"O God, must he who came to save men now flee from them?" ~St. Albert the Great
We can only poorly imagine the agony that Mary and Joseph underwent at their impending exile away from all and everything they knew. This sentiment is nicely put by St. Peter Chrysologus: "Flee from your friends to the abode of strangers; flee from the temple of God to the shrines of demons! O what tribulation for a newborn Infant, still at his mother's breast, to have to flee into a foreign land!"
Biblical scholars differ in opinion regarding the location of the Holy Family during their stay in Egypt. Brocard and Jansenius claim they lived in Matarea. St. Anselm records the residence at Heliopolis, or at Memphis, now the city of Cairo. The bible does not record anything of the poverty which must have been their companion there - they were strangers, without income, perhaps barely able to support themselves. St. Basil describes their situation thus: "Since they were destitute it is obvious that they must have worked very hard to provide themselves with the necessities of life."
Upon the death of Herod, the angel again appeared to Saint Joseph, instructing him to take his wife and the child back to Judea. At this time Jesus would have been seven years old. We can think with confidence that this too would have been a great suffering. A child of seven is too big to carry, but is yet too small to walk long distances. The Holy Family's return must have been a labor of joy mingled with great suffering and trial.
Saint Colette was graced with a mystical vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who: "showed her the Infant Jesus in a basin, bruised and mutilated. Mary said to her: 'This is the way sinners continually treat my dear son , renewing his death and my sorrows. My daughter, you must pray for them so that they will be converted."
Another vision granted to Ven. Joanna of Jesus and Mary: "One day, when she was meditating on the Infant Jesus persecuted by Herod, she heard a loud noise, like that of armed men pursuing someone. Immediately she saw before her a beautiful child all out of breath and running, who exclaimed: 'O Joanna, help me, conceal me! I am Jesus of Nazareth, I am fleeing from these sinners who wish to kill me and persecute me as Herod did. Please save me!'
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)
Jesus and Mary, my two sweet loves, for you I will suffer; for you I will die; I am entirely yours and in nothing my own. ~St. Alphonsus Rodriguez