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nations, likewise, honored and even exalted her.*)
And even later on, at the domestic hearth and in the life of the community, they assigned to her the place the Word of Redemption had indirectly given her.**)
To show her this unheard-of and ever memorable blessing, to make her love and esteem the Saviour more for His grand intervention in favor of the "weaker sex," was our aim in composing this small volume. To Him alone she owes the Charter of her affranchisement in soul and body, in mind and will, in her private and public life; it was not granted her yesterday in the name of public opinion or “modern progress," neither by an assembly of legislators, nor a congress of citizens. The God-Man, Who descended from Heaven to save all men from error and perdition, had also come to proclaim the equality of all before God. At a time when, by seductive sophisms and deceitful promises, woman's rights and mission are superexalted, as of yore in the garden ot Eden, it is of importance that Christian women attentively read and earnestly contemplate those passages of Holy Writ that concern them; that more than ever they carefully consider their duties and rights and the close and necessary relation binding them with the very destinies of Catholicity itself.
**) As suzerain she coins money and renders justice ; as juror she serves her corporation ; as citizen she is called to the city councils and hospitals, in villages to the revision of local customs and laws. In short: as young lady, wife, or widow, woman represents the thing, i. e. the workingtool or shop or landed estate for the defense of whose interests she has the same rights as man. In 1576, 32 widows had a seat in the provincial council of the Franche Comté. Only by revolutionary and tyranical codes has the social standing of woman been curtailed or aunihilated.
For that purpose we have gathered a number of texts from the Gospels and present them here as a summary of the calls which the Master addressed to the women-workers in His Church and as faint outline of woman's Redemption.
WOMAN, THE FIRST TO GLORIFY THE
ACHARY and Elisabeth, according
to tradition, lived at Hebron, a town of Juda, situated on about the same
altitude as Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hebron, at present El Khabil, a name given it in memory of Abraham, signifying city of the Friend of God, is the last populous town towards the desert. Famous vineyards surround it. It dominates a valley which, at the time of our narrative, produced the choicest fruits of the whole land of Chanaan. As a sacerdotal town it was the abode of four of the ancient classes of priests who alternately performed the service in the Temple. Although forty-five miles away from Jerusalem, on bright days the pinnacles of the Temple were clearly visible from its elevation.
According to a more trustworthy tradition, Elisabeth received the visit of her holy cousin Mary at Ain-Karin. A chapel at that place is said to stand on the very spot where the salutation took place. When, in 1860, that chapel had fallen into ruins, and the Franciscan Fathers began to remove the debris, they discovered an oratory, formed partly by the rock, partly by the strong walls on which another sanctuary rested. These two rooms, one on top of the other, are called by the natives Mar-Zacharia, and are said to have been part of the country residence of Zachary and Elisabeth. In the lower room took place the touching scene we call the Visitation.
In the neighborhood there is a monumental fountain, called the "Fountain of the Virgin," where the Mother of God used to draw water during her stay with Elisabeth. “Numerous Arabs'', says the author of "La Caravanne Française," "perform there the customary ablutions, accompanied by the usual prostrations. Whilst they are thus occupied, the noise of our voices or of the horses will not even make them turn their heads. How earnest is the prayer of these people, and what a lesson for our levity!"
Another fact, absolutely true, because taught by Holy Scripture, is the descent of Zachary and Elisabeth from the family of Abia, who, when David divided the posterity of Aaron into twenty-four classes, obtained by lot the eighth rank in the service of the Temple.
When writing a biography, it is proper first to consider the hero's ancestry. If soil and climate and language act upon each individual, the influence of one's ancestors is not less considerable; for the law of intellectual and moral heredity is perhaps more real than that of physical heredity. Thus the transmission of religious tendencies is frequently observed, and the proverb says: "Saints are born of saints." Hence, nothing can be more desirable than a union of persons equally near and dear to God.
Such was the union of Zachary and Elisabeth. “Both,” says Holy Scripture, “were just before God." *) By conscientiously keeping the commandments of the Lord, they set an example of that beautiful conjugal life which has its root in the love of God and fidelity to His laws. “To be just,” to walk
*) Luke 1.