Therese Neumann (8 or 9 April 1898 – 18 September 1962) was a German Catholic mystic and stigmatic.
She was born in the village of Konnersreuth in Bavaria, Germany, where she lived all her life. She was born into a large family with little income. She was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis.
On 10 March 1918, Therese Neumann was partially paralyzed after falling off a stool while attending to a fire in her uncle's barn. She sustained more falls and injuries during this period. After one particular fall she claimed to have lost much of her eyesight. In 1919, she was blinded completely. Bedridden, she reportedly developed horrible bed sores that sometimes exposed bone.
Therese reported that her eyesight was restored on 29 April 1923—the day Therese of Lisieux was beatified in Rome. Therese Neumann had been praying novenas in advance of this day. On 17 May 1925 Therese of Lisieux was fully canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Therese Neumann said the saint called to her and then cured her of her paralysis and bed sores.
On 7 November 1925 Neumann took to her bed again, and on 13 November was diagnosed with appendicitis. While prepared for surgery, she convulsed violently and stared at the ceiling finally saying, "Yes." She asked her family to take her to the church to pray immediately. She then announced that she had been cured of all traces of appendicitis.
Therese would later apparently develop the stigmata. She said that on 5 March 1926, the first Friday of Lent, a wound had appeared slightly above her heart, but that she had kept this secret. However, she did report a vision of Jesus at Mount Olivet with three Apostles.
On 12 March, she said she had another vision of Christ at Mt. Olivet, along with the crowning of thorns. She also claimed that the wound above her heart reappeared on this day, and she spoke to her sister about it. She claimed the wound also reappeared on Friday of the following week. By 26 March, she was claiming the same wound accompanied by a vision of Christ bearing the cross and a similar wound on her left hand. Blood was observed on her clothing, and she no longer attempted to keep the information to herself.
On Good Friday, Neumann according to her own testimony witnessed the entire Passion of Christ in her visions. She displayed wounds on her hands and feet accompanied by blood apparently coming from her eyes. Blood poured from the wounds, however -- according to Neumann-critic Josef Hanauer's book The Swindle of Konnersreuth -- onlookers did not actually see the bleeding in action, only the blood itself. However, according to author Albert Paul Schimberg, many persons observed her wounds bleeding and these witnesses were by no means limited to her immediate family and Fr. Josef Naber. By 3 p.m. that day, her parish priest Fr. Josef Naber was summoned to give Neumann the Last Rites. By 4 o'clock, her condition improved. The wounds on her feet and hands were observed when she was bathed.
On Easter Sunday, she claimed a vision of the resurrection of Christ. For several consecutive Fridays after that, she stated she was experiencing the Passion of Christ, apparently suffering in her own body along with all his historic agonies. She especially suffered the Passion on Good Friday each year.
By 5 November 1926, she displayed nine wounds on her head as well as wounds on her back and shoulders. According to several sources these wounds never healed or became infected and were found on her body at death.
From the years of 1923 until her death in 1962, Therese Neumann apparently consumed no food other than The Holy Eucharist, and claimed to have drunk no water from 1926 until her death.
In July 1927 a medical doctor and four Franciscan nurses kept a watch on her 24 hours a day for a two-week period. They confirmed that she had consumed nothing except for one consecrated sacred Host a day, and had suffered no ill effects, loss of weight, or dehydration. Montague Summers in the "Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism" speaks of her supernatural ability to survive for long periods without food or water. He supported this claim by citing an article about Therese Neumann in the 5 January 1940 "The Universe", which said the peasant woman refused German ration cards saying she had no need of food and drink.
During some of her Friday trances, she would utter phrases identified by witnesses (including priests) as ancient Aramaic. She was also said to have been able to understand Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
During the Third Reich, Therese Neumann was the target of ridicule and defamation, as the Nazis knew about her dissenting views and feared her growing popularity. She was observed by the Gestapo. She was never physically harmed, though her family home, parish church and priest's house all received direct attacks. She encouraged Fritz Gerlich to continue his opposition to Hitler and his national-socialist party. Gerlich was subsequently killed for his opposition.
Paramahansa Yogananda visited her and wrote about her case in his book Autobiography of a Yogi, published in 1946. He wrote an entire chapter, Therese Neumann, The Catholic Stigmatist of Bavaria, which reverently gives a vivid first-hand description of one of her Friday Passion trances.
Reinhard Lorenz from Meißen (R.L.M.), a medium from the New Salems Society, received a message about Neumann in 1929, allegedly coming from God the Father. It was published in "Das Wort", the periodical of the movement. It is said that the startling phenomenon of Konnersreuth is approved by God to be an impact that can't be argued away. Science will not be able to make out how the wonder happened and persist. Everyone should look into his heart for understanding and this will create various useful thoughts to understand the signs of the times. Because they consider it ungodly and amiss, some want to dictate to God what to do, but God does what he wants and will achieve his goal at last. Blessed is he, who not gets annoyed at God.
On 18 September 1962, Therese Neumann died from cardiac arrest, after having suffered from Angina pectoris for some time.
The Roman Catholic Church has neither confirmed nor denied the inedia (from which she suffered according to her critics), nor her stigmata.
The "Resl", as she is colloquially known, nonetheless attained a place in popular piety — a petition asking for her beatification was signed by 40,000 people. In 2005, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Bishop of Regensburg, formally opened the Vatican proceedings for her beatification.
Her task in life
According to Paramahansa Yogananda, Therese Neumann said during his visit: "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." His judgement was: "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." When Paramahansa Yogananda questions the notion that Therese Neumann had lived eating only a daily eucharistic wafer for the past 12 years, she states that she lives by God's light. The renowned yogi then suggests, "I see you realize that energy flows to your body from the ether, sun, and air." Therese then smiles and expresses her happiness that he understands the way she lives.
1. Life and Death of Therese Neumann, Mystic and Stigmatist, by Albert Vogl, ISBN 0-533-03379-9 (Vogl), p. 2
2. Vogl, 3
3. Vogl, p. 4
4. Vogl, p. 4,5
5. Vogl, pp. 5, 6
6. Vogl, p. 7
7. Hanauer, Josef, The Swindle of Konnersreuth, A Never-Ending Scandal. Online text, webpage found 2007-10-23.
8. Gish, Lillian. The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, p.302, Gish recounts her visit with Neumann
9. Vogl, p. 17
11. Vogl, pp. 48,49
12. Vogel, ibid., pp. 77.
13. New Salems Society, Das Wort, 1929, page 172
14. see Chapter 39 of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda