"What is this earth that has yielded the fruit of benediction but Mary? For to her was said: Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb; and in Genesis: Blessings of the breasts and of the womb; and in the Psalms: Children the reward, the fruit of the womb; and: Of the fruit of thy womb I will set upon thy throne. Of which same fruit the holy Psalmist says in another Psalm: Truth is sprung up out of the earth... and our earth shall yield her fruit; and the Prophet also: Drop down dew, ye heavens from above, and let the clouds rain the Just, let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour."*

"He shall come down like rain upon the fleece, and as showers falling gently upon the earth." -- lxxi. 6.

"One shadowed out His coming in a shower that cometh down tranquilly: and Mary again he shadowed forth in a fleece comely and pure."+

"The fleece of Gideon, in that it was a receptacle for the dew of heaven, has prefigured the Virgin, in whom the Word was made Flesh."++

"That the Saviour was thus silently and secretly to descend into the Virgin, the prophet David had before testified, saying, He shall descend like rain upon the fleece of wool. For what takes place so silently and noiselessly as when rain pours upon a fleece of wool? ...Well then may we compare Mary to the fleece, since in such wise did she conceive the Lord, as to drink Him in with her whole body, without suffering any rent of the same body, but was soft and tender for obedience, solid for sanctity. Rightly, I say, is Mary compared to a fleece, because from her Fruit garments of salvation are woven for the peoples. Clearly is Mary the fleece, since it was from her tender bosom the Lamb came forth, who Himself too weaving His Mother's wool, that is to say, her flesh, covers with a soft fleece the wounds of all the peoples. For every wound of sin is suffused with the wool of Christ, and for its healing is clothed with the garment of Christ."**

"For like as the rain came down upon the fleece of Gedeon, whilst the arid earth lacked it, so too did He glide down into the virginal womb by the infusion of the Holy Ghost."||

"Hail full of grace, and well does he say full; for to others it is bestowed in parts, but on Mary was poured the whole fulness of grace. Of this it is in truth that David sings: He shall come down like rain upon the fleece. Now the fleece, though it is from the body, knows not the passion of the body. So too virginity, though it is in flesh, knows not the vices of flesh. A rain entirely heavenly shed itself with tranquil fall upon the virginal fleece, and the whole shower of divinity poured upon her flesh, when the Word was made Flesh: and afterwards, under the pressure of the gibbet of the Cross, shed forth the rain of salvation on all lands, and let fall the droppings of grace into the souls of men."***

* Luke i. 42. Gen. xlix. 25. Ps. cxxvi. 3; cxxxi. 11; lxxxiv. 12, 13. Is. xlv. 8. Vigilius Tapsensis, Contr. Eutychet. L. iii. c. 8. Patr. Lat. Tom. 62.

+ S. Ephrem, A Rhythm against the Jews, p. 11. Morris, p. 68. The Fleece is commonly thus explained, see Laurentius Sylv. Allus., n. v.

++ On Judges. Ibid.

** Serm. v. Int. Op. S. Ambrosii. The Benedictine editors say that without controversy the words here quoted are taken from S. Ambrose's commentary on Ps. lxxi, which is used wrongly to be attributed to Ruffinus.

|| Brev. in Psalt. in loc. Int. Opp. S. Hieron.

*** Serm. de Assump. c. 5. Int. Opp. S. Hieron. Tom. xi. p. 132.



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