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Apostolate of Suffering and Reparation Was Call Given to Bl. Anna Schaffer, German Laywoman

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Descriptive Title

Biography of Bl. Anna Schaffer


A short biography of Blessed Anna Schaffer, who was beatified on March 7, 1999.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano



Publisher & Date

Vatican, March 10, 1999

Apostolate of Suffering and Reparation
Was Call given to Bl. Anna Schaffer, German Laywoman

Bl. Anna Schaffer was born on 18 February 1882 in the parish of Mindelstetten, between Regensburg and Ingolstadt in the heart of Bavaria. A quiet, reserved child, she learned piety and the love of God from her mother, who raised her to be a good Christian. After making her First Communion, she offered herself to the Lord. Wishing to enter an order of missionary sisters, after finishing school she tried to earn the necessary dowry in various places between Regensburg and Landshut.

Here, in June 1898, Anna heard Jesus' call, which would be decisive for the rest of her life: she would endure long and painful suffering. She left her job in great haste, but on 4 February 1901, at the forester's lodge in Stammham, her time of suffering began. That day, the stovepipe over the laundry boiler had become detached from the wall, but in trying to fix it, Anna unfortunately slipped into a vat of boiling lye, scalding both legs to above the knees.

Despite intensive treatment, the doctors were unable to heal her injuries. After she was released from hospital as an invalid in May 1902, her condition continued to worsen, confining her completely to bed. To her painful infirmity was added extreme poverty. After futile attempts at rebellion, Anna learned to recognize God's will in this harsh school of suffering and to accept it with ever greater joy. In weakness and poverty she heard the loving call of the Crucified One to become like him. This was her mission in life and its fulfilment. She generously decided to offer her life and sufferings to God. Every day she received Holy Communion from her wise spiritual guide and parish priest, Fr Karl Rieger.

In the autumn of 1910 some extraordinary things happened. In visions, which she called "dreams", Anna first saw St Francis, then the Redeemer, who was ready to accept her sacrifice of reparation. From that time, and few people knew it, she bore the wounds of Christ. Later, in order to suffer in secret and to avoid any sensationalism, she asked the Lord to remove the visible stigmata. She was now ready to accept even greater sufferings. At the same time, Anna intensified her spiritual apostolate, promising her intercessory prayer and offering consolation in word or letter to all who turned to her.

On 25 April 1923, Anna was permitted to live the events of Good Friday: her condition considerably worsened. Her legs became completely paralyzed; this was followed by painful cramps due to a stiffening of the spinal cord and, finally, by cancer of the rectum. But she was able to combine an active apostolate (she wrote countless letters to the needy and to those who sought her advice; she gladly did embroidery for churches and chapels) with one of prayer, sacrifice and suffering. In a letter of 29 January 1925 she wrote: "The most important thing for me is to pray and suffer for the holy Church and her Pastors. Whenever I receive Holy Communion, I fervently pray to our beloved Redeemer to continue protecting his holy Church and her Pastors, to grant me the most agonizing martyrdom and to accept me as a little victim of reparation".

After accidently falling out of bed five weeks before her death, Anna suffered a brain injury, causing her to lose her voice; thus she became even more a "silent victim". On 5 October 1925 she received her last Communion. As she was making the Sign of the Cross and saying "Jesus, I live in you", she returned to her Creator a soul purified by the fire of prolonged suffering.

© L'Osservatore Romano, Editorial and Management Offices, Via del Pellegrino, 00120, Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390.


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