Tuesday, March 31, 2009

St Anne, the True Cross and St Raphael

Carrying on from last week's beautiful discovery: St Anne's home was by the Pool of Bethesda, which means the "House of Mercy" - here Our Lady was born and the Church of St Anne stands today in commemoration of this long held Christian tradition.

There is another special tradition/legend connected to the Pool of Bethesda, one that attributes the gift of healing to the waters in this pool. While the Bible tells us that the angel would come down a 'stir the waters' and that the first into those waters would be healed, it would seem that there was also a deeper, hidden reason for this healing - literally. An ancient tradition tells us that the wood of the cross lay deep in this pool, only emerging to the top for the Roman's to retrieve for the crucifixion around the time of Our Lord.

The ancient legend of the True Cross:

Adam on his deathbed, remembering the God had said that to eat from the Tree of Life would mean to live forever, commanded that his son Seth go to the Gate of Paradise where the Tree of Life was barred to them and ask St Michael to give to him the seed from this tree in order to save his life.

Seth obeyed and was given the seed but on his return he was sorrowful, for he found his father dead. Seth then placed the seeds with Adam in his grave, from which grew a tree of magnificent beauty and size. This tree flourished until the days of King Solomon.

As Solomon built the Temple, the wisest men of the land ordered that this tree from Adam's grave be cut down and used for the altar. When the builders tried to use the wood it miraculously changed size and length so as to make it unsuitable in this construction. It was then cast out to be used to build a bridge over the river Siloe.

When the Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem and went to cross the bridge, she beheld a vision
wherein she knelt down and prophecised:

"This board will, when the time comes, be honored above all pieces of wood
in the world and adorned with precious gems from the treasures of princes. And
He who will destroy the law of the Jews will die on the wood of this plank."

This omen of the old covenant being replaced by this wood in some way, gave fear to the Jewish people and King Solomon who then ordered the wood to be buried deep in the earth on the spot whence afterwards arose the Pool of Bethesda, whose healing powers proceeded as much from the tree below it as from the angel who descended to agitate the waters. When the time of our Saviour’s Passion drew near, the tree rose and floated on the surface, and the Jews seized upon it to make the Cross.

The angel who descended from heaven to stir the waters of Bethesda, has been popularly believed to be the Archangel Raphael, the angel of healing.

I have always love this legend. I have always loved this archangel. Now I discover there is a weaving of these two legends into the traditional site of St Anne's home and Our Lady's birthplace - my heart is full.

Thank you St Anne, for bringing Ignatius Anthony safely into this world and for the good health and wellbeing of my dear friend, Kerri.

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