A priests visit to the mystic and stigmatic, Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth

Rev Linus Michael Schrems (1899-1979)

Eyewitness to an ecstasy- A priests visit to the mystic, Therese Neumann

The following eyewitness account comes from an American priest, Rev Linus Michael Schrems (1899-1979), who was a military captain and chaplain in the US Army during World War II. His testimony was given to me through the kindness of his nephew, Mr. John Pat Stapleton. I would like to thank Mr. Stapleton for sharing this wonderful account from his Uncle. May God bless him and his loved ones. -Glenn Dallaire

By Rev Linus Michael Schrems
JULY 26, 1945

Father Murphy, a Redemptorist, with his driver, O'Rourke; my clerk, Pacific, and I left Regensburg around 8:30am for Konnersreuth [Germany]. We arrived there around 11:30am. We went to the rectory immediately to contact the parish priest. He is a man, 74 years old, and has been in the parish for 35 years. (This would be Father Josef Naber, Theresa Neumann’s spiritual director- Editor). He is still quite spry. We told him why we came and then he told us a few interesting facts about the early life of Theresa. Naturally he knows everything about her.  

He told us that she had suffered not a little the evening before and that she hadn't received Holy Communion yet, but as soon as he found her he would tell her that we were waiting for her.
He left and upon his return he informed us that she was out visiting some sick person. It seems that when anyone gets sick in the parish, they call in Theresa. She has a little horse she likes to ride, and just recently while she was riding it and saying her rosary, she fell off the horse and bruised her arm and face somewhat.

After about 20 minutes Theresa came into the room. She is now 47 years old and despite the fact that she hasn't eaten for the past 17 years, she must weigh about 145 pounds. She looks strong and healthy. She is just an ordinary, simple, humble person; quite talkative (as most women are), laughed and smiled at things said. She doesn’t talk much about herself, and when she mentions anything about her visions, it comes out so natural, it would be difficult to disbelieve her if you wanted to. When I told her my name she brightened up immediately and asked me whether I was related to Bishop Schrems. She immediately got up and left the room and then returned with a fountain pen the Bishop had left there on his last visit.

Theresa Neumann (1898-1962)
The pen had been damaged by some of the bombs dropped on Konnersreuth. By the way, the shelling of the village was done by SS troops, not by Americans. We were told that the Americans were warned to leave it alone. I was certainly glad to know as much German as I do, because it Has so easy to talk with her. She spoke a great deal about Hitler and about friends of hers who had been taken and killed during the war.

She wore a white linen headpiece to cover the wounds on the back of her head. On the outside of her hands was a scab about the size of a dime and the skin in the immediate vicinity of the scab was just a sort of thin film.

After we visited with her awhile she got some holy pictures and wrote a few lines on the back of each one and signed it for us. She has given out about 4700 of these cards since the Americans arrived, and she has visited with 4000 American soldiers, from Generals down to privates.

Often during the night she gets up and goes over to the church for a visit. According to the curfew law, she isn’t supposed to be out of the house, but when the guard challenges her and she tells him who she is; he begs her pardon and lets her go about her business. It seems she has a verbal permission from the C.O. in the district to go to the church whenever she wants to, but all the guards don't know that and they want to know just who it is anyway.

Fr. Murphy let Theresa use his pen and he wanted to leave it with her, but after she had used it. he wanted to keep it as a sort of souvenir. Theresa also remembered Bishop Noll of Indiana and spoke of him.

After visiting with her for about 45 minutes or so , she got up to leave. I gave her my blessing before she left. Fr. Murphy kidded me about that and said she should have given me hers. It may be, but at the same time I did feel sort of privileged to give her the blessing.

After she left, the priest brought in some of the linens and a sort of under-garment which Theresa wore during one of her visions and bleedings. They were all blood-­stained, especially at the right shoulder, near the heart, and at the end of the sleeves, where the blood ran down from the wounds in her hands.

She not only sees our Lord on His journey to Calvary, but she goes through the same suffering as He did. She bleeds all over her back as if she were scourged. A brother of hers took some pictures of her during one of these occasions and the old pastor showed them to us. Now that I've visited with her I plan on returning on some Friday to see her during one of these bleedings. After she returns to normal again, she can recall all she saw and tells about, it. You no doubt have read articles in books and magazines about her, so I'll not bore you with more details.

I'm certainly glad I've had the opportunity of meeting her. Fr. Murphy’s driver, O'Rourke, showed Theresa. a snapshot of his family. He has two sisters who are nuns, and one of them has read a great deal about Theresa, so Theresa wrote a short greeting on two more cards and asked him to send them to his sisters. He was very pleased.

After we left Konnersreuth we stopped at Waldsassen where we heard there was a beautiful church. To say that this church is beautiful, just doesn't say the half of it. Really, the inside of that church is a complete history in stone carvings, in wood carvings, in paintings, in statuary, of Christianity. The old sacristan took us around and called our attention to the most important features, but I'll not rest until I return there and spend at least a half a day learning more about it. I just wouldn't begin to describe what I saw there. I picked up a little booklet about the building, but I know there is none to it than what is written in this short sketch. He got back to Regensburg around 5:30pm. We were all tired out, especially we two who rode in the back seat of the jeep. However, it was a day worthwhile and I shall never forget it.


Friday, September 7, 1945.

After my first trip to Konnersreuth and my visit with Theresa Neumann, a number of the soldiers of our unit became interested and insisted on making arrangements for another trip. The First Friday of September was finally decided upon.

Twenty-eight enlisted men and two officers made up the party. We left camp around 8:30 in the morning and arrived at Konnersreuth at 11:45am. Shortly after 12:00 noon the procession through Theresa's room started. Only about 10 people are allowed in the room at one time, as the room is quite small, and furthermore her home had been partially wrecked by the SS troops, and the village authorities do not want a large crowd in the house at one time.

Rev. Father Linus M. Schrems
So, after one group has been in the room for a short time, the men leave and make room for another group. All priests in the party are allowed to remain in the room throughout the time of the ecstasy.
Theresa's pastor is always present and he explains in German as much as he can about the happenings during the ecstacy. As I understood the language a little, I translated what was said for the benefit of the men present.

Theresa falls into the ecstasy around 11:30am, and remains in that state until around 12:40. She is absolutely oblivious of all that goes on around her. The talking in the room, the noise made by men going up and down the stairs doesn't seem to bother her in the least. She gives no indication whatever that she hears a thing. She is just out of this world. She sits up in her bed and most of the time her hands and arms are extended towards objects she sees during her vision. She does not speak out loud at any time. 

Occasionally one can distinguish an Aramaic word or two, as she hears what our Lord says in the language He spoke while here on earth. It is only by her movements and changing facial expressions that one can determine just what she is hearing or seeing. Theresa’s pastor, who has seen her in this condition so very often, tries to tell us just what she is seeing. He is able to do this quite accurately, as Theresa can relate afterwards just what she saw and heard.

Theresa's pastor watches her closely and tries to be as accurate as possible in the explanations. It is very evident [on this occasion] that even the pastor seems confused as to the meaning of her movements. After the vision has passed, Theresa recalls only what she has seen and heard in that particular vision, and not what she has seen or heard in a previous vision.

Theresa's appearance during the ecstasy is like a picture of the Sorrowful Mother. Blood oozes from her eyes and runs down her cheeks. Blood stains are also visible on the veil she wears on her head, as well as on the left side of the dress she wears.
It is only on the Fridays of fast and penance [Lent] that blood oozes from her hands and feet. On Good Friday especially she bleeds profusely, and on that day she bleeds wherever Christ bled during His passion.

It is evident from her movements and expression that Theresa suffers during the ecstasy. Whether the intensity of her suffering is the same as that suffered by Christ, I cannot say. It seems that most of her movements and expressions have to do with the seven Last Words of Christ on the cross. When Our Lord spoke to the good thief, Theresa turns her head and moves her lips as if repeating the same words of Christ. When Our Lord said "I thirst", and one of the soldiers offered Him a sponge soaked with vinegar, Theresa puckered up her lips as if to taste the vinegar and then immediately manifests distaste and anguish.

Therese's stigmata are clearly visible in this photo
At the words “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me", the expression on her face is one of complete despair and abandonment. After the last word from the cross: "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit”, Theresa falls back on her pillow in complete exhaustion. One would think that she too had died.

Shortly after this she seems to experience the chill of death, for she tries to gather the bed clothing closely about her, and remarks that she is cold.

Again she sits up in bed and according to the pastor, she sees the soldier coming to break the legs of the two thieves, and to drive the spear into the heart of Christ. Theresa manifests great anguish at this, and immediately puts her hand to her own side and pulls away her dress from the blood oozing from her own side.

Shortly after this, Theresa begins to be herself again. I may add here that during her ecstasies, Theresa sees not only the events of the Passion, but also other happenings in the life of Christ and also in the life of His Blessed Mother.

As I mentioned in the account of my previous visit, Theresa has not taken a thing to eat or drink for the past 17 years. She lives entirely on the Eucharistic Body of Christ. She receives Holy Communion once a day. On the big feast days during the liturgical year, she also falls into ecstasy when receiving Holy Communion and on these occasions she sees Our Lord in His glorified state; and His sacramental presence remains within her throughout the day.

Shortly after the ecstatic condition had passed, I approached her bed and spoke to her. She remembered me from my previous visit. At this time I asked her to pray especially for an invalid niece of mine, and for a Sister of Mercy afflicted with a strange head illness. Theresa promised to offer up the sufferings she undergoes for their intentions.
Upon leaving the room I touched her hand on the place where she carries one of the wounds. She immediately withdrew the hand and remarked that her hand was still sore from the sufferings she underwent.

Therese Neumann gathering flowers for the Church altar

Each soldier was given a holy card by the pastor. All of the cards had been signed by Theresa personally. I know this souvenir will be cherished by them for many years to come.

About 1:30pm we made our way to the village church where I celebrated Holy Mass. Another priest present heard confessions and a number of the men received Holy Communion. Shortly after Mass we started our return to Regensburg.

Holy Mother the Church has given no official approbation to the happenings in Konnersreuth, nor has she disapproved of them. The Church acts very cautiously in all these matters. So for the time being at least, we are free to form our own opinions about the matter.

Rev. Linus M. Schrems
St: Joseph's Church
Mapleton, MI
13400 Center Rd.

+Father Linus Michael Schrems was born on September 20, 1899 and died on March 17, 1979. Eternal rest grant unto him O' Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Those interested in reading more about Therese Neumann can visit the article I wrote about her "Therese Neumann (1898-1962) Mystic, Stigmatist and Victim Soul".


Joseph J. said...

Like it said in the article thousands of American soldiers visited her during the allied occupation of Germany from 1945 through 1949. I have a signed holy card from her that was given to a American soldier during this time period. It was given to me by a family member of his family after the soldier died. I imagine that many soldiers treasured these cards and their experience visiting her---especially the ones who were privileged to witness her Friday "passion" experiences.

Anonymous said...

Thought you would like to know that Brian Kelley over at Catholicism.org linked to this article and he wrote "Many years ago, in Massachusetts somewhere south of Boston, I entered a place of business and spoke to the owner. When I saw Catholic prayer cards on his desk I asked him about his Faith. He was happy to talk about it. He told me that when he was in the service he visited Theresa Neumann in Konnersreuth, Bavaria, after the Allies’ victory in 1945. He was even privileged to witness her passion on a Friday. He had a portfolio with successive photographs of every phase of the passion as she experienced it. I will never forget viewing those photos. The stigmatist was covered with blood as she grimaced and sighed under the pain. In the final photo taken at 3:00 pm there was no trace of blood at all. Theresa Neumann, he told me, loved the American GIs. When they came into her house, he said, she would lift a chair and set it down for each of them, so anxious was this humble saint to serve them."
Here is the link: http://catholicism.org/a-priests-account-of-the-passion-of-theresa-neumann.html

Anonymous said...

I also had come across an American WWII guy in our Knights of Columbus council, and he said the same thing about Therese, in that she liked the American service members.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this memoir. It touches me in ways and places I do not yet understand, and wish to understand.