EXEGESIS -- ISAIAS.
"What sign, forsooth, is it that a young woman not a virgin should bring forth? And which more fittingly should have given birth to Emmanuel (that is, God with us) -- a woman who conceived in the ordinary way, or a pure and spotless Virgin?"*
"And the Lord said to me: Take thee a great book, and write in it with a man's pen." -- viii. 1.
"We understand then by the new book, the Virgin. For as a fresh sheet of paper is pure, since nothing is written on it, so also is the holy Virgin, who knew not man." He then interprets the words of Ps. lxxxvi. 5.+
"And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived in her womb, and bore a son." -- v. 3.
"By these words Isaias shows the entrance of Gabriel to Mary, when he came to bring her the glad tidings that she was to give birth to the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, as a pure Virgin by the Holy Ghost."++
"Although human speech cannot tell forth the mysteries of the Nativity, yet Gabriel says to the Virgin herself who conceived: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Some interpret the prophetess to be the holy Mary. And that Mary was a prophetess there is no doubt, since she says in the Gospel: Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed: because He that is mighty hath done great things to me."**
S. Jerome had just before explained the prophetess also of the Holy Ghost, who he says in the Hebrew is expressed in the feminine gender.|| Elsewhere, in enumerating the holy women who were renowned for their wisdom and prophetic spirit, he says:--
"Not to speak of Anna and Elisabeth, and other holy women, all of whose, so to say, tiny sparks (igniculos) of stars the bright light of Mary eclipses and hides."***
The holy doctor speaks also of Mary as most excellently versed in the Scriptures.
S. Ambrose says:--
"We shall not easily find another woman who prophesied more abundantly than the Lord's Mother."+++
S. Augustine referring to Our Lord's words, Matt. xi. 13, mentions those recorded in the New Testament as having prophesied before John, and adds:--
"We know, too, from the Gospel (Luke i. 44-55) that the Lord's Virgin Mother himself prophesied before John."|||