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The Life Of Anne Catherine Emmerich

THE following work claims to be nothing more than a narrative, condensed from the large work of Father Schmœger, of the life of the saintly woman whose name is so well known among us by her Contemplations on the Passion of our Lord. To anyone acquainted with Father Schmœger’s volumes it is needless to point out how very large a portion of their contents has necessarily been omitted, in order to reduce the present work to its actual proportions. But I hope that nothing really material to the life and character of Anne Catharine Emmerich has been passed by: the very long passages in which Father Schmœger has given the details of so many of her visions not being altogether essential in a simple narrative like the present.

It was my intention to have inserted, at some considerable length, specimens of those “Contemplations” of Anne Catharine which are least well known to English-speaking Catholics, especially the contemplations which relate to the active life of our Blessed Lord. These already exist in two several translations in French, but have not hitherto, as far as I am aware, been given in our own language. I found that it would have been difficult to bring the selections within reasonable compass, unless all idea of going over the whole of our Lord’s preaching, however cursorily, had been abandoned, and I have therefore thought better to reserve these translations for a separate publication, which I hope may soon appear as a supplement to the present volume. This being the case, it is also natural to defer till the same opportunity some prefatory remarks on the general subject of the visions or contemplations of Anne Catharine which were intended to accompany the translations just mentioned.

In truth, the Life of Anne Catharine is a complete study and picture in itself. She might have had her mission of suffering and expiation at a time which in so many respects resembled our own,—she might have been the holy peasant child, the misunderstood and persecuted nun, the Religious driven back to the world by the tyrannical suppression of her convent, the ecstatic and stigmatized representative of the Passion of our Blessed Lord in days of unbelief and chastisement, without having also the other gift and the other vocation which were bestowed on her—the gift of marvellous and almost perpetual insight into spiritual truths in the form of visions representing the life of our Lord and of the Church, and the vocation of reviving the faith and rekindling the love of so many by the communication of what she saw and heard. These latter gifts, indeed, are not usually and regularly, in the order of God’s Providence, imparted to souls less highly enriched than Anne Catharine with the solid treasures of sanctity; but not all who are as holy as she was have shared the special privileges of which we speak. It is, therefore, quite lawful to separate, in a slight sketch like the present, the Life of Anne Catharine from the relation of her marvellous visions, and to use the former as a sort of introduction to the latter.

It need hardly be added that nothing in the present volume relating to the more marvellous side of the life and actions of Anne Catharine is put forward as resting upon more than simply human authority. I have understood that great veneration for her exists in Germany, and it could hardly be otherwise in the neighbourhood where many must still be living who have seen and conversed with her, and felt the blessing of heaven fall on them in answer to her prayers. The records, also, of her contemplations must have made her name well known over the whole Catholic world, and few can have read them devoutly without finding themselves drawn more near to our Blessed Lord in consequence. But I have heard of no measures taken to ensure her enrolment among the saints of the Church, and we are thus destitute even of the guidance and security which an ecclesiastical process might have given us as to her virtues, or as to the graces bestowed on her or on others by her means.

H. J. C.

LONDON, Octave of Corpus Christi, 1874.

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