Shepherds who visited Baby Jesus were twelve, according to Maria Valtorta. They
were the first to come and adore the Incarnate Word. And we know
their names! After
the Lord began His public ministry, he sought out the shepherds, many
of whom were still living.
and Joseph are nearing Bethlehem when they meet a shepherd, who cuts
across the road with his herd […]. Joseph bends down to say
something to him. The shepherd nods in assent. Joseph takes the
donkey and leads it behind the herd into the grazing ground. The
shepherd pulls a coarse bowl out of his knapsack, he milks a big
sheep with swollen udders and hands the bowl to Joseph who offers it
May God bless you both » exclaims Mary. « You for your love, and
you for your kindness. I will pray for you. »
Are you coming from far? » asks the shepherd.
From Nazareth » replies Joseph.
And where are you going? »
To Bethlehem. »
« A Long journey for a woman in Her state. Is She your wife? »
Yes, She is. »
Have you got a place where to go? »
No, we haven't. »
That's bad! Bethlehem is overcrowded with people who have come from
all over to register there, or are on their way to register
elsewhere. I don't know whether you will find lodgings. Are you
familiar with the place? »
Not very. »
Well... I will explain it to you... for Her... (and he points to
Mary). Find the hotel, but it will be full. But I will tell you just
the same, to guide you. It's in the square, in the largest one. This
main road will take you to it. You can't miss it. There is a fountain
in front of it, it is a long and low building with a very big door.
It will be full. But if you do not find room in the hotel, or in any
of the houses, go round to the back of the hotel, towards the
are some stables in the mountain, which are used sometimes by
merchants to keep their animals there, on their way to Jerusalem,
when they don't find room in the hotel. They are stables
are damp and cold and there are no doors. But they are always a
shelter, because your wife can't be left on the road. Perhaps you
will find room there and some hay to sleep on and for the donkey. And
may God guide you. »
And may God give you joy » answers Mary. Joseph instead replies: «
Peace be with you. »
take to the road again.
night the Savior is born, and Maria Valtorta is graced with a vision
of the announcement of His birth to the shepherds.
writes: […] I see a very wide country. The moon is at its zenith
and she is sailing smoothly in a sky crowded with stars [...], the
moon is smiling in the middle of them with her big white face, from
which streams of light descend and make the earth white […].
my right I see a place enclosed by a thorn-bush hedge on two sides
and by a low rugged wall on the other two. The wall supports a kind
of low wide shed, which inside the enclosure is built in masonry and
part in wood […]. From the enclosure intermittent short bleatings
can be heard now and again.
must be the little sheep which dream or perhaps sense that it is
almost daybreak because of the very bright moonlight. The brightness
is intense to an excessive degree and it is increasing more and more
shepherd looks out of the door, and lifting one arm to his forehead
to shield his eyes, he looks up. It seems improbable that one should
protect one's eyes from moonlight. But the moonlight in this case is
so bright that it blinds people, particularly those who come out from
a dark enclosure. Everything is calm. But the bright moonlight is
surprising. The shepherd calls his companions. They all come to the
door: a group of hairy men of various ages. Some are just teenagers,
some are already white haired, They comment on the strange event and
the younger ones are afraid. One in particular, a boy about twelve
years old, starts crying, and the older shepherds jeer at him.
What are you afraid of, you fool? » the oldest man says to him. «
Can't you see that the air is very quiet? Have you never seen clear
moonlight? You have always been tied to your mother's apron strings,
haven't you? But there are many things for you to see! [...] Oh! Many
things you will see, if you live long enough. »
the little shepherd is no longer listening to him. He looks as if he
is no longer frightened, because he leaves the threshold and steals
from behind the shoulders of a brawny herdsman, behind whom he had
previously sought shelter, and goes out on to the grassy fold in
front of the shed. He looks up and walks about like a sleep-walker or
one hypnotized by something that compellingly attracts him.
a certain moment he shouts: « Oh! » and remains petrified with his
arms slightly stretched out. His mates look at one another
But what is the matter with the fool? » says one.
I will send him back to his mother tomorrow. I don't want mad people
as guardians of the sheep » says another.
the old man who had spoken earlier says: « Let us goand
see before we judge him. Call also the others who are sleeping and
bring your sticks. It might be a wild animal or some robber... »
go in, they call the other shepherds and they come out with torches
and clubs. They join the boy.
There, there » he whispers smiling. « Above the tree, look at the
light that is coming. It seems to be coming on the ray of the moon.
There it is, it is coming near. How beautiful it is! »
I can only see a rather brighter light. »
So can I. »
So can I » say the others.
No. I see something like a body » says one whom I recognize to be
the shepherd who gave the milk to Mary.
It is... it is an angel! » shouts the boy. « Here he is, he is
coming down, he is coming near... Down! On your knees before the
angel of God! »
long and venerable « Oh! » comes from the group of shepherds, who
fall down face to the ground and the older they are, the more they
appear to be crushed by the refulgent apparition. The young ones are
on their knees, looking at the angel who is coming nearer and nearer,
and then he stops mid-air above the enclosure wall, waving his large
wings, a pearly brightness in the white moonlight surrounding him.
Do not fear. I am not bringing you misfortune. I announce you a great
joy for the people of Israel and for all the people of the world. »
The angelic voice is the harmony of a harp and of singing
Today, in the City of David, the Savior has been born! » In saying
so, the angel spreads out his wings wider and wider, moving them as a
sign of overwhelming joy, and a stream of golden sparks and precious
stones seem to fall from them: a real rainbow describing a triumphal
arch above the poor shed.
... the Savior, Who is Christ. » The angel shines with abrighter
light. His two wings, now motionless, pointed upright towards the sky
like two still sails on the sapphire of the sea, seem two bright
flames ascending to Heaven.
... Christ, the Lord! » The angel gathers his sparkling wings and
covers himself with them as if they were a coat of diamonds on a
dress of pearls, he bows down in adoration, with his arms crossed
over his heart, while his head bent down as it is, disappears in the
shade of the tops of the folded wings […].
now he stirs. He spreads out his wings, lifts his head, bright with a
heavenly smile, and says: « You will recognize Him from the
following signs: in a poor stable, behind Bethlehem, you will find a
baby in swaddling clothes, in a manger for animals, because no roof
was found for the Messiah in the city of David. » The angel becomes
grave, almost sad, in saying that.
from the Heavens many angels – oh! how many! – come down, all
like him – a ladder of angels descending and rejoicing and dimming
the moonlight with their heavenly brightness. They all gather round
the announcing angel, fluttering their wings, exhaling perfumes,
playing notes in which the most beautiful voices of creation find a
recollection, but elevated to uniform perfection [...]. To hear this
melody is to know Paradise, where everything is harmony of love which
emanates from God to make the blessed souls happy, and then from them
returns to God to say to Him: « We love You! »
angelical « Glory » spreads throughout the quiet country in wider
and wider circles and the bright light with it. And the birds join
their singing to greet the early light, and the sheep add their
bleatings for the early sun. […] I love to believe that the animals
are greeting their Creator, Who has come down among them to love them
both as a Man and as God.
set out in the moonlight aided by their torches, after closing the
shed and the enclosure […]. They go round Bethlehem. They reach the
stable not the way Mary came, but from the opposite direction, so
that they do not pass in front of the better stables, instead they
find this one first. They go near the hole.
Go in! »
I wouldn't dare! »
You go in! »
At least have a look. »
You, Levi, who saw the angel first, obviously because you are better
than we are, look in. » Before they said he was mad... but now it
suits them if he dare what they do not.
boy hesitates, but then he makes up his mind. He goes near the hole,
pulls the mantle a little to one side, looks... and remains
enraptured. [St. Joseph had hung his mantle in front of the opening
to the stable.]
What can you see? » they ask him anxiously in low voices.
I can see a beautiful young woman and a man bending over a manger and
I can hear... I can hear a little baby crying, and the woman is
speaking to Him in a voice...oh! what a voice! »
What is She saying? »
She is saying: “Jesus, little one! Jesus, love of Your Mummy! Don't
cry, little Son..”.. She is saying: “Oh! If I could only say to
You: 'Take some milk, little one'. But I have not got any yet..”..
She says: “You are so cold, My love! And the hay is stinging You!
How painful it is for Your Mummy to hear You crying so, without being
able to help You!.”.. She says: “Sleep, soul of Mine! Because it
breaks My heart to hear You crying and see Your tears!” and She
kisses Him, and She must be warming His little feet with Her hands,
because She is bent with Her arms in the manger. »
Call Her! Let them hear you. »
shepherd opens his mouth, but he only utters a faint moaning noise.
turns round and comes to the door. « Who are you? »
Shepherds. We brought you some food and some wool. We have come to
worship the Savior. »
Come in. »
go in, and the stable becomes brighter because of the light of the
torches. The older men push the young ones in front of them. Mary
turns round and smiles. « Come » She says. « Come!», and She
invites them with Her hand and Her smile, and She takes the boy who
saw the angel and She draws him to Herself, against the manger. And
the boy looks, and is happy.
others, invited also by Joseph, move forward with their gifts and
they place them at Mary's feet with few deep-felt words. They then
look at the Baby Who is weeping a little and they smile moved and
one of them […] says: «Mother, take this wool. It's soft and
clean. I prepared it for my child who is about to be born. But I
offer it to You. Lay your Son in this wool. It will be soft and warm.
» And he offers the sheep hide, a beautiful hide, well covered with
white soft wool.
lifts Jesus, and puts it round Him. And She shows Him to the
shepherds, who, kneeling on the hay on the ground, look at Him
become bolder, and one suggests: « He should be given a mouthful of
milk, better still, some water and honey. But we have no honey. We
give it to little babies. I have seven children, and I know... »
There is some milk here. Take it, Woman. »
But it is cold. It should be warm. Where is Elias? He has the sheep.
must be the shepherd who gave the milk. But he is not there. He
remained outside and is looking from the hole, but he cannot be seen
in the dark night.
Who led you here? »
An angel told us to come, and Elias showed us the way. But where is
he now? » The sheep declares his presence with a bleat.
Come in. You are wanted. » He enters with his sheep, embarrassed
because they all look at him.
It's you! » says Joseph, who recognizes him, and Mary smiles at him
saying: « You are good. »
milk the sheep and with the hem of a piece of linen dipped into the
warm creamy milk, Mary moistens the lips of the Baby Who sucks the
sweet cream. They all smile, and even more so, when Jesus falls
asleep in the warmth of the wool, with the little bit of linen still
between His lips.
But You can't stay here. It's cold and damp. And... there is too
strong a smell of animals. It's not good... it's not good for the
I know » replies Mary with a deep sigh. « But there is no room for
us in Bethlehem. »
Take heart, Woman. We will look for a house for You. »
I will tell my mistress » says Elias. « She is good. She will
receive You, even if she had to give You her own room. As soon as it
is daylight, I will tell her. Her house is full of people. But she
will find room for You. »
For My Child, at least. Joseph and I can lie also on the floor. But
for the Little One... »
Don't worry, Woman. I will see to it. And we will tell many people
what we were told. You will lack nothing. For the time being, take
what our poverty can give You. We are shepherds... »
We are poor, too. And we cannot reward you » says Joseph.
Oh! We don't want it. Even if You could afford it, we would not want
it. The Lord has already rewarded us. He promised peace to everybody.
The angels said: “Peace to men of good will.” But He has already
given it to us, because the angel said that this Child is the Savior,
Who is Christ, the Lord. We are poor and ignorant, but we know that
the Prophets say that the Savior will be the Prince of Peace. And he
told us to come and adore Him. That is why He gave us His peace.
Glory be to God in the Most High Heaven and glory to His Christ here,
and You are blessed, Woman, Who gave birth to Him: You are holy,
because You deserved to bear Him! Give us orders as our Queen,
because we will be happy to serve You. What can we do for You? »
You can love My Son, and always cherish the same thoughts as you have
But what about You? Is there anything You wish? Have You no relatives
whom You would like to inform that He has been born? »
Yes, I have them. But they are far away. They are at Hebron... »
I will go » says Elias. « Who are they? »
Zacharias, the priest, and My cousin Elizabeth. »
Zacharias? Oh! I know him well. In summer I go up those mountains
because the pastures are rich and beautiful, and I am a friend of his
shepherd. When I know you are settled, I will go to Zacharias. »
Thank you, Elias. »
You need not thank me. It is a great honor for me, a poor shepherd,
to go and speak to the priest and say to him: “The Savior has been
No. You must say to him: “Your cousin, Mary of Nazareth, has said
that Jesus has been born, and that you should come to Bethlehem.” »
I will say that. »
May God reward You. I will remember you, Elias, and every one of you.
Will You tell Your Baby about us? »
I certainly will. »
I am Elias. », « And I am Levi. », « And I am Samuel. », «And I
Jonah. », « And I Isaac. », « And I Tobias. », « And I
Jonathan. », « And I Daniel. », « And I Simeon. », « My name is
John. », « I am Joseph and my brother Benjamin, we are twins. »
I will remember your names. »
We must go... But we will come back... And we will bring others to
worship Him. »
How can we go back to the sheep-fold, leaving the Child? »
Glory be to God Who has shown Him to us! »
Will You let us kiss His dress? » asks Levi, with an angelic smile.
Mary lifts Jesus slowly, and sitting on the hay, envelops the tiny
little feet in a linen, and offers them to be kissed. And the
shepherds bow down to the ground and kiss the tiny feet, veiled by
the linen. Those with a beard clean it first; almost everyone is
crying, and when they have to go, they walk out backwards, leaving
their hearts there...
vision ends thus, with Mary sitting on the straw with the Child on
Her lap and Joseph who, leaning with his elbow on the manger, looks
on chapter 28 and chapter 30 of Maria Valtorta’s The
Gospel as Revealed to Me.
In order to convince the Israelites that Aaron was the chosen High
Priest, God said to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and get one
staff from each of them ... Mark each man’s name on his staff; and
mark Aaron’s name . . . Then lay them down in the Meeting Tent . .
. There the staff of the man of My choice will sprout.” . . . The
next day, when Moses entered the Tent, Aaron’s staff . . . had
sprouted and put forth not only shoots, but blossoms as well, and
even bore ripe almonds.
to Catholic Tradition, and to renowned mystics Venerable Mary of
Agreda and Blessed Anne Katherine Emmerich, something analogous to
this occurred when the Priests of the Temple sought a spouse for the
Blessed Virgin Mary. Maria Valtorta’s vision of the miraculous
choice of St Joseph to be the husband of Mary is in perfect
conformity to the ancient traditional belief.
September 4, 1944, Maria reported on what she saw:
rich hall with a beautiful floor, curtains, carpets and inlaid
furniture. It must be still part of the Temple: there are priests in
it, including Zacharias, and many men of every age, from twenty to
fifty years approximately. They are all talking in low but animated
voices […]. They are dressed in their best clothes, which seem to
be new or just recently washed and they are obviously dressed for
some special feast. Many
have removed the piece of cloth covering their heads, others still
wear it, particularly the elder ones […]. They
do not all know one another, because they observe one another
inquisitively. But they seem to be akin somehow, because it is clear
that they are all concerned with the same matter.
a corner I can see Joseph. He is talking to a hale and hearty elderly
man. Joseph is about thirty years old. He is a handsome man with
short and rather curly hair, dark brown like his beard and his
moustache, which cover a well shaped chin and rise towards his
rosy-brown cheeks, which are not olive-coloured as is normal in most
people with a brown complexion. His eyes are dark, kindly and deep,
very serious and perhaps somewhat sad. But when he smiles, as he does
now, they become gay and young looking. He is dressed in light brown,
very simple but very tidy.
group of young Levites comes in and they take up position between the
door and a long narrow table, which is against the same wall as the
door, which is left wide open.
A single curtain […] is drawn to cover the empty space. The
curiosity of the group increases. It grows more so when a hand pulls
curtain to one side to admit a Levite, who is carrying in his arms a
bundle of dry branches on which one in blossom is gently laid: it
looks like a light foam of white petals, with a vague pinkish hue
that spreads softer and softer from the centre to the top of the
Levite lays the bundle of branches on the table very gently to avoid
detracting from the miracle of the branch full of flowers among so
many dry ones. Whispering spreads in the hall. They all stretch their
necks and sharpen their eyes to see. Zacharias, who is near the table
with the other priests, also endeavours to see. But he can see
nothing. Joseph, in his corner, gives a quick glance to the bundle of
branches and when the man he was speaking to says something to him,
he shakes his head in denial as if to say: « Impossible » and
trumpet is heard beyond the curtain. They all become quiet and turn
in an orderly way towards the door […].
High Priest enters surrounded by elders. They all make a deep bow.
The Pontiff goes to the table and begins to speak, standing up.
Men of the race of David, gathered here at my request, please listen.
The Lord has spoken, glory be to Him! From His Glory a ray has
descended and, like the sun in springtime, it has given life to a dry
branch which has blossomed miraculously, whereas no other branch on
earth is in bloom to-day […], and the snow that fell on the
mountains in Judah has not yet melted and everything is white between
Zion and Bethany.
God has spoken and has made Himself the father and the guardian of
the Virgin of David Who has Him alone as Her protection. A holy girl,
the glory of the Temple, She deserved the word of God to learn the
name of a husband agreeable to the Eternal One. And he must be very
just to be chosen by the Lord as the protector of the Virgin so dear
to Him! For this reason our sorrow in losing Her is alleviated and
all worries about Her destiny as a wife cease. And to the man
appointed by God we entrust with full confidence the Virgin blessed
by God and by ourselves. The
name of the husband is Joseph of Jacob of Bethlehem, of the tribe of
David, a carpenter in Nazareth in Galilee.
Joseph: come forward. It is an order of the High Priest ... »
is a lot of whispering. Heads move round, eyes cast inquisitive
glances, hands make signs: there are expressions of disappointment
and relief […]. Joseph, blushing and embarrassed moves forward. He
is now near the table, in front of the Pontiff, whom he has greeted
Everyone must come here to see the name engraved on the branch. And
everyone must take his own branch to make sure that there is no
men obey. They look at the branch gently held by the High Priest and
then each takes his own […].
They all look at Joseph. Some look and are silent, others look and
The elderly man to whom Joseph was speaking before, exclaims: « I
told you, Joseph! Who feels less certain, is the one who wins the
have all now passed before the Pontiff. The High Priest gives Joseph
his branch in bloom, he lays his hand on his shoulder and says to
him: « The spouse the Lord has presented you with, is not rich, as
you know. But all virtues are in Her. Be more and more worthy of Her.
There is no flower in Israel as beautiful and pure as She is. Please,
all go out now. You, Joseph, stay here. And you, Zacharias, since you
are Her relative, please bring in the bride.»
all go out, except the High Priest and Joseph. The curtain is drawn
once again over the door. Joseph is standing in a very humble
attitude, near the Priest. There is silence, then the Priest says to
Joseph: « Mary wishes to inform you of a vow She made. Please help
Her shyness. Be good to Her, Who is so good.»
I will put my strength and my manly authority at Her service and no
sacrifice on Her behalf will be heavy for me. Be sure of that. »
enters with Zacharias and Anna of Phanuel.
Come, Mary » says the Pontiff. « Here is the spouse that God has
destined to You. He is Joseph of Nazareth. You will therefore go back
to Your own town. I will leave You now. May God give You His
blessing. May the Lord protect You and bless You, may He show His
face to You and have mercy on You. May He turn His face to You and
give You peace. »
goes out escorting the Pontiff. Anna congratulates Joseph and then
she goes out, too.
betrothed are now facing each other. Mary, full of blushes, is
standing with Her head bowed. Joseph, who is also red in the face,
looks at Her and tries to find the first words to be said. He
eventually finds them and a bright smile lights up his eyes.
says: « I welcome you, Mary. I saw You when You were a little baby,
only a few days old... I was a friend of Your father's and I have a
nephew, the son of my brother Alphaeus, who was a great friend of
Your mother [...].
do not know us because You were only a little girl when You came
here. But everyone in Nazareth loves You and they all think and speak
of Joachim's little Mary, Whose birth was a miracle of the Lord, Who
made the barren old lady blossom wonderfully... And I remember the
evening You were born... We all remember it because of the prodigy of
a heavy rain that saved the country and of a violent storm during
which the thunderbolts did not damage even a stem of heather and it
ended with such a large and beautiful rainbow that the like has never
been seen again.
And then... who does not remember Joachim's happiness? He dandled You
showing You to his neighbours... As if You were a flower that had
descended from Heaven, he admired You and wanted everyone to admire
You, a happy old father who died talking about his Mary, Who was so
beautiful and good and Whose words were so full of wisdom end
grace... He was quite right in admiring You and in saying that there
is no other woman lovelier than You are! And Your mother? She filled
Your house and the neighbourhood with her songs and she sang like a
skylark in springtime when she was carrying You, and afterwards when
she held You in her arms.
I made a cradle for You. A tiny little cradle, with roses carved all
over it, because Your mother wanted it like that. Perhaps it is still
in the house... I am old, Mary. When You were born I was beginning to
work. I was already working... I would never have believed that I was
going to have You as a spouse! Perhaps Your parents would have died a
happier death if they had known, because they were my friends. I
buried Your father, mourning over his death with a sincere heart,
because he was a good teacher to me.»
raises Her face, little by little, taking heart, as She hears Joseph
speak to Her thus, and when he mentions the cradle She smiles gently
and when Joseph speaks of Her father, She holds out Her hand to him
and says: « Thank you, Joseph. » A very timid and gentle « thank
holds Her little jasmine hand in his short and strong hands of a
carpenter and he caresses it with an affection that expresses more
and more confidence. Perhaps he is waiting for more words. But Mary
is silent once again. He then goes on: « As You know, Your house is
still intact, with the exception of the part that was demolished by
order of the consul, to build a road for the wagons of the Romans
[…]. You know that because of Your father's illness much of the
property had to be disposed of
[…], the fields have been rather neglected. For
over three years the trees and the vines have never been pruned and
the land is untilled and hard. But the trees that saw You when You
were a little girl are still there, and if You agree, I will at once
take care of them.»
Thank you, Joseph. But you have your work ... »
I will work in Your orchard in the morning and in the evening. The
days are getting longer and longer. By springtime I want everything
to be in order for Your happiness. Look: this is a branch of the
almond tree near the house. I wanted to pick it […] because I
thought that if I should be the chosen one, You would have been
pleased to have a flower from Your garden. But I was not expecting to
be the chosen one as I am a Nazirite [A Hebrew consecrated to the
Lord by renewable vows] and I have obeyed because it is an order of
the Priest, not because I wish to get married. Here is the branch,
Mary. With it I offer You my heart, that, like it, has bloomed up
till now only for the Lord and is now blooming for You, my spouse.»
takes the branch. She is moved and looks at Joseph with a face that
has become more and more confident and bright. She feels certain of
him. When he says to Her « I am a Nazirite », Her face becomes
bright and She takes courage: « Also I am all of the Lord, Joseph. I
do not know whether the High Priest told you ... »
He only told me that You are good and pure, that You wish to inform
me of a vow, and that I must be good to you. Speak, Mary. Your Joseph
wants You to be happy in all Your desires. I do not love You my with
body. I love You with my soul, holy girl given to me by God! Please
see in me a father and a brother, in addition to a husband. And open
Your heart to me as to a father and rely on me as on a brother ... »
Since My childhood I have consecrated Myself to the Lord. I know this
is not the custom in Israel. But I heard a voice requesting My
virginity as a sacrifice of love for the coming of the Messiah.
Israel has been waiting for Him for such a long time!... It is not
too much to forgo the joy of being a mother for that! »
gazes at Her as if he wanted to read Her heart, then he takes Her
tiny hands which are still holding the branch in blossom and he says:
« I will join my sacrifice to Yours and we shall love the Eternal
Father so much with our chastity that He will send His Saviour to the
world earlier, and will allow us to see His Light shining in the
world. Come, Mary. Let us go before His House [the Temple] and [to]
Nazareth to prepare everything for You, in Your house, if You wish to
go there, or elsewhere if You wish so.»
In My house... There was a grotto down at the bottom... Is it still
It is, but it is no longer Yours... But I will build another one for
You where it will be cool and quiet during the hottest hours of the
day. I will make it as much as possible identical to the older one.
And tell me: whom do You want with You? »
Nobody. I am not afraid. Alphaeus' mother, who has always come to see
Me, will keep Me company during the day. At night I prefer to be
alone. No harm can befall Me.»
And now I am there, too. When shall I come and get You? »
Whenever you wish, Joseph.»
Then I will come as soon as the house is ready. I will not touch
anything. I want You to find it as Your mother left it. But I want it
to be bright and clean, to receive You without any sadness. Come,
Mary. Let us go and tell the Most High that we bless Him.»
on Chapter 12 of The
Gospel as Revealed to Me,
Volume One, by Maria Valtorta.