Teresa Neumann

 

Life from the Body

 

            One of several sources of information on Teresa Neumann is the book Teresa Neumann of Konnersreuth by Johannes Steiner (Publishers Lúè, Bratislava, in 1995. Imprimatur: Msgr. Dominik Tóth).  The book describes Teresa Neumann's life on the basis of authentic accounts, diaries and documents. The author personally visited Teresa, her family, relatives and acquaintances.

 

            Teresa was born into a family of a poor tailor on April 8, 1898 in Konnersreuth as the first of eleven children.

            In 1918, while puting out a fire she disjointed her spine and gradually became paralysed. All attempts to cure her in a hospital failed. By mid-March 1919 she lost her sight completely. But she endured her plight patiently.

            Every day she prayed to for the beatification of Teresa of Lisieux. When this eventually came true, Teresa learnt this in her sleep as if someone touched her pillow. She woke up and suddenly regained sight. She could read again.

            But she remained paralysed and the spasms came to be even stronger. She could lie only on her back and had big wounds on her legs. The left leg became sore and this state lasted for half a year. A physician was worried that the leg would have to be amputated. This was in April 1925.

            On May 17, 1925 she suddenly sat up on her bed. Assisted by her relatives she made a few steps. She told her spiritual father - priest Naber that she had seen a miraculously beautiful light from which a voice addressed her and asked whether she wanted to be healed. She answered that to her all was good that came from the kind Lord who knew best what to do. Then the voice continued:

            "Today you may experience a small joy. You can sit up. Try, and I'm going to help you. You can walk, but you'll suffer a lot ... Suffering can save more souls than sermons."

            When she went to church again on June 11, a half of the village gathered on the local marketplace. At night on September 30, 1925, she saw the light again and the kind voice told her that she would be able to walk unassisted from then on. In the morning, to her parents' amazement, she went to church.

            On November 13, 1925, physician Dr. Seidl diagnosed that Teresa had an inflamed appendix which could burst. He ordered to take her immediately to a hospital in Waldsassen to be operated on. Priest Jozef Naber was fetched and witnessed that Teresa had brought a wish with her:

            "Saint Teresa, you can help me as you did many times before."

            Then the light appeared again and a voice said:

            "... to show the world that there exists a supernatural force, now they won't have to cut you. Get up, go to church immediately and thank God!"

            Teresa got up and went to church. Next day she was examined by Dr. Seidl who was astonished by her health state. But that was not all.

            In 1926 she received stigmata on her feet, hands, hip and face. The stigmata persisted till her death.

            Her physician and medical advisor Dr. Seidl of Waldsassen measured the wound on her hip - it was 31 by 3 cm. He regards the stigmata as genuine and argues that this extraordinary phenomenon cannot have a natural cause.

            Head doctor Dr. Lea Ritter of Regensburg: "The stigmata have nothing in common with hysteria. Teresa Neumann's stigmata are not natural. Court advisor Prof. Tsermak von Seyssenegg also agrees with this."

            Prelate Dr. Franz X. Mayr's expert opinion for bishop Michael Buchberger: "As for her stigmata, I must point out that the wounds which have remained almost unchanged for eleven years, which never get inflamed nor sore, and on the other hand resist all medicines cannot be medicainal wounds."

            Priest Gemelli, rector of the Catholic University in Milan said about Teresa's stigmata that they could have been caused neither by man, nor by suggestion, and that no tendency to hystery had been diagnosed. His Eminence cardinal Faulhaber's observations also indicated that the bleeding had not been caused by man.

            From September 1927 until her death, i.e. for 35 years, Teresa Neumann lived without any food or drink whatsoever! Her only food was everyday Holy Communion. Even before, from Christmas in 1926 she refused to take any food. In July 1927, Teresa (with her consent, at the request of Regensburg ordinariate) had been thoroughly examined by a medical commission and four nurses under oath for 15 days (a man can survive without food and drink for a maximum of 11 days). During the 15 days, Teresa was under strict supervision of two nurses at a time according to medical and church instructions.

            They measured her saliva and all excrements. They took photographs of the bleeding stigmata and examined the blood. The commission noted that she ate no food over the 15 days! In the beginning of the experiment her weight was 55 kg, after Friday sufferings her weight once fell to 51 kg and on another occasion to 52.5 kg, but in the end of the experiment she regained her original weight of 55 kg.

            A report by Dr. Franz X. Mayr, a university professor of chemistry, biology and geology, reads:

            "I know Teresa Neumann for almost 11 years ... Even unaware fraud can be ruled out. She is psychically healthy. Dr. Seidl, Dr. Ewald and the local diocese maintain that all four nurses who observed Teresa during the 1927 examination were under oath and fulfilled their tasks dutifully and without objections. Between July 14 and 18, 1927 she ate or drank no natural aliment, neither solid nor liquid. The experiment took place in the hottest season of the year. Under normal conditions she would have suffered from a torturing thirst. She would have languished rapidly on the first Friday due to a major loss of blood. Throughout the examination no manifestation of hunger or thirst was recorded. We may say without hesitation that one who survived 15 days without any food or drink in such a good condition does not rely on ordinary food and certainly is able to live completely without food."

            Dr. Richard Diener, a dentist in Eichstätt, states in his expert report that Teresa's mouth contains no common bacterial flora which is normally brought in along with food. He rules out the possibility that she could eat food with her mouth.

            Teresa Neumann several times floated in the air in a visionary-extatic state. The place and witnesses are known on two occasions. On the choir of a chapel of St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Mother Superior Benedicta von Spiegel saw that during the Incarnation Teresa hovered at a height of one step. The other case happened during a vision on August 15, 1938 - the Virgin Mary's Ascension feast in a convent in Tirschenreuth.

            In some years, Teresa Neumann had a hundred visions. Visions of the Passion, incidents from the Gospel and from the lives of apostles and saints, souls of the dead, downfalls of angels, Virgin Mary's Ascension. The visions enabled her to take part in major religious feasts, such as the opening of the Holy Year in Rome, declaring a dogma on the Virgin Mary's Ascension, feasts in Lourdes, Lisieux and Fatima.

            Teresa Neumann's ecstasies had some typical signs quite dissimilar from all other natural forms of trance, ecstasy, etc., says archbishop Teodorowitz.

            Priest Joseph Naber: "Without hesitation I would give my life to prove the authenticity of the extraordinary phenomena which I observed on Teresa Neumann."

            Teresa not only saw, but also heard the vision. When she remembered what she had been told, she could repeat it, even in languages which she had never learned. This was testified also by Dr. Joseph Parecatilla, cardinal of Ernakulama, India, who personally interviewed Teresa. After a vision, Teresa answered his question in Aramaic (language spoken by Christ) quoting Christ: "Aba beedak appareth" which stands for "Father, I entrust my soul into your hands!"

            She phonetically reproduced words of St. Teresa, called Short, which she had said in Portugal.

            During a vision of the Mother of God in Lourdes, she spoke nonstandard French. Prof. Wutz and Dr. Gerlich found out that her words correspond to a dialect spoken in the Pyrenees Mountains.

            During a Holy Communion, a host disappeared in Teresa's mouth without being swallowed as soon as it was put into her mouth. This event was witnessed by priest Naber, Viennese Jewish merchant Dr. Benno Karpeles and others.

            Teresa died on September 18, 1962.

            In 1982, the bishop of Regensburg issued a decree through which he assumed all responsibilities concerning the process of Teresa Neumann's beatification.

            Between 1926 and 1962, Teresa was called on by as many as several hundreds of people a day. She talked personally to about eight visitors a day. It is estimated that Teresa talked and gave consolation to a total of about 50,000 visitors. She attended Friday Calvary approximately 700 times. Hundreds of thousands of people watched solemnly, and partly shocked, her sufferings. The view of her bloody face and bleeding stigmata made many witnesses cry. Thereby she not only strengthened the faith and devotion of many existing Roman Catholics and Protestants, but also encouraged conversions. One of her converts was pharmacist Bruno Rotschild, a Jew, who was converted to Roman Catholicism and later was ordained priest.

            Dr. Fritz Gerlich, chief editor of a Munich newspaper, historian and a Christian of Protestant-Calvinist denomination, decided to reveal any fraud related to Teresa. He returned to Munich as a biblical Paul. His wife and four children followed suit and soon became Roman Catolicics.

            Viennese Jewish merchant Dr. Bruno Karpeles was baptized and his baptism mother was Teresa herself.

            A number of visitors came just out of curiosity, but on departure they visited a temple and accepted a sacrament. Archbishop of Regensburg Michael Buchberger says: "The visitors either got a hearing or consolation. Others found a faith and still others became more devout."

             When asked by priest Naber: "What do you actually live on?", Teresa replied simply: "On the Saviour."

            Diocese bishop cardinal Dr. Rudolf Graber highlighted the Eucharistic source of Teresa Neumann's life, and her Eucharistic devotion confirming Jesus' words that His Flesh is a true food and His Blood is a true drink. Hence Teresa's life makes us venerate and worship the Eucharistic Lord.

            The fact that for nearly 40 years she lived exclusively on the holy Eucharist, her intuitive recognition, a vision of Christ descending during the Incarnation, His mystical coming and preservation as bread in the body seem to be another piece of evidence of Christ's live presence in an Eucharist set in our doubting presence to encourage our devotion to a hidden divinity.