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Neumann, Thérèse (1898-1962)

Neumann, Thérèse (1898-1962)

Bavarian peasant girl of Konnersreuth, whose stigmata, visions of the Passion of Christ, and other supernormal phenomena aroused worldwide attention. Neumann was born on April 8, 1898. As a young girl she was educated to have a religious mentality and aspired to become a missionary sister. Constitutionally she appeared robust.

In March 1918, while she aided in putting out a fire that had broken out in a neighboring house, she was stricken by a violent pain in the lumbar regions and collapsed. In the hospital of Waldsassen she was seized with terrible cramps, became blind, from time to time deaf, and paralyzed, first in both legs, then in the right and left cheeks. She spent miserable years at the home of her parents in constant suffering and religious meditation.

On April 29, 1923, the beatification day of St. Thérèse de Lisieux, she suddenly recovered her sight. On May 3, 1923, an ulcer between the toes of her left foot that might have caused the foot to be amputated was unaccountably healed after she put three rose leaves from the tomb of St. Thérèse in the bandage. On May 17, 1925, the canonization day of St. Thérèse, she saw a light and heard a voice that comforted her and assured her that she would be able to sit up and walk. She sat up immediately and afterward could walk about the room with the help of a stick and a supporting arm. On September 30 she dispensed with this support and went to church alone.

In December she was seized with violent intestinal pains. An urgent operation for appendicitis was recommended. She had a vision of St. Thérèse and heard a voice that told her to go to church and thank God. During the night the pus found a natural outlet and she was cured.

The stigmata appeared during Lent in 1926. An abscess developed in her ear, causing violent headaches. She saw in a vision Jesus in the Garden of Olives and felt a sudden stinging pain in the left side. A wound formed and bled abundantly. It was followed by stigmatic wounds in the hands and legs. There was no pus and no inflammation, but there was a fresh flow of blood every Friday. She also shed tears of blood and became, by Friday, almost blind.

With an awe-inspiring dramatic vividness she lived through the whole tragedy of the crucifixion; and in ancient Aramaic (which famous linguists established as such) she reproduced what were claimed to be the words of Christ and the vile swearing of the crowd as she clairaudiently heard them in that archaic language. Her pronunciation was always phonetic and many believed that she was in communication with someone who was a spectator of the events.

At Christmas in 1922, an abscess developed in Neumann's throat and neck. From this date until Christmas 1926 she abstained from solid food. She took a little liquidthree or four spoonfuls of coffee, tea, or fruit juice. After Christmas 1926, she only took a drop of water every morning to swallow the sacred host. From September 1927 until November 1928 she abstained even from this drop of water. Nevertheless she retained her normal weight. But four Roman Catholic sisters declared on oath that during the Friday ecstasies Neumann lost four pounds of weight, which she regained by the following Thursday without taking nourishment in any form. On August 15, 1927, Neumann had a vision of the death, burial, and ascension of Mary. She visualized Mary's tomb at Jerusalem and not at Ephesus, as usually assumed.

In the socialist and communist presses of Germany, Russia, and Austria, many libellous statements and quasiexposures were published about Neumann. Whenever they were followed by suits for libel the editors were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment and fine. Neumann was something of an embarrassment to the Nazis during World War II, and the authorities made difficulties for visitors to Konnersreuth, but immediately after the war, hundreds of thousands of American and other servicemen lined up to visit her. She often gave accurate information on distant events through out-of-the-body travel, and appears to have traveled astrally to the death chamber of Pope Pius XII.

Although pilgrims presented many gifts to her, she would not use these for her own comfort and, before her death September 18, 1962, she had contributed to the church a training seminary for priests, as well as a convent. During her lifetime over 133 books or papers were written about her.

(See also Catherine Emmerich ; Padre Pio )

Sources:

Danemarie, J. The Mystery of Stigmata from Catherine Emmerich to Theresa Neumann. N.p., 1934.

Fahsel, K. Konnersreuth: Le mystère des stigmatisés. N.p., 1933.

Graef, Hilda. The Case of Thérèse Neumann. Westminister, Md.: Newman Press, 1951.

Hynek, R. W. Konnersreuth: A Medical and Psychological Study of the Case of Teresa Neumann. N.p., 1932.

Messmer, Joseph, and Sigismund Waitz. A Visit to the Stimatized Seer: Therese Neumann. Chicago: John P. Dalriden, 1929.

Pater, Thomas. Miraculus Abstinence: A Study of the Extraordinary Mystical Phenomena. Washington, DC: Catholic University of Medica, 1946.

Siwek, Paul. The Riddle of Konnersreuth. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing, 1953.

Steiner, Johannes. Thérèse Neumann: A Portrait Based on Authentic Accounts, Journals, and Documents. Staten Island, N.Y.: Alba House, 1967.

Theodorowicz, Jose. Mystical Phenomena in the Life of Therese Neumann. St. Louis: B. Herder, 1940.

Von Lama, Frederick. Thérèsa Neumann, une stigmatisée de nos jours. N.p., 1928.

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