|Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich|
At age 29 she joined the Convent of Agnetenberg at Dulmen, Westphalia. Even during these youthful years, Anne was extraordinarily gifted with ecstasies and visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, her guardian angel, and many of the saints. Although never given an adequate education, Anne had perfect recollection of her childhood days, and she 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. Also during these early years, Anne was often seen making the entire Way of the Cross in her bare feet, even when the snow had covered the ground.
The following is the account she herself has given of the circumstances under which she received the crown of thorns:
"About four years prior to my admittance into the convent, that is in 1798, it happened that I was in the Jesuits' Church at Coesfeld, at about twelve noon, kneeling before a crucifix and absorbed in meditation, when all on a sudden I felt a strong but pleasant heat in my head, and I saw my Divine Spouse, under the form of a young man clothed with light, come towards me from the altar, where the Blessed Sacrament was preserved in the tabernacle.
In His left hand he held a crown of flowers, and in His right hand a crown of thorns, and He bade me choose which one I would like to have. I chose the crown of thorns; He placed it on my head, and I pressed it down with both hands. Then He disappeared, and I returned to myself, feeling, however, violent pain around my head. I was obliged to leave the church, which was going to be closed. One of my companions was kneeling by my side, and as I thought she might have seen what happened to me, I asked her when we got home whether there was not a wound on my forehead, and spoke to her in general terms of my vision, and of the violent pain which had followed it. She could see nothing outwardly, but was not astonished at what I told her, because she knew that I was sometimes in an extraordinary state, without her being able to understand the cause. The next day my forehead and temples were very much swelled, and I suffered terribly. This pain and swelling often returned, and sometimes lasted whole days and nights. I did not remark that there was blood on my head until my companions told me I had better put on a clean cap, because mine was covered with red spots. I let them think whatever they liked about it, only taking care to arrange my head-dress so as to hide the blood which flowed from my head, and I continued to observe the same precaution even after I entered the convent, where only one person perceived the blood, and she never betrayed my secret.'
Anne receives the 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. It happened that her landlady's little daughter came into her room, saw her hands bleeding, and ran to tell her mother, who with great anxiety asked Anne Catherine what had happened, but Anne begged her not to speak about it. She felt, after having received the stigmas, that an entire change had taken place in her body; for the course of her blood seemed to have changed, and to flow rapidly towards the stigmas. She herself used to say: 'No words can describe in what manner it flows.'
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
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 24x7 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.
"The angel calls me and I follow him to various places. He takes me to people I know or who are complete strangers. We cross the sea as quickly as thought travels. It is he who took me to see the Queen of France in prison. When he comes to take me on a journey, I see a glimmering light, then his luminous form appears before me like a flash from a lantern open in the dark. As we journey along in the darkness a faint light floats over our path. We pass over countries in distant regions, passing over roads, deserts, rivers and seas. We always travel on foot, my knees and feet ache. I often have to climb mountains. My guide is in front of me or at my side. I never see his feet move. "
"He is silent, he makes few motions, sometimes he follows his replies by gestures of the hand or inclinations of the head. He is transparent. He is grave but very kind. His hair is smooth, flowing and shining. His head is uncovered and his long white robe, like a priest`s. I address him freely and never look him fully in the face. I never ask him many questions, as I am satisfied just being near him. I call to him to go to the Angel of the person for whom I am praying. I say,'Now I shall stay here, but do go to such or such place where thy help is need and then I see him go'. When I come to broad waters and know not how to cross, I find myself all at once on the other side and I look back in wonder."
Father Carl E. Schmoger, C.SS.R., described some of these discernments in his study of this most unusual stigmatist:
Anne herself explained these holy things which she was able to distinguish, such as blessed objects or relics:
|House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey found through Emmerich's visions|
The Lazzarist priests spent two hot summer days looking around Ephesus, finding nothing. When their water ran out, they asked some local women where they could find a well and were directed up the hill to the "monastery." There they found a spring next to the ruins of a little chapel half hidden by the trees in a scene almost exactly as Blessed Emmerich had described.
Afterwards, excavations led to the conclusion that the chapel was built no earlier than the seventh century, but that part of it was erected on the foundation of a much older building, one constructed with materials that the archaeologists said were similar to those used in the first centuries.
Anne Catherine Emmerich died at 8:30pm on February 9, 1824. It was only during the last five years of her life that she began to write down the history of her visions which have become a treasury for many of the faithful. She was Beatified on October 3, 2004 by Pope John Paul II.