Healer by God
Schlatter was born in 1856 in France. At the age of fourteen, for some unknown reason, he drops out of school and goes to work as an apprentice with a shoemaker. Later, when his parents die, he goes to America. Here his trade proved to be quite in demand, as it allowed Francis to earn between sixty and eighty dollars a month (for example, a cowboy guarding a huge herd of animals received no more than forty dollars).
The shoemaker's appearance and demeanor were unusual. Schlatter was tall and strong - he could easily break horseshoes. The girls of Jamesport, where he lived, were fascinated by the handsome craftsman, but he showed no interest in them. He read only the Bible, and when he had moments of despondency he took his languor to the sea, temporarily hired as a stoker on the fishing vessels.
It would seem that the cobbler's life was monotonous, and in the absence of family happiness it was altogether drab. Someone else might have tried to brighten it up with alcohol or drugs, but Francis was not into either, not even smoking. And so, when he was thirty-seven years old, Schlatter suddenly heard the voice of God in his head telling him to exercise his body for at least two hours a day and to walk at least ten miles a day.
To everyone's surprise, the shoemaker sells his shop for next to nothing, gives the money to the poor, and leaves Jamesport in a hurry. He sets out on foot wherever he can see, avoiding, however, the big cities. When his boots fell apart, Francis continued his journey barefoot. Passersby mistook him for a devout fanatic, for the man never parted with his Bible, and treated him respectfully.
One day a very sick, actually dying man approached Schlatter and asked him to help him because he thought Francis was a saint. He did not dissuade the unfortunate man, but simply read a prayer over him. The effect was instantaneous: the patient shuddered violently, as if he had been electrocuted, and then fell on his knees before Schlatter, thanking him for his salvation.
The Odyssey of a Unique Healer
Thus Francis Schlatter became a healer, and word of his abilities literally followed him on his heels. Moving south, the former craftsman willingly and completely free of charge healed everyone who was suffering: people recovered from one touch of his hands.
The same power worked on animals as well. On one occasion, Francis came upon some cowboys who had driven their horses half to death. Without saying anything, he simply stroked the dying animals - and within minutes all the wounds on their bodies were gone, and half an hour later the horses were healthy. Shocked by such a miracle, the cowboys followed the saint, but soon they saw that the chain of his footprints went into the mountains, to an impregnable pass: Schlatter walked safely barefoot in the snow, not feeling the cold, and could even sleep in a snow hole. The cowboys returned, realizing that the road was beyond their grasp...
Danger lurked for the wandering healer not only in big cities, but also in small towns. In Hot Springs, for example, he was arrested for vagrancy and imprisoned without trial. Even here, however, the man's piety and genuine holiness brought him to the attention of the sheriff himself, who made Francis an employee in his house. About six months later, however, Schlatter again hears the voice of God ordering him to leave. And he, obediently, sets out again across the mountain pass to avoid pursuit. Francis only comes out to the people when he finds himself in another state.
The Healer's Astonishing Ability
...As Schlatter walked through the Mojave Desert (barefoot and carrying a twenty-pound brass staff with which he never parted), he was spotted by journalists. The year was 1895.
Settling after that in Albuquerque, Francis instituted a strict forty-day fast, while continuing to heal the sick. And there were more and more of them: the rumor of the healer-magician spread further and further - and now people were coming to Albuquerque from all over the world. The amazing thing is that at the end of his fast, the healer prepared himself a steak, fried chicken, boiled eggs, and didn't forget a bottle of wine. The healer was warned by the experts that it would be very dangerous to leave the fast in this way, but the healer laughed. God had kept me during my fast, Francis replied, and He will keep me now. And indeed, this feast to mark the end of his fast did him no harm.
In 1895, Schlatter was already receiving two thousand patients a day. At this time he was living in the home of Denver City Councilman Edward Fox, whom he cured of deafness and kidney disease. Fox would later write that for convenience (so that there was no crush among the sick), he ordered a special platform be built, so that people could approach Schlatter only one at a time.
The healer himself spent six to eight hours outdoors without warm clothes or shoes, taking in the sick. He only had to touch them and pray to himself - from the platform people were leaving already healthy, sighted, throwing crutches... At the end of the day Schlatter bypassed the wagons with the seriously ill who could not stand in line - and they also rose to their feet...
A visit to a Russian healer
A correspondent of the newspaper "Moskovskie Vedomosti," suffering from severe rheumatism, also heard about the wonderful American healer and went to the United States. The journalist, who tried to remain anonymous, described Schlatter well.
He was a tall man with long hair and a comparatively small beard. His face was handsome and gracious, his gaze deep and calm, as was his entire figure, from which emanated a kind of strong energy and divine light. He was naked, unshod, and evidently praying to himself all the time. As soon as he took the frantically screaming baby in his arms, he calmed down and fell asleep, and his pale cheeks flushed.
When my turn came, the correspondent went on, I was very anxious and prayed fervently too. The healer touched me, and I felt a strange heat all over my body. In less than a minute, my sore arm and leg regained their strength. Since then, I have forgotten all about my ailment.
The healer suddenly disappears.
It happened on November 13, 1895. Francis did not show up for breakfast that morning; a little later, Fox found a note informing him that God had called him. A white horse was missing from the stable, the only gift the healer had accepted from a grateful patient. Apparently, he felt that the horse would come in handy.
The people who appeared to the healer were crying and sobbing in the street - they had come too late. Some of them tried to touch at least the platform on which the miracle worker worked, breaking off splinters from it...
The last person to see Schlatter was Miss Agnes Morley, on whose ranch a wanderer on a white horse came to warm herself. Morley immediately realized who he was and invited Francis to have her home as her own. He lived on the ranch for three months, after which he went to Mexico. A year later, the skeleton of a large man was discovered in the Sierra Madre Mountains, with the brass staff known to many lying beside it. Schlatter was lying on his back, his arms crossed.
Agnes Morley had waited a long time for Schlatter, for he had promised her to return. But the great healer never reappeared at her ranch, nor, for that matter, at any other place on the planet...