Emmerich, (Anne) Catherine (1774–1824)
German nun of the Augustine order who had ecstatic visions.
Born September 8, 1774, at Flamske, Westphalia, Emmerich
grew up in a peasant family. She became a servant in
the household of an organist named Söntgen, and when his
daughter Clara entered the convent of Agnetenberg at Dülmen,
the sisters there were persuaded to take Catherine Emmerich
as well. She was admitted as a postulant November 13,
1802, and professed a year later.
At the end of 1811, however, the government of Jerome Bonaparte,
king of Westphalia, suppressed the convent. The
church was closed and the community dispersed. Emmerich
was destitute and ill, and for a few months stayed in the convent
buildings, ministered to by Abbé Jean Martin Lambert (an elderly
priest) and a servant girl. The three were later obliged to
vacate the premises, and in 1812 the priest and Emmerich were
lodged in the house of a widow.
Here she experienced frequent and prolonged ecstatic
states. They were discovered accidently by Clara Söntgen, who
went to visit her and found her in ecstasy with stigmata, blood
falling from her outstretched hands. Clara at first thought she
had met with an accident, but when she mentioned it to Emmerich
afterward, Emmerich begged her to keep it secret.
On December 31, 1813, Emmerich’s confessor, Father Limberg,
also saw the stigmata when giving her Holy Communion.
He discussed it with Father Lambert, and the two priests
agreed to keep the matter secret, as they were uncertain what
should be done.
Meanwhile Clara reported the matter to her father, and
soon everyone in Dülmen was talking about it. The local physician
visited Emmerich, determined to end her ‘‘hysteria,’’ but
came away convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena.
He made an official report, and soon the administrator of the
diocese of Münster took up the matter. Priests and doctors examined
the girl, and as the news spread far and wide, famous
visitors also came to see her, including the poet Clemens Brentano.
During her ecstasies, Emmerich experienced and described
detailed scenes of Jesus’ passion and crucifixion, including the
story of the woman Seraphia said to have wiped the face of
Jesus with a cloth, which later bore a miraculous picture of
Jesus formed from the blood and sweat. Such sacred images
came to be called veronicas (from the Greek icon, ‘‘image,’’ and
the Latin vera, ‘‘true’’), the most famous being the Turin
Shroud. The visions were approved by a number of theologians
and priests, and highly regarded by Pope Pius IX, who requested
that an Italian translation of them appear with the German
original.
Emmerich continued to experience ecstasies and stigmata
with severe wounds. She died February 9, 1824, after much
agony caused by a wound in her side. She died murmuring the
name of Jesus. She was buried on February 13, and six weeks
later was exhumed, after a rumor that the body had been
stolen. It was found that there was no corruption. The grave
was opened again 32 years later, on October 6, 1856, and the
body was still intact.
Sources
Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord
Jesus Christ. Springfield, Ill. Templegate, 1951.
———. Leben der Heil, Jungfrau Maria. Munich Literarischartistische
Anstalt, 1852. Translated as The Life of the Blessed Virgin
Mary by Michael Paliret. Springfield, Ill. Templegate,
1954.
Schmöger, Carl E. The Life of Anna Catherine Emmerick. 2 vols.
Los Angeles Maria Regina Guild, 1968.

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