OCTOBER 5. anna Schäffer, WHO PASSED SLEEPLESS NIGHTS ON A BED-CROSS
Lived 1882 to 1925
Patron of the disabled, bedridden, and accident victims
When Anna was 16 years old, a vision of Christ (or, alternatively, his disembodied voice or an unnamed Saint) relayed that she was destined to be ever-suffering. At this time, to stave off the impending pain, she developed a devotion to the rosary.
At 19, Anna slipped and landed knee-deep in a cauldron of boiling lye while reattaching a stovepipe at the laundry where she worked. She was rushed to the hospital but nothing, not even the thirty surgeries that she endured, could remedy the painful burns. Anna spent the remainder of her days immobile and bedridden, cared for by her mother.
Anna never lost her optimism. With the aid of a local priest, she came to accept her infirmities as a call from God to imitate Christ Crucified. She passed sleepless nights.
Anna had "waking visions" that she referred to as "dreams." In dreams she received the grace of seeing her Guardian Angel, the Souls of Purgatory, as well as St. Francis. In one vision, a teen girl with icy hands greeted her. Anna asked, "Are you this cold because you're a spirit?" The girl said yes and told Anna that her family's negligence had trapped her in Purgatory. The family was under the impression that the icy girl was in the "beatific vision of God" and, as such, they'd stopped praying for the repose of her soul.
Ten years after her disfiguring accident, Anna bore the wounds of the stigmata on her hands, feet, and side, which she attempted to hide at all costs. In order to suffer in secret and avoid becoming a celebrity, Anna asked the lord to remove the visible signs of her stigmata. Christ complied, but she continued to feel the anguish of the wounds for the rest of her days. Anna is quoted as saying: "I fervently pray to our beloved Redeemer to continue [ . . . ] to grant me the most agonizing martyrdom and to accept me as a little victim." She called her sickroom a workshop of suffering or her bed-cross.
THREE KEYS TO HEAVEN
Anna said: "I have three keys to heaven. The biggest is made out of pig iron and is heavy—it is my suffering. The second is the sewing needle, and the third is the penholder. With these different keys, I strive each day to open the door to Heaven. Each of them must be decorated with three little crosses, which are prayer, sacrifice, and selflessness."
Another of Anna's gifts was to bilocate. Witnesses attested to seeing her ministering to the poor and sick in distant locales although she was incapable of leaving her sick bed.
Anna wrote her thoughts in 12 notebooks, as well as at least 183 letters and notes. Her book is called Thoughts and Memories of My Life of Illness and My Longing for the Eternal Homeland.
Anna died after receiving communion and making her final Sign of the Cross. Despite withstanding a brain injury that caused her to lose her voice, Anna's final words were either "Jesus, I love you" or "Jesus, I live in you."