ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH was born at Flamske, a village situated about a mile and a half from Coesfeld, in the bishopric of Munster, on the 8th of September 1774, and was baptised in the church of St. James at Coesfeld. Her parents, Bernard Emmerich and Anne Hiller, were poor peasants, but distinguished for their piety and virtue. As a child, she spent alot of her time as a shepherdess, maid and seamstress until, aged 28, she entered the Augustinian Order, the Convent of Agnetenberg at Dulmen, Westphalia, and one year later, on 13th November 1803, she made her solemn vows.
Even during her earlier youthful years, Anne had been extraordinarily gifted with ecstasies and visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, her guardian angel, and many of the saints. The visions with which she was favoured were so like realities, and appeared to her so sweet and delightful, that she supposed all Christian children were favoured with the same; and she concluded that those who never talked on such subjects were only more discreet and modest than herself, so she resolved to keep silence also, to be like them. Although never given an adequate education, Anne seemed to understand Latin beginning in her very early years. Almost from infancy Anne reportedly had the gifts of discerning holy from unholy objects, consecrated objects or locations, and the identification of relics and from which saints they came. During her whole life she had continual intercourse with the souls in purgatory; and all her actions and prayers were offered for the relief of their sufferings. She was often seen making the entire Way of the Cross in her bare feet for the, even when snow had covered the ground.
Anne receives the Crown of Thorns
In 1798, whilst Anne was praying in the Jesuits’ Church at Coesfeld absorbed in contemplation before the Crucifix, she recounts a sudden burning sensation in her head and beheld the vision of her “Divine Spouse” approaching her from the altar “where the Blessed Sacrament was kept in the tabernacle” with two crowns in His hands: in His left hand was one made up of flowers, and in the right hand one of thorns. Anne chose the crown of thorns, and from that day on was often subjected to excruciating pain and bleeding from the puncture wounds of the thorns. She kept her head permanently covered to hide the swelling and blood stains from being seen by others.
Anne receives the Stigmata
In 1811, Anne was forced to leave her convent along with all the sisters when King Jerome Bonaparte closed all of the Religious houses during his reign. Four years before the suppression of her convent, Anne made a visit home with her family in Flamske. One day while she was kneeling and praying for hours before the Cross of the Church of St. Lambert at Coesfeld, Anne had asked our Lord for a share in His Passion as a sacrifice for the sake of her convent. From that time on, she began experiencing terrible pains in her hands, feet and side, an indication that God had given her the invisible stigmata.
On August 28,1812 (the Feast of St. Augustine), Jesus appeared to her in a vision and imprinted a cross-shaped wound on her breast directly above the heart. Later that same year, specifically on the 29th December 1812, at about 3pm she was lying on her bed in her little room, extremely ill, but in a state of ecstasy and with her arms extended, meditating on the sufferings of her Lord, and beseeching Him to allow her to suffer with Him. She said five Our Fathers in honour of the Five Wounds, and felt her whole heart burning with love. She then saw a light descending towards her, and distinguished in the midst of it the resplendent form of her crucified Saviour, whose wounds shone like so many furnaces of light. Her heart was overflowing with joy and sorrow, and, at the sight of the sacred wounds, her desire to suffer with her Lord became intensely violent. Then triple rays, pointed like arrows, of the colour of blood, darted forth from the hands, feet, and side of Jesus, and struck her hands, feet, and right side. When she recovered her senses she was astonished when she beheld blood flowing from the palms of her hands, and felt violent pain in her feet and side.
In 1813, Anne was examined by a group of both medical and Church authorities; an inquiry which lasted for five months. The examiners found Anne to be mentally sound, and they could not find any medical or temporal explanation for the wounds of the stigmata.
Anne lives off the Eucharist alone for 12 years
From the moment she received the Sacred Wounds until her death, Anne Catherine Emmerich took no solid food, existing only on the Sacred Host. In fact, when she would try to eat or drink she would have a severe reaction and would vomit violently when attempting to consume food, even broth. She was however able to consume the Holy Eucharist and her diet consisted only of the Eucharist.
In 1819 she was once again investigated by high-ranking secular authorities. She was taken away from all of her acquaintances and moved to a house in the country belonging to one of the authorities. They referred to her as ‘The Imposter’. She was locked up for three weeks with the authorities watching her 24×7 in 6 hour shifts. Much to the aggravation of her captors, she still consumed no food and bled through her Stigmata even though she prayed not to bleed so they would release her. After three weeks, she was finally sent back to her home in Dulmen by her frustrated captors. Two of them became very sympathetic to her cause. During her last few years, she did not sleep at all, a miracle in itself according to the testimonies of many doctors. She was given shelter by various charitable people in the area, and was bedridden for the rest of her life. God had chosen this gifted soul to become His victim, and she voluntarily suffered and sacrificed as a means of atonement and expiation for the souls that were living in sin.
Because of the great trouble caused by her visible stigmata, Anne implored our Lord to remove them, a prayer which was granted – at least partially – starting in 1819. Over the next seven years, her wounds became less visible until finally they disappeared, except for on special occasions or particular feast days of the Church calendar. They would reappear and continue to bleed, however, during each Lenten season, particularly on Good Fridays. There were other occasions when Anne Catherine Emmerich’s wounds would manifest and bleed severely, including some Holy Thursdays and a few Fridays outside of Lent. Yet she was never without the stigmata, for the rest of the time they were invisible but equally as painful.
The Extraordinary Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich
Anne also possessed the gift of many extraordinary visions, known as ecstasies. She was given visions of almost the entire life of Jesus, and most of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary also. These private revelations of Jesus and Mary’s life included the most intimate details and can be considered a complete vision of the Gospel story. Other visions included those of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, along with intimate details in the lives of many Saints.
Of the many visions and prophesies of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, her accounts concerning the future of the Church and the rising of the false church, are the most poignant in light of the upheavals we are witnessing in the Church, and which could be referring to our times. Here are some of the most relevant excerpts from her visions:
“The Church is the only one, the Roman Catholic! And if there were left upon earth but one Catholic, he would be the one, universal Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ against which the gates of Hell shall never prevail.”
“I saw also the relationship between the TWO popes… I saw how baleful (evil; harmful) would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome) … Once more I saw the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect (Masonry), while storms were damaging it.”
“I saw a secret sect relentlessly undermining the great Church… When the Church had been for the most part destroyed (by the secret sect), and when only the sanctuary and the altar were still standing, I saw the wreckers (of the secret sect) enter the Church with the Beast.”
“I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great. She added that these people must pray fervently with outstretched arms… They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.”
“The Church is in great danger… I see that in this place (Rome) the (Catholic) Church is being so cleverly undermined, that there will hardly remain a hundred or so priests who have not been deceived. They all work for destruction, even the clergy. The great devastation is now at hand.”
“When I saw the Church of St. Peter in ruins, and the manner in which so many of the clergy were themselves busy at this work of destruction – none of them wishing to do it openly in front of others – I was in such distress that I cried out to Jesus with all my might, imploring His mercy. Then, I saw before me the Heavenly Spouse… 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. It was also shown to me that there were almost no Christians left in the old acceptation of the word.”
“The Church is completely isolated and as if completely deserted. It seems that everyone is running away.”
“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. A few had only a body, with a dark cloud of fog instead of a head. Others had only a head, their bodies and hearts were like thick vapors. Some were lame; others were paralytics; others were asleep or staggering.”
“I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound…”
“Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence… 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.”
“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…”
“I heard that Lucifer (if I am not mistaken) will be freed again for awhile, fifty or sixty years before the year 2,000 AD.”
“A false church, and wicked men scheming against the Catholic Church and doing much harm–both in her own time and in the future. And actually saw in a vision this, the enemies of the Church tearing it down and trying to build a new one on strictly human plans–but none of the saints would lend a hand. Later, this church of men is destroyed and the saints of God join in to rebuild the true Church of God, which becomes more glorious than ever before.”
Death and Beatification
Anne Catherine Emmerich died a most holy death on 9th February 1824, aged 49. At her beatification ceremony, on 3rd October 2004, Pope St. John Paul II said that “her special mystical vocation shows us the value of sacrifice and suffering with the crucified Lord”. She is one of those special victim souls whose complete self-abnegation allows them to be more completely filled with grace.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
(Taken from ‘Life of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’ and ‘Mystics of the Church’)