Anne Catherine Emmerich

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Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (8 September, 1774 - 9 February, 1824) was a Catholic Augustinian nun, alleged stigmatic, and ecstatic. She was born in Flamsche, near Coesfeld, in the Diocese of Münster, Westphalia, Germany and died in Dulmen. On October 3, 2004, Pope John Paul II officially beatified her, giving her the title "Blessed". (It is worth noting that her writings were not considered in the beatification process, since they were all dictated to Klemens Brentano, who may have taken liberties in his translation and recording of her words.)

Childhood

Her parents were very poor. At twelve she was bound out to a farmer, and later was a seamstress for several years. 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 waited on them as a servant for several years.

In her twenty-eighth year (1802) she entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. Her sisters came to believe that she had supernatural powers, mostly as a result of multiple ecstasies she appeared to experience. When Jerome Bonaparte closed the convent in 1812 she found refuge in a widow's house. In 1813 she became bedridden.

Catholic Tradition states that she foresaw the downfall of Napoleon twelve years in advance, and that she counseled in a mysterious way the successor of St. Peter.

As a child she had visions in which she talked with Jesus as a child; the Catholic Church later came to accept her claims as factual, i.e. that she really did have supernatural conversations with Jesus in heaven.

The sick and poor came to her for help, and according to contemporaries she supernaturally knew what their diseases were, and prescribed infallible cures. There is no documented evidence to support such claims.

She prayed for the souls of those people who she believed were condemned to Purgatory; she had many episodes in which she claimed to see the souls.

By 1813 she was confined to bed, and stigmata appeared on her body.

Then followed an Episcopal commission to inquire into her life, and the claims surrounding miraculous signs. The examination was very strict. 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 Emmerich claimed God granted her prayer to be relieved of the stigmata, and the wounds in her hands and feet closed, but the others remained, and on Good Friday all were wont to reopen.

In 1819 Emmerich was investigated again. 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. About this time Klemens Brentano, the famous poet, was induced to visit her; to his great amazement she recognized him, and he claimed she told him he had been pointed out to her as the man who was to enable her to fulfill 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 made changes until she gave her complete approval. Brentano became one of Emmerich's many supporters at the time, believing her to be a "chosen bride of Christ".

The Dolorous Passion

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). The work has been criticized for Anti-Semitic depictions of Jews; however, it is uncertain whether these are due to Emmerich or Brentano. There is disagreement on the Anti-Semitism of the work as well.

Brentano prepared for publication "The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary", but this appeared at Munich only in 1852. From the manuscript 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.

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.

Her visions led to the discovery of the house of Mary where Catholic Tradition says she lived until she was assumed into heaven, located on a hill near Ephesus, Turkey.

In 2003 actor Mel Gibson wrote and directed a movie, The Passion of the Christ, which raised a pre-release controversy about parts of the screenplay apparently based on Emmerich's meditations on the New Testament.

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