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The story of the priest Sebastian Kneipp

born 1821 in Stephansried in the Swabia region of Bavaria
died 1897 in Bad Wörishofen

Alongside his spiritual activities and daily farming work, Sebastian Kneipp believed he had a major duty to help the sick and protect the healthy against sickness.
Kneipp became seriously ill during his studies with tuberculosis of both lungs, meaning that he had to spend half of his study time in bed.
The doctors had already given up on him when in a library he discovered a book by the physician Johann Sigmund Hahn MD, entitled “The wonderful healing power of fresh water on the bodies of human beings when used internally and externally”.
Thus encouraged, Kneipp tested the power of water on himself one winter’s day by running for three quarters of an hour along the River Danube, undressing, plunging into the icy waters for a few seconds, dressing once more without drying himself and running back to his dwelling, bathed in sweat.
He subsequently repeated this practice three times a week in winter, whatever the temperature. His condition slowly and steadily improved and he finally recovered completely, entering the priesthood at the age of 31.
Kneipp’s doctrine emphasises endurance therapy, the strengthening of the body’s defences and of its self-healing powers. It sees body and mind as a single entity and uses the simple charms of nature: light, air, sun, water and medicinal plants.
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