Skip to comments.Life of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich
Posted on 01/23/2003 9:57:15 PM PST by Lady In Blue
LIFE OF VENERABLE ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH
|"VENERABLE ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH"|
|Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
Mystic, Stigmatist, Visionary, and Prophet
Religious of the Order of St. Augustine, at the Convent of Agnetenberg, Dulmen, Westphalia.
NIHIL OBSTAT: GEORGIVS D. SMITH, D.D.
MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN(Length: Pages 15 through 59)
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.
The childhood of Anne Catherine bore a striking resemblance to that of the Venerable Anne Garzias de St. Barthelemi, of Dominica del Paradiso, and of several other holy persons born in the same rank of life as herself. Her angel-guardian used to appear to her as a child; and when she was taking care of sheep in the fields, the Good Shepherd himself, under the form of a young shepherd, would frequently come to her assistance. From childhood she was accustomed to have divine knowledge imparted to her in visions of all kinds, and was often favoured by visits trom the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, who, under the form of a sweet, lovely, and majestic lady, would bring the Divine Child to be, as it were, her companion, and would assure her that she loved and would ever protect her. Many of the saints would also appear to her, and receive from her hands the garlands of flowers which she had prepared in honour of their festivals. All these favours and visions surprised the child less than if an earthly princess and the lords and ladies of her court had come to visit her. Nor was she, later in life, more surprised at these celestial visits, for her innocence caused her to feel far more at her ease with our Divine Lord, his Blessed Mother and the Saints, than she could ever be with even the most kind and amiable of her earthly companions. The names of Father, Mother, Brother, and Spouse, appeared to her expressive of the real connections subsisting between God and man, since the Eternal Word had been pleased to be born of a woman, and so to become our Brother, and these sacred titles were not mere words in her mouth.
While yet a child, she used to speak with innocent candour and simplicity of all that she saw, and her listeners would be filled with admiration at the histories she would relate from Holy Writ; but their questions and remarks having sometimes disturbed her peace of mind, she determined to keep silence on such subjects for the future. In her innocence of heart, she thought that it was not right to talk of things of this sort, that other persons never did so, and that her speech should be only Yea, yea, and Nay, nay, or Praise be to Jesus Christ. 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.
Almost from her cradle she possessed the gift of distinguishing what was good or evil, holy or profane, blessed or accursed, in material as well as in spiritual things, thus resembling St. Sibyllina of Pavia, Ida of Louvain, Ursula Benincasa, and some other holy souls. In her earliest childhood she used to bring out of the fields useful herbs, which no one had ever before discovered to be good for anything, and plant them near her fathers cottage, or in some spot where she was accustomed to work and play; while on the other hand she would root up all poisonous plants, and particularly those ever used for superstitious practices or in dealings with the devil. Were she by chance in a place where some great crime had been committed, she would hastily run away, or begin to pray and do penance. She used also to perceive by intuition when she was in a consecrated spot, return thanks to God, and be filled with a sweet feeling of peace. When a priest passed by with the Blessed Sacrament, even at a great distance from her home or from the place where she was taking care of her flock, she would feel a strong attraction in the direction whence he was coming, run to meet him, and be kneeling in the road, adoring the Blessed Sacrament, long before he could reach the spot.
She knew when any object was consecrated, and experienced a feeling of disgust and repugnance when in the neighbourhood of old pagan cemeteries, whereas she was attracted to the sacred remains of the saints as steel by the magnet. When relics were shown to her, she knew what saints they had belonged to, and could give not only accounts of the minutest and hitherto unknown particulars of their lives, but also histories of the relics themselves, and of the places where they had been preserved. 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 frequently called upon to assist them, and even reminded in some miraculous manner, if she chanced to forget them. Often, while yet very young, she used to be awakened out of her sleep by bands of suffering souls, and to follow them on cold winters nights with bare feet, the whole length of the Way of the Cross to Coesfeld, though the ground was covered with snow.
From her infancy to the day of her death she was indefatigable in relieving the sick, and in dressing and curing wounds and ulcers, and she was accustomed to give to the poor every farthing she possessed. So tender was her conscience, that the slightest sin she fell into caused her such pain as to make her ill, and absolution then always restored her immediately to health.
The extraordinary nature of the favours bestowed on her by Almighty God was no hindrance in the way of her devoting herself to hard labour, like any other peasant-girl; and we may also be allowed to observe that a certain degree of the spirit of prophecy is not unusually to be found among her country men and women. She was taught in the school of suffering and mortification, and there learned lessons of perfection. She allowed herself no more sleep or food than was absolutely necessary; passed whole hours in prayer every night; and in winter often knelt out of doors on the snow. She slept on the ground on planks arranged in the form of a cross. Her food and drink consisted of what was rejected by others; she always kept the best parts even of that for the poor and sick, and when she did not know of any one to give them to she offered them to God in a spirit of child-like faith, begging him to give them to some person who was more in need than herself. When there was anything to be seen or heard which had no reference to God or religion, she found some excuse for avoiding the spot to which others were hastening or, if there, dosed her eyes and ears. She was accustomed to say that useless actions were sinful, and that when we denied our bodily senses any gratification of this kind, we were amply repaid by the progress which we made in the interior life, in the same manner as pruning renders vines and other fruit-trees more productive. From her early youth, and wherever she went, she had frequent symbolical visions, which showed her in parables, as it were, the object of her existence, the means of attaining it, and her future sufferings, together with the dangers and conflicts which she would have to go through.
She was in her sixteenth year, when one day, whilst at work in the fields with her parents and sisters, she heard the bell ringing at the Convent of the Sisters of the Annunciation, at Coesfeld. This sound so inflamed her secret desire to become a nun, and had so great an effect upon hcr, that she fainted away, and remained ill and weak for a long time after. When in her eighteenth year she was apprenticed at Coesfeld to a dressmaker, with whom she passed two years, and then returned to her parents. She asked to be received at the Convents of the Augustinians at Borken, of the Trappists at Darfeld, and of the Poor Clares at Munster; but her poverty, and that of these convents, always presented an insuperable obstacle to her being received. At the age of twenty, having saved twenty thalers (about 3l. English), which she had earned by her sewing, she went with this little suma perfect fortune for a poor peasant-girl--to a pious organist of Gesfeld, whose daughter she had known when she first lived in the town. Her hope was that, by learning to play on the organ, she might succeed in obtaining admittance into a convent. But her irresistible desire to serve the poor and give them everything she possessed left her no time to learn music, and before long she had so completely stripped herself of everything, that her good mother was obliged to bring her bread, milk, and eggs, for her own wants and those of the poor, with whom she shared everything. Then her mother said: ,Your desire to leave your father and myself, and enter a convent, gives us much pain; but you are still my beloved child, and when I look at your vacant seat at home, and reflect that you have given away all your savings, so as to be now in want, my heart is filled with sorrow, and I have now brought you enough to keep you for some time. Anne Catherine replied.: Yes, dear mother, it is true that I have nothing at all left, because it was the holy will of God that others should be assisted by me; and since I have given all to him, he will now take care of me, and bestow his divine assistance upon us all. She remained some years at Coesfeld, employed in labour, good works, and prayer, being always guided by the same inward inspirations. She was docile and submissive as a child in the hands of her guardian-angel.
Although in this brief sketch of her 1ife we are obliged to omit many interesting circumstances, there is one which we must not pass over in silence. When about twenty-four years of age, she received a favour from our Lord, which has been granted to many persons devoted in an especial manner to meditation on his painful Passion; namely, to experience the actual and visible
Several other contemplative persons, especially devoted to the passion of our sufferings of his sacred Head, when crowned with thorns. The following is the account she herself has given of the circumstances under which so mysterious a favour was bestowed upon her: About four years previous to my admittance into the convent, consequently in 1798, it happened that I was in the Jesuits Church at Coesfeld, at about twelve oclock in the day, 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, in his right hand a crown of thorns, and he bade me choose which I would 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.
Several other comtemplative persons, especially devoted to the passion of our Lord, have been admitted to the privilege of suffering the torture inflicted by the crown of thorns, after having seen a vision in which the two crowns were offered them to choose between, for instance, among others, St. Catherine of Sienna, and Pasithea of Crogis, a Poor Clare of the same town, who died in 1617.
The writer of these pages may here be allowed to remark that he himself has, in full daylight, several times seen blood flow down the forehead and face, and even beyond the linen wrapped round the neck of Anne Catherine. Her desire to embrace a religious life was at length gratified. The parents of a young person whom the Augustinian nuns of Dulmen wished to receive into their order, declared that they would not give their consent except on condition that Anne Catherine was taken at the same time. The nuns yielded their assent, though somewhat reluctantly, on account of their extreme poverty; and onthe 13th November 1802, one week before the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, Anne Catherine entered on her novitiate. At the present day vocations are not soseverely tested as formerly; but in her case, Providence imposed special trials, for which, rigorous as they were, she felt she never could be too grateful. Sufferings or privations, which a soul, either alone or in union with others, imposes upon herself, for Gods greater glory, are easy to bear; but there is one cross more nearly resembling the cross of Christ than any other, and that is, lovingly and patiently to submit to unjust punishments, rebuffs, or accusations. It was the will of God that during her years novitiate she should, independently of the will of any creature, be tried as severely as the most strict mistress of novices could have done before any mitigations had been allowed in the rules. She learned to regard her cornpanions as instruments in the hands of God for her sanctification; and at a later period of her life many other things appeared to her in the same light. But as it was necessary that her fervent soul should be constantly tried in the school of the Cross, God was pleased that she should remain in it all her life.
In many ways her position in the convent was excessively painful. Not one of her companions, nor even any priest or doctor, could understand her case. She had learned, when living among poor peasants, to bide the wonderful gifts which God had bestowed on her; but the case was altered now that she was in familiar intercourse with a large number of nuns, who, though certainly good and pious, were filled with ever-increasing feelings of curiosity, and even of spiritual jealousy in her regard. Then, the contracted ideas of the community, and the complete ignorance of the nuns concerning all those exterior phenomena by which the interior life manifests itself, gave her much to endure, the more so, as these phenomena displayed themselves in the most unusual and astonishing manner. She heard everything that was said against her, even when the speakers were at one end of the convent and she at the other, and her heart was most deeply wounded as if by poisoned arrows. Yet she bore all patiently and lovingly without showing that she knew what was said of her. More than once charity impelled her to cast herself at the feet of some nun who was particularly prejudiced against her, and ask her pardon with tears. Then, she was suspected of listening at the doors, for the private feelings of dislike entertained against her became known, no one knew how, and the nuns felt uncomfortable and uneasy, in spite of themselves, when in her company.
Whenever the rule (the minutest point of which was sacred in her eyes) was neglected in the slightest degree, she beheld in spirit each infringement, and at times was inspired to fly to the spot where the rule was being broken by some infringement of the vow of poverty, or disregard of the hours of silence, and she would then repeat suitable passages from the rule, without having ever learned them. She thus became an object of aversion to all those religious who broke the rule; and her sudden appearances among them had almost the effect of apparitions. God had bestowed upon her the gift of tears to so great an extent, that she often passed whole hours in the church weeping over the sins and ingratitude of men, the sufferings of the Church, the imperfections of the community, and her own faults. But these tears of sublime sorrow could be understood by none but God, before whom she shed them, and men attributed them to mere caprice, a spirit of discontent, or some other similar cause. Her confessor had enjoined that she should receive the holy communion more frequently than the other nuns, because, so ardently did she hunger after the bread of angels, that she had been more than once near dying. These heavenly sentiments awakened feelings of jealousy in her sisters, who sometimes even accused her of hypocrisy.
The favour which had been shown her in her admittance into the convent, in spite of her poverty, was also made a subject of reproach. The thought of being thus an occasion of sin to others was most painful to her, and she continually besought God to permit her to bear herself the penalty of this want of charity in her regard. About Christmas, of the year 1802, she had a very severe illness, which began by a violent pain about her heart.
This pain did not leave her even when she was cured, and she bore it in silence until the year 1812; when the mark of a cross was imprinted exteriorly in the same place, as we shall relate further on. Her weakness and delicate health caused her to be looked upon more as burdensome than useful to the community; and this, of course, told against her in all ways, yet she was never weary of working and serving the others, nor was she ever so happy as at this period of her lifespent in privations and sufferings of every description.
On the 13th of November 1803, at the age of twenty-nine, she pronounced her solemn vows, and became the spouse of Jesus Christ, in the Convent of Agnetenberg, at Dulmen. When I had pronounced my vows, she says, my relations were again extremely kind to me. My father and my oldest brother brought me two pieces of cloth. My father, a good, but stern man, and who had been much averse to my entering the convent, had told me, when we parted, that he would willingly pay for my burial, but that he would give nothing for the convent; and he kept his word, for this piece of cloth was the winding-sheet used for my spiritual burial in the convent.
BALANCE OF LIFE OF VENERABLE ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH
(Excerpt) Read more at emmerich1.com ...
It is a part of dying daily to one's self in order to live for Christ, isn't it.
7 posted on 01/24/2003 2:45 PM PST by ejo [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies | Report Abuse ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: ejo
At this point I am more content to be thought of as God's fool (or even just a plain ole fool)..
It is a part of dying daily to one's self in order to live for Christ, isn't it.
8 posted on 01/24/2003 7:13 PM PST by Siobhan (+ Christe eleison +)
These are extremely wise words.
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