A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
Three hundred years before the birth of the Lord Christ, there
lived a mother who had twelve sons, but was so poor and needy
that she no longer knew how she was to keep them alive. She
prayed to God daily that he would grant that all her sons might
be on the earth with the redeemer who was promised. When her
necessity became still greater she sent one of them after the
other out into the world to seek their bread. The eldest was
called Peter, and he went out and had already walked a long
way, a whole day's journey, when he came into a great forest.
He sought for a way out, but could find none, and went farther
and farther astray, and at the same time felt such great hunger
that he could scarcely stand. At length he became so weak that
he was forced to lie down, and he believed death to be at
hand. Suddenly there stood beside him a small boy who shone
with brightness, and was as beautiful and kind as an angel.
The child smote his little hands together, until Peter was
forced to look up and see him. Then the child said, "Why are
you sitting there in such trouble?"
"Alas," answered Peter, "I am going about the world seeking bread, that I may yet see the
dear saviour who is promised, that is my greatest desire."
child said, "Come with me, and your wish shall be fulfilled." He
took poor Peter by the hand, and led him between some cliffs to a
great cavern. When they entered it, everything was shining
with gold, silver and crystal, and in the midst of it twelve
cradles were standing side by side. Then said the little angel,
"Lie down in the first, and sleep a while, I will rock you."
Peter did so, and the angel sang to him and rocked him until
he was alseep. And when he was asleep, the second brother came
also, guided thither by his guardian angel, and he was rocked
to sleep like the first, and thus came the others, one after
the other, until all twelve lay there sleeping in the golden
cradles. They slept, however, three hundred years, until the
night when the saviour of the world was born. Then they awoke,
and were with him on earth, and were called the twelve apostles.