March 6, 2017

Nicholas of Flue

St. Nicholas of Flue, Switzerland died in the year 1487. As a young man of 25, he had married. He and his wife had 10 children. Then, at the age of 50, he asked his wife if he might leave her, to live as a contemplative. She consented.

To sever himself from the world and worldly desires, he began a fast. After the first 11 days, he spoke with Oswald Isner, parish priest at the nearby village of Kerns. Isner knew him well, and in this period of his life, was more familiar with him than any other person. After the death of Nicholas, Isner wrote that Nicholas took no food or drink for a period of twenty and one half years. Nicholas told him that, “he received the Sacrament once a month and felt that the Body and Blood of Christ communicated vital forces which served him for meat and drink.”

Nicholas was well-known in his homeland before his life as a recluse. He had earned honors in military campaigns and served as a judge for nine years. News of his allegedly extraordinary life without food did spread. The Bishop of Ascalon came to reside with him and see for himself. After several days, he ordered Nicholas to eat a little bread and drink a little wine. Nicholas had such a violent reaction to them, however, that the Bishop withdrew his directive.

The Archduke Sigismond of Austria was also dubious. He sent his royal physician, Burcard von Horneck to investigate. Emperor Frederick III also sent emissaries to look into the case. All the reports confirmed the earlier indications.

If this seems too incredible, note the more recent case of Alexandrina Maria da Costa, who died in 1955. As reported previously on this website, she similarly lived under a total fast, save for the Eucharist alone, for over 13 years. In her case, a strict medical examination confirmed what was “scientifically inexplicable.”

Source: Cruz, Caroll, Eucharistic Miracles (Charlotte, North Carolina, Tan Books, 2010) p. 236-237.


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