Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (German: Anna Katharina Emmerick) (8 September 1774 – 9 February 1824) was a Roman Catholic Augustinian nun, stigmatic, mystic, visionary and ecstatic. She was born in Flamschen, a farming community at Coesfeld, in the Diocese of Münster, Westphalia, Germany and died at age 49 in Dülmen, where she had been a nun, and later became bedridden. During her bedridden years, a number of well known figures were inspired to visit her.
Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian Canoness noted for her visions of Christ and other mystic gifts. She was born in Flamschen bei Coesfeld, Westphalia, Germany in 1774. Her family was poor but faith-filled. From a young age, Anne Catherine wanted to be a nun. Her father opposed her entry into the monastery.
While a girl, Anne Catherine began to receive many spiritual gifts from God. When she became an adult, she sought entry into the religious life. Several communities would not accept her, but finally the Augustinian Canonesses at Agnetenberg received her into their convent. Life in the convent was not easy for Anne Catherine. Some of nuns looked down on her because of the poverty of her family. Her health was poor. An accident in 1806 made it impossible for her to leave her room for the next six years. During this time God continued to bless her with spiritual gifts. A few of the nuns, perhaps out of jealousy, looked upon Anne Catherine with suspicion and spread unkind gossip about her.
At the end of 1811, the convent where she lived was ordered suppressed. In 1812 Anne Catherine and some of the other sisters were living in Dulmen. There she would frequently become caught up in ecstatic prayer. Towards the end of 1812, she was given the marks of Christ's Passion on her body. She tried to hide these, but only succeeded for a while. Soon the other sisters noticed the stigmata and told their superiors. An investigation followed, which concluded that the wounds were truly mystic phenomena and that Anne Catherine was indeed the recipient of many supernatural gifts.
She experienced many visions of Christ. It is, however, difficult to know the truth about many of these, since the main source of information in this regard is the writings of the romantic poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842), whose works were characterized by an excess of fantastic imagery. Anne Catherine did not herself write any descriptions of her visions. Instead, she recounted her visions to Brentano, who, in turn, wrote them in a sort of diary, which he published in book form several years after Anne Catherine's death. True to his usual style, Brentano frequently exaggerated and embellished the facts. Scholars today do not consider Brentano's book, entitled The Dolorous Passion, to be a reliable reporting of what Anne Catherine really experienced. The book was totally disregarded during the process of her beatification.
Anne Catherine's health continued to grow worse. From 1813 to the time of her death on November 9, 1824, Anne Catherine was bedridden. She died in Dulman, where her remains are preserved. In 2001 Anne Catherine Emmerich's practice of virtue was declared "heroic". She was beatified October 3, 2004.
Works by Anne Emmerich
Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun recognized as the recipient of many mystic gifts and vision. She is believed to have received the full stigmata, of which she reported suffering the physical effects of Jesus' punctured hands, feet, side, and forehead. Moved by her religious piety, German poet Clemens Brentano was inspired to document her ordeal. Brentano spent many months with Anne Catherine as she dictated the details of her encounters, which Brentano later compiled into the book The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this book, Anne Catherine's visions of Christ's agony and death are documented in unimaginable detail. While Anne Catherine's sacred wounds were witnessed by many during her time, the highly poetical and extravagant imagery in Brentano's book have led scholars to believe that Brentano may have embellished her descriptions as he recorded them. Consequently, this account of Anne Catherine's visions should be appreciated for its meditative value rather than for its historical accuracy.
The Blessed Anne Catheine Emmerich is a respected and tormented figure in the Catholic church. She was bedridden for most of her life and was a stigmatic as well. Anne was a very supernaturally-affected person, and professed to have seen many visions in her life. These were recorded by a friend and published. Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary was uncompleted when the scribe died, and so was published as is. The book could be compared to Milton's Paradise Lost in theme as it is a "bringing to life" of the scriptures, in this case, the experiences of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Anne describes in vivid detail the events of Mary's life: the immaculate conception, her marriage, Christ's birth from Mary's perspective, and the events of Holy Week according to the Blessed Mother. Anne saw in her visions the most minute traits, exemplified by the description of Mary's wedding dress, hairstyle ("interwoven with white silk and pearls...a great net falling over her shoulders"), and ring. Whether or not Anne saw these visions is up for debate, but the descriptions are nonetheless entrancing. Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a revealing and creative look into the spirit of the Mary, the lauded mother of the church.
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