The Sorrow of the People of Ophel at Seeing Jesus Taken Prisoner (From The Visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich)

The fifty soldiers who were sent to join those who had taken Jesus, were a detachment from a company of three hundred men posted to guard the gates and environs of Ophel; for the traitor Judas had reminded the High Priests that the inhabitants of Ophel (who were principally of the labouring class, and whose chief employment was to bring water and wood to the Temple) were the most attached partisans of Jesus, and might perhaps make some attempts to rescue him. The traitor was aware that Jesus had both consoled, instructed, assisted, and cured the diseases of many of these poor workmen.
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The slumbers of the good inhabitants of Ophel were disturbed by the noise of the soldiers; they came out of their houses and ran to the entrance of the village to ask the cause of the uproar; but the soldiers received them roughly, ordered them to return home, and in reply to their numerous questions, said, ‘We have just arrested Jesus, your false prophet—he who has deceived you so grossly; the High Priests are about to judge him, and he will be crucified.’ Cries and lamentations arose on all sides; the poor women and children ran backwards and forwards, weeping and wringing their hands; and calling to mind all the benefits they had received from our Lord, they cast themselves on their knees to implore the protection of Heaven. But the soldiers pushed them on one side, struck them, obliged them to return to their houses, and exclaimed, ‘What farther proof is required? Does not the conduct of these persons show plainly that the Galilean incites rebellion?’
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They were, however, a little cautious in their expressions and demeanour for fear of causing an insurrection in Ophel, and therefore only endeavoured to drive the inhabitants away from those parts of the village which Jesus was obliged to cross.
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When the cruel soldiers who led our Lord were near the gates of Ophel he again fell, and appeared unable to proceed a step farther, upon which one among them, being moved to compassion, said to another, ‘You see the poor man is perfectly exhausted, he cannot support himself with the weight of his chains; if we wish to get him to the High Priest alive we must loosen the cords with which his hands are bound, that he may be able to save himself a little when he falls.’ The band stopped for a moment, the fetters were loosened, and another kind-hearted soldier brought some water to Jesus from a neighbouring fountain. Jesus thanked him, and spoke of the ‘fountains of living water,’ of which those who believed in him should drink; but his words enraged the Pharisees still more, and they overwhelmed him with insults and contumelious language. I saw the heart of the soldier who had caused Jesus to be unbound, as also that of the one who brought him water, suddenly illuminated by grace; they were both converted before the death of Jesus, and immediately joined his disciples.
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The procession started again, and reached the gate of Ophel. Here Jesus was again saluted by the cries of grief and sympathy of those who owed him so much gratitude, and the soldiers had considerable difficulty in keeping back the men and women who crowded round from all parts. They clasped their hands, fell on their knees, lamented and exclaimed, ‘Release this man unto us, release him! Who will assist, who will console us, who will cure our diseases? Release him unto us! ‘ It was indeed heart-rending to look upon Jesus; his face was white, disfigured, and wounded, his hair dishevelled, his dress soiled, and his savage and drunken guards were dragging him about and striking him with sticks like a poor animal led to the slaughter. Thus was he conducted through the midst of the afflicted inhabitants of Ophel, and the paralytic whom he had cured, the dumb to whom he had restored speech, and the blind whose eyes he had opened, united, but in vain, in offering supplications for his release.
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In no part of Jerusalem did the arrest of Jesus produce more touching demonstrations of grief than among the poor inhabitants of Ophel, the greatest part of whom were day-labourers, and the rest principally employed in menial offices in the service of the Temple. The news came unexpectedly upon them; for some time they doubted the truth of the report, and wavered between hope and fear; but the sight of their Master, their Benefactor, their Consoler, dragged through the streets, torn, bruised, and ill-treated in every imaginable way, filled them with horror; and their grief was still farther increased by beholding his afflicted Mother wandering about from street to street, accompanied by the holy women, and endeavouring to obtain some intelligence concerning her Divine Son.
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The greatest part of the inhabitants of Ophel were converted after the death of our Lord, and joined the first Christian community that was formed after Pentecost, and when the Christians separated from the Jews and erected new dwellings, they placed their huts and tents in the valley which is situated between Mount Olivet and Ophel, and there St. Stephen.

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