The Life and Revelations of
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION
The life of Anne Catherine Emmerich is already well known to thousands in Germany, Italy, and France. Its publication in those countries was hailed by numbers who have profitted by its perusal. It will be no small recommendation in its favor to state that His Holiness, Pius IX of blessed memory, ordered that Italian translation to be made from advanced proof-sheets of the German. The French, also, as we are told by Canon de Cazalès in his preface, was taken from the original proofs furnished by the author himself, Very Rev. Carl Erhard Schmöger, C.SS.R.
The present translation from the edition of 1870 was undertaken in the conviction that the work is calculated to edify English readers not less than those of other nationalities. We were likewise actuated by the persuasion that it would be pleasing to Almighty God to publish the wonders of His workings in chosen souls; for if it is good to hide the secret of the king, it is also honorable to confess the works of the Most High. (Tob. 12:7). The disciples of Antichrist never weary of publishing book after book, each more pernicious than the preceding, with the design of perverting the mind and corrupting the hearts of millions; they employ every effort, every stratagem to spread around by means of the press and in every possible form the deadly poison of Hell. Should the children of Holy Church, they who have it in their power to counteract these diabolical designs by the publication and circulation of good books, remain idle? Should they fancy themselves exonerated from further efforts in a contrary direction by the mere utterance of useless lamentations whilst, at the same time, they behold that tide of evil gaining fresh strength as it sweeps along bearing with it innumerable souls to ruin? Can too much be done to stem the torrent, to avert the danger before it is too late?
May we not, also, whilst offering an antidote to the deadly effects of so much of our current literature, supply the spiritual wants, and gratify the varied tastes of many souls hungering for fresh and more suitable nourishment? Much has already been done in English Catholic literature, both in defense of Catholic principles and to lay before the public the lives of numerous saints and servants of God. But much still remains to be done, and it ought to be accomplished as carefully, as conscientiously as so noble an object deserves.
As every bad book tends to mislead the mind and corrupt the heart of its reader, so every good book is a cherished companion, a faithful teacher, whose lessons are often more telling on the interior life than the most eloquent sermons. Should we have today a St. Ignatius Loyola had he, when convalescing after his would at Pompeluna, been supplied with novels by way of entertainment instead of the legends of the saints? Where would be our great St. Teresa had she continued her secret perusal of those dangerous romances which she found in the paternal home? Should we be called upon to lament the spiritual ruin of so many of our young people, had they not imbibed principles of infidelity and licentiousness from the pages of those miserable publications whose only aim is to depict vice in its most vivid colors, and to spread it broadcast throughout the land? Earnest Catholic parents, good Catholic schools, zealous priests, are indeed rich blessings for our Catholic youth; but let some dangerous book fall into a childs hands, and the efforts of parents, teachers, and priests will soon be frustrated.
May the present work, the Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich, open in the future, as it has done in the past, a source of multiplied graces to its readers! May its perusal prepare them for that of another most intimately connected with it; viz., the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, compiled from the revelations made to this holy religious! If some of our readers find it difficult to lend credence to the extraordinary favors conferred upon this privileged spouse of Christ, let them remember that they are facts not met in everyday life, consequently, facts to the contemplation of which the mind must be gradually trained as to any other subject of thought and reflection. let them understand that the arm of the Lord is not shortened; that He who bestowed so many extraordinary favors on His servants both of the Old and the New Law, has the same power, the seam freedom to show forth in our own day for the benefit of mankind His marvelous gifts in those whom He has selected and prepared for them. To those of our readers who may feel an interest in the opinion of theologians concerning the present biography, we can afford evidence no to be lightly put aside.
Even in her lifetime, aster she had been subjected to the test of a most rigid examination, sound theologians approved Anne Catherine Emmerichs supernatural state; after her death sound theologians wrote and examined her life, and distinguished ecclesiastical authorities set their seal of approbation upon it. Among the first class, we may mention Msgr. Clemens Auguste, Count von Droste-Vischering, Coadjustor-Bishop of Münster, later Archbishop of Cologne, who suffered so much, even two years imprisonment, for defending and upholding the rights of the Church against the encroachments of the government. We mention the renowned Bishop Michael Sailer, of Ratisbon, and his coadjustor, the saintly Bishop Wittman, one of the greatest prelates of our age. Some hours before the death of the latter, as we read in Schmögers Lebensbild, he earnestly exhorted the Pilgrim (Brentano) to publish his manuscripts relating to the servant of God. O my beloved friend, said he, labor faithfully, labor faithfully for the honor of Jesus Christ! Go on courageously! So spoke the dying Bishop as he blessed Brentano, and congratulated him in the hearing of all around upon having noted down the visions of Anne Catherine, to the publication of which he had in their very first interview urged him. Nor must we omit Sister Emmerichs extraordinary confessor, the pious and learned Dean Overberg, for a time Director of the Seminary at Münster. We shall often meet his name in the following pages. To the foregoing illustrious names may be added those of Count von Stolberg and Joseph Goerres who, though not in the ranks of the priesthood, so excelled in the theological learning and sound judgment that their words were received as oracles in their time. All these distinguished men knew Anne Catherine Emmerich personally and, like innumerable other witnesses of her life, pronounced her a true spouse of Christ, a chosen soul endowed with extraordinary graces and privileges. Let us now turn to the second class of witnesses, to the
Footnote: Msgr. Wittman (1760-1833) was during the greater part of his life Director of the Seminary at Ratisbon, Bavaria. he was a man of extraordinary learning, eminent holiness, and untiring activity. Besides his position as Director of the Seminary and professor in several branches, for twenty-five years, the administrator of the Cathedral parish was entrusted to him, in this capacity, he gave thirty-seven hours of catechetical instructions weekly, preached generally twice on Sundays, visited the hospitals, the prisons and the poorhouse every week, preaching to the afflicted inmates the Word of God and affording them spiritual consolations. Five oclock every morning found the good priest in his confessional, where he often had an opportunity to exercise the peculiar facility bestowed upon him to reconcile inveterate enemies. Amid all these labors he still found time to compose a number of excellent works particularly adapted to the use of the clergy. His day was divided as follows: seven hours of prayer; seven hours of study; seven hours work; and three hours sleep taken on a plank with a book for his pillow. He died in his seventy-third year, lying on the floor under a crucifix, as preconized Bishop of Ratisbon. His death was lamented by all that knew him, but most of all by the poor, to whom he as a real father and benefactor. his name is held in veneration by the Catholics of southern Germany. Taken from Herders Lexicon.
Almighty God called another to undertake the task, one eminently competent, one who united deep learning with solid piety. This man was Very Rev. Carl Erhard Schmöger, C.SS.R., who had in 1850 entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer as a secular priest of more than ordinary talents and uncommon love for the study of theology. he was, consequently, engaged for years as professor in its different branches, dogmatic, hermeneutic, and exegetic, besides which he for some time taught philosophy. As he was constantly enriching his mind by the reading of the Holy Fathers, his keen eye could detect at a glance the least inaccuracy in any author respecting Catholic faith or tradition. This was an excellent preparation for Father Schmögers later providential mission. Gladly and with noble generosity, Abbot Haneberg delivered Brentanos manuscripts to such a man, to one whom he considered so well qualified for the work, and by whom that rich treasure of Gods mercy was to be opened to the faithful. Meanwhile, Divine Providence favored the undertaking.
Father Schmöger found access to many documents concerning the civil and ecclesiastical trials to which Sister Emmerich has been subjected, and this enabled him to give a still more correct picture of her interior and exterior life. The task was begun in obedience to the command of Superiors. Encouraged by men like Abbot Haneberg and Very Rev. Frederic Windischmann, Vicar-General of Munich, and supported by the prayers of many pious souls, Father Schmöger continued and accomplished it only after years of hard and oft-interrupted labor; for during the latter part of his life, he held the office of Provincial of his Congregation in Bavaria. Although himself a renowned theologian, he never failed to submit the result of his careful researches to other theologians and authorities upon whose learning and solidity he could safely rely. And so the Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich was published for the first time in 1870, with the approbation of the Bishop of Limbourg and the permission of Father Schmögers Superior, the General of the Redemptorists at Rome. The fact that not one voice was raised against he works after their publication by the Catholic priests; the fact that his books found their way unmolested into the houses of thousands, as the Dolorous Passion, the only compilations from Sister Emmerichs revelations published during Brentanos lifetime, had previously done; the fact that the Life of the Stigmatisee was immediately translated into French and Italian with the approbation of orthodox Bishops; the fact that in Germany a second edition of the said Life soon followed the fist, and that new demands now render a third necessarythese facts might, we think, be accepted as sufficient proofs of Gods blessing on the work.
But when great men like Dom Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes, and Very Rev. F. Windischmann of Munich, whose names are known throughout the Catholic world, speak in the highest terms of it, have we room to fear not being in harmony with Catholic faith and teaching if we lend to it our meed of praise? Dom Guéranger (whose word, as Rev. Frederic Windischmann tells us, is of more weight with him than that of a thousand others) expresses his conviction that Anne Catherine Emmerich had a mission from God and that she faithfully fulfilled the same; otherwise God never would have lavished so abundant and so extraordinary favors upon her. It was hers to bring before the mind of the German nation the Gospel in its most minute details just at a time when the Divinity of Christ and the Gospel truths were most strenuously denied by the philosophers so-called of the day. And here the learned Abbot expresses his astonishment at the way in which she fulfilled her mission. That a poor, uneducated peasant-girl in her heart of Europe should describe in their smallest details the various characters and languages, manners and customs of different and far-off countries; that she should do all this with perfect accuracy with respect to the varied circumstances of geography, topography, and archaeology of times long passed, is certainly sufficient to astound even the most prudent and learned. Rev. F. Windischmann, himself a warm friend of Father Schmöger, considers it something very wonderful that in all Sister Emmerichs descriptions of the various circumstances and situations in which the Sacred Person of Our Lord figures; viz., at meals, at marriage-feasts, on journeys, etc., we find not the least trace of anything unworthy of Him. All and everything He does or says is animated by a certain nobleness indicative of His Divine Personality. This, he concludes, Anne Catherine could never have done had her work been a mere human invention. These facts would seem proof sufficient to establish the truth of Sister Emmerichs revelations. But we have still some others to bring forward.
Rev. Alban Stolz, Professor in the Seminary of Freibrug, and a famous German author, mentions in the description of his journey to Jerusalem that a certain Franciscan, Father Wolfgang of Jerusalem, told him that for six years he had made the statements of Anne Catherine Emmerich respecting the Holy Land, as given in Brentanos Dolorous Passion, a point of special study. The result of his observations was, that they are perfectly correct in all their details. Rev. Stolz tells us on the same page that one Professor Hug, a man known to be not over-credulous on the subject of visions or revelations, one day expressed to his pupils his surprise that the statements of the nun of Dülmen agree so exactly with those of the Jewish historian Josephus. Rev. Anton Urbas, Parish-priest and Canon of the Cathedral of Laybach, Austria, published a book in 1884, entitled Die Reiche der Heilgen Drei Könige. He mentions in the preface that he had read Anne Catherine Emmerichs Life, Visions and Revelations for a considerable time without being able to harmonize many points that he found therein. Some things seemed to him very beautiful, useful, and correct; but others were hard to accept. Instead of denouncing the whole as the pious dream of a good nun, he set himself to the task of studying the geography of Asia in all its details. As he studied he compared his researches with the statements of A. C. Emmerich. The result of his earnest and honest investigation was, that he publicly acknowledged Sister Emmerich to be the most correct geographer, topographer and archaeologist in the world, and that his first difficulties were to be attributed rather to a want of knowledge on his own part than to any fault on that of the wonderfully enlightened Sister.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:28-29), God has chosen the foolish things of the world that He may confound the wise, and the weak things of the world God has chosen that he may confound the strong . . . that no flesh should glory in His sight. Are not these words here literally verified? Canon Urbas says, moreover: The works of Sister Emmerich are a rich mine. Some few remarks often throw much light on certain subjects. Like crossroad signs, they point out the right way. Their power to move and vivify the soul is especially noticeable. here, as in no other book outside the Holy Scriptures, do we find words of eternal life.
But coming nearer home, we could cite many distinguished ecclesiastics as staunch supporters of Sister Emmerich and her revelations. We shall limit ourselves to two whose rank in the sacred hierarchy leads greater weight to their authority; viz., the saintly John N. Neumann, Fourth Bishop of Philadelphia, and the lately deceased Bishop Toebbe, of Covington, KY. That the former favored her works may be seen by a reference to his Life. In it we read that among others, books which he imported from Europe in the early days of his ministry, he called particularly for those of A. C. Emmerich; the latter, Bishop Toebbe, showed his appreciation of the same by heartily approving the new edition of the Life of Jesus, compiled from her revelations.
But, as some critic may object that even great theologians may be deceived in such matters, we shall refrain from arguments of our own in its defense, referring our readers to the rules of Pope Benedict XIV, which Rome follows in the canonization of such souls as were favored in life with visions and revelations. By the application of these rules (which may be found in the authors preface) any fairminded Catholic may judge whether such visions and revelations are from God, or not. If the life of Anne Catherine Emmerich may be tested by these rules, we may safely conclude that her extraordinary gifts were indeed from God; for what is considered by the Holy Father and his Cardinals a sufficient guaranty of truth in the process of canonization, ought to be sufficient also to satisfy the inquiries of the severest critic. Let the reader study without prejudice the Life of this favored soul, let him apply to it the aforesaid rules, and then only let him form his judgment of the same. In conclusion, we beg leave to state that the translation of the present work was undertaken with the sole view to extend the reign of Jesus Christ in hearts and to further the coming of His kingdom upon earth. Our aim has been to reproduce carefully and conscientiously from the original every word that fell from the lips of the stigmatist; whilst, to suit the taste of English readers, the accompanying matter has been somewhat condensed, though not to the detriment of the authors meaning. Like the original it has been submitted to the judgment of competent persons and been thoroughly revised by an able theologian. February 5, 1885
When the record of the wonderful visions accorded her first appeared, it provoked a great deal of adverse criticism. But time, which is the one great test of genuineness, has caused that adverse criticism to disappear and to give way to the highest approval. An illustrious evidence to this fact is shown by the following letter from a canon of the Cathedral of Loybach, Bavaria: At fist I did not believe Catherine Emmerichs statements. I wondered how the Bishop of Limbourg could approve the publication of such a book. I went to work to find out all the falsehoods she was telling, and to my surprise, I found that in the light of tradition, geography, topography, and history, Anne Catherine Emmerich knew more than all our so-called savants. After Holy Scripture, there is no book that contains so many words of eternal truth and life than the revelations of A. C. Emmerich. To this we must add the testimony of the eminent theologian, Dr. Rohling, who writes in an Appendix to his Medulla Theologiae Moralis: I cannot refrain from adding my voice of commendation to that of all who have written on the life and visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, and I earnestly commend them. I desire to mention in particular her visions on the Life and Passion of Our Lord, since I am convinced that every priest who studies them will be so inflamed with zeal for souls and longing for his own salvation, that it will be impossible for him to be lost. He will find Our Lord therein portrayed in colors so lively, and he will receive so clear a perception of His goodness, that he will gladly renounce all worldly pleasure, and daily participate in a new outpouring of Gods Holy Spirit, thus becoming ever fitter to move the hearts of worldlings and lead them to penance. A perusal of the Life of Catherine Emmerich makes one appreciate these impressive words of Dr. Rohling. Her visions bring before the mind so vivid a realization of the mission and Passion of Our Redeemer that, when the reader finishes his study of them, he feels conscious of having undergone an unusual influence, and he is moved to voice his feelings in the exclamation of the two who met the Saviour on the way to Emmaus: Was not our heart burning within us whilst He spoke in the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?
To learn the life of Our Divine Lord, is the chief study of every Christian. Catherine Emmerich is a notable aid to the performance of this duty. It was a commendable thought of the translator to place this work at the disposal of English readers, for whatever tends to bring the soul into close union with the Saviour is of supreme value. We read in the Gospels that a diseased woman once pressed through the crowd, touched the hem of the Masters garment, and by the power of her faith was immediately healed. Is not the loyal disciple, who gets still near enough to touch Him in spirit and draw forth the inspiring virtue He delivers, made spiritually whole? This is the mission of Catherine Emmerichto bring souls into touch with Christ. And in a day like ours, when so many hearts are waxing cold, and a spirit of irreligion seems to sway the minds of multitudes, who will deny that the mission of Anne Catherine Emmerich is a blessing to the world? All admirers of this great servant of God received with grateful hearts the blessed tidings that the process for her Beatification had actually begun in Rome. We pray that the day is not far distant when the Church will enroll her name in the list of saints. One thing is certain: we may safely venture the opinion that the influence she has had upon the history of the Church in the nineteenth century will increase as the years roll by, and continue till time is no more. Despite all that the haters of the Christian religion may sayand they are saying much that is blasphemousthe memory of Jesus and His Passion will endure to the end. Ah, how little did Pilate dream, as he led Him out, bleeding from the degradation of the scourge, and said to the multitude, Behold the man!how little did the infuriated mob dream that the voice of the silent sufferer would thrill the world forever, and the image of Him crucified would melt the heart of all posterity. Animated by a very different spirit from that which filled the soul of the worldly-ambitious Pilate, Anne Catherine cries out to us, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world!
This work will no doubt, now and then, meet with halfveiled sneers and cynical warnings from those that cannot appreciate its merits. But it is comforting to know that such criticism will in no way lessen its effect upon those elect souls who are seeking encouragement and enlightenment in a life of prayer. And He who, while on earth, breathed such divinity and tenderness, such inexhaustible magnanimity of forbearing pity and love toward all men; who from His throne in Heaven is now willing to give the pearl of great price purchased with His Precious Blood to the lowest child of humanity; who in the agony of death on Calvarys Cross yearned over the broken malefactor by His side with the promise of Paradise, will not fail to bless and enlighten all who, in a rightful spirit, study the life and revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich. A word, in conclusion, as to the work of the translator. She has succeeded in producing a work that reads as if it had been originally written in English. One may say that she has literally put her heart into it. It ranks among the most valuable productions of the Catholic press, and none will read it without profit. T. A. D. Feast of St. Monica1903.
Clement Brentano, whose name will appear so often in the course of this biography, was born September 8, 1778. He was a poet of the highest genius. What others acquired only by long and hard study, he learned with ease. He was perfectly at home with the Greek and Latin authors, with Calderon, Dante, and Shakespeare, as well as with those of his own tongue. His wit and humor, his brilliant talents and exquisite poetical productions won for him the love and admiration of all who came in contact with him, and opened to him access to the highest literary circles. His religious education had been very much neglected; still he believed in the existence of God as a remunerator of good and evil, and in Jesus Christ as a divine mediator. He was charitable to the poor. Like Solomon he saw the vanity of all created things, and like the great Augustine he longed for something higher than earthly glory and knowledge. His restless heart at last found peace in God in a general confession, 1817. A new world was now opened up before him, new friends gathered round him; his religious fervor was great, although wanting in prudeness and needing direction.
This he found by the bedside of the poor and suffering Anne Catherine Emmerich, to whom Divine Providence had sent him in 1818. So attracted was he by the heroic virtue he there witnessed that the former idol of the fashionable world resolved to bury himself in the little town of Dülmen, and warm his heart at this furnace of divine love. But not for himself alone were the graces he there received. Brentano was to be the instrument for the accomplishment of Gods design that the revelations with which the ecstatica was favored should be recorded for the benefit of mankind. Ardently desirous of doing something for the glory of God, and thereby to atone for the shortcomings of the past, Brentano readily accepted the pressing invitation of the Dean Overberg to become the amanuensis of the favored stigmatisée. For nearly six years, despite the jeers and mockery of his friends, he daily committed to writing what he learned in that school of Jesus Crucified. When A. C. Emmerich died, Brentano returned to his friends, not now to entertain them by his talents, but to astound them by his ardor in the service of God and his neighbor. The large sums realized from his literary productions were all devoted to this noble purpose.
Catholic literature felt a new impulse, good books were translated and circulated, sculpture and painting were raised to new life by his religious energy. Encouraged by the pious and learned of his time, and we may add in the very home of the famous Diepenbrock, afterward Cardinal-Archbishop of Breslau, he published in 1835 the Dolorous Passion of Christ, the first work compiled from the revelations of A. C. Emmerich. One edition succeeded another and quickly prepared the public mind for other works from the same source. Brentano died holily in 1842. With him a great and noble soul passed from earth to Heaven. His early failings he had long before blotted out by torrents of contrite tears. If charity covers a multitude of sins, certainly his heroic love for God and his neighbor more than atoned for the wanderings of his early career, wanderings that sprang rather from ignorance than malice. His death was followed by the conversion of some noble souls to whom in life he had earnestly pointed out the Catholic Church as the only secure refuge, the only safe harbor of salvation. Taken from Sketch of Clement Brentano by Rev. F. Diel, S.J.
The life and sufferings of such chosen ones are often widely dissimilar: for instance, Lidwina of Schiedam, or our own Domenica Lazzari appear as victims in the body, like the early virgin-martyrs; whilst others, such as Magdalene di Pazzi, or Columba di Rieti, combat and suffer for the Church spiritually; though, inasmuch as their life is a perpetual sacrifice, a course of uninterrupted endurance in perfect abandonment to the will of God, they closely resemble one another. They expiate the faults committed in the bosom of the Church and repair the wrongs she endures from her own children, or they atone for actual guilt, doing penance for the guilty. By prayer, or rather by an extraordinary gift which converts prayer into action, they avert impending dangers from the Sovereign Pontiff and the clergy; they obtain conversion for sinners; an increase of faith for the weak; zeal and intrepidity for pastors; and, lastly, they wrestle for souls in danger of being lost through the negligence of others, chiefly of those entrusted with their spiritual guidance. Besides this duty of prayer and expiation, there is, moreover, the task militant, to be undertaken by some privileged souls, and which consists in actually embracing corporal and spiritual dangers, diseases, temptations, and evil inclinations. Here it is no longer simple suffering or sacrifice, the fruits of which are reaped by others; but there is question of exposing ones self, really and personally, to all the perils that menace the neighbor, of taking upon ones self sickness or temptation exacting of the substitute a real struggle, the fruits of whose victory are to be made over to another.
One of the most sublime instances of such a task is found in Judith confronting Holofernes and his army to prevent the profanation of the Sanctuary and the opprobrium of Gods chosen people. It may seem, perhaps, that prayer must be the only or, at least, the chief duty of these victims; but such is not exclusively the case, since the martyrdom of penance undergone by the innocent is precisely that which gives to prayer its efficacy and draws down upon the Church the richest benedictions. The expiatory task is never separated from that of combating, and both united to prayer are found to an extraordinary degree in the life of Sister Emmerich who, from her very infancy, had been prepared for her mission, her communications with her angel, her intuitive perception of the unseen, and the gift of contemplation bestowed at her birth contributing thereto. Three great evils menaced the Church at the epoch in which she lived: the profanation of sacred things, the dissemination of false doctrines, and the corruption of morals, with which to meet the weapons of prayer and expiation was Sister Emmerichs mission, to struggle in defense of the Church delivered over, as it were, to the will of her enemies. It will, in no small degree, animate the pious reader to renewed confidence in God when he finds in this biography so many proofs of His merciful protection over His Church during those troubled times, and beholds the instrument employed for that end in the person of the poor little shepherdess of Flamske. This was the consideration that encouraged the author to resume his oft-interrupted task, and to spare no trouble in the study of her life, gently comparing for this end the facts contained in it with those presented in the biographies of others similarly favored by Heaven.
They who are familiar with the rules laid down by Benedict XIV and the great theological authorities to whom he constantly refers in his work, De Servorum Die Beatificatione, will understand the authors anxiety in elaborating a history like the one under consideration, and agree with him in declaring Sister Emmerichs life a striking exemplification of the virtues exacted by the Church as proofs of the truth wherever there is question of the supernatural. (The following lines, taken from Father Schmögers Introduction to the Life of Christ, seems so suitable to the subject here treated that, conforming to the advice of certain capable persons, among them, a holy confrére of the author himself, we take the liberty of incorporating them in this Introduction to the Life of Sister Emmerich.)
To be able prudently to pronounce upon so delicate a question, consideration must be had on the one side to the virtue of the person under examination, and on the other to her manner of conducting herself both in and out of vision; for which latter point, Benedict XIV, with the most distinguished doctors and theologians, has laid down twelve marks deserving special attention:
1. Has the person in question ever desired visions; or, on the contrary, has
she begged of God the grace of being conducted in the ordinary ways? Has she
received such visions only in the spirit of obedience? To desire such
favors, says St. Vincent Ferrer, would be to nourish secret pride
or reprehensible curiosity; it would be a sign of weak, imperfect faith.
2. Has she received from her confessor an order to communicate her visions to holy and enlightened person?
3. Has she always shown absolute obedience toward her spiritual guides? Has she in consequence of her visions made rapid progress in the love of God and humility?
4. Has she willingly conferred with persons disinclined to credit her, or who tried and contradicted her?
5. Does she habitually experience peace and tranquility of conscience? Is her heart always inflamed with ardent zeal for perfection?
6. Were her spiritual directors ever obliged to reproach her with imperfection?
7. Has she received from God a promise to hear all her lawful and reasonable petitions? Has she by her prayers obtained great favors from Him?
8. Have those who live with her, supposing their own perversity no obstacle to her virtuous influence, been incited to piety and the love of God?
9. Have her visions been vouchsafed her after fervent prayer or Holy Communion? Have they excited in her a desire to suffer for the glory of God?
10. Has she crucified her flesh? Has she rejoiced in trials and contradictions.?
11. Has she loved retreat? Has she fled the society of creatures? Is she despoiled of every natural attachment?
12. Has she preserved serenity of soul as well under adverse as under prosperous circumstances? Finally, have learned theologians found nothing in her visions contrary to the rules of faith, or which might appear reprehensible, viewed in any light whatever?
These twelve points laid down by Benedict XIV, fruits of the experience of the most holy and enlightened Doctors, furnish sure and infallible rules in such cases; and the more closely a soul endued with the gift of vision is conformed thereto, the more motives are there, according to the holy pontiff, for accepting her testimony and visions as true and real. Now, the reader will, without doubt, be no less gratified than we in tracing the perfect and truly surprising correspondence between these rules and the whole life of Sister Emmerich. He will agree with us in declaring that to find these different characteristics united in the same degree in any one soul, he would be obliged to search the lives of the most illustrious saints of the Church.
In the first place, Sister Emmerich never desired such favors. They entailed upon her so many trials and contradictions that she frequently conjured God to deliver her from them. Again, the age at which she first received them permits us not to suppose she could have desired them, for when she did begin to speak of them, it was with the simplicity of a child ignorant of the precise meaning of what it says. Secondly, she could be induced to communicate her visions only by the reiterated instances of her angelic guide, and not till the last ten years of her life did she find anyone willing to listen to them. Thirdly, as her confessors suspected her visions and took the trouble not even to examine them, she did all in her power to hide them, to stifle them, so to say, in her own breast. The struggle thence arising with her invisible guide, who ceased not to urge her to reveal them despite her confessors aversion, caused her indescribable suffering. Still she continued to address herself to the same directors from whom, however, she had naught to expect but stern rebuffs and bitter humiliations. She left to God the care of enlightening them to His own good time upon the origin and character of her supernatural gifts; and she rejected, as far as in her lay, all that could modify or ameliorate her painful position, testifying only charity, patience, and sweetness toward the authors of her trials.
Passing over the other points, we shall limit ourselves to a glance at the twelfth and last: viz., the conformity of Sister Emmerichs visions with the teachings of faitha circumstance of the utmost importance in visions containing revelations. Benedict XIV here supports his opinion chiefly upon Suarez, who establishes as an incontestable principle that, in the study of revelations, it is chiefly to be considered whether they are in perfect accordance with the rules of Faith and sound morals, rejecting as illusory and diabolical every pretended revelation in contradiction with Holy Scripture, tradition, the decrees of Councils, and the unanimous teachings of the Father and theologians.
Even those revelations which, without contravening the Faith, contain evident contradictions and serve but to satisfy vain curiosity, which appear to be the result of a purely human activity, or which, in fine, are opposed to the wisdom of God or to any other of His divine attributes, are to be suspected. And here the illustrious pontiff asks what should be thought of revelations containing statements apparently opposed to the common opinion of the Fathers and theologians, revelations which on some particular point, give details quite new, or which affirm as certain what has not as yet been pronounced upon by the Church? Resting upon the most solid authority, he answers that this motive suffices not to reject without further examination revelations in which such things are found; for, first, a fact which at first sight appears opposed to the common opinion may, if submitted to an earnest and conscientious examination, evoke in its favor weighty authority and excellent intrinsic reasons for belief; second, a revelation should not be condemned as false merely on account of its containing circumstances in the Life of Our Lord, or that or His Blessed Mother, of which no mention is made in the Sacred Writings, in tradition, or in the Holy Fathers; third, a revelation may, without militating against the decision of the Church, the Fathers, and theologians, explain a point unexplained by them or make known some detail on which they are silent; fourth, it would place arbitrary limits to the almighty power of God to suppose that He cannot reveal to a private individual a point which, not yet pronounced upon by the Church, is still a subject of controversy. If the reader desires to apply the foregoing rules to the revelations contained in this work,3 he will find therein absolutely nothing wounding to the principles of Christian faith; on the contrary, he will fully satisfy that there are few books which enable the soul to penetrate so easily into the mysteries of our holy religion, or which impart so speedily even to ordinary minds the knowledge of that art of arts which, according to the author of the Imitation, consists in the meditation of the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, In vita Jesu Christi, meditari.
As impostors and hypocrites are often met in these our days who vaunt themselves the favored recipients of Heavens special favors, and who occasionally gain credence with some, the author has give faithfully and in detail the investigations made on Sister Emmerichs case as he found them in the original documents. Clement Brentanos friend, Edward Steinle, painted the portrait from which the engraving prefixed to this volume was taken. His models were the drawings sketched in Dülmen. They who knew Sister Emmerich best testify to its fidelity.
In conclusion the author declares his unreserved submission to the decrees of Pope Urban VII of March 13, 1625, and June 5, 1634, in consequence of which he claims for whatever is extraordinary in this book but a purely human origin. P. SCHMÖGER, C. SS. R. Convent of Gars on the Inn, Bavaria September 17, 1867
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF WESTPHALIA AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT CENTURY
The baptismal register, St. James, Coesfeld, contains the following record: On September 8, 1774, was baptized Anne Catherine, daughter of Bernard Emmerich and Anne Hillers his wife. Godparents, Henry Hüning and Anne Catherine Heynick, née Mertins. The day of little Anne Catherines baptism was also that of her birth. She was the fifth of nine children, six sons and three daughters. Gerard, the youngest brother, never married. he was still living in September, 1859, when the author visited the little hamlet of Flamske, near Coesfeld, the birthplace of the subject of this biography. Gerard had little to say of his sister, excepting that she was of a remarkably sweet disposition, that she had been a lifelong sufferer, and that he had often gone to see her at Dülmen after she became a religious. She was so kind and affectionate to us, he added, that it was a great pleasure to her family to visit her. The venerable pastor of the church of St. James, Rev. F. Hilswitte, was also alive and remembered having seen Anne Catherine for the last time in 1812. He testified to her reputation for piety, but the particulars of her life were unknown to him. The period in which she lived, he remarked, was not capable of either understanding or appreciating such a case as hers, and few, even among the clergy, interested themselves in her; consequently, she was more quickly forgotten in her native place than elsewhere. In distant cities she was better known through Bishop Wittmann and Clement Brentano. The latter, after his visits to Dülmen, excited public interest in her by the account of the marvels he had seen.
Long before her death, Sister Emmerich had uttered the following words: What the Pilgrim (The Pilgrimit was thus Sister Emmerich always designated Clement Brentano. We shall retain the title throughout this work.) gleans, he will bear away, far, far away, for there is no disposition to make use of it here; but it will bring forth fruit in other lands, whence its effects will return and be felt even here. The humble abode in which she was born was yet standing, in 1859, in the same condition in which Clement Brentano had found it forty years before. It was a little old farmhouse, or rather a barn in which man and beast dwelt peaceably together. The worm-eaten door opened into a small room whose only floor was the well-trodden ground; this was the common room of the family. To the left were spaces cut off from the main room by rough board partitions, and strewn with the hay and grain scattered by the cattle; these were the sleeping apartments. The chimneyplace, rude and primitive, consisted of a stone slab or iron plate cemented into the ground; on it glowed the fire, and above it hung the kettle from an iron bar. The smoke, after depositing its soot upon the rough beams and dingy chairs and table, the handiwork of preceding generations, escaped as best it could by any chink in the roof or walls. The rest of the dwelling was given up to the cows, which were separated from their owners only by a few stakes driven into the ground. At a later period a small addition of two bedrooms was annexed to the principal building. In front of this humble abode stood some aged oaks, beneath whose shade the wonderful little girl of whom we write often sported with her village companions. Clement Brentano paid a visit to Sister Emmerichs birthplace during her lifetime. And the following are his impressions of the customs of that period in the country of Münster:
I went three leagues from Dülmen to the hamlet of Flamske, to visit Anne Catherines early home, then occupied by her eldest brother Bernard and his family. Dülmen belongs to the parish of St. James, Coesfeld, a city about half a league distant. I longed to see the place of her birth, the cradle of her infancy. I found it an old barn, with mud walls and a moss-covered thatched roof. The rickety door stood invitingly open, and I entered to find myself in a cloud of smoke through which I could scarcely distinguish a step ahead. A look of surprise from Bernard Emmerich and his wife greeted my unceremonious entrace. But when I introduced myself as the bearer of messages and compliments from their sister, they received me most cordially, and the little ones, shy at first, came forward on a sign from their father and kissed their tiny hands in welcome. I saw no other room than the one I had entered, a corner of which was partly partitioned off. In it stood a rude loom belonging to one of the brothers. Several old chests blackened by smoke displayed when opened the novel sight of straw beds furnished with feather pillows. Opposite this room was the still more novel spectacle of the cows behind their stacks.
The furniture was scanty enough. Cooking utensils garnished the walls and from the rafters hung straw, hay, and tow black with soot. Here in this dingy atmosphere, in this disorder and poverty, was born and reared that favored child, so pure, so enlightened, so surpassingly rich in intellectual gifts; here was her baptismal innocence preserved untarnished. It recalled to my mind Our Saviours crib at Bethlehem. From a wood block before the door, which served as a table, I ate a slice of brown bread and drank a mug of milk whilst conversing with Bernard Emmerich, whose genuine piety shonme forth in his words, his favorite expression being, With Gods help!
An old discolored picture of Our lady hung over the spot in which Anne Catherine used to take her rest. With the owners leave I replaced it by another, and took it with me along with some acorns from the old oaks before the door as a memento of my visit. On bidding farewell to these good people, they told me that I was the first who had ever taken so much interest in their sisters birthplace. Thence I went half a league further to Coesfeld to visit the church in which she had received the marks of the Crown of Thorns. It was here, in the parish church of St. James, that she had received holy Baptism, September 8, 1774, which day, the Feast of Marys Nativity, was also that of her birth. (Clement Brentano himself was born September 8, 1778) My visit to this beautiful old church filled me with the sweetest impressions. From it I went to see the old pastor, Father Hartbaum, whom I found still quite vigorous, despite his years. He did not seem fully to appreciate his former parishioner, and he expressed surprise at the interest manifested in her. He struck me as one of those who would willingly see things remain always the same, who care not to deviate from their daily routine, whose horizon extends not beyond the range of their own intellectual vision.
I next visited St. Lamberts, the principle church, wherein is preserved the miraculous crucifix, known as the Crucifix of Coesfeld, before which when a child Sister Emmerich used to spend long hours in fervent prayer, receiving in return abundant graces. It is forked like that which, at a later period, was imprinted upon her own breast. Tradition says it was brought from Palestine in the eighth century. Here it was that Sister Emmerich received the Sacrament of Confirmation. I afterward went to the Jesuit church in which, at the age of twenty-four, probably in 1798, the Crown of Thorns was laid upon her brow by her Heavenly Spouse, as she prayed toward midday before a crucifix in the organ-loft. It saddened me to think that this beautiful church had partly fallen into Protestant hands since the Count von Salms residence here. The so-called communion-table stood in front of that altar from whose tabernacle had issued the apparition of the Saviour to Anne Catherine; the feast of the Reformation, that triumph of apostasy, is here annually announced from the pulpit; and the grand old organ, near which she prayed at the time of the miraculous favor, has been replaced by one or more recent make. At present, the church is used by both Catholics and Protestants, and I was told that the Countess von Salm, as if she were sole mistress, had tried to deprive the former of their right to worship in it. She also arrogated to herself the privilege of quartering her people on the Capuchins whose monastery is not far off, and she loudly complained of the annoyance caused her by the sound of the morning bells calling the faithful to Holy Mass. This church, capable of seating two thousand, is one of the most devotional I have ever seen. The whole interior is in perfect harmony, the carving of the altar, the communion rail, and the furniture most elegant and elaborate. Some might wish it a little more lofty, but that is its only defect. The beautiful floor looks as if covered with a rich carpet. As soon as it shall have passed entirely into the hands of the Protestants, they will destroy its richly carved altars as too suggestive, perhaps, of the honor once paid the God of the Eucharist.
Coesfeld was little Anne Catherines Jerusalem. here she daily visited her God in the Blessed Sacrament. Thither she lovingly turned whilst working in the fields, tending her flocks, or praying by night in the open air; and from Coesfeld it was that the bells of the little convent of the Annonciades struck upon her ear, awakening in her soul a longing desire for the cloistered life. This same convent now stands dismantled and deserted. For several years, Sister Emmerich lived at Coesfeld with a pious mantua-maker, and for three more in a choirmasters family with a view of learning to play on the organ, hoping by this means to facilitate her entrance into some convent; finally, it was from Coesfeld that she went to accomplish her pious design. It is not surprising, therefore, that she took a lively interest in the little city, and that she was deeply afflicted at the decay of Catholic piety, even among its clergy, owing to Protestant influence and the diffusion of the so-called enlightenment of the age.
Piety and morality still prevail, however, throughout the country of Münster, preserved among the youth less by the education they receive than by the frequent use of the Sacraments. The Holy Scriptures are not, indeed, found in every family, nor are quotations from them common, but the practice of their sacred lessons is plainly visible. Instruction for the people adapted to the wants of the age, began wityh the present generation, the teachers both male and female having been formed in the school of Dean Overberg, (Dean Overberg (1754-1826) was a renowned priest, a great catechist, and an experienced confessor. He was the tutor of the Countess Gallitzin, and in 1809 held the position of Director of the Seminary of Münster. He wrote many books on Christian Doctrine for the use of both teachers and pupils. Dean Overberg lived and died loved and venerated by all.) who is everywhere honored as a saint and the common father of all. His praises are heard on all sides and his zeal and simplicity shed a blessing over all his undertakings; yet none dare affirm that his efforts have rendered them more pious and faithful than their forefathers.
Though Sister Emmerich entertained the greatest veneration for him, yet she often declared her opinion, corroborated by her visions, that the poor old village schoolmasters, sometimes obliged to follow also the trade of tailoring to gain a sufficient support, received more abundant helps from God as pious instructors of youth than their modern co-laborers puffed up by successful examinations. Every work bears its own fruit. When the teacher takes complacency in his labors, when he finds therein a certain personal gratification, he consumes, so to say, the best part of the blessing accorded him for his task. This is the case nowadays when teachers day: We teach well; pupils, We learn well; and parents glory in their childrens talent and education, whilst in all is engendered a seeking for empty show. Our people do, indeed, read and write much better than their forefathers; but with their improvement the devil daily sows bad seed in the way which springs up to choke piety and virtue. I feel convinced that the real source of the morality and piety still to be seen among the people of Münster lies more in their firm adherence to the traditions of faith and the customs of their religious forefathers, in the great respect for the priest and his benediction, in their fidelity to the Sacraments, than in the rapid spread of modern education.
Early one morning, as I was passing along by a hedge, I heard a childs voice. I drew near softly and peeping over I saw a ragged little girl about seven years old driving a flock of geese before her, a willow switch in her hand. With an inimitable accent of piety and innocence she exclaimed: Good morning, dear Lord God! Praise be to Jesus Christ! Good Father, who art in heaven! Hail Mary, full of grace! I want to be good! I want to be pious! Dear saints of paradise, dear angels, I want to be good! I have a nice little piece of bread to eat, and I thank you for it. O watch over me! Let not my geese run into the wheat! Let no bad boy throw a stone and kill one! Watch over me, for I want to be a good girl, dear Father in heaven! Doubtless, the innocent little one composed her prayer from some old family traditions, but our modern school-mistresses would scarcely tolerate it. When I reflect on the scanty education, the rusticity of many among the clergy; when I behold so little attention given to order and neatness in many of the sacred edifices, even in what directly appertains to the service of the altar; when I recall the fact, that the people all speak the Low German, whilst sermons and instructions have been for years delivered in the language of upper Germany; and when, notwithstanding, I daily perceive the purity, the piety, the good sense of even the humblest of these people, their aptitude for the truths of religion, I am forced to exclaim that the grace of Our Lord is more active in His living members than in speech or in writing. It dwells with creative force in the divine Sacraments, perpetuated from age to age by the marvelous power attached to the sacerdotal consecration. The Church herself is there with her benediction, her salutary influence, her authority, and her miracles. She has existed from all ages and she will continue to exist to the end, for she is the work of God Himself, and all that believe in Jesus and His Church share in her sublime gifts.
The population of this district is scattered over a wide extent of country, a fact which greatly contributes to the preservation of morality, as well as of national character; for the people do not mutually entice one another to sin as happens in crowded cities. Each family, of which the cattle always form a part, has a house surrounded by clustering oaks which shelter it from the storms, and broad fields enclosed by hedges or embankments. Distant about a quarter of a league is another homestead similar in its surroundings, though perhaps of greater or less size. A certain number of these farms constitutes a hamlet, and several hamlets, a parish. Charming clumps of trees, verdant hedges, shady nooks lie scattered all around.
As I journeyed from house to house through the green meadows, I could not restrain the exclamation: What sweet scenes for childhoods innocent years! What solitary nooks! What lovely bushes and luscious berries! The household of the peasants and indeed that of the gentry also, in some degree, presents a character altogether patriarchal. It centers, so to say, around the fire in which quarter the very best arrangements in the house are to be found. The outer door opens directly into the kitchen, which serves also as the family sitting-room, in which is passed the greater part of their life. The beds occupy recesses in the walls, the doors of which are kept closed during the day. Sometimes in the kitchen itself, but oftener in an adjoining area, are seen to the right and left the cows and horses upon a ground floor, a few feet lower than that of the main building, their mangers being on a level with it; in feeding their heads often protrude beyond the stakes of their enclosure into the family room. A movable iron or wooden trough conducts water from the pump to the huge kettle over the fire, in which the food is prepared. In one house I saw a child turning round and round in a hole cut in one end of a board, the other being fastened to a post by a transverse roda primitive arrangement to prevent the little ones falling into the fire. At the further end of the apartment, shut off by a gate, is a large open space in which the wheat is threshed or the flax hatchelled; overhead are stored hay, straw and grain. The good wife can attend to her culinary duties at the fireplace, and at the same time command a view of the whole establishment.
The narrow window panes are adorned with pictures of events of olden times, pictures of the saints, of heraldry, and other devices. Goffines Familiar Instructions, Overbergs Catechism, and a volume of sacred history are either displayed to advantage on a wooden shelf, or carefully stowed away in a chest with the Sunday clothes, to which a couple of mellow apples are added for the sake of their sweet perfume. The cottage is guarded without by stately old oaks, through whose boughs the wintry winds whistle unheeded by the pious, simple-hearted occupants within, who are ever ready to extend hospitality to the wayfaring stranger.
A degree of what one might call elegance is noticeable in the household
arrangements of the rich. In summer an enormous bouquet replaces the blazing
fire on the hearth, and little porcelain plates are ranged around as an additional
ornament. Among the poor all is plainer and simpler, yet stamped with the seal
of domestic life and local custom. One feature in their homes, which is however
gradually dying out, is the absence of a chimney. In rainy weather the smoke
fills the dwelling like a dense vapor. Such is Clement Brentanos
account of his visit to Flamske and the surrounding district.
Taken from The Life and Revelations of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.
Other pages discussing Catholic
doctrine and history:
Return to Catholic Doctrine Homepage