ELIZABETH OF SCHOENAU: German mystic; b. about 1129; d. at Schönau (6 m. n.e. of Heidelberg) June 18, 1164. When twelve years of age, she entered the monastery at Schönau in Nassau, and in 1152 she began to see visions which are fully described in her three books of Visiones (cf. the edition by F. W. E. Roth, Brünn, 1884, and the earlier editions noted in the bibliography). They commenced with a feeling of heavy oppression and with convulsions, ending in unconsciousness. In this state she saw heavenly forms which she was able to describe when she awoke. The visions later became more frequent and lasting, so that she could converse with the celestial apparitions and question them. It was usually either the saint of the day or the Virgin who appeared to her, but the visions seldom transcended the horizon of a simple soul, which remained childlike amid monastic surroundings. Her interests were limited to questions connected with monastic piety, as when she asked Mary for a true description of her assumption, or sought from the angels a confirmation of the authenticity of the relics of the 11,000 virgins which had been found at Cologne. Ecbert's description of her death shows that to the last she remained a child-like, pure, lovely, and humble soul, and despite all visionary eccentricity her religious nature remained in the main simple and healthy. Her own writings were supplemented by Ecbert as seemed best to him. The first book of the Visiones and the Liber viarum Dei were much read during the Middle Ages.
R. SCHMIDT †.
Bibliography: J. Faber Stapulensis, Liber trium virorum et trium virginum spiritualium, Paris, 1513 (contains the Visions, reprinted in Revelationes sanctarum virginum Hildegardis et Elizabethæ, Cologne, 1628 and in MPL, cxcv. Consult: W. Preger, Geschichte der deutschen Mystik, I. 37 sqq., Leipsic, 1874.