We live in a modem world, wishing to think only with feelings; that is to say a world using its heart before using its intelligence. Because of this tendency, mixing together piety, sugary Angelism, and virtue, out of curiosity and love for novelties, many of our faithful are reading, sometimes over and over, "The Mystical City of God" (Maria d'Agreda), "The Book of the Visions" (Anne-Catherine Emmerich) and "The Poem of the Man-God" (Maria Valtorta). In 1988 these books were already considered by the one who was at that time Cardinal Ratzinger (a very modernist Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith), as an "overly romanticized version of the life of Jesus, and a complex work of childish fantasies, and historical and exegetical errors, all put in a subtly sensuous vain".
These parishioners claim they do not have the time to read the Catechism of the Council of Trent, but they easily make time to read the ten volumes of Maria Valtorta! Did not Our Lord warn us, "There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mat 24, 24)? It should be remembered that Saint Catherine of Bologne had been deceived for five years by false revelations and visions of Satan, who appeared to her crucified! Our Lord did not want for us to know everything about Him, but only what is contained in the Holy Scriptures and the works of the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church. The gift of Piety must not be separated from the gift of Knowledge: to pray, yes, but to pray with the spirit of the Church! This is why the Church did not allow the publication of a book without carefully examining it before granting the "Nihil obstat" (nothing wrong in it) and the "Imprimatur" (permission to print it).
Archbishop Lefebvre did not recommend these three books. "They represent Our Lord in a manner too concrete, with all the details of His life; it can be very dangerous not to show enough the face of God in this life of Our Lord, humanizing too much the mystery of the presence of God amongst us" (1986, during a retreat for Priests). The situation in some of our parishes became so bad that one of our Priests, Fr Herrbach, published in 1993 a book in French called "Some Visions on the Gospel", with a preface by Msgr. Tissier de Mallerais, Bishop of the Society of Saint Pius X, to warn our faithful about the dangers of the works of the three visionaries. I used this excellent book to write this letter.
Some parishioners may feel offended, but let us judge the situation, not with our feelings, but according to Catholic teachings.
"The Mystical City of God"
Maria d'Agreda was the Superior of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Agreda, Spain, where she died in 1665. Her book, finished in 1660, had only been published after her death in 1670. Later, her cause for beatification was introduced in Rome.
"The Mystical City of God" was condemned on June 26, 1681, by Pope Blessed Innocent XI. This condemnation was ratified and published by the Holy Office on 4 August, 1681. "All parts of the book are forbidden and condemned ... and it is not allowed to possess or print this book". Because of the great pressure coming from the Kings and the Franciscans of Spain, the decree of condemnation was suspended for Spain only, and therefore, the book of Maria d'Agreda is not on the Index of forbidden books, although still forbidden everywhere else.
On 12 March, 1771, Pope Clement XIV ordered perpetual silence on the cause for beatification of Maria d'Agreda because of her book.
Reasons for the condemnations
Let us give a few of the reasons for the condemnation of her book, "The Mystical City of God".
- Maria d'Agreda wrote in her book, "This book has God Himself for author; everything in it is divine and revealed by God. The book has obtained the solemn approbation of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity". But the Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Bible is the only book divinely revealed!
- In her book, she follows the philosophy of Duns Scot about the reasons for the mystery of the Incarnation, which goes against the opinion of Saint Thomas Aquinas. She went so far as to write, "Any man who will not believe what is written in my book will greatly displease, not the person who wrote it as a pure instrument, but the Blessed Virgin Mary herself." Doing so, Maria d'Agreda canonized as divinely inspired the particular doctrines of the Scotist school!
- Maria d'Agreda teaches that the body and soul of Our Lady had been carried to Heaven just after her birth by a throng of Angels, to be welcomed by the eternal Father. But the Catholic Church teaches that the gates of Heaven were closed to all men until the coming of Christ!
- She wrote that Our Lord asked to die even for the reproved people that is to say for those who died or will die in the state of mortal sin. But Christ, in His consequent will, died only for those who were united to Him through charity!
- According to Maria d'Agreda, the faith in Jesus Christ had not been completely established by the Apostles and the Holy Fathers, but only through her book in 1660!
In conclusion, let us say that the book of Maria d'Agreda is full of errors, and cannot come from God.
"The Book of the Visions"
Anne-Catherine Emmerich was born in Germany in 1774, and joined the Augustinian Sisters. In her convent she had many visions, and even received the stigmata of the Passion of Christ in 1812.
She is a true mystic, who received from God very special graces.
The book containing her visions was written by the poet Clement Brentano two years after her death. Therefore, many of the things in this book are coming from Brentano, and not from Anne-Catherine Emmerich herself. It must be said that Brentano never received from her the mission to give an account of her visions! Dom Gueranger, the great Abbot of Solesmes, supported Anne Catherine Emmerich because he was following the opinions of Duns Scot, opinions you can also find in the visions of the seer.
Let us list a few of the main errors contained in the book.
- Anne-Catherine Emmerich saw some elephants in Heaven!
- The souls of children are transmigrated from their fathers.
- The Blessed Mother had a virginal conception, born in a miraculous way from Saint Anne and Saint Joachim!
- Melchisedech was an angel, and Job was born before Abraham.
- The Ark of the Covenant contained the pure germ of the humanity of Adam, transmitted through the Patriarchs to the Blessed Mother. This is pure Gnosticism!
- Eve was not seduced by a serpent, but by a chameleon.
- The son of the widow of Naim, raised by Our Lord, was not dead, but only asleep!
- The dead can receive the grace of Baptism through the prayers of the living!
- Our Lord made a long trip to the Indies with the three Kings, to the island of Cyprus, and to Egypt.
The visions of Anne-Catherine Emmerich, transcribed by Brentano contain so many errors that "the Book of the Visions" must be totally rejected.
"The Poem of the Man-God"
Maria Valtorta was born in Italy in 1897. A prolific writer, she wrote the ten volumes of the book "The Poem of the Man-God" from 1943 to 1947. She died in 1961, in a state of total mental illness.
Maria Valtorta claimed she received private revelations from God, and it was her confessor, Fr Migliorini, who gave to her the order to write down these messages supposedly from Heaven. This Priest claimed that Pope Pius XII said to him in February 1948, "Publish this work the way it is written: he who reads it will understand! We hear about so many visions and revelations. We do not say that they are all true, but we can say that some of them could be true." No proof is available for such a declaration. It seems very strange that a man as busy as was Pope Pius XII could have found the time to read 5400 pages of the ten volumes of private revelations written by an unknown bed-ridden woman, and could have led the reader to believe that personal private interpretation was permitted!
In February 1949 (a year after this supposed endorsement of Pope Pius XII), the Holy Office forbade permanently the publication of the work of Maria Valtorta. It is obvious that the Holy Office could not have condemned the books without the permission of the Pope.
In spite of this formal prohibition, the books were nevertheless published in Italian from 1956 to 1959. These books were therefore included in the catalogue of the Index (the list of the books forbidden by the Catholic Church) on 16 December, 1959. The text of this condemnation was published in the official Acts of the Vatican on 6 January 1960.
Following the permissive modem mentality, the Index of Forbidden Books was suppressed in 1966 by Pope Paul VI. This, however, does not mean that Catholics now have the right to read books which were previously forbidden due to the danger they posed by undermining morals and doctrine. A bad book remains dangerous today for the same reasons as when it was published for the first time. It has been said that Pope John-Paul II refused to receive the books of Maria Valtorta as a gift in 1979, and that Cardinal Ratzinger on 9 September, 1988, admitted that these books were still forbidden!
Reasons for the condemnations
It is not possible to cover all the errors of the book in a short letter like this, but let us provide a few examples of the foolishness contained in Maria Valtorta.
- "I, Mary, the Mother of God, bought back the woman through my divine maternity. I canceled the fault of our first parents". But it is Our Lord Who bought back all human beings after the original sin of Adam and Eve!
- Maria Valtorta claimed that Our Lady already had infused knowledge at the tender age of three. But in Saint Luke's Gospel (1:34), the Mother of God said to the Angel Gabriel after the Annunciation, "How shall this be done, because I know not man?" This shows that she did not know everything.
- Our Lord told the Apostles many times that Judas would betray Him. However at the Last Supper, they asked Him who the betrayer would be!
- The soul of the Blessed Mother was created before her conception (heresy of Origen).
- Saint Anne knew that her daughter was without the stain of the original sin.
- Our Lady had the beatific vision since her conception.
- The original sin was a sin of the flesh (Manichaean heresy), and the Tree of Life of the garden of Eden was only a symbolic tree.
- The relations between Our Lord and Saint John are very sensual, bordering on scandal. This sentimentalism can be found almost everywhere in the work of Maria Valtorta. She wants to feel the "sensible experience" of Jesus, which is a modernist tendency.
The virtue of Faith is a gift from God which works through our intellect, and not through our senses. The three books we have just studied encourage a dangerous sentimentalism, not the Catholic Faith, and therefore, must be rejected.
Truly yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother.
Father Jean-Luc Lafitte
Society of Saint Pius X