Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, German Stigmatic and Victim Soul (1774-1824)
Anna Katharina Emmerick (or Anne Catherine Emmerich in English) was born on September 8, 1774 at Flamske, Westphalia, West Germany, to a small farming family. Her parents, Bernard Emmerich and Anne Hiller, were poor peasants, but very devout and pious. Anne Catherine was baptized at the St. James Church at Coesfeld. As a child, she spent alot of her time as a maid and seamstress until her entrance into the Augustinian Order on November 13, 1803.
At age 29 she joined the Convent of Agnetenberg at Dulmen, Westphalia. Even during these youthful years, Anne was extraordinarily gifted with ecstasies and visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, her guardian angel, and many of the saints. Although never given an adequate education, Anne had perfect recollection of her childhood days, and she seemed to understand Latin beginning in her very early years. Almost from infancy Anne reportedly had the gifts of discerning holy from unholy objects, consecrated objects or locations, and the identification of relics and from which saints they came. Also during these early years, Anne was often seen making the entire Way of the Cross in her bare feet, even when the snow had covered the ground.
Anne receives the Crown of Thorns
The following is the account she herself has given of the circumstances under which she received the crown of thorns:
"About four years prior to my admittance into the convent, that is in 1798, it happened that I was in the Jesuits' Church at Coesfeld, at about twelve noon, kneeling before a crucifix and absorbed in meditation, when all on a sudden I felt a strong but pleasant heat in my head, and I saw my Divine Spouse, under the form of a young man clothed with light, come towards me from the altar, where the Blessed Sacrament was preserved in the tabernacle.
In His left hand he held a crown of flowers, and in His right hand a crown of thorns, and He bade me choose which one I would like to have. I chose the crown of thorns; He placed it on my head, and I pressed it down with both hands. Then He disappeared, and I returned to myself, feeling, however, violent pain around my head. I was obliged to leave the church, which was going to be closed. One of my companions was kneeling by my side, and as I thought she might have seen what happened to me, I asked her when we got home whether there was not a wound on my forehead, and spoke to her in general terms of my vision, and of the violent pain which had followed it. She could see nothing outwardly, but was not astonished at what I told her, because she knew that I was sometimes in an extraordinary state, without her being able to understand the cause. The next day my forehead and temples were very much swelled, and I suffered terribly. This pain and swelling often returned, and sometimes lasted whole days and nights. I did not remark that there was blood on my head until my companions told me I had better put on a clean cap, because mine was covered with red spots. I let them think whatever they liked about it, only taking care to arrange my head-dress so as to hide the blood which flowed from my head, and I continued to observe the same precaution even after I entered the convent, where only one person perceived the blood, and she never betrayed my secret.'
Anne receives the Stigmata
In 1811, Anne was forced to leave her convent along with all the sisters when King Jerome Bonaparte closed all of the Religious houses during his reign. Four years before the suppression of her convent, Anne made a visit home with her family in Flamske. One day while she was kneeling and praying for hours before the Cross of the Church of St. Lambert at Coesfeld, Anne had asked our Lord for a share in His Passion as a sacrifice for the sake of her convent. From that time on, she began experiencing terrible pains in her hands, feet and side, an indication that God had given her the invisible stigmata.
On August 28,1812 (the Feast of St. Augustine), Jesus appeared to her in a vision and imprinted a cross-shaped wound on her breast directly above the heart. Later that same year, specifically on the 29th December 1812, at about 3pm she was lying on her bed in her little room, extremely ill, but in a state of ecstasy and with her arms extended, meditating on the sufferings of her Lord, and beseeching him to allow her to suffer with him. She said five Our Fathers in honour of the Five Wounds, and felt her whole heart burning with love. She then saw a light descending towards her, and distinguished in the midst of it the resplendent form of her crucified Saviour, whose wounds shone like so many furnaces of light. Her heart was overflowing with joy and sorrow, and, at the sight of the sacred wounds, her desire to suffer with her Lord became intensely violent. Then triple rays, pointed like arrows, of the colour of blood, darted forth from the hands, feet, and side of Jesus, and struck her hands, feet, and right side.
When she recovered her senses she was astonished when she beheld blood flowing from the palms of her hands, and felt violent pain in her feet and side. It happened that her landlady's little daughter came into her room, saw her hands bleeding, and ran to tell her mother, who with great anxiety asked Anne Catherine what had happened, but Anne begged her not to speak about it. She felt, after having received the stigmas, that an entire change had taken place in her body; for the course of her blood seemed to have changed, and to flow rapidly towards the stigmas. She herself used to say: 'No words can describe in what manner it flows.'
In 1813, Anne was examined by a group of both medical and Church authorities; an inquiry which lasted for five months.
The examiners found Anne to be mentally sound, and they could not find any medical or temporal explanation for the wounds of the stigmata.
Anne lives off the Eucharist alone for 12 years
From the moment she received the Sacred Wounds until her death, Anne Catherine Emmerich took no solid food, existing only on the Sacred Host. In fact, when she would try to eat or drink she would have a severe reaction and would vomit violently when attempting to consume food, even broth. She was however able to consume the Holy Eucharist and her diet consisted only of the Eucharist.
In 1819 she was once again investigated by high-ranking secular authorities. She was taken away from all of her acquaintances and moved to a house in the country belonging to one of the authorities. They referred to her as 'The Imposter'. She was locked up for three weeks with the authorities watching her 24x7 in 6 hour shifts. Much to the aggravation of her captors, she still consumed no food and bled through her Stigmata even though she prayed not to bleed so they would release her. After three weeks, she was finally sent back to her home in Dulmen by her frustrated captors. Two of them became very sympathetic to her cause. During her last few years, she did not sleep at all, a miracle in itself according to the testimonies of many doctors. She was given shelter by various charitable people in the area, and was bedridden for the rest of her life. God had chosen this gifted soul to become His victim, and she voluntarily suffered and sacrificed as a means of atonement and expiation for the souls that were living in sin.
Because of the great trouble caused by her visible stigmata, Anne implored our Lord to remove them, a prayer which was granted - at least partially - starting in 1819. Over the next seven years, her wounds became less visible until finally they disappeared, except for on special occasions or particular feast days of the Church calendar. They would reappear and continue to bleed, however, during each Lenten season, particularly on Good Fridays. There were other occasions when Anne Catherine Emmerich's wounds would manifest and bleed severely, including some Holy Thursdays and a few Fridays outside of Lent. Yet she was never without the stigmata, for the rest of the time they were invisible but equally as painful.
Her remarkable visions
It is though that the most extraordinary gift that Anne possessed was that of her extraordinary visions, also known as ecstasies. She was given visions of almost the entire life of Jesus, and most of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary also. These private revelations of Jesus and Mary’s life included the most intimate details and can be considered a complete vision of the Gospel story. The visions of the life of Jesus as witnessed by Anne Catherine are compiled and published in the popular book “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ” which many view as a true treasure, and her visions of Mary are published under the title “The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary- From The Visions Of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich”.
Other visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich include those of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory along with intimate details in the lives of many Saints. Many of these Saints she conversed with, and she often witnessed events in their lives as if she were right there beside them. The list is truly impressive so only some of their names will be mentioned here: Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, her own guardian angel, St. Agnes, St. Agatha, St. Emerentiana, St. Paula, St. Dorothea, St. Apollonia, St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Paschal, St. Cyprian, St. Isidore, St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, St. Nicodemus, St.Clare, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Perpetua, St. Felicity, St. Justina, St. Denis, St. Ursula, St. Hubert, St. Gertrude, St. Cecilia, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. And this is far from being a complete list. In addition to all of this, she also received many prophecies about future events. Many of these revelations have come true, sometimes with remarkable accuracy.
Angels and devils
Anne Catherine Emmerich was favored since her childhood with the guidance and protection of her guardian angel. God allowed her to entrust her will to this angelic creature, who in turn enlightened her to God's designs upon her soul. Anne even revealed that her angel often took her to various places during her ecstastic moments, throughout all of Europe and even to the Holy Land. Often too, this favored soul would communicate with the poor souls in Purgatory via the guidance of her angel, who led her safely through this place of purification in order that she might visit those who implored her aid. In turn, Anne would pray and suffer in order to help free them from their pain and to help gain their entrance into the heavenly kingdom.
And in regards to the Angels, Anne Catherine stated:
“I see the angels without aureolas (ie. “halos”). They appear to me, indeed, under a human form with faces and hair, but they are more delicate, more noble, more beautiful than men. They are immaterial, perfectly luminous and transparent, but in different degrees. I also see blessed souls surrounded by a material light, rather white than resplendent, and around them a many-colored glory, an aureola whose tints correspond to their kind of purification , I see neither angels nor saints moving their feet, excepting in the historic senses of their life upon earth, as men among men. I never see these apparitions in their real state speaking to one another with the mouth; they turn to one another, interpenetrate one another .... “ (p. 419-420.)
Her Angel guides her in bilocation
"The angel calls me and I follow him to various places. He takes me to people I know or who are complete strangers. We cross the sea as quickly as thought travels. It is he who took me to see the Queen of France in prison. When he comes to take me on a journey, I see a glimmering light, then his luminous form appears before me like a flash from a lantern open in the dark. As we journey along in the darkness a faint light floats over our path. We pass over countries in distant regions, passing over roads, deserts, rivers and seas. We always travel on foot, my knees and feet ache. I often have to climb mountains. My guide is in front of me or at my side. I never see his feet move. "
"He is silent, he makes few motions, sometimes he follows his replies by gestures of the hand or inclinations of the head. He is transparent. He is grave but very kind. His hair is smooth, flowing and shining. His head is uncovered and his long white robe, like a priest`s. I address him freely and never look him fully in the face. I never ask him many questions, as I am satisfied just being near him. I call to him to go to the Angel of the person for whom I am praying. I say,'Now I shall stay here, but do go to such or such place where thy help is need and then I see him go'. When I come to broad waters and know not how to cross, I find myself all at once on the other side and I look back in wonder."
For chosen souls like Anne Catherine who receive mystical graces, our Lord often allows them to be attacked and assailed by the demons, so as to keep them from being prideful and to teach them complete trust in God. Anne Catherine knew all too well the attacks that spring forth from the devil. She once received blows to the face from a demon who appeared to her in the form of a great, black dog. Another time, the evil one tried to hurl her down a ladder. She even experienced icy-cold hands grabbing at her feet with the intention of throwing her to the ground.
In 1813, Anne Catherine was subjected to intense ecclesiastical and medical evaluations lasting for five months. This is only natural, for anyone so highly favored with frequent states of ecstasy and hundreds of supernatural visions needs to be evaluated by the proper Church authorities; yet a Dr. William Wesener, upon examining her, said the following: "In our communications, I always found Sister Emmerich simple and natural, kind and gracious toward everyone" (March, 1813).
And here is a statement from an ecclesiastical authority:
“Not only in the spiritual life was Sister Emmerich passive and obedient to her confessor, but in everything, without exception, she sought to regulate her conduct by his directions. Her longing for religious obedience had increased with her inability to practice it due to the frequent ecstasies that would bring her consciousness out of this world and into the next. Her humble forgetfulness of self led her friends to look upon her as being relatively healthy, when in fact she was suffering physically in a variety of ways. Simple, obliging and industrious, she never aspired to be noticed”. --Rev Father Carl E. Schmoger, C.SS.R
Hierognosis is a gift which involves the ability to discern holy things from those which are not holy, including the following: whether or not a Host has been consecrated; if an object has or has not been blessed; the presence of a good or evil spirit; and the ability to find lost or hidden objects and holy relics. This charism is closely related to the gift of kardiognosis, and is very common among God's stigmatists; therefore, it is only fitting to believe that souls who are unusually holy themselves would be able to sense when a holy presence is in their midst.Anne Catherine Emmerich was unusually gifted in the discernment of holy things. Her remarkable ability to sense when an ordained priest was near (even when she did not see him), or the identification of relics or their whereabouts is well-documented.
Father Carl E. Schmoger, C.SS.R., described some of these discernments in his study of this most unusual stigmatist:
"With the gift of prophecy, Sister Emmerich had also received the power of discerning holy objects, even by the senses. Bells that had been blessed by a priest had for her a melody all their own, a sound essentially different from every other that struck her ear; her taste detected the blessing imparted to holy water as readily as others can distinguish water from wine; her sense of smell aided her sight and touch in recognizing the relics of saints; and she had as lively a perception of the sacerdotal benediction (blessing of a priest) sent her from afar, just as if it were given in her presence..." (The Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich: Volume II, p. 394.)
Anne herself explained these holy things which she was able to distinguish, such as blessed objects or relics:
“I see the blessing and the blessed object endowed with a healing and helping power. I see them as luminous and radiating light; while evil, crime and malediction appear before me as darkness radiating darkness and working destruction. I see light and darkness as living things, enlightening or obscuring .... (p. 395.)"I feel irresistibly drawn to look for these relics. They are attracted to me, and I sighed for them! It is easy to recognize them at such times, for they shine with a different light. I see little pictures like the faces of the saints to whom they belong, toward which rays of light dart from the particles. I cannot express it! It was a wonderful state! ..." (p. 417.)
House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey found through Emmerich's visions
How the House of the Blessed Virgin Mary (House of the Dormition) was found due to Anne Catherine's descriptions of the location taken from her visionsIn 1891, Anne Catherine's writings of one of the visions she received of the House of the Virgin Mary (the house where the Virgin Mary allegedly lived in towards the end of Her life) led a group of Lazzarist priests from the city of Izmir, Turkey to set out to try to find the place Blessed Emmerich described in Ephesus, or, in the case of one of the priests, to demonstrate that Blessed Emmerich was wrong.
The Lazzarist priests spent two hot summer days looking around Ephesus, finding nothing. When their water ran out, they asked some local women where they could find a well and were directed up the hill to the "monastery." There they found a spring next to the ruins of a little chapel half hidden by the trees in a scene almost exactly as Blessed Emmerich had described.
Afterwards, excavations led to the conclusion that the chapel was built no earlier than the seventh century, but that part of it was erected on the foundation of a much older building, one constructed with materials that the archaeologists said were similar to those used in the first centuries.
Anne Catherine Emmerich died at 8:30pm on February 9, 1824. It was only during the last five years of her life
that she began to write down the history of her visions which have become a treasury for many of the faithful. She was Beatified on October 3, 2004 by Pope John Paul II.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us!
Jesus in the Garden of Olives
WHEN Jesus left the supper-room with the eleven Apostles, after the institution of the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar, his soul was deeply oppressed and his sorrow on the increase. He led the eleven, by an unfrequented path, to the Valley of Josaphat. As they left the house, I saw the moon, which was not yet quite at the full, rising in front of the mountain.
Our Divine Lord, as he wandered with his Apostles about the valley, told them that here he should one day return to judge the world, but not in a state of poverty and humiliation, as he then was, and that men would tremble with fear, and cry: ‘Mountains, fall upon us!’ His disciples did not understand him, and thought, by no means for the first time that night, that weakness and exhaustion had affected his brain. He said to them again: 'All you shall be scandalised in me this night. For it is written. I WILL STRIKE THE SHEPHERDS AND THE SHEEP Of THE FLOCK SHALL BE DISPERSED. But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.’
The Apostles were still in some degree animated by the spirit of enthusiasm and devotion with which their reception of the Blessed Sacrament and the solemn and affecting words of Jesus had inspired them. They eagerly crowded round him, and expressed their love in a thousand different ways, earnestly protesting that they would never abandon him. But as Jesus continued to talk in the same strain, Peter exclaimed: ‘Although all shall be scandalised in thee, 1 will never be scandalised!’ and our Lord answered him: ‘Amen, I say to thee, that in this night, before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice.’ But Peter still insisted, saying: ‘Yea, though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee.’ And the others all said the same. They walked onward and stopped, by turns, for the sadness of our Divine Lord continued to increase. The Apostles tried to comfort him by human arguments, assuring him that what he foresaw would not come to pass. They tired themselves in these vain efforts, began to doubt, and were assailed by temptation.
They crossed the brook Cedron, not by the bridge where, a few hours later, Jesus was taken prisoner, but by another, for they had left the direct road. Gethsemani, whither they were going, was about a mile and a half distant from the supper-hall, for it was three quarters of a mile from the supper-hall to the Valley of Josaphat, and about as far from thence to Gethsemani. The placed called Gethsemani (where latterly Jesus had several times passed the night with his disciples) was a large garden, surrounded by a hedge, and containing only some fruit trees and flowers, while outside there stood a few deserted unclosed buildings.
The Apostles and several other persons had keys of this garden, which was used sometimes as a pleasure ground, and sometimes as a place of retirement for prayer. Some arbours made of leaves and branches had been raised there, and eight of the Apostles remained in them, and were later joined by others of the disciples. The Garden of Olives was separated by a road from that; of Gethsemani, and was open, surrounded only by an earthern wall, and smaller than the Garden of Gethsemani. There were caverns, terraces, and many olive-trees to be seen in this garden, and it was easy to find there a suitable spot for prayer and meditation. It was to the wildest part that Jesus went to pray.
It was about nine o’clock when Jesus reached Gethsemani with his disciples. The moon had risen, and already gave light in the sky, although the earth was still dark. Jesus was most sorrowful, and told his Apostles that danger was at hand. The disciples felt uneasy, and he told eight of those who were following him, to remain in the Garden of Gcthsesnani whilst he went on to pray. He took with him Peter, James, and John, and going on a little further, entered into the Garden of Olives. No words can describe the sorrow which then oppressed his soul, for the time of trial was near. John asked him how it was that he, who had hitherto always consoled them, could now be so dejected? ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death,’ was his reply. And he beheld sufferings and temptations surrounding him on all sides, and drawing nearer and nearer, under the forms of frightful figures borne on clouds. Then it was that he said to the three Apostles: ‘Stay you here and watch with me. Pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ Jesus went a few steps to the left, down a hill, and concealed himself beneath a rock, in a grotto about six feet deep, while the Apostles remained in a species of hollow above. The earth sank gradually the further you entered this grotto, and the plants which were hanging from the rock screened its interior like a curtain from persons outside.
When Jesus left his disciples, I saw a number of frightful figures surrounding him in an ever-narrowing circle.
His sorrow and anguish of soul continued to increase, and he was trembling all over when be entered the grotto to pray, like a wayworn traveller hurriedly seeking shelter from a sudden storm, but the awful visions pursued him even there, and became more and more clear and distinct. Alas! this small cavern appeared to contain the awful picture of all the sins which had been or were to be committed from the fall of Adam to the end of the world, and of the punishment which they deserved. It was here, on Mount Olivet, that Adam and Eve took refuge when driven out of Paradise to wander homeless on earth, and they had wept and bewailed themselves in this very grotto.
I felt that Jesus, in delivering himself up to Divine Justice in satisfaction for the sins of the world, caused his divinity to return, in some sort, into the bosom of the Holy Trinity, concentrated himself, so to speak, in his pure, loving and innocent humanity, and strong only in his ineffable love, gave it up to anguish and suffering.
He fell on his face, overwhelmed with unspeakable sorrow, and all the sins of the world displayed themselves before him, under countless forms and in all their real deformity. He took them all upon himself, and in his prayer offered his own adorable Person to the justice of his Heavenly Father, in payment for so awful a debt. But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’
And now a long ray of light, like a luminous path in the air, descended from Heaven; it was a procession of angels who came up to Jesus and strengthened and reinvigorated him. The remainder of the grotto was filled with frightful visions of our crimes; Jesus took them all upon himself, but that adorable Heart, which was so filled with the most perfect love for God and man, was flooded with anguish, and overwhelmed beneath the weight of so many abominable crimes. When this huge mass of iniquities, like the waves of a fathomless ocean, had passed over his soul, Satan brought forward innumerable temptations, as he had formerly done in the desert, even daring to adduce various accusations against him. ‘And takest thou all these things upon thyself,’ he exclaimed, ‘thou who art not unspotted thyself?’ Then he laid to the charge of our Lord, with infernal impudence, a host of imaginary crimes. He reproached him with the faults of his disciples, the scandals which they had caused, and the disturbances which he had occasioned in the world by giving up ancient customs. No Pharisee, however wily and severe, could have surpassed Satan on this occasion; he reproached Jesus with having been the cause of the massacre of the Innocents, as well as of the sufferings of his parents in Egypt, with not having saved John the Baptist from death, with having brought disunion into families, protected men of despicable character, refused to cure various sick persons, injured the inhabitants of Gergesa by permitting men possessed by the devil to overturn their vats,* and demons to make swine cast themselves into the sea; with having deserted his family, and squandered the property of others; in one word Satan, in the hopes of causing Jesus to waver, suggested to him every thought by which he would have tempted at the hour of death an ordinary mortal who might have performed all these actions without a superhuman intention; for it was hidden from him that Jesus was the Son of God, and he tempted him only as the most just of men. Our Divine Saviour permitted his humanity thus to preponderate over his divinity, for he was pleased to endure even those temptations with which holy souls are assailed at the hour of death concerning the merit of their good works. That he might drink the chalice of suffering even to the dregs, he permitted the evil spirit to tempt his sacred humanity, as he would have tempted a man who should wish to attribute to his good works some special value in themselves, over and above what they might have by their union with the merits of our Saviour. There was not an action out of which he did not contrive to frame some accusation, and he reproached Jesus, among other things, with having spent the price of the property of Mary Magdalen at Magdalum, which he had received from Lazarus.
* On the 11th of December 1812, in her visions of the public life of Jesus, she saw our Lord permit the devils whom he had expelled from the men of Gergesa to enter into a herd of swine. She also saw, on this particular occasion, that the possessed men first overturned a large vat filled with some fermented liquid.
Among the sins of the world which Jesus took upon himself, I saw also my own; and a stream, in which I distinctly beheld each of my faults, appeared to flow towards me from out of the temptations with which he was encircled. During this time my eyes were fixed upon my Heavenly Spouse; with him I wept and prayed, and with him I turned towards the consoling angels. Ah, truly did our dear Lord writhe like a worm beneath the weight of his anguish and sufferings!
Whilst Satan was pouring forth his accusations against Jesus, it was with difficulty that I could restrain my indignation, but when he spoke of the sale of Magdalen’s property, I could no longer keep silence, and exclaimed: ‘How canst thou reproach him with the sale of this property as with a crime? Did I not myself see our Lord spend the sum which was given him by Lazarus in works of mercy, and deliver twenty-eight debtors imprisoned at Thirza?’
At first Jesus looked calm, as he kneeled down and prayed, but after a time his soul became terrified at the sight of the innumerable crimes of men, and of their ingratitude towards God, and his anguish was so great that he trembled and shuddered as he exclaimed: ‘Father, if is possible, let this chalice pass from me! Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this chalice from me!" But the next moment he added: ‘Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.’ His will and that of his Father were one, but now that his love had ordained that he should be left to all the weakness of his human nature, he trembled at the prospect of death.
I saw the cavern in which he was kneeling filled with frightful figures; I saw all the sins, wickedness, vices, and ingratitude of mankind torturing and crushing him to the earth; the horror of death and terror which he felt as man at the sight of the expiatory sufferings about to come upon him, surrounded and assailed his Divine Person under the forms of hideous spectres. He fell from side to side, clasping his hands; his body was covered with a cold sweat, and he trembled and shuddered. He then arose, but his knees were shaking and apparently scarcely able to support him; his countenance was pale, and quite altered in appearance, his lips white, and his hair standing on end. It was about half-past ten o’clock when he arose from his knees, and, bathed in a cold sweat, directed his trembling, weak footsteps towards his three Apostles. With difficulty did he ascend the left side of the cavern, and reach a spot where the ground was level, and where they were sleeping, exhausted with fatigue, sorrow and anxiety. He came to them, like a man overwhelmed with bitter sorrow, whom terror urges to seek his friends, but like also to a good shepherd, who, when warned of the approach of danger, hastens to visit his flock, the safety of which is threatened; for he well knew that they also were being tried by suffering and temptation. The terrible visions never left him, even while he was thus seeking his disciples. When he found that they were asleep, he clasped his hands and fell down on his knees beside them, overcome with sorrow and anxiety, and said: ‘Simon, sleepest: thou?’ They awoke, and raised him up, and he, in his desolation of spirit, said to them: 'What? Could you not watch one hour with me?’ When they looked at him, and saw him pale and exhausted, scarcely able to support himself, bathed in sweat, trembling and shuddering,—when they heard how changed and almost inaudible his voice had become, they did not know what to think, and had he not been still surrounded by a well-known halo of light, they would never have recognised him as Jesus. John said to him: ‘Master, what has befallen thee? Must I call the other disciples? Ought we to take to flight?’ Jesus answered him: ‘Were I to live, teach, and perform miracles for thirty-three years longer, that would not suffice for the accomplishment of what must be fulfilled before this time tomorrow. Call not the eight; I did not bring them hither, because they could not see me thus agonising without being scandalised; they would yield to temptation, forget much of the past, and lose their confidence in me. But you, who have seen the Son of Man transfigured, may also see him under a cloud, and in dereliction of spirit; nevertheless, watch and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, for the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
By these words he sought at once to encourage them to persevere, and to make known to them the combat which his human nature was sustaining against death, together with the cause of his weakness. In his overwhelming sorrow, he remained with them nearly a quarter of an hour, and spoke to them again. He then returned to the grotto, his mental sufferings being still on the increase, while his disciples, on their part, stretched forth their hands towards him, wept, and embraced each other, asking, ‘What can it be? What is happening to him? He appears to be in a state of complete desolation.’ After this, they covered their heads, and began to pray, sorrowfully and anxiously.
About an hour and a half had passed since Jesus entered the Garden of Olives. It is true that Scripture tells us he said, ‘Could you not watch one hour with me?’ but his words should not be taken literally, nor according to our way of counting time. The three Apostles who were with Jesus had prayed at first, but then they had fallen asleep, for temptation had come upon them by reason of their want of trust in God. The other eight, who had remained outside the garden, did not sleep, for our Lord’s last words, so expressive of suffering and sadness, had filled their hearts with sinister forebodings, and they wandered about Mount Olivet, trying to find some place of refuge in case of danger.
The town of Jerusalem was very quiet; the Jews were in their houses, engaged in preparing for the feast, but I saw, here and there, some of the friends and disciples of Jesus walking to and fro, with anxious countenances, conversing earnestly together, and evidently expecting some great event. The Mother of our Lord, Magdalen, Martha, Mary of Cleophas, Mary Salome, and Salome had gone from the supper-hall to the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. Mary was alarmed at the reports which were spreading, and wished to return to the town with her friends, in order to hear something of Jesus. Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph of Ariinathea, and some relations from Hebron, came to see and endeavour to tranquillise her, for, as they were aware, either from their own knowledge or from what the disciples had told them, of the mournful predictions which Jesus had made in the supper-room, they had made inquiries of some Pharisees of their acquaintance, and had not been able to hear that any conspiracy was on foot for the time against our Lord. Being utterly ignorant of the treason of Judas, they assured Mary that the danger could not yet be very great, and that the enemies of Jesus would not make any attempts upon his person, at least until the festival was over. Mary told them how restless and disturbed in mind Judas had latterly appeared, and how abruptly he had left the supper-room. She felt no doubt of his having gone to betray our Lord, for she had often warned him that he was a son of perdition. The holy women then returned to the house of Mary, the mother of Mark.
When Jesus, unrelieved of all the weight of his sufferings, returned to the grotto, he fell prostrate, with his face on the ground and his arms extended, and prayed to his Eternal Father; but his soul had to sustain a second interior combat, which lasted three-quarters of an hour. Angels came and showed him, in a series of visions, all the sufferings that he was to endure in order to expiate sin; how great was the beauty of man, the image of God, before the fall, and how that beauty was changed and obliterated when sin entered the world. He beheld how all sins originated in that of Adam, the signification and essence of concupiscence, its terrible effects on the powers of the soul, and likewise the signification and essence of all the sufferings entailed by concupiscence. They showed him the satisfaction which he would have to offer to Divine Justice, and how it would consist of a degree of suffering in his soul and body which would comprehend all the sufferings due to the concupiscence of all mankind, since the debt of the whole human race had to be paid by that humanity which alone was sinless—the humanity of the Son of God. The angels showed him all these things under different forms, and I felt what they were saying, although I heard no voice. No tongue can describe what anguish and what horror overwhelmed the soul of Jesus at the sight of so terrible an expiation—his sufferings were so great, indeed, that a bloody sweat issued forth from all the pores of his sacred body.
Whilst the adorable humanity of Christ was thus crushed to the earth beneath this awful weight of suffering, the angels appeared filled with compassion; there was a pause, and I perceived that they were earnestly desiring to console him, and praying to that effect before the throne of God. For one instant there appeared to be, as it were, a struggle between the mercy and justice of God and that love which was sacrificing itself. I was permitted to see an image of God, not, as before, seated on a throne, but under a luminous form. I beheld the divine nature of the Son in the Person of the Father, and, as it were, withdrawn into his bosom; the Person of the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and the Son, it was, so to speak, between them, and yet the whole formed only one God—but these things are indescribable.
All this was more an inward perception than a vision under distinct forms, and it appeared to me that the Divine Will of our Lord withdrew in some sort into the Eternal Father, in order to permit all those sufferings which his human will besought his Father to spare him, to weigh upon his humanity alone. I saw this at the time when the angels, filled with compassion, were desiring to console Jesus, who, in fact, was slightly relieved at that moment. Then all disappeared, and the angels retired from our Lord, whose soul was about to sustain fresh assaults.
When our Redeemer, on Mount Olivet, was pleased to experience and overcome that violent repugnance of human nature to suffering and death which constitutes a portion of all sufferings, the tempter was permitted to do to him what he does to all men who desire to sacrifice themselves in a holy cause. In the first portion of the agony, Satan displayed before the eyes of our Lord the enormity of that debt of sin which he was going to pay, and was even bold and malicious enough to seek faults in the very works of our Saviour himself. In the second agony, Jesus beheld, to its fullest extent and in all its bitterness, the expiatory suffering which would be required to satisfy Divine Justice. This was displayed to him by angels; for it belongs not to Satan to show that expiation is possible, and the father of lies and despair never exhibits the works of Divine Mercy before men. Jesus having victoriously resisted all these assaults by his entire and absolute submission to the will of his Heavenly Father, a succession of new and terrifying visions were presented before his eyes, and that feeling of doubt and anxiety which a man on the point of making some great sacrifice always experiences, arose in the soul of our Lord, as he asked himself the tremendous question: ‘And what good will result from this sacrifice?’ Then a most awful picture of the future was displayed before his eyes and overwhelmed his tender heart with anguish.
When God had created the first Adam, he cast a deep sleep upon him, opened his side, and took one of his ribs, of which he made Eve, his wife and the mother of all the living. Then he brought her to Adam, who exclaimed: ‘This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.’ That was the marriage of which it is written: ‘This is a great Sacrament. I speak in Christ and in the Church.’ Jesus Christ, the second Adam, was pleased also to let sleep come upon him—the sleep of death on the cross, and he was also pleased to let his side be opened, in order that the second Eve, his virgin Spouse, the Church, the mother of all the living, might be formed from it. It was his will to give her the blood of redemption, the water of purification, and his spirit—the three which render testimony on earth—and to bestow upon her also the holy Sacraments, in order that she might be pure, holy, and undefiled; he was to be her head, and we were to be her members, under submission to the head, the bone of his bones, and the flesh of his flesh. In taking human nature, that he might suffer death for us, he had also left his Eternal Father, to cleave to his Spouse, the Church, and he became one flesh with her, by feeding her with the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar, in which he unites himself unceasingly with us. He has been pleased to remain on earth with his Church, until we shall all be united together by him within her fold, and he has said: ‘The gates of hell shall never prevail against her.’ To satisfy his unspeakable love for sinners, our Lord had become man and a brother of these same sinners, that so he might take upon himself the punishment due to all their crimes. He had contemplated with deep sorrow the greatness of this debt and the unspeakable sufferings by which it was to be acquitted. Yet he had most joyfully given himself up to the will of his Heavenly Father as a victim of expiation. Now, however, he beheld all the future sufferings, combats, and wounds of his heavenly Spouse; in one word, he beheld the ingratitude of men.
The soul of Jesus beheld all the future sufferings of his Apostles, disciples, and friends; after which he saw the primitive Church, numbering but few souls in her fold at first, and then in proportion as her numbers increased, disturbed by heresies and schisms breaking out among her children, who repeated the sin of Adam by pride and disobedience. He saw the tepidity, malice, and corruption of an infinite number of Christians, the lies and deceptions of proud teachers, all the sacrileges of wicked priests, the fatal consequences of each sin, and the abomination of desolation in the kingdom of God, in the sanctuary of those ungrateful human beings whom he was about to redeem with his blood at the cost of unspeakable sufferings.
The scandals of all ages, down to the present day and even to the end of the world—every species of error, deception, mad fanaticism, obstinacy, and malice—were displayed before his eyes, and he beheld, as it were floating before him, all the apostates, heresiarchs, and pretended reformers, who deceive men by an appearance of sanctity. The corrupters and the corrupted of all ages outraged and tormented him for not having been crucified after their fashion, or for not having suffered precisely as they settled or imagined he should have done. They vied with each other in tearing the seamless robe of his Church; many ill-treated, insulted, and denied him, and many turned contemptuously away, shaking their heads at him, avoiding his compassionate embrace, and hurrying on to the abyss where they were finally swallowed up. He saw countless numbers of other men who did not dare openly to deny him, but who passed on in disgust at the sight of the wounds of his Church, as the Levite. passed by the poor man who had fallen among robbers. Like unto cowardly and faithless children, who desert their mother in the middle of the night, at the sight of the thieves and robbers to whom their negligence or their malice has opened the door, they fled from his wounded Spouse. He beheld all these men, sometimes separated from the True Vine, and taking their rest amid the wild fruit trees, sometimes like lost sheep, left to the mercy of the wolves, led by base hirelings into bad pasturages, and refusing to enter the fold of the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep. They were wandering homeless in the desert in the midst of the sand blown about by the wind, and were obstinately determined not to see his City placed upon a hill, which could not be hidden, the House of his Spouse, his Church built upon a rock, and with which he had promised to remain to the end of ages. They built upon the sand wretched tenements, which they were continually pulling down and rebuilding, but in which there was neither altar nor sacrifice; they had weathercocks on their roofs, and their doctrines changed with the wind, consequently they were for ever in opposition one with the other. They never could come to a mutual understanding, and were for ever unsettled, often destroying their own dwellings and hurling the fragments against the Corncr Stone of the Church, which always remained unshaken.
As there was nothing but darkness in the dwellings of these men, many among them, instead of directing their steps towards the Candle placed on the Candlestick in the House of the Spouse of Christ, wandered with closed eyes around the gardens of the Church, sustaining life only by inhaling the sweet odours which were diffused from them far and near, stretching forth their hands towards shadowy idols, and following wandering stars which led them to wells where there was no water. Even when on the very brink of the precipice, they refused to listen to the voice of the Spouse calling them, and, though dying with hunger, derided, insulted, and mocked at those servants and messengers who were sent to invite them to the Nuptial Feast. They obstinately refused to enter the garden, because they feared the thorns of the hedge, although they had neither wheat with which to satisfy their hunger nor wine to quench their thirst, but were simply intoxicated with pride and self-esteem, and being blinded by their own false lights, persisted in asserting that the Church of the Word made flesh was invisible. Jesus beheld them all, he wept over them, and was pleased to suffer for all those who do not see him and who will not carry their crosses after him in his City built upon a hill—his Church founded upon a rock, to which he has given himself in the Holy Eucharist, and against which the gates of Hell will never prevail.
Bearing a prominent place in these mournful visions which were beheld by the soul of Jesus, I saw Satan, who dragged away and strangled a multitude of men redeemed by the blood of Christ and sanctified by the unction of his Sacrament. Our Divine Saviour beheld with bitterest anguish the ingratitude and corruption of the Christians of the first and of all succeeding ages, even to the end of the world, and during the whole of this time the voice of the tempter was incessantly repeating: ‘Canst thou resolve to suffer for such ungrateful reprobates?’ while the various apparitions succeeded each other with intense rapidity, and so violently weighed down and crushed the soul of Jesus, that his sacred humanity was overwhelmed with unspeakable anguish. Jesus—the Anointed of the Lord—the Son of Man—struggled and writhed as he fell on his knees, with clasped hands, as it were annihilated beneath the weight of his suffering. So violent was the struggle which then took place between his human will and his repugnance to suffer so much for such an ungrateful race, that from every pore of his sacred body there burst forth large drops of blood, which fell trickling on to the ground. In his bitter agony, he looked around, as though seeking help, and appeared to take Heaven, earth, and the stars of the firmament to witness of his sufferings.
Jesus, in his anguish of spirit, raised his voice, and gave utterance to several cries of pain. The three Apostles awoke, listened, and were desirous of approaching him, but Peter detained James and John, saying: ‘Stay you here; I will join him.’ Then I saw Peter hastily run forward and enter the grotto. ‘Master,’ he exclaimed, ‘what has befallen thee?’ But at the sight of Jesus, thus bathed in his own blood, and sinking to the ground beneath the weight of mortal fear and anguish, he drew back, and paused for a moment, overcome with terror. Jesus made him no answer, and appeared unconscious of his presence. Peter returned to the other two, and told them that the Lord had not answered him except by groans and sighs. They became more and more sorrowful after this, covered their heads, and sat down to weep and pray.
I then returned to my Heavenly Spouse in his most bitter agony. The frightful visions of the future ingratitude of the men whose debt to Divine Justice he was taking upon himself, continued to become more and more vivid and tremendous. Several times I heard him exclaim: ‘0 my Father, can I possibly suffer for so ungrateful a race? 0 my Father, if this chalice may not pass from me, but I must drink it, thy will be done!’
Amid all these apparitions, Satan held a conspicuous place, under various forms, which represented different species of sins. Sometimes he appeared under the form of a gigantic black figure, sometimes under those of a tiger, a fox, a wolf, a dragon, or a serpent. Not, however, that he really took any of these shapes, but merely some one of their characteristics, joined with other hideous forms. None of these frightful apparitions entirely resembled any creature, but were symbols of abomination, discord, contradiction, and sin—in one word, were demoniacal to the fullest extent. These diabolical figures urged on, dragged, and tore to pieces, before the very eyes of Jesus, countless numbers of those men for whose redemption he was entering upon the painful way of the Cross. At first I but seldom saw the serpent; soon, however, it made its appearance, with a crown upon its head. This odious reptile was of gigantic size, apparently possessed of unbounded strength, and led forward countless legions of the enemies of Jesus in every age and of every nation. Being armed with all kinds of destructive weapons, they sometimes tore one another in pieces, and then renewed their attacks upon our Saviour with redoubled rage. It was indeed an awful sight; for they heaped upon him the most fearful outrages, cursing, striking, wounding, and tearing him in pieces. Their weapons, swords, and spears flew about in the air, crossing and recrossing continually in all directions, like the flails of threshers in an immense barn; and the rage of each of these fiends seemed exclusively directed against Jesus—that grain of heavenly wheat descended to the earth to die there, in order to feed men eternally with the Bread of Life.
Thus exposed to the fury of these hellish bands, some of which appeared to me wholly composed of blind men, Jesus was as much wounded and bruised as if their blows had been real. I saw him stagger from side to side, sometimes raising himself up, and sometimes falling again, while the serpent, in the midst of the crowds whom it was unceasingly leading forward against Jesus, struck the ground with its tail, and tore to pieces or swallowed all whom it thus knocked to the ground.
It was made known to me that these apparitions were all those persons who in divers ways insult and outrage Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Sacrament. I recognised among them all those who in any way profane the Blessed Eucharist. I beheld with horror all the outrages thus offered to our Lord, whether by neglect, irreverence, and omission of what was due to him; by open contempt, abuse, and the most awful sacrileges; by the worship of worldly idols; by spiritual darkness and false knowledge; or, finally, by error, incredulity, fanaticism, hatred, and open persecution. Among these men I saw many who were blind, paralysed, deaf, and dumb, and even children;—blind men who would not see the truth; paralytic men who would not advance, according to its directions, on the road leading to eternal life; deaf men who refused to listen to its warnings and threats; dumb men who would never use their voices in its defence; and, finally, children who were led astray by following parents and teachers filled with the love of the world and forgetfulness of God, who were fed on earthly luxuries, drunk with false wisdom, and loathing all that pertained to religion. Among the latter, the sight of whom grieved me especially, because Jesus so loved children, I saw many irreverent, ill-behaved acolytes, who did not honour our Lord in the holy ceremonies in which they took a part. I beheld with terror that many priests, some of whom even fancied themselves full of faith and piety, also outraged Jesus in the Adorable Sacrament. I saw many who believed and taught the doctrine of the Real Presence, but did not sufficiently take it to heart, for they forgot and neglected the palace, throne, and seat of the Living God; that is to say, the church, the altar, the tabernacle, the chalice, the monstrance, the vases and ornaments; in one word, all that is used in his worship, or to adorn his house.