The Life and Afterlife of Anna Katharina Emmerick: Reimagining Catholicism in Modern Germany
Painter, Cassandra Lynn
This dissertation concerns the life and subsequent cult of veneration of Anna Katharina Emmerick, a Westphalian woman discovered to exhibit stigmata during the Napoleonic occupation and secularization of German Europe. Her wounds and ecstatic visions became symbols manipulated in debates over the boundary between religion and superstition, natural and supernatural. Emmerick’s life thus provides an entrée into the state of German Catholicism at the moment of its transition from Enlightenment austerity to post-Revolutionary fervor. Her afterlife in the popular imagination, furthermore, can serve as a red thread through the labyrinth of German Catholic culture. By examining the reactions sparked by Emmerick’s life, and following the twists and turns of her long afterlife, this project’s goal is to reveal how Catholics sustained and reimagined their inherited faith traditions to meet the evolving challenges they faced as modern Germans; to determine who was able to participate in this process; and to track how this changed over time. Following how Emmerick took on new forms and meanings, both during her lifetime and throughout her long afterlife, makes this reimagination of Catholic tradition, rather than mere revival, its richness and its continued relevance, very clear.