History of Kneipp and Bad Wörishofen Life of Sebastian Kneipp


Life of Sebastian Kneipp
  • Sebastian Kneipp - founder of the kneipp cure
  • Water treading historical picture - sebastian kneipp founder of the kneipp cure
  • Kneipp lecture in Bad Woerishofen
  • Historical bath house in Bad Woerishofen
  • Kneipp consultation painting

Sebastian Kneipp was born on 17 may 1821, the son of waever Xaver Kneipp in Stephansried near Ottobeuren. The family had five children and were extremely poor, and so Sebastian also had to help with the weaving. When he was just eleven years old, he was using two shuttles and linen cloth himself, working from morning to evening at the loom in the cellar. But even though he was known as the "weaver's son", Kneipp wanted more from life - he wanted to study and become a prist, as he said, "then I can help everyone".

This time, Chaplain Matthias Merkle took him on, and Kneipp was able to start his training in 1844 by attending grammar school in Dillingen an der Donau, a Bavarian town on the River Danube. There, fate dealt him a bitter blow - which turned out to be literally - a watershed in his life and work: Sebastian Kneipp fell ill with tuberculosis. It was this time that he came across a little book by Dr. Johann Sigmund Hahn entitled "Teachings on the miraculous healing powers of fresh water". He took the lessons to heart and cured himself by immersing himself every day in the icy waters of the Danube. Sebastian Kneipp remained true to this treatment throughout his life, and recommended it to others as well.

In 1852, Kneipp was ordained as a priest in Augsburg Cathedral. Not long afterwards, he was appointed as the father confessor at the Dominican convent in Wörishofen, where he remained for the next 40 years. Here he initially lived in the convent and later moved into the presbytery.

His own experiences of illness and his family's poverty led him to develop a holistic naturopathic approach to health, capable of helping everyone across all social classes. He once remarked; "Anyone not born and raised in poverty will never fully understand the fate of the poor." He worked on all these principles throughout his life.

For the spa guets and patients, Kneipp prescribed water rinses, medicinal herbs or specific exercises. And those looking for help were extremely grateful to him: Kneipp himself soon advanced to become a kind of icon.

The small community of Wörishofen in southwestern Germany didn't remain untouched by Father Kneipp's teachings and therapeutic treatments. As growing numbers of guets and the needy arrived,  the village changed. Locals began furnishing rooms in theit own homes to take visitors and soon new houses were being built. The numbers of guests to the little village were constantly growing, often included prominent public figures. And Kneipp's success proved that his method worked. His books "My Water Cure", "Thus Thou Shalt Live" and finally "My Testament" spread his teachings around the world. He also went on numerous lecture tours worldwide.

The success story of Sebastian Kneipp's teachings started during his own lifetime and contuned unabated. Kneipp died on 17 June, 1897, when he was 76 years old. He is buried at the Wörishofen cemetery. Even after his death, the enthusiasm for his naturopathic therapies shows no sign of abating.

Kneipp's teachings recommend appropriate and effective methods e. g. for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia, varicose veins and back pain, as well as tension and stress and a general feeling of malaise. The outstanding success enjoyed by Kneipp's therapies continues today, as is shown simply by the high numbers of visitors to Bad Wörishofen year after year. Over 100,000 visitors come here to immerse themselves into the world of Sebastian Kneipp.

History of Bad Wörishofen

The history of Bad Wörishofen starts long before Kneipp. The first traces of settlements in the Wörishofen region date from the first millennium BC, when the Celts lived here. Many graves from this period have survived.

Later, when the Roman Empire expanded north, Wörishofen was whithin its territory. There was a Roman guard post nearby, together with a small settlement. This was also not far from the long-distance Roman road running all the way from Lake Constance to Augsburg.

The settlement of Wörishofen must have already existed in the early middle ages. It is first mentioned in written records in 1067, in a document including the name of noble Otthalm of "Werenshova". By the way, it is thanks to a woman that the settlement took its later shape.In 1243, the widow Christina von Fronhofen donated her property in Bad Wörishofen to the Augsburg Dominican Order. This gift allowed the newly founded Saint Catherine's Convent in Augsburg to establish itself in Wörishofen, with a steadily growing area under its control. In the 18th century, the convent was built by Franz Beer.

In 1803, in common with nearly all monasteries and convents in Bavaria, the Dominican convent in Wörishofen was secularised and passed into state control. Although the nuns were allowed to remain here, they were not allowed to accept any novices. They submit an urgent appeal to the King of Bavaria, Ludwig the First, to revive the convent. With his help, they bought back the convent and all its equipment in 1842. Today the Sebastian Kneipp Museum is housed in the rooms of the convent.

In 1920, Wörishofen was granted permission to add "Bad" to its name, making it officially today's spa town "Bad Wörishofen".

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