Newly Beatified Mystic Made Reference To Danger Posed By So-Called Illuminati
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich -- beatified just over a week ago by Pope John Paul II -- once expressed concern about a group of "illuminati" who she said had infiltrated and were wreaking havoc in the Church.
It is unclear whether Blessed Emmerich, who was beatified on October 10 and whose revelations largely inspired imagery in the recent blockbuster movie about Christ's Passion, was referring to an actual cabal intent on world dominance as the expression "illuminati" is often used by conspiracy buffs, or evangelicals and false visionaries in the style of what was known in her time as "mesmerism."
The revelation is pertinent at a time when those who fret about global conspiracies warn of international governance, global courts, world religions, a new world order, and microchip tracking of citizens.
At the center of their concern has often been a legendary group of secretive businessmen and other prominent citizenry who practice arcane rituals and allegedly control entire governments through the sway of banking and other aspects of finance.
How this may relate to other ideas of the "illuminati," if it relates at all, will remain a mystery.
The fear of such "illuminati" is widespread among both conservative Catholics and -- ironically -- evangelical Protestant groups, while denounced by many scholars as an exercise in paranoia.
"The Illuminati are elite men, those on the top, who control the International Bankers to control, for evil purposes, the entire world," notes one website. "Their agentur are bred, educated, and trained to be placed behind the scenes at all levels of government. As experts and advisers, they mold government policy so as to further the secret plans of their masters. They lure people away from God by offering them money, the world, the flesh, and the devil. This satanic plot was launched back in the 1760's when it first came into existence under the name of the Illuminati. This Illuminati was organized by one Adam Weishaupt who became a convert to Catholicism and later a Catholic priest. Then, at the request of the Financiers, he defected from the Catholic Church, and organized the Illuminati which was financed by the International Bankers."
Some claim the concept of illuminati reaches even further back into history, but the date of 1760 is intriguing because it coincides with the life of Blessed Emmerich, a German mystic, seer, and stigmatic who was born in 1774.
Long before, "illuminati, which is Greek for illumination, was also a name given those who were baptized into Christianity. They were called "illuminated ones" or "illuminati" by the Ante-Nicene clergy, "on the assumption that those who were instructed for baptism in the Apostolic faith had an enlightened understanding," according to the Encarta 2000 Encyclopedia.
The Alumbrados, a mystical 16th-century Spanish sect, were among the societies that subsequently adopted the name Illuminati. Later, the title of illuminati was used by a secret society founded by Weishaupt that aimed to combat religious thinking and encourage rationalism. It has also been connected by some to Freemasonry.
It appears, however, that Emmerich was using "Illuminati" in the sense of Catholics who had parted ways with her beloved Rome.
Most likely the mystic was alluding in some way to the attempted infiltration of Catholicism by renegade priests and charismatic evangelicals who were rising on all sides during her time.
The fascinating passage is contained in the first of two thick volumes on her life, The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
"I always see these 'Illuminati' in a certain connection with the coming of antichrist," she is quoted as saying on page 405. "For, by their secrets, by their injustice, they forward the accomplishment of that mystery of iniquity."
On the previous page her biographer, Monsignor Carl E. Schmoger, refers to Emmerich's strong distaste for "the false mysticism of Boos and Gossner, their secret practices, and their adherents."
This is an apparent reference to John Gossner, a young Catholic priest and highly popular preacher in Germany late in the 1790s, and Martin Boos, his mentor. Boos was a German Catholic priest of the late 18th century who was forced into exile when he began to preach that the truth of salvation was not confined to the institution of the Church.
Both men were of an evangelical bent and apparently practiced what Emmerich feared was mesmerism -- or what is now known as psychic phenomena.
Blessed Emmerich was known to react with special fervor when anyone deviated from what she saw as the Church's authority. Upon mention of the prominent evangelicals and whether they were "enlightened," she harshly dismissed the notion and said that "such light as you speak of is of no account, but great is the grace of the true children of the Church! They alone, by their sincere and obedient confession of the only true Catholic faith, by their living communion with the visible Church, are on the right road to the Heavenly Jerusalem.
"As to those who presume to revolt against the Church and her spiritual authority, who pretend that they alone possess understanding, who call themselves 'the communion of saints,' they have no real light."
Emmerich sharply criticized the belief of those who seemed to claim that they "comprehend everything better than the heads of the Church, better than her holy Doctors." She noted their rejection of "good works" -- the reference to the evangelical notion that faith alone, not anything we do, brings salvation.
An associate, poet Clement Brentano -- who penned her revelations on Christ's Passion -- likewise came to criticize the "pride of intellect" that led some to believe they could attain "union with the Divinity apart from the painful road of penance, without the practice of Christian virtue, and with no other guide than that interior sentiment which they regard as an infallible sign of Christ's workings in the soul."
Emmerich's strong feelings are ironic at a time when the Pope has moved to closer relations with just such factions of Christianity and in light of the fact that her writings inspired the Passion movie -- which was embraced most fervidly by evangelicals.
The great German mystic herself was accused as practicing mesmerism as she tallied visions and prophecies from a sickbed, where she exhibited striking manifestations of the stigmata.
The fear of false mysticism related to the coincident rise of hypnotism. Scientists first became involved in hypnosis around 1770 when Dr. Franz Mesmer started investigating an effect he called "animal magnetism" or "mesmerism" (the latter name still remaining popular today.) The evolution of Mesmer's ideas led to development of hypnosis and practices that may be considered psychic phenomena. This time-table too agrees with that of Emmerich -- who apparently feared that certain alleged gifts of the spirit were mesmerism.
[resources: The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich]
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