Sunday, January 7, 2007

Historic Kneipp Springs

In 1895 Dr. W.G. Geiermann purchased 80 acres of land on a hilltop in Rome City, at the behest of Fr. Dominick Duehmig with the intent of practicing the Kneipp Water Cure. Dr. Geiermann had spent time in Woerishofen, Germany learning the Kneipp healing methods. He soon erected a series of modest buildings near the therapeutic springs in Rome City.

At the original meetings was a young seminarian by the name of John Noll who was acting as an economic advisor to both Dr. Geiermann and Fr. Duehmig. Later on in life, this same young man would come to benefit of all the services provided at this facility by The Sisters of the Precious Blood, but he would be known as Bishop Noll (then Archbishop) to the sisters.

Bishop Noll became a regular visitor to the "Springs" as he had his summer house on Bishop's Island directly across the road on Sylvan Lake. He developed many friendships with staffers at the facility (one of his fishing buddies was a grounds maintenance man) and he said regular Mass and would hear the Sisters' confessions when asked. Bishop Noll had first-hand knowledge of the work done at the facility from its inception in 1895. He personally enjoyed the care and comfort provided there after his stroke in 1955 up until his death in July of 1956. The sisters took great pride in their relationship with Bishop Noll and he was obviously grateful for their work in God’s name and on his behalf. More on his involvement later...

In 1901, the Sisters of Precious Blood began operating the property under the leadership of their own resident Kneipp expert, Sister Margaret Schalachter. From 1901 to 1977 the Sisters employed various Kneipp treatments and continued to develop the buildings and the grounds of the campus, adding accommodations for the greater number of guests the sanitarium was attracting. In 1956, Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil, a nun at the sanitarium who worked as a domestic, began recording what she described as visits from the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of America) -- who seemed concerned about the private lives of Americans as society was about to plummet into the Sixties. These apparitions are the only ones in the United States to have reached the second level of confirmation by the Catholic Church.

Kneipp Background

From 1901 through 1977, the Rome City campus was owned and operated by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, who ran an on-site Sanitarium that specialized in Kneipp therapy. Kneipp therapy is the product of the holistic thinking of Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest. During the course of his life (1821-1897), Sebastian Kneipp combined aspects of the baths of the Greek and Roman empires, the cures of the Far East, as well as the medicine of the European cloisters and developed them to meet the needs of modern man.

This formed the basis of his visionary lifestyle: one that asks people to regard their daily habits and natural environment as inseparable from one another. Kneipp therapy – especially Kneipp water therapy – is alive and well, and is practiced by millions of people around the world.



The theory of the healing effects of specially selected herbs and plants is the result of thousands of years of experience. It is asserted that plants can gently move the body into health without side effects posed by some synthetic chemicals in modern pharmaceuticals.


Water is an ideal conductor of heat and coolness as well as a stimulus to chemical and mechanical reactions. In the center of the so named “hydrotherapy,” also known,as the famous “Kneipp Cure,” are pleasant applications of warm and cold water which are believed to stimulate the circulation and improve the natural healing powers of the body.


Regular physical activity, preferably out in the countryside, is an important aspect of Kneipp practice. Light physical activities like hiking, swimming and bike-riding as well as a moderate program of physical training, without the pressure of competition are integral to Kneipp.


A varied and healthy diet is a key ingredient of the holistic approach. Sebastian Kneipp did not subscribe to the concept of strict diets, rather he encouraged frequent, balanced and nutritious but low-fat meals. Since food and beverage play a central role in controlling inner balance and joy of life, Kneipp practice dictates that meals should be a palatable and pleasant experience.