The name of two German mystics, whom historical research has shown to have been in no wise related.
(1) Christina Ebner
Born of a patrician family on Good Friday, at Nuremberg, 1277; died at
Engelthal, 27 December, 1355. From her mother she inherited a deeply religious
spirit, which early manifested itself in a fondness for prayer and mortification.
Hardly had she made her First Communion when her parents acceded to a desire,
which she had expressed since her seventh year, of entering the Dominican
convent at Engelthal in the vicinity of Nuremberg. At the end of her year of
novitiate she was stricken with a dangerous illness, which reappeared three
times annually from her thirteenth to her twenty-third year. Each year, for the
remainder of her life, she suffered a relapse of this mysterious sickness.
Christina did not, however, on this account relax her penitential practices, nor
fail in her duties as superior, to which she had been early elected. In her
thirteenth year she began to enjoy frequent visits from the Master, from whose
words she drew light and counsel for her own direction. As a result she was
misunderstood by all save her confessor, Father Konrad of Fussen, O.P., at whose
command, in the Advent of 1317, she began to write a diary of her spiritual
experiences in chronological order. After an introduction in which she reviews
in a simple, unaffected manner the whole history of her life till 1317, this
touching piece of mystical literature is carried on till 1353. She speaks of
herself in the third person as von dem menschen. Most of this diary was written
by her own hand save when she dictated on account of illness. It is preserved,
in a complete version of the fifteenth century, in a manuscript (cod. 90) at
Nuremberg. Excerpts are to be found also at the same place (cod. 89, 91), at
Stuttgart (cod. 90), and Medingen. We learn from this source that Christina
played an important part by her prayers in the settlement of the difficulties
arising from the riots at Nuremberg in 1348; from the earthquake of the same
year; the Black Death; the Flagellants' processions of 1349; and the long
quarrel between Louis the Bavarian and the Holy See. She also tells us of the
absence of a director from the removal of Konrad to Freiburg in 1324 till 1351,
when Henry of Nördlingen visited her and gave her advice sufficient for the
remainder of her life. The treatise
Von der genaden uberlast which the
Stuttgart Literary Society edited over her name in 1871 is probably not her work.
(2) Margaretha Ebner
Born of rich parents at Donauworth, 1291; died 20 July, 1351. She received a thorough classical education in her home, and later entered the Dominican convent at Maria-Medingen near Dillingen, where she was solemnly professed in 1306. In 1312 she was dangerously ill for three years, and subsequently for a period of nearly seven years she was most of the time at the point of death. Hence she could exercise her desire for penance only by abstinence from wine, fruit, and the bath. On her return from home, whither she had gone during the campaign of Louis the Bavarian, her nurse died, and Margaretha grieved inconsolably, until Henry of Nördlingen assumed her spiritual direction in 1332. The correspondence that passed between them is the first collection of this kind in the German language. At his command she wrote with her own hand a full account of all her revelations and intercourse with the Infant Christ, as also all answers which she received from Him even in her sleep. This diary is preserved in a manuscript of the year 1353 at Medingen. From her letters and diary we learn that she never abandoned her adhesion to Louis the Bavarian, whose soul she learned in a vision had been saved.
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