New York

Mrs. Gibbons, a Bahá’í, had written the Master before His coming to the United States, requesting that her own daughter be allowed to paint His portrait. In His reply He consented to this request and added, according to Mrs. Gibbons, that Juliet Thompson would paint a portrait of Him. Juliet Thompson had long dreamed that she would paint the face of Christ.

During the month of June, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá allowed Juliet Thompson to paint His portrait telling her to paint His “Servitude to God”. She completed it over the course of six sittings which took place over multiple days in different rooms. Juliet remembered that fourth sitting on June 19th because of an extraordinary experience she and Lua Getsinger had on that day.

As the Master prepared to sit for the portrait, He turned to Lua Getsinger who was also in the room and told her in Persian that these sittings made Him sleepy. He sat down and closed His eyes. Juliet studied Him but found that she could not begin painting because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s countenance reflected the dignity and peace of the Divine Realm.

Then, as though awakened by the Holy Spirit, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá opened His eyes and with great power said:

"I appoint you, Lua, the Herald of the Covenant. And I AM THE COVENANT, appointed by Bahá’u’lláh. And no one can refute His Word. This is the Testament of Bahá’u’lláh. You will find it in the Holy Book of Aqdas. Go forth and proclaim, 'This is THE COVENANT OF GOD in your midst.'"

A great joy seemed to fill Lua while Juliet wept at witnessing this extraordinary moment of spiritual force flowing through the Master. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá became quiet again. The Holy Spirit receded, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the man re-emerged. He smiled at Juliet and told her that she must stop crying since she would not be able to paint through tears.

In the afternoon of that same day He sent Lua Getsinger downstairs to speak about the Covenant to the visitors waiting there. When He went down later, He read from Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet of the Branch and spoke with great power on the Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá designated New York City, the “City of the Covenant”.

The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia –Feast of Kamal 2012

Suddenly, with a great flash like lightning he opened his eyes in the room seemed to rock like a ship in a storm with the power released. The Master was blazing. The veils of glory, the thousand veils, had shriveled away and in that Flame we were exposed to the Glory itself. Lua and I sat shaking and sobbing. Then He spoke to Lua. I caught the words, Mundádiy-i Ahd (Herald of the Covenant. Lua started forward, her hand to her breast. "Man?" (I?) she exclaimed. "Call one of the Persians. You must understand this." Never shall I forget that moment, the flashing eyes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the reverberations of His voice, the power that still rocked the room. God of lightning and thunder! I thought. "I appoint you, Lua, the Herald of the Covenant. And I AM the Covenant, appointed by Bahá’u’lláh. And no one can refute His word. This is the testament of Bahá’u’lláh. You will find it in the holy book of Aqdas. Go forth and proclaim, this is the Covenant of God in your midst." A great joy had lifted Lua up. Her eyes were full of light. She looked like a winged Angel. "Oh re-create me", she cried, that I may do this work for Thee!" It was because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had that morning made this emphatic authoritative statement in public that New York was invested with that distinction of being named the City of the Covenant.

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 143-144

In 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, upon visiting New York City, remarked, "America will make rapid progress in the future, but I am fearful of the effects of these high buildings and such densely populated cities; these are not good for the public health.

Mahmud’s Diary, April 12, 1912