Weeding out Emmerich’s visions to harvest the good
How do we read the visions of Blessed Emmerich? We have the Gospels, Church teachings, and Mary of Agreda as our cornerstones. Everything that Blessed Emmerich said in conflict, we discard; even conflicts with Israel's traditional Church locations (Capernaum, Elizabeth Visitation Church, Jesus' Tomb, etc.), we must relinquish. Some people would say: "But Emmerich discovered Mary's house in Ephesus, Turkey, and described how Mary died there in great detail!". Mary of Agreda in the "Mystical City of God" said that Mary lived three years in Ephesus, later returning and dying in Jerusalem, Israel. The house discovered in Ephesus, Turkey, was Mary's home for a 3-year period. Remember, evil distortions need truths to persuade. Let's reinforce this truth even more with this Catholic article,
So did Mary die first before being assumed? Did she fall "asleep"? Was she buried? The Church does not bind us to a particular answer because the tradition is not clear. In an apocryphal collection of stories called Transitus Mariae (The Passage of Mary), attributed to Bishop St. Melito of Sardis (died c. 180), Mary died in the presence of the apostles in Jerusalem, and then depending on the story, her body just disappeared, or was buried and then disappeared.
Even the Orthodox Church may further clarify,
For three days they did not depart from the place of burial, praying and chanting Psalms. Through the wise providence of God, the Apostle Thomas was not to be present at the burial of the Mother of God. Arriving late on the third day at Gethsemane, he lay down at the tomb and with bitter tears asked that he might be permitted to look once more upon the Mother of God and bid her farewell. The Apostles out of heartfelt pity for him decided to open the grave and permit him the comfort of venerating the holy relics of the Ever-Virgin Mary. Having opened the grave, they found in it only the grave wrappings and were thus convinced of the bodily ascent of the Most Holy Virgin Mary to Heaven.
Blessed Emmerich mentioned the delay of Apostle Thomas in Ephesus, Turkey... but it is just the wrong location! Mary's passing on the night of August 14th in Turkey is incorrect (instead of August 13th at 3 pm in Jerusalem). Why does it matter? Because treating Blessed Emmerich's visions as unfailing truths will create a world of internal conflicts, too many to name. Choosing not to read Emmerich's visions is not a solution either.
For example, Blessed Emmerich said that Mary fainted during Jesus' scourging and crucifixion. Let's show this is not true:
- Mary of Agreda describes Mary as fully aware and co-participating in the pains of Jesus' scourging and crucifixion, without fainting.
- Saint Gemma (of Lucca, 1903), experienced both the scourging and crucifixion, every week, without fainting. Jesus gave saint Gemma the strength to withstand this pain. He would surely do the same for His mother, during His crucifixion, if needed.
- Jesus does not like Christians mourning the dead, friends, and family (He mentioned this in two different revelations). It's a selfish action as it shows distrust in His providence (St Jerome explains). Mary is Jesus' first and best disciple, copying His every action since birth, and in her sorrow, there is trust in God; fainting is emotional desperation, the opposite.
Therefore, when Anne Emmerich says that Mary fainted many times, all I hear is: "Mary had no trust in God while her Son chose not to strengthen her as she fainted from pain, and Mary of Agreda is incorrect." Because that's what it takes to make the statement true. Nice try, but it feels wrong to think it, even worse to write it. Thus, ignore Blessed Emmerich ever mentioning Mary fainting. This mention of Mary fainting and the Y cross is only in her Passion book:
Book: The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
But not in Emmerich's more detailed book of the Passion,
Book: The Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ Book IV: A Chronicle from the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich
The detailed book described Mary as dead and Jesus' arms outstretched on the cross as if His armpits were over the crossbar... the 'Passion' book may be cutting corners with translation issues; in any case, I have to mention it.
Blessed Emmerich description of the Last Supper:
Jesus ate the Paschal Lamb with the twelve Apostles in the supper-room ...the attendants brought a beautiful little lamb, decorated with a crown... The son of Simeon held the lamb's head; Jesus made a slight incision in its neck with the point of a knife...Jesus appeared to inflict the wound with a feeling of repugnance.
"The Mystical City of God" better explains its spiritual significance:
The Lord seated himself at this table with the Apostles and some of the other disciples, and then ordered some unleavened bread to be placed on the table and some wine to be brought...He pronounced the words of consecration over the bread, changing its substance into the substance of his true body and immediately thereupon He uttered the words of consecration also over the wine, changing it into his true blood... the holy Eucharist contained the perfect humanity of the Lord with the three divine Persons of the Godhead.
Even Mary of Agreda scolds Emmerich. Mary of Agreda wrote in her book about Saint Anne, Mary's mother, in 1650. Mary of Agreda wrote that Saint Anne died while Mary was staying in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Mary was twelve years old) and that Saint Anne was married only once to Saint Joachim (Mary's father). Mary of Agreda then warned, in her book, that some religious writers would make the mistake of thinking that Saint Anne died in her old age, having been married three times (widowed twice). It's this comment alone that raised some flags, as no other book talks about Saint Anne marrying three times except in Anne-Catherine Emmerich's visions, in 1820. Emmerich describes Saint Anne as having been married three times by her old age. Therefore, Mary of Agreda, in 1650, is warning Emmerich, in 1820, not to get confused about Saint Anne's life.
So, we know that in Emmerich's visions, Saint Anne's life is false, Mary's fainting during the crucifixion is false, Mary's death in Ephesus is false; and we are very doubtful about different religious church dates and church locations, about her comments on the skin color of sinners, about a different Holy Cross shape, Jesus' uncompassionate moments and travels to Cyprus and Northern Iraq, and about the earthquake that reshaped the sea of Galilee at crucifixion time. We must now add that her visions are not of her own writing and that the Vatican does not endorse their authenticity. Any more confusion? We must now reckon that Emmerich's visions have been compromised. We must now follow Thessalonians 5:21: "Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good." There is a lot of good in her books, but a person that only reads Blessed Emmerich literally will ignore Jesus' tomb and Mary's tomb while in Jerusalem, will celebrate Jesus' birth on November 25th**, will not properly venerate Mary, etc. It won't be long before that person starts doubting saints and their revelations...
Book: Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making by Gallagher, Timothy M. OMV
We know from a series of compiled exorcisms from 1975 to 1978, that:
No Catholic family should be without them...Catherine was a great suffering soul... you should give prominence to "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" [book]... Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin have given and allowed these great visions and revelations to these two great Saints [Catherine and Mary of Agreda].
Book: Warnings from the Hereafter to the Contemporary Church: Confessions of Hell, literal text of revelations made by demons during exorcisms by Jean Marty.
So, how can we reconcile different versions into a single historical truth? By aggregation, finding a mean, weeding out extremes, and ultimately embracing any feelings that increase one's love for God. The Saints did not have it easy. Padre Pio would meet demons impersonating priests, and fight them violently. Sister Josefa Menendez would also be carried to hell for torture. They suffered. Shying away from their religious books because of a slight corruption is like turning our backs on their bravery. Saints have flaws too. Even Jesus would show them the evil in their souls. How do demons interfere with saints' visions? Probably it is like a perfect painting from heaven, by the time it gets to the saint, demons are allowed to distort it according to the imperfect tendencies of the soul (slightly proud, racist, hateful to a minority, self-righteous on religious matters, jealous, etc.). Incorruptible Blessed Anne-Catherine Emmerich was such a warrior. God bless their sacrifice for us. A few mystics burned their original work, out of doubt, in full-on spiritual warfare; anything they write to save future souls usually encounters demon opposition. Not reading, expecting a flawless mystic book, we will miss brilliant glimpses into Jesus' ministry, Passion, and Mary's life.
But let Jesus Christ Himself explain these distortions to a Benedict Monk in June 2013:
Listen to Me, for I am speaking to you now as I have spoken to you in the past. You were not deceived, and any inaccuracies in what you wrote came from your imagination, not from the Evil One, and these inaccuracies are few...You will know when the Evil One is trying to counterfeit My words to you by the unrest that they will cause. And you will also know when certain elements in our conversations come from your own imaginings, fears, or desires.
Book: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart - The Journal of a Priest at Prayer by A Benedictine Monk
For example, let us learn some practical good out of her visions. What scares demons the most? It's humility. The opposite of humility attracts them. Jesus says in Emmerich's visions: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, they who are learned ought not to be conscious of it, just as the rich ought not to know that they possess riches." In Mary of Agreda's books, Mary would wash floors with the greatest humility, obedient to John the Apostle. No matter your class status or sainthood, scrub your own bathroom, and while you are at it, your neighbor's, with love. Be creative. If you have a maid coming to your home, go to her home every couple of months and clean her place for free under her command. It will slowly set you free.
There is more valuable information in Emmerich's visions. For example, the reason the Ark of the Covenant was never found was that it was replaced by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the New Testament's Gospels. Jesus also teaches about marriages; Emmerich asked why these teachings were not included in the Gospels. Jesus hinted it would create controversies in the future. Teachings that associate the spiritual health of kids with the spiritual life of their mothers more than their fathers and that continence in married life has to exist to master concupiscence in this lifetime. If we think about it, most church saints had devoutly religious mothers, like Saint Agustine of Hippo and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, so I would take Jesus' comments as complementing the Gospels.
James Tissot (1836-1902), the painter, was influenced by Emmerich's visions, his paintings give us a better understanding of first-century Jerusalem,
Mel Gibson was influenced by Emmerich's visions too when directing and producing the film 'The Passion of the Christ' (2004).
Emmerich incorrectly places the Pool of Bethesda at the south end of the temple. Recent archaeological excavations found the pool on the north side. Emmerich said this north pool was used to clean sheep for temple sacrifice, 'Catena Aurea' confirms the same; it is a pool with two sections, the second pool matches John the Apostle's Pool of Bethesda, "five covered colonnades." The Gospels are always right, with a correct translation. Knowing "that in dealing with the scriptures, it is the sense we have to look to and not the words."(Letter LVII. To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating, St. Jerome). Emmerich validates that 5 entrances were common in most public places. Her most detailed Passion book mentioned Jesus' seamless brown wool tunic, described the thorn cap mentioned in saint Gemma's book, the 3 nails, and Jesus' foot positioning is correct. All in all, very accurate, agreeing with other mystics.
In conclusion, Emmerich said in 1820,
I also saw Eve living in some caverns near Hebron... At an immense depth below the rock which constitutes Mount Calvary (which was formed in this spot by the rolling, of the waters), I saw the tomb of Adam and Eve.
But we will follow Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, who replied to her in 1250,
According to Jerome, in his commentary on Mat. 27:33, "someone explained 'the place of Calvary' as being the place where Adam was buried; and that it was so called because the skull of the first man was buried there. A pleasing interpretation indeed, and one suited to catch the ear of the people, but, still, not the true one. For the spots where the condemned are beheaded are outside the city and beyond the gates, deriving thence the name of Calvary-that is, of the beheaded. Jesus, accordingly, was crucified there, that the standards of martyrdom might be uplifted over what was formerly the place of the condemned. But Adam was buried close by Hebron and Arbe, as we read in the book of Jesus Ben Nave." But Jesus was to be crucified in the common spot of the condemned rather than beside Adam's sepulchre, to make it manifest that Christ's cross was the remedy, not only for Adam's personal sin, but also for the sin of the entire world.
Book: Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas
* *Proof that Jesus's birth is not November 25th: Angel Gabriel said to an old Zacharias: "Because your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son" (Luke1:13). Priest Zacharias's ministration for the Feast of the Tabernacle was completed a few days later on September 22nd (source: Catena Aurea), before departing to his own house (Luke1:23). Natural conception of John the Baptist, a few days later, according to angel Gabriel's future verb "will bear". Then angel Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:36) and said "Look, even Elizabeth your relative has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is in her sixth month." So, 6 months passed since September 24th, confirming Jesus' Annunciation and conception by the Holy Spirit on March 25th. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth took about 3 months (Lk1:56), and John was born June 24th. Six months later, Jesus was born on December 24, at midnight. For Jesus to be born on November 25th we would have to change Luke's Gospel (1:13) to say "Elizabeth is bearing you a son". The Gospel is right, the Catholic Church feasts are right.