VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church’s recent recognition of a miracle has opened the doors to beatification for Anna Katharina Emmerick, a stigmatist and mystic whose written experience of Christ’s life affects Christians today.
The miracle, attributed to this Augustinian religious, occurred in Germany in 1880; it was officially recognized by the Holy See on July 7, 2003. Although disabled, she developed a fruitful apostolate by writing about her personal experiences of the life of Christ.
On September 8, 1774, Anna Katharina Emmerick was born in a poor farm of the village of Flamske, in Coesfeld, the diocese of Munster, Westphalia, in Northeastern Germany, and was baptized the same day of her birth.
Beginning at 4 years of age, she had frequent visions of the history of salvation. After many difficulties caused by the family’s poverty and opposition to her choice of a religious life, she entered the convent at Agnetenberg, in Dulmen, at 28.
After the civil authorities suppressed the convent, she moved to a private home. From 1813 onwards, sickness kept her immobile.
“She bore the stigmata of the Lord’s Passion and received extraordinary charisms that she used to console numerous visitors. From her bed, she carried out an important and fruitful apostolate,” Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said when reading the decree of recognition of a miracle before John Paul II.
Beginning that year, she was nourished strictly by Holy Communion, and endured exhaustive investigations by the diocese, Bonaparte’s police, and the authorities.
During her final years, she lived daily the preaching and Passion of Jesus. She died on Monday, February 9, 1824, consumed by illness and penances. Declared Venerable at the end of the 19th century, her process of beatification was taken up again in 1972. The heroism of her virtues was declared in 2001.
Anna Katharina Emmerick, expelled from her cloister by the Napoleonic invasion, and confined to bed, tried to write in her low German dialect the daily visions of the supernatural which she herself felt were indescribable.
When learning this, a noted German writer, Clemens Brentano, made her acquaintance, was converted, and remained at the foot of the stigmatist’s bed copying her accounts from 1818 to 1824.
Twice a day, the writer went to visit Anna Katharina Emmerick to copy the notes in her journal. He then returned to read what he had written, to be sure he had faithfully transcribed what the invalid dictated.
When the religious died, the writer ordered the material in the journal. He prepared an index of the visions and the edition entitled “The Bitter Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” The book became a world event.
“I did not see in her physiognomy or her person the least trace of tension or exaltation,” Brentano said after making the nun’s acquaintance. “Everything she says is brief, simple, consistent, and at the same time full of profundity, love, and life.”
The script of the film “The Passion,” to be released in the United States at the beginning of next year, is inspired in the visions of this religious, just as the film’s director, Mel Gibson, has revealed.