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Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich
An Augustinian nun,
stigmatic, and ecstatic, born 8 September, 1774, at Flamsche, near Coesfeld, in the Diocese of Munster, Westphalia, Germany; died at Dulmen, 9 February, 1824. Her parents, both peasants, were very poor and pious. At twelve she was bound out to a farmer, and later was a seamstress for several years. Very delicate all the time, she was sent to study music, but finding the organist's family very poor she gave them the little she had saved to enter a convent, and actually waited on them as a servant for several years. Moreover, she was at times so pressed for something to eat that her mother brought her bread at intervals, parts of which went to her master's family. In her twenty-eighth year (1802) she entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. Here she was content to be regarded as the lowest in the house. Her zeal, however, disturbed the tepid sisters, who were puzzled and annoyed at her strange powers and her weak health, and notwithstanding her ecstasies in church, cell, or at work, treated her with some antipathy. Despite her excessive frailty, she discharged her duties cheerfully and faithfully. When Jerome Bonaparte closed the convent in 1812 she was compelled to find refuge in a poor widow's house. In 1813 she became bedridden. She foresaw the downfall of Napoleon twelve years in advance, and counselled in a mysterious way the successor of St. Peter. Even in her childhood the supernatural was so ordinary to her that in her innocent ignorance she thought all other children enjoyed the same favours that she did, i.e. to converse familiarly with the Child Jesus, etc. She displayed a marvellous knowledge when the sick and poor came to the "bright little sister" seeking aid; she knew their diseases and prescribed remedies that did not fail. By nature she was quick and lively and easily moved to great sympathy by the sight of the sufferings of others. This feeling passed into her spiritual being with the result that she prayed and suffered much for the souls of Purgatory whom she often saw, and for the salvation of sinners whose miseries were known to her even when far away. Soon after she was confined to bed (1813) the stigmata came externally, even to the marks of the thorns. All this she unsuccessfully tried to conceal as she had concealed the crosses impressed upon her breast.
Then followed what she dreaded on account of its publicity, an Episcopal commission to inquire into her life, and the reality of these wonderful signs. The examination was very strict, as the utmost care was necessary to furnish no pretext for ridicule and insult on the part of the enemies of the Church. The vicar- general, the famous Overberg, and three physicians conducted the investigation with scrupulous care and became convinced of the sanctity of the "pious Beguine", as she was called, and the genuineness of the stigmata. At the end of 1818 God granted her earnest prayer to be relieved of the stigmata, and the wounds in her hands and feet closed, but the others remained, and on Good Friday were all wont to reopen. In 1819 the government sent a committee of investigation which discharged its commission most brutally. Sick unto death as she was, she was forcibly removed to a large room in another house and kept under the strictest surveillance day and night for three weeks, away from all her friends except her confessor. She was insulted, threatened, and even flattered, but in vain. The commission departed without finding anything suspicious, and remained silent until its president, taunted about his reticence, declared that there was fraud, to which the obvious reply was: In what respect? and why delay in publishing it? About this time Klemens Brentano, the famous poet, was induced to visit her; to his great amazement she recognized him, and told him he had been pointed out to her as the man who was to enable her to fulfil God's command, namely, to write down for the good of innumerable souls the revelations made to her. He took down briefly in writing the main points, and, as she spoke the Westphalian dialect, he immediately rewrote them in ordinary German. He would read what he wrote to her, and change and efface until she gave her complete approval. Like so many others, he was won by her evident purity, her exceeding humility and patience under sufferings indescribable. With Overberg, Sailer of Ratisbon, Clement Augustus of Cologne, Stollberg, Louisa Hensel, etc. he reverenced her as a chosen bride of Christ.
In 1833 appeared the first-fruits of Brentano's toil, "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich" (Sulzbach). Brentano prepared for publication "The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary", but this appeared at Munich only in 1852. From the MS. of Brentano Father Schmoeger published in three volumes "The Life of Our Lord" (Ratisbon, 1858-80), and in 1881 a large illustrated edition of the same. The latter also wrote her life in two volumes (Freiburg, 867-70, new edition, 1884). Her visions go into details, often slight, which give them a vividness that strongly holds the reader's interest as one graphic scene follows another in rapid succession as if visible to the physical eye. Other mystics are more concerned with ideas, she with events; others stop to meditate aloud and to guide the reader's thoughts, she lets the facts speak for themselves with the simplicity, brevity, and security of a Gospel narrative. Her treatment of that difficult subject, the twofold nature of Christ, is admirable. His humanity stands out clear and distinct, but through it shines always a gleam of the Divine. The rapid and silent spread of her works through Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere speaks well for their merit. Strangely enough they produced no controversy. Dom Guéranger extolls their merits in the highest terms (Le Monde, 15 April, 1860).
Sister Emmerich lived during one of the saddest and least glorious periods of the Church's history, when revolution triumphed, impiety flourished, and several of the fairest provinces of its domain were overrun by infidels and cast into such ruinous condition that the Faith seemed about to be completely extinguished. Her mission in part seems to have been by her prayers and sufferings to aid in restoring Church discipline, especially in Westphalia, and at the same time to strengthen at least the little ones of the flock in their belief. Besides all this she saved many souls and recalled to the Christian world that the supernatural is around about it to a degree sometimes forgotten. A rumour that the body was stolen caused her grave to be opened six weeks after her death. The body was found fresh, without any sign of corruption. In 1892 the process of her beatification was introduced by the Bishop of Münster.
WEGENER, tr. McGOWAN, Sister Anne Katherine Emmerich (New York, 1907); DeCAZALES, Life of A. C. Emmerich prefixed to the 2d ed. of The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord (London, 1907); URBANY in Kirchenlexikon, s.v.; MIGNE, Dict. de mystique chrétienne (Paris, 1858).
Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett
Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright ©
1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc.
(These prophecies were made by 1820 by Anna Katarina Emmerick (Anne Emerich), a stigmatized Augustinian nun who bore the wounds of Christ on her body and who lived many years solely on the Holy Communion until she died. She was given many visions of our Blessed Lord and Lady including their earthly lives, printed into books. Her life and the following prophecies were recorded in The Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich by Rev. Carl Schmoeger, C.SS.R., published in English in 1870 and reprinted in 1968 by Maria Regina Guild, LA, California. )
THE GREAT APOSTASY IN THE PRESENT CHURCH - THE AGING POPE: "Among the strangest things that I saw, were long processions of bishops. Their thoughts and utterances were made known to me through images issuing from their mouths. Their faults towards religion were shown by external deformities ... I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound. I also saw the Holy Father - God-fearing and prayerful. Nothing left to be desired in his appearance, but he was weakened by old age and by much suffering. His head was lolling from side to side, and it dropped onto his chest as if he was falling asleep ...Then I saw that everything pertaining to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upperhand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of destruction. In those days, Faith will fall very low, and it will be preserved in some places only, in a few cottages and in a few families which God has protected from disasters and wars. "
POPE JOHN PAUL II LEAVING ROME, THE CHURCH IN EXILE:
"... As we came nearer, however, the fire abated and we saw the blackened building. We went through a number of magnificent rooms, and we finally reached the Pope. He was sitting in the dark and slept in a large arm chair. He was very ill and weak; he could no longer walk. The ecclesiastics in the inner circle looked insincere and lacking in zeal; I did not like them. I told the Pope of the bishops who are to be appointed soon. I told him also that he must not leave Rome. If he did so, it would be chaos. He thought that the evil was inevitable and he should leave in order to save many things beside himself. He was very much inclined to leave Rome, and he was insistently urged to do so. "
THE ENEMIES OF THE CHURCH INVADING ITALY AND ROME:
"I also saw the various regions of the earth. My Guide (Jesus) named Europe and pointing to a small and sandy region, He uttered these words: " Here is Prussia (East Germany), the enemy." Then He showed me another place, to the north, and He said: "This is Moskva, the land of Moscow, bringing many evils.'"
THE FALSE ECUMENICAL, HERETICAL CHURCH ESTABLISHED IN ROME:
"I saw also the relationship between two popes ... I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city of Rome. The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness...
"I had another vision of the great tribulation. It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy which could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping. But others, and the lukewarm among them, readily did what was demanded. It was as if people were splitting into two camps.
"I saw that many pastors allowed themselves to be taken up with ideas that were dangerous to the Church. They were building a great, strange, and extravagant Church. Everyone was to be admitted in it in order to be united and have equal rights: Evangelicals, Catholics, sects of every description. Such was to be the new Church ... But God had other designs. "
"I saw again the strange big church that was being built there in Rome. There was nothing holy in it. I saw this just as I saw a movement led by Ecclesiastics to which contributed angels, saints, and other Christians. But there in the strange big church all the work was being done mechanically according to set rules and formulae. Everything was being done according to human reason ...I saw all sorts of people, things, doctrines, and opinions. There was something proud, presumptuous, and violent about it, and they seemed very successful. I di not see a single Angel nor a single saint helping in the work. But far away in the background, I saw the seat of the cruel people armed with spears, and I saw a laughing figure which said: " Do build it as solid as you can; we will pull it to the ground."
"I saw again the new and odd-looking church which they were trying to build. There was nothing holy about it ... People were kneading bread in the crypt below ... but it would not rise, nor did they receive the body of our Lord, but only bread. Those who were in error, through no fault of their own, and who piously and ardently longed for the Body of Jesus were spiritually consoled, but not by their communion. Then my Guide (Jesus) said: "This is Babel."
"I saw deplorable things: they were gambling, drinking, and talking in church; they were also courting women. All sorts of abominations were perpetrated there. Priests allowed everything and said Mass with much irreverence. I saw that few of them were still godly... All these things caused me much distress. "
DEVOUT CATHOLICS AND CLERGY BEING OPPRESSED:
"Then I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that people must pray fervently with outstretched arms, be it only long enough to say three Our Fathers. This was the way her Son prayed for them on the Cross. They must rise at twelve at night, and pray in this manner; and they must keep coming to the Church. They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome... These were all good and devout people, and they did not know where help and guidance should be sought. There were no traitors and enemies among them, yet they were afraid of one another... "
"I saw more martyrs, not now but in the future ... I saw the secret sect relentlessly undermining the great Church. Near them I saw a horrible beast coming up from the sea. All over the world, good and devout people, especially the clergy, were harassed, oppressed, and put into prison ... "
"Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches closed down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took violent action. But it did not last long... "
THE INTERCESSION FROM BLESSED VIRGIN AND KING HENRY, THE VICTORS:
"I had a vision of the holy Emperor Henry. I saw him at night kneeling alone at the foot of the main altar in a great and beautiful church ... and I saw the Blessed Virgin coming down all alone. She laid on the altar a red cloth covered with white linen. She placed a book inlaid with precious stones. she lid the candles and the perpetual lamp. Then came the Saviour Himself clad in priestly vestments. He was carrying the chalice and the veil. Two angels were serving Him and two more were following ... Although there was no altar bell, the cruets were there. The wine was as red as blood, and there was also some water. The Mass was short. The Gospel of St. John was not read at the end . When the Mass had ended, Mary came up to Henry, and she extended her right hand towards him, saying that it was in recognition of his purity. Then she urged him not to falter. Thereupon I saw an angel, and he touched the sinew of his hip, like Jacob. Henry was in great pain; and from that day on he walked with a limp ... "
"Very bad times will come when non-Catholics will lead many people astray. A great confusion will result. I saw the battle also. The enemies were far more numerous, but the small army of the faithful cut down whole rows of enemy soldiers. During the battle, the Blessed Virgin stood on a hill, wearing a suit armor. It was a terrible war. At the end, only a few fighters for the just cause survived, but the victory was theirs. "
THE CHURCH SHALL BE VICTORIOUS, REBUILT, AND MORE GLORIOUS THAN EVER:
"I was in such distress that I cried out to Jesus with all my might, imploring His mercy... He said , among other things, that this translation of the church from one place to another meant that she would seem to be in complete decline. But she would rise again; even if there remained but one Catholic, the church would conquer again because she does not rest on human counsels and intelligence. "
"When the Church had been for the most part destroyed by the secret sect, and when only the sanctuary and altar were still standing, I saw the wreckers enter the Church with the beast. There, they met a Woman of noble carriage who seemed to be with child because she walked slowly. At this sight, the enemies were terrorized, and the Beast could not take but another step forward. It projected its neck towards the Woman as if to devour her, but the woman turned about and bowed down toward the Altar, her head touching the ground. Thereupon, I saw the beast taking to flight towards the sea again, and the enemies were fleeing in the greatest of confusion. Then, I saw in the great distance great legion approaching. In the foreground I saw a man on a white horse. Prisoners were set free and joined them. All enemies were pursued. Then, I saw that the Church was being promptly rebuilt, and she was more magnificent than ever before. "