Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 3  Chapter  11    Verses:  123-143

123. I wish to confess before heaven and earth and
its inhabitants, and in the presence of the Creator of the
universe and the eternal God, that in setting myself to
write of the profound mystery of the Incarnation, my
feeble strength deserts me, my tongue is struck mute,
my discourse is silenced, my faculties are benumbed, my
understanding is eclipsed and overwhelmed by the divine
light, which guides and instructs me. In it all is per
ceived without error and without any deviousness ; I see
my insignificance and I am made aware of the empti
ness of words and the insufficiency of human terms for
doing justice to my concepts of this sacrament, which
comprehends at one and the same time God himself and
the greatest and most wonderful work of his Omnipo
tence. I see in this mystery the divine and admirable
harmony of his infinite providence and wisdom, with
which from all eternity He has ordained and prearranged
it, and by which He directed all creation toward its ful
fillment. All his works and all his creatures were only
well adjusted means of advancing toward this apex of
his aims, the condescension of a God in assuming human
124. I saw that the eternal Word had awaited and
chosen, as the most opportune time and hour for his
descent from the bosom of the Father, the midnight of
mortal perversion (Wis. 18, 14), when the whole pos
terity of Adam was buried and absorbed in the sleep of
forgetfulness and ignorance of their true God, and when
there was no one to open his mouth in confessing and
blessing Him, except some chosen souls among his
people. All the rest of the world was lost in silent dark
ness, having passed a protracted night of five thousand
and about two hundred years. Age had succeeded age,
and generations followed upon generations, each one in
the time predestined and decreed by the eternal Wisdom,
each also having an opportunity to know and find Him,
its Creator; for all had Him so nigh to them, that He
gave them life, movement and existence within their own
selves (Acts 17, 28). But as the clear day of his inac
cessible light had not arrived, though some of the mor
tals, like the blind, came nigh to Him and touched Him
in his creatures, yet they did not attain to the Divinity
(Rom. 1, 23) and in failing to recognize Him, they cast
themselves upon the sensible and most vile things of the
125. The day then had arrived in which the Most
High, setting aside the long ages of this dark ignorance,
resolved to manifest Himself to men and begin the Re
demption of the human race by assuming their nature
in the womb of most holy Mary, now prepared for this
event. In order to be able to describe what was revealed
concerning this event to me, it is necessary to make men
tion of some hidden sacraments connected with the de
scent of the Onlybegotten from the bosom of the Fa
ther. I assume as firmly established what the holy faith
teaches in regard to the divine Persons, that although
there is a real personal distinction between the three Per
sons, yet there is no inequality in wisdom, omnipotence or
other attributes, just as little as there is in the divine
nature; and just as They are equal in dignity and in
finite perfection, so They are also equal in these opera
tions ad extra, which proceed from God himself for the
production of some creature or temporal object. These
operations are indivisibly wrought by three divine Per
sons; for not one Person alone produces them, but all
Three in so far as They are one and the same God, pos
sessing one and the same wisdom, one and the same
understanding and will. Thus what the Son knows and
wishes, that also the Father knows and wishes; and so
also the Holy Ghost knows and wishes whatever is
known and willed by the Father and the Son.
126. In this indivisibility of action the three Persons
wrought and executed, by one and the same act, the mys
tery of the Incarnation, although only the person of the
Son accepted for Himself the nature of man, uniting it
to Himself hypostatically. Therefore we say that the
Son was sent by the eternal Father, from whose intelli
gence He proceeds, and that the Father sent Him by the
intervening operations of the Holy Ghost As it was
the Person of the Son which came to be made man, this
same Person before descending from the heavens and
the bosom of the Father, in the name of that same hu
manity to be received by Him, made a conditional re
quest, that, on account of his foreseen merits, his salva
tion and satisfaction of the divine justice for sins be ex
tended to the whole human race. He desired the fiat or
ratification of the most blessed will of the Father, who
sent Him, for the acceptance of this Redemption by
means of his most holy works and his passion, and
through the mysteries, which He was to enact in the
new Church and in the law of grace.
127. The eternal Father accepted this petition and the
foreseen merits of the Word; He conceded all that was
proposed and asked for the mortals, and He himself
confirmed the elect and predestined souls as the inheri
tance and possession of Christ forever. Hence, Christ
himself, our Lord, through saint John says that He has
not lost nor has allowed to perish, those whom the
Father had given him (John 18, 9). In another place it
is said : that no one shall snatch his sheep from his hands
nor from those of his Father (John 17, 12). The same
would hold good of all those that are born, if they would
avail themselves of the Redemption, which, as it is suffi
cient, should also be efficacious for all and in all; since
his divine mercy desired to exclude no one, if only all of
them would make themselves capable of receiving its
benefits through the Redeemer.
128. All this, according to our way of understanding,
happened in heaven at the throne of the most blessed
Trinity as a prelude to the fiat of the most holy Mary, of
which I will presently speak. At the moment, in which
the Onlybegotten of the Father descended to her virginal
womb, all the heavens and the creatures were set in com
motion. On account of the inseparable union of the di
vine Persons, the Three of Them descended with the
Word, though the Word alone was to become incarnate.
And with the Lord their God, all the hosts of the celes
tial army, issued from heaven, full of invincible strength
and splendor. Although it was not necessary to pre
pare the way, since the Divinity fills the universe, is
present in all places and cannot be impeded by anything;
nevertheless all the eleven material heavens showed
deference to their Creator, and, together with the in
ferior elements, opened up and parted as it were, for his
passage; the stars shone with greater brilliancy, the
moon and sun with the planets hastened their course in
the service of their Maker, anxious to witness the great
est of his wonderful works.
129. Mortals did not perceive this commotion and re
newal of all the creatures ; both because it happened dur
ing the night, as well as because the Lord wished it to
be known only to the angels. These with new wonder
praised Him, knowing these profound and venerable
mysteries to be hidden from men. For they knew that
men were far removed from understanding these won
derful benefits, so admirable even in the eyes of angelic
spirits. To these angelic spirits alone was at that time
assigned the duty of giving glory, praise and reverence
for these benefits to their Maker. However, in the
hearts of some of the just the Most High infused at that
hour a new feeling and affection of extraordinary joy
of which they became conscious. They conceived new
and grand ideas concerning the Lord; some of them
were inspired and began to confer within themselves,
whether this new sensation, which they felt, was not the
effect of the coming of the Messias in order to redeem
the world ; but all this remained concealed, for each one
thought, that he alone had experienced this renewal of
his interior.
130. In the other creatures there was a like renovation
and change. The birds moved about with new songs
and joyousness; the plants and trees gave forth more
fruit and fragrance; and in like proportion all the rest
of the creatures received and felt some kind of vivifying
change. But among those that received the greatest
share, were the Fathers and Saints in limbo, whither the
archangel Michael was sent with the glad message, in
order to console them and cause in them the fullness
of jubilee and praise. Only for hell it was a cause of
new consternation and grief; for at the descent of the
eternal Word from on high, the demons felt an impet
uous force of the divine power, which came upon them
like the waves of the sea and buried all of them in the
deepest caverns of their darkness without leaving them
any strength of resistance or recovery. When by divine
permission they were again able to rise, they poured
forth upon the world and hastened about to discover
what strange happening had thus undone them. How
ever, although they held several conferences among them
selves, they were unable to find the cause.
The divine Power concealed from them the sacra
ment of the Incarnation and the manner in which most
holy Mary conceived the incarnate Word (No. 326).
Not until the death of Christ on the cross did they arrive
at the certainty, that He was God and true man, as we
shall there relate.
131. In order that the mystery of the Most High
might be fulfilled, the holy archangel Gabriel, in the
shape described in the preceding chapter and accom
panied by innumerable angels in visible human forms
and resplendent with incomparable beauty, entered into
the chamber, where most holy Mary was praying. It
was on a Thursday at six o clock in the evening and at
the approach of night. The great modesty and restraint
of the Princess of heaven did not permit Her to look at
him more than was necessary to recognize him as an
angel of the Lord. Recognizing him as such, She, in
her usual humility, wished to do him reverence; the holy
prince would not allow it; on the contrary he himself
bowed profoundly as before his Queen and Mistress, in
whom. he adored the heavenly mysteries of his Creator.
At the same time he understood that from that day on
the ancient times and the custom of old whereby men
should worship angels, as Abraham had done (Gen. 28,
2), were changed. For as human nature was raised to
the dignity of God himself in the person of the Word,
men now held the position of adopted children, of com
panions and brethren of the angels, as the angel said to
Evangelist Saint John, when he refused to be wor
shipped (Apoc. 19, 10).
132. The holy archangel saluted our and his Queen
and said: "Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta
tu in mulieribus" (Luke 1, 28). Hearing this new sal
utation of the angel, this most humble of all creatures
was disturbed, but not confused in mind (Luke 1, 29).
This disturbance arose from two causes : first, from her
humility, for She thought Herself the lowest of the crea
tures and thus in her humility, was taken unawares at
hearing Herself saluted and called the "Blessed among
women;" secondly, when She heard this salute and be
gan to consider within Herself how She should receive
it, She was interiorly made to understand by the Lord,
that He chose Her for his Mother, and this caused a still
greater perturbance, having such an humble opinion of
Herself. On account of this perturbance the angel pro
ceeded to explain to Her the decree of the Lord, saying :
"Do not fear, Mary, for thou hast found grace before
the Lord (Luke 1, 30) ; behold thou shalt conceive a
Son in thy womb, and thou shalt give birth to Him, and
thou shalt name Him Jesus; He shall be great, and He
shall be called Son of the Most High," and the rest as
recorded of the holy archangel.
133. Our most prudent and humble Queen alone,
among all the creatures, was sufficiently intelligent and
magnanimous to estimate at its true value such a new
and unheard of sacrament; and in proportion as She
realized its greatness, so She was also moved with ad
miration. But She raised her humble heart to the Lord,
who could not refuse Her any petition, and in the secret
of her spirit She asked new light and assistance by which
to govern Herself in such an arduous transaction; for,
as we have said in the preceding chapter, the Most High,
in order to permit Her to act in this mystery solely in
faith, hope and charity, left Her in the common state
and suspended all other kinds of favors and interior ele
vations, which She so frequently or continually enjoyed.
In this disposition She replied and said to holy Gabriel,
what is written in saint Luke: "How shall this happen,
that I conceive and bear; since I know not, nor can
know, man ?" At the same time She interiorly represented
to the Lord the vow of chastity, which She had made
and the espousal, which his Majesty had celebrated with
134. The holy prince Gabriel replied (Luke 1, 24) :
"Lady, it is easy for the divine power to make Thee a
Mother without the co-operation of man ; the Holy Spirit
shall remain with Thee by a new presence and the virtue
of the Most High shall overshadow Thee, so that the
Holy of holies can be born of Thee, who shall himself
be called the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elisa
beth has likewise conceived a son in her sterile years
and this is the sixth month of her conception ; for noth
ing is impossible with God. He that can make her con
ceive, who was sterile, can bring it about, that Thou,
Lady, be his Mother, still preserving thy virginity and
enhancing thy purity. To the Son whom Thou shalt
bear, God will give the throne of his father David and
his reign shall be everlasting in the house of Jacob. Thou
art not ignorant, O Lady, of the prophecy of Isaias (Is.
7, 14), that a Virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son,
whose name shall be Emmanuel, God with us. This
prophecy is infallible and it shall be fulfilled in thy per
SOIL Thou knowest also of the great mystery of the
bush, which Moses saw burning without its being con
sumed by the fire (Exod. 3, 2). This signified that the
two natures, divine and human, are to be united in such
a manner, that the latter is not consumed by the divine,
and that the Mother of the Messias shall conceive and
give birth without violation of her virginal purity. Re
member also, Lady, the promise of the eternal God to
the Patriarch Abraham, that, after the captivity of his
posterity for four generations, they should return to
this land; the mysterious signification of which was, that
in this, the fourth generation,* the incarnate God is to
rescue the whole race of Adam through thy co-operation
from the oppression of the devil (Gen. 15, 16). And
the ladder, which Jacob saw in his sleep (Gen. 28, 12),
was an express figure of the royal way, which the eternal
Word was to open up and by which the mortals are to
ascend to heaven and the angels to descend to earth.
To this earth the Onlybegotten of the Father shall lower
Himself in order to converse with men and communicate
to them the treasures of his Divinity, imparting to them
his virtues and his immutable and eternal perfections."
135. With these and many other words the ambassa
dor of heaven instructed the most holy Mary, in order
that, by the remembrance of the ancient promises and
prophecies of holy Writ, by the reliance and trust in
them and in the infinite power of the Most High, She
might overcome her hesitancy at the heavenly message.
But as the Lady herself exceeded the angels in wisdom,
prudence and in all sanctity, She withheld her answer,
*In the autograph manuscript Mary of Agreda explains this fourth genera
tion as follows:
"The mystery of this fourth generation is that there are four generations:
ist, that of Adam without a father or mother; 2nd, that of Eve without a mother;
3rd, of our own, from a father and mother; 4th, that of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from a Mother without a father."
in order to be able to give it in accordance with the
divine will and that it might be worthy of the greatest
of all the mysteries and sacraments of the divine power.
She reflected that upon her answer depended the pledge
of the most blessed Trinity, the fulfillment of his prom
ises and prophecies, the most pleasing and acceptable of
all sacrifices, the opening of the gates of paradise, the
victory and triumph over hell, the Redemption of all the
human race, the satisfaction of the divine justice, the
foundation of the new law of grace, the glorification of
men, the rejoicing of the angels, and whatever was con
nected with the Incarnation of the Onlybegotten of the
Father and his assuming the form of servant in her
virginal womb (Philip 2, 7).
136. A great wonder, indeed, and worthy of our ad
miration, that all these mysteries and whatever others
they included, should be intrusted by the Almighty to
an humble Maiden and made dependent upon her fiat.
But befittingly and securely He left them to the wise and
strong decision of this courageous Woman (Prov. 31,
11), since She would consider them with such mag
nanimity and nobility, that perforce his confidence in Her
was not misplaced. The operations, which proceed
within the divine Essence, depend not on the co-opera
tion of creatures, for they have no part in them and God
could not expect such co-operations for executing the
works ad intra; but in the works ad extra and such as
were contingent, among which that of becoming man
was the most exalted, He could not proceed without the
co-operation of most holy Mary and without her free
consent. For He wished to reach this acme of all the
works outside Himself in Her and through Her and He
wished that we should owe this benefit to this Mother of
wisdom and our Reparatrix.
137. Therefore this great Lady considered and in
spected profoundly this spacious field of the dignity of
Mother of God (Prov. 21, 11) in order to purchase it
by her fiat; She clothed Herself in fortitude more than
human, and She tasted and saw how profitable was this
enterprise and commerce with the Divinity. She com
prehended the ways of his hidden benevolence and
adorned Herself with fortitude and beauty. And hav
ing conferred with Herself and with the heavenly mes
senger Gabriel about the grandeur of these high and
divine sacraments, and finding Herself in excellent con
dition to receive the message sent to Her, her purest
soul was absorbed and elevated in admiration, reverence
and highest intensity of divine love. By the intensity of
these movements and supernal affections, her most pure
heart, as it were by natural consequence, was contracted
and compressed with such force, that it distilled three
drops of her most pure blood, and these, finding their
way to the natural place for the act of conception, were
formed by the power of the divine and holy Spirit, into
the body of Christ our Lord. Thus the matter, from
which the most holy humanity of the Word for our Re
demption is composed, was furnished and administered
by the most pure heart of Mary and through the sheer
force of her true love. At the same moment, with a
humility never sufficiently to be extolled, inclining
slightly her head and joining her hands, She pro
nounced these words, which were the beginning of our
salvation: "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Luke
138. At the pronouncing of this "fiat," so sweet to
the hearing of God and so fortunate for us, in one in
stant, four things happened. First, the most holy body
of Christ our Lord was formed from the three drops of
blood furnished by the heart of most holy Mary. Sec
ondly, the most holy soul of the same Lord was created,
just as the other souls. Thirdly, the soul and the body
united in order to compose his perfect humanity.
Fourthly, the Divinity united Itself in the Person of the
Word with the humanity, which together became one
composite being in hypostatical union ; and thus was
formed Christ true God and Man, our Lord and Re
deemer. This happened in springtime on the twentyfifth
of March, at break or dawning of the day, in the
same hour, in which our first father Adam was made
and in the year of the creation of the world 5199,
which agrees also with the count of the Roman Church
in her Martyrology under the guidance of the Holy
Ghost. This reckoning is the true and certain one, as
was told me, when I inquired at command of my supe
riors. Conformable to this the world was created in the
month of March, which corresponds to the beginning of
creation. And as the works of the Most High are per
fect and complete (Deut. 32, 4), the plants and trees
come forth from the hands of his Majesty bearing fruit,
and they would have borne them continually without in
termission, if sin had not changed the whole nature, as
I will expressly relate in another treatise, if it is the will
of the Lord; now however I will not detain myself
therewith, since it does not pertain to our subject.
139. In the same instant, in which the Almighty cele
brated the nuptials of the hypostatic union in the womb
of most holy Mary, the heavenly Lady was elevated to
the beatific vision and the Divinity manifested Itself to
Her clearly and intuitively. She saw most high sacra
ments, of which I will speak in the next chapter. The
mysteries of the inscriptions, with which She was
adorned and which the angels exhibited as related in the
seventh chapter (No. 82, also Part I, 207, 363-4), were
made clear to Her each in particular. The divine Child
began to grow in the natural manner in the recess of
the womb, being nourished by the substance and the
blood of its most holy Mother, just as other men; yet
it was more free and exempt from the imperfections, to
which other children of Adam are subject in that place
and period. For from some of these, namely those that
are accidental and unnecessary to the substance of the act
of generation, being merely effects of sin, the Empress of
heaven was free. She was also free from the superflui
ties caused by sin, which in other women are common and
happen naturally in the formation, sustenance and
growth of their children. For the necessary matter,
which is proper to the infected nature of the descend
ants of Eve and which was wanting in Her, was sup
plied and administered in Her by the exercise of heroic
acts of virtue and especially by charity. By the fervor
of her soul and her loving affections the blood and hu
mors of her body were changed and thereby divine
Providence provided for the sustenance of the divine
Child. Thus in a natural manner the humanity of our
Redeemer was nourished, while his Divinity was recre
ated and pleased with her heroic virtues. Most holy
Mary furnished to the Holy Ghost, for the formation of
this body, pure and limpid blood, free from sin and all
its tendencies. And whatever impure and imperfect
matter is supplied by other mothers for the growth of
their children was administered by the Queen of heaven
most pure and delicate in substance. For it was built
up and supplied by the power of her loving affections
and her other virtues. In a like manner was purified
whatever served as food for the heavenly Queen. For,
as She knew that her nourishment was at the same time
to sustain and nourish the Son of God, She partook of it
with such heroic acts of virtue, that the angelic spirits
wondered how such common human actions could be
connected with such supernal heights of merit and per
fection in the sight of God.
140. The heavenly Lady was thus established in such
high privileges in her position as Mother of God, that
those which I have already mentioned and which I shall
yet mention, convey not even the smallest idea of her
excellence, and my tongue cannot describe it. For,
neither is it possible to conceive it by the understanding,
nor can the most learned, nor the most wise of men
find adequate terms to express it. The humble, who are
proficient in the art of divine love, become aware of it
by infused light and by the interior taste and feeling, by
which such sacraments are perceived. Not only was
most holy Mary become a heaven, a temple and dwelling
place of the most holy Trinity, transformed thereto, ele
vated and made godlike by the special and unheard of
operation of the Divinity in her most pure womb; but
her humble cottage and her poor little oratory was con
secrated by the Divinity as a new sanctuary of God. The
heavenly spirits, who as witnesses of this marvelous
transformation were present to contemplate it, magni
fied the Almighty with ineffable praise and jubilee; in
union with this most happy Mother, they blessed Him in
his name and in the name of the human race, which was
ignorant of this the greatest of his benefits and mercies.
141. My daughter, thou art filled with astonishment
at seeing, by means of new light, the mystery of the
humiliation of the Divinity in uniting Himself with the
human nature in the womb of a poor maiden such as I
was. I wish, however, my dearest, that thou turn thy
attention toward thyself and consider, how God humili
ated Himself, and came into my womb, not only for my
self alone, but for thee as well. The Lord is infinite in
his mercy and his love has no limit, and thus He at
tends and esteems and assists every soul who receives
Him, and He rejoices in it, as if He had created it alone,
and as if He had been made man for it alone. There
fore with all the affection of thy soul thou must, as it
were, consider thyself as being thyself in person bound
to render the full measure of thanks of all the world
for his coming; and for his coming to redeem all. And
if, with a lively faith thou art convinced and confessest,
that the same God who, infinite in his attributes and
eternal in his majesty, lowered Himself to assume
human flesh in my womb, seeks also thee, calls thee, re
joices thee, caresses thee, and thinks of thee alone, as if
thou wert his only creature (Gal. 2, 20) ; think well and
reflect to what his admirable condescension obliges thee.
Convert this admiration into living acts of faith and
love; for, that He condescends to come to thee, thou
owest entirely to the goodness of the King and Savior,
since thou thyself couldst never find Him nor attain
142. Considering merely that which this Lord can
give thee outside of Himself, it will appear to thee
grand, even when thou perceivest it only by a mere
human intelligence and affection. It is certainly true that
any gift from such an eminent and supreme King is
worthy of all estimation. But when thou beginst to
consider and know by divine light, that this gift is God
Himself and that He makes Thee partaker of his Di
vinity, when thou wilt understand, that without thy God
and without his coming, all creation would be as noth
ing and despicable in thy sight; thou wouldst want to
enjoy thyself and find rest only in the consciousness of
possessing such a God, so loving, so amiable, so power
ful, sweet and affluent ; who, being such a great and in
finite God, humiliates Himself to thy lowliness in order
to raise thee from the dust and enrich thy poverty, per
forming toward thee the duties of a Shepherd, of a
Father, a Spouse and most faithful Friend.
143. Attend, therefore, my daughter, in the secret of
thy heart to all the consequences of these truths. Ponder
and confer within thyself about this sweetest love of the
great King for thee; how faithful He is in his gifts and
caresses, in his favors, in the works confided to thee, in
the enlightenment of thy interior, instructing thee by
divine science in the infinite greatness of his Being, in
his admirable works and most hidden mysteries, in uni
versal truth and in the nothingness of visible existence.
This science is the first beginning and principle, the
basis and foundation of the knowledge which I have
given thee in order that thou mayest attain to the de
corum and magnanimity, with which thou art to treat
the favors and benefits of this thy Lord and God, thy
true blessedness, thy treasure, thy light and thy Guide.
Look upon Him as upon the infinite God, loving, yet
terrible. Listen, my dearest, to my words, to my teach
ings and discipline, for therein are contained the peace and
the enlightenment of thy soul.
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