An Augustinian nun, stigmatic, and ecstatic, born 8 September, 1774, at Flamsche, near Coesfeld, in the Diocese of Münster, Westphalia, Germany; died at Dulmen, 9 February, 1824.
Her parents, both peasants, were very poor and pious. At twelve she was bound out to a farmer, and later was a seamstress for several years. Very delicate all the time, she was sent to study music, but finding the organist's family very poor she gave them the little she had saved to enter a convent, and actually waited on them as a servant for several years. Moreover, she was at times so pressed for something to eat that her mother brought her bread at intervals, parts of which went to her master's family. In her twenty-eighth year (1802) she entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. Here she was content to be regarded as the lowest in the house. Her zeal, however, disturbed the tepid sisters, who were puzzled and annoyed at her strange powers and her weak health, and notwithstanding her ecstasies in church, cell, or at work, treated her with some antipathy. Despite her excessive frailty, she discharged her duties cheerfully and faithfully. When Jerome Bonaparte closed the convent in 1812 she was compelled to find refuge in a poor widow's house. In 1813 she became bedridden. She foresaw the downfall of Napoleon twelve years in advance, and counseled in a mysterious way the successor of St. Peter. Even in her childhood the supernatural was so ordinary to her that in her innocent ignorance she thought all other children enjoyed the same favours that she did, i.e. to converse familiarly with the Child Jesus, etc. She displayed a marvellous knowledge when the sick and poor came to the "bright little sister" seeking aid; she knew their diseases and prescribed remedies that did not fail. By nature she was quick and lively and easily moved to great sympathy by the sight of the sufferings of others. This feeling passed into her spiritual being with the result that she prayed and suffered much for the souls of Purgatory whom she often saw, and for the salvation of sinners whose miseries were known to her even when far away. Soon after she was confined to bed (1813) the stigmata came externally, even to the marks of the thorns. All this she unsuccessfully tried to conceal as she had concealed the crosses impressed upon her breast.
Then followed what she dreaded on account of its publicity, an episcopal commission to inquire into her life, and the reality of these wonderful signs. The examination was very strict, as the utmost care was necessary to furnish no pretext for ridicule and insult on the part of the enemies of the Church. The vicar-general, the famous Overberg, and three physicians conducted the investigation with scrupulous care and became convinced of the sanctity of the "pious Beguine", as she was called, and the genuineness of the stigmata. At the end of 1818 God granted her earnest prayer to be relieved of the stigmata, and the wounds in her hands and feet closed, but the others remained, and on Good Friday were all wont to reopen. In 1819 the government sent a committee of investigation which discharged its commission most brutally. Sick unto death as she was, she was forcibly removed to a large room in another house and kept under the strictest surveillance day and night for three weeks, away from all her friends except her confessor. She was insulted, threatened, and even flattered, but in vain. The commission departed without finding anything suspicious, and remained silent until its president, taunted about his reticence, declared that there was fraud, to which the obvious reply was: In what respect? and why delay in publishing it? About this time Klemens Brentano, the famous poet, was induced to visit her; to his great amazement she recognized him, and told him he had been pointed out to her as the man who was to enable her to fulfil God's command, namely, to write down for the good of innumerable souls the revelations made to her. He took down briefly in writing the main points, and, as she spoke the Westphalian dialect, he immediately rewrote them in ordinary German. He would read what he wrote to her, and change and efface until she gave her complete approval. Like so many others, he was won by her evident purity, her exceeding humility and patience under sufferings indescribable. With Overberg, Sailer of Ratisbon, Clement Augustus of Cologne, Stollberg, Louisa Hensel, etc., he reverenced her as a chosen bride of Christ.
In 1833 appeared the first-fruits of Brentano's toil, "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich" (Sulzbach). Brentano prepared for publication "The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary", but this appeared at Munich only in 1852. From the manuscript of Brentano Father Schmoeger published in three volumes "The Life of Our Lord" (Ratisbon, 1858-80), and in 1881 a large illustrated edition of the same. The latter also wrote her life in two volumes (Freiburg, 867-70, new edition, 1884). Her visions go into details, often slight, which give them a vividness that strongly holds the reader's interest as one graphic scene follows another in rapid succession as if visible to the physical eye. Other mystics are more concerned with ideas, she with events; others stop to meditate aloud and to guide the reader's thoughts, she lets the facts speak for themselves with the simplicity, brevity, and security of a Gospel narrative. Her treatment of that difficult subject, the twofold nature of Christ, is admirable. His humanity stands out clear and distinct, but through it shines always a gleam of the Divine. The rapid and silent spread of her works through Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere speaks well for their merit. Strangely enough they produced no controversy. Dom Guéranger extolls their merits in the highest terms (Le Monde, 15 April, 1860).
Sister Emmerich lived during one of the saddest and least glorious periods of the Church's history, when revolution triumphed, impiety flourished, and several of the fairest provinces of its domain were overrun by infidels and cast into such ruinous condition that the Faith seemed about to be completely extinguished. Her mission in part seems to have been by her prayers and sufferings to aid in restoring Church discipline, especially in Westphalia, and at the same time to strengthen at least the little ones of the flock in their belief. Besides all this she saved many souls and recalled to the Christian world that the supernatural is around about it to a degree sometimes forgotten. A rumour that the body was stolen caused her grave to be opened six weeks after her death. The body was found fresh, without any sign of corruption. In 1892 the process of her beatification was introduced by the Bishop of Münster.
Prophecies and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmmerich
"I saw again the new and odd-looking Church which they were trying to build. There was nothing holy about it... People were kneading bread in the crypt below... but it would not rise, nor did they receive the body of Our Lord, but only bread. Those who were in error, through no fault of their own, and who piously and ardently longed for the Body of Jesus were spiritually consoled, but not by their communion. Then, my Guide [Jesus] said: 'THIS IS BABEL.' [The Mass in many languages]."
"I saw deplorable things: they were gambling, drinking, and talking in church; they were also courting women. All sorts of abominations were perpetrated there. Priests allowed everything and said Mass with much irreverence. I saw that few of them were still godly, and only a few had sound views on things. I also saw Jews standing under the porch of the Church. All these things caused me much distress."
"The Church is in great danger. We must pray so that the Pope may not leave Rome; countless evils would result if he did. They are now demanding something from him. The Protestant doctrine and that of the schismatic Greeks are to spread everywhere. I now see that in this place (Rome) the (Catholic) Church is being so cleverly undermined, that there hardly remain a hundred or so priests who have not been deceived. They all work for destruction, even the clergy. A great devastation is now near at hand."
"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. I saw a number of people looking quickly right and left, that is, in the direction of the world.
"Then, I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of the destruction.
"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 see many excommunicated ecclesiastics who do not seem to be concerned about it, nor even aware of it. Yet, they are (ispso facto) excommunicated whenever they cooperate [sic] enterprises, enter into associations, and embrace opinions on which an anathema has been cast. It can be seen thereby that God ratifies the decrees, orders, and interdictions issued by the Head of the Church, and that He keeps them in force even though men show no concern for them, reject them, or laugh them to scorn."
Source: The Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich - Carl E. Schmoeger