- “Blessed Josep Padrell Navarro“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 August 2015. Web. 29 August 2015. <>
notes about your extended family in heaven
The form of this volume, if one may judge from its heading, is apparently epistolary, but its bulk exceeds that of a letter, extending as it does to the length of a book. My apology must be that the subject on which you bade me write is greater than can be compressed within the limits of a letter.
I am sure you do not forget our meeting, when, on my way to Jerusalem in pursuance of a vow, in order to sec the relics of the Lord’s sojourning in the flesh on the actual spots,1 I ran across you in the city of Antioch; and you must remember all the different talks we enjoyed, for it was not likely that our meeting would be a silent one, when your wit provided so many subjects for conversation. As often happens at such times, the talk flowed on until we came to discuss the life of some famous person. In this case it was a woman who provided us with our subject; if indeed she should be styled woman, for I do not know whether it is fitting to designate her by her sex, who so surpassed her sex. Our account of her was not based on the narrative of others, but our talk was an accurate description of what we had learned by personal experience, nor did it need to be authenticated by strangers. Nor even was the virgin referred to unknown to our family circle, to make it necessary to learn the wonders of her life through others, but she came from the same parents as ourselves, being, so to speak, an offering of first-fruits, since she was the earliest born of my mother’s womb. As then you have decided that the story of her noble career is worth telling, to prevent such a life being unknown to our time, and the record of a woman who raised herself by “philosophy” 2 to the greatest height of human virtue passing into the shades of useless oblivion, I thought it well to obey you, and in a few words, as best I can, to tell her story in unstudied and simple style.
The virgin’s name was Macrina; she was so called by her parents after a famous Macrina some time before in the family, our father’s mother, who had confessed Christ like a good athlete in the time of the persecutions. This indeed was her name to the outside world, the one used by her friends. But another name had been given her privately, as the result of a vision before she was born into the world. For indeed her mother was so virtuous that she was guided on all occasions by the divine will. In particular she loved the pure and unstained mode of life so much that she was unwilling to be married. But since she had lost both her parents, and was in the very flower of her youthful beauty, and the fame of her good looks was attracting many suitors, and there was a danger that, if she were not mated to some one willingly, she might suffer some unwished-for violent fate, seeing that some men, inflamed by her beauty, were ready to abduct her – on this account she chose for her husband a man who was known and approved for the gravity of his conduct, and so gained a protector of her life.
The Birth of Macrina
At her first confinement she became the mother of Macrina. When the due time came for her pangs to be ended by delivery, she fell asleep and seemed to be carrying in her hands that which was still in her womb. And some one in form and raiment more splendid than a human being appeared and addressed the child she was carrying by the name of Thecla, that Thecla, I mean, who is so famous among the virgins.3 After doing this and testifying to it three times, he departed from her sight and gave her easy delivery, so that at that moment she awoke from sleep and saw her dream realised. Now this name was used only in secret. But it seems to me that the apparition spoke not so much to guide the mother to a right choice of name, as to forecast the life of the young child, and to indicate by the name that she would follow her namesake’s mode of life.
Well, the child was reared. Although she had her own nurse, yet as a rule her mother did the nursing with her own hands. After passing the stage of infancy, she showed herself apt in acquiring childish accomplishments, and her natural powers were shown in every study to which her parents’ judgment directed her. The education of the child was her mother’s task; she did not, however, employ the usual worldly method of education, which makes a practice of using poetry as a means of training the early years of the child. For she considered it disgraceful and quite unsuitable, that a tender and plastic nature should be taught either those tragic passions of womanhood which afforded poets their suggestions and plots, or the indecencies of comedy, to be, so to speak, denied with unseemly tales of “the harem.” But such parts of inspired Scripture as you would think were incomprehensible to young children were the subject of the girl’s studies; in particular the Wisdom of Solomon, and those parts of it especially which have an ethical bearing. Nor was she ignorant of any part of the Psalter, but at stated times she recited every part of it. When she rose from bed, or engaged in household duties, or rested, or partook of food, or retired from table, when she went to bed or rose in the night for prayer, the Psalter was her constant companion, like a good fellow-traveller that never deserted her.
Filling her time with these and the like occupations, and attaining besides a considerable proficiency in wool-work, the growing girl reached her twelfth year, the age when the bloom of adolescence begins to appear. In which connection it is noteworthy that the girl’s beauty could not be concealed in spite of efforts to hide it. Nor in all the countryside, so it seems, was there anything so marvellous as her beauty in comparison with that of others. So fair was she that even painters’ hands could not do justice to her comeliness; the art that contrives all things and essays the greatest tasks, so as even to model in imitation the figures of the heavenly bodies, could not accurately reproduce the loveliness of her form. In consequence a great swarm of suitors seeking her in marriage crowded round her parents. But her father, a shrewd man with a reputation for forming right decisions, picked out from the rest a young man related to the family, who was just leaving school, of good birth and remarkable steadiness, and decided to betroth his daughter to him, as soon as she was old enough. Meantime he aroused great hopes, and he offered to his future father-in-law his fame in public speaking, as it were one of the bridegroom’s gifts; for he displayed the power of his eloquence in forensic contests on behalf of the wronged.
Death of the Young Man
But Envy cut off these bright hopes by snatching away the poor lad from life. Now Macrina was not ignorant of her “father’s schemes. But when the plan formed for her was shattered by the young man’s death, she said her father’s intention was equivalent to a marriage, and resolved to remain single henceforward, just as if the intention had become accomplished fact. And indeed her determination was more steadfast than could have been expected from her age. For when her parents brought proposals of marriage to her, as often happened owing to the number of suitors that came attracted by the fame of her beauty, she would say that it was absurd and unlawful not to be faithful to the marriage that had been arranged for her by her father, but to be compelled to consider another; since in the nature of things there was but one marriage, as there is one birth and one death. She persisted that the man who had been linked to her by her parents’ arrangement was not dead, but that she considered him who lived to God, thanks to the hope of the resurrection, to be absent only, not dead; it was wrong not to keep faith with the bridegroom who was away.
Macrina Resolves Never to Leave Her Mother
With such words repelling those who tried to talk her over, she settled on one safeguard of her good resolution, in a resolve not to be separated from her mother even for a moment of time. So that her mother would often say that she had carried the rest of her children in her womb for a definite time, but that Macrina she bore always, since in a sense she ever carried her about. But the daughter’s companionship was not a burden to her mother, nor profitless. For the attentions received from her daughter were worth those of many maidservants, and the benefits were mutual. For the mother looked after the girl’s soul, and the girl looked after her mother’s body, and in all respects fulfilled the required services, even going so far as to prepare meals for her mother with her own hands. Not that she made this her chief business. But after she had anointed her hands by the performance of religious duties – for she deemed that zeal for this was consistent with the principles of her life – in the time that was left she prepared food for her mother by her own toil. And not only this, but she helped her mother to bear her burden of responsibilities. For she had four sons and five daughters, and paid taxes to three different governors, since her property was scattered in as many districts. In consequence her mother was distracted with various anxieties, for her father had by this time departed this life. In all these matters she shared her mother’s toils, dividing her cares with her, and lightening her heavy load of sorrows. At one and the same time, thanks to her mother’s guardianship, she was keeping her own life blameless, so that her mother’s eye both directed and witnessed all she did; and also by her own life she instructed her mother greatly, leading her to the same mark, that of philosophy I mean, and gradually drawing her on to the immaterial and more perfect life.
Basil Returns from the University
When the mother had arranged excellent marriages for the other sisters, such as was best in each case, Macrina’s brother, the great Basil, returned after his long period of education, already a practised rhetorician. He was puffed up beyond measure with the pride of oratory and looked down on the local dignitaries, excelling in his own estimation all the men of leading and position. Nevertheless Macrina took him in hand, and with such speed did she draw him also toward the mark of philosophy that he forsook the glories of this world and despised fame gained by speaking, and deserted it for this busy life where one toils with one’s hands. His renunciation of property was complete, lest anything should impede the life of virtue. But, indeed, his life and the subsequent acts, by which he became renowned throughout the world and put into the shade all those who have won renown for their virtue, would need a long description and much time. But I must divert my tale to its appointed task.
Now that all the distractions of the material life had been removed, Macrina persuaded her mother to give up her ordinary life and all showy style of living and the services of domestics to which she had been accustomed before, and bring her point of view down to that of the masses, and to share the life of the maids, treating all her slave girls and menials as if they were sisters and belonged to the same rank as herself.
But at this point I should like to insert a short parenthesis in my narrative and not to pass over unrelated such a matter as the following, in which the lofty character of the maiden is displayed.
The Story of Naucratius
The second of the four brothers, Naucratius by name, who came next after the great Basil, excelled the rest in natural endowments and physical beauty, in strength, speed and ability to turn his hand to anything. When he had reached his twenty-first year, and had given such demonstration of his studies by speaking in public, that the whole audience in the theatre was thrilled, he was led by a divine providence to despise all that was already in his grasp, and drawn by an irresistible impulse went off to a life of solitude and poverty. He took nothing with him but himself, save that one of the servants named Chrysapius followed him, because of the affection he had towards his master and the intention he had formed to lead the same life. So he lived by himself, having found a solitary spot on the banks of the Iris – a river flowing through the midst of Pontus. It rises actually in Armenia, passes through our parts, and discharges its stream into the Black Sea. By it the young man found a place with a luxuriant growth of trees and a hill nestling under the mass of the overhanging mountain. There he lived far removed from the noises of the city and the distractions that surround the lives both of the soldier and the pleader in the law courts. Having thus freed himself from the din of cares that impedes man’s higher life, with his own hands he looked after some old people who were living in poverty and feebleness, considering it appropriate to his mode of life to make such a work his care. So the generous youth would go on fishing expeditions, and since he was expert in every form of sport, he provided food to his grateful clients by this means. And at the same time by such exercises he was taming his own manhood. Besides this, he also gladly obeyed his mother’s wishes whenever she issued a command. And so in these two ways he guided his life, subduing his youthful nature by toils and caring assiduously for his mother, and thus keeping the divine commands he was travelling home to God.
In this manner he completed the fifth year of his life as a philosopher, by which he made his mother happy, both by the way in which he adorned his own life by continence, and by the devotion of all his powers to do the will of her that bore him.
The Tragic Death of Naucratius
Then there fell on the mother a grievous and tragic affliction, contrived, I think, by the Adversary, which brought trouble and mourning upon all the family. For he was snatched suddenly away from life. No previous sickness had prepared them for the blow, nor did any of the usual and well-known mischances bring death upon the young man. Having started out on one of the expeditions, by which he provided necessaries for the old men under his care, he was brought back home dead, together with Chrysapius who shared his life. His mother was far away, three days distant from the scene of the tragedy. Some one came to her telling the bad news. Perfect though she was in every department of virtue, yet nature dominated her as it does others. For she collapsed, and in a moment lost both breath and speech, since her reason failed her under the disaster, and she was thrown to the ground by the assault of the evil tidings, like some noble athlete hit by an unexpected blow.
Macrina the One Support of Her Mother
And now the virtue of the great Macrina was displayed. Facing the disaster in a rational spirit, she both preserved herself from collapse, and becoming the prop of her mother’s weakness, raised her up from the abyss of grief, and by her own steadfastness and imperturbability taught her mother’s soul to be brave. In consequence, her mother was not overwhelmed by the affliction, nor did she behave in any ignoble and womanish way, so as to cry out at the calamity, or tear her dress, or lament over the trouble, or strike up funeral chants with mournful melodies. On the contrary she resisted the impulses of nature, and quieted herself both by such reflections as occurred to her spontaneously, and those that were applied by her daughter to cure the ill. For then was the nobility of Macrina’s soul most of all conspicuous; since natural affection was making her suffer as well. For it was a brother, and a favourite brother, who had been snatched away by such a manner of death. Nevertheless, conquering nature, she so sustained her mother by her arguments that she, too, rose superior to her sorrow. Besides which, the moral elevation always maintained by Macrina’s life gave her mother the opportunity of rejoicing over the blessings she enjoyed rather than grieving over those that were missing.
Mother and Daughter Make Further Progress in the Ascetic Life
When the cares of bringing up a family and the anxieties of their education and settling in life had come to an end, and the property – a frequent cause of worldliness – had been for the most part divided among the children, then, as I said above, the life of the virgin became her mother’s guide and led her on to this philosophic and spiritual manner of life. And weaning her from all accustomed luxuries, Macrina drew her on to adopt her own standard of humility. She induced her to live on a footing of equality with the staff of maids, so as to share with them in the same food, the same kind of bed, and in all the necessaries of life, without any regard to differences of rank. Such was the manner of their life, so great the height of their philosophy, and so holy their conduct day and night, as to make verbal description inadequate. For just as souls freed from the body by death are saved from the cares of this life, so was their life far removed from all earthly follies and ordered with a view of imitating the angelic life. For no anger or jealousy, no hatred or pride, was observed in their midst, nor anything else of this nature, since they had cast away all vain desires for honour and glory, all vanity, arrogance and the like. Continence was their luxury, and obscurity their glory. Poverty, and the casting away of all material superfluities like dust from their bodies, was their wealth. In fact, of all the things after which men eagerly pursue in this life, there were none with which they could not easily dispense.5 Nothing was left but the care of divine things and the unceasing round of prayer and endless hymnody, co-extensive with time itself, practised by night and day. So that to them this meant work, and work so called was rest. What human words could make you realise such a life as this, a life on the borderline between human and spiritual nature? For that nature should be free from human weaknesses is more than can be expected from mankind. But these women fell short of the angelic and immaterial nature only in so far as they appeared in bodily form, and were contained within a human frame, and were dependent upon the organs of sense. Perhaps some might even dare to say that the difference was not to their disadvantage. Since living in the body and yet after the likeness of the immaterial beings, they were not bowed down by the weight of the body, but their life was exalted to the skies and they walked on high in company with the powers of heaven.
The period covered by this mode of life was no short one, and with the lapse of time their successes increased, as their philosophy continually grew purer with the discovery of new blessings.
Peter, the Youngest Brother
Macrina was helped most of all in achieving this great aim of her life by her own brother Peter. With him the mother’s pangs ceased, for he was the latest born of the family. At one and the same time he received the names of son and orphan, for as he entered this life his father passed away from it. But the eldest of the family, the subject of our story, took him soon after birth from the nurse’s breast and reared him herself and educated him on a lofty system of training, practising him from infancy in holy studies, so as not to give his soul leisure to turn to vain things. Thus having become all things to the lad – father, teacher, tutor, mother, giver of all good advice – she produced such results that before the age of boyhood had passed, when he was yet a stripling in the first bloom of tender youth, he aspired to the high mark of philosophy. And, thanks to his natural endowments, he was clever in every art that involves hand-work, so that without any guidance he achieved a completely accurate knowledge of everything that ordinary people learn by time and trouble. Scorning to occupy his time with worldly studies, and having in nature a sufficient instructor in all good knowledge, and always looking to his sister as the model of all good, he advanced to such a height of virtue that in his subsequent life he seemed in no whit inferior to the great Basil. But at this time he was all in all to his sister and mother, co-operating with them in the pursuit of the angelic life. Once when a severe famine had occurred and crowds from all quarters were frequenting the retreat where they lived, drawn by the fame of their benevolence, Peter’s kindness supplied such an abundance of food that the desert seemed a city by reason of the number of visitors.
Death of the Mother
It was about this time that the mother died, honoured by all, and went to God, yielding up her life in the arms of her two children. It is worth while to give the words of blessing which she used over her children, mentioning each of the absent ones in loving remembrance, so that no single one was deprived of the blessing, and commending especially to God in her prayers those who were present with her.
For as these two sat by her on each side of the bed, she touched them with her hands, and uttered these prayers to God with her dying words –
“To Thee, O Lord, I give the fruit of my womb as both first-fruits and tenths. For this my eldest is the first-fruits and this my last-born is the tenth. Each is sanctified to Thee by the Law, and they are votive offerings to Thee. Therefore let Thy sanctification descend on this my first and this my tenth.”
As she spoke she indicated by gestures her daughter and son. Then, having ceased to bless, she ceased to live, having first bidden her children lay her body in their father’s grave. But they, having fulfilled the command, clave to philosophy with still loftier resolve, even striving against their own life and eclipsing their previous record by their subsequent successes.
Basil Dies After A Noble Career
Meanwhile Basil, the famous saint, had been elected bishop 1 of the great church of Caesarea. He advanced Peter to the sacred order of the priesthood, consecrating him in person with mystic ceremonial. And in this way a further advance in the direction of dignity and sanctity was made in their life, now that philosophy was enriched by the priesthood.
Eight years after this, the world-renowned Basil departed from men to live with God, to the common grief of his native land and the whole world. Now when Macrina heard the news of the calamity in her distant retreat, she was distressed indeed in soul at so great a loss – for how could she not be distressed at a calamity, which was felt even by the enemies of the truth? – but just as they say that the testing of gold takes place in several furnaces, so that if any impurity escapes the first furnace, it may be separated in the second, and again in the last one all admixture of dross may be purged away – consequently it is the most accurate testing of pure gold if having gone through every furnace it shows no refuse. So it happened also in her case. When her noble character had been tested by these different accessions of trouble, in every respect the metal of her soul was proved to be unadulterated and undefiled. The first test was the loss of the one brother, the second the parting from her mother, the third was when the common glory of the family, great Basil, was removed from human life. So she remained, like an invincible athlete in no wise broken by the assault of troubles.
Gregory Resolves to Visit His Sister
It was the ninth month or a little longer after this disaster, and a synod of bishops was gathered at Antioch, in which we also took part. And when we broke up, each to go home before the year was over, then I, Gregory, felt a desire to visit Macrina. For a long time had elapsed during which visits were prevented by the distraction of the troubles which I underwent, being constantly driven out from my own country by the leaders of heresy. And when I came to reckon the intervening time during which the troubles had prevented us meeting face to face, no less than eight years, or very nearly that period, seemed to have elapsed.
Now when I had accomplished most of the journey and was one day’s journey distant, a vision appeared to me in a dream and filled me with anxious anticipations of the future. I seemed to be carrying martyrs’ relics in my hands; a light came from them, such as comes from a clear mirror when it is put facing the sun, so that my eyes were blinded by the brilliance of the rays. The same vision recurred three times that night. I could not clearly understand the riddle of the dream, but I saw trouble for my soul, and I watched carefully so as to judge the vision by events.
When I approached the retreat in which Macrina led her angelic and heavenly life, first of all I asked one of the servants about my brother, whether he were at home. He told us that he had gone out four days ago now, and I understood, which indeed was the case, that he had gone to meet us by another way. Then I asked after the great lady. He said she was very ill, and I was the more eager to hurry on and complete the remainder of the journey, for a certain anxiety and premonitory fear of what was coining stole in and disquieted me.
Gregory Comes to the Monastery and Finds Macrina on Her Death Bed
But when I came to the actual place, rumour had already announced my arrival to the brotherhood. Then the whole company of the men came streaming out to meet us from their apartments. For it was their custom to honour friends by meeting them. But the band of virgins on the women’s side modestly waited in the church for us to arrive. But when the prayers and the blessing were over, and the women, after reverently inclining their head for the blessing, retired to their own apartments, none of them were left with us. I guessed the explanation, that the abbess was not with them. A man led me to the house in which was my great sister, and opened the door. Then I entered that holy dwelling. I found her already terribly afflicted with weakness. She was lying not on a bed or couch, but on the floor; a sack had been spread on a board, and another board propped up her head, so contrived as to act as a pillow, supporting the sinews of the neck in slanting fashion, and holding up the neck comfortably. Now when she saw me near the door she raised herself on her elbow but could not come to meet me, her strength being already drained by fever. But by putting her hands on the floor and leaning over from the pallet as far as she could, she showed the respect due to my rank. I ran to her and embraced her prostrate form, and raising her, again restored her to her usual position. Then she lifted her hand to God and said –
“This favour also Thou hast granted me, O God, and hast not deprived me of my desire, because Thou hast stirred up Thy servant to visit Thy handmaid.”
Lest she should vex my soul she stilled her groans and made great efforts to hide, if possible, the difficulty of her breathing. And in every way she tried to be cheerful, both taking the lead herself in friendly talk, and giving us an opportunity by asking questions. When in the course of conversation mention was made of the great Basil, my soul was saddened and my face fell dejectedly. But so far was she from sharing in my affliction that, treating the mention of the saint as an occasion for yet loftier philosophy, she discussed various subjects, inquiring into human affairs and revealing in her conversation the divine purpose concealed in disasters. Besides this, she discussed the future life,6 as if inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that it almost seemed as if my soul were lifted by the help of her words away from mortal nature and placed within the heavenly sanctuary. And just as we learn in the story of Job that the saint was tormented in every part of his body with discharges owing to the corruption of his wounds, yet did not allow the pain to affect his reasoning power, but in spite of the pains in the body did not relax his activities nor interrupt the lofty sentiments of his discourse – similarly did I see in the case of this great woman. Fever was drying up her strength and driving her on to death, yet she refreshed her body as it were with dew, and thus kept her mind unimpeded in the contemplation of heavenly things, in no way injured by her terrible weakness. And if my narrative were not extending to an unconscionable length I would tell everything in order, how she was uplifted as she discoursed to us on the nature of the soul and explained the reason of life in the flesh, and why man was made, and how he was mortal, and the origin of death and the nature of the journey from death to life again. In all of which she told her tale clearly and consecutively as if inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the even flow of her language was like a fountain whose water streams down uninterruptedly.
She Sends Gregory Away to Rest Himself
When our conversation was finished, she said, “It is time, brother, for you to rest your body awhile, since it is wearied with the great toil of your journey.”
And though I found it a great and genuine rest to see her and hear her noble words, yet since she wanted it so much, that I might in every particular seem to obey my mistress, I found a pretty arbour prepared for me in one of the neighbouring gardens, and rested under the shade of the trailing vines. But it was impossible to have any feelings of enjoyment when my soul within me was constrained by gloomy anticipations, for the secret of the vision of my dream seemed to be now revealed to me by what I had seen. For the image I had seen was indeed true – the relics of a holy martyr which had been dead in sin, but now were resplendent with the indwelling power of the Spirit. I explained this to one of those who had heard me tell the dream before.
We were, as one might guess, in a dejected state, expecting sad tidings, when Macrina, somehow or other divining our condition of mind, sent to us a messenger with more cheerful news, and bade us be of good cheer and have better hope for her, for she was feeling a change for the better. Now this was not said to deceive, but the message was actually true, though we did not know it at the time. For in very truth, just as a runner who has passed his adversary and already drawn near to the end of the stadium, as he approaches the judge’s seat and sees the crown of victory, rejoices inwardly as if he had already attained his object and announces his victory to his sympathisers among the spectators – in such a frame of mind did she, too, tell us to cherish better hopes for her, for she was already looking to the prize of her heavenly calling, and all but uttering the apostle’s words: “Henceforward is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give me,” for “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Accordingly, feeling happy at the good news, we began to enjoy the sights that lay before us. For they were very varied and the arrangements gave much pleasure, since the great lady was careful even of these trifles.
Gregory Returns to Macrina, Who Recalls the Events of Her Childhood
But when we saw her again, for she did not allow us to spend time by ourselves in idleness, she began to recall her past life, beginning with childhood, and describing it all in order as in a history. She recounted as much as she could remember of the life of our parents, and the events that took place both before and after my birth. But her aim throughout was gratitude towards God, for she described our parents’ life not so much from the point of view of the reputation they enjoyed in the eyes of contemporaries on account of their riches, as an example of the divine blessing. My father’s parents had their goods confiscated for confessing Christ. Our maternal grandfather was slain by the imperial wrath, and all his possessions were transferred to other masters. Nevertheless their life abounded so in faith that no one was named above them in those times. And moreover, after their substance had been divided into nine parts according to the number of the children, the share of each was so increased by God’s blessing, that the income of each of the children exceeded the prosperity of the parents. But when it came to Macrina herself she kept nothing of the things assigned to her in the equal division between brothers and sisters, but all her share was given into the priest’s hands according to the divine command. Moreover her life became such by God’s help that her hands never ceased to work according to the commandment. Never did she even look for help to any human being, nor did human charity give her the opportunity of a comfortable existence. Never were petitioners turned away, yet never did she appeal for help, but God secretly blessed the little seeds of her good works till they grew into a mighty fruit.
As I told my own trouble and all that I had been through, first my exile at the hands of the Emperor Valens on account of the faith, and then the confusion in the Church that summoned me to conflicts and trials, my great sister said –
“Will you not cease to be insensible to the divine blessings? Will you not remedy the ingratitude of your soul? Will you not compare your position with that of your parents’? And yet, as regards worldly things, we make our boast of being well born and thinking we come of a noble family. Our father was greatly esteemed as a young man for his learning; in fact his fame was established throughout the law courts of the province. Subsequently, though he excelled all others in rhetoric, his reputation did not extend beyond Pontus. But he was satisfied with fame in his own hand.
“But you,” she said, “are renowned in cities and peoples and nations. Churches summon you as an ally and director, and do you not see the grace of God in it all? Do you fail to recognise the cause of such great blessings, that it is your parents’ prayers that are lifting you up on high, you that have little or no equipment within yourself for such success?”
Thus she spoke, and I longed for the length of the day to be further extended, that she might never cease delighting our cars with sweetness. But the voice of the choir was summoning us to the evening service, and sending me to church, the great one retired once more to God in prayer. And thus she spent the night.
The Events of the Next Day: Macrina’s Last Hours
But when day came it was clear to me from what I saw that the coming day was the utmost limit of her life in the flesh, since the fever had consumed all her innate strength. But she, considering the weakness of our minds, was contriving how to divert us from our sorrowful anticipations, and once more with those beautiful words of hers poured out what was left of her suffering soul with short and difficult breathing. Many, indeed, and varied, were the emotions of my heart at what I saw. For nature herself was afflicting me and making me sad; as was only to be expected, since I could no longer hope ever to hear such a voice again. Nor as yet was I reconciled to the thought of losing the common glory of our family, but my mind, as it were inspired by the spectacle, supposed that she would actually rise superior to the common lot. For that she did not even in her last breath find anything strange in the hope of the Resurrection, nor even shrink at the departure from this life, but with lofty mind continued to discuss up to her last breath the convictions she had formed from the beginning about this life – all this seemed to me more than human. Rather did it seem as if some angel had taken human form with a sort of incarnation, to whom it was nothing strange that the mind should remain undisturbed, since he had no kinship or likeness with this life of flesh, and so the flesh did not draw the mind to think on its afflictions. Therefore I think she revealed to the bystanders that divine and pure love of the invisible bridegroom, which she kept hidden and nourished in the secret places of the soul, and she published abroad the secret disposition of her heart – her hurrying towards Him Whom she desired, that she might speedily be with Him, loosed from the chains of the body. For in very truth her course was directed towards virtue, and nothing else could divert her attention.
Macrina’s Dying Prayer
Most of the day had now passed, and the sun was declining towards the West. Her eagerness did not diminish, but as she approached her end, as if she discerned the beauty of the Bridegroom more clearly, she hastened towards the Beloved with the greater eagerness. Such thoughts as these did she utter, no longer to us who were present, but to Him in person on Whom she gazed fixedly. Her couch had been turned towards the East; and, ceasing to converse with us, she spoke henceforward to God in prayer, making supplication with her hands and whispering with a low voice, so that we could just hear what was said. Such was the prayer; we need not doubt that it reached God and that she, too, was hearing His voice.
“Thou, O Lord, hast freed us from the fear of death. Thou hast made the end of this life the beginning to us of true life. Thou for a season restest our bodies in sleep and awakest them again at the last trump. Thou givest our earth, which Thou hast fashioned with Thy hands, to the earth to keep in safety. One day Thou wilt take again what Thou hast given, transfiguring with immortality and grace our mortal and unsightly remains. Thou hast saved us from the curse and from sin, having become both for our sakes. Thou hast broken the heads of the dragon who had seized us with his jaws, in the yawning gulf of disobedience. Thou hast shown us the way of resurrection, having broken the gates of .hell, and brought to nought him who had the power of death – the devil. Thou hast given a sign to those that fear Thee in the symbol of the Holy Cross, to destroy the adversary and save our life. O God eternal, to Whom I have been attached from my mother’s womb, Whom my soul has loved with all its strength, to Whom I have dedicated both my flesh and my soul from my youth up until now – do Thou give me an angel of light to conduct me to the place of refreshment, where is the water of rest, in the bosom of the holy Fathers. Thou that didst break the flaming sword and didst restore to Paradise the man that was crucified with Thee and implored Thy mercies, remember me, too, in Thy kingdom; because I, too, was crucified with Thee, having nailed my flesh to the cross for fear of Thee, and of Thy judgments have I been afraid. Let not the terrible chasm separate me from Thy elect. Nor let the Slanderer stand against me in the way; nor let my sin be found before Thy eyes, if in anything I have sinned in word or deed or thought, led astray by the weakness of our nature. O Thou Who hast power on earth to forgive sins, forgive me, that I may be refreshed and may be found before Thee when I put off my body, without defilement on my soul. But may my soul be received into Thy hands spotless and undefiled, as an offering before Thee.”
As she said these words she sealed her eyes and mouth and heart with the cross. And gradually her tongue dried up with the fever, she could articulate her words no longer, and her voice died away, and only by the trembling of her lips and the motion of her hands did we recognise that she was praying.
Meanwhile evening had come and a lamp was brought in. All at once she opened the orb of her eyes and looked towards the light, clearly wanting to repeat the thanksgiving sung at the Lighting of the Lamps. But her voice failed and she fulfilled her intention in the heart and by moving her hands, while her lips stirred in sympathy with her inward desire. But when she had finished the thanksgiving, and her hand brought to her face to make the Sign had signified the end of the prayer, she drew a great deep breath and closed her life and her prayer together.
Gregory Performs the Last Offices
And now that she was breathless and still, remembering the command that she had given at our first meeting, telling me she wished her hands laid on her eyes, and the accustomed offices done for the body by me, I brought her hands, all numb with the disease, on to her holy face, only that I might not seem to neglect her bidding. For her eyes needed none to compose them, being covered gracefully by the lids, just as happens in natural sleep; the lips were suitably closed and the hands laid reverently on the breast, and the whole body had automatically fallen into the right position, and in no way needed the help of the layers-out.
The Sisters’ Lament for Their Abbess
Now my mind was becoming unnerved in two ways, from the sight that met my gaze, and the sad wailing of the virgins that sounded in my ears. So far they had remained quiet and suppressed their grief, restraining their impulse to mourn for fear of her, as if they dreaded her rebuke even when her voice was silent, lest in any way a sound should break forth from them contrary to her command and their mistress be grieved in consequence. But when they could no longer subdue their anguish in silence, and grief like some inward fire was smouldering in their hearts, all at once a bitter and irrepressible cry broke out; so that my reason no longer remained calm, but a flood of emotion, like a watercourse in spate, swept it away, and so, neglecting my duties, I gave myself up to lamentation. Indeed, the cause for the maidens’ weeping seemed to me just and reasonable. For they were not bewailing the loss of human companionship and guidance, nor any other such thing as men grieve over when disaster comes. But it seemed as if they had been torn away from their hope in God and the salvation of their souls, and so they cried and bewailed in this manner –
“The light of our eyes has gone out,
The light that guided our souls has been taken away.
The safety of our life is destroyed,
The seal of immortality is removed,
The bond of restraint has been taken away,
The support of the weak has been broken,
The healing of the sick removed.
In thy presence the night became to us as day,
Illumined with pure life,
But now even our day will be turned to gloom.”
Saddest of all in their grief were those who called on her as mother and nurse. These were they whom she picked up, exposed by the roadside in the time of famine. She had nursed and reared them, and led them to the pure and stainless life.
But when, as it were from the sleep, I recovered my thoughts, I looked towards that holy face and it seemed as if it rebuked me for the confusion of the noisy mourners. So I called to the sisters with a loud voice –
“Look at her, and remember her commands, by which she trained you to be orderly and decent in everything. One occasion for tears did this divine soul ordain for us, recommending us to weep at the time of prayer. Which now we may do, by turning the lamentations into psalmody in the same strain.”
Vestiana Comes to Help Gregory
I had to shout in order to be heard above the noise of the mourners. Then I besought them to go away for awhile to the neighbouring house, but asked that some of those whose services she used to welcome when she was alive should stay behind.
Among these was a lady of gentle birth, who had been famous in youth for wealth, good family, physical beauty and every other distinction. She had married a man of high rank and lived with him a short time. Then, with her body still young, she was released from marriage, and chose the great Macrina as protector and guardian of her widowhood, and spent her time mostly with the virgins, learning from them the life of virtue.
The lady’s name was Vestiana, and her father was one of those who composed the council of senators. To her I said that there could be no objection now, at any rate, to putting finer clothing on the body and adorning that pure and stainless form with fair linen clothes. But she said one ought to learn what the saint had thought proper in these matters. For it was not right that anything at all should be done by us contrary to what she would have wished. But just what was dear and pleasing to God, would be her desire also.
Now there was a lady called Lampadia, leader of the band of sisters, a deaconess in rank. She declared that she knew Macrina’s wishes in the matter of burial exactly. When I asked her about them (for she happened to be present at our deliberations), she said with tears –
“The saint resolved that a pure life should be her adornment, that this should deck her body in life and her grave in death. But so far as clothes to adorn the body go, she procured none when she was alive, nor did she store them for the present purpose. So that not even if we want it will there be anything more than what we have here, since no preparation is made for this need.”
“Is it not possible,” said I, “to find in the store-cupboard anything to make a fitting funeral?”
“Store-cupboard indeed!” said she; “you have in front of you all her treasure. There is the cloak, there is the head-covering, there the well-worn shoes on the feet. This is all her wealth, these are her riches. There is nothing stored away in secret places beyond what you see, or put away safely in boxes or bedroom. She knew of one store-house alone for her wealth, the treasure in heaven. There she had stored her all, nothing was left on earth.”
“Suppose,” said I, “I were to bring some of the things I have got ready for the funeral, should I be doing anything of which she would not have approved?”
“I do not think,” said she, “that this would be against her wish. For had she been living, she would have accepted such honour from you on two grounds – your priesthood which she always prized so dear, and your relationship, for she would not have repudiated what came to her from her brother. This was why she gave commands that your hands were to prepare her body for burial.
They Find on the Body Marks of Macrina’s Sanctity
When we had decided on this, and it was necessary for that sacred body to be robed in linen, we divided the work and applied ourselves to our different tasks. I ordered one of my men to bring the robe. But Vestiana above-mentioned was decking that holy head with her own hands, when she put her hand on the neck.
“See,” she said, looking at me, “what sort of an ornament has hung on the saint’s neck!”
As she spoke, she loosened the fastener behind, then stretched out her hand and showed us the representation of a cross of iron and a ring of the same material, both of which were fastened by a slender thread and rested continually on the heart.
” Let us share the treasure,” I said. ” You have the phylactery of the cross, I will be content with inheriting the ring” – for the cross had been traced on the seal of this too. Looking at it, the lady said to me again – “You have made no mistake in choosing this treasure; for the ring is hollow in the hoop, and in it has been hidden a particle of the Cross of Life,8 and so the mark on the seal above shows what is hidden below.”
But when it was time that the pure body should be wrapped in its robes, the command of the great departed one made it necessary for me to undertake the ministry; but the sister who shared with me that great inheritance was present and joined in the work.
“Do not let the great wonders accomplished by the saint pass by unnoticed,”she remarked, laying bare part of the breast.
“What do you mean? “I said.
“Do you see,”she said, “this small faint mark below the neck? “It was like a scar made by a small needle. As she spoke she brought the lamp near to the place she was showing me.
“What is there surprising,” I said, “if the body has been branded with some faint mark in this place?”
“This,” she replied, “has been left on the body as a token of God’s powerful help. For there grew once in this place a cruel disease, and there was a danger either that the tumour should require an operation, or that the complaint should become quite incurable, if it should spread to the neighbourhood of the heart. Her mother implored her often and begged her to receive the attention of a doctor, since the medical art, she said, was sent from God for the saving of men. But she judged it worse than the pain, to uncover any part of the body to a stranger’s eyes. So when evening came, after waiting on her mother as usual with her own hands, she went inside the sanctuary and besought the God of healing all night long. A stream of tears fell from her eyes on to the ground, and she used the mud made by the tears as a remedy for her ailment. Then when her mother felt despondent and again urged her to allow the doctor to come, she said it would suffice for the cure of her disease if her mother would make the holy seal on the place with her own hand. But when the mother put her hand within her bosom, to make the sign of the cross on the part, the sign worked and the tumour disappeared.
“But this,” said she, “is the tiny trace of it; it appeared then in place of the frightful sore and remained until the end, that it might be, as I imagine, a memorial of the divine visitation, an occasion and reminder of perpetual thanksgiving to God.”
When our work came to an end and the body had been decked with the best we had on the spot, the deaconess spoke again, maintaining that it was not fitting that she should be seen by the eyes of the virgins robed like a bride. “But I have,”she said, “laid by one of your mother’s dark-coloured robes which I think would do well laid over her, that this holy beauty be not decked out with the unnecessary splendour of clothing.”
Her counsel prevailed, and the robe was laid upon the body. But she was resplendent even in the dark robe, divine power having added, as I think, this final grace to the body, so that, as in the vision of my dream, rays actually seemed to shine forth from her beauty.
The All-Night Vigil: A Crowd of Visitors Arrives
But while we were thus employed and the virgins’ voices singing psalms mingled with the lamentations were filling the place, somehow the news had quickly spread throughout the whole neighbourhood, and all the people that lived near were streaming towards the place, so that the entrance hall could no longer hold the concourse.
When the all-night vigil for her, accompanied by hymn-singing, as in the case of martyrs’ festivals, was finished, and the dawn came, the multitude of men and women that had flocked in from all the neighbouring country were interrupting the psalms with wailings. But I, sick at heart though I was owing to the calamity, was yet contriving, so far as was possible with what we had, that no suitable accompaniment of such a funeral should be omitted.
Gregory Makes the Funeral Arrangements
I divided the visitors according to sex, and put the crowds of women with the band of virgins, while the men folk I put in the ranks of the monks. I arranged that the psalms should be sung by both sexes in rhythmical and harmonious fashion, as in chorus singing, so that all the voices should blend suitably. But since the day was progressing, and the entire space of the retreat was getting crowded with the multitude of arrivals, the bishop of that district (Araxius by name, who had come with the entire complement of his priests) ordered the funeral procession to start slowly; for there was a long way to go, and the crowd seemed likely to impede brisk movement. At the same time as he gave this order he summoned to him all present who shared with him in the priesthood, that the body might be borne by them.
When this had been settled and his directions were being carried out, I got under the bed and called Araxius to the other side; two other distinguished priests took the hinder part of the bed. Then I went forward, slowly as was to be expected, our progress being but gradual. For the people thronged round the bed and all were insatiable to see that holy sight, so that it was not easy for us to complete our journey. On either side we were flanked by a considerable number of deacons and servants, escorting the bier in order, all holding wax tapers.
The whole thing resembled a mystic procession, and from beginning to end the voices blended in singing psalms, that, for example, that comes in the Hymn of the Three Children.
Seven or eight stades intervened between the Retreat and the abode of the Holy Martyrs, in which also the bodies of our parents were laid. With difficulty did we accomplish the journey in the best part of a day, for the crowds that came with us and those that were constantly joining us did not allow our progress to be what we wished.
Arrival at the Church: The Burial Service
But when we got inside the church we laid down the bed and turned first to prayer. But our prayer was the signal for the people’s lamentations to start again. For when the voice of psalmody was still, and the virgins gazed on that holy face, and the grave of our parents was already being opened, in which it had been decided that Macrina should be laid, a woman cried out impulsively that after this hour we should see that divine face no more. Then the rest of the virgins cried out the same, and a disorderly confusion disturbed the orderly and solemn chanting of psalms, all being upset at the wailing of the virgins. With difficulty did we succeed in procuring silence by our gesture, and the precentor taking the lead and intoning the accustomed prayers of the Church, the people composed themselves at last to prayer.
The Family Grave Is Opened
When the prayer had come to its due close, fear entered my mind of transgressing the divine command, which forbids us to uncover the shame of father or mother. “And how,” said I, “shall I escape such condemnation if I gaze at the common shame of human nature made manifest in the bodies of my parents? Since they are all decayed and dissolved, as must be expected, and turned into foul and repulsive shapelessness.”
As I thought of these things and the anger of Noah against his son was striking fear into me, the story of Noah advised me what was to be done. Before the lid of the grave was lifted sufficiently to reveal the bodies to our gaze, they were covered by a pure linen cloth stretched across from each end. And now that the bodies were hidden under the cloth, we – myself, that is, and the afore-mentioned bishop of the district – took up that holy body from the bed and laid it down by the side of the mother, thus fulfilling the common prayer of both. For both were with one voice asking God for this boon all their lives long, that their bodies should be mingled with one another after death, and that their comradeship in life should not even in death be broken.
The Funeral Over, Gregory Returns Home
But when we had completed all the accustomed funeral rites, and it became necessary to return home, I first threw myself on the grave and embraced the dust, and then I started on my way back, downcast and tearful, pondering over the greatness of my loss.
On my way I met a distinguished soldier who had a military command in a little city of Pontus named Sebastopolis, and dwelt there with his subordinates. He met me in friendly fashion when I reached the town, and was greatly disturbed to hear of the calamity, for he was linked to us by ties both of relationship and friendship. He told me a story of a marvellous episode in her life, which I shall incorporate into my history and then close my tale. When we had ceased our tears and had entered into conversation, he said to me –
“Learn what manner of goodness has been taken away from human life.”
With this prelude he began his narrative.
The Soldier’s Story
“My wife and I once had an earnest desire to pay a visit to the school of virtue. For so I think the place ought to be called, in which that blessed soul had her abode. Now there lived with us also our little daughter, who had been left with an affliction of the eye after an infectious illness. And her appearance was hideous and pitiable, the membrane round the eye being enlarged and whitish from the complaint. But when we came inside that divine abode, my wife and I separated in our visit to those seekers after philosophy according to our sex. I went to the men’s department, presided over by Peter, your brother; while my wife went to the women’s side and conversed with the saint. And when a suitable interval had elapsed, we considered it time to depart from the Retreat, and already our preparations were being made for this, but kind protests were raised from both sides equally. Your brother was urging me to stay and partake of the philosophers’ table; and the blessed lady would not let my wife go, but holding our little girl in her bosom, said she would not give her up before she had prepared a meal for them and had entertained them with the riches of philosophy. And kissing the child, as was natural, and putting her lips to her eyes, she saw the complaint of the pupil and said –
“‘If you grant me this favour and share our meal, I will give you in return a reward not unworthy of such an honour.’
“‘What is that? ‘ said the child’s mother.
“‘I have a drug,’ said the great lady, ‘which is powerful to cure eye complaints.’
“And then news was brought me from the women’s apartments, telling me of this promise, and we gladly remained, thinking little of the pressing necessity of starting on our journey.
“But when the feast came to an end and we had said the prayer, great Peter waiting on us with his own hands and cheering us, and when holy Macrina had dismissed my wife with all courtesy, then at last we went home together with glad and cheerful hearts, telling one another as we journeyed what had befallen us. I described to her what had happened in the men’s room, both what I had heard and seen. She told every detail as in a history, and thought nothing ought to be left out, even the smallest points. She told everything in order, keeping the sequence of the narrative. When she came to the point at which the promise was made to cure the child’s eyes, she broke off her tale.
“‘Oh, what have we done?’ she cried.
‘How could we have neglected the promise, that salve-cure that the lady said she would give?’
“I was vexed at the carelessness, and bade some one run back quickly to fetch it. Just as this was being done, the child, who was in her nurse’s arms, looked at her mother, and the mother looked at the child eyes.
“‘Stop,’ she said, ‘being vexed at the carelessness,’ – she cried aloud with joy and fright. ‘For, see! Nothing of what was promised us is lacking! She has indeed given her the true drug which cures disease; it is the healing that comes from prayer. She has both given it and it has already proved efficacious, and nothing is left of the affliction of the eye. It is all purged away by that divine drug.’
“And as she said this, she took up the child and laid her in my arms. And I understood the marvels of the Gospel that hitherto had been incredible to me and said –
“‘What is there surprising in the blind recovering their sight by the hand of God, when now His handmaiden, accomplishing those cures by faith in Him, has worked a thing not much inferior to those miracles?'”
Such was his story; it was interrupted by sobs, and tears choked his utterance, So much for the soldier and his tale.
I do not think it advisable to add to my narrative all the similar things that we heard from those who lived with her and knew her life accurately. For most men judge what is credible in the way of a tale by the measure of their own experience. But what exceeds the capacity of the hearer, men receive with insult and suspicion of falsehood, as remote from truth. Consequently I omit that extraordinary agricultural operation in the famine time, how that the corn for the relief of need, though constantly distributed, suffered no perceptible diminution, remaining always in bulk the same as before it was distributed to the needs of the suppliants. And after this there are happenings still more surprising, of which I might tell. Healings of diseases, and castings out of demons, and true predictions of the future. All are believed to be true, even though apparently incredible, by those who have investigated them accurately.
But by the carnally minded they are judged outside the possible. Those, I mean, who do not know that according to the proportion of faith so is given the distribution of spiritual gifts, little to those of little faith, much to those who have plenty of “sea-room” 9 in their religion.
And so, lest the unbeliever should be injured by being led to disbelieve the gifts of God, I have abstained from a consecutive narrative of these sublime wonders, thinking it sufficient to conclude my life of Macrina with what has been already said.
Saint Jude, who wrote this Epistle, was one of the twelve Apostles and brother to Saint James the Less. The time it was written is uncertain: only it may be inferred from verse 17 that few or none of the Apostles were then living, except Saint John. He inveighs against the heresies and wicked practices of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics, etc., describing them and their leaders by strong epithets and similes, He exhorts the faithful to contend earnestly for the faith first delivered to them and to beware of heretics.
Jude Chapter 1
He exhorts them to stand to the faith first delivered to them and to beware of heretics.
1:1. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James: to them that are beloved in God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ and called.
1:2. Mercy unto you and peace: and charity be fulfilled.
1:3. Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
1:4. For certain men are secretly entered in (who were written of long ago unto this judgment), ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord God into riotousness and denying the only sovereign Ruler and our Lord Jesus Christ.
1:5. I will therefore admonish you, though ye once knew all things, that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not.
1:6. And the angels who kept not their principality but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day.
Principality… That is, the state in which they were first created, their original dignity.
1:7. As Sodom and Gomorrha and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
1:8. In like manner, these men also defile the flesh and despise dominion and blaspheme majesty.
Blaspheme majesty… Speak evil of them that are in dignity; and even utter blasphemies against the divine majesty.
1:9. When Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: The Lord command thee.
Contended about the body, etc… This contention, which is no where else mentioned in holy writ, was originally known by revelation, and transmitted by tradition. It is thought the occasion of it was, that the devil would have had the body buried in such a place and manner, as to be worshipped by the Jews with divine honours. Command thee… or rebuke thee.
1:10. But these men blaspheme whatever things they know not: and what things soever they naturally know, like dumb beasts, in these they are corrupted.
1:11. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain: and after the error of Balaam they have for reward poured out themselves and have perished in the contradiction of Core.
Gone in the way, etc… Heretics follow the way of Cain, by murdering the souls of their brethren; the way of Balaam, by putting a scantal before the people of God, for their own private ends; and the way of Core or Korah, by their opposition to the church governors of divine appointment.
1:12. These are spots in their banquets, feasting together without fear, feeding themselves: clouds without water, which are carried about by winds: trees of the autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, plucked up by the roots:
1:13. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion: wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever.
1:14. Now of these Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with thousands of his saints:
Prophesied… This prophecy was either known by tradition, or from some book that is since lost.
1:15. To execute judgment upon all and to reprove all the ungodly for all the works of their ungodliness, whereby they have done ungodly: and for all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against God.
1:16. These are murmurers, full of complaints, walking according to their own desires: and their mouth speaketh proud things, admiring persons, for gain’s sake.
1:17. But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful, etc… He now exhorts the faithful to remain steadfast in the belief and practice of what they had heard from the apostles, who had also foretold that in aftertimes (lit. in the last time) there should be false teachers, scoffing and ridiculing all revealed truths, abandoning themselves to their passions and lusts; who separate themselves from the Catholic communion by heresies and schisms. Sensual men… carried away and enslaved by the pleasures of the senses.
1:18. Who told you that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses.
1:19. These are they who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit.
1:20. But you, my beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
1:21. Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting.
Building yourselves upon your most holy faith… Raising by your actions, a spiritual building, founded, 1st, upon faith; 2d, on the love of God; 3d, upon hope, whilst you are waiting for the mercies of God, and the reward of eternal life; 4th, joined with the great duty of prayer.
1:22. And some indeed reprove, being judged:
1:23. But others save, pulling them out of the fire. And on others have mercy, in fear, hating also the spotted garment which is carnal.
And some indeed repove being judged… He gives them another instruction to practice charity in endeavouring to convert their neighbour, where they will meet with three sorts of persons: 1st, With persons obstinate in their errors and sins; these may be said to be already judged and condemned; they are to be sharply reprehended, reproved, and if possible convinced of their error. 2d, As to others you must endeavour to save them, by pulling them, as it were, out of the fire, from the ruin they stand in great danger of. 3d, You must have mercy on others in fear, when you see them through ignorance of frailty, in danger of being drawn into the snares of these heretics; with these you must deal more gently and mildly, with a charitable compassion, hating always, and teaching others to hate the carnal garment which is spotted, their sensual and corrupt manners, that defile both the soul and body.
1:24. Now to him who is able to preserve you without sin and to present you spotless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1:25. To the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and magnificence, empire and power, before all ages, and now, and for all ages of ages. Amen.
Now to him, etc… Saint Jude concludes his epistle with this doxology of praising God, and praying to the only God our Saviour, which may either signify God the Father, or God as equally agreeing to all the three persons, who are equally the cause of Christ’s incarnation, and man’s salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who, being God from eternity, took upon him our human nature, that he might become our Redeemer.
– Douay-Rheims Version
In the first, second, and third chapters of this Book are contained instructions and admonitions which Saint John was commanded to write to the seven bishops of the churches in Asia. And in the following chapters, to the end, are contained prophecies of things that are to come to pass in the Church of Christ, particularly towards the end of the world, in the time of Antichrist. It was written in Greek, in the island of Patmos, where Saint John was in banishment by order of the cruel emperor Domitian, about sixty-four years after our Lord’s Ascension.
Apocalypse Chapter 1
Saint John is ordered to write to the seven churches in Asia. The manner of Christ’s appearing to him.
1:1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass: and signified, sending by his angel to his servant John,
The things which must shortly come;. . .and again it is said, verse 3, The time is at hand. . .This can not be meant of all the things prophesied in the Apocalypse, where mention is made also of the day of judgment, and of the glory of heaven at the end of the world. That some things were to come to pass shortly, is evident, by what is said to the Seven Churches, chap. 2 and 3, Or that the persecutions foretold should begin shortly. Or that these words signified, that all time is short, and that from the coming of Christ, we are now in the last age or last hour. See 1 John 2.18.
1:2. Who hath given testimony to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen.
1:3. Blessed is he that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy: and keepeth those things which are written in it. For the time is at hand.
1:4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you and peace, from him that is and that was and that is to come: and from the seven spirits which are before his throne:
1:5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood
1:6. And hath made us a kingdom, and priests to God and his Father. To him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.
1:7. Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him: and they also that pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth shall bewail themselves because of him. Even so. Amen.
1:8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
I am Alpha and Omega. . .These are the names of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and signify the same as what follows: The beginning and the end: the first cause and last end of all beings: who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. . .These words signify the true God only, and are here applied to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is to come again to judge the living and the dead.
1:9. I, John, your brother and your partner in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience in Christ Jesus, was in the island which is called Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus.
1:10. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
1:11. Saying: What thou seest, write in a book and send to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamus and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.
1:12. And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks:
1:13. And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
1:14. And his head and his hairs were white as white wool and as snow. And his eyes were as a flame of fire:
1:15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace. And his voice as the sound of many waters.
1:16. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword. And his face was as the sun shineth in his power.
1:17. And when I had seen him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not. I am the First and the Last,
1:18. And alive, and was dead. And behold I am living for ever and ever and have the keys of death and of hell.
1:19. Write therefore the things which thou hast seen: and which are: and which must be done hereafter.
1:20. The mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest in my right hand and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. And the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.
Apocalypse Chapter 2
Directions what to write to the angels or bishops of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus and Thyatira.
2:1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:
2:2. I know thy works and thy labour and thy patience and how thou canst not bear them that are evil. And thou hast tried them who say they are apostles and are not: and hast found them liars:
2:3. And thou hast patience and hast endured for my name and hast not fainted.
2:4. But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity.
2:5. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance and do the first works. Or else I come to thee and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance.
2:6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaites, which I also hate.
2:7. He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of my God.
2:8. And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write: These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead and is alive:
2:9. I know thy tribulation and thy poverty: but thou art rich. And thou art blasphemed by them that say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
2:10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried: and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death: and I will give thee the crown of life.
2:11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: He that shall overcome shall not be hurt by the second death.
2:12. And to the angel of the church of Pergamus write: These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword:
2:13. I know where thou dwellest, where the seat of Satan is. And thou holdest fast my name and hast not denied my faith. Even in those days when Antipas was my faithful witness, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
2:14. But I have against thee a few things: because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat and to commit fornication.
2:15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaites.
2:16. In like manner do penance. If not, I will come to thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
2:17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him that overcometh I will give the hidden manna and will give him a white counter: and in the counter, a new name written, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it.
2:18. And to the angel of the church of Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like to a flame of fire and his feet like to fine brass.
2:19. I know thy works and thy faith and thy charity and thy ministry and thy patience and thy last works, which are more than the former.
2:20. But I have against thee a few things: because thou sufferest the woman Jezabel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants, to commit fornication and to eat of things sacrificed to idols.
2:21. And I gave her a time that she might do penance: and she will not repent of her fornication.
2:22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed: and they that commit adultery with her shall be in very great tribulation, except they do penance from their deeds,
2:23. And I will kill her children with death: and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts. And I will give to every one of you according to your works. But to you I say
2:24. And to the rest who are at Thyatira: Whosoever have not this doctrine and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say: I will not put upon you any other burthen.
2:25. Yet that which you have, hold fast till I come.
2:26. And he that shall overcome and keep my words unto the end, I will give him power over the nations.
Power over the nations. . .This shews, that the saints, who are with Christ our Lord in heaven, receive power from him to preside over nations and provinces, as patrons; and shall come with him at the end of the world to execute his will against those who have not kept his commandments.
2:27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and as the vessel of a potter they shall be broken:
2:28. As I also have received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.
2:29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
Apocalypse Chapter 3
Directions what to write to Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
3:1. And to the angel of the church of Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know thy works, and that thou hast the name of being alive. And thou art dead.
3:2. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. For I find not thy works full before my God.
3:3. Have in mind therefore in what manner thou hast received and heard: and observe and do penance: If then thou shalt not watch, I will come to thee as a thief: and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come to thee.
3:4. But thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.
3:5. He that shall overcome shall thus be clothed in white garments: and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. And I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
3:6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
3:7. And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: These things saith the Holy One and the true one, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth:
3:8. I know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut: because thou hast a little strength and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name.
3:9. Behold, I will bring of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie. Behold, I will make them to come and adore before thy feet. And they shall know that I have loved thee.
3:10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon the earth.
3:11. Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
3:12. He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God: and he shall go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.
3:13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
3:14. And to the angel of the church of Laodicea write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:
The Amen,. . .that is, the true one, the Truth itself; the Word and Son of God. The beginning. . .that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation.
3:15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot.
3:16. But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.
3:17. Because thou sayest: I am rich and made wealthy and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
3:18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold, fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich and mayest be clothed in white garments: and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear. And anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
3:19. Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore and do penance.
3:20. Behold, I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice and open to me the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him: and he with me.
3:21. To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome and am set down with my Father in his throne.
3:22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
Apocalypse Chapter 4
The vision of the throne of God, the twenty-four ancients and the four living creatures.
4:1. After these things I looked, and behold a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as it were, of a trumpet speaking with me, said: Come up hither, and I will shew thee the things which must be done hereafter.
4:2. And immediately I was in the spirit. And behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting.
4:3. And he that sat was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone. And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4:4. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments. And on their heads were crowns of gold.
4:5. And from the throne proceeded lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
4:6. And in the sight of the throne was, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind.
4:7. And the first living creature was like a lion: and the second living creature like a calf: and the third living creature, having the face, as it were, of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying.
4:8. And the four living creatures had each of them six wings: and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.
4:9. And when those living creatures gave glory and honour and benediction to him that sitteth on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever:
4:10. The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne and adored him that liveth for ever and ever and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power. Because thou hast created all things: and for thy will they were and have been created.
Apocalypse Chapter 5
The book sealed with seven seals is opened by the Lamb, who thereupon receives adoration and praise from all.
5:1. And I saw, in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book, written within and without, sealed with seven seals.
5:2. And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof?
5:3. And no man was able, neither in heaven nor on earth nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it.
5:4. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it.
5:5. And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not: behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.
5:6. And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing, as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.
5:7. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.
5:8. And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The prayers of saints. . .Here we see that the saints in heaven offer up to Christ the prayers of the faithful upon earth.
5:9. And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book and to open the seals thereof: because thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation:
5:10. And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.
5:11. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the ancients (and the number of them was thousands of thousands),
5:12. Saying with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and benediction.
5:13. And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard all saying: To him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb, benediction and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever.
5:14. And the four living creatures said: Amen. And the four and twenty ancients fell down on their faces and adored him that liveth for ever and ever.
Apocalypse Chapter 6
What followed upon opening six of the seals.
6:1. And I saw that the Lamb had opened one of the seven seals: and I heard one of the four living creatures, as it were the voice of thunder, saying: Come and see.
6:2. And I saw: and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and there was a crown given him, and he went forth conquering that he might conquer.
White horse. . .He that sitteth on the white horse is Christ, going forth to subdue the world by his gospel. The other horses that follow represent the judgments and punishment that were to fall on the enemies of Christ and his church. The red horse signifies war; the black horse, famine; and the pale horse (which has Death for its rider), plagues or pestilence.
6:3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying: Come and see.
6:4. And there went out another horse that was red. And to him that sat thereon, it was given that he should take peace from the earth: and that they should kill one another. And a great sword was given to him.
6:5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying: Come and see. And behold a black horse. And he that sat on him had a pair of scales in his hand.
6:6. And I heard, as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying: Two pounds of wheat for a penny, and thrice two pounds of barley for a penny: and see thou hurt not the wine and the oil.
6:7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying: Come and see.
6:8. And behold a pale horse: and he that sat upon him, his name was Death. And hell followed him. And power was given to him over the four parts of the earth, to kill with sword, with famine and with death and with the beasts of the earth.
6:9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Under the altar. . .Christ, as man, is this altar, under which the souls of the martyrs live in heaven, as their bodies are here deposited under our altars.
6:10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Revenge our blood. . .They ask not this out of hatred to their enemies, but out of zeal for the glory of God, and a desire that the Lord would accelerate the general judgment, and the complete beatitude of all his elect.
6:11. And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.
6:12. And I saw, when he had opened the sixth seal: and behold there was a great earthquake. And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair: and the whole moon became as blood.
6:13. And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind.
6:14. And the heaven departed as a book folded up. And every mountain, and the islands, were moved out of their places.
6:15. And the kings of the earth and the princes and tribunes and the rich and the strong and every bondman and every freeman hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of mountains:
6:16. And they say to the mountains and the rocks: Fall upon us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
6:17. For the great day of their wrath is come. And who shall be able to stand?
Apocalypse Chapter 7
The number of them that were marked with the seal of the living God and clothed in white robes.
7:1. After these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that they should not blow upon the earth nor upon the sea nor on any tree.
7:2. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
7:3. Saying: Hurt not the earth nor the sea nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.
7:4. And I heard the number of them that were signed. An hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel.
7:5. Of the tribe of Juda, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Ruben, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand signed:
7:6. Of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Nephthali, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Manasses, twelve thousand signed:
7:7. Of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand signed:
7:8. Of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand signed.
7:9. After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
7:10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb.
7:11. And all the angels stood round about the throne and the ancients and the four living creatures. And they fell down before the throne upon their faces and adored God,
7:12. Saying: Amen. Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honour and power and strength, to our God, for ever and ever. Amen.
7:13. And one of the ancients answered and said to me: These that are clothed in white robes, who are they? And whence came they?
7:14. And I said to him: My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me: These are they who are come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
7:15. Therefore, they are before the throne of God: and they serve him day and night in his temple. And he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell over them.
7:16. They shall no more hunger nor thirst: neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.
7:17. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Apocalypse Chapter 8
The seventh seal is opened. The angels with the seven trumpets.
8:1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.
8:2. And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God: and there were given to them seven trumpets.
8:3. And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God.
8:4. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.
8:5. And the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it on the earth: and there were thunders and voices and lightnings and a great earthquake.
8:6. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound the trumpet.
8:7. And the first angel sounded the trumpet: and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood: and it was cast on the earth. And the third part of the earth was burnt up: and the third part of the trees was burnt up: and all green grass was burnt up.
8:8. And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and, as it were, a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea. And the third part of the sea became blood.
8:9. And the third part of those creatures died which had life in the sea: and the third part of the ships was destroyed.
8:10. And the third angel sounded the trumpet: and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch. And it fell on the third part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters:
8:11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood. And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
8:12. And the fourth angel sounded the trumpet: and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars, so that the third part of them was darkened. And the day did not shine for a third part of it: and the night in like manner.
8:13. And I beheld: and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice: Woe, Woe, Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the rest of the voices of the three angels, who are yet to sound the trumpet!
Apocalypse Chapter 9
Locusts come forth from the bottomless pit. The vision of the army of horsemen.
9:1. And the fifth angel sounded the trumpet: and I saw a star fall from heaven upon the earth. And there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit.
A star full. . .This may mean the fall and apostasy of great and learned men from the true faith. Or a whole nation falling into error and separating from the church, not having the sign of God in their foreheads. And there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit. . .That is, to the angel, not to the fallen star. To this angel was given the power, which is here signified by a key, of opening hell.
9:2. And he opened the bottomless pit: and the smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit.
9:3. And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth. And power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
There came out locusts. . .These may be devils in Antichrist’s time, having the appearance of locusts, but large and monstrous, as here described. Or they may be real locusts, but of an extraordinary size and monstrous shape, such as were never before seen on earth, sent to torment those who have not the sign (or seal) of God on their foreheads. Some commentators by these locusts understand heretics, and especially those heretics, that sprung from Jews, and with them denied the divinity of Jesus Christ; as Theodotus, Praxeas, Noetus, Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, Arius, etc. These were great enemies of the Christian religion; they tormented and infected the souls of men, stinging them like scorpions, with the poison of their heresies. Others have explained these locusts, and other animals, mentioned in different places throughout this sacred and mystical book, in a most absurd, fanciful, and ridiculous manner; they make Abaddon the Pope, and the locusts to be friars mendicant, etc. Here it is thought proper, not to enter into any controversy upon that subject, as the inventors of these fancies have been already answered, and fully refuted by many controvertists: besides, those who might be inposed on by such chimerical writers, are in these days much better informed.
9:4. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree: but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads.
9:5. And it was given unto them that they should not kill them: but that they should torment them five months. And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.
9:6. And in those days, men shall seek death and shall not find it. And they shall desire to die: and death shall fly from them.
9:7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle. And on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold: and their faces were as the faces of men.
9:8. And they had hair as the hair of women: and their teeth were as lions.
9:9. And they had breastplates as breastplates of iron: and the noise of their wings was as the noise of chariots and many horses running to battle.
9:10. And they had tails like to scorpions: and there were stings in their tails. And their power was to hurt men, five months. And they had over them
9:11. A king, the angel of the bottomless pit (whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek Apollyon, in Latin Exterminans).
9:12. One woe is past: and behold there come yet two woes more hereafter.
9:13. And the sixth angel sounded the trumpet: and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before the eyes of God,
9:14. Saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet: Loose the four angels who are bound in the great river Euphrates.
9:15. And the four angels were loosed, who were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year: for to kill the third part of men.
9:16. And the number of the army of horsemen was twenty thousand times ten thousand. And I heard the number of them.
9:17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision. And they that sat on them had breastplates of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone. And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions: and from their mouths proceeded fire and smoke and brimstone.
9:18. And by these three plagues was slain the third part of men, by the fire and by the smoke and by the brimstone which issued out of their mouths.
9:19. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails. For, their tails are like to serpents and have heads: and with them they hurt.
9:20. And the rest of the men, who were not slain by these plagues, did not do penance from the works of their hands, that they should not adore devils and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood, which neither can see nor hear nor walk:
9:21. Neither did they penance from their murders nor from their sorceries nor from their fornication nor from their thefts.
Apocalypse Chapter 10
The cry of a mighty angel. He gives John a book to eat.
10:1. And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head: and his face, as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.
10:2. And he had in his hand a little book, open. And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth.
10:3. And he cried with a loud voice as when a lion roareth. And when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
10:4. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write. And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me: Seal up the things which the seven thunders have spoken. And write them not.
10:5. And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven.
10:6. And he swore by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven and the things which are therein, and the earth and the things which are in it, and the sea and the things which are therein: That time shall be no longer.
10:7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared by his servants the prophets.
Declared. . .literally evangelized, to signify the good tidings, agreeable to the Gospel, of the final victory of Christ, and of that eternal life, which should be the reward of the temporal sufferings of the martyrs and faithful servants of God.
10:8. And I heard a voice from heaven, again speaking to me and saying: Go and take the book that is open, from the hand of the angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
10:9. And I went to the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the book. And he said to me: Take the book and eat it up. And it shall make thy belly bitter: but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey.
10:10. And I took the book from the hand of the angel and ate it up: and it was in my mouth, sweet as honey. And when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
10:11. And he said to me: Thou must prophesy again to many nations and peoples and tongues and kings.
Apocalypse Chapter 11
He is ordered to measure the temple. The two witnesses.
11:1. And there was given me a reed, like unto a rod. And it was said to me: Arise, and measure the temple of God and the altar and them that adore therein.
11:2. But the court which is without the temple, cast out and measure it not: because it is given unto the Gentiles. And the holy city they shall tread under foot, two and forty months:
11:3. And I will give unto my two witnesses: and they shall prophesy, a thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.
My two witnesses. . .It is commonly understood of Henoch and Elias.
11:4. These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks that stand before the Lord of the earth.
11:5. And if any man will hurt them, fire shall come out of their mouths and shall devour their enemies. And if any man will hurt them, in this manner must he be slain.
11:6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: And they have power over waters, to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
11:7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the abyss shall make war against them and shall overcome them and kill them.
11:8. And their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city which is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt: where their Lord also was crucified.
11:9. And they of the tribes and peoples and tongues and nations shall see their bodies for three days and a half: and they shall not suffer their bodies to be laid in sepulchres.
11:10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them and make merry: and shall send gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt upon the earth.
11:11. And after three days and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them. And they stood upon their feet: and great fear fell upon them that saw them.
11:12. And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying to them: Come up hither. And they went up to heaven in a cloud: and their enemies saw them.
11:13. And at that hour there was made a great earthquake: and the tenth part of the city fell. And there were slain in the earthquake, names of men, seven thousand: and the rest were cast into a fear and gave glory to the God of heaven.
11:14. The second woe is past: and behold the third woe will come quickly.
11:15. And the seventh angel sounded the trumpet: and there were great voices in heaven, saying: The kingdom of this world is become our Lord’s and his Christ’s, and he shall reign for ever and ever. Amen.
11:16. And the four and twenty ancients who sit on their seats in the sight of God, fell on their faces and adored God, saying:
11:17. We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast and who art to come: because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and thou hast reigned.
11:18. And the nations were angry: and thy wrath is come. And the time of the dead, that they should be judged and that thou shouldest render reward to thy servants the prophets and the saints, and to them that fear thy name, little and great: and shouldest destroy them who have corrupted the earth.
11:19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail.
Apocalypse Chapter 12
The vision of the woman clothed with the sun and of the great dragon her persecutor.
12:1. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
A woman. . .The church of God. It may also, by allusion, be applied to our blessed Lady. The church is clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ: she hath the moon, that is, the changeable things of the world, under her feet: and the twelve stars with which she is crowned, are the twelve apostles: she is in labour and pain, whilst she brings forth her children, and Christ in them, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions.
12:2. And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered.
12:3. And there was seen another sign in heaven. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems.
12:4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.
12:5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne.
12:6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days.
12:7. And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels.
12:8. And they prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in heaven.
12:9. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world. And he was cast unto the earth: and his angels were thrown down with him.
12:10. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night.
12:11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death.
12:12. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.
12:13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child.
12:14. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert, unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
12:15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman, water, as it were a river: that he might cause her to be carried away by the river.
12:16. And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
12:17. And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
12:18. And he stood upon the sand of the sea.
Apocalypse Chapter 13
Of the beast with seven heads and of a second beast.
13:1. And I saw a beast coming up out the sea, having seven heads and ten horns: and upon his horns, ten diadems: and upon his heads, names of blasphemy.
A beast. . .This first beast with seven heads and ten horns, is probably the whole company of infidels, enemies and persecutors of the people of God, from the beginning to the end of the world. The seven heads are seven kings, that is, seven principal kingdoms or empires, which have exercised, or shall exercise, tyrannical power over the people of God; of these, five were then fallen, viz.: the Egyptian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian monarchies: one was present, viz., the empire of Rome: and the seventh and chiefest was to come, viz., the great Antichrist and his empire. The ten horns may be understood of ten lesser persecutors.
13:2. And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard: and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his own strength and great power.
13:3. And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death’s wound was healed. And all the earth was in admiration after the beast.
One of his heads, etc. . .Some understand this of the mortal wound, which the idolatry of the Roman empire (signified by the sixth head) received from Constantine; which was, as it were, healed again by Julian the Apostate.
13:4. And they adored the dragon which gave power to the beast. And they adored the beast, saying: Who is like to the beast? And who shall be able to fight with him?
13:5. And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies: and power was given to him to do, two and forty months.
13:6. And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven.
His tabernacle, etc. . .That is, his church and his saints.
13:7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.
13:8. And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world.
Slain from the beginning, etc. . .In the foreknowledge of God; and inasmuch as all mercy and grace, from the beginning, was given in view of his death and passion.
13:9. If any man have an ear, let him hear.
13:10. He that shall lead into captivity shall go into captivity: he that shall kill by the sword must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
13:11. And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth: and he had two horns, like a lamb: and he spoke as a dragon.
Another beast. . .This second beast with two horns, may be understood of the heathenish priests and magicians; the principal promoters both of idolatry and persecution.
13:12. And he executed all the power of the former beast in his sight. And he caused the earth and them that dwell therein to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed.
13:13. And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth, in the sight of men.
13:14. And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, for the signs which were given him to do in the sight of the beast: saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make the image of the beast which had the wound by the sword and lived.
13:15. And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast: and that the image of the beast should speak: and should cause that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast should be slain.
13:16. And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand or on their foreheads:
13:17. And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
13:18. Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.
Six hundred sixty-six. . .The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number.
Apocalypse Chapter 14
Of the Lamb and of the virgins that follow him. Of the judgments that shall fall upon the wicked.
14:1. And I beheld: and lo a Lamb stood upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.
14:2. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters and as the voice of great thunder. And the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps.
14:3. And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne and before the four living creatures and the ancients: and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth.
14:4. These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
14:5. And in their mouth there was found no lie: for they are without spot before the throne of God.
14:6. And I saw another angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the eternal gospel, to preach unto them that sit upon the earth and over every nation and tribe and tongue and people:
14:7. Saying with a loud voice: Fear the Lord and give him honour, because the hour of his judgment is come. And adore ye him that made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of waters.
14:8. And another angel followed, saying: That great Babylon is fallen, is fallen; which made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Babylon. . .By Babylon may be very probably signified all the wicked world in general, which God will punish, and destroy after the short time of this mortal life: or it may signify every great city wherein enormous sins and abominations are daily committed; and that when the measure of its iniquities is full, the punishments due to its crimes are poured on it. It may also be some city of the description in the text, that will exist, and be destroyed, as here described, towards the end of the world.
14:9. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice: If any man shall adore the beast and his image and receive his character in his forehead or in his hand,
14:10. He also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mingled with pure wine in the cup of his wrath: and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb.
14:11. And the smoke of their torments, shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night, who have adored the beast and his image and whoever receiveth the character of his name.
14:12. Here is the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
14:13. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying to me: Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours. For their works follow them.
Die in the Lord. . .It is understood of the martyrs who die for the Lord.
14:14. And I saw: and behold a white cloud and upon the cloud one sitting like to the Son of man, having on his head a crown of gold and in his hand a sharp sickle.
14:15. And another angel came out from the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat upon the cloud: Thrust in thy sickle and reap, because the hour is come to reap. For the harvest of the earth is ripe.
14:16. And he that sat on the cloud thrust his sickle into the earth: and the earth was reaped.
14:17. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
14:18. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire. And he cried with a loud voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying: Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vineyard of the earth, because the grapes thereof are ripe.
14:19. And the angel thrust in his sharp sickle into the earth and gathered the vineyard of the earth and cast it into the great press of the wrath of God:
14:20. And the press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Apocalypse Chapter 15
They that have overcome the beast glorify God. Of the seven angels with the seven vials.
15:1. And I saw another sign in heaven, great and wonderful: seven angels having the seven last plagues. For in them is filled up the wrath of God.
15:2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had overcome the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God:
15:3. And singing the canticle of Moses, the servant of God, and the canticle of the Lamb, saying: Great and wonderful are thy works, O Lord God Almighty. Just and true are thy ways, O King of ages.
15:4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and magnify thy name? For thou only art holy. For all nations shall come and shall adore in thy sight, because thy judgments are manifest.
15:5. And after these things, I looked: and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
15:6. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed with clean and white linen and girt about the breasts with golden girdles.
15:7. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
15:8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the majesty of God and from his power. And no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Apocalypse Chapter 16
The seven vials are poured out. The plagues that ensue.
16:1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels: Go and pour out the seven vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
16:2. And the first went and poured out his vial upon the earth. And there fell a sore and grievous wound upon men who had the character of the beast: and upon them that adored the image thereof.
16:3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea. And there came blood as it were of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
16:4. And the third poured out his vial upon the rivers and the fountains of waters. And there was made blood.
16:5. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: Thou art just, O Lord, who art and who wast, the Holy One, because thou hast judged these things.
16:6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets: and thou hast given them blood to drink. For they are worthy.
16:7. And I heard another, from the altar, saying: Yea, O Lord God Almighty, true and just are thy judgments.
16:8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun. And it was given unto him to afflict men with heat and fire.
16:9. And men were scorched with great heat: and they blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over these plagues. Neither did they penance to give him glory.
16:10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast. And his kingdom became dark: and they gnawed their tongues for pain.
16:11. And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and wounds: and did not penance for their works.
16:12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon that great river Euphrates and dried up the water thereof, that a way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun.
16:13. And I saw from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.
16:14. For they are the spirits of devils, working signs: and they go forth unto the kings of the whole earth, to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God.
16:15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16:16. And he shall gather them together into a place which in Hebrew is called Armagedon.
Armagedon. . .That is, the hill of robbers.
16:17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial upon the air. And there came a great voice out of the temple from the throne, saying: It is done.
16:18. And there were lightnings and voices and thunders: and there was a great earthquake, such an one as never had been since men were upon the earth, such an earthquake, so great.
16:19. And the great city was divided into three parts: and the cities of the Gentiles fell. And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the indignation of his wrath.
16:20. And every island fled away: and the mountains were not found.
16:21. And great hail, like a talent, came down from heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God, for the plague of the hail: because it was exceeding great.
Apocalypse Chapter 17
The description of the great harlot and of the beast upon which she sits.
17:1. And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven vials and spoke with me, saying: Come, I will shew thee the condemnation of the great harlot, who sitteth upon many waters:
17:2. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication. And they who inhabit the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her whoredom.
17:3. And he took me away in spirit into the desert. And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
17:4. And the woman was clothed round about with purple and scarlet, and gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication.
17:5. And on her forehead a name was written: A mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of the fornications and the abominations of the earth.
A mystery. . .That is, a secret; because what follows of the name and title of the great harlot is to be taken in a mystical sense. Babylon. . .Either the city of the devil in general; or, if this place be to be understood of any particular city, pagan Rome, which then and for three hundred years persecuted the church; and was the principal seat both of empire and idolatry.
17:6. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And I wondered, when I had seen her, with great admiration.
17:7. And the angel said to me: Why dost thou wonder? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman and of the beast which carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
17:8. The beast which thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall come up out of the bottomless pit and go into destruction. And the inhabitants on the earth (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) shall wonder, seeing the beast that was and is not.
The beast which thou sawest. . .This beast which supports Babylon, may signify the power of the devil: which was and is not, being much limited by the coming of Christ, but shall again exert itself under Antichrist. The seven heads of this beast are seven mountains or empires, instruments of his tyranny; of which five were then fallen. (See chap. 13.1, and below, verse 10.) The beast itself is said to be the eighth, and is of the seven; because they all act under the devil, and by his instigation, so that his power is in them all, yet so as to make up, as it were, an eighth empire, distinct from them all.
17:9. And here is the understanding that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, upon which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings.
17:10. Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he is come, he must remain a short time.
17:11. And the beast which was and is not: the same also is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into destruction.
17:12. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom: but shall receive power as kings, one hour after the beast.
Ten kings. . .Ten lesser kingdoms, enemies also of the church of Christ: which, nevertheless, shall be made instruments of the justice of God for the punishment of Babylon. Some understand this of the Goths, Vandals, Huns, and other barbarous nations, that destroyed the empire of Rome.
17:13. These have one design: and their strength and power they shall deliver to the beast.
17:14. These shall fight with the Lamb. And the Lamb shall overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings: and they that are with him are called and elect and faithful.
17:15. And he said to me: The waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples and nations and tongues.
17:16. And the ten horns which thou sawest in the beast: These shall hate the harlot and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh and shall burn her with fire.
17:17. For God hath given into their hearts to do that which pleaseth him: that they give their kingdom to the beast, till the words of God be fulfilled.
17:18. And the woman which thou sawest is the great city which hath kingdom over the kings of the earth.
Apocalypse Chapter 18
The fall of Babylon. Kings and merchants lament over her.
18:1. And after these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power: and the earth was enlightened with his glory.
18:2. And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen: and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every unclean spirit and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird:
18:3. Because all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication: and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her; And the merchants of the earth have been made rich by the power of her delicacies.
18:4. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my people; that you be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plagues.
18:5. For her sins have reached unto heaven: and the Lord hath remembered her iniquities.
18:6. Render to her as she also hath rendered to you: and double unto her double, according to her works. In the cup wherein she hath mingled, mingle ye double unto her.
18:7. As much as she hath glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her. Because she saith in her heart: I sit a queen and am no widow: and sorrow I shall not see.
18:8. Therefore, shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine. And she shall be burnt with the fire: because God is strong, who shall judge her.
18:9. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived in delicacies with her, shall weep and bewail themselves over her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning:
18:10. Standing afar off for fear of her torments, saying: Alas! alas! that great city, Babylon, that mighty city: for in one hour is thy judgment come.
18:11. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her: for no man shall buy their merchandise any more.
18:12. Merchandise of gold and silver and precious stones: and of pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet: and all thyine wood: and all manner of vessels of ivory: and all manner of vessels of precious stone and of brass and of iron and of marble:
18:13. And cinnamon and odours and ointment and frankincense and wine and oil and fine flour and wheat and beasts and sheep and horses and chariots: and slaves and souls of men.
18:14. And the fruits of the desire of thy soul are departed from thee: and all fat and goodly things are perished from thee. And they shall find them no more at all.
18:15. The merchants of these things, who were made rich, shall stand afar off from her, for fear of her torments, weeping and mourning,
18:16. And saying: Alas! alas! that great city, which was clothed with fine linen and purple and scarlet and was gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls.
18:17. For in one hour are so great riches come to nought. And every shipmaster and all that sail into the lake, and mariners, and as many as work in the sea, stood afar off,
18:18. And cried, seeing the place of her burning, saying: What city is like to this great city?
18:19. And they cast dust upon their heads and cried, weeping and mourning, saying: Alas! alas! that great city, wherein all were made rich, that had ships at sea, by reason of her prices. For, in one hour she is made desolate.
18:20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets. For God hath judged your judgment on her.
18:21. And a mighty angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: With such violence as this, shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down and shall be found no more at all.
18:22. And the voice of harpers and of musicians and of them that play on the pipe and on the trumpet shall no more be heard at all in thee: and no craftsman of any art whatsoever shall be found any more at all in thee: and the sound of the mill shall be heard no more at all in thee:
18:23. And the light of the lamp shall shine no more at all in thee: and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee. For thy merchants were the great men of the earth: for all nations have been deceived by thy enchantments.
18:24. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Apocalypse Chapter 19
The saints glorify God for his judgments on the great harlot. Christ’s victory over the beast and the kings of the earth.
19:1. After these things, I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia. Salvation and glory and power is to our God.
19:2. For true and just are his judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornication and hath revenged the blood of his servants, at her hands.
19:3. And again they said: Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever.
19:4. And the four and twenty ancients and the four living creatures fell down and adored God that sitteth upon the throne, saying: Amen. Alleluia.
19:5. And a voice came out from the throne, saying: Give praise to our God, all ye his servants: and you that fear him, little and great.
19:6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying: Alleluia: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, hath reigned.
19:7. Let us be glad and rejoice and give glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb is come: and his wife hath prepared herself.
19:8. And it is granted to her that she should clothe herself with fine linen, glittering and white. For the fine linen are the justifications of saints.
19:9. And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true.
19:10. And I fell down before his feet, to adore him. And he saith to me: See thou do it not. I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Adore God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
I fell down before, etc. . .St. Augustine (lib. 20, contra Faust, c. 21) is of opinion, that this angel appeared in so glorious a manner, that Saint John took him to be God; and therefore would have given him divine honour had not the angel stopped him, by telling him he was but his fellow servant. Saint Gregory (Hom. 8, in Evang.) rather thinks that the veneration offered by Saint John, was not divine honour, or indeed any other than what might lawfully be given; but was nevertheless refused by the angel, in consideration of the dignity to which our human nature had been raised, by the incarnation of the Son of God, and the dignity of Saint John, an apostle, prophet, and martyr.
19:11. And I saw heaven opened: and behold a white horse. And he that sat upon him was called faithful and true: and with justice doth he judge and fight.
19:12. And his eyes were as a flame of fire: and on his head were many diadems. And he had a name written, which no man knoweth but himself.
19:13. And he was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood. And his name is called: THE WORD OF GOD.
19:14. And the armies that are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
19:15. And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp two-edged sword, that with it he may strike the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty.
19:16. And he hath on his garment and on his thigh written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
19:17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun: and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that did fly through the midst of heaven: Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God:
19:18. That you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of tribunes and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them: and the flesh of all freemen and bondmen and of little and of great.
19:19. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse and with his army.
19:20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought signs before him, wherewith he seduced them who received the character of the beast and who adored his image. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone.
19:21. And the rest were slain by the sword of him that sitteth upon the horse, which proceedeth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Apocalypse Chapter 20
Satan is bound for a thousand years. The souls of the martyrs reign with Christ in the first resurrection. The last attempts of Satan against the church. The last judgment.
20:1. And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
20:2. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
Bound him, etc. . .The power of Satan has been very much limited by the passion of Christ: for a thousand years; that is, for the whole time of the New Testament; but especially from the time of the destruction of Babylon or pagan Rome, till the new efforts of Gog and Magog against the church, towards the end of the world. During which time the souls of the martyrs and saints live and reign with Christ in heaven, in the first resurrection, which is that of the soul to the life of glory; as the second resurrection will be that of the body, at the day of the general judgment.
20:3. And he cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal upon him, that he should no more seduce the nations till the thousand years be finished. And after that, he must be loosed a little time.
20:4. And I saw seats. And they sat upon them: and judgment was given unto them. And the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God and who had not adored the beast nor his image nor received his character on their foreheads or in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
20:5. The rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
20:6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. In these the second death hath no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ: and shall reign with him a thousand years.
20:7. And when the thousand years shall be finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go forth and seduce the nations which are over the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog: and shall gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
20:8. And they came upon the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
20:9. And there came down fire from God out of heaven and devoured them: and the devil, who seduced them, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast
20:10. And the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
20:11. And I saw a great white throne and one sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away: and there was no place found for them
20:12. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne. And the books were opened: and another book was opened, which was the book of life. And the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
20:13. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it: and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them. And they were judged, every one according to their works.
20:14. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.
20:15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the pool of fire.
Apocalypse Chapter 21
The new Jerusalem described.
21:1. I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone: and the sea is now no more.
The first heaven and the first earth was gone. . .being changed, not as to their substance, but in their qualities.
21:2. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
21:3. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people: and God himself with them shall be their God.
21:4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.
21:5. And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write. For these words are most faithful and true.
21:6. And he said to me: It is done. I am Alpha and Omega: the Beginning and the End. To him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely.
21:7. He that shall overcome shall possess these things. And I will be his God: and he shall be my son.
21:8. But the fearful and unbelieving and the abominable and murderers and whoremongers and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
21:9. 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 shew thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
21:10. And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain: and he shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
21:11. Having the glory of God, and the light thereof was like to a precious stone, as to the jasper stone even as crystal.
21:12. And it had a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and in the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
21:13. On the east, three gates: and on the north, three gates: and on the south, three gates: and on the west, three gates.
21:14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations: And in them, the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb,
21:15. And he that spoke with me had a measure of a reed of gold, to measure the city and the gates thereof and the wall.
21:16. 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 thousand furlongs: and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal.
21:17. And he measured the wall thereof an hundred forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel.
The measure of a man, i.e., According to the measure of men, and used by the angel. . .This seems to be the true meaning of these words.
21:18. And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold like to clear glass.
21:19. And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper: the second, sapphire: the third; a chalcedony: the fourth, an emerald:
21:20. The fifth, sardonyx: the sixth, sardius: the seventh, chrysolite: the eighth, beryl: the ninth, a topaz: the tenth, a chrysoprasus: the eleventh, a jacinth: the twelfth, an amethyst.
21:21. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, one to each: and every several gate was of one several pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were, transparent glass.
21:22. And I saw no temple therein. For the Lord God Almighty is the temple thereof, and the Lamb.
21:23. And the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. For the glory of God hath enlightened it: and the Lamb is the lamp thereof.
21:24. And the nations shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it.
21:25. And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day: for there shall be no night there.
21:26. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
21:27. There shall not enter into it any thing defiled or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie: but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.
Apocalypse Chapter 22
The water and tree of life. The conclusion.
22:1. And he shewed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
22:2. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month: the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.
22:3. And there shall be no curse any more: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve him.
22:4. And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads.
22:5. And night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall enlighten then. And they shall reign for ever and ever.
22:6. And he said to me: These words are most faithful and true. And the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to shew his servant the things which must be done shortly.
22:7. And: Behold I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book.
22:8. And I, John, who have heard and seen these things. And, after I had heard and seen, I fell down to adore before the feet of the angel who shewed me the things.
22:9. And he said to me: See thou do it not. For I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets and of them that keep the words of the prophecy of this book. Adore God.
22:10. And he saith to me: Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book. For the time is at hand.
For the time is at hand. . .That is, when compared to eternity, all time and temporal things vanish, and are but of short duration. As to the time when the chief predictions should come to pass, we have no certainty, as appears by the different opinions, both of the ancient fathers and late interpreters. Many think that most things set down from the 4th chapter to the end, will not be fulfilled till a little time before the end of the world. Others are of opinion, that a great part of them, and particularly the fall of the wicked Babylon, happened at the destruction of paganism, by the destruction of heathen Rome, and its persecuting heathen emperors. Of these interpretations, see Aleazar, in his long commentary; see the learned Bossnet, bishop of Meaux, in his treatise on this Book; and P. Alleman, in his notes on the same Apocalypse, tom. 12, who in his Preface says, that this, in a great measure, may be now looked upon as the opinion followed by the learned men. In fine, others think that Saint John’s design was in a mystical way, by metaphors and allegories, to represent the attempts and persecutions of the wicked against the servants of God, the punishments that should in a short time fall upon Babylon, that is, upon all the wicked in general: the eternal happiness and reward, which God had reserved for the pious inhabitants of Jerusalem, that is, for his faithful servants, after their short trials and the tribulations of this mortal life. In the mean time we meet with many profitable instructions and admonitions, which we may easily enough understand: but we have no certainty when we apply these predictions to particular events: for as Saint Jerome takes notice, the Apocalypse has as many mysteries as words, or rather mysteries in every word. Apocalypsis Joannis tot habet Sacramenta quot verba—parum dixi, in verbis singulis multiplices latent intelligentiae. Ep. ad Paulin, t. 4. p. 574. Edit. Benedict.
22:11. He that hurteth, let him hurt still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is just, let him be justified still: and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still.
Let him hurt still. . .It is not an exhortation, or license to go on in sin; but an intimation, that how far soever the wicked may proceed, their progress shall quickly end, and then they must expect to meet with proportionable punishments.
22:12. Behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to render to every, man according to his works.
22:13. I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
22:14. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter in by the gates into the city.
22:15. Without are dogs and sorcerers and unchaste and murderers and servers of idols and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.
22:16. I, Jesus, have sent my angel, to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and stock of David, the bright and morning star.
22:17. And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come. And he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.
22:18. For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.
22:19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.
22:20. He that giveth testimony of these things, saith: Surely, I come quickly: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
22:21. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
– Douay-Rheims Version