Blessed Anna Schäffer

As the Church prepares to welcome seven new saints this month, ZENIT will feature an article, from Oct. 11 -21, on each of these remarkable servants of God.

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ROME, OCT. 19, 2012 ( Anna Schäffer was born in Mindelstetten, Bavaria, on February 18, 1882. Her family lived in very modest circumstances. She received her First Holy Communion in 1894 and she offered up her life to the Saviour. </p>

At the age of 13 she began working in RegensburgThere, and she hoped to earn enough money to enter into a religious order since she wanted to become a missionary sister.

 On February 14, 1901, as she was working in the laundry of her employer she fell into a cauldron of bleached hot water and her legs were severely burned. As a result she remained an invalid for the rest of her life. 

After she was released from hospital as an invalid in May 1902, her condition continued to worsen, confining her completely to bed. To her painful infirmity was added extreme poverty. 

She received the grace of being able to see her Guardian Angel. Each time she received Holy Communion she prayed to strengthen her weakness so as to receive Jesus more worthily. 

In the autumn of 1910, in visions, which she called “dreams”, Anna first saw St Francis, then the Redeemer, who was ready to accept her sacrifice of reparation. From that time she bore the wounds of Christ. Later, in order to suffer in secret and to avoid any sensationalism, she asked the Lord to remove the visible stigmata. 

On 25 April 1923, Anna was permitted to live the events of Good Friday: her condition considerably worsened. Her legs became completely paralyzed; this was followed by painful cramps due to a stiffening of the spinal cord and also cancer. 

Pope John beatified her on March 7, 1999. In his homily John Paul II commented that: “we can see her life as a living commentary on what St Paul wrote to the Romans: ‘Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us’ (Rom 5:5).” 

“The more her life’s journey became a journey of suffering the more clearly she recognized that illness and frailty can be the lines on which God writes his Gospel,” the pope noted. 

“She called her sickroom a “workshop of suffering”, to resemble the Cross of Christ ever more closely. She spoke of three keys to heaven: “The largest, which is made of crude iron and heavier than all the others, is my suffering. The second is the needle, and the third the pen. I want to work hard with all these keys every day, so that I can unlock the door of heaven,” the pope added. 

“Her sickbed was the cradle of an extensive letter-writing apostolate. She used what was left of her strength to do embroidery work and in this way give joy to others. In her letters and in her handiwork her favourite motif was the heart of Jesus as the symbol of God’s love,” John Paul II explained.

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