Adrienne von Speyr

Swiss doctor and mystic

Adrienne von Speyr (20 September 190217 September 1967) was a Swiss Catholic medical doctor, the author of over 60 books of spirituality and theology, and a mystic.

Adrienne von Speyr, 1918

Quotes edit

Book of All Saints (1966) edit

Trans. D.C. Schindler. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-58617-192-6
  • [About Francis of Assisi] I saw St. Francis at first in his old age, at prayer and sickly, of an indescribable cheerfulness and purity and humility. Everything in him, everything that constituted his life, all his difficulties, are now transfigured and have become translucent. And this happened through prayer. The things that occupy him no longer contain anything at all that is purely personal, not a trace of annoyance or injury or resentment for the unjust things inflicted on him. God alone is left, as well as perfect service in the indescribable happiness of one who serves and in uninterrupted contemplation.
  • [About Edith Stein] I see her groping, wonder-filled prayer, which in the beginning resembles a conversation she is conducting with herself and is very managed. It is half like a question she puts to herself without knowing exactly what she means; it may be that the step she takes does not need to be completed by her; the question does not need to be perfectly articulated; perhaps God would be able to intervene in the middle of her step, in order to make his presence known and answer her question in a much more profound way than she herself would have expected or even would have been capable of expecting. And God truly answers. She prays more and more and finally receives a victorious certainty and rejoices. From this moment of victorious certainty on, everything is perfectly simple and unambiguous. She will follow the path God shows to her; she belongs to him; she has rediscovered her childlike cheerfulness, which has increased and become clearly manifest through love and faith.
  • [About Mozart] In relation to God he is like a child who brings everything to his father: the stones from the street and peculiar sticks and little plants and even once a ladybug; and with him all of these things are melodies, melodies that he brings to God, melodies that he suddenly knows when he is inside of prayer. And when he has finished praying, and he is no longer on his knees and no longer has his hands folded, then he sits there at the piano, or he sings with an incredible childlikeness, and in doing so he no longer has any idea whether he is playing something for God or whether it is God who is using him to play something at once for himself and for Mozart. There is a great conversation between Mozart and God that is the purest prayer, and this entire conversation is nothing but music.

My Early Years (1968) edit

Trans. Mary Emily Hamilton and Dennis D. Martin. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995, ISBN 0-89870-541-X
  • The snow fell solemnly, enlarging the silence; it came straight down from heaven, bringing an inexplicable mystery. Now and again a flake or two would alight on the windowpane, and those flakes were like little stars filled with light; other snowflakes would fall on the windowsill, slowly covering the crumbs that had been put out for the birds. I would ask: "Grandmama, would you tell me some things about heaven too?" And Grandmother would say: "Why do you say 'too'?" "Because the snow comes from there, and it seems to be telling me that everything in heaven is white."
    • Les Tilleuls, p. 21
  • As I climbed the steps that went alongside a sort of lumberyard, a man was coming down the steps toward me. He was short and rather old, and he had a slight limp. He took my hand, and at first I was really frightened, but I began to look at him. He said, "I thought you would come with me; don't you want to?" I said, with a kind of fear (was it good to say No to a poor person?): "No, Sir, but merry Christmas." He let go of my hand immediately; I thought he looked a little sad. I continued on my way, and throughout the days that followed I said to myself: "Perhaps I should have said Yes, but I really had to say No."
  • … one morning, when it was barely light, I woke up because of a golden light that filled the whole wall above my bed, and I saw something like a picture of the Holy Virgin, surrounded by several other personages … and several angels, some of whom were as big as she, while others were like little children. It was like a tableau, and yet the Holy Virgin was alive, in heaven, and the angels were changing position. I believe this lasted for a very long time. I looked, as if praying without words, and I was struck with amazement; I had never seen anything so beautiful. At the beginning, all of the light was like very vibrant gold; it faded little by little, and, as it faded, the face and the hands of the Holy Virgin became more alive and clearer. I was not frightened in the least but filled with a new joy that was both intense and very sweet.
    • The vision of Mary, p. 166
  • To me, it was not at all disagreeable to be treated as a precious, unique being, because I belonged to God.
    • Interlude on the Plains, p. 200
  • It became increasingly evident to me that God ordains times of illness so that they can be a time of inner recollection for those who are afflicted by them, an opportunity to recognize better what is going wrong in their lives, to take stock of their daily lives from the distant perspective of a hospital stay, to gain a clearer view of their problems and thereby become better able to master them. To this end discussion is important, which means that the physician ought to be a person of prayer who always has at hand a full supply of possibilities to help.
    • The Neergard Affair, p. 357

Lumina and New Lumina (1969) edit

Trans. Adrian Walker. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-58617-222-0
  • When we make our own calculations, we need so many numbers and factors that any mistake is possible. The Lord's calculation boils down to love.
    • p. 15
  • Ultimate audacity: to want to love a person—to say nothing of one's neighbor!—as God loves him.
    • p. 15
  • The first step in learning to love others is the attempt to understand them.
    • p. 16
  • Only faith can keep what hope promises.
    • p. 17
  • Christian hope is a vessel in which faith lives; love carries it.
    • p. 17
  • Whoever wants to love is better knowing nothing than too much.
    • p. 20
  • Once a scientific question is settled, it remains interesting and alive only if it draws attention to new questions; every conclusion is meant as a transition to a new beginning.
    • p. 20
  • There is already so much grace in a Christian body. Can you imagine how much grace there is in a soul?
    • p. 21
  • The sins of others can never become the measure of your own.
    • p. 35
  • If there were just one possibility—either to do the good or to combat evil—man would have to opt for the first.
    • p. 36
  • When we sin, we think we are geniuses; when we confess, we know we are idiots.
    • p. 42
  • The ability to suffer and the ability to love are one.
    • p. 45
  • Suffering without faith would be like love without hope.
    • p. 45

The Passion from Within (1981) edit

Trans. Sister Lucia Wiedenhöver, O.C.D. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998, ISBN 0-89870-594-0
  • If there had been no Judas, Peter would be the great betrayer. It is only because he stands in the framework of a still greater betrayal that we find a thousand excuses for him and for the faults of the Church continuing and occurring over and over again.
    • p. 79
  • There is an intensification of negative force at work in the apostate. He resembles a man who works swiftly and surely to erect a wall in order to make the Lord's image, which he knows exactly, disappear and become unrecognizable behind it.
    • p. 81
  • The Lord gives his whole innocent spirit to the Father and keeps only our own sinful spirit back for himself. In this way he can carry sin as if he himself had committed it.
    • p. 147

Quotes about Adrienne von Speyr edit

  • Adrienne von Speyr has brought mysticism back from the clandestine existence into which, increasingly misunderstood, indeed scorned, it had been exiled and silenced by official theology and proclamation and has returned it to the center of salvation history.
  • There were many mystical phenomena in Adrienne's life—stigmata, transferences, the radiating of light, levitation, speaking with tongues, and other things of that kind, but they all occurred in a totally unemphatic way. They were mere accompaniments to show forth the heart of the matter: what was to be passed on to the Church, invisibly through prayer and strenuous penance, visibly through the dictated works. The criterion of her mysticism's authenticity lies primarily, if not exclusively, in the quality of what she did and what she had and has to say.

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