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Marie-Louise von Franz: Niklaus Von Flüe And Saint Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Their Visions
Vision of the Heavenly Qua
132 During Brother Klaus’s time of suffering and depression, his friend from Lucerne, Heiny am Grund, who was the local priest in Kriens at the time, tried to help1 Klaus by giving him an illustrated text of the Passion of Christ to meditate upon. (Brother Klaus was almost illiterate.2 to this text, one had to mediate upon the seven
canonical hours of prayer, for example, the third and the ninth, etc., each one being a Station of the Cross of Christ’s suffering.3
Brother Klaus did this and felt some relief from his state, even if the problem was only later resolved after he ((broke away” from his relations and retreated to the Ranft.
Perhaps these devotional exercises are connected to the vision of the fountain, but they are most definitely connected to the following vision, which is listed as the third vision in the newly found Lucerne text:4
133 ‘Through his suffering and by the will of God Klaus’s sleep was interrupted, and he thanked God for His suffering and for His martyrdom.
And God gave Klaus grace so that he found support and joy in it.
Thereupon he laid himself down to rest.
And when his rational mind was constrained, though he believed himself to not yet be asleep, it seemed to him that
someone came in by the door and stood in the middle of the house and called out to him in a strong clear voice and asked him what his name was, and said: ‘Come and see your Father and see what He is doing:
134 And it seemed to him that he arrived at the target quickly (he covered the distance that an arrow travels), that is, a beautiful tent in a great hall.
He saw people who lived there and the man who had called to him was at his side and acted as his intercessor.
And although this man spoke, yet Niklaus did not see him and did not even wonder about it, and he spoke for him and said: ‘This is the man who lifted up and carried your son and came to his help in his fear and distress.
Thank him for it and be grateful to him:
135 There a handsome majestic man came through the palace.
His face was like a shining light and he wore white robes like a priest’s alb.
He laid both arms on Niklaus’s shoulders and pressed him close and thanked him fervently for having stood by his son and helped him in his need.
And Niklaus was downcast and felt most unworthy and said, ‘I do not know that I have ever done your son a service:
Then the man left him and Niklaus did not see him again.
And then a beautiful majestic woman who was also clothed in white came through the palace.5
And Niklaus saw clearly that her robe was freshly laundered.
And she laid both arms on his shoulders and pressed him warmly to her heart with overflowing love, because
he, Niklaus, had stood so faithfully by her son in his need.
And Niklaus felt unworthy and said, ‘I do not know that I have ever done your son a service except that I came here to see what you were doing: Then she left him and he did not see her again.
And then Niklaus looked round and saw the son sitting in a chair beside him and he saw that he was also dressed in the same way and that his clothes were spotted with red, as if they had been sprinkled with blood.
And the son leaned towards Niklaus and thanked him profoundly for having helped him in his need.
Then Niklaus looked down at himself and saw that he, too, was dressed in white sprinkled with red, like the son.
And that surprised him very much for he had not known that he was dressed like that.
And then he suddenly found himself in the place where he had lain down so that he thought he had not slept.
138 This vision, too, has motifs that are common to those of other mystics. Alban Stoeckli draws attention to a parallel in a sermon by Tauler:6
“Thus spoke the Lord: ‘Dearly beloved, I thank you and I am pleased with you for thanking Me for my suffering and for having helped Me to carry the heavy burden of My cross by your afflictions which you have endured.
And behold, now I shall be with you once again:” And at a different point in the same sermon:”
Here God gives Himself abundantly to the soul beyond all the soul’s desires.
When God finds the soul in a state of inconsolable misery, He is just, for, as is written, when King Assuerus’s dearly beloved Esther stood helplessly before him with her pale face, and fell to the ground, he immediately offered her the golden sceptre, arose from his royal throne, embraced her, kissed her and offered to share his
kingdom with her.
This Assuerus is the Heavenly Father.
So, when He sees His beloved soul in front of Him with her sorrowful face unconsoled by all things, and when her spirit is broken and she stands bent over before Him, He offers her His golden sceptre, rises from His throne, metaphorically speaking, enfolds her in His arms and raises her above her illness through His divine embrace:’
139 Similarly, in Brother Klaus’s vision, the unio mystica with God is also mentioned, but it takes on further unexpected forms: First of all, an invisible being calls Brother Klaus with a ((strong clear voice” to attend to his father and see what he is doing, and then the voice speaks to God on his behalf, like an intercessor.
Of course, one thinks of the Paraclete who is an advocate for mankind before God.
But what appears to be strangely dreamlike and illogical is that the Paraclete asks Brother Klaus to firstly see what God is doing, but later, he does not do this at all. Rather, God is asked to thank Brother Klaus.
Perhaps this compensates too great a respect and distance which Brother Klaus feels towards the Godhead so that the Holy Ghost exhorts him to perceive God without any inner barrier.
But it is just as strange that the Holy Ghost must insist that God thank Brother Klaus, as if He would not do this of His own accord-which is quite different from the Mother of God who spontaneously comes to him.
140 Elevating the Virgin Mary to the level of being God’s beloved companion was more or less sanctioned four hundred years later in the ((Declaratio Solemnis” of Pope Pius XII, which brought the discussion as to whether or not the vision was heretical almost to a halt.7
141 Brother Klaus always had a very special relationship to the Mother of God.
At the time when he was struggling so strongly with the devil, he said he ((always found comfort in the dear woman:’ She once appeared to him in the crown of an apple tree at the spot where the lower chapel in the Ranft now stands.
For Brother Klaus, Mary was the earthly representative of the Sapentia Dei, and he once said to a pilgrim that Mary is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and that she had been anticipated through divine wisdom.
The Sapientia Dei had surrounded Mary at the very moment God thought of her conception.
This is why Mary was conceived more in the mind of the Highest God rather than in her mother’s womb … the power of the Almighty had gone out and enveloped her and thus she was imbued with the Holy Ghost.8 Proof of Mary’s secret identity with the Sapientia Dei was, for Brother Klaus, her immaculate conception-a concept he adhered to even though it was still being debated by theologians at the time.9
The later developments in Catholic dogma confirmed all these views of Brother Klaus and the title Queen of Heaven and Earth is even now officially recognised.
142 The new dogma of the Assumptio Mariae has, as Jung emphasises, 10 a very widespread psychological significance.
In his Apostolic Constitution, “Muni ficentissimus Deus;’ Pope Pius XII draws special attention to the opinion of the Church Fathers that the star-woman of the Apocalypse who was taken up to heaven is a prefiguration of the Assumption.11
Thus, as Jung goes on to say,12 Mary is not only the symbolic vessel for the incarnation of God in Christ, but she is also the redeemer of whom the Apocalypse foretells.
Psychologically speaking, however, this new redeemer is a symbol of a further incarnation of God, namely, in an ordinary “creaturely man.”13
But, as Brother Klaus’s vision so beautifully shows, the latter is raised to the level of being a Brother of Christ.
This can only mean that “creaturely man” becomes the birthplace of a total incarnation of the divine. Such a realisation of the divine had otherwise been the special concern of the alchemists who, as Jung shows, were intent upon becoming an “unspotted vessel” for the Paraclete themselves, thereby realizing “the idea [ of] ‘Christ’ on a
plane far transcending a mere imitation of Him:’14
But the latter appears as an archetypal spiritual reality within the soul and has already revealed itself to Brother Klaus in the star, in the stone, in the Berserker, and, here, in the motif of the heavenly quaternio within which Brother Klaus is encompassed as a twin-brother of Christ.
In retrospect, we can also better understand the promise of the three noblemen when they said that they would leave the cross for Brother Klaus to bear during his life.
Until his death, Klaus would have to bear the burden of the dead wood of the Cross because he did not understand his election as Christ’s brother (and not just His “imitator”), but that after Klaus’s death, as the flag-bearer of the
bear’s paw, he would be able to realise his spiritual wholeness and thereby his brotherhood with Christ, that is, his immediate relationship to the Anthropos ( that is, to the Self).
143 The symbol of the new redeemer in Revelations or the elevation of an ordinary man to being the double of Christ suggests the drive towards individuation,15 the goal of which is both to heal and make man’s fragmentary self whole.16
But, for men, this requires the integration of the anima, which is why the figure of the star-woman, that is, the Virgin Mary, is given increasing importance, as Brother Klaus’s vision clearly shows.
As Jung emphasises,17 the dogmatisation of the Assumption thus means “a renewed hope for the fulfilment
of the yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul, and for a resolution of the threatening tension between the opposites.
Everyone shares this tension and everyone experiences it in his individual form of unrest …”
Brother Klaus had also been gripped by such a restlessness.
This is mirrored in the image of the unredeemed people at work in the outer courtyard of the tabernacle in his vision of the fountain.
The existence of such a restless, rootless crowd within himself is what forces Klaus to climb up the four steps to the source of the fountain within the unconscious, i.e., to the Self, and which also pushes modern man into the process of individuation.
As a result, however, each individual is forced to see that the inner divine opposites are within himself, for him to suffer and to unite.
Thus he becomes a “Son of the Highest” and, simultaneously, the shadow-brother of Christ, so to speak, and thereby is included in the Holy Trinity as its fourth component.
144 Brother Klaus’s last vision clearly shows that the unconscious is not concerned with destroying the Christian symbol but rather is only concerned with supplementing it with a feminine element and that of the common man, thereby enriching it.18
145 Apart from the elevation of the feminine, the theme which the lysis of this vision aims at is the establishment of the quaternio within which Brother Klaus is represented as Christ’s twin-brother.19
However, the invisible Holy Ghost is, like the spirit Mercuri us of the alchemists, the one who unites all four as the quinta essentia, of which He is a part Himself.
That the Holy Ghost is one with God the Father and God the Son needs no proof: He is connected to the Mother of God through the conception of Christ and to Klaus, through his “being filled with the Holy Ghost” and through His
continued effect upon those chosen by Him.
His “clear, joyful voice” is an echo of the figure in the bearskin and the “spirit of Truth” in his previous vision20 that now makes its goal clear, namely, the creation of a divine quaternio.21
Brother Klaus is, as it were, chosen to play the role of Christ’s human double,22 that means, to realise this role both in himself and through himself.23
The red and white robe which both Brother Klaus and Christ wear points towards the alchemical rubedo and albedo as the unification of the opposites.
By suffering the clash of the opposites within himself rather than outside of himself, he makes visible the homo altus, or teleios rtifexn, the ”totality of man” or the lapis of alchemy, which the alchemists thought of as being the Analogia of Christ.
For, as Jung points out,24 the alchemist “does not dream of identifying himself with Christ; on the contrary, it is the coveted substance, the lapis, that alchemy likens to Christ.
It is not really a question of identification at all, but of the hermeneutic sicut-‘as’ or ‘like’ -which characterizes the analogy .
. . . Without knowing it, the alchemist carries the idea of the imitatio a stage further and reaches the conclusion we mentioned earlier, that complete assimilation to the Redeemer would enable him, the assimilated, to continue the work of redemption in the depths of his own psyche.
This conclusion is unconscious …. The artif ex himself bears no correspondence to Christ; rather he sees this
correspondence to the Redeemer in his wonderful stone.
From this point of view, alchemy seems like a continuation of Christian mysticism carried on in the subterranean darkness of the unconscious-indeed some mystics pressed the materialization of the Christ figure even to the appearance of the stigmata …. Had the alchemist succeeded in forming any concrete idea of his unconscious
contents, he would have been obliged to recognize that he had taken the place of Christ-or to be more exact, that he, regarded not as ego but as Self, had taken over the work of redeeming not man but God.
He would then have had to recognize not only himself as the equivalent of Christ, but Christ as a symbol of the Self.
This tremendous conclusion failed to dawn on the medieval mind:’
146 But precisely this same unconscious development, that reaches even greater depths than medieval mysticism does, would appear to be reflected in Brother Klaus’s vision.
Brother Klaus was to pay heed to God (“to see what He is doing”) and to acknowledge himself as being the twin-brother and helper of Christ.
If we ask what kind of conscious attitude could most readily be compensated by such a vision, we could suppose that Brother Klaus was exceptionally humble and that he was deeply impressed by his inner distance to God and by his own shadow, and that he was searching for meaning in his suffering of his shadow.
Then his vision could be taken as an answer, as a statement of the unconscious telling him that all this dark turmoil within himself is God’s will and that it has individuation, the process of God becoming incarnate in an ordinary
man, as its goal.
147 As Jung has shown in “Answer to Job;’ this conflict of the second part of the Aeon of Pisces is anticipated in the Revelation of John.25
‘At first, God incarnated his good side in order … to create the most durable basis for later assimilation of the other side.
From the promise of the Paraclete we may conclude that God later wants to become wholly man; in other words, to reproduce himself in his own dark creature (man not redeemed from original sin).26
… The incarnation in Christ is the prototype which is continually being transferred to the creature by the Holy Ghost;’27 and this clearly shows that, according to his vision, Brother Klaus is one of those who was chosen to be a vessel for such a continuing incarnation.28
It is no coincidence that in this vision, the elevation of the Mother of God is represented side by side with Klaus becoming the twin-brother of Christ for, as Jung emphasises, 29 ((The dogmatization of the Assumptio Mariae [which sanctions her elevation] points to the hieros gamos in the pleroma, and this in turn implies … the future birth of the divine child, who, in accordance with the divine trend towards incarnation, will choose as his birthplace the empirical man.
The metaphysical process is known to the psychology of the unconscious as the individuation process:’30
In so far as Klaus is called upon to individuate and to offer, by all the means available to him, his consciousness as a natural, willing vessel for the individuation process, he is simultaneously raised to the typos of that second redeemer.
But the Mother of God is therefore the mother of this all-embracing totality, so to speak.
Thus, we can understand Klaus’s special devotion to her.
That she appeared to him in the crown of an apple tree is, perhaps, not without symbolical meaning for the tree is an analogy to the Tree of Knowledge.
Furthermore, the tree is generally a symbol of the individuation process as a natural process of unfolding and becoming conscious.31
Here, Mary appears as a heathen tree numen, that is, in complete unity with nature, and while appearing in this form, she ((heals” the estrangement of a certain profane Christian conscious attitude towards nature which, at that time, was increasingly being felt to be inadequate.
From what is said in certain passages in the Missale, it seems that Brother Klaus connected Mary to the figure of the Sapientia Dei, and he interpreted the latter as being the prefigurative form of Mary, as predestined by God.
As Jung so impressively outlines in answer to Job;’ 32 the Sapientia represents God’s all-knowingness and self-reflection and, through His approximation to her, a new creation,33
which is brought about through God’s desire ((to regenerate Himself in the mystery of the heavenly nuptials.”34
Furthermore, Klaus’s devotion to the figure of the Sapientia is possibly connected to his last vision, which, as we know, is of the ((terrifying countenance of God;’ a shattering experience which he was forced to grapple with for a long time.
Mary, in her divine wisdom and with her benevolence towards man, must have helped him in his struggle. Page 97-107