February 9th marks the anniversary of the death of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich in 1824. An Augustinian nun, she was highly favoured by God from a very young age with the grace of having intimate knowledge of the divine through visions and supernatural visits from her guardian angel, many saints, Our Lady, and of course, Our Blessed Lord Himself. Bl. Anne Catherine is well known for her prophecies, visions and insights into all aspects of salvation history. What is less known was her desire for a life of redemptive suffering in union with Our Lord, a life of profound humility, obedience and countless acts of charity toward the sick and the poor.
Her deep desire to suffer with Our Lord was present from an early age. Her voluntary mortifications reflected her love of hard physical work and suffering for souls. She ate and drank only what was necessary and only what was rejected by others. She prayed all hours of each night; in the winter, she knelt on the snow. Her bed consisted of planks shaped like a cross on the floor. Throughout her life, Bl. Anne Catherine communicated with the souls in Purgatory as she offered all her prayers, works and suffering for them. From childhood, she was visited by suffering souls, often in groups, who begged her assistance.
At the age of twenty-four, before her entrance into religious life, she was given the grace to experience the visible and actual pain of Our Lord’s crown of thorns. She frequently suffered days and nights of terrible pain and swelling about her forehead and temples. The bandage strips wrapped about her head many times did not stem the flow of blood.