In the quiet village of Konnersreuth, nestled in the heart of Bavaria, we discover the extraordinary life of Therese Neumann, a Catholic mystic of profound significance. Therese's story is one of miraculous transformations and unwavering faith. Born in 1898, she faced a life-altering accident at the age of twenty, leaving her blind and paralyzed. Yet, through the power of prayer to St. Teresa, she miraculously regained her sight in 1923. Further divine interventions followed as her limbs were instantaneously healed.
What sets Therese apart is her profound spiritual discipline. Since 1923, she has abstained completely from food and drink, sustaining herself with the daily swallowing of a small consecrated wafer. In 1926, the sacred wounds of Christ, known as stigmata, manifested on her head, breast, hands, and feet. Every Friday thereafter, she relives the Passion of Christ, experiencing in her own body the agonies of the historic event.
Therese's linguistic abilities during her Friday trances are equally astonishing. While she typically knows only the simple German of her village, during these episodes, she utters phrases identified by scholars as ancient Aramaic. At times, she even speaks Hebrew or Greek, showcasing a divine connection beyond linguistic boundaries.
Under ecclesiastical permission, Therese has undergone scientific observation, even winning over skeptics like Dr. Fritz Gerlick, who initially sought to "expose the Catholic fraud" but ended up writing her biography with reverence.
Christo-Hindu mystic Paramahansa Yogananda arrived in Konnersreuth on July 16th, 1935 to visit the saint. The village, curious about his diverse group—comprising an American young man, an elderly lady, and an olive-hued Oriental like myself—welcomed them with lively interest.
Therese's cottage, however, stood silent and closed. Undeterred, Yogananda insisted on staying, determined to find a clue leading to Therese. Despite the rain and the villagers' lack of information, he persisted, trusting in divine guidance.
A stroke of providence came when an English-speaking man offered the group assistance, informing them that Therese often visited the home of Professor Wurz in Eichstatt, eighty miles away. The following day, their persistence led them to Therese's presence through the kind intercession of Dr. Wurz.
Meeting Therese was a transcendent experience for each member of the group. At thirty-seven, she exuded a childlike freshness and charm, her health and demeanor defying the fact that she consumed only a paper-thin wafer each morning. I their conversation, Yogananda marveled at her profound understanding of living by God's invisible light, a living demonstration of the truth proclaimed by Christ: "Man shall not live by bread alone."
Therese's weekly trances, where she undergoes the Passion of Christ, were awe-inspiring to witness. The wounds on her palms and hands, freshly healed, bore witness to her mystical communion. The physical and spiritual harmony she embodied left an indelible mark on all those fortunate enough to encounter her.
As I departed, Therese graciously invited Yogananda to witness her trance in Konnersreuth the following Friday, emphasizing the necessity of obtaining a permit from the bishop. This encounter affirmed that her extraordinary life was intended by God to reassure Christians of the historical authenticity of Jesus' life and crucifixion, as recorded in the New Testament.
In the broader context of Yogananda's spiritual journey, this encounter with Therese Neumann became a testament to the diverse manifestations of faith and the enduring connection between the Divine and humanity. It is in such encounters that the profound truths of our shared spiritual heritage come to life, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries - for the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Divine Truth, the one Trinity, the one God, is above race, culture, language, geography, appearance, style, dogma, and whatever other garbs make up this world. For Divine Truth is the truth behind truth - it is the Word, the Holy Spirit and Spirit is not matter. Our cathedrals, our ikons, our rituals, our missals and rosaries are all materials - they are but signs and symbols. It is only through God's true sacraments that the divine meets and gently kisses the materials.