Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) was an Augustinian nun noted for her visions of Christ and other mystic gifts.
Born in Flamschen bei Coesfeld, Westphalia, Germany in 1774, her family was poor but faith- filled. From a young age, Ann Catherine wanted to be a nun. Her father opposed her entry into the monastery.
As a young girl, Anne Catherine began to receive many spiritual gifts from God. When she became an adult, she sought entry into the religious life. Several communities would not accept her, but finally the Augustinian Canonesses at Agnetenberg received her into their convent.
Life in the convent was not easy for Anne Catherine. Some of nuns looked down on her because of the poverty of her family. Her health was poor. An accident in 1806 made it impossible for her to leave her room for the next six years.
During this time God continued to bless her with spiritual gifts. A few of the nuns, perhaps out of jealousy, looked upon Anne Catherine with suspicion and spread unkind gossip about her. At the end of 1811, the convent where she lived was ordered suppressed. In 1812, Anne Catherine and some of the other sisters were living in Dulmen. There she would frequently become caught up in ecstatic prayer. Towards the end of 1812, she was given the marks of Christ’s Passion on her body. She tried to hide these, but only succeeded for a while. Soon the other sisters noticed the stigmata and told their superiors.
An investigation followed, which concluded that the wounds were truly mystic phenomena and that Anne Catherine was indeed the recipient of many supernatural gifts. She experienced many visions of Christ. It is, however, difficult to know the truth about many of these, since the main source of information in this regard is the writings of the romantic poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842), whose works were characterized by an excess of fantastic imagery.
Anne Catherine did not herself write any descriptions of her visions. Instead, she recounted her visions to Brentano, who, in turn, wrote them in a sort of diary, which he published in book form several years after Anne Catherine’s death. True to his usual style, Brentano frequently exaggerated and embellished the facts. Scholars today do not consider Brentano’s book, entitled The Dolorous Passion, to be a reliable reporting of what Anne Catherine really experienced. The book was totally disregarded during the process of her beatification.
Anne Catherine’s health continued to grow worse. From 1813 to the time of her death on November 9, 1824, Anne Catherine was bedridden. She died in Dulman, where her remains are preserved. In 2001, Anne Catherine Emmerich’s practice of virtue was declared “heroic”. She was beatified October 3, 2004.