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Schuon




Catherine Schuon’s life and work
This site includes Catherine Schuon’s biography, photos, bibliography, and more.
Catherine Schuon
Catherine  Schuon
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Biography of Catherine Schuon

Catherine Schuon (1924–2021) was an editor, translator, and artist. She was born on August 13, 1924 in Bern, Switzerland. As the daughter of a career Swiss diplomat she was exposed to many cultures, spending her early school years in pre-war Berlin and then in Algiers, where she learned French and came to love North-African culture. She returned to Switzerland during World War II, where she received her Maturité Fédérale degree in 1943 and helped to care for refugee children. Just as World War II ended she joined her father, who had been named Swiss Ambassador to Argentina. While in Argentina she learned Spanish and developed her gift for painting. Having no affinity with the diplomatic life, she returned to Switzerland where she worked with Italian artists.

Her interest in world religions and spirituality brought her into contact with Frithjof Schuon, the famous writer, whom she married in May 1949. She accompanied her husband on all of his travels and helped him to receive visits and answer correspondence from spiritual seekers who came to seek her husband’s counsel. Her work with her husband brought her into contact with people from diverse religions and from throughout the world. Gifted in languages, she also became fluent in English and conversant in Italian, in addition to the three languages of her youth: German, French and Spanish. Along with her husband, Catherine Schuon was adopted into the Sioux and Crow tribes.

The Schuons lived near Lake Geneva until 1980 when they moved to the United States and established themselves in the forests of Indiana. After her husband’s death in 1998 she spent several months each year traveling throughout the world to visit many of her late husband’s admirers, each time returning to the serenity of her home in the woods of Indiana. Catherine Schuon died on April 7, 2021 at her home in Bloomington.

Catherine Schuon is the editor of Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West, a collection of Frithjof Schuon’s selected writings on art, and the co-editor of A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World, which also features many of her paintings as illustrations.

Besides her published work, Mrs. Schuon’s collaboration played an important part in many projects by World Wisdom and by other publishers around the world. For World Wisdom, for example, the translator of Emir Abd el-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam stated in the “Introduction” to the book that the work “ … entailed a great deal of detailed labor and discerning selection, and we are very grateful to Mrs. Catherine Schuon for having volunteered her talents for the work required, as well as for reviewing the entire translation and making many valuable suggestions.” Her familiarity with her husband’s intended meanings, as well as her fluency in so many languages meant that her contributions were essential to the accurate translations of Frithjof Schuon's numerous poems and letters that have appeared in books worldwide. As an artist, her talents and her knowledge of traditional art assisted in the design and production of many publications in the United States and elsewhere.


Books/DVDs containing the work of Catherine Schuon

World Wisdom Books Edited by Catherine Schuon

DVD and online video projects with Catherine Schuon:


Catherine Schuon’s Bibliography

Books in English

The Travels of Latifah Polo. Pavia, Italy: Vita Nuova Press, 2019.

A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World, edited by Catherine Schuon and Michael Fitzgerald. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2012.

The Art of Catherine Schuon, edited by Khalid Naqib. London: Blurb Books, 2011.

Frithjof Schuon, Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West, edited by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2007.

Articles in English

The “Introduction” to Letters of Frithjof Schuon: Reflections on the Perennial Philosophy. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, forthcoming.

“Personal Reminiscences of Frithjof Schuon”, Sacred Web 8, December 2001.

Translations into English

Frithjof Schuon, Letters of Frithjof Schuon: Reflections on the Perennial Philosophy, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, forthcoming.

Frithjof Schuon, Autumn Leaves & The Ring: Poems by Frithjof Schuon, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2010.

Frithjof Schuon, World Wheel: Poems by Frithjof Schuon Volumes I-III, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2010.

Frithjof Schuon, World Wheel: Poems by Frithjof Schuon Volumes IV-VII, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2010.

Frithjof Schuon, Songs without Names: Poems by Frithjof Schuon Vol. I-VI, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2006.

Frithjof Schuon, Songs without Names: Poems by Frithjof Schuon Vol. VII-XII, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2006.

Frithjof Schuon, Songs without Names: Poems by Frithjof Schuon Vol. I-VI, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2006.

Frithjof Schuon, Adastra & Stella Maris: Poems by Frithjof Schuon, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2003.

Frithjof Schuon, Songs for a Spiritual Traveler: Selected Poems, co-translated by Catherine Schuon. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2002.

Translations into French

John G. Neihardt, La grande vision : histoire d'un prophète sioux telle qu'elle a été contée à John G. Neihardt, translated by Jacques Chevilliat and Catherine Schuon. Paris: Villain et Belhomme Éditions traditionnelles, 1969.

Articles in French

“Frithjof Schuon: souvenirs et anecdotes”, in Frithjof Schuon (Les Dossier “H”), Patrick Laude and Jean-Baptiste Aymard eds. L'Age d'Homme, 2002.

Books in Spanish

Frithjof Schuon, Arte sagrado y arte profano de oriente y occidente, edited by Catherine Schuon. Spain: Sophia Perennis (Olañeta), 2012.

Articles in Spanish

“Frithjof Schuon: recuerdos y anécdotas”, in Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998): Notas biográficas, estudios, homenajes, Josep M. Prats and Esteve Serra eds. Palma de Mallorca: José J. Olañeta, Editor, 2004.

Articles in Portuguese

“Frithjof Schuon: lembranças e episódios de sua vida”. https://fschuon.net/frithjof-schuon-lembrancas-e-episodios-de-sua-vida/.

Translations into German

Frithjof Schuon, Christentum - Islam: Ausblicke auf eine esoterische Ökumene, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2018.

Frithjof Schuon, Das Spiel der Masken, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2018.

Frithjof Schuon, Form und Gehalt in den Religionen, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2017.

Frithjof Schuon, Vom Göttlichen zum Menschlichen, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2015.

Frithjof Schuon, Gnosis - Göttliche Weisheit, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2015.

Frithjof Schuon, Wurzeln des Menschseins, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2014.

Frithjof Schuon, Geistige Sichtweisen und menschliche Tatsachen, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2013.

Frithjof Schuon, Logik und Transzendenz, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2013.

Frithjof Schuon, Metaphysik und Esoterik im Überblick, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2012.

Frithjof Schuon, Esoterik als Grundsatz und als Weg, edited by Wolf Burbat, translated by Wolf Burbat and Catherine Schuon. Hamburg: tredition, 2012.


Photographs of Catherine Schuon

photo of Catherine Schuon in the High Alps

Catherine Schuon in the High Alps
of her native Switzerland

photo of Catherine Schuon on a horse

Catherine Schuon exploring on horseback in Argentina

photo of Catherine Schuon with 2 Native American children

Catherine Schuon with two Native American children during one of her trips to the American Plains tribes

Catherine Schuon’s painting titled The Adoration of the Magi

The Adoration of the Magi, painted by Catherine Schuon in 1968

photo of Catherine Schuon with 2 Native American children

Catherine Schuon relaxing with a furry friend



Excerpts from Catherine Schuon’s writing

The "Introduction" by editor Catherine Schuon to Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West by Frithjof Schuon

From my earlier years I was always attracted to Gothic or Romanesque churches and I would not hesitate to walk several miles to attend Sunday services in these sanctuaries. Now my grandmother, who was a great art lover and admired almost every art (except surrealism), wanted to widen my horizon and get me out of my “narrow-mindedness” by inviting me to Rome when I was twenty. There again I was especially captivated by the beautiful Byzantine mosaics in the old churches and lamented the Baroque or Renaissance entrances and statues that had been added to them. The Church of Saint Peter, although one might be impressed by its dimensions, left me completely cold and in the Sistine Chapel I was rather horrified by the painting of the Last Judgment and felt sorry for Michelangelo that he had to decorate the ceiling with his muscular biblical personages while lying on his back [see ills. 91-92]. I am not denying that Michelangelo was a genius, but would it not have been more appropriate for a church to leave the blue ceiling with golden stars, as it was before? And as it still is in many old churches and especially in the entrance hall of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris where one is immediately seized by reverential marveling? The whole Vatican seemed to me more like a museum of paintings and sculptures than a sanctuary, so little there was conducive to prayer or recollection.

These were my impressions, but I never asked myself: why is that so? And I thought, like everybody else, that this was just my personal, even if limited, taste; until I read the first of Frithjof Schuon’s books, The Transcendent Unity of Religions, where the chapter on art made everything clear to me; and then of course, living and traveling with him was a consistent application of the principles and criteria he had laid out, a constant discernment between truth and error, the beautiful and the ugly, the acceptable and the unacceptable, on all planes.

Thus, when Michael Fitzgerald—Chairman of World Wisdom—asked me to prepare a book on art with texts by my husband, I was delighted to do so. But since I was restricted in the number of pages and the size of the book, not all the different arts of the world could be given special attention; however, separate chapters on the arts of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism seemed necessary because of the amount of writings that Schuon devoted to the art of these religions.

This was not as simple as one might think, since Schuon often writes in the same chapter or even in the same paragraph about the various arts, so that I had to carefully select sentences or passages from different works to accomplish my aim.

Also, when re-reading his books, I came upon precious passages related to beauty and the sense of the sacred which could not be omitted, and others on poetry, music, and dance, and finally on the less thought-of arts of dress and ambience. So, a chapter on each of these is here included.

As for the illustrations, I wished to illustrate as far as possible everything Schuon is referring to; in this, the innumerable documents and books he had accumulated during his long life were a great help.

A last remark: Schuon often quotes in a note a particular masterpiece or some little-known work of art seemingly unrelated to the specific subject treated, but which in fact corroborates a point he makes in the main text. Thus, in the same section the reader will sometimes find quite unexpected illustrations, or a work of traditional sacred art confronted with a naturalistic work of art for comparison (as can be seen right here in the Preface). At any rate, in order to understand the arrangement of the illustrations one ought to read the text.

I hope that this book will help the reader to learn more about the various kinds of art and to open his heart to the irreplaceable beauty of traditional and sacred art.



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