Sebastian Kneipp, who used water treatment as a means of curing illness, was a German priest who lived from 1827 – 1897 A.D. As a young priest, the doctors pronounced him terminally ill with a lung disease. But he would not accept their prognosis. Kneipp wanted to live, and when he found, by chance, a booklet in the Munich library called Cold Water Treatments by Sigmund Hahn, he decided to try it.
The treatments worked. His health stabilized. He got well, well enough that he in turn cured other people. When Father Kneipp first started giving his treatments at the monastery in Woerishofen (near Munich), the town was no more than a sleepy village. Over the years it grew into a world famous spa city, Bad Woerishofen.
Eventually, Father Kneipp expanded on the original work of Sigmund Hahn; to it he added his vast knowledge of herbs and natural foods and an entire system of water treatments, baths, steam baths, and wrappings were developed.
Today, Father Kneipp's water cure is respected and used by the medical profession in Europe. In fact, the German medical care program will even pay for the Kneipp Cure when it is medically prescribed. The philosophy is that water treatment acts as prevention and reduces health costs in the long run.
To pass on his knowledge he wrote several books, My Water Cure, That's How They Shall Live, and My Testament and Codicil are the most well known of these. The man who was supposed to die at an early age lived to a very fruitful 70 years old.