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Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist
"Return to india. I have waited for you patiently for fifteen
years. Soon I shall swim out of the body and on to the Shining Abode.
voice sounded startlingly in my inner ear as I sat in meditation
at my Mt. Washington headquarters. Traversing ten thousand miles
in the twinkling of an eye, his message penetrated my being like
a flash of lightning.
Yes, I realized, now it is 1935; I have spent fifteen years in spreading
my guru's teachings in America. Now he recalls me.
afternoon I recounted my experience to a visiting disciple. His
spiritual development under Kriya Yoga was so remarkable
that I often called him "saint," remembering Babaji's
prophecy that America too would produce men and women of divine
realization through the ancient yogic path.
and a number of others generously insisted on making a donation
for my travels. The financial problem thus solved, I made arrangements
to sail, via Europe, for India. Busy weeks of preparations at Mount
Washington! In March, 1935 I had the Self-Realization Fellowship
chartered under the laws of the State of California as a non-profit
corporation. To this educational institution go all public donations
as well as the revenue from the sale of my books, magazine, written
courses, class tuition, and every other source of income.
be back," I told my students. "Never shall I forget America."
a farewell banquet given to me in Los Angeles by loving friends,
I looked long at their faces and thought gratefully, "Lord,
he who remembers Thee as the Sole Giver will never lack the sweetness
of friendship among mortals."
sailed from New York on June 9, 19351 in the Europa. Two students accompanied me: my secretary, Mr. C. Richard Wright,
and an elderly lady from Cincinnati, Miss Ettie Bletch. We enjoyed
the days of ocean peace, a welcome contrast to the past hurried
weeks. Our period of leisure was short-lived; the speed of modern
boats has some regrettable features!
Like any other
group of inquisitive tourists, we walked around the huge and ancient
city of London. The following day I was invited to address a large
meeting in Caxton Hall, at which I was introduced to the London
audience by Sir Francis Younghusband. Our party spent a pleasant
day as guests of Sir Harry Lauder at his estate in Scotland. We
soon crossed the English Channel to the continent, for I wanted
to make a special pilgrimage to Bavaria. This would be my only chance,
I felt, to visit the great Catholic mystic, Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth.
I had read an amazing account of Therese. Information given in the
article was as follows:
- (1) Therese,
born in 1898, had been injured in an accident at the age of twenty;
she became blind and paralyzed.
- (2) She miraculously
regained her sight in 1923 through prayers to St. Teresa, "The
Little Flower." Later Therese Neumann's limbs were instantaneously
- (3) From 1923
onward, Therese has abstained completely from food and drink, except
for the daily swallowing of one small consecrated wafer.
- (4) The stigmata,
or sacred wounds of Christ, appeared in 1926 on Therese's head,
breast, hands, and feet. On Friday of every week thereafter, she
has passed through the Passion of Christ, suffering in her own body
all his historic agonies.
- (5) Knowing
ordinarily only the simple German of her village, during her Friday
trances Therese utters phrases which scholars have identified as
ancient Aramaic. At appropriate times in her vision, she speaks
Hebrew or Greek.
By ecclesiastical permission, Therese has several times been under
close scientific observation. Dr. Fritz Gerlick, editor of a Protestant
German newspaper, went to Konnersreuth to "expose the Catholic
fraud," but ended up by reverently writing her biography.2
As always, whether
in East or West, I was eager to meet a saint. I rejoiced as our
little party entered, on July 16th, the quaint village of Konnersreuth.
The Bavarian peasants exhibited lively interest in our Ford automobile
(brought with us from America) and its assorted group --- an American
young man, an elderly lady, and an olive-hued Oriental with long
hair tucked under his coat collar.
cottage, clean and neat, with geraniums blooming by a primitive
well, was alas! silently closed. The neighbors, and even the village
postman who passed by, could give us no information. Rain began
to fall; my companions suggested that we leave.
I said stubbornly, "I will stay here until I find some clue
leading to Therese."
Two hours later
we were still sitting in our car amidst the dismal rain. "Lord,"
I sighed complainingly, "why didst Thou lead me here if she
man halted beside us, politely offering his aid.
know for certain where Therese is," he said, "but she
often visits at the home of Professor Wurz, a seminary master of
Eichstatt, eighty miles from here."
morning our party motored to the quiet village of Eichstatt, narrowly
lined with cobblestoned streets. Dr. Wurz greeted us cordially at
his home; "Yes, Therese is here." He sent her word of
the visitors. A messenger soon appeared with her reply.
the bishop has asked me to see no one without his permission, I
will receive the man of God from India."
at these words, I followed Dr. Wurz upstairs to the sitting room.
Therese entered immediately, radiating an aura of peace and joy.
She wore a black gown and spotless white head dress. Although her
age was thirty-seven at this time, she seemed much younger, possessing
indeed a childlike freshness and charm. Healthy, well-formed, rosy-cheeked,
and cheerful, this is the saint that does not eat!
me with a very gentle handshaking. We both beamed in silent communion,
each knowing the other to be a lover of God.
Dr. Wurz kindly
offered to serve as interpreter. As we seated ourselves, I noticed
that Therese was glancing at me with naive curiosity; evidently
Hindus had been rare in Bavaria.
you eat anything?" I wanted to hear the answer from her own
a consecrated rice-flour wafer, once every morning at six o'clock."
is the wafer?"
paper-thin, the size of a small coin." She added, "I take
it for sacramental reasons; if it is unconsecrated, I am unable
to swallow it."
you could not have lived on that, for twelve whole years?"
by God's light." How simple her reply, how Einsteinian!
you realize that energy flows to your body from the ether, sun,
A swift smile
broke over her face. "I am so happy to know you understand
how I live."
sacred life is a daily demonstration of the truth uttered by Christ:
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
out of the mouth of God.'"3
Again she showed
joy at my explanation. "It is indeed so. One of the reasons
I am here on earth today is to prove that man can live by God's
invisible light, and not by food only."
teach others how to live without food?"
a trifle shocked. "I cannot do that; God does not wish it."
As my gaze fell
on her strong, graceful hands, Therese showed me a little, square,
freshly healed wound on each of her palms. On the back of each hand,
she pointed out a smaller, crescent-shaped wound, freshly healed.
Each wound went straight through the hand. The sight brought to
my mind distinct recollection of the large square iron nails with
crescent-tipped ends, still used in the Orient, but which I do not
recall having seen in the West.
The saint told
me something of her weekly trances. "As a helpless onlooker,
I observe the whole Passion of Christ." Each week, from Thursday
midnight until Friday afternoon at one o'clock, her wounds open
and bleed; she loses ten pounds of her ordinary 121-pound weight.
Suffering intensely in her sympathetic love, Therese yet looks forward
joyously to these weekly visions of her Lord.
I realized at
once that her strange life is intended by God to reassure all Christians
of the historical authenticity of Jesus' life and crucifixion as
recorded in the New Testament, and to dramatically display the ever-living
bond between the Galilean Master and his devotees.
related some of his experiences with the saint.
of us, including Therese, often travel for days on sight-seeing
trips throughout Germany," he told me. "It is a striking
contrast --- while we have three meals a day, Therese eats nothing.
She remains as fresh as a rose, untouched by the fatigue which the
trips cause us. As we grow hungry and hunt for wayside inns, she
added some interesting physiological details: "Because Therese
takes no food, her stomach has shrunk. She has no excretions, but
her perspiration glands function; her skin is always soft and firm."
At the time
of parting, I expressed to Therese my desire to be present at her
come to Konnersreuth next Friday," she said graciously. "The
bishop will give you a permit. I am very happy you sought me out
hands gently, many times, and walked with our party to the gate.
Mr. Wright turned on the automobile radio; the saint examined it
with little enthusiastic chuckles. Such a large crowd of youngsters
gathered that Therese retreated into the house. We saw her at a
window, where she peered at us, childlike, waving her hand.
From a conversation
the next day with two of Therese's brothers, very kind and amiable,
we learned that the saint sleeps only one or two hours at night.
In spite of the many wounds in her body, she is active and full
of energy. She loves birds, looks after an aquarium of fish, and
works often in her garden. Her correspondence is large; Catholic
devotees write her for prayers and healing blessings. Many seekers
have been cured through her of serious diseases.
Ferdinand, about twenty-three, explained that Therese has the power,
through prayer, of working out on her own body the ailments of others.
The saint's abstinence from food dates from a time when she prayed
that the throat disease of a young man of her parish, then preparing
to enter holy orders, be transferred to her own throat.
afternoon our party drove to the home of the bishop, who looked
at my flowing locks with some surprise. He readily wrote out the
necessary permit. There was no fee; the rule made by the Church
is simply to protect Therese from the onrush of casual tourists,
who in previous years had flocked on Fridays by the thousands.
We arrived Friday
morning about nine-thirty in Konnersreuth. I noticed that Therese's
little cottage possesses a special glass-roofed section to afford
her plenty of light. We were glad to see the doors no longer closed,
but wide-open in hospitable cheer. There was a line of about twenty
visitors, armed with their permits. Many had come from great distances
to view the mystic trance.
passed my first test at the professor's house by her intuitive knowledge
that I wanted to see her for spiritual reasons, and not just to
satisfy a passing curiosity.
My second test
was connected with the fact that, just before I went upstairs to
her room, I put myself into a yogic trance state in order to be
one with her in telepathic and televisic rapport. I entered her
chamber, filled with visitors; she was lying in a white robe on
the bed. With Mr. Wright following closely behind me, I halted just
inside the threshold, awestruck at a strange and most frightful
thinly and continuously in an inch-wide stream from Therese's lower
eyelids. Her gaze was focused upward on the spiritual eye within
the central forehead. The cloth wrapped around her head was drenched
in blood from the stigmata wounds of the crown of thorns. The white
garment was redly splotched over her heart from the wound in her
side at the spot where Christ's body, long ages ago, had suffered
the final indignity of the soldier's spear-thrust.
were extended in a gesture maternal, pleading; her face wore an
expression both tortured and divine. She appeared thinner, changed
in many subtle as well as outward ways. Murmuring words in a foreign
tongue, she spoke with slightly quivering lips to persons visible
before her inner sight.
I was in attunement with her, I began to see the scenes of her vision.
She was watching Jesus as he carried the cross amidst the jeering
multitude. 4 Suddenly she lifted her head in consternation: the Lord had fallen
under the cruel weight. The vision disappeared. In the exhaustion
of fervid pity, Therese sank heavily against her pillow.
At this moment
I heard a loud thud behind me. Turning my head for a second, I saw
two men carrying out a prostrate body. But because I was coming
out of the deep superconscious state, I did not immediately recognize
the fallen person. Again I fixed my eyes on Therese's face, deathly
pale under the rivulets of blood, but now calm, radiating purity
and holiness. I glanced behind me later and saw Mr. Wright standing
with his hand against his cheek, from which blood was trickling.
I inquired anxiously, "were you the one who fell?"
fainted at the terrifying spectacle."
I said consolingly, "you are brave to return and look upon the sight again."
the patiently waiting line of pilgrims, Mr. Wright and I silently
bade farewell to Therese and left her sacred presence.5
following day our little group motored south, thankful that we were
not dependent on trains, but could stop the Ford wherever we
chose throughout the countryside. We enjoyed every minute of a tour
through Germany, Holland, France, and the Swiss Alps. In Italy we
made a special trip to Assisi to honor the apostle of humility,
St. Francis. The European tour ended in Greece, where we viewed
the Athenian temples, and saw the prison in which the gentle Socrates6 had drunk his
death potion. One is filled with admiration for the artistry with
which the Greeks have everywhere wrought their very fancies in alabaster.
We took ship
over the sunny Mediterranean, disembarking at Palestine. Wandering
day after day over the Holy Land, I was more than ever convinced
of the value of pilgrimage. The spirit of Christ is all-pervasive
in Palestine; I walked reverently by his side at Bethlehem, Gethsemane,
Calvary, the holy Mount of Olives, and by the River Jordan and the
Sea of Galilee.
Our little party
visited the Birth Manger, Joseph's carpenter shop, the tomb of Lazarus,
the house of Martha and Mary, the hall of the Last Supper. Antiquity
unfolded; scene by scene, I saw the divine drama that Christ once
played for the ages.
On to Egypt,
with its modern Cairo and ancient pyramids. Then a boat down the
narrow Red Sea, over the vasty Arabian Sea; lo, India!
The remarkable inclusion here of a complete date is due to the fact
that my secretary, Mr. Wright, kept a travel diary.
Back to text
Other books on her life are Therese Neumann: A Stigmatist of Our
Day, and Further Chronicles of Therese Neumann, both by Friedrich
Ritter von Lama (Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co.).
Back to text
Matthew 4:4. Man's body battery is not sustained by gross food (bread)
alone, but by the vibratory cosmic energy (word, or AUM). The invisible
power flows into the human body through the gate of the medulla
oblongata. This sixth bodily center is located at the back of the
neck at the top of the five spinal chakras (Sanskrit for "wheels"
or centers of radiating force). The medulla is the principal entrance
for the body's supply of universal life force (AUM), and is directly
connected with man's power of will, concentrated in the seventh
or Christ Consciousness center (Kutastha) in the third eye between
the eyebrows. Cosmic energy is then stored up in the brain as a
reservoir of infinite potentialities, poetically mentioned in the
Vedas as the "thousand-petaled lotus of light." The Bible
invariably refers to AUM as the "Holy Ghost" or invisible
life force which divinely upholds all creation. "What? know
ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in
you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"-I Corinthians
Back to text
During the hours preceding my arrival, Therese had already passed
through many visions of the closing days in Christ's life. Her entrancement
usually starts with scenes of the events which followed the Last
Supper. Her visions end with Jesus' death on the cross or, occasionally,
with his entombment.
Back to text
Therese has survived the Nazi persecution, and is still present
in Konnersreuth, according to 1945 American news dispatches from
Back to text
A passage in Eusebius relates an interesting encounter between Socrates
and a Hindu sage. The passage runs: "Aristoxenus, the musician,
tells the following story about the Indians. One of these men met
Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was the scope of his philosophy.
'An inquiry into human phenomena,' replied Socrates. At this the
Indian burst out laughing. 'How can a man inquire into human phenomena,'
he said, 'when he is ignorant of divine ones?'" The Aristoxenus
mentioned was a pupil of Aristotle, and a noted writer on harmonics.
His date is 330 B.C.
Back to text
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