Anne Catherine Emmerich  

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"It was without its equivalent in literature. A few pages of Anne Emmerich upon the Passion, though comparatively attenuated, approached this ideal of supernatural realism and of veridic and exsurrected life. Perhaps, too, certain effusions of Ruysbroeck, seeming to spurt forth in twin jets of black and white flame, were worthy of comparison with the divine befoulment of Grünewald. Hardly, either. Grünewald's masterpiece remained unique. It was at the same time infinite and of earth earthy."--Là-bas (1891) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

This page Anne Catherine Emmerich is part of the mysticism series. Illustration: The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emmerich by (1885) by Gabriel Cornelius von Max
This page Anne Catherine Emmerich is part of the mysticism series.
Illustration: The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emmerich by (1885) by Gabriel Cornelius von Max

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Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, born September 8, 1774 - died February 9, 1824) was a Roman Catholic Augustinian nun, stigmatic, mystic, visionary and ecstatic. German-born, he died there aged 49. A portrait of her, The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emmerich (1885) was painted by Gabriel Cornelius von Max (1840 - 1915).


Anne Catherine Emmerich said that as a child she had had visions, in which she talked with Jesus, had seen the souls in Purgatory, for whom she prayed, and also the core of Holy Trinity in the form of three concentric interpenetrating full spheres - the biggest but less lit sphere represented the Father core, the medium sphere the Son core, and the smallest and most lit sphere the Holy Spirit core. Each sphere of omnipresent God is extended toward infinity beyond God's core placed in Heaven.

Clemens Brentano and the publication of the visions

At the time of her second examination in 1819, the famous poet Clemens Brentano was induced to visit her; to his great amazement she recognized him, and he claimed she told him he had been pointed out to her as the man who was to enable her to fulfill God's command, namely, to write down for the good of innumerable souls the revelations made to her. Brentano became one of Emmerich's many supporters at the time, believing her to be a "chosen Bride of Christ".

From 1819 until her death in 1824 Brentano recorded her visions, filling forty volumes with detailed scenes and passages from the New Testament and the life of the Virgin Mary. The accounts contain vivid details and graphic scenes which follow each another in rapid succession. According to his own account, Brentano took down briefly in writing the main points, and, as she spoke the Westphalian dialect, he immediately rewrote them in standard German. He would read aloud what he wrote to her, and made changes until she gave him complete approval.

After 1824, Brentano edited his records for publication and in 1833 he published his first volume, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich. Brentano then prepared The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary From the Visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich for publication, but he died in 1842. The book was published posthumously in 1852 in Munich.

Catholic priest Father Karl Schmoger edited Brentano's manuscripts and from 1858 to 1880 published the three volumes of The Life of Our Lord. In 1881 a large illustrated edition followed, Schmoger also penned a biography of Anne Catherine Emmerich in two volumes, which has been republished in English language editions.

These texts do contain several remarkable passages. Neither Brentano nor Emmerich had ever been to Ephesus, and indeed the city had not yet been excavated; but visions contained in The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary were used during the discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary, Saint Mary's supposed home before her Assumption, located on a hill near Ephesus. The Holy See has taken no official position on the authenticity of the location yet, but in 1896 Pope Leo XIII visited it and in 1951 Pope Pius XII initially declared the house a Holy Place. Pope John XXIII later made the declaration permanent. Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 visited the house and treated it as a shrine.

While the Vatican does not take a stance on the factuality of the content of Emmerich's writings, it does recommend them as "an outstanding proclamation of the gospel in service to salvation.

See also

Concerning the surface of God

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