While today is the feast day of St. Bartholomew, I would like to honor that by talking a little bit about a Carmelite Blessed who was named after him – Blessed Anne.
Anne was born in a small town near the old Castille in Spain and received great friendship with the Lord from a very young age. When she was old enough her parents sent her to the fields to tend the flocks and it was there she began her communion with the Lord. Recollected in the greatness of God she would be in constant prayer admiring His great nature and the splendor of His created Earth. She was in such great love with God that at the age of 7, she had declared “because I fear to commit sin, and would rather die.”
Anne’s parents died when she was not yet of age and so she and her older siblings managed their little farm as best they could. Her brothers had grown anxious to marry her off, but she was determined not to settle for anything less than her beloved Jesus. She fell ill and this was probably because she was so worried they would force her into marriage, but also because she had been accosted by a demonic barrage. Masses were offered for her but she found no relief.
It was near the feast of Saint Bartholomew and there was a holy little hermitage dedicated to him near their village. People had great devotion to Bartholomew in this area and she begged to go on a pilgrimage to this place and make a novena. Her family was to accompany her to the hermitage and she barely made it there. In fact, she collapsed in a paralysis just before entering the chapel. It seemed all was lost, but then she was carried into the sanctuary. At that moment, all malady which held her in its grip left her.
Eventually, through more trials and battles with the evil one, Anne was able to join the Carmelites under the reform of their Holy Mother, Teresa of Avila. Teresa quickly recognized the great humility and favored prayer life enjoyed by Anne and the Saint took her to be her constant companion.
The story of Anne of Bartholomew continues on for her life was filled with adventure for the Lord. Taking care of Holy Mother Teresa and holding her during her final breathes on earth and then founding new monasteries herself in France and Belgium. Her story is beautiful. But let me give you some of Anne’s words as she was about to enter the novitiate at the Carmel of St. Joseph, Saint Teresa’s first reformed Carmel. The passage come from her Autobiography which was translated from French…
“Scarcely had I passed a few days in the Monastery of t. Joseph than it pleased our Lord to hid Himself from me and leave me in darkness. My desolation was great. I said to this Adorable Master: “how is this? Why have you abandoned me? If I did not know you, I would think you had deceived me, and if I had known you would go away I would not have come to the monastery.”
This abandonment lasted ruing the entire year of novitiate. At the end of the year I entered one day the hermitage of Christ at the Pillar to pray. Scarcely had I knelt down than I became supernaturally recollected, and our Lord appeared to me fastened to the cross. The first words He addressed to me were in reply to a desire I had to know whether the thirst He experienced on the cross was a natural thirst. he said to me: “my thirst was only a thirst for souls. From henceforth you must apply yourself to the consideration of this truth, and you must walk in a different path from that you have followed until now.” As if He has said to me, “child, no longer seek Me.” He then caused me to see all virtues in their perfection; they were exquisitely beautiful. I was the more impressed when I realized how far I was from their beauty and perfection. After having favored me with this light, the Divine Master disappeared, leaving my heart deeply wounded with His love, as well as by seeing Him on the cross so deeply wounded with the love of souls. This grace remained so indelibly impressed in my souls that it was with me day and night; my heart was with my Adorable Master, and my Adorable Master was in my heart; this was my usual state. Wherever I might be I experienced a zeal beyond expression for the salvation of souls and for the acquisition of those virtues that the Divine Master had shown me in the vision I have just related. He told me that it was by the way of the cross I would acquire them.”
Images below from the Carmel of Antwerp.