photo by Kris in Puerto Rico
A few years ago, my German friend sent me an article that she found detailing the visit of a Hindu holy man to a German mystic,Therese Neumann.She sent it because the mystic lived in Konnersreuth,in Bavaria, close to where my friend Hildegarde grew up.In school,she had learned all about Therese.The mystic died in 1962 and I found the article interesting but.......
In 1926, Therese received the stigmata which included bleeding from her side,hands and head where Christ's crown of thorns had rested.O.K.The bleeding happened every Friday as Therese experienced the Passion while in a trance. This is pretty extraordinary but saints ,including Francis ,have experienced this phenomenon.But to think of someone in this century experiencing this made me uneasy and a bit skeptical.I had a hard time with Therese but I did keep the article.
In February of this year, we sent flowers to John's sister on her 70th Birthday.Yesterday, we received a thank you note and a copy of a letter from John's brother who passed away over fifty years ago.He was in the F.B.I. in 1948 and was in Europe for a time.He wrote home to his parents about something that he had seen that impressed him deeply.On Good Friday, he and a group of Americans went to Konnersreuth to see Therese Neumann.
He said..."standing there watching her, I was awestruck.She sat up in bed ,looking for all the world just like a little old lady.She was clothed in a white robe,more like a sheet,which also ran about her head as a shawl...There were streams of blood coming from a wound in the palm of either hand and running up her arms.....the sheet about her head was also bloodstained from eight wounds in her head...she could not see or hear anyone.She seemed to be suffering great pain but yet ecstatically for the great blessing that she has, undoubtedly gives her great joy....it was a sight that I shall always treasure and remember."
How is it that something I was skeptical about is confirmed by a person who by all accounts was a devout and good man,John's older brother,in a letter wrtten in 1948?This letter would have meant nothing to me had I not already met this saint through my dear friend.
As a Catholic, I believe that saints exist in another place just as I believe my mother still exists.And it is my feeling that this saint has been"given" to me as a companion on this Lenten journey for a reason and in a way that I do not know.