke with me had a measure of reed, of gold, and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs,” etc. By these measurements the Evangelist alludes to the great mysteries of the dignity, graces and gifts and merits contained in the Mother of God. Although the measurements of the dignity and benefits, which the Almighty conferred upon Her, were exceedingly great, yet they were within possibility and they were also well proportioned. “And the length thereof is as great as the breadth.” From all sides She is equally well formed, without a sign of deficiency, inequality or disproportion. I do not expatiate thereon, but refer to what I will say about this in the course of this history of her life. But I desire to mention that the measure of the dignity, the merits and graces of most holy Mary, was none other than the humanity of her most blessed Son, united to the divine Word.
278. The Evangelist calls the humanity of Christ a “reed” because He assumed the frailty of our weak
and carnal nature, and “of gold,” on account of his Divinity. In accordance with the dignity of the true God-man, Christ, and correspondingly with the gifts and merits of the incarnate God, also his most holy Mother was measured. He it was who measured Her with Himself, and She, being thus proportioned, seemed in her office as Mother, exalted to a dignity corresponding to his. In the length of her gifts and graces, and in the breadth of her merits, in all things did She seem well proportioned without defect. She could not be equal absolutely to her most holy Son with an equality which the learned call mathematical; for Christ our Lord was true God and man, whereas She was a mere creature and thus the measure exceeded infinitely that which was measured by it ; yet the most pure Mary was adjusted according to a certain equality of proportion to her divine Son. Just as there was wanting in Him nothing that corresponds and belongs to his dignity as the true Son of God, so nothing was wanting, nor was there any defect in that, which was due to Her as true Mother of that same God, in such a manner that to Her as Mother of God, and to Christ as Son of God, were conceded equal proportions of dignity, graces, gifts and merits. There was no created grace in Christ, which was not held in its proportion also by his most pure Mother.
279. The Evangelist says : “And he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs.” This measure of “stadia” and the number “twelve thou sand” with which the heavenly Queen at her Conception was measured, indicate most exalted mysteries. The Evangelist calls the perfect measure, by which are measured the high sanctity of the predestined, “stadia,” there by referring to the graces and gifts, which God in his eternal foreknowledge decreed to communicate through the incarnate Son, adjusting and pre-ordaining these gifts with infinite equity and mercy. By these stadia then are measured all the saints and the heights of their virtues and merits. Most unhappy he who does not come up to this measure and who cannot be measured by it when the Lord shall measure him. The number twelve thousand is used in order to include all the rest of the elect and the predestined, headed in their thousands by the twelve Apostles, the princes of the Catholic Church. In the same way they are mentioned in the seventh chapter of the Apocalypse under the leadership of the twelve tribes of Israel. For all the elect must submit to the teaching of the Apostles of the Lamb, as I have already said above (No. 273).
280. From all this can be estimated the greatness of that City of God, the most holy Mary. For if we assume that the stadium which the Evangelist mentions measures at least 125 steps, then a city that extends 12,000 furlongs or stadia on each of its four sides aim in its height, must appear of huge dimensions. The measurement and number of stadia of all the predestined taken together was found to be equal to that of our blessed Lady, the most holy Mary, and their length, breadth and height was not greater than hers. For She that was to be the Mother of God himself and the Queen and the Mistress of all creatures, was equal to them joined in one mighty host. In Her alone was contained more than in all the rest of creation.
281. “And he measured the wall thereof a hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel.” This measure of the walls of the City of God, was not of their length, but of their height. For if the length and the width of the city were twelve thou sand stadia, making a perfect square, it was certainly necessary that the walls should extend still farther on the outside in order to encompass the city. The measure of one hundred and forty-four cubits (of whatever length these might be) , was certainly too short for a city of that extent; but that measurement would very well fit the height of the walls and would be well adapted for the security and defense of those dwelling therein. This measurement of their height indicates the security of all the gifts and graces which the Almighty conferred on most holy Mary as befitting her dignity and sanctity. In order to make this more plain, it is said that the height was one hundred, forty, and four cubits, an unequal number, referring to three walls : a high one, a medium sized and a small one, and corresponding to the activity of the Queen of heaven in great, in more ordinary and insignificant things. Not that in Her there was anything insignificant, but because the object matter of her actions was of different kinds, and so were also her actions themselves. Some were miraculous and supernatural, others belonged to the sphere of the moral virtues, and these latter again were either interior or exterior. All of them She performed with such a plenitude of perfection that She omitted not the unimportant obligations on account of the important ones, nor did the latter suffer on account of her exactitude in the former. She fulfilled them all with such an exalted holiness, and with such full approbation of the Lord that She was measured with the standard of her most holy Son, as well in the natural as in the supernatural sphere of her life. It was the measure of the God-man himself, the Angel of the great council, excelling all men and angels. With Him She, as his Mother, was exalted above them in proportion to her dignity. The Evangelist continues and says :
282. “And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper-stone.” The walls of a city most conspicuously strike and engage the eyes of the beholder. The variety of colors and hues that distinguish the jasper-stone here mentioned as composing the walls of Mary, the City of God, bespeak the ineffable humility with which all the excellencies and graces of the great Queen were clothed and permeated. For although She was the worthy Mother of her Creator, exempt from all stain of sin and imperfection, She exhibits Herself to the view of mortals as dependent upon and as it were tinted with the shades of the ordinary laws, to which the daughters of Adam are subject; for She subjected Herself to the penalties and necessities of our common life, as I shall de scribe later on. Nevertheless this wall of jasper, though apparently displaying these color-tints of the rest of womankind, was to serve as an invincible defense of the city. Inside, as the Evangelist says, the city was of “pure gold, like to most pure and flawless glass,” for neither in the formation of the most holy Mary, nor afterwards, during her most innocent life, did She ever admit any stain, which could obscure her crystalline clearness. For just as any stain or blemish, even if only the size of an atom, finding its way into glass during its formation will never disappear so as to leave no visible trace and will always interfere with its transparency and purity; so, if the most pure Mary had contracted in her Conception the blemish or stain of original sin, it would always be discernible and forever degrade and prevent her crystalline purity and transparency. Neither would She be pure Gold, since her sanctity and gifts would contain the slack of original sin, lessening its fineness by many carats; hence, this City was “gold, like the purest glass,” because She was most pure and like unto the Divinity.