Mystic Said To Have Inspired New Gibson Movie Prophesied Great Church Crises
By Michael H. Brown
A mystic cited as an inspiration behind a major new movie on the Crucifixion of Christ prophesied great times of trouble for the Church. The seer, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, is Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, whose diaries reportedly have contributed in a significant way to a Mel Gibson film called The Passion -- a movie that made headlines this week when Gibson indicated he has been harassed for working on the movie.
While Emmerich, a nun who lived from 1774 to 1824, is well-known for inspired writing on the life and death of Jesus (which we will look at soon), she also penned prophecies describing great Church crises that would culminate in what seemed like an eclipse of Catholicism followed by a great and miraculous resurgence.
It is not clear if the prophecies were most relevant to Church problems in the 19th century, when Sister Emmerich lived; to the persecutions of the 20th century, which saw men like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao; to the current Church, which is in a state of crisis; or to all of these periods.
We know only that her predictions minced few words.
But first a quick history:
Venerable Anne Catherine was born to a poor family of Westphalian peasants on September 8, which is officially celebrated as the birthday of the Blessed Mother. She entered an Augustinian convent in 1802. When the convent was closed in 1812, due to the Napoleonic Wars -- which saw a direct attack on the papacy -- she moved to a private home, where she resided until her death on February 2, 1824.
"From childhood she experienced many extraordinary mystical graces," noted the late Raphael Brown in his classic work, The Life of Mary As Seen By the Mystics. "Before becoming a nun she endured the pains of the crown of thorns and in 1808 those of the wounds of Christ. In 1812 the stigmata became visible."
On May 13, 1820 -- a date that later became famous for the apparitions at Fatima -- the nun saw that "the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread her mantle [over it]. I saw a Pope who was at once gentle and very firm... I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky."
On September 12, 1820, according to Catholic Prophecy, Sister Emmerich foresaw "a strange church being built against every rule... No angels were supervising the building operations. In that church, nothing came from high above... There was only division and chaos. It is probably a church of human creation, following the latest fashion.
"I saw again the strange big church that was being built. There was nothing holy in it. I saw this just as I saw a movement led by ecclesiastics to which contributed angels, saints, and other Christians. But there [in the strange new big church] all the work was being done mechanically. Everything was being done according to human reason.
"I saw all sorts of people, things, doctrines, and opinions. There was something proud, presumptuous, and violent about it. I did not see a single angel nor a single saint helping in the work. But far away in the background, I saw the seat of a cruel people armed with spears, and I saw a laughing figure which said: 'Do build it as solid as you can; we will pull it to the ground.'"
From August to October of 1820, the Venerable Emmerich wrote: "I see more martyrs, not now but in the future... I saw a secret sect relentlessly undermining the great Church. Near them I saw a horrible beast coming up from the sea. All over the world, good and devout people, especially the clergy, were harassed, oppressed, and put into prison. When the Church had been for the most part destroyed and when only the sanctuary and altar were still standing, I saw the wreckers enter the Church with the Beast. There, they met a Woman of noble carriage who seemed to be with Child because she walked slowly.
"At this sight, the enemies were terrorized."
After great tribulation, the nun saw the Church "promptly rebuilt," with the Blessed Mother "more magnificent than ever."
On September 20, 1820, Sister Emmerich "saw the Church of St. Peter destroyed but for the sanctuary and the main altar. St. Michael came down into the Church, clad in his suit of armor, and he paused, threatening with his sword a number of unworthy pastors who wanted to enter."
Emmerich -- who foresaw the rise of Moscow as the center of evil a century before Lenin -- also saw an unnamed Pope "weakened by old age and by much suffering. His head was lolling from side to side, and it dropped onto his chest as if he were sleeping. He often fainted and seemed to be dying. But when he was praying, he was often comforted by apparitions from Heaven."
Finally, on October 4, 1820, the mystic wrote: "When I saw the Church of St. Peter in ruins, and the manner in which so many of the clergy were themselves busy at this work of destruction -- none of them wishing to do it openly in front of the others -- I was in such distress that I cried out to Jesus with all my might, imploring His mercy.
"Then I saw before me the Heavenly Spouse, and He spoke to me for a long time. He said, among other things, that this translation of the Church from one place to another meant that she would seem to be in complete decline. But she would rise again; even if there remained but one Catholic, the Church would conquer again because she does not rest on human counsels and intelligence."
Resources for this article available in the Spiritdaily bookstore:
The Life of Mary as Seen By the Mystics, Catholic Prophecy. Please also see our past article, the Gibson story (below)
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