Introduction to Adrienne von Speyr's The Book of All Saints | Hans Urs von Balthasar
This work came into being over the course of several years, as new portraits were constantly added on occasion or at my own request. In the beginning, Adrienne was shown individual saints during times when she was not at all thinking of these particular people. For the most part, they were shown in their general disposition and, then, often in prayer that was particularly characteristic of them. Adrienne was each time able to reproduce their disposition when we recorded the dictation, and the words they spoke in prayer were given to her again during the dictation. Once the dictation was over, she would most often completely forget what she had seen and heard, as always was the case when Adrienne had "settled" something in obedience and put herself at the disposal of a new task.
In the first period, she was also often given the vision of a saint during the night while she was at prayer, and she would report to me the next day that she had seen this or that saint, asking whether she could tell me about him or her. Frequently, she would be shown the essence of the person she saw without knowing exactly what the person's name was. Once she said, "Today I have seen Gregory." "Which one?" I asked. She confessed that she did not know there was more than one; she had no idea which person it was with whom she had interacted. I asked her then to begin, and after just a few sentences it became clear to me that it could have been none other than Gregory Nazianzen, as the section in this book will confirm. Later came Gregory the Great and Gregory of Nyssa to join him.