Manners andCustoms of Westphalia at the Commencement of the Present Century.
The baptismalregister, St. James, Coesfeld, contains the following record: — " OnSeptember 8, 1774, was baptized Anne Catherine, daughter of Bernard Emmerichand Anne Hillers his wife, God-parents, Henry Hiining and Anne CatherineHeynick, nee Mertins."
The day oflittle Anne Catherine's baptism was also that of her birth. She was the fifthof nine children, six sons and three daughters.
Gerard, theyoungest brother, never married. He was still living in September, 1859, whenthe author visited the little hamlet of Flamske, near Coesfeld, the birthplaceof the subject of this biography.
Gerard hadlittle to say of his sister, excepting that she was of a remarkably sweetdisposition, that she had been a life long sufferer, and that he had often goneto see her at Diilmen after she became a religious.
"She wasso kind and affectionate to us," he added, "that it was a greatpleasure to her family to visit her."
The venerablepastor of the church of St. James, Rev. F. Hilswitte, was also alive andremembered having seen Anne Catherine for the last time in 1812. He- testifiedto her reputation for piety, but the particulars of her life were unknown tohim.
"Theperiod in which she lived," he remarked, " was not capable of eitherunderstanding or appreciating such a case as hers, and few, even among theclergy, interested themselves in her;consequently, she was more quicklyforgotten in her native place than elsewhere. In distant cities she was betterknown through Bishop Wittmann and Clement Brentano. The latter, after hisvisits to Dulmen, excited public interest in her by the account of the marvelshe had seen."
Long beforeher death, Sister Emmerich had uttered the following words : " What thePilgrim gleans, he will bear away, far, far away, for there is no dispositionto make use of it here; but it will bring forth fruit in other lands, whenceits effects will return and be felt even here."
The humbleabode in which she was born was yet standing, in 1859, in the same condition inwhich Clement Brentano had found it forty years before. It was a little oldfarm-house, or rather a barn in which man and beast dwelt peaceably together.
The worm-eatendoor opened into a small room whose only floor was the well-trodden ground ;this was the common room of the family.
To the leftwere spaces cut off from the main room by rough board partitions, and strewnwith the hay and grain scattered by the cattle ; these were the sleepingapartments.
The chimney-place,rude and primitive, consisted of a stone slab or iron plate cemented into theground ; on it glowed the fire, and above it hung the kettle from an iron bar.
The smoke,after depositing its soot upon the rough beams and dingy chairs and table, thehandiwork of preceding generations, escaped as best it could by any chink inthe roof or walls.
The rest ofthe dwelling was given up to the cows, which were separated from their ownersonly by a few stakes driven into the ground.
At a laterperiod a small addition of two bedrooms was annexed to the principal building.In front of this humble abode stood some aged oaks, beneath whose shade thewonderful little girl of whom we write often sported with her villagecompanions.
ClementBrentano paid a visit to Sister Emmerich's birthplace during her lifetime. Andthe following are his impressions of the customs of that period in the countryof Munster :
I went threeleagues from Diilmen to the hamlet of Flamske,to visit Anne Catherine's earlyhome, then occupied by her eldest brother Bernard and his family. Diilmenbelongs to the parish of St. James, Coesfeld, a city about half a leaguedistant.
I longed tosee the place of her birth, the cradle of her infancy. I found it an old barn,with mud walls and a moss-covered thatched roof.
The ricketydoor stood invitingly open, and I entered to find myself in a cloud of smoke throughwhich I could scarcely distinguish a step ahead. A look of surprise fromBernard Emmerich and his wife greeted my unceremonious entrance.
But when Iintroduced myself as the bearer of messages and compliments from their sister,they received me most cordially, and the little ones, shy at first, cameforward on a sign from their father and kissed their tiny hands in welcome.
I saw no otherroom than the one I had entered, a corner of which was partly partitioned off.In it stood a rude loom belonging to one of the brothers. Several old chestsblackened by smoke displayed when opened the novel sight of straw bedsfurnished with feather pillows.
Opposite thisroom was the still more novel spectacle of the cows behind their stacks.
"Thefurniture was scanty enough. Cooking utensils garnished the walls and from therafters hung straw, hay, and tow black with soot.
Here in thisdingy atmosphere, in this disorder and poverty, was born and reared thatfavored child, so pure, so enlightened, so surpassingly rich in intellectualgifts ; here was her baptismal innocence preserved untarnished. It recalled tomy mind our Saviour's crib at Bethlehem.
From a woodenblock before the door, which served as a table, I ate a slice of brown breadand drank a mug of milk whilst conversing with Bernard Emmerich, whose genuinepiety shone forth in his words, his favorite expression being, ' With God'shelp !'
"An olddiscolored picture of Our Lady hung over the spot in which Anne Catherine usedto take her rest.
With theowner's leave I replaced it by another, and took it with me along with someacorns from the old oaks before the door as a memento of my visit.
On biddingfarewell to these good people, they told me that I was the first who had evertaken so much interest in their sister's birthplace.
Thence I wenthalf a league further to Coesfeld, to visit the church in which she hadreceived the marks of the Crown of Thorns.
It was here,in the parish church of St. James, that she had received holy Baptism,September 8, 1774, which day, the Feast of Mary's Nativity, was also that ofher birth . My visit to this beautiful old church filled me with the sweetestimpressions.
From it I wentto see the old pastor, Father Hartbaum, whom I found still quite vigorous,despite his years.
He did notseem fully to appreciate his former parishioner, and he expressed surprise atthe interest manifested in her.
He struck meas one of those who would willingly see things remain always the same, who carenot to deviate from their daily routine, whose horizon extends not beyond therange of their own intellectual vision.
I next visitedSt. Lambert's, the principal church, wherein is preserved the miraculouscrucifix, known as the 'Crucifix of Coesfeld,' before which when a child SisterEmmerich used to spend long hours in fervent prayer, receiving in returnabundant graces.
It is forkedlike that which, at a later period, was imprinted upon her own breast.
Tradition saysit was brought from Palestine in the eighth century.
Here it wasthat Sister Emmerich received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
I afterwardwent to the Jesuit church in which, at the age of twenty-four, probably in1798, the Crown of Thorns was laid upon her brow by her Heavenly Spouse, as sheprayed toward mid-day before a crucifix in the organ-loft.
It saddened meto think that this beautiful church had partly fallen into Protestant handssince the Count von Salm's residence here.
The so-calledcommunion-table stood in front of that altar from whose tabernacle had issuedthe apparition of the Saviour to Anne Catherine ; the feast of the Reformation,that triumph of apostasy, is here annually announced from the pulpit ; and thegrand old organ, near which she prayed at the time of the miraculous favor, hasbeen replaced by one of more recent make.
At present,the church is used by both Catholics and Protestants, and I was told that theCountess von Salm, as if she were sole mistress, had tried to deprive theformer of their right to worship in it. She also arrogated to herself theprivilege of quartering her people on the Capuchins whose monastery is not faroff, and she loudly complained of the annoyance caused her by the sound of themorning bells calling the faithful to Holy Mass.
Thischurch, capable of seating two thousand, is one of the most devotional I haveever seen.
The wholeinterior is in perfect harmony, the carving of the altar, the communion rail,and the furniture most elegant and elaborate.
Some mightwish it a little more lofty, but that is its only defect. The beautiful floorlooks as if covered with a rich carpet.
As soon asit shall have passed entirely into the hands of the Protestants, they willdestroy its richly carved altars as too suggestive, perhaps, of the honor oncepaid the God of the Eucharist.
"Coesfeldwas little Anne Catherine's Jerusalem. Here she daily visited her God in theBlessed Sacrament.
Thither shelovingly turned whilst working in the fields, tending her flocks, or praying bynight in the open air; and from Coesfeld it was that the bells of the littleconvent of the Annonciades struck upon her ear, awakening in her soul a longingdesire for the cloistered life.
This sameconvent now stands dismantled and deserted. "
For severalyears, Sister Emmerich lived at Coesfeld with a pious mantua-maker, and forthree more in a choirmaster's family with a view of learning to play on theorgan, hoping by this means to facilitate her entrance into some convent ;finally, it was from Coesfeld that she went to accomplish her pious design.
It is notsurprising, therefore, that she took a lively interest in the little city, andthat she was deeply afflicted at the decay of Catholic piety, even among itsclergy, owing to Protestant influence and the diffusion of the so-calledenlightenment of the age.
Piety andmorality still prevail, however, throughout the country of Munster, preservedamong the youth less by the education they receive than by the frequent use ofthe Sacraments.
The HolyScriptures are not, indeed, found in every family, nor are quotations from themcommon, but the practice of their sacred lessons is plainly visible.
Instructionfor the people adapted to the wants of the age, began with the presentgeneration, the teachers both male and female having been formed in the schoolof Dean Overberg , who is everywhere honored as a saint and the common fatherof all.
His praisesare heard on all sides and his zeal and simplicity shed a blessing over all hisundertakings ; yet none dare affirm that his efforts have rendered them morepious and faithful than their forefathers.
ThoughSister Emmerich entertained the greatest veneration for him, yet she oftendeclared her opinion, corroborated by her visions, that the poor old villageschoolmasters, sometimes obliged to follow also the trade of tailoring to gaina sufficient support, received more abundant helps from God as piousinstructors of youth than their modern co-laborers puffed up by successfulexaminations.
Every workbears its own fruit. When the teacher takes complacency in his labors, when hefinds therein a certain personal gratification, he consumes, so to say, thebest part of the blessing accorded him for his task.
This is thecase nowadays when teachers say : ' We teach well ; ' pupils, 'We learn well ;'and parents glory in their children's talent and education, whilst in all isengendered a seeking for empty show.
Our peopledo, indeed, read and write much better than their forefathers ; but with theirimprovement the devil daily sows bad seed in the way which springs up to chokepiety and virtue.
I feelconvinced that the real source of the morality and piety still to be seen amongthe people of Munster lies more in their firm adherence to the traditions offaith and the customs of their religious forefathers, in the great respect forthe priest and his benediction, in their fidelity to the Sacraments, than inthe rapid spread of modern education.
Early onemorning, as I was passing along by a hedge, I heard a child's voice.
I drew nearsoftly and peeping over I saw a ragged little girl about seven years olddriving a flock of geese before her, a willow switch in her hand.
With aninimitable accent of piety and innocence she exclaimed :
Goodmorning, dear Lord God !
Praise beto Jesus Christ ! Good Father, who art in heaven ! Hail Mary, full of grace !
I want tobe good !
I want to bepious !
Dear saints ofparadise, dear angels, I want to be good !
I have anice little piece of bread to eat, and I thank you for it.
O watchover me !
Let not mygeese run into the wheat !
Let no badboy throw a stone and kill one !
Watch overme, for I want to be a good girl, dear Father in heaven !'
Doubtless,the innocent little one composed her prayer from some old family traditions,but our modern school-mistresses would scarcely tolerate it.
When Ireflect on the scanty education, the rusticity of many among the clergy ; whenI behold so little attention given to order and neatness in many of the sacrededifices, even in what directly appertains to the service of the altar ;
when Irecall the fact, that the people ail speak the Low German, whilst sermons andinstructions have been for years delivered in the language of upper Germany ;and when, notwithstanding, I daily perceive the purity, the piety, the goodsense of even the humblest of these people, their aptitude for the truths ofreligion, I am forced to exclaim that the grace of Our Lord is more active inHis living members than in speech or in writing.
It dwellswith creative force in the divine Sacraments, perpetuated from age to age bythe marvellous power attached to the sacerdotal consecration.
The Churchherself is there with her benediction, her salutary influence, her authority,and her miracles. She has existed from all ages and she will continue exist tothe end, for she is the work of God Himself, and all that believe in Jesus andHis Church share in her sublime gifts.
Thepopulation of this district is scattered over a wide extent of country, a factwhich greatly contributes to the preservation of morality, as well as ofnational character ; for the people do not mutually entice one another to sinas happens in crowded cities.
Eachfamily, of which the cattle always form a part, has a house surrounded by clusteringoaks which shelter it from the storms, and broad fields enclosed by hedges orembankments. Distant about a quarter of a league is another homestead similarin its surroundings, though perhaps of greater or less size.
A certainnumber of these farms constitutes a hamlet, and several hamlets, a parish.Charming clumps of trees, verdant hedges, shady nooks lie scattered all around.As I journeyed from house to house through the green meadows, I could notrestrain the exclamation : What sweet scenes for childhood's innocent years !What solitary nooks !
What lovelybushes and luscious berries ! — The household of the peasants and indeed thatof the gentry also, in some degree, presents a character altogetherpatriarchal.
It centres,so to say, around the fire in which quarter the very best arrangements in thehouse are to be found.
The outerdoor opens directly into the kitchen, which serves also as the familysitting-room, in which is passed the greater part of their life.
The beds occupy recesses in the walls, the doorsof which are kept closed during the day.
Sometimesin the kitchen itself, but oftener in an adjoining area, are seen to the rightand left the cows and horses upon a ground floor, a few feet lower than that ofthe main building, their mangers being on a level with it ; in feeding theirheads often protrude beyond the stakes of their enclosure into the family room.
A movableiron or wooden trough conducts water from the pump to the huge kettle over thefire, in which the food is prepared. In one house I saw a child turning roundand round in a hole cut in one end of a board, the other being fastened to apost by a transverse rod — a primitive arrangement to prevent the little one'sfalling into the fire.
At thefurther end of the apartment, shut off by a gate, is a large open space inwhich the wheat is threshed or the flax hatchelled ; overhead are stored hay,straw, and grain.
The goodwife can attend to her culinary duties at the fireplace, and at the same timecommand a view of the whole establishment.
The narrowwindow panes are adorned with pictures of events of olden times, pictures ofthe saints, of heraldry, and other devices. Goffine's 'Familiar Instructions,'Overberg's Catechism, and a volume of sacred history are either displayed toadvantage on a wooden shelf, or carefully stowed away in a chest with theSunday clothes, to which a couple of mellow apples are added for the sake oftheir sweet perfume.
The cottageis guarded without by stately old oaks, through whose boughs the wintry windswhistle unheeded by the pious, simple-hearted occupants within, who are everready to extend hospitality to the wayfaring stranger.
A degree ofwhat one might call elegance is noticeable in the household arrangements of therich.
In summeran enormous bouquet replaces the blazing fire on the hearth, and littleporcelain plates are ranged around as an additional ornament.Among the poor allis plainer and simpler, yet stamped with the seal of domestic life and localcustom.
One featurein their homes, which is however gradually dying out, is the absence of achimney. In rainy weather the smoke fills the dwelling like a densevapor."
Such isClement Brentano's account of his visit to Flamske and the surroundingdistrict.