Mother of God adopts poor child, he goes to heaven, breaks commandment, must return to earth, loses 3 children, confesses deed and is saved
Hard by a great forest dwelt a wood-cutter with his wife, who had an only child, a little girl of three years old. They were, however, so poor that they no longer had daily bread, and did not know how to get food for her. One morning the wood-cutter went out sorrowfully to his work in the forest, and while he was cutting wood, suddenly there stood before him a tall and beautiful woman with a crown of shining stars on her head, who said to him, "I am the Virgin Mary, mother of the child Jesus. Thou art poor and needy, bring thy child to me, I will take her with me and be her mother, and care for her." The wood-cutter obeyed, brought his child, and gave her to the Virgin Mary, who took her up to heaven with her. There the child fared well, ate sugar-cakes, and drank sweet milk, and her clothes were of gold, and the little angels played with her. And when she was fourteen years of age, the Virgin Mary called her one day and said, "Dear child, I am about to make a long journey, so take into thy keeping the keys of the thirteen doors of heaven. Twelve of these thou mayest open, and behold the glory which is within them, but the thirteenth, to which this little key belongs, is forbidden thee. Beware of opening it, or thou wilt bring misery on thyself." The girl promised to be obedient, and when the Virgin Mary was gone, she began to examine the dwellings of the kingdom of heaven. Each day she opened one of them, until she had made the round of the twelve. In each of them sat one of the Apostles in the midst of a great light, and she rejoiced in all the magnificence and splendour, and the little angels who always accompanied her rejoiced with her. Then the forbidden door alone remained, and she felt a great desire to know what could be hidden behind it, and said to the angels, "I will not quite open it, and I will not go inside it, but I will unlock it so that we can just see a little through the opening." "Oh no," said the little angels, "that would be a sin. The Virgin Mary has forbidden it, and it might easily cause thy unhappiness." Then she was silent, but the desire in her heart was not stilled, but gnawed there and tormented her, and let her have no rest. And once when the angels had all gone out, she thought, "Now I am quite alone, and I could peep in. If I do it, no one will ever know." She sought out the key, and when she had got it in her hand, she put it in the lock, and when she had put it in, she turned it round as well. Then the door sprang open, and she saw there the Trinity sitting in fire and splendour. She stayed there awhile, and looked at everything in amazement; then she touched the light a little with her finger, and her finger became quite golden. Immediately a great fear fell on her. She shut the door violently, and ran away. Her terror too would not quit her, let her do what she might, and her heart beat continually and would not be still; the gold too stayed on her finger, and would not go away, let her rub it and wash it never so much.
It was not long before the Virgin Mary came back from her journey. She called the girl before her, and asked to have the keys of heaven back. When the maiden gave her the bunch, the Virgin looked into her eyes and said, "Hast thou not opened the thirteenth door also?" "No," she replied. Then she laid her hand on the girl's heart, and felt how it beat and beat, and saw right well that she had disobeyed her order and had opened the door. Then she said once again, "Art thou certain that thou hast not done it?" "Yes," said the girl, for the second time. Then she perceived the finger which had become golden from touching the fire of heaven, and saw well that the child had sinned, and said for the third time, "Hast thou not done it?" "No," said the girl for the third time. Then said the Virgin Mary, "Thou hast not obeyed me, and besides that thou hast lied, thou art no longer worthy to be in heaven."
Then the girl fell into a deep sleep, and when she awoke she lay on the earth below, and in the midst of a wilderness. She wanted to cry out, but she could bring forth no sound. She sprang up and wanted to run away, but whithersoever she turned herself, she was continually held back by thick hedges of thorns through which she could not break. In the desert, in which she was imprisoned, there stood an old hollow tree, and this had to be her dwelling-place. Into this she crept when night came, and here she slept. Here, too, she found a shelter from storm and rain, but it was a miserable life, and bitterly did she weep when she remembered how happy she had been in heaven, and how the angels had played with her. Roots and wild berries were her only food, and for these she sought as far as she could go. In the autumn she picked up the fallen nuts and leaves, and carried them into the hole. The nuts were her food in winter, and when snow and ice came, she crept amongst the leaves like a poor little animal that she might not freeze. Before long her clothes were all torn, and one bit of them after another fell off her. As soon, however, as the sun shone warm again, she went out and sat in front of the tree, and her long hair covered her on all sides like a mantle. Thus she sat year after year, and felt the pain and the misery of the world. One day, when the trees were once more clothed in fresh green, the King of the country was hunting in the forest, and followed a roe, and as it had fled into the thicket which shut in this bit of the forest, he got off his horse, tore the bushes asunder, and cut himself a path with his sword. When he had at last forced his way through, he saw a wonderfully beautiful maiden sitting under the tree; and she sat there and was entirely covered with her golden hair down to her very feet. He stood still and looked at her full of surprise, then he spoke to her and said, "Who art thou? Why art thou sitting here in the wilderness?" But she gave no answer, for she could not open her mouth. The King continued, "Wilt thou go with me to my castle?" Then she just nodded her head a little. The King took her in his arms, carried her to his horse, and rode home with her, and when he reached the royal castle he caused her to be dressed in beautiful garments, and gave her all things in abundance. Although she could not speak, she was still so beautiful and charming that he began to love her with all his heart, and it was not long before he married her.
After a year or so had passed, the Queen brought a son into the world. Thereupon the Virgin Mary appeared to her in the night when she lay in her bed alone, and said, "If thou wilt tell the truth and confess that thou didst unlock the forbidden door, I will open thy mouth and give thee back thy speech, but if thou perseverest in thy sin, and deniest obstinately, I will take thy new-born child away with me." Then the queen was permitted to answer, but she remained hard, and said, "No, I did not open the forbidden door;" and the Virgin Mary took the new-born child from her arms, and vanished with it. Next morning, when the child was not to be found, it was whispered among the people that the Queen was a man-eater, and had killed her own child. She heard all this and could say nothing to the contrary, but the King would not believe it, for he loved her so much.
When a year had gone by the Queen again bore a son, and in the night the Virgin Mary again came to her, and said, "If thou wilt confess that thou openedst the forbidden door, I will give thee thy child back and untie thy tongue; but if you continuest in sin and deniest it, I will take away with me this new child also." Then the Queen again said, "No, I did not open the forbidden door;" and the Virgin took the child out of her arms, and away with her to heaven. Next morning, when this child also had disappeared, the people declared quite loudly that the Queen had devoured it, and the King's councillors demanded that she should be brought to justice. The King, however, loved her so dearly that he would not believe it, and commanded the councillors under pain of death not to say any more about it.
The following year the Queen gave birth to a beautiful little daughter, and for the third time the Virgin Mary appeared to her in the night and said, "Follow me." She took the Queen by the hand and led her to heaven, and showed her there her two eldest children, who smiled at her, and were playing with the ball of the world. When the Queen rejoiced thereat, the Virgin Mary said, "Is thy heart not yet softened? If thou wilt own that thou openedst the forbidden door, I will give thee back thy two little sons." But for the third time the Queen answered, "No, I did not open the forbidden door." Then the Virgin let her sink down to earth once more, and took from her likewise her third child.
Next morning, when the loss was reported abroad, all the people cried loudly, "The Queen is a man-eater! She must be judged," and the King was no longer able to restrain his councillors. Thereupon a trial was held, and as she could not answer, and defend herself, she was condemned to be burnt alive. The wood was got together, and when she was fast bound to the stake, and the fire began to burn round about her, the hard ice of pride melted, her heart was moved by repentance, and she thought, "If I could but confess before my death that I opened the door." Then her voice came back to her, and she cried out loudly, "Yes, Mary, I did it;" and straightway rain fell from the sky and extinguished the flames of fire, and a light broke forth above her, and the Virgin Mary descended with the two little sons by her side, and the new-born daughter in her arms. She spoke kindly to her, and said, "He who repents his sin and acknowledges it, is forgiven." Then she gave her the three children, untied her tongue, and granted her happiness for her whole life.
Not long after, the Virgin Mary returned from her journey. She called the girl to her and demanded the keys of heaven from her. When she handed him the covenant, the Virgin looked him in the eye and said, "Did you not open the thirteenth door?" "No" he answered. Then she put her hand on his heart, felt how it knocked and knocked, and realized that he had transgressed her commandment and unlocked the door. Then she said again, "Are you sure you did not do it?" "No" said the girl for the second time. Then she saw the finger that had turned golden from the touch of the heavenly fire, saw that it had sinned, and said the third time, "Did you not do it?" "No" said the girl for the third time. Then the Virgin Mary said, "You have disobeyed me, and lied about it, you are no longer worthy to be in heaven."
Then the girl sank into a deep sleep, and when she awoke, she was lying on the ground in the middle of a wilderness. She wanted to call out, but she could not make a sound. She jumped up and wanted to run away, but wherever she turned, she was always held back by dense thorn hedges that she could not break through. In the wasteland, in which it was enclosed, stood an old hollow tree, that must be its dwelling. It crawled into it when night came, and slept in it, and when it stormed and rained it found shelter in it: but it was a miserable life, and when it thought how it had been so beautiful in heaven, and the angels had played with it, it wept bitterly. Roots and forest berries were its only food, which it looked for as far as it could get. In autumn it collected the fallen nuts and leaves and carried them into the cave, the nuts were its food in winter and when snow and ice came, it crawled like a poor little animal into the leaves so that it did not freeze. Not long after, his clothes tore and fell one piece after the other from his body. As soon as the sun shone warmly again, it went out and sat down in front of the tree, and its long hair covered it on all sides like a cloak. Thus it sat one year after the other and felt the misery and the misery of the world.
Once, when the trees were again in fresh green, the king of the land was hunting in the forest and chased a deer, and because it had fled into the bushes that enclosed the forest place, he got off his horse, tore the brush apart and cut a path with his sword. When he finally penetrated through, he saw a beautiful girl sitting under the tree, her golden hair covered up to her toes. He stood still and looked at her in amazement, then he spoke to her and said "who are you? why are you sitting here in the wasteland?" But it gave no answer, for it could not open its mouth. The king continued, "Will you go with me to my castle?" He nodded his head a little. The king took it in his arms, carried it on his horse and rode home with it, and when he came to the royal castle, he had it dressed in beautiful clothes and gave it everything in abundance. Even though it could not speak, it was still beautiful and charming, so that he loved it dearly, and it was not long before he married it.
When about a year had passed, the queen gave birth to a son. Then, at night, while she lay alone in her bed, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and said, "If you will tell the truth and confess that you have opened the forbidden door, I will open your mouth and restore your speech; but if you persist in sin and stubbornly deny it, I will take your newborn child with me." Then the queen was lent to answer, but she remained obdurate and said "no, I have not opened the forbidden door", and the Virgin Mary took the newborn child from her arms and disappeared with it. The next morning, when the child was not to be found, there was a murmur among the people that the queen was a man-eater and had killed her own child. She heard everything and could not say anything against it, but the king would not believe it because he loved her so much.
After a year, the queen again gave birth to a son. During the night, the Virgin Mary came to her again and said, "If you confess that you have opened the forbidden door, I will give you back your child and loosen your tongue; but if you persist in sin and deny, I will also take this newborn with me." Then the queen said again, "No, I have not opened the forbidden door," and the virgin took the child from her arms and with her to heaven. In the morning, when the child had disappeared again, the people said loudly that the queen had devoured it, and the king's councilors demanded that she be judged. The king, however, loved her so much that he did not want to believe it, and ordered the councilors not to speak about it again, under penalty of life and limb.
The next year the queen gave birth to a beautiful little daughter, and the Virgin Mary appeared to her for the third time at night and said, "Follow me. She took her by the hand and led her to heaven, and there she showed her two eldest children, who laughed at her and played with the globe. When the queen rejoiced, the Virgin Mary said, "Is your heart not yet softened? If you admit that you opened the forbidden door, I will give you back your two little sons." But the queen answered for the third time, "No, I have not opened the forbidden door." Then she lowered the virgin to the ground again and took the third child from her.
The next morning, when it became known, all the people cried aloud "the queen is a man-eater, she must be condemned", and the king could no longer refuse his councils. A judgment was held against her, and because she could not answer or defend herself, she was condemned to die at the stake. The wood was gathered, and when she was tied to a stake and the fire began to burn all around, the hard ice of pride melted and her heart was moved with remorse, and she thought "if only I could confess before I die that I opened the door," then her voice came that she exclaimed aloud "yes, Mary, I did it!" And immediately the sky began to rain and extinguished the flames of fire, and above her a light burst forth, and the Virgin Mary came down with the two little sons at her sides and the newborn daughter in her arms. She spoke kindly to her "whoever repents and admits his sin is forgiven", and handed her the three children, loosened her tongue, and gave her happiness for all her life.