Blessed Anna Schaffer
October 15, 2012
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Blessed Anna Schaffer was a German lay Catholic who experienced visions during a life of pain caused by a workplace injury.
Born Feb. 18, 1882 into a devout Bavarian carpenter's family near Regensburg, Schaffer hoped to become a missionary and went to work at 13 to earn enough money to enter a religious order.
In June 1898 working at Landschut, she had her first vision, in which she was warned she would "endure long and painful suffering."
Ignoring it, Schaffer became a laundry maid at Stammham, where on Feb. 4, 1901, while attempting to reattach a loose pipe to a wall, she slipped and fell into a cauldron of boiling water and ash.
Only 18, she suffered incurable burns to her legs. She became bedridden after more than a year of hospitalization.
When her father died, the family home was taken over by a brother, and Schaffer and her mother lived in a rented room on a monthly disability pension.
She nevertheless received Communion daily from a priest and spiritual director, Father Karl Rieger, who testified at her funeral he had "never heard a complaint from her mouth."
In autumn 1910, already known for her holiness, Schaffer acquired the stigmata during visions of Jesus Christ and St Francis of Assisi.
Besides embroidering linens for churches and chapels, she exchanged countless letters with people seeking advice from as far away as the United States in what became known as her Briefapostolat, or apostolate of letters.
After a quarter-century of pain, Schaffer developed paralysis and intestinal cancer, and later sustained brain damage and loss of her voice after falling from her bed.
In her last letter, six days before her death on Oct. 5, 1925, she said her key task had been "to suffer for the holy Church and her pastors."
"Whenever I receive Holy Communion, I fervently pray to our beloved redeemer to grant me the most agonizing martyrdom and accept me as a little victim of reparation," Schaffer wrote.
In a website biography, the Regensburg Diocese said Schaffer had asked God to remove her stigmata "to suffer in secret and avoid sensationalism."
"After initially rebelling, Anna grew to recognize the will of God in the tough school of suffering and to consent to it joyously more and more," the biography said.
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