ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH
̶ From the Mystical Revelations of Maria Valtorta ̶
̶ INTRODUCTORY NOTE ̶
In the following brief letter and note translated here from Maria Valtorta's writings, we are given an insight into her perceptions of the revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
Anne Catherine Emmerich, an Augustinian Cannoness, mystic, stigmatic and visionary, was, like Valtorta, seemingly given many visions of Christ's life and Passion. She has therefore been a popular devotional read among Catholics. Unlike Valtorta, however, Emmerich had a personal secretary̶̶̶one Clemens Brentano, a poet and revert to Catholicism who wrote down her visions as she dictated them to him, and evidently redacted them considerably according to his own views.
Valtorta, on the other hand, wrote down with her own hand the visions and dictations she was given by Christ and other heavenly visitors, had them typed out by her spiritual director, Fr. Romuald Migliorini, OSM, and then, with Christ literally "looking over her shoulder," Valtorta meticulously corrected any errors that might have slipped into the final version. If she missed any herself, Christ would intervene and point out a needed correction!
As regards Catherine Emmerich, Valtorta admits that she herself had never read any of Emmerich's works until, on January 21st, 1949, an acquaintance who distributed good books among the sick, brought Valtorta a copy of Emmerich's The Passion of Jesus: visions of Christ's Passion supposedly received and dictated by Emmerich to her secretary, Brentano.
In the brief letter that follows, written to her friend and confidant the discalced Carmelite Mother Teresa Maria of Saint Joseph, Valtorta tells of reading this work of Emmerich's. Following that letter, Valtorta offers in a few brief statements her own impressions of what she read in it, also quoting Christ's own remarks to her about her experience of Emmerich's work.
From a Letter of Maria Valtorta
to the Discalced Carmelite
Mother Teresa Maria of Saint Joseph
May 21, 1949
I have found some sacred subjects which I hope will please you as they please me. I am sending them to you, thanking you at the same time for those pictures which you sent me, one of which: The Good Shepherd, I used to make an Augustinian happy (the Master of Novices at the Mother House), [who is] an admirer of the Work.1 [...] He is a friend of his Excellency, Msgr. Felici, if I have understood correctly. He came to find me last Tuesday, departing again on Wednesday to go to preach a three day [retreat] for St. Rita's at San Gimignano. He will return Monday, if he can. [...]
Fr. Luigi Romano, has the courage to defend the Work,1 whether here or in Rome, while defending the writer [Valtorta]; because to strike the writer is to harm the Work. And look at how good the Lord is!
You certainly know of the German mystic Anna-Catherina Hemmerich [sic], who had visions of the Life of the Lord, etc., etc., who was a victim soul etc., etc., but who could not be beatified because her visions are so unreal as to leave the Church perplexed. I have never read anything by this mystic (as neither of any other seer-soul). But on January 21st , a man who occupies himself with distributing good books among the sick, or weak believers, or sinners, brought me a package of books to distribute. He always does this because he is aware that I know many who are sick in body or in spirit.
Among the books, I see "Revelations - The Life and Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ - Anna-Catherina Hemmerich." I say, "This time, then, I [will] read it." And I do read it... What a disaster! I remain disgusted and bewildered, because except in a few points (5 or 6), I do not sense Jesus. While I close the book in disgust, in my heart I ask myself: "But has this woman really seen? and seen the divine? Or has she been deceived by Satan, or is a fraud?"
Jesus appears to me and dictates to me about Hemmerich, saying: "she was a true seer illumined by God, but men altered the truth of her visions, spoiling everything...," and He ends, "You will show this to the Father."
I, who have never seen an Augustinian and who did not know that the Augustinians in Rome were favorable to me (I knew it on May the 8th), thought that "the Father" was Father B.,2...and when he first came, February 5th, I gave him the book that I annotated, and I read the dictation of Jesus, saying: "This could also serve the Work1. See? Here Jesus says: 'The Church has reason to be perplexed about the work of Hemmerich, because that work has been corrupted. But concerning yours and that of Sister Josefa Menendez, the Church should not be perplexed, because I am there.'"
Naturally, Father. B. took the book, and...did nothing. He and his companions had other plans...: to make it a human work...
Last Tuesday Father Romano asked me if I knew the writings which pass for revelations of A. C. Hemmerich and whether the Lord had ever said anything about these, since the Augustinians want to see their Augustinian Hemmerich canonized for her heroic virtues, but the Church obstructs it because of those writings, so strange.
I answered: "I indeed have something on the subject," and I read the dictation...
Imagine the Father's joy! He asked me to copy it in order to bring it to Father Fuld, postulator of her cause. I copied it, and added: "If Father B.2 would be so kind as to give up the book, you would see my annotations and they would be useful to you. Try to ask him for it..."
And later, while we were speaking of something else, Jesus said to me: "The Father [I mentioned] in the dictation was this one". I told this to F. Romano...
What do you say about it?
Filial regards and prayers for me.
[Valtorta: At the end of my reading, Jesus speaks to me]:
"See what damage the work of man can do to a revelation?" Even if he works with the intention of honoring Me more, he spoils the gift of God. Every infidelity in things of revelation, ruins them, because it is a wound introduced into the truth, which remains soiled by it.
Therefore I do not want [even] a syllable changed of what you have written. You were faithful in your writing. Let the others be faithful in leaving your writing intact.
The work of Brentano3 is thus detached from the Gospels, from the truth. Only in those points taken just as they are described in the Gospels, is there truth in this book The rest is a magnificent painting by a very bad retoucher."
[Jesus] is right. Reading such a ruin, I wept. And I really said: "The Church is right in wanting to be meticulous in examining revealed writings after such examples!"
In the margin by the true points ̶ very rare ̶ Jesus had me write: "here it is true." But how few there are! The rest is all fantasy.
Ah! That Brentano! What an ugly service he has done to Emmerich, and to souls in general. I have been so nauseated that ̶̶̶ no, no and no! ̶̶̶ I do not read books like this anymore, even if they bring me mountains of them. This has been the first and remains the last. What a disappointment!
̶̶̶ NOTES ̶̶̶
1. "...admirer of the
Work" ̶ Valtorta is probably
alluding to The Poem of the Man-God, often referred to as the "Work".
2. "...show this to the Father" ̶ no name is given for "Father B.", but it may refer to a Servite priest known to Valtorta but not very favorable toward her.
3. "...The work of Brentano".. .̶̶̶ Clemens Brentano, a revert to the Catholic Faith who eventually became Emmerich's secretary, recording and "redacting" her visions. [See the biographical article in Wikipedia.]