The mysticism has always been a topic able to divide the public opinion in two main groups: those who believe in the abilities of a few chosen ones to come into contact with the divine and being able to uncover some future events and those doubting entirely this possibility guided by a scientific set of values.
In this article today we won’t face the details of such a dispute, but instead we will speak of a prophecy that kept theologians busy for many centuries.
The arrival of 2 popes prophesied by the mystic Anne Katharina Emmerick on the 13th May 1820
What we know of Anne Katharina Emmerick is that she was born on the 8th of September 1774 in Coesfeld, German city that today gathers 37,000 people within its borders. Coming from a numerous family of farmers, she was the fifth of nine children. Since an early age, Anne had to make due with the most humble jobs in order to support the family and for this reason she dropped school. In the brief period she attended some lessons though, parents and teachers noticed how religion topics were fascinating the little girl. Very soon the little girl expressed her desire to take the vows and dedicate herself entirely to the pray and devotion of the Virgin Mary that, like her, was born on the 8th of September. Right in that moment, apart from working the field, Anne started sewing and set as a final goal that one of joining the monastic life. Since the girl did not have any particularly marked skill, many monasteries rejected her candidacy.
Below: the house were Anne Katharina Emmerick lived. Picture shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons
In 1802, though the monastery of Saint Augustine accepted the young as a novice so miss Emmerick moved to Dulmen. In the nine years following her receiving of the vows, she dedicated herself to the cloistered life with dedication; she was often dealing with heavy works too despite her fragile health condition. It was the 1811 when the convent of Saint Augustine was shut down and the nun took shelter as a maid at Abbè Lambert’s house, a priest escaped from France. In the meanwhile Anne’s health conditions got increasingly worse to the point she was bedridden by the tremendous pains she was suffering.
Pain that was anticipatory of the stigmata and other supernatural gifts such as the levitation, divination an ecstasy
The most peculiar details about the German mystic were written down in a diary by the doctor who used to visit her, Franz Wesener, who became for the nun a loyal and caring friend. An important aspect of Anne’s behaviour was the love she had for the people in general and especially for the poor ones and the misfits, that she used to welcome, pray and give comfort and support to as well as sew for the children.
Of big importance was the meeting with the poet and writer Clemens Brentano, which took place in 1818. Clemens was so fascinated by the nun that he started writing down on a daily basis, the visions that Anne Katharina had in a book about the Passion of Christ named “Das bittere Leiden unseres Herrn Jesu Christi”.
In the summer 1823 the conditions of the mystic became increasingly worse and her visions, the ones related to the prophecies that we know of today, more frequent. Amongst the most suggestive revelations of the nun there is the one about the Passion of Christ, described in every single aspect in an extremely realistic fashion, the sorrow endures by the Virgin Mary when seeing the martyrized body of her son while they would accompany him towards his cross.
Anne Katharina Emmerick died on the 9th of February 1824, and many people participated to her funeral due to the rumor that her corpse had been stolen. The tomb, however, was opened up twice finding out instead that the body was intact inside the coffin. On the 3rd October 2004, Anne Katharina Emmerick was beatified by pope John Paul II.
The prophecy about the two popes
As we know today, Anne Katharina, after having received the gift of the stigmata, started having more and more premonitions which, very often, had as a core subject the catastrophic destiny of the Western Church. Picture of violence, corruption and increasing degradation were constantly obscuring the nun’s mind. Prophecies that comes from 200 years from the death of the woman, yet still fascinate and make worshippers and theologians curious. On the 13th May 1820 Anne, weak and ill confessed to have seen, in a moment of ecstasy, the coexistence of two popes.
Below: Anne Katharina Emmerick painted by Gabriel von Max in 1885
These were her words: “..I saw the relationship of two popes. I saw how ill-fated the consequences of such a fake Church would have been. I saw it enlarging in size. Heretics of all kinds would come into the city (Rome). The local clergy was becoming lukewarm and I saw a great darkness”.
These affirmations of the blessed woman remain as one of the many enigmi hidden behind the Christianity. It seems though that the prophecy of Anne was right.
When we talk of prophecies, it seems important to weigh each word with extreme caution. For this reason, a few people today believe that the nun’s words were actually not talking about the current situation that saw pope Francis elected after the resignations of Benedict 16th; for certain theologians it seems that Anne was talking about the dramatic situation of the Church in the 19th century and that the two popes taken into account were Boniface 4th (550-615), 67th pope of the Catholic Church lived in the previous millenium and Pius 7th (1742-1823), pope from the 1800 to the 1823; two popes that the woman admired massively, yet that they could have not cohabitated the Quirinal Palace or the Lateran Palace. The enigma remains, for now, an unsolved case at the centre of the controversies and analysis.
Below: the book by Saverio Gaeta “La profezia dei due papi” ( The prophecy on the two popes)