It just so happened that I was loaned a battered-up copy of The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Anne Catherine Emmerich right at the beginning of Lent. It seemed appropriate, so I read it. The last sentence reads: “The visions of Sister Emmerich which had continued from the 15th of February to the 6th of April 1823 here came to a conclusion.” The book bears an imprimatur.

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, an Augustinian nun in Germany,  was a mystic, visionary, a stigmatic, and prophet.  She did not, however, write about her visions; rather, she suffered through them and they were recorded over a period of four years by poet  Clemens Brentano,  who would then read back what he had written for her correction, and translated them from her dialect into German.    When she was being considered for beatification in 1973 only her life was considered, the writings  being “set aside,” because it could not be known how much was hers and how much was poetic license from Brentano.

The Dolorous Passion is available online as well as accounts of other visions.  One has the impression that they “flesh out” what is in the Bible, but to such an amazing degree that one wonders at the accuracy of the rendition.  Her descriptions, for example, of the buildings at the time of Jesus and the terrain they passed over are in such detail that you would like to go to the Holy Land and check things out, but, of course, you’d be 2000 years late!  If you saw Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ  you would recognize scenes that came from The Dolorous Passion rather than from the Bible.  But brutal as Gibson’s depiction of the passion and crucifixion were, Sister Emmerich’s was much worse.

Here is an example of the detail described in The Dolorous Passion when Jesus is taken down from the cross.

    The Blessed Virgin, the holy women, the men—all were kneeling round the body of Jesus to take their farewell of it, when a most touching miracle took place before them. The sacred body of Jesus, with all its Wounds, appeared imprinted upon the cloth which covered it, as though he had been pleased to reward  their love, and leave them a portrait of himself through all the veils with which he was enwrapped. With tears they embraced the adorable body, and then reverently kissed the wonderful impression which it had left. Their astonishment increased when, on lifting up the sheet, they saw that all the binds which surrounded the body had remained white as before, and that the upper cloth alone had been marked in this wonderful manner.  It was not a mark made by the bleeding wounds, since the whole body was wrapped up and covered with Sweet spices, but it was a supernatural portrait, bearing testimony to the divine creative power ever abiding in the body of Jesus. I have seen many things relative to the subsequent history of this piece of linen, but I could not describe them coherently. After the resurrection it remained in the possession of the friends of Jesus, but fell twice in the hands of the Jews, and later was honoured in several different places. I have seen it in a city of Asia, in the possession of some Christians Who were not Catholics. I have forgotten the name of the town, which is situated in a province near the country of the Three Kings.

Jesus’ body is then transported to the site of  the tomb on a “leathern hand-barrow” carried by four men.   This particular book ends with the resurrection, which again makes fascinating reading.

Here is an account of Sister Emmerich’s life.  

And another commentary:

 It is not difficult to understand, therefore, that for some eighteen years following Sister Emmerich’s death, until the day of his own, the Pilgrim (the familiar name by which she called Brentano) engaged in repeated and never wholly successful attempts to organize the immense mass of writing he had preserved. Most of the material was never published by him. During his lifetime he brought out only The Bitter Passion (also known as The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ), based largely on a special series of visions witnessed during Lent, 1823. At the time of his death he had nearly completed The Life of Mary (also known as The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary), a work compiled from various visions, mainly of liturgical origin, which was put into final form and posthumously published by his relatives. The longest part of his record, the day-by-day cycle of the three years of the public life of Christ, was beyond his power to compose and he referred to it, significantly, as his “lockjaw.” It is known that he remained dissatisfied with the final arrangement. As his life drew to a close he sought, in vain, to find someone qualified to complete the project, to whom he could impart the full knowledge of the problems as he alone knew them. After his death the manuscripts passed into other hands and in 1858/60 the three-volume Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was published for the first time at Regensburg by the Very Rev. Carl Erhard Schmöger, C.SS.R., in an edition based on the Journals as Brentano had left them. This edition has remained the standard and the source for the many subsequent editions and translations, including the present English version.   (Source)