Revelations Of Mystic Behind New Gibson Movie Led To Discovery Of
By Michael H. Brown
A recent book details how dramatic revelations from famed mystic Anne
Emmerich, the 19th-century German stigmatic who is currently on the
to beatification, led priests to "Mary's House" -- ruins of the place
recognized as where the Blessed Virgin spent her last years.
Emmerich, who has been declared "venerable" and whose revelations on
Passion have influenced a major new Mel Gibson movie (entitled just
Passion), was a nun just southwest of Munster when she received
of the home -- legendary until its rediscovery -- that John had built
the Blessed Mother after leaving the Holy Land.
Long considered the area to which Mary migrated, Ephesus had been
by popes and even an ecumenical council as the likely city where
Mother spent her remaining years -- and may have even died.
But the precise location was lost to history -- until visions granted
Emmerich led to what appears to have been a monumental discovery.
Emmerich, whose visions on the lives of Jesus and Mary fill several
had said in the early 1800s she envisioned that "Mary did not live in
itself, but on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem. Narrow
from Ephesus lead southwards to it. It is a very lonely place, but has
fertile slopes as well as rock caves where several Christian families
friends of Mary already lived. John had a house built for her here. It
on an uneven plateau near the top of the hill, overgrown with trees and
bushes. There were Jewish as well as Christian settlers here. Mary's
was the only one built of stone. A little way behind it was the summit
the hill, from which one could see Ephesus and also the sea with its
islands. Near here is a castle inhabited by a king who seems to have
"It was built of regular stones, rounded at the back," Emmerich had
of the house, "and had a spring running under it. The windows were high
near the flat roof. The main part of the house was divided into two by
fireplace in the middle of it, sunk in the ground, facing the door.
the fireplace, the apse of the room was curtained off and formed Mary's
In a niche in the center of the wall there was a receptacle like a
and in it stood a cross about the length of a man's arm."
These descriptions were received by the nun while meditating in a
where she was to spend 12 years -- often in a coma-like state as she
and meditated. During her ecstasies -- many recorded by poet Clemens
Brentano -- Emmerich added that Mary had a built a Way of the Cross
the house. "It had 12 Stations," said the seer. "At each Station she
up memorial stones -- eight smooth stones with many sides, each resting
a base of the same stone. The stones and their bases were all inscribed
That description of a place no longer known to the Church was to
in startling fashion when several priests -- first a French abbot named
Gouyet, then a team led by Father Eugene Poulin, a Lazarist priest, and
M. H. Jung, a distinguished Hebrew scholar and determined enemy of
-- closely investigated the nun's claims decades after Emmerich died
found a spot near Ephesus that matched the visions in stunning fashion,
to the book Mary's House, by Donald Carroll.
It was an Indiana Jones-like investigation. The first was Father
who traveled to Ephesus in 1881 and found the ruins of an ancient house
fit the description. But his discovery was discouraged by the Vatican
well as diocesan superiors who were intrigued but embarrassed that the
was based on a nun's private revelation.
"At their subtle insistence," writes Carroll, "the matter was dropped.
it stayed dropped for another decade, only to reappear in the strangest
The strange circumstance: according to Carroll, in mid-November 1890,
Marie de Mandat Grancey, the mother superior at a Sisters of Charity
in Smyrna, happened to ask a visiting priest if he would conduct a
reading, and when the priest -- Father Poulin -- grabbed for several
from the library, he was both shocked and disgusted to see one of
and Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (one of two private
said to form the foundation of the Gibson movie) among the volumes.
"To understand his reaction, it is necessary to know that Eugene Poulin
also director of the French Sacred Heart College in Smyrna and a
classical scholar who was deeply opposed to any form of mysticism,"
Carroll in his eye-opener. "Nonetheless, he flipped through the
book until he found himself, to his surprise, reading it with greater
One evening another priest asked Father Poulin if he had read a second
of Emmerich's revelations, called The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
No, he said, he didn't even know of its existence.
The priest gave him a copy -- and it was in this book that he came
the extraordinarily detailed description of Mary's home in Ephesus.
from this book provoked yet more intense debate. The skeptics were in
majority -- led by the outspoken Father Jung, who termed Sister
visions "girlish imaginings.
But to resolve the issue -- in what almost sounds like a lark -- the
set out on July 27, 1891, and took a train to the town of Selcuk, the
stop to Ephesus. There they were joined by a Muslim guide.
And there they found exactly what Emmerich said: compelling evidence
this indeed was a place where the most famous woman in history, a woman
huge biblical stature, yet at the same time the humble handmaiden, had
before her assumption into Heaven.
After a false start in which they searched the wrong area, the men
to precisely follow Venerable Emmerich's directions and track the old
road south until it curved past the eastern edge of Ephesus, where they
to locate a road up the mountains.
That took a while, but finally they found a parched path and struggled
what was known as Nightingale Mountain. "Soon they came to a small
where some women were working in a tobacco field," writes Carrol.
for water, they were told by these women that there was a spring up the
at a "monastery."
Actually, there was no monastery -- but apparently there once had been.
did it commemorate? It was now a pile of rubble. The priests were
interested in a little ruin at the center of the encampment.
"After poking around among the stones," says Carroll, "it suddenly
on [Father Jung] that the basic configuration of the ruin conformed
exactly to Sister Emmerich's description of Mary's house."
There was the spring. It was a highland. Moreover, from a little higher
it was possible to see both Ephesus and the sea -- the only spot in the
where that was possible. The ancient monastery had obviously been
there because it was thought to be a holy place. There were also graves
the area, and the skulls of those interred had been pointed toward the
of the home -- as if in reverence. Not far away, there were also the
of something else: a castle. The priests found rocks with old Hebrew
proving that both Jewish and Christian settlers had been there, as
had also said, adding that the Blessed Mother had used Hebrew on stones
make a Way of the Cross. Meanwhile, locals informed them of the legend
Mary Magdalene -- said to have accompanied St. John and the Blessed
-- had been entombed in the vicinity!
It was exactly as Emmerich had said. The priests were further to learn
while this area was now unknown to the Church -- and had been for
-- people in the village had always gone to this spot in memory of
It was known as "The Gate of the All Holy."
Where was the fireplace? According to Carroll, this turned out to be
most dramatic find. Seven years later, on August 24, 1898, at 3:30
workers clearing away the earth in the main room suddenly came upon
residue a couple below the surface! When they dug deeper, they found
more blackened stones. This was in the exact spot where Sister Emmerich
said the fireplace was located.
So it was that a mystic led to rediscovery of a spiritual treasure, one
has attracted pilgrimages by Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, who said
there. Over a million a year now visit this tiny remote shrine and find
Carroll describes as "uncommon serenity and sanctity." Since 1902, he
there have also been reports of apparitions. Those who visit receive an
indulgence. God-willing, we will be investigating it further in the
"The house itself is the miracle," notes Carroll. "Moreover, Pope John
II has now begun the formal procedure for the beatification -- perhaps
to canonization -- of Sister Anne Emmerich," whose visions are about to
onto the world scene in the form of that new movie and "without whose
the little house on Nightingale Mountain would almost certainly have
to disintegrate until it disappeared altogether."
[resources: Mary's House, The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ]
German Mystic Anna Katharina Emmerick to Be Raised to the Altar
Developed a Fruitful Apostolate Writing About Her Experience of
VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church's recent
recognition of a miracle has opened the doors to beatification for Anna
Katharina Emmerick, a stigmatist and mystic whose written experience of
Christ's life affects Christians today.
The miracle, attributed to this Augustinian religious, occurred in
Germany in 1880; it was officially recognized by the Holy See on July
7, 2003. Although disabled, she developed a fruitful apostolate by
writing about her personal experiences of the life of Christ.
On September 8, 1774, Anna Katharina Emmerick was born in a poor
farm of the village of Flamske, in Coesfeld, the diocese of Munster,
Westphalia, in Northeastern Germany, and was baptized the same day of
Beginning at 4 years of age, she had frequent visions of the history
of salvation. After many difficulties caused by the family's poverty
and opposition to her choice of a religious life, she entered the
convent at Agnetenberg, in Dulmen, at 28.
After the civil authorities suppressed the convent, she moved to a
private home. From 1813 onwards, sickness kept her immobile.
"She bore the stigmata of the Lord's Passion and received
extraordinary charisms that she used to console numerous visitors. From
her bed, she carried out an important and fruitful apostolate,"
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the
Causes of Saints, said when reading the decree of recognition of a
miracle before John Paul II.
Beginning that year, she was nourished strictly by Holy Communion,
and endured exhaustive investigations by the diocese, Bonaparte's
police, and the authorities.
During her final years, she lived daily the preaching and Passion of
Jesus. She died on Monday, February 9, 1824, consumed by illness and
penances. Declared Venerable at the end of the 19th century, her
process of beatification was taken up again in 1972. The heroism of her
virtues was declared in 2001.
Anna Katharina Emmerick, expelled from her cloister by the
Napoleonic invasion, and confined to bed, tried to write in her low
German dialect the daily visions of the supernatural which she herself
felt were indescribable.
When learning this, a noted German writer, Clemens Brentano, made
her acquaintance, was converted, and remained at the of the
stigmatist's bed copying her accounts from 1818 to 1824.
Twice a day, the writer went to visit Anna Katharina Emmerick to
copy the notes in her journal. He then returned to read what he had
written, to be sure he had faithfully transcribed what the invalid
When the religious died, the writer ordered the material in the
journal. He prepared an index of the visions and the edition entitled
"The Bitter Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ." The book became a world
"I did not see in her physiognomy or her person the least trace of
tension or exaltation," Brentano said after making the nun's
acquaintance. "Everything she says is brief, simple, consistent, and at
the same time full of profundity, love, and life."
The script of the film "The Passion," to be released in the United
States at the beginning of next year, is inspired in the visions of
this religious, just as the film's director, Mel Gibson, has revealed.