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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pray for Us, Saint Helveticus

St. Helveticus was born in Spiez, Switzerland on the shores of Lake Thun, in the year 1627.  He was a tall, thin man with extraordinarily small feet.  After completing his education and several years of teaching at the University of Helmstedt in Germany, he returned to his native Spiez to continue his studies privately. Although he had, while still at university, perfected a number of alchemical processes, his intensely private nature made it difficult for him to lecture or to demonstrate his work to his students or fellow professors. His formula for a reverse transmutation of elements (turning Gold into baser elements like Lead) was described, but without any specific details, by many who were in attendance for his final lecture.

After returning to the place of his birth, he secluded himself within his laboratory inside the walls of Spiez Castle.  There he developed many more alchemical formulas - few of which have survived to this day.  The journals containing his work were mostly destroyed in a fire in 1873.  Hagiographers have poured over the remaining scraps of his writings and have scoured the libraries of Switzerland, hoping to find something more.  Though usually eclipsed by another, more famous, Swiss alchemist – Paracelsus – Saint Helvitcus continues to inspire.

Come, effervescence.
Come, bubbling mystery.
Come, hidden secrets;
enlighten your humble student.

Teach me the formula by which you can be known.
Teach me the changes I must make.

-From the fragments of St. Helveticus’ journal

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