Anneliese Cowley, complementary health consultant, therapist and director of St Francis Health Centre in Port Alfred, sees the angel in everyone she meets. But as the saying goes, it takes one to know one.
By CATHERINE EDEN
St Francis Health Centre is tucked away down a rough farm road, far away from the country’s major centres. But its remote location doesn’t deter the local and international guests who come in search of its healing atmosphere. It’s not just the tranquil setting or the treatments from skilled therapists that draws them. The magic ingredient that accounts for the soul and success of St Francis is its founder, Anneliese Cowley, who combines experience, knowledge, dedication and intuition in a powerful cocktail that impacts profoundly on all who find themselves in her care.
Her philosophy is based on stillness and simplicity, and her faith is deeply rooted in a divinity she sees reflected in every client. She calls her guests ‘angels’, and takes a personal interest in helping each of them resolve health issues and regain balance.
In 1968 her path took her from her native Austria to a mission hospital in Lesotho and then to South America, where she built five clinics in an isolated area of the Andes. In both places she trained nurses, saw up to 110 patients a day, lectured and raised funds tirelessly for desperately needed facilities. She returned to Lesotho, married in 1975 (her husband was a building engineer working on the construction of the university) and moved with him to the Cape in 1991, opening the doors of St Francis the following year.
Although an annual ‘cure’ is common practice in Europe, plans to develop a healing centre and spa in Port Alfred were vigorously opposed by a faction who feared that it might be a centre for the dark arts, or a nudist colony. These fears seem laughable when you meet Mrs Cowley (no-one would dream of calling her anything else) and discover that she is as upright as a headmistress, as serene and radiant as someone who has just experienced a miracle, and undoubtedly on the side of the angels. She has exquisite eyes, a sweet smile and an enormous, positive presence that cannot be ignored.
Over the years she has augmented her nursing background with homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, shiatsu massage and energy work. Blessed with exceptional intuitive ability, she gradually learned to trust her instincts about her patients’ conditions. But she looks for no accolades and never loses sight of the fact that she is an instrument of a much greater force.
‘I respect and love each individual who comes to St Francis,’ she says, ‘because I believe that they have been guided here. I say to God, “you sent me these angels; now show me what to do for them”, and He does, every time. If I needed personal acknowledgment, it wouldn’t work. I focus on finding out what is right for the soul of the person, not what I think they might need. I see, feel and hear information.’
For those unfamiliar with energy work, it’s a surprise to see Mrs Cowley’s right hand rotating like a pendulum in response to silent questions, but no one doubts the integrity of her diagnoses. Her ability to identify the cause of illness is legendary, and people come from far and wide to experience her compassion and clarity.
The six-day detoxification programme triggers a mysterious internal healing process that needs to be allowed, and not interrupted by the intellect. ‘To connect with your truth, be still’, she advises. ‘Silence is the highest form of grace. It contains all knowledge, all eternity. We are human beings, not human “doings”. Once we stop collecting knowledge, wisdom can come through.’
She shares her wisdom in personal consultations and at an unforgettable evening of breathing and meditation that many find to be the highlight of the programme. Guests leave the centre lighter in body and in spirit, convinced that the transformation they feel came about through the touch of a very remarkable angel.
For more information, contact St Francis Health Centre at 046 625 0927
Written for Longevity Magazine