Heinrich Seuse

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Seuse, attacked by demons, devils, humans and animals (picture from the copy, second half of the 14th century), Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg
Dominican monastery in Constance, historicizing reconstruction

Heinrich Seuse (* March 21, 1295 or 1297 in Konstanz or in Überlingen , † January 25, 1366 in Ulm ), also Heinrich (von) Suso, Heinrich Seuss or (less common) Heinrich von Berg, or "Amandus" is a medieval mystic and Dominican who worked in Constance and Ulm, on the Upper Rhine and in Switzerland. He is venerated as a blessed in the Catholic Church .


Heinrich Seuse comes from the old Thurgau ministerial family von Berg, who belonged to the patriciate in Constance. At the age of 13 he entered the Dominican order in Constance , probably under the influence of his deeply religious mother . Seuse no longer called himself "von Berg", but after his mother, a born von Seusen from Überlingen. The name Seuse possibly means "the sweet one", in the Latinized form "Suso". In the Dominican monastery in Constance, Seuse went through the training that was customary at the time and was then a novice for a year until he made his profession , his religious vows.

In the subsequent multi-year studies in philosophy and theology, Seuse showed himself so talented that he was sent to Cologne in 1323/24 to study generals of his order ; there he belonged to the closest student group of Meister Eckhart and was lastingly impressed by his negative theology . Around 1326/7, when the heresy trial against Eckhart was already underway in Cologne , Seuse returned to Konstanz as a lecturer, but was no longer allowed to exercise this office from 1329 onwards due to suspicions of heresy in the context of the Eckhart trial until he was finally rehabilitated again in 1334. From now on he devoted himself increasingly to an active pastoral work that he had already started during his studies. In the sense of a return to the ideals of the order, he worked primarily in the women's convents of his order on the Upper Rhine and in Switzerland; He found a “spiritual daughter” in Elsbeth Stagel in Töss Monastery , with whom he was in lively spiritual exchange until his death. When the Dominicans loyal to the Pope had to leave Constance (1338–1346) in the conflict between the papacy and Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian , Seuse also went into exile; during this time he was elected prior of the convent in 1342 . In 1348/49 Seuse was transferred to Ulm on the basis of a defamation; there he remained, despite complete rehabilitation, until the end of his life on January 25, 1366.

After Seuse was sometimes regarded as a saint during his lifetime, his veneration continued over the centuries, so that he was without a formal beatification process in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI. “Per viam cultus” (i.e. due to continued cultic veneration) could be beatified. According to Catholic tradition, his day of remembrance is January 25, in the German-speaking area moved to January 23 ( non-mandatory day of remembrance in the regional calendar for the German-speaking area ), and January 25 according to the Evangelical name calendar .

Seuse as an author

After completing his studies, Heinrich Seuse developed a diverse literary activity that he continued until the end of his life; she was an essential part of his pastoral care. In doing so, Seuse proves to be a highly educated and style-conscious author. He also uses ancient authors as sources as well as biblical and patristic literature, as well as didactic monastic literature, especially the Vitaspatrum , as well as the authoritative theological works of his time, especially Thomas Aquinas , Bonaventure , (pseudo-) Dionysius Areopagita , Bernhard von Clairvaux , Wilhelm von St. Thierry, and Meister Eckhart. Linguistically, he not only has the stylistic devices of the theological treatise, scholastic rhetoric and mystical speculation, but also uses dialogic role-talk as well as the narrative forms of legendary narration and the courtly novel , up to and including novellist interludes. His vocabulary is apparently "the richest and most differentiated of all mystics", and through numerous new forms of his own, Seuse has significantly enriched the German vocabulary . Overall, characteristic of the style of his writings is the combination of a strongly affective diction with a scholastically trained line of thought. Seuse is an author who repeatedly reflects on his own writing, especially in the much-cited passage about the basic problem of mystical authors, how the imagery can be addressed using figurative language:

"How can one depict the imagery in a picture ... that is beyond all senses and beyond human reason? For whatever parable is given to it, it is a thousand times more unequal than it is equal. But nevertheless, so that one expels images with images, I want to show you figuratively with a simile speech, if it is possible, of the same imageless thoughts as they are to be taken in truth. "

In view of such reflective writing, it is only logical that Seuse attaches great importance to the fact that his writings are passed down unchanged. So he not only demands that one should “not add anything to it, nor change the words” when copying, but also put his writings in a kind of “edition last Hand ”together, the so-called copy . In addition to the copy , Seuse also received the so-called Large Letter Book as a collection of 28 pastoral letters, some sermons and the Minnebüchlein (which is disputed in terms of authorship) , as well as the Latin Horologium Sapientiae . Seuse is definitely aiming at a broad readership; except for the Horologium Sapientiae , all of his writings are in the vernacular.

Seuse's works were then widely distributed early on; The Horologium Sapientiae had a profound influence on Christian spirituality in large parts of Europe for centuries, and with his German writings Seuse is one of the most powerful authors of German-language spiritual literature.

Works: The "copy"

Seuse's intellectual legacy is concentrated in the copy he himself has compiled , a “sample book” in which he edits his writings to their final form and, contrary to their time of origin, allows them to become a “spiritual path” of a very special kind. This four-part edition begins with his vita , followed by the little book of eternal wisdom and the little book of truth , and ends with the little letter book . The texts are illustrated with picture plates made by Seuse himself (twelve in most manuscripts) with explanatory tapes.

The "Vita"

The so-called “Vita” (in the original “Der Súse” ), which was probably finally completed around 1362, turns out to be a highly complex literary work. Seuse sets the "servant" (the eternal wisdom) as the literary subject. Kurt Ruh sees “Diener” as a “hagiographic role and with it a distance from the personal self”. Elsbeth Stagel's involvement in the creation of the work is possibly fictitious, at least in the way shown. Various parallels and motifs taken from the legend to the courtly novel can be proven, as well as sometimes a “crass and unrealistic drawing” and “hyperbolic narrative elements”, and finally the use of images is thematized in the sense of an improper statement by the author himself. According to Kurt Ruh, it is undisputed that this vita “(in the literary aspect) is one of the most important prose works in German literature of the Middle Ages”.

In its sequence, the Vita follows the model of the threefold path with the gradations of the beginning, advancing and completed human being, as can be found in Bonaventure, for example. This path is taken in following Christ, first (c. 1-18) in following Christ in his suffering. The Vitaspatrum, with their often excessive mortification , provided a model for this . The next level (c. 19-45) is about no longer looking for suffering oneself, but surrendering to the sufferings imposed by God and thus arriving at “complete, perfect serenity of oneself”. To this end, the “servant” now takes on the clerical knightly service in order to pass the following tests, which are described in the style of the aventiures of a chivalric novel. In the second, so-called “Stagel part” of the Vita (from c. 33), the “servant” now conveys his experiences to his “spiritual daughter” Elsbeth Stagel, in order to give her the status of the “beginning” person, both from undue theological speculation and from to keep away from excessive asceticism; his ongoing experiences now become examples to guide the “daughter” to real “serenity”. Then at last it becomes possible on the last level (c. 46-53) to soar “in the height ... of a ... perfect life” and to talk about the “high things”. The narrative part of the vita ends here ; the highest questions of speculative knowledge of God are only presented in the doctrinal discussion. The author is aware that

"All these designed pictures and these laid-out words made into pictures are as distant and as unequal as a black moor from the beautiful sun".

The "Book of Eternal Wisdom"

If the vita is a “'summary' of Seuse's spiritual life experience”, then the booklet following in the copy is intended to serve the eternal wisdom of concrete pastoral guidance. The work was probably created in 1330/31, and Seuse first introduced the role of the “servant” here. The book, which is divided into three parts, leads in the dialogue between “Eternal Wisdom” and its “servant” first to the encounter with the suffering Christ (c. 1-20), in order to then lead to right death and inner life, to receiving God in the sacrament and to constant praise of God (c. 21-24); Finally, a hundred brief “contemplations and desires” follow as a kind of practical guide to follow Christ meditating on his path of suffering, depending on one's own mood and the time available. In this way the divine love should be kindled again in the heart; Jesus' humanity and his suffering are the way and the gate to finally arrive at the highest union with God.

In the years 1331-1334 Seuse wrote a Latin version of the work under the title Horologium sapientiae ; In doing so, he revised the booklet with a view to a different, theologically educated target group, expanded it to include self-biographical statements and now, as "Brother Amandus", particularly emphasizes the subject of the "spiritual marriage".

These two works were most widely distributed among Seuse's writings. The census of manuscripts has so far recorded over 160 copies of the booklet , which was also passed on in partial editions, and the Horologium was almost a European bestseller with around 400 known manuscripts and 10 early prints.

The "Book of Truth"

The Book of Truth , Seuse's earliest work (1329/30), was originally written to defend Eckhart and was initially aimed at a learned audience. Basic questions of scholastic and mystical theology are discussed, with the "truth" teaching the "disciple" - as the role figure is called here. It is about the essence of God and the relationship of creatures to God (c. 1-3), about the incarnation of God and the union of man with God in right "serenity" (c. 4-5), about the ability to cognize and Freedom of the human being and finally about the appropriate lifestyle of a "relaxed" person (c. 6-7).

In the copy , Seuse has edited the little book of truth , and it now has the task, after the exercises in a Christian-like life, to which the book of eternal wisdom has instructed, to Christian man on his way to perfection to the highest questions and knowledge To lead life.

The "letter book"

The so-called letter book is a selection from a total of 28 letters in the so-called "large letter book" . Seuse has compiled 16 letters from the original into 11 letters, whereby the original texts have been shortened or expanded. These revised letters emphasize the aspect of pastoral care and are close in some elements to the sermon; two are addressed directly to Elsbeth Stagel.

Their sequence in the copy again corresponds to the model of the three-step path, from the beginning man (letters 1-7) through the progressive to perfection (letters 8-11), and thus results in a kind of "mystical itinerary ". The last letter and thus also the last text of the copy applies to the devotion to the name of Jesus, which is so fundamental to Seuse's piety.

Overall, the copy corresponds to a very typical characteristic of Christian mysticism in the sequence of its four books , in that it does not end with a look at the transcendence in the upswing towards God, but leads from there back to the people and their pastoral care.

The "Vita" : asceticism and mysticism

With the central theme of “suffering”, Seuse's vita is one of the most important text documents on the subject of “ mysticism and asceticism ”.

Asceticism as mortification

The first part of the Vita (up to c. 18) contains descriptions of extreme forms of self- mortification , self-inflicted suffering, which the “servant of Eternal Wisdom” is said to have practiced from the age of eighteen to forty, that “all his nature was devastated”. Seuse describes these different forms of self-harm in great detail. He carried a cross of nails on his back, the nails of which penetrated the skin. A chain that Seuse wore on his skin caused constant wounds, and he had pointed nails worked into his undergarment, which injured his skin. He often drained his veins and tied himself with a system of belts, straps and locks for years before going to sleep. At night he wore gloves with nails that hurt himself while sleeping and let bugs torment him in bed. Seuse ate and drank at times just as much as was sufficient to survive. He also practiced sleep deprivation and deliberately exposed himself to the cold at Christmas time.

A quote from the Vita :

“For a while he [= Seuse] wore a shirt made of hair [a hair shirt] and an iron chain until the blood ran down from him, so that he was forced to take it off. He secretly saw to it that an undergarment [a hairy undergarment] was made for him, and to the undergarment he had fastened leather strips into which about 150 iron nails, sharply pointed and filed [of brass and sharply filed], were driven [struck], and the tips of the nails were always pointed [against] the flesh. […] He used to sleep in it at night. […] And then he came up with something else: two leather gloves […] and he had a blacksmith [Spengler] equip them over and over with sharpened pencils [with small pointed brass pencils], and he used to put them on at night, so that if he should try to take off his hairy undergarment [the hairy undergarment] in his sleep or to rid himself of the stings of the disgusting insects [from the gnawing of vermin], the pins should then penetrate his body. "

In changed states of consciousness the “servant” felt “immense fire sent into his soul, which even fervently kindled his heart in divine love.” Therefore he went into his cell and turned to God:

"Oh, tender God, I could think of some love sign that would be an eternal sign of love between you and me, a certificate that I am your and my heart's eternal love, a sign that no forgetting could ever erase." In In front of this fervent earnestness he threw his scapular on [= in the monk's costume, covering his chest and back] and bared his bosom and took a pen in his hand and looked at his heart and said: "Oh, great God, now give me strength today and power to fulfill my desires, for you must be melted into the bottom of my heart today. "And began and stabbed the flesh at the point above the heart with the stylus, and so stabbed back and forth and up and down, until he had the name IHS [= sigle for "Jesus"] drawn exactly on his heart. From the sharp stitches the blood streamed heavily from the flesh and ran down over the body into the bosom. In his fiery love it was such a lovely sight to him that he paid little heed to the pain.

Asceticism of "serenity"

The following chapters of the Vita clearly distance themselves from the previously described practices of self-mortification, and the second part of the Vita (from c. 33), which is supposed to teach the “spiritual daughter” Elsbeth Stagel about the right path of mystical ascent, then begins also with a clear rejection of the previously described "hard exercises" and urgently calls for "prudence".

“Therefore it should not be taken for the fact that if a person has not had such rigor, he is prevented from coming to the Supreme. […] To speak in general terms, it is much better to be prudent and strict than rash. But because the middle is hard to find, it is more advantageous to stay a little below than to venture over too much. "

The earlier exercises of asceticism hostile to the body are even suspected, they served to "become great with the people"; Instead, one should be ready to endure physical and mental suffering that are not sought for oneself, namely illnesses, slander, mental abandonment and so on. At the same time one should turn to "salutary assistance to one's neighbor". The “noblest suffering” is a “Christian suffering”, namely patiently “with a sweet heart to overcome evil with good”. The aim of all asceticism is “complete, complete serenity ”; However, this is missed with "external exercises". The body is to be made subservient to the spirit with “virtuous, level-headed exercises” so that the person can sit down with a “strong serenity” in a “stillness of the mind” that allows him to be open to the work of the divine Vita .

Accordingly, in the final chapter of the second part of the Vita, the worship of the name of Jesus, which is fundamental in Seuse's piety, is no longer portrayed in the form of bloody mortification, but in a completely bloodless asceticism ("asceticism" in the literal sense of the word "exercise"):

“When this aforementioned holy daughter [= Elsbeth Stagel] had noticed in many ways that her spiritual father had such great devotion and good faith to the minnish name Jesus, which he carried on his heart, she won a special love for it and in a good one Devotionally she sewed the same name Jesus with red silk in this form IHS on a small handkerchief that she wanted to carry secretly with herself. And then she made innumerable names for the same name and caused the servant to put all the names on his bare heart and send them back and forth to his spiritual children with a divine blessing. And it was made known to you by God: Whoever carried the name with him and said a paternoster in his honor every day, God would do him kindly here and would bless him on his last journey. "

In the final chapter of the entire copy , the “diligent prayer” is emphasized as the “crown of all exercise”, with the imprinting of the heart as a spiritual and spiritual love relationship, far removed from all physical concretization, then in figurative and symbolic language:

"Therefore, the more lovingly we press the divine love into our hearts and the more often we look at it and confidently embrace it with the arms of our heart, the more minutely we will be embraced by it here and in eternal bliss."

To the interpretation of the vita

Up to the present day Seuse's vita has given rise to controversial interpretations; Above all, it is about the reality content of the text, and related to a fundamental discussion of scientific methodology.

Mental history approach

As part of a historical mentality approach to the person of Seuse, Dinzelbacher arranges the descriptions of his often cruel self-abuse in a millennia-old tradition of Christian asceticism, such as can already be found in the desert fathers. Accordingly, Seuse's practices are to be assessed as typical of the mysticism of experience. From the perspective of the history of mentality, mystic texts such as those by Seuse are “primarily reports of experiences that a charismatically gifted person has recorded himself or had trusted people record.” The mystical authors emphasized the content of the experience and not the literary form.

Psychological approach

In a psychologically oriented interpretation attitude, the extreme depictions of anti-body asceticism are focused as reports of realistic and biographically founded experiences. From this point of view, Seuse's self-harm also turns out to be a consequence of psychodynamically conditioned conflicts and presumably traumatic childhood experiences.

Literary approach

Today, in literary studies, Seuse's vita is hardly understood as a biographical report; "Seuse's didactic and pastoral intention [is] unanimously recognized". In view of such a highly artificial work, which is based on differentiated forms of language and genre, the fundamental requirement is that “the literary tradition, […] the genre-specific structure and, above all, the function and intention” of a text must be clarified before any further scientific questions are possible. Under these premises, some interpreters understand the text in the sense of a " grace vita " in which mystical teaching is conveyed in the form of a "life".

In any case, there is general skepticism about the extent to which the descriptions of extreme mortifications or the “adventures” in the following chapters are to be taken literally. A reference to the specific practice of asceticism or to events in the author's life can by no means be ruled out, but in principle it is methodologically impossible to scientifically prove such a reference in a text that has been revised so many times if one cannot also cite extra-literary evidence. The relevant sections of text can also be understood as purely fictional, in the sense of didactic examples that are understandable in view of the addressees of the vita . Seuse is not concerned with the description of a personal, possibly even exemplary, ascetic practice, but on the contrary a narrative strategy to dismantle the practice of bloody asceticism in the nunneries of his pastoral care area; Eckhart and Tauler worked in the same way .,

Like Master Eckhart, Seuse was entrusted with the "Cura monialium", the nuns' pastoral care in the Dominican convents in Switzerland, and had got to know extremely hostile ascetic practices, such as those based on the Vitaspatrum , the legends of the grandfathers, for example by Elsbeth von Oye in the monastery Oetenbach were practiced. The warnings against such mortification had to be more credible if the Vita seemed to make it clear that the “Servant of Eternal Wisdom”, out of his own knowledge, and not out of personal fear of harshness, rejected these practices. How strong the resistance was can be seen from Seuse's cautious formulations, in which he avoids belittling those who have previously acted otherwise. In this sense, Seuses Vita can be seen as an impressive document of psychologically sensitive pastoral care. Since Seuse progressively changes and reevaluates the understanding of "asceticism" in his vita in the course of the presentation, this work is also considered to be one of the most important examples of mystical-didactic literature, which should make it clear that Christian asceticism and Christian mysticism do not require physical hostility .

To the history of the impact

The history of the impact of Seuse's works is still relatively little researched. In any case, Seuse's influence is known not only on the friends of God and the Devotio moderna , but also on post-medieval theologians, pastors and authors such as Nikolaus von Kues or Friedrich Spee . Herder was still impressed by Seuse's writings. In the twentieth century Seuse's works regained increasing importance in the wake of a new interest in mysticism, especially women's mysticism and women's literature.

The humanistic Heinrich-Suso-Gymnasium in Constance , founded in 1604, was named after Seuse in 1948, as was the St. Maria Suso Church in Ulm, consecrated in 1956 , the St. Suso Church in Constance and the St. Suso Church in Überlingen, consecrated in 1974. On June 1st, 2007 the association "SusoHaus - New Mysticism in Dialogue" was founded. The occasion was the revitalization of the Überlinger Suso-Haus, which was set up in 1900 . Since 2006, an attempt has been made to convey the essential moments of Heinrich Seuse's teachings as part of a diverse educational program. The outstanding feature is the source tower in the Suso house, a stone-word-clay installation that extends vertically from the Molasse rock cellar to under the roof of the medieval house.


Editions of works and translations

  • Horologium aeternae sapientiae. Cornelius von Zierickzee, Cologne 1509 ( digitized version )
  • Heinrich Seuse. German writings. Edited by Karl Bihlmeyer. Stuttgart 1907 (reprinted Frankfurt a. M. 1961) online
  • Heinrich Sese. Heinrich Seuse's German writings. 1. u. 2nd volume. Transfer u. a. v. Walter Lehmann. Jena 1911
  • The mystic Heinrich Seuse O. Pr. German writings. Introduced, transferred and explained by v. Nikolaus Heller. FH Kerle, Heidelberg 1926
  • German mystical writings . Translated from Middle High German and edited by Georg Hofmann. With an introduction by Emmanuel Jungclaussen. Introduction by Alois M. Haas. Reprint of the 1st edition from 1966. Benzinger, Zurich / Düsseldorf 1999.
  • The book of truth. Middle High German-German. Edited by Loris Sturlese / Rüdiger Blumrich. With an introduction by Loris Sturlese. Translated by Rüdiger Blumrich. Meiner, Hamburg 1993. ISBN 978-3-7873-1235-1
  • Heinrich Seuses Horologium sapientiae . Edited by Pius Künzle. University Press, Freiburg i. Ü. 1977
  • The Book of Eternal Wisdom. Heinrich Seuse. Based on the manuscript no. 40 of the Suso-Gymnasium in Konstanz. Edited by Jörg Mauz. Verlag am Hockgraben, Konstanz 2003. ISBN 3-930680-10-6 (photographic reproduction of the handwriting and transcription)
  • Book of hours of wisdom: The "Horologium Sapientiae". Translated by Sandra Fenten. Wuerzburg 2007.


  • Philipp StrauchSuso, Heinrich . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 37, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1894, pp. 169-179.
  • Klaus KienzlerSeuse, Heinrich. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 9, Bautz, Herzberg 1995, ISBN 3-88309-058-1 , Sp. 1481-1485.
  • Alois M. Haas, Kurt Ruh: Heinrich Seuse. In: VL² , Vol. 8 (1992) Col. 1109-1129; Addendum Vol. 11 (2004) Col. 1426.
  • Meinolf Schumacher : “Eyn meyster and s. Gregor speaks ". The “allegory of the cave” of Gregory the Great in Heinrich Seuse and in German sermons of the late Middle Ages . In: Literaturwissenschaftliches Jahrbuch , NF 33 (1992) pp. 361–366.
  • Rozenski, Steven (2010), "Henry Suso's Horologium Sapientiae in fifteenth-century France: images of reading and writing in Brussels Royal Library MS IV 111" . Word & Image 26.4, pp. 364-80
  • Werner Williams-Krapp: "Nucleus totius perfectionis." The old fathers' spirituality in the "Vita" of Heinrich Seuse. In: Johannes Janota u. a. (Eds.): Festschrift Walter Haug and Burghart Wachinger , 2 volumes; Niemeyer, Tübingen 1992, Vol. 1, pp. 405-421; Reprint in: Werner Williams-Krapp: Spiritual literature of the late Middle Ages. Small fonts. Edited by Kristina Freienhagen-Baumgardt and Katrin Stegherr, Tübingen 2012 (Late Middle Ages, Humanism, Reformation 64), pp. 65–82 online .
  • Werner Williams-Krapp: Heinrich Suso's 'Vita' between Mystagogy and Hagiography. In: Annette Mulder-Bakker (Ed.): Seeing and Knowing. Women and Learning in Medieval Europe. Leiden 2004, pp. 35-47. Reprint in: Werner Williams-Krapp: Spiritual literature of the late Middle Ages. Small fonts. (see above) pp. 83-96.
  • Kurt Ruh : History of occidental mysticism , Volume 3: The mysticism of the German order of preachers and their foundation by the university scholasticism. Beck, Munich 1996; Pp. 415-475
  • Bernard McGinn : The Mysticism in the West , Volume 4: The Mysticism in Medieval Germany (1300-1500). Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 2008; ISBN 978-3-451-23384-5 ; Pp. 341-411
  • Peter Dinzelbacher : Medieval woman mysticism. Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich 1993; Schöningh.
  • Peter Dinzelbacher: Christian mysticism in the West: its history from the beginnings to the end of the Middle Ages. Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich 1994; Schöningh.
  • Ralph Frenken: Childhood and autobiography from the 14th to 17th centuries: Psychohistorical reconstructions. 2 volumes. (= Psychohistorical research, volume 1/1 and 1/2). Kiel 1999; Oetker-Voges.
  • Ralph Frenken: Childhood and Mysticism in the Middle Ages. (= Supplements to Mediaevistics. Volume 2). Frankfurt am Main 2002; Long.
  • Otto Gillen : The mystic from Lake Constance, Heinrich Seuse's journey from Konstanz to Cologne , 1984, Christiana-Verlag, Stein a. Rhine, ISBN 3-7171-0859-X
  • Markus Enders:  Seuse (Suso), Heinrich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 24, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-11205-0 , p. 283 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Gisela Baldus: The figure of the 'servant' in the works of Heinrich Seuse , dissertation, University of Cologne, 1966 full text PDF, free of charge, 1,128 KB.
  • Jakobus Kaffanke (Ed.): A preacher brother whose name was Seuse. Around 650th year of death of Heinrich Seuse († January 25, 1366) and the 800th year of the confirmation of the Dominican Order on December 22, 1216 . Lit, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-643-13093-8 .


Audio book

  • The hour of the dog - based on Heinrich Seuse's "Exemplar"; ed. v. Hildegard Elisabeth Keller , Markus Kluibenschädl (composer), Vdf Hochschulverlag AG 2011, with contributions by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, ISBN 978-3-7281-3435-6 (trilogy of the timeless)

Web links

Commons : Heinrich Seuse  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Carl Ullmann: Reformers before the Reformation . tape 2 . Friedrich Perthes, 1842, p. 207 ( google.de ).
  2. Mechior Diepenbrock: Heinrich Suso, called Amandus, life and writings. Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 1829, p. XX ( google.de ).
  3. BSB. Retrieved March 15, 2018 .
  4. In the following after the Vita , esp. C. 20; 23; 42f., As well as with an evaluation of (so in each case under: Literature) Haas / Ruh 1992, Sp. 1109–1113; Ruh 1996, pp. 417-420; Enders 2010, pp. 283f.
  5. See Vita c. 42.
  6. If one believes that the presentation of the vita essentially follows empirical facts, then the real turning point in Seuse's life occurs during this time, in which he refrains from the ascetic practice practiced up to now and instead surrenders to the sufferings that God will give him in the future would be imposed. On the other hand, there are objections that the entire description of the practice of asceticism cannot be reconciled with the real living conditions of a Dominican: see Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012 (see above: literature), p. 66f. The statement of the Vita c. 18, the change in life occurred in the fortieth year of life, is understood in any case by Ruh 1996 (see above: literature), p. 447, with convincing reasons as a symbolic number.
  7. The medieval form "Vitaspatrum" is likely to be more appropriate for Seuese's works than the form "Vitae patrum" most commonly used today.
  8. Ruh 1996, p. 474.
  9. According to Ruh 1996, p. 473f., With numerous examples.
  10. Cf. in the Vita especially chapters 46-52 and especially the entire book of truth .
  11. ^ Vita c. 53, Heller p. 176; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 191. Cf. also Seuse's fundamental reference to the figurative language - the “figurata locucio” - in the prologue of the Horologium , quoted in Heller ( see above : editions of works and translations) p. 186, note 1.
  12. ^ Afterword to the little book of eternal wisdom , Heller p. 294, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 325.
  13. See prologue to the copy , Heller p. 4, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 4.
  14. See Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 7.
  15. See Ruh 1996, p. 420.
  16. In the subjunctive form, grammatically in the 3rd person: s. Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 7. Thus, in literary studies today, the work is no longer generally understood as an “autobiography” in the narrower sense.
  17. Ruh 1996, p. 420.
  18. See, with reference to the research history: Ursula Peters: Religiöse Experience als literarisches Faktum. On the prehistory and genesis of women-mystical texts of the 13th and 14th centuries. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1988 (Hermaea NF 56), pp. 135-142 online .
  19. See e.g. B. Ruh 1996, pp. 466-468; particularly instructive parallels to women service of Ulrich von Lichtenstein , ibid., 468th
  20. Ruh 1996, pp. 449 and 422, note 11.
  21. ^ Vita c. 53, Heller p. 176; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 191.
  22. Ruh 1996, p. 468.
  23. See Kurt Ruh: History of Occidental Mysticism , Volume 2: Women's Mysticism and Franciscan Mysticism of the Early Period. Munich 1993; Pp. 428-435; online .
  24. See Vita c. 35, Heller p. 101; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 107.
  25. ^ Vita c. 19, Heller p. 52; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 54.
  26. ^ Vita c. 20; s. also c. 31.
  27. ^ Vita c. 33 and 35, Heller pp. 90f .; 101; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 97f .; 107.
  28. See e.g. B. Vita c. 38, Heller p. 117; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 127.
  29. ^ Vita c. 46, Heller p. 143; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 156.
  30. ^ Vita c. 33, Heller p. 91; 101; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 98.
  31. ^ Vita c. 53, Heller p. 178; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 193f.
  32. Ruh 1996, p. 466.
  33. Cf. Little Book of Eternal Wisdom , Heller, p. 285; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 314.
  34. ^ Final section in the book of eternal wisdom , Heller p. 293; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 324.
  35. Book of Eternal Wisdom , c. 12, Heller p. 192; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 205; c. 12, Heller pp. 225f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 245.
  36. See Ruh 1996, pp. 441f.
  37. According to Haas / Ruh, VL 1992, col. 1123; Ruh 1996, p. 442; 444.
  38. See manuscript census
  39. See Künzle, p. 216; Ruh 1996, p. 442.
  40. Ruh 1996, p. 423f.
  41. ^ After Ruh 1996, p. 469f.
  42. See Ruh 1996, p. 470f.
  43. ^ Haas / Ruh, VL 1992, col. 1123.
  44. ^ Vita c. 18, Heller p. 51; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 52.
  45. See Vita c. 15, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 39ff .; Lehmann 1911, p. 33ff.
  46. See Vita c. 15, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 39; Lehmann 1911, p. 33.
  47. See Vita c. 18, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 46ff .; Lehmann 1911, p. 39ff.
  48. See Vita c. 18, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 47; Lehmann 1911, p. 40.
  49. Quoted from William James : The Diversity of Religious Experience ; more precisely at Heller, c. 15, p. 40f.
  50. The text quoted after James contains relatively many errors and inaccuracies. Correct the expressions in brackets according to the original text, s. Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 39f: "einn herin hemde": a hair shirt is a shirt with (and not made of) hair; "It": means the shirt and not the chain; "Herin niderkleid": a hairy undergarment; "In daz": the leather strips are attached to the robe, but inserted into the robe; "They were moeschin and ...": the nails are made of brass; "Gen": against; “Hit”: a nail is not “driven”; "Spengler": Spengler; "Moeschinú spitzigú steftlú": pointed pencils made of brass; "Herin niderkleid": the undergarment was hair; “In the gnagene daz im tet daz gewúrmme”: it is a kind of gnawing worm.
  51. Similar descriptions come across in the vites of grace of the Engelthaler nun Christine Ebner and above all the Oetenbacher nun Elsbeth von Oye .
  52. ^ Vita c. 4, after Heller p. 18f. See Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 15f .; Lehmann 1911, p. 14f. Lehmann replaces the expression “tender got” in the original (Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 15f.) With “great god” (Lehmann 1911, p. 14); Hofmann replaced by “Dear God” (Seuse (1966), p. 26). For both translators, the body-emphasizing, erotically tinged term “tender” may seem so offensive that it is replaced by adjectives that distort meaning; perhaps the term simply seemed out of date to them. Ruh 1966, p. 422 note 11, classifies this episode as a "hyperbolic narrative element"; the pictorial way of speaking is clearly recognizable in the parallel passage in the 11th letter in the little letter book , Heller p. 356, Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 392: "... this is how the golden IHS should always be drawn on our heart".
  53. ^ Vita c. 35, Heller p. 101f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 107f.
  54. ^ Vita c. 35, Heller p. 102; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 108.
  55. ^ Vita c. 20, Heller p. 55; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 57.
  56. ^ Vita c. 20-32, Heller pp. 53-85; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 55-95.
  57. ^ Vita c. 22, p. 59; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 63.
  58. ^ Vita c. 40, Heller p. 124; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 134.
  59. ^ Vita c. 19, Heller p. 52f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 54.
  60. ^ Vita c. 53, Heller p. 177f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 192f.
  61. ^ Vita c. 45, Heller pp. 141-143; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 154f. This could describe the real practice of how Seuse imagined “inscribing the name of Jesus”. At the same time, Seuse's pictorial way of speaking (“placed on his bare heart”) becomes obvious.
  62. Heller p. 356f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 391-393.
  63. See Dinzelbacher (1994) p. 297.
  64. Dinzelbacher (1993), p. 307.
  65. See Frenken (1999), pp. 178-261.
  66. On this, see Frenken (1999), pp. 187ff; Frenken (2002), p. 191ff.
  67. ^ Williams-Krapp ( see above : literature), Nucleus 2012, p. 65.
  68. Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012, p. 65.
  69. Siegfried Ringler: Life and Revelation Literature in Convents of the Middle Ages. Sources and Studies. Artemis, Munich 1980 (Munich texts and studies on German literature in the Middle Ages 72), p. 353.
  70. The vita , whose role figure of the "servant" is in any case not to be equated with the person of Seuse, is therefore not accepted as proof that Seuse practiced some of the mortifications himself for a while. See also Williams-Krapp 1992, p. 418; 420 (= Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012, p. 78; 80f.).
  71. Some chapters of the vita are clearly designed according to conventional motifs from the example literature, e.g. B. c. 26. For more examples see p. Williams-Krapp 1992, pp. 414f. (= Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012, p. 74f.)
  72. Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012, p. 78; Mystagogy 2012 p. 87.
  73. See Vita c. 35, Heller pp. 95-102; Bihlmeyer 1907, pp. 103-108.
  74. See especially Vita c. 35, Heller p. 101f .; Bihlmeyer 1907, p. 107f. On Master Eckhart's rejection of mortification, see p. esp .: Otto Langer: Mystical experience and spiritual theology. On Master Eckhart's examination of the piety of women of his time. Artemis, Munich / Zurich 1987 (Munich texts and studies on German literature of the Middle Ages 91)
  75. Williams-Krapp, Nucleus 2012, p. 79, speaks of “careful educational attempts at leadership”; see also ibid. pp. 75f. and Williams-Krapp, Mystagogy 2012, p. 86 the evidence of how Seuse presents and argues differently depending on the changing target group.
  76. See especially the research of Williams-Krapp, so literature, passim.
  77. See in more detail: Enders 2010, pp. 283f.
  78. [1]
  79. St. Suso on the website of the Münster community in Überlingen