Brother Klaus - The terrifying vision
Type of Spiritual Experience
This comes from - of all things - a Christian website! But not Catholic, so it may be a little biased! A good story though
A description of the experience
In the 1400s, Brother Klaus [Nicklaus] von Flue, a Catholic monk, had an experience 'so terrible that his countenance was changed by it' – so much so that people who saw him were terrified of him. Heinrich Woelflin wrote of him at the time
“All who came to him were filled with terror at the first glance. As to the cause of this, he himself used to say that he had seen a piercing light resembling a human face. At the sight of it he feared that his heart would burst into little pieces. Therefore, overcome with terror, he instantly turned his face away and fell to the ground”
In 1508, the humanist Karl Bovillus (Charles de Bouelles) wrote to a friend
“I wish to tell you of a vision which appeared to him in the sky on a night when the stars were shining and he stood in prayer and contemplation. He saw the head of a human figure with a terrifying face full of wrath and threats”
What we now need to understand is the life that Brother Klaus led. He had left his conventional life, left his family and friends and spent most of his time all alone. The life was one of deprivation, loneliness and to a large extent paranoia, the Catholic Church at the time persecuted heretics if it didn't burn them at the stake. There was a climate of fear engendered by the Church and he was a part of it.
He panicked of course when he had his vision, because how could he reconcile the vision with his Catholic views? The answer – to save his life as much as to create anything the Catholic Church could use, - was to turn the whole vision on its head and create a new dogma from it. The Catholics turned him into a saint for his efforts, but this is the way dogma works.
Brother Klaus saw his own mind, he was probably shown a vision of what he had become or how his life was led. We all know that many state religions, like political parties are the breeding ground for bigotry, hate, aggression, intolerance, vindictiveness, narrow mindedness, unkindness, misery and fanaticism [sic!]. There are more than enough devils to be going on with these and he saw them all wrapped up in one horrific image!
The source of the experienceOther religious person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsLoneliness and isolation
Overwhelming fear and terror