Satan knew not of the Divinity of Christ. He took Him for a Prophet. He had noted His holiness from early youth, as also that of His Mother. But Mary took no notice whatever of Satan. She never listened to a temptation. There was nothing in her upon which Satan could fasten. Though the fairest of women, the fairest of virgins, she never thought of a suitor excepting at the holy lottery, at the flowering of the rods in the Temple, when there was question of her marriage. That Jesus was wanting in a certain pharisaical severity toward His disciples in nonessential points, puzzled the wicked fiend. He took Him for a man, because the pretended irregularities of His disciples scandalized the Jews. As Satan had often seen Jesus fired with zeal, he thought at one time to irritate Him by assuming the appearance of one of the disciples who had followed Him thither; and as he had also seen examples of His tenderness of heart, he tried at another time, under the form of a decrepit old man, to excite His compassion; and again as an Essenian, to dispute with Him. I saw him therefore at the entrance of the grotto under the form of the son of one of the three widows, a youth especially loved by Jesus. He made a noise to attract attention, thinking that Jesus would be displeased at His disciple’s following Him against His prohibition. Jesus did not look toward him even once. Then Satan put his head in and began to talk, first of one thing, then of another, and at last of John the Baptist who, he said, was very indignant at Jesus for encroaching upon his rights, by allowing His disciples to baptize from time to time. Foiled in this first ruse, Satan tried another. He sent seven, eight, or nine apparitions of the disciples into the grotto. In they came one after another, saying to Jesus that Eustachius had informed them that He was there, and that they had sought Him with so much anxiety. They begged Him not to expose His life in that wild abode, not to abandon them. The whole world was talking about Him, they continued, and He should not allow such and such things to be said. But Jesus’ only reply was: “Withdraw, Satan! It is not yet time,” and the phantoms disappeared. Again Satan drew near under the form of a feeble old man, a venerable Essenian, toiling painfully up the steep mountain. The ascent seemed so difficult for him that, really, I pitied him. Approaching the grotto, with a loud groan he fell fainting from exhaustion at its entrance. But Jesus took no notice of him, not even by a glance. Then the old man arose with an effort, and introduced himself as an Essenian from Mount Carmel. He had, he said, heard of Jesus and, though almost worn out by the effort, had followed Him thither in order to sit with Him a little while and converse on holy things. He too knew what it was to fast and to pray, and when two joined their prayers to God, edification became greater. Jesus uttered a few words only, such as: “Retire, Satan! It is not yet time.” Then I discovered that it was Satan, for as he turned away and vanished, I saw him becoming dark and horrible to behold. I felt like laughing when I thought of his throwing himself on the ground and of having to pick himself up again. When Satan next came to tempt Jesus, he assumed the appearance of old Eliud. Satan must have known that His Cross and Passion had been shown to Jesus by the angels, for he said that he had had a revelation of the heavy trials in store for Him, and that he felt He would not be able to resist them. For a forty days’ fast, he continued, Jesus was not in a state; therefore, urged by love for Him, he had come to see Him once more, to beg to be allowed to share His wild abode and assume part of His vow. Jesus noticed not the tempter, but raising His hands to Heaven, He said: “My Father, take this temptation from Me!” whereupon Satan vanished in a horrible form. Jesus was kneeling in prayer when, after a time, I saw three youths approaching. They were those who, on His first departure from Nazareth, were with Him and who subsequently abandoned Him. They appeared to approach timidly. They cast themselves on the ground before Him, complaining that they could find no rest until He pardoned them. They begged Him to have mercy on them, to receive them again to favor, and allow them to share His fast as a penance for their defection, and they promised thenceforth to be His most faithful disciples. They had ventured into the grotto, and they surrounded Jesus with tears and loud lamentation. Jesus rose from His knees, raised His hands to God, and the apparitions vanished. On another day as He knelt in the grotto praying, I beheld Satan in a glittering robe borne, as it were, through the air up the steepest and highest side of the rock. This precipitous, inaccessible side faced to the east; in it were some apertures opening into the grotto. Jesus glanced not toward Satan, who was now intent on passing himself off for an angel. But he was a poor imitation, for the light that enveloped him was far from transparent. It looked as if it had been smeared on, and his robe was stiff and harsh, while those of the angels are soft and light and transparent. Hovering at the entrance of the grotto, Satan spoke: “I have been sent by Thy Father to console Thee.” Jesus turned not toward him. Then Satan flew around to the steep, inaccessible side of the grotto and, peering in through one of the apertures, called to Jesus to witness a proof of his angelic nature, since he could hover there without support. But Jesus noticed him not. Seeing himself foiled in every attempt, Satan became quite horrible, and made as if he would seize Jesus in his claws through the aperture. His figure grew still more frightful and he vanished. Jesus looked not after him. Satan came next under the appearance of an aged solitary from Mount Sinai. He was quite wild, almost savage-looking, with his long beard and scanty covering, a rough skin being his only garment. But there was something false and cunning in his countenance as he climbed painfully up the mountain. Entering the grotto, he addressed Jesus, saying that an Essenian from Mount Carmel had visited him and told him of the baptism, also of the wisdom, the miracles, and the present rigorous fasting of Jesus. Hearing which, notwithstanding his great age, he had come all the way to see Him, to converse with Him, for he himself had long experience in the practice of mortification. He told Jesus that He should now desist from further fasting, that he would free Him from what remained, and he went on with much more talk in the same strain. Jesus, looking aside, said: “Depart from Me, Satan!” At these words, the evil one grew dark and, like a huge, black ball, rolled with a crash down the mountain. Then I asked myself how it was that Christ’s Divinity remained so concealed from Satan. And I received the following instruction: I understood clearly that it was the most incomprehensible advantage for men that neither they nor Satan knew of Christ’s Divinity, and that they were thereby to learn how to exercise faith. The Lord said one word to me that I still remember. «Man,” said He, «knew not that the serpent tempting him was Satan; in like manner, Satan was not to know that He who redeemed man was God.” I saw too that the Divinity of Christ was not made known to Satan until the moment in which He freed the souls from Limbo. On one of the subsequent days, I saw Satan under the form of a distinguished man of Jerusalem. He approached the cave in which Jesus was praying and told Him that sympathy had urged him to come to Him, for he felt assured that He was called to give freedom to the Jewish nation. Then he related all the reports, all the discussions rife in Jerusalem on His account, and told Him that he had come to offer his support in the good cause. He was one of Herod’s officers, he said. Jesus might unhesitatingly accompany him back to Jerusalem, might even take up His abode in Herod’s palace, where He could lie concealed, gather His followers around Him, and set His undertaking on foot. And he urged Him to return with him at once. The pretended officer laid his proposal before Jesus in a multiplicity of words. Jesus looked not toward him, but continued earnestly to pray. Then I saw Satan retreating, his form becoming frightful, fire and smoke bursting from his nostrils, until at last he vanished. When Jesus began to hunger, and especially to thirst, Satan appeared in the form of a pious hermit and exclaimed: “I am so hungry! I pray Thee give me of the fruits growing here on the mountain outside Thy grotto. I would pluck none of it without asking the owner” (pretending that he took Jesus for the owner), “then let us sit together and talk of good things.” Not at the entrance of the grotto, but on the opposite side, that is, toward the east, and at a little distance, grew figs and berries, and another kind of fruit something like nuts, though with soft shells like those of the medlar. Jesus answered the false hermit: “Depart from Me! Thou art from the very beginning the liar. Harm not the fruit!” Then I saw Satan as a little somber figure hurrying off, a black vapor exhaling from him. But he returned again in the form of a traveler, and asked Jesus for permission to eat of the fine grapes growing nearby, because they were so good for thirst. But Jesus gave him no answer, did not even look at him. On the following day, Satan tempted Jesus again on the same head, only this time it was with a spring instead of fruit. Satan appeared to Jesus in the grotto as a magician and philosopher. He told Him that he had come to Him as to a wise man, and that he would show Him that he, too, could exhibit marvels. Then he showed Him hanging on his hand a piece of apparatus like a globe, or perhaps still more like a bird cage. Jesus would not look at the tempter, much less into the globe as Satan desired, but turning His back on him, He left the grotto. I saw that a look into Satan’s raree-show disclosed the most magnificent scenes from nature, lovely pleasure gardens full of shady groves, cool fountains, richly laden fruit trees, luscious grapes, etc. All seemed to be within one’s reach, and all was constantly dissolving into ever more beautiful, more enticing scenes. Jesus turned His back on Satan, and he vanished. This was another temptation to interrupt the fast of Jesus, who now began to thirst and to experience the pangs of hunger. Satan did not yet know what to think of Him. He was aware, it is true, of the Prophecies relating to Him and he felt that He exercised power over himself, but he did not yet know that Jesus was God. He did not know even that He was the Messiah whose advent he so dreaded, since he beheld Him fasting, hungering, enduring temptation; since he saw Him so poor, suffering in so many ways; in a word, since he saw Him in all things so like an ordinary man. In this Satan was as blind as the Pharisees. He looked upon Jesus as a holy man whom temptation might lead to a fall. Satan Tempts Jesus To Turn Stones into Bread Jesus was now suffering from hunger and thirst. I saw Him several times at the entrance of the grotto. Toward evening one day, Satan in the form of a large, powerful man ascended the mountain. He had furnished himself below with two stones as long as little rolls, but square at the ends, which as he mounted he molded into the perfect appearance of bread. There was something more horrible than usual about him when he stepped into the grotto to Jesus. In each hand he held one of the stones, and his words were to this effect: “Thou art right not to eat of the fruit, for it only excites an appetite. But if Thou art the beloved Son of God over whom the Spirit came at baptism—behold! I have made these stones look like unto bread. Do Thou change them into bread.” Jesus glanced not toward him, but I heard Him utter these words only: “Man lives not by bread!” These were the only words that I caught distinctly. Then Satan became perfectly horrible. He stretched out his talons as if to seize Jesus (at which action I saw the stones resting on his arms), and fled. I had to laugh at his having to take his stones off with him. Satan Carries Jesus to the Pinnacle of the Temple, and then to Mount Quarantania. Angels Minister Unto Jesus Toward evening of the following day, I saw Satan in the form of a majestic angel sweeping down toward Jesus with a noise like the rushing wind. He was clad in a sort of military dress such as I have seen St. Michael wear. But in the midst of his greatest splendor, one might detect something sinister and horrible. He addressed boasting words to Jesus, something in this strain: “I will show Thee who I am, and what I can do, and how the angels bear me up in their hands. Look yonder, there is Jerusalem! Behold the Temple! I shall place Thee upon its highest pinnacle. Then do Thou show what Thou canst do, and see whether the angels will carry Thee down.” While Satan thus spoke and pointed out Jerusalem and the Temple, I seemed to see them both quite near, just in front of the mountain. But I think that it was only an illusion. Jesus made no reply, and Satan seized Him by the shoulders and bore Him through the air. He flew low toward Jerusalem, and placed Jesus upon the highest point of one of the four towers that rose from the four corners of the Temple, and which I had not before noticed. The tower to which Satan bore Jesus was on the west side toward Zion and opposite the citadel Antonia. The mount upon which the Temple stood was very steep on that side. The towers were like prisons, and in one of them were kept the costly garments of the High Priest. The roofs of these towers were flat, so that one could walk on them; but from the center rose a hollow, conical turret capped by a large sphere, upon which there was standing room for two. From that position, one could view the whole Temple below. It was on the loftiest point of the tower that Satan placed Jesus, who uttered no word. Then Satan flew to the ground, and cried up to Him: “If Thou art the Son of God, show Thy power and come down also, for it is written: ‘He has given His angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.'” Jesus replied: “It is written again: ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God.'” Satan, in a fury, returned to Jesus, who said: “Make use of the power that hath been given thee!” Then Satan seized Him fiercely by the shoulders, and flew with Him over the desert toward Jericho. While standing on the tower, I noticed twilight in the western sky. This second flight appeared to me longer than the first. Satan was filled with rage and fury. He flew with Jesus now high, now low, reeling like one who would vent his rage if he could. He bore Him to the same mountain, seven hours from Jerusalem, upon which He had commenced His fast. I saw that Satan carried Jesus low over an old pine tree on the way. It was a large and still vigorous tree that had stood long ago in the garden of one of the ancient Essenians. Elias had once lived a short time in its vicinity. The tree was back of the grotto and not far from the rugged precipice. Such trees used to be pierced three times in one season, and each time they yielded a little turpentine. Satan flew with the Lord to the highest peak of the mountain, and set Him upon an overhanging, inaccessible crag much higher than the grotto. It was night, but while Satan pointed around, it grew bright, revealing the most wonderful regions in all parts of the world. The devil addressed Jesus in words something like these: “I know that Thou art a great Teacher, that Thou art now about to gather disciples around Thee and promulgate Thy doctrines. Behold, all these magnificent countries, these mighty nations! Compare with them poor, little Judea lying yonder! Go rather to these. I will deliver them over to Thee, if kneeling down Thou wilt adore me!” By adoration the devil meant that obeisance common among the Jews, and especially among the Pharisees, when supplicating favors from kings and great personages. This temptation of Satan was similar to that other one in which, under the guise of one of Herod’s officers, he had sought to lure Jesus to take up His abode in the castle of Jerusalem, and had offered to assist Him in His undertaking. It was similar in kind, though more extended in degree. As Satan pointed around, one saw first vast countries and seas, with their different cities into which kings in regal pomp and magnificence and followed by myriads of warriors were triumphantly entering. As one gazed, these scenes became more and more distinct until, at last, they seemed to be in the immediate vicinity. One looked down upon all their details, every scene, every nation differing in customs and manners, in splendor and magnificence. Satan pointed out in each the features of special attraction. He dwelt particularly upon those of a country whose inhabitants were unusually tall and magnificent-looking. They were almost like giants. I think it was Persia. Satan advised Jesus to go there above all to teach. He showed Him Palestine, but as a poor, little, insignificant place. This was a most wonderful vision, so extended, so clear, so grand, and magnificent! The only words uttered by Jesus were: “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve! Depart from Me, Satan!” Then I saw Satan in an inexpressibly horrible form rise from the rock, cast himself into the abyss, and vanish as if the earth had swallowed him. At the same moment I beheld myriads of angels draw near to Jesus, bend low before Him, take Him up as if in their hands, float down gently with Him to the rock, and into the grotto in which the forty days’ fast had been begun. There were twelve angelic spirits who appeared to be the leaders, and a definite number of assistants. I cannot now remember distinctly, but I think it was seventy-two, and I feel that the whole vision was symbolical of the Apostles and the disciples. And now was held in the grotto a grand celebration, one of triumph and thanksgiving, and a banquet was made ready.
- Blessed Henry Suzo, Confessor (1300-1366)
- Prayer for Mercy for the Poor Souls in Purgatory