Saint Nicolas de Flue
Cet herbager du canton d'Unterwald, en Suisse, eut une grande influence dans les cantons de langue germanique qui ont été à la naissance de la Confédération helvétique. Malgré son penchant pour la méditation solitaire, il épousa Dorothée Wiss qui lui donna cinq filles et cinq fils. Il tenait sa place dans la vie politique du canton comme conseiller, mais aussi comme officier dans l'armée. Mais ce bon père de famille, cet homme d'un grand civisme, se retirait dans un lieu solitaire pour prier chaque fois qu'il le peut. A cinquante ans, il demande à sa femme et à ses grands enfants l'autorisation de se consacrer entièrement à Dieu. Permission accordée qui devrait mériter à Dorothée aussi la reconnaissance de l'Eglise pour l'héroïcité de ses vertus. Les visions mystiques deviennent de plus en plus nombreuses chez Nicolas. Son jeûne est absolu, scrupuleusement vérifié par des espions de l'évêque du lieu. Curieusement, plus il s'isole, plus il influence la politique de son pays. On vient lui demander conseil, il dicte ses recommandations, toujours en faveur de la paix et de la concorde. Et c'est ainsi qu'il sauva sa patrie en 1471, lors de l'invasion de Charles le Téméraire, duc de Bourgogne qui voulait l'annexer et, en 1481, quand il rédigea en une nuit une constitution qui empêcha Unterwald de quitter les autres cantons, au risque de la désagrégation de la confédération. Il mourut en 1487. Il est le saint patron de la Suisse.
Saint Nicolas de Flüe
Ermite en Suisse
Saint Nicolas de Flüe naquit en Suisse, de parents pieux. Un jour, à la vue d'une flèche élancée, sur une montagne voisine, il fut épris du désir du Ciel et de l'amour de la solitude. Il se maria pour obéir à la volonté formelle de ses parents et eut dix enfants. Son mérite et sa vertu le firent choisir par ses concitoyens pour exercer des fonctions publiques fort honorables.
Sa prière habituelle était celle-ci: "Mon Seigneur et mon Dieu, enlevez de moi tout ce qui m'empêche d'aller à Vous. Mon Seigneur et mon Dieu, donnez-moi tout ce qui peut m'attirer à Vous."
Il avait cinquante ans, quand une voix intérieure lui dit: "Quitte tout ce que tu aimes, et Dieu prendra soin de toi." Il eut à soutenir un pénible combat, mais se décida en effet à tout quitter, femme, enfants, maison, domaine, pour servir Dieu. Il s'éloigna, pieds nus, vêtu d'une longue robe de bure, un chapelet à la main, sans argent, sans provision, en jetant un dernier regard tendre et prolongé vers les siens.
Une nuit, Dieu le pénétra d'une lumière éclatante, et depuis ce temps, il n'éprouva jamais ni la faim, ni la soif, ni le froid. Ayant trouvé un lieu sauvage et solitaire, il s'y logea dans une hutte de feuillage, puis dans une cabane de pierre. La nouvelle de sa présence s'était répandue bientôt, et il se fit près de lui une grande affluence. Chose incroyable, le saint ermite ne vécut, pendant dix-neuf ans, que de la Sainte Eucharistie; les autorités civiles et ecclésiastiques, saisies du fait, firent surveiller sa cabane et constatèrent la merveille d'une manière indubitable.
La Suisse, un moment divisée, était menacée dans son indépendance par l'Allemagne. Nicolas de Flüe, vénéré de tous, fut choisi pour arbitre et parla si sagement, que l'union se fit, à la joie commune, et la Suisse fut sauvée. On mit les cloches en branle dans tout le pays, et le concert de jubilation se répercuta à travers les lacs, les montagnes et les vallées, depuis le plus humble hameau jusqu'aux plus grandes villes.
Nicolas fut atteint, à l'âge de soixante-dix ans, d'une maladie très aiguë qui le tourmenta huit jours et huit nuits sans vaincre sa patience.
Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950
Illustration de l'Amtliche Luzerner Chronik of 1513 de Diebold Schilling the Younger , illustrant les événements de la Diète de Stans en 1481. en haut: Un prêtre nommé Heini am Grund visite Nicolas de Flüe pour lui demander ses conseils pour sauver la Diète de Stans des menaces de guerre civile, car les délégués des cantons ruraux et urbains de la Confédération suisse n'ont pas pu s'entendre. En bas: Grund retourne à la Diète et expose les conseils de Nicolas, après quoi les délégués établissent un compromis. Grund est représenté retenant un huissier qui veut aller répandre les bonnes nouvelles : les conseils Nicolas restent encore secrets jusqu'à ce jour.
Saint Nicolas de Flüe
Ermite en Suisse (✝ 1487)
Cet herbager du centre de la Suisse, du canton d'Unterwald, eut une grande influence dans les cantons de langue germanique qui ont été à la naissance de la Confédération helvétique. Malgré son penchant pour la méditation solitaire, il ne suivit pas immédiatement ce qui était sa vocation première. Il épousa une femme courageuse, Dorothée Wiss, qui lui donna cinq filles et cinq fils. Il tenait sa place dans la vie politique du canton comme conseiller, mais aussi comme officier dans l'armée. Mais ce bon père de famille, cet homme d'un grand civisme, se retire dans un lieu solitaire pour prier chaque fois qu'il le peut. A cinquante ans, n'y tenant plus, il se laisse happer par la contemplation. Il demande à sa femme et à ses grands enfants l'autorisation de se consacrer entièrement à Dieu. Permission accordée qui devrait mériter à Dorothée aussi la reconnaissance de l'Église pour l'héroïcité de ses vertus. Nicolas s'enfonce dans la prière. Les visions mystiques deviennent de plus en plus nombreuses. Son jeûne est absolu, scrupuleusement vérifié par des espions de l'évêque du lieu. Curieusement, plus il s'isole, plus il influence la politique de son pays. On vient lui demander conseil, il dicte ses recommandations, toujours en faveur de la paix et de la concorde. Et c'est ainsi qu'il sauva sa patrie en 1471, lors de l'invasion de Charles le Téméraire, duc de Bourgogne qui voulait l'annexer et, en 1481, quand il rédigea en une nuit une constitution qui empêcha Unterwald de quitter les autres cantons, au risque de la désagrégation de la confédération.
Canonisé le 15 mai 1947, il est patron principal de la Confédération helvétique.
En Suisse, le 25 septembre, Solennité de saint Nicolas de Flüe, célébrée le 21 mars dans l'Église universelle.
À Ranft, près de Sachsen en Suisse, l’an 1487, saint Nicolas de Flüe, qui, vers l’âge de quarante ans, se sépara de sa femme et de ses dix enfants pour répondre à un appel d’en-haut à une vie plus parfaite et, s’écartant dans la montagne, vécut en ermite sur un escarpement, dans une pénitence très âpre et un mépris du monde qui le rendirent célèbre. Il ne sortit qu’une seule fois de sa cellule, quand menaçait la guerre civile, pour mettre la paix entre les adversaires par une brève exhortation.
Seigneur Dieu, enlevez-moi tout ce qui m’éloigne de vous. Seigneur Dieu, donnez-moi tout ce qui me rapproche de vous. Prenez-moi à moi et donnez-moi tout à vous
Prière de saint Nicolas de Flue
Nicholas of Flüe, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Brder Klaus)
Born at Flüeli near Sachseln, Obwalden (Unterwalden), Switzerland, March 21, 1417; died at Ranft, Switzerland, March 21, 1487; cultus approved in 1669; canonized 1947; feast day formerly March 21; feast day in Switzerland is September 25.
"My Lord and my God, remove from me all that may keep me from you. My Lord and my God, give me all that I need to bring me to you. My Lord and my God, take me from myself and give me to yourself." --Nicholas von Flüe.
Nicholas was born into a family of prosperous farmers, who owned the Kluster Alp and the estate of Flüeli on the Sachsterberg (near Lucerne), from which their surname derives. At various times Saint Nicholas was a soldier, peasant, patriot, and judge in Switzerland. His father held a civil post; his mother was very devout and raised her sons to belong to the brotherhood of the Friends of God (Gottesfreunde). The society sought to live a strict life, to meditate on the passion of the Lord, and to seek a close relationship with God. They lived with their families in small communities or as hermits. Thus, Nicholas was pious from childhood. He was also illiterate.
In his youth Nicholas fought in defense of Swiss Confederation liberties, especially against the Hapsburgs. After the siege of Zurich in 1439, he was commissioned in the army. He defended women and children and the Church, fighting "with a sword in one hand, and a rosary in the other!"
He loved solitude and prayer, but, by 1447, he married pious and comely Dorothea Wysling, daughter of one of the chief families of Sachseln. In the 30 years of their marriage, he had 10 children: John, Rudolph, Walter, Henry, Nicholas, Dorothea, Marguerite, Katherine, Veronica, and another girl who died in infancy. John was elected Landmann of Unterwald. Nicholas (the youngest) studied at the University of Basle and became a priest; another became a governor of the province. Dorothea's piety led her to be called "the consolation of the Church."
Nicholas would rise at dawn to tend the flocks, eat at 9:00 a.m. with his family and servants at the same table, and again at the end of the day they would gather for Vesperbrod and end the evening with family prayers. While working in the fields, he was often rapt in ecstatic prayer, experiencing visions and revelations. He continued the devout practices of his youth, fasted frequently, and often spent the night in prayer.
In 1460, Thurgau was invaded by Austria and Nicholas commanded 100 men. During this campaign at Katharinental the Swiss troops were faced with a situation that anticipated in miniature that at Monte Cassino in 1944: When the Swiss succeeded in capturing the village of Diesenhofer, many Austrian soldiers sought refuge in the church of the Dominican Convent of Saint Catherine. The Swiss command was going to burn the church, but Nicholas prayed for divine guidance before the crucifix in the cloister, then he asked the command to revoke its order stressing the moral gravity of the act. The order was canceled. Nicholas was awarded a gold medal when peace was declared, in thanks for his services.
Fellow-citizens wanted him to accept the office of Landmann (governor), but he twice refused. He was appointed magistrate, served as judge for the canton, and was sent as a deputy for Obwalden to councils. When, in 1465, a powerful family appealed his fair decision and was rendered an unjust one against a humble peasant, he resigned. "Later he testified that he could see and feel flames of fire, of a disgusting odor, issuing from the mouths of the judges as they pronounced their unjust sentence; and he knew that they already had a foretaste of hell within themselves." Though the elite turned against him and spoke calumnies of him, Nicholas was still sought out by his neighbors and people from the adjoining cantons to settle disputes.
In 1467 (age 50), fourteen months after the birth of the tenth child, Nicholas heard God's command to live as a hermit and told his wife immediately. He resigned his offices and, with his devout wife's permission, left his family to live for the next 20 years as a hermit in almost perpetual prayer. Dorothea was overcome by the news but put no obstacles in his way because she recognized the call. "She wept as she made the supreme sacrifice" of allowing her husband to leave. His relatives and neighbors, however, were full of indignation, which he disregarded. Nicholas and his wife drew up an agreement and told the family and servants that Dorothea was thenceforth head of the family.
He left barefoot and bareheaded, wearing a drab habit and carrying a rosary and a staff. Thus clad as a pilgrim, Nicholas became known as Brother Klaus. He appears to have been headed for Strasbourg, France, where the headquarters of the Gottesfreunde lay, looking for a hermitage in which to spend his final years. On his way, however, he wandered toward Basle, where he was put up by a peasant who was a Friend of God, who told him that the Swiss were unpopular in Alsace and that he might not find there the life that he sought.
That night during a violent thunderstorm, Nicholas looked at a little town beyond the frontier and saw that lightning made it appear to be in flames. He took this as a divine confirmation of the peasant's advice and turned back. When Brother Klaus decided to follow the peasant's suggestion, he felt a violent pain in his intestines and was surrounded by light. Thereafter, he "never felt the need of human food or drink, and have never used them." Hunters brought back to his family the news that they had seen him living on his pastureland in a shelter of boughs. Family members went to beg him not to stay there and fall prey to exposure.
So, he finally moved to Ranft, where the people of Obwalden built him a cell and a small chapel. He lived many years in this lonely place above a narrow gorge within earshot of the mountain stream spending most of his time in prayer. He prayed and meditated from midnight to midday, attended Mass in Sachseln every Sunday, and paid an annual visit to Lucerne for the Musegger procession. He never ate or drank anything except the Blessed Sacrament.
Abbot Oswald Isner wrote:
"When Nicholas had abstained for 11 days from taking natural food, he sent for me and asked me secretly whether he should take some food or continue to fast. He had always desired to live without eating, the better to separate himself from the world. I touched the parts of his body where little flesh was left; all was dried up; his cheeks were hollow and his lips were very thin.
"When I had seen and understood that it could come only from divine love, I advised brother Nicholas to continue to this test as long as he could stand it without the danger of death. That is what brother Nicholas did; from that moment until his death, that is for about twenty-one and a half years, he continued to take no food for the body.
"Since the holy brother was more familiar with me than with anyone else, I asked him many times how he managed to do it. One day in his cell he told me, in great secrecy, that when the priest celebrated communion he received the strength which alone permitted him to live without eating or drinking."
When those seeking his counsel asked him about eating nothing, Nicholas would reply, "God knows." Cantonal magistrates had his cell watched for a month to ensure themselves of the fact that no one brought him food. Nevertheless, Nicholas held that "holy obedience is the highest virtue." When Bishop Thomas visited him and commanded him to eat bread and a little wine after 18 months of nothing, Nicholas hesitated to obey. When he did try to eat a tiny fragment of a morsel, he almost choked to death and the bishop finally believed.
Until he had a chaplain, he attended Sunday Mass and Holy Days at the parish church of Sachseln. Nicholas founded a chantry for a priest with donations and thus was enabled to assist at Mass daily. In 1470, Pope Paul II granted the first indulgence to the sanctuary at Ranft and it became a place of pilgrimage. Occasionally Klaus would make a pilgrimage to Engleburg or Einsiedeln.
He received the great (including Emperor Frederick III), the humble, and children. Many pilgrims came for counsel. He could speak with authority to married people and children. His wife and children also attended Mass in his chapel and listened to his spiritual counsel.
In 1481, the Swiss Confederation had gained its independence from Charles the Bold of Burgundy, the rulers of Europe sought its alliance, and it was on the verge of breaking apart over how to divide the spoils gained during the conquests. Internal disputes threatened its solidarity, but an agreement was reached and put forth in the Compromise of Stans. Still unresolved, however, was the issue of the inclusion of Fribourg and Soleure, and it caused such controversy that in 1481 civil war was feared. A parish priest of Stans recommended seeking a final opinion from the 64- year-old Nicholas. This was agreed to, and he went to Nicholas, whose counsel had been sought at various stages of the drafting of the edict, and it has even been said that it was drawn up in his cell. After the priest's return to Stans, the council arrived at a unanimous decision within an hour and maintained the unity of the land.
Despite his lack of education and experience with the world, his mediation led to permanent national unity for Switzerland. He could not even write; he used a special seal as a signature. Letters of thanks to him from Berne and Soleure still survive.
Six years later, he became ill for the last time. He suffered greatly for eight days, received Holy Viaticum, then died peacefully in his cell with his wife and children by his bed. Nicholas was buried at Sachseln and the Flüe family still survives in Switzerland.
His wife and children were probably none the worse for his becoming a hermit. It may be that his prayers and spiritual counsel did more for his family than his remaining with them would have. We do not blame explorers and soldiers for leaving their families, why blame a saint?
His canonization was delayed because a fire destroyed the documents relating to it. Nevertheless, he is the patron saint of Switzerland.
Several accounts survive of visitors' memories of Bruder Klaus: one described him as tall, brown, and wrinkled with then grizzled locks and a short beard, bright eyes, white teeth, and a shapely nose. This corresponds well with a Fribourg portrait of him done in 1492 (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, J. Delaney, S. Delany, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).
Saint Nicholas is portrayed as a hermit being thrown into a thorn bush by the devil. At other times he may be shown praying in a mountainous landscape or entering a house while carrying a staff tipped with a cross. Nicholas is greatly venerated in Switzerland (Roeder).SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0322.shtml
Saint Nicholas of Flüe
Had Nicholas not been a saint, or had he eaten and drunk like other saints, Switzerland with all it has meant for peace and humanity would probably not exist today. For Nicholas’s entire life was ordained in view of his vocation to save his country.
Nicholas von Flue was born on March 21st, 1417 in the Canton of Unterwalden on the lake of Lucerne, a citizen of a peasant democracy and a farmer’s son. As he grew up he proved himself a capable farmer, and the ability he displayed in the local parliament, of which every male citizen was a member, led to his election at an early age as councillor and judge. He also proved himself a capable commander of troops. In the war against the duke of Tirol he persuaded his compatriots to respect a convent of nuns. Though willing to perform his military service, Nicholas condemned as immoral, wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants inevitable in any major modern war. About the age of thirty he married a farmer’s daughter, Dorothy Wiss, and built a farmhouse to receive her. The couple had ten children and descendants survive to this day.
Nicholas had thus approved himself to his countrymen as a thoroughly capable man, as farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and father of a family—also a man of complete moral integrity. All the while, however, he led a life of contemplative prayer and rigorous fasting. He was the subject of symbolic visions and a diabolic assault.
After some twenty years of married life, in 1467 Nicholas received a compelling call to abandon his home and the world and become a hermit. Though she had just borne his tenth child his wife heroically consented. His neighbors, however, even his older children, regarded his action as indefensible, unbalanced, immoral and irresponsible. He set out for Alsace, where he intended to live. Had he carried out his intention his vocation would have been missed. A storm, however, symbolically interpreted, and friendly advice not to settle where the Swiss were detested made him turn back from the border. At the same time he became incapable of eating or drinking—a condition which continued for the rest of his life. As an act of obedience to a bishop he once ate with acute agony a piece of soaked bread. (The problem of prolonged fasting is more fully discussed in the account of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.)
He resumed to his native canton, passing the first night undiscovered in the cow-shed of his farm and settled in a hermitage at Ranft within a few miles of his home. It was no temptation to return home, as he never felt the least desire for his former life. Symbolic visions continued to be a feature of his contemplation, and when, after a month’s strict surveillance, his countrymen were convinced that his fast was genuine, they recognised his sanctity and vocation, and he became a spiritual guide whose advice was widely sought and followed. Pilgrims came from distant parts to consult him. He acquired influence with Duke Sigismund of the Tirol, whom he confirmed in his neutrality when the Swiss confederacy met and defeated Charles of Burgundy. Everything was ready for the climax of Nicholas’s life: the accomplishment of his unique vocation.
The victorious cantons were at loggerheads. The rural cantons opposed inflexibly the demand of Zurich and Lucerne that Freiburg and Soleure be admitted to the confederacy. A conference held at Stans, December 1481, failed to reach agreement. Next day the delegates would disperse and a civil war ensue which would presumably have destroyed the confederacy. The parish priest, once Nicholas’s confessor, hurried to Ranft and laid the matter before the hermit. During the night Nicholas dictated suggested terms of agreement. The priest resumed in time to persuade the delegates to give a hearing to the proposals of a man so widely respected for his well tried practical abilities and so widely venerated for his holiness. The terms suggested—the conditional admittance of Freiburg and Soleure—were unanimously accepted and embodied in the agreement of Stans. Switzerland had been saved.
Nicholas survived his achievement almost six years, universally revered, visited and consulted. On March 21st 1487, his seventieth birthday, he died, apparently of his first illness. One is glad to know that his wife and children attended his deathbed. After all, she had never lost her husband completely. Honored by Swiss Protestants, venerated by Swiss Catholics, Nicholas’s cult, uninterrupted since his death, was officially sanctioned by Clement IX (1667-9). In 1947 he was canonized by Pope Pius XII.
Blessed Nicholas of Flüe
Born 21 March, 1417, on the Flüeli, a fertile plateau near Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Switzerland; died 21 March, 1487, as a recluse in a neighboring ravine, called Ranft. He was the oldest son of pious, well-to-do peasants and from his earliest youth was fond of prayer, practiced mortification, and conscientiously performed the labor of a peasant boy. At the age of 21 he entered the army and took part in the battle of Ragaz in 1446. Probably he fought in the battles near the Etzel in 1439, near Baar in the Canton of Zug in 1443, and assisted in the capture of Zürich in 1444. He took up arms again in the so-called Thurgau war against Archduke Sigismund of Austria in 1460. It was due to his influence that the Dominican Convent St. Katharinental, whither many Austrians had fled after the capture of Diessenhofen, was not destroyed by the Swiss confederates. Heeding the advice of his parents he married, about the age of twenty-five, a pious girl from Sachseln, named Dorothy Wyssling, who bore him five sons and five daughters. His youngest son, Nicholas, born in 1467, became a priest and a doctor of theology. Though averse to worldly dignities, he was elected cantonal councillor and judge. The fact that in 1462 he was one of five arbiters appointed to settle a dispute between the parish of Stans and the monastery of Engelberg, shows the esteem in which he was held. After living about twenty-five years in wedlock he listened to an inspiration of God and with the consent of his wife left his family on 16 October, 1467, to live as a hermit. At first he intended to go to a foreign country, but when he came into the neighborhood of Basle, a divine inspiration ordered him to take up his abode in the Ranft, a valley along the Melcha, about an hour's walk from Sachseln. Here, known as "Brother Klaus", he abode over twenty years, without taking any bodily food or drink, as was established through a careful investigation, made by the civil as well as the ecclesiastical authorities of his times. He wore neither shoes nor cap, and even in winter was clad merely in a hermit's gown. In 1468 he saved the town of Sarnen from a conflagration by his prayers and the sign of the cross. God also favored him with numerous visions and the gift of prophecy. Distinguished persons from nearly every country of Europe came to him for counsel in matters of the utmost importance. At first he lived in a narrow hut, which he himself had built with branches and leaves, and came daily to Mass either at Sachseln or at Kerns. Early in 1469 the civil authorities built a cell and a chapel for him, and on 29 April of the same year the chapel was dedicated by the vicar-general of Constance, Thomas, Bishop of Ascalon. In 1479 a chaplain was put in charge of the chapel, and thenceforth Nicholas always remained in the Ranft. When in 1480 delegates of the Swiss confederates assembled at Stans to settle their differences, and civil war seemed inevitable, Henry Imgrund, the pastor of Stans, hastened to Nicholas, begging him to prevent the shedding of blood. The priest returned to the delegates with the hermit's counsels and propositions, and civil war was averted. Nicholas was beatified by Pope Clement IX in 1669. Numerous pilgrims visit the chapel near the church of Sachseln, where his relics are preserved. His feast is celebrated on 21 March.
MING, Der selige Nicolaus von Flüe, sein Leben und Wirken (4 vols., Lucerne, 1861-78); VON AH, Des seligen Einsiedlers Nikolaus von Flue wunderbares Leben (Einsiedeln, 1887); BAUMBERGER, Der sel. Nikolaus von Flüe (Kempten and Munich, 1906); Acta SS., III, March, 398-439 WETZEL, Der sel. Nikolaus von Flüe (Einsiedeln, 1887; Ravensburg, 1896) tr. into Italian, MONDADA (Turin, 1888); DE BELLOC, Le bienheureux Nicolas de Flüe et la Suisse d'autrefois (Paris, 1889); BLAKE, A hero of the Swiss Republic in The Catholic World, LXV (New York, 1897), 658-673.SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11062a.htm
Ott, Michael. "Blessed Nicholas of Flüe." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911.22 Mar. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11062a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph E. O'Connor.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Voir aussi : http://www.abbaye-saint-benoit.ch/saints/nicolas/nicolas.htm