Nicholas of Flüe (German: Nikolaus von Flüe; 1417 – 21 March 1487) was a Swiss hermit and ascetic who is the patron saint of Switzerland. He is sometimes invoked as Brother Klaus. A farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and mystic, he was respected as a man of complete moral integrity. He is known for having fasted for over twenty years. Brother Klaus’s counsel to the Diet of Stans (1481) helped prevent war between the Swiss cantons.
500 years ago, the brother Niklaus von Flue saved the Swiss Confederation from collapse in the so-called “Stanser Kommommnis” and entered the history of Switzerland as the “Father of the Fatherland”. Niklaus von Flue brought it from farmer to captain, councilman and judge and then lived as a hermit for 20 years. Winfried Abel, a young, poetically gifted pastor in Kasset, has attempted to decrypt the visual testament of Brother Klaus, and we are astonished and grateful to find out what God foreshadowed and revealed to the little ones. Here is bread for the soul, according to which the person threatened by the emptying of meaning is starving as never before. A Message of Peace for our Times!
Of the many spiritual insights Nicholas received in his visions, one, in particular, is reproduced often in a reduced logographic format, as a mystical wheel. Nicholas described his vision of the Holy Face at the center of a circle with the tips of three swords touching the two eyes and mouth, while three others radiate outwards in a sixfold symmetry reminiscent of the Seal of Solomon. A cloth painted with the image, known as the meditation prayer cloth associates the symbol with six episodes from the life of Christ: the mouth of God at the Annunciation, the eyes spying Creation both in its prelapsarian innocence and redemption from the Fall at Calvary, while in the inward direction the betrayal by his disciple Judas in the Garden of Gethsamene points to the crown of the Pantocrator sitting in the judgment seat, the glad tidings of the Nativity scene’s “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to his people on Earth” echoes in the ear on the right of the head, while the memorial of the Lord’s Supper “This is my body, which will be given for you” at the prayers of consecration in the Divine Liturgy of the Mass echoes to the ear on the left of the head.
These six medallions contain additional symbols of acts of Christian kindness:
- two crutches suggest Visiting the sick as a work of mercy
- hiker’s walking stick with travel pouch suggests Hospitality to strangers
- a loaf of bread, fish and a pitcher of water and wine represent Feed the hungry, quench the thirsty
- chains indicate Care for the incarcerated
- Christ’s garments evoke Clothe the naked
- a coffin reminds us to Bury the dead
This visual interpretation encapsulates the personal piety of rural peasants, many illiterate, for whom salvation history was expressed in these crucial aspects of God’s loving relationship with us and the Christian duty to the love of neighbor. Sanctifying grace flows from the Paschal Victim on the Cross, an image Nicholas described in his vision by the stream, where the Tabernacle sits atop a spring that flows forth covering the earth, echoing the rivers flowing from the Temple in Ezekiel’s visions. Such profound insights on the allegorical, anagogical and tropological senses of scripture are often lost in modern biblical exegesis that focuses too narrowly on the literal sense, the historical-critical method. One vision he had between 1474, the year the monk Hans von Waltheim [de] visited him, and 1478, when Albrecht von Bonstetten. He was frightened by the vision of a glowing face and adopted a bewildered appearance which also shocked von Bonstetten. The medieval biographer Heinrich Wölflin wrote that other visitors were also frightened but there is no other report about this.
The Prayer of Brother Klaus:
My Lord and my God,
take everything from me,
which hinders me to you.
My Lord and my God,
give everything to me,
which helps me towards you
My Lord and my God,
take me and just give
me completely to you o Lord.
Saint Niklaus von Flüe, the patron saint of Switzerland, was held in the highest esteem by both CG Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz. Jung even declared him the Patron Saint of Psychotherapy, due to the Saint’s deep inward reflections and profound experiences. His visions reportedly began while still in his mother’s womb and continued until his death. One of his later visions was a terrifying image of the face of God. Von Franz saw Niklaus as the shadow brother of Christ and wrote of him as the alchemical Anthropos, a universal man. His visions were an evolution of Christian mysticism.
A Sufi Saint about Brother Klaus:
Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Al-Haqqani An-Naqshibandi, Sohbat from January, 1991
“I was passing through Switzerland and I was visiting a holy man through Switzerland. According to traditions, he was a very simple person, never belonging to emperors or kings. Simple and poor person, living through forest, far away from people, running away from people, running to his Lord’s service.
Running to be able for his Lord’s servanthood better. He was asking servanthood for his Lord. Perhaps, 300 years or more, he passed away. But yet, he has been respected and visited. Because his Lord dressed him honor from His Divine Presence. And it is someone that belongs the nation of Christians.
But he was a true believer in his Lord and in His, Almighty’s prophets and His Beloved Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Sayyidina Muhammad, peace be upon him. Now that I am speaking for him, he’s sending to me to say that “I was follower the Seal of Prophets also. Don’t think that, that honor given to me only to be follower Jesus Christ.” That was the reason he was saying “that I was escaping from people away. And blessings that coming with me, it was a protection for this country. And so many years, through centuries, I was a guarantee for the peace, to be peace in Switzerland.”