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 liquid—three 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.