How Rizal toned down his tirades against the friars as he finished the Noli.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Pastor Karl Ullmer’s vicarage, Wilhelmsfeld, Germany

This is the house where Dr. Jose Rizal finally wrote FINIS to his novel Noli me tángere,

Wilhelmsfeld, near Heidelberg,

This is the historical marker on Wilhemsfeld Park where Rizal’s statue stands.

Pastor Karl Ullmer, with  whose family Rizal lodged, had a friend, Father Heinrich Bardorf, the Catholic priest of the neighboring town of Schriesheimer.  He was a regular visitor and over the best German beer at Schriesheimer Hof, the three  would discuss, in very friendly and rational manner, issues of differing theological beliefs between Protestants and Catholics.
Dr. José Rizal corrected his Noli manuscript in Germany, making many revisions and shortening it considerably.  However,  because of his discussions with Father Bardorf and Pastor Ullmer, he tempered his Noli outbursts and toned down his language.
We get some insights into the result of those discussions.  While exiled in Dapitan, Rizal’s  former professor at Ateneo de Manila  and Superior of the Jesuits in Manila, wrote and reproached him for leaving the Catholic faith and attributed this fact to bad Protestant influences he received in Germany.  He replied to Father  Pablo Pastells:
“Distance  (at Wilhelmsfeld) provided me a wider perspective, and my imagination cooled off  in the atmosphere of calm peculiar to the country.”
Rizal adds to his letter to Father Pastells:  “Your reverence should have listened to my discussions with a Protestant pastor in the long twilights of summer in the solitude of Odenwald.  There conversing slowly and calmly, with freedom to speak, we exchanged views concerning the moral values of peoples and the influence of their respective faiths on their lives. “

This is the inn, Schreisheimer Hof,  near Wilhelmsfeld,  where Pastor Karl Ullmer, Father Heinrich Bardof and Dr. José Rizal  met regularly and discussed moral issues pertaining to religion.  These sessions  imbued Rizal with religious tolerance.
As he wrote the final last chapters (he finished the last fourth portion of the novel in Wilhelmsfeld) we can only imagine what Noli would be like today had Rizal not benefited from those three-way interfaith  exchanges and open discussions between the disparate views of a devout Catholic, a devout Protestant, and a devout Free-thinker, enjoying  long walks  deep in the forest hills of  Odenwald  leading up to the hill top town of Wilhelmsfeld, Germany in 1886.
(By: Penelope V. Cruz)

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