IV. The first "Vicarious Sufferings"

One event which took place or is alleged to have taken place in Konnersreuth during the lifetime of Therese Neumann an values special consideration. This was before any miracle had occurred: her first vicarious suffering. Eight authors write about it; one of them appealing to a report, which he received from minister Naber; the seven others rely on the appropriate description by Therese Neumann herself. No two reports correspond to one another completely; partially they differ substantially.

Gerlich describes the beginning and process of suffering in the year 1929: "Since Christmas 1922 - the time a throat suffering occurred, which we must look into closer now - she ate no more solid food. A high school student from the parish, who wanted to study theology, had got a throat suffering, which threatened to force him to abandon studying theology. Therefore Therese begged for being allowed to take over his throat suffering. Because, 'I am anyway useless for the rest of my life'. And so it did happen. The student could continue his studies; Therese Neumann however got a throat suffering, which still exists today. She still feels that her throat is sore and sometimes coughs blood. She told me that this is mostly the case in the morning, when also lumps of blood mixed with mucus appear. While gargeling shreds of blood appear. At that time, around Christmas 1922, she could for the time being not swallow a drop for twelve days. As result of his investigation of the throat Dr. Seidl stated that the muscles needed for swallowing were paralysed. Therese Neumann denies that there was a swelling of the throat and says she only could not swallow and that the throat was sore. On Epiphany 1923 she could for the first times again swallow the Holy Communion."

Therese Neumann claimed, that Dr. Seidl said, based on an investigation off the throat, that the muscles necessary for swallowing were paralysed. What did the physician really find? His diagnosis reads: "For the reported difficulty in swallowing no organic or neurological cause could be found." As the probable cause he named: "neurosis, nervous (hysterical) spasms in the throat or in the esophagus." He maintained that ultimate security about the diagnoses could not be reached "because no permission was given for a x-ray".

When did the throat suffering begin? Once Therese names 1922 Christmas, at another time she says "three days before the feast of St. Nikolaus". Another question: How did she hear about the illness of the high school student? Two correspondents, bishop Sebastian from Speyer and Anni Spiegl, state, the student, who was pressed hard by his situation, begged her for help personally; the other correspondents don't mention this.

According to Gerlich Dr. Seidl diagnosed paralysis of the muscles necessary for swallowing. Friedrich von Lama appeals to the minister of Konnersreuth and speaks of tuberculosis. Therese reported a short time before her death to her friend Anni Spiegl, that the student was healed of a tuberculosious throat suffering. However she told the bishop of Speyer that the young student was "rejected" by the bishop's office, "because his mother suffered form a throat problem". Archbishop Teodorowicz relates something similar; but he says the mother had already deceased from a throat problem. He writes "From what Therese told me about the case, it did not become quite clear to me, whether the candidate was already sick, or whether one feared that the illness was heritable" - Why then didn't the bishop inquire further?

Also there is no agreement over the question, when the suffering which was taken upon, disappeared. Therese gave differing accounts. In the letter, which she wrote to a girl friend on May 27 1923, one reads that the suffering started three days before the feast of St. Nikolaus. Then she continues: "This state became gradually better again." Therese Neumann assured repeatedly, that she was suddenly freed from her suffering from throat problems in the year 1931. During an inquiry in 1953 in Eichstätt by the bishop's commission she stated under oath: "Since Christmas 1922 until today (emphasises by the author) I have the largest complaints when swallowing."

A very important question remains: When did Therese Neumann for the first times speak of her, "vicarious" suffering? In her letter already mentioned from May 27 1923, she relates only a throat paralysis, which then disappeared gradually. Also when she talked to minister Leopold Witt, who published his book concerning the stigmatised in the year 1927, she says nothing about a vicarious suffering.

A further topic has to be clarified: Who was the healed one? As the mystification of the alleged throat suffering begins only in the year 1927 one only from now on hears about a candidate for the miracle. Therese Neumann herself revealed his name; she named a newly ordained priest of the course of 1927, which on July 12 1927 assisted a new priest from Konnersreuth with a solemn mass. Minister Naber trusting in what the stigmatised said spread the word of the "miraculous event" - without first asking the "healed". The chairman of the catholic priests association of Bavaria however did so; he inquired in a letter what comments he had on the miracle story. The, "healed", who now heard for the first time about the big luck he had, harshly rejected the affront of a miracle. How did the minister of Konnersreuth now react? He turned immediately to its oracle, to Therese Neumann: he asked her during her state of "elevated peace" and got the name of another candidate for the miracle! He now was Josef Siller from the parish Konnersreuth, who was still a theology student at that time. Siller had a weak voice, but nobody knew anything about a special suffering and of a miraculous assistance - and he himself the least. Characteristically until shortly before its ordination as a priest nobody including minister Naber asked him about the story. Siller became aware of the role which he was meant to fill in only when Gerlich in the year 1929 had published both his books concerning Therese Neumann. From then on it was clear that the "miracle" was intended to stick with him. Josef Siller was ordained as a priest on June 29 1931. A few days before the professor of theology Dr. Waldmann from Regensburg heard about the affair. He met and questioned him. For understandable reasons the soon to be ordained priest was extremely embarrassed by the whole thing ,,due to fear and shyness before ministers Naber and the Konnersreuth vicinity". Siller rejected as firmly as the first miracle candidate that a miracle had occurred on him. - So there were thus two theologians healed miraculously, without knowing of it; they were freed from an illness, from which they had not suffered; above all Therese Neumann named the second candidate while in the state of "elevated peace ", in a state, in which according to archbishop Teodorowicz the information given was without any mistakes!

On June 30 1931, the day Siller was ordained, Therese Neumann, according to some of the authors, was freed from her throat suffering which she had had for many years. On July 11931 minister Naber described the proceedings to the archbishop of Lemberg. The later got told that now Therese was able to again swallow a whole communion wafer. This became now again possible after many years, at the moment the freshly ordained priest spoke the words of transsubstituation in its first mass, exactly as she before, "while in her state of the peace" had announced to her vicinity.

Also the point in time, on which the throat suffering ended, has something miraculous to it. Josef Siller did not celebrate his first mass after ordination in his home parish Konnersreuth; understandably he wanted to avoid possible embarrassments and troubles. Consider only the reaction he would have to expect from Therese Neumann if he had denied the miracle which was assigned to him. Therefore he wanted to celebrate his first mass quietly and already at 6.30 o'clock in Obermünster in Regensburg. This date planned by Siller was well-known in Konnersreuth. Accordingly one expected that Therese would become healthy again at about seven o'clock. But this didn't happen. On the contrary her suffering worsened so that she hardly could speak any more. Not till 9.30 o'clock occurred what was expected. Now the pain in the throat suddenly stopped; Therese felt completely healthy; the formerly ill throat had healed completely. That occurred at the time, when Josef Siller far away in Regensburg spoke the transsubstituation words. Once again proof for the extraordinary gifts of the stigmatised from Konnersreuth! She herself already boasted of it on July 1 1931 in her discussion with archbishop Teodorowicz. She assured him that she knew nothing about "the circumstances of her recovery" she also had no knowledge of what she forecasted in the state of "elevated peace"; she only knew the day of the first mass.

What did really happen? The people of Konnersreuth had been informed about the fact that Siller wanted to begin the mass at 6.30 o'clock. Only few heard about the change in time which was done at short notice; but minister Naber was informed and likewise was Therese Neumann. The director of the seminary at Obermünster Max Köppl, agreed neither with the early date nor with a quietly mass, and enforced a solemn first mass which took place at 9.00 o'clock. The time thus was not, as Therese Neumann told the archbishop of Lemberg changed form 6.30 to 9.00 o'clock because of an "unexpected obstacle". The miracle has a quite natural explanation.

The miracle story has a postscript. Minister Naber explained in its letter to the bishop of Regensburg two months after the first mass of Josef Siller in Regensburg: "The throat problem which she suffered through eight and one half year for the newly ordained priest Josef Siller so that he could achieve his aim, disappeared suddenly immediately after he celebrated his first holy mass." Three years later the minister repeated the same statement; but now he reproached the "healed" because he "had been ashamed, of the assistance and had not thanked". The minister adds: "Your Excellency knows what his situation is now." This can only mean that as a punishment for his ingratitude he got sick again with the old evil.

While Therese Neumann recalled in Eichstätt under oath her throat suffering, but knew nothing to tell about the fact that it was a "vicarious suffering" she one year later assures in her old style the authoress Luise Rinser that she suffered for the high-school boy, that it was her first try on "vicarious suffering"18.

For the episode as a whole there seems to be only one assessment possible: cooked up from the beginning to the end. This "miraculous event" alone supplies already the correct answer to the question of what to think of all of the "Konnersreuth phenomena".

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Last update 28.8.2003