The above painting is of SS. Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The 17th century Spanish Franciscan abbess, Venerable Mary of Jesus of Ágreda of Spain, received a private-revelation on the life of the Immaculate Virgin Mary that comes to a few thousand pages in a book called The Mystical City of God.  The Mystical City of God was attacked by the Jansenists as inauthentic.  Is it reliable?  Besides the fact that Sr. Mary of Ágreda has been declared “Venerable” by the Catholic Church, her book has the approval of Popes Innocent XI, Alexander VIII, Clement IX, Benedict XIII, Benedict XIV and Clement XIV.  By “approved” we mean anywhere from recognizing the authenticity of “Ciudad de Dios” as extant and written by the Venerable Servant of God, all the way up to the fact that Pope Benedict XIII used these private revelations as material for a series of sermons on the Blessed Virgin as an archbishop.   The following vision of Ágreda seeing “The Immaculate Conception” describes not what the human soul of Jesus would experience as an embryo 14 years later in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, for that would be later in the book titled “The Incarnation.”  Rather, the following is what the Immaculate Virgin Mary herself understood of the mysteries of God even as an embryo within the womb of St. Anne… 

The Immaculate Conception as relayed in the Mystical City of God

229. In addition to the facts of faith, [Mary] possessed other knowledge of the mystery of the Divinity and of the most holy Trinity. Although in this instant of her Conception, She did not see Him intuitively as the saints, yet She saw Him in abstraction by a light and vision which though inferior to the beatific vision, were nevertheless superior to all the other ways, in which God can manifest Himself or does manifest Himself to the created intelligence; for there were shown to Her images of the Divinity so clear and manifest that She understood the immutable being of God, and in Him, all creation, with a greater light and clearness than any creature ever is understood by another. And these images were like a shining mirror from which was resplendent the whole Divinity and in It all creatures; so that in God She saw and recognized, by means of this light and by means of these images of the divine nature, all things with a greater distinctness and clearness than was possible by the images of the infused science already vouchsafed Her.

230. In all these different ways was laid open to Her from the very instant of her Conception the vision of all men and angels in their hierarchies, dignities and operations, and of all the irrational creatures with their natures and conditions. She saw the fall of the angels and their ruin; the justification and glory of the good ones, and the rejection and punishment of the bad ones; the first state of Adam and Eve in their innocence; their deception, their guilt, and the misery in which the first parents were thrown on account of it; and in what misfortune the whole human race was cast through them; the divine resolve to repair it; the pre-ordaining and the disposing of the world, the nature of the heavens, the stars and planets; the condition and the arrangement of the elements; She saw purgatory, limbo and hell; She saw how all these things and whatever is contained in them were created by the divine power and were maintained and preserved by the infinite goodness, without having need of any of them (II Mach. 14, 35). Above all She was informed of the most high sacraments connected with the Incarnation, by which God was to become man in order to redeem the whole human race, while the fallen angels were left without a remedy.

231. In correspondence with this wonderful knowledge of her most holy soul at the instant of its union with the body, Mary exerted Herself by eliciting heroic acts of virtue, of incomparable admiration, praise, glorification, adoration, humility, love of God and sorrow for the sins committed against Him, whom She recognized as the Author and end of these admirable works. She hastened to offer Herself as an acceptable sacrifice to the Most High, beginning from that instant with fervent desire to bless Him, love Him and honor Him, because She perceived that the bad angels and men failed to know and love Him. She requested the holy angels whose Queen She already was, to help Her to glorify the Creator and Lord of all, and to pray also for Her.

232. The Lord in this instant showed Her also her guardian angels, whom she recognized and accepted with joyful submission, inviting them to sing canticles of praise to the Most High alternatively with Her. She announced to them beforehand that this was to be the service which they were to render Her during the whole time of her mortal life, in which they were to act as her assistants and guards. She was informed moreover of her whole genealogy, and the genealogy of all of the rest of the holy people chosen by God, the Patriarchs and Prophets, and how admirable his Majesty was in the gifts, graces and favors wrought in them. It is worthy of admiration, that, although the exterior faculties of her body at the creation of her most holy Soul were hardly large enough to be distinguished, nevertheless, in order that none of the miraculous excellence with which God could endow his Mother might be wanting, He ordained by the power of his right hand that in perceiving the fall of man She shed tears of sorrow in the womb of her mother at the gravity of the offense against the highest Good.

233. In this wonderful sorrow at the instant of her coming into existence, She began to seek a remedy for mankind and commenced the work of mediation, intercession and reparation. She offered to God the clamors of her ancestors and of the just of the earth, that his mercy might not delay the salvation of mortals, whom she even then looked upon as her brethren. Before She ever conversed with them She loved them with the most ardent charity and with the very beginning of her existence She assumed the office of Benefactress of men and exercised the divine and fraternal love enkindled in her heart. These petitions the Most High accepted with greater pleasure than the prayers of all the saints and angels and this pleasure of God was also made known to Her, who was created to be the Mother of God. She perceived the love of God and His desire to descend from heaven in order to redeem men, though She knew not how it should be consummated. It was befitting that God should feel Himself impelled to hasten his coming on account of the prayers and petitions of this Creature; since it was principally for the love of Her that He came, and since in Her body He was to assume human flesh, accomplish the most admirable of all his works, and fulfill the end of all other creatures.