Outstanding Christian mystic
Under the appearance of a simple nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich (Coesfeld, 1774 – Dullmen, 1824) hides one of the great catholic mistycs of the last centuries. Since her earliest childhood, she was a soul of exceptional kindness, devotion and purity. Her life and her legacy will enlighten for centuries Christianity and all mankind. French writer Léon Bloy said: “If the book “Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich”, written by Father Schmoeger, was read by twenty people in each diocese, God would change the face of the world”. The potential of the legacy of this extraordinary Augustinian nun could not be described any better.
Towards a better understanding of the new “New Testament”
As incomprehensible as it may be to us, Anne Catherine was already blessed since her early childhood with a gift, according to her intense devotion: to have access to a direct knowledge of the life of Jesus, of the Holy Family, of the apostles and of other saints. Those are her “visions”, through which she does not only contemplate historical events, but she is also able to perceive the feelings and thoughts of the protagonists. In the literature on mysticism it is explained how a similar capacity comes occasionally to spiritually developed people.
The extremely detailed, profound and truthful account of her visions about the life of biblical characters and of Jesus Himself, gives the reader an intimate understanding of Christianity that goes beyond that of other Holy Scriptures. Her visions are eloquent, beautiful, powerful, a must read.
For many people today, believing that there has been such a miracle, that someone through visions can access knowledge of past events, is unacceptable. In this regard, it is interesting to consider this account by Anne Catherine Emmerich herself, looking back on a conversation she had as a child with her devoted father, Bernard Emmerich, a humble and self-sacrificing German peasant:
“I had to go out to the country with my father and take a horse, drive the reins and do all kinds of work. When we would turn around or stop, he would say: “How beautiful this is! Look, from here we can see the church of Koesfeld and contemplate the Blessed Sacrament and adore Our Lord and Our God. From there, He is seeing us and blessing our work”. When they officiated mass, he took off his hat and prayed, saying: “Let’s hear Mass now!”. As he worked, he said: “Now the priest is saying the Gloria; now it reaches Sanctus; and now we must ask with him this or that and receive the blessing”. Afterwards he sang or repeated some tune. When I raised the corn, he said: “People are frightened when they hear the word “miracle”, and behold, we live by pure miracle and grace of God. Look at the grain in the earth: there it is and from it comes a stem that produces a hundred for one. Is not this a great miracle? “On Sunday, after eating, he referred the sermon to us and explained it in a very edifying way. He also read us the explanation of the Gospel. “
Her visions, a spiritual treasure for mankind
The story of her visions has come to us thanks to her friend the writer Clemens Brentano and her doctor William Wesener, who transcribed and ordered the detailed explanations that she narrated of her visions. Clemens Brentano was a fiery romantic writer who converted to Catholicism after his contact with Anne Catherine. William Wesener was convinced of the spiritual height of Anne Catherine when she revealed to himself secrets of his personal life that no one could know. In regard to the reason for these visions, Anne Catherine herself refers to us as follows: “Yesterday I fervently asked God to stop giving me these visions, to see me free from the responsibility of referring them. But the Lord did not want to listen to me; rather, I have understood, as I have done on other occasions, that I must refer everything I see, even if they make fun of me and I do not understand the benefit that results from this. I have also known that no one has ever seen these things in the degree and extent to which I see them, and I have understood that they are not my things, but of the Church. “I give you these visions, the Lord told me, not for you, but to be consigned: you must, therefore, communicate them. Now is not the time to work outward wonders. I give you these visions and I have always given them to you, to show that I am with my Church until the end of the centuries. But the visions, by themselves, do not make anyone blessed: you must exercise, then, charity, patience and all virtues. ” The admirable visions of the Old Testament and the numerous visions of the lives of saints were communicated to me by the goodness of God, not only for my instruction, but also for me to publish them and make known so many things hidden and ignored. Many times this mandate was instilled in me. I shoud have died long time ago. I have known through a vision that some time ago I shoud have died, if it was not for the fact that I had to make these things known through the Pilgrim (that was the name she used to refer affectionately to the writer Clemens Brentano). He must write everything. It is my sole responsibility to communicate my visions. When the Pilgrim has ordered everything and everything is finished, he will die too. “
Light on the figure of Jesus and his message
Many of us who have come to know about the existence of
Anne Catherine Emmerick have done so through Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ”. This film, excellent and inspired, includes in its script part of the visions of Anne Catherine, not included in the Gospels, which help us to better understand what happened, how and why. Well, these flashes of truth that are reflected in the film, pale when we read the complete story not only of the Passionof the Lord, but of the whole life of Jesus, of the Holy Family and of many other spiritual personalities described in the New and in the Old Testament. For 2000 years the light of Jesus example has shone through the 4 canonical Gospels, stories of the life of Jesus, brief and concise forced by the limitations of historical time (writing on parchment rolls, …). That same light shines with indescribable intensity, so close, real, intelligible in the stories of the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich. The narration of the facts is so detailed, the historical knowledge that it reflects is so profound, the psychological portraits that it traces are so intimate, that it is impossible to understand how an Augustinian nun of simple education can relate these facts, unless we consider them a revealed truth. The events described by
Anne Catherine have been corroborated by historical findings and are consistent with the New Testament and other texts, such as the apocryphal gospels. Her detailed descriptions have led to locating holy places lost for centuries. An example is the discovery in Ephesus (Turkey), thanks to its indications, in 1891 of the house in which the Virgin Mary spent her last years.
The spiritual treasure of his visions, a critical event for Christianity
The visions of Anne Catherine have a capacity to make Christianity understandable and a potential for renewal and intimate approach to the message of Jesus, which is difficult to find an event of such significance in recent centuries. It is now up to each one of us to make the small effort to get closer and know His message. The story of the visions of
Anne Catherine is an immeasurable spiritual treasure. Our debt of gratitude to her too. Let us show our affection accordingly.