Life and work
Vay was the elder daughter of Count Ernst von Wurmbrand-Stuppach and his wife, Countess Rosa Teleki von Szék (later wife of Friedrich, Prince of Solms-Baruth).
She was born at Tarnopol, Galicia, today Ternopil, Ukraine, where her father Count Ernst von Wurmbrand-Stuppach was serving as First Lieutenant in the local garrison. In her early youth she lived on the family estate near Schwarzau, Lower Austria. Her father died in 1846; when her mother married again in 1851 she left Austria and moved with her to Prussia for 10 years.
On March 12, 1860, she married baron Ödön (Edmond, Eugen or Otto) Vay de Vaya, a Hungarian magnate. They enjoyed 60 years of marriage, but without having children. The couple lived at first at Tiszalök for some years, near the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, and later moved to Slovenske Konjice (Gonobitz), where they bought a mansion at Prevrat, still known as "Baronvaj" ("Baron Vay's").
Ödön was a retired senior officer of the Austro-Hungarian army. On August 9, 1877, the "Militar-Veteranen-Verein in Gonobitz" (Association of Army Veterans in Gonobitz) was founded, primarily for ex-soldiers regardless of nationality. The association's first president was prince Hugo Veriand von Windisch-Graetz, and his deputy was baron Vay de Vaya.
The couple were both members of the local Red Cross Society committee, which in 1897 built a hospital named the "Christiane-Lazarett" after Christiane Habsburg, president of the Austro-Hungarian Red Cross Society. Baron Vay de Vaya decided in 1908 to have another building constructed (at his own cost) specifically for infectious disease patients. The hospital continued in operation until the beginning of World War II.
Adelma was well known as a great humanitarian, and never charged for her medical advice and assistance, being always prepared to help both poor and rich people.
On March 1, 1921, Ödön died at Mali Lošinj, where the couple had a summer villa. After his death, the widowed Adelma continued to live in the mansion, surrounded by servants. She died on May 24, 1925, at her home. Although she was a Lutheran, the Roman Catholic parish priest Franc Hrastelj approved her burial in the churchyard of St. Anna's in Slovenske Konjice.
Adelma had the reputation of possessing mystical powers, probably inherited from her mother. She was reputed to have prophetic gifts and to be clairvoyant. She wrote, spoke and drew in an apparent trance-like state. She was a famous homeopath and attempted to cure people using magnetism.
As knowledge and practice of spiritualism grew, Vay did great pioneer work. In An Encyclopaedia of Occultism (1920) by Lewis Spence (1874–1955), she was noted as the initiator of spiritualism in Austria-Hungary, with a decisive role also ascribed to the Verein spiriter Forscher.
Adelma von Vay once described her book Spirit, Power And Matter as an example of pure Christian Spiritualism. The newly formed association was not thought of as a dogmatic Spiritualistic sect but was instead anchored solidly in a framework of Christian religion, as testified by its statute of association.
Vay was author of many books, written in German and translated into English:
- Geist-Kraft-Stoff (Spirit, Power, And Matter) (1869), Spirit, Power, And Matter, ISBN 1-4286-1952-6
- Studien über die Geisterwelt (Studies on the Spirit World), (1874) Otto Mutze, Leipzig, Studies on the Spirit World, ISBN 3-939626-02-3, ISBN 978-3-939626-02-2
- From My Life (1900)
- Pictures from the Beyond (1905)
- Die Sphären zwischen der Erde und Sonne, ISBN 978-3-902646-50-7
- Adelma von Vay: Duh, sila, snov (Jan Ciglenečki: Štajerska Pitija, page 9)
- Adelma von Vay: Duh, sila, snov (Jan Ciglenečki: Štajerska Pitija, page 10)
- Ožinger Anton, Pajk Ivan: Konjiško ob 850-letnici pražupnije
- Adelma von Vay: Duh, sila, snov (Jan Ciglenečki: Štajerska Pitija, page 18)
- Nena Židov: An overview of the history of homeopathy in Slovenia in the 19th century
- Adelma von Vay: Duh, sila, snov (Jan Ciglenečki: Štajerska Pitija)
- Adelma von Vay: Duh, sila, snov (Jan Ciglenečki: Štajerska Pitija, page 13)
- Boldin Aleksandra, Ciglenečki Jan: Adelma von Vay, The Mysterious Baroness from Konjice, 2012. Slovenske Konjice COBISS 264420096
- Židov, Nena, nd: An overview of the history of homeopathy in Slovenia in the 19th century in: Medizin, Gesellschaft und Geschichte 23 (2004), pp. 181–198.
- Pataky Sophie, Lexikon deutscher Frauen der Feder (Berlin, 1898), II, 387.
- Ožinger Anton, Pajk Ivan, 1996: Konjiško ob 850-letnici pražupnije. Slovenske Konjice COBISS 38788353
- Vay, Adelma von, 1869 transl. 2011: Duh, sila, snov. Ljubljana, KUD Logos COBISS 259351040
- An overwiew of the history of homeopathy in Slovenia in the 19th century
- Baronin Adelma Vay - Ihr Leben und Wirken (in German)
- Christentum und Spiritualismus (in German)
- Adelma Vay's correspondence quest