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Albert Pighius

Theologian, mathematician, and astronomer, b. at Kampen, Overyssel, Holland, about 1490; d. at Utrecht, Dec. 26, 1542

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Pighius (PIGGHE), ALBERT, theologian, mathematician, and astronomer, b. at Kampen, Overyssel, Holland, about 1490; d. at Utrecht, December 26, 1542. He studied philosophy and began the study of theology at Louvain, where Adrian of Utrecht, later Pope Adrian VI, was one of his teachers. Pighius completed his studies at Cologne and received in 1517 the degree of Doctor of Theology. He then followed his teacher Adrian to Spain, and, when the latter became pope, to Rome, where he also remained during the reigns of Clement VII and Paul III, and was repeatedly employed in ecclesiastico-political embassies. He had taught mathematics to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, afterwards Paul III; in 1535 Paul III appointed him provost of St. John’s at Utrecht, where he had held a canonry since 1524. At the religious disputation of Ratisbon in 1541 he was on the Catholic side.

Among his writings the following belong to the sphere of his mathematico-astronomical studies: “Astrologiae defensio adversus prognostieatorum vulgus, qui annuas pramdictiones edunt et se astrologos mentiuntur” (Paris, 1518); also the treatise addressed to Leo X upon the reform of the calendar, “De aequinoctiarum solstitiorumque inventione et de ratione paschalis celebrationis deque restitutione ecclesiastici Calendarii (Paris, 1520); also “Apologia adversus novam Marci Beneventani astronomiam” (Paris, 1522); and “Defensio Apologias adversus Marci Beneventani astronomiam” (Paris, 1522). As a theologian he zealously defended the authority of the Church against the Reformers. His most important theological work is a rejoinder to Henry VIII of England and is entitled: “Hierarchiae ecclesiastic ae assertio” (Cologne, 1538, dedicated to Paul III; later editions, 1544, 1558, 1572). In reply John Leland wrote his “Antiphilarchia”; cf. “Dict. Nat. Biog.” (new ed., London, 1909), XI, 893. Pighius also wrote: “Apologia indicti a Paulo III. Concilii, adversus Lutheranas confcederationes” (Cologne, 1537; Paris, 1538); “De libero hominis arbitrio et divina gratia libri X” (Cologne, 1542), against Luther and Calvin; “Controversiarum praecipuarum in Comitiis Ratisponensibus tractatarum. explicatio (Cologne, 1542). To this were added the two treatises: “Quaestio de divortiatorum novis coniugiis et uxorum pluralitate sub lege evangelica” and “Diatriba de actis VI. et VII. Synodi”. Other theological works were: “Ratio componendorum dissidiorum et sarciendae in religione concordiae” (Cologne, 1542), and his last work, “Apologia adversus Martini Buceri calumnias” (Mainz, 1543). A treatise “Adversus Graecorum errores”, dedicated to Clement VII, is preserved in manuscript in the Vatican Library.

Pighius was in his convictions a faithful adherent of the Church and a man of the best intentions, but on some points he advanced teachings which are not in harmony with the Catholic position. One was his opinion that original sin was nothing more than the sin of Adam imputed to every child at birth, without any inherent taint of sinfulness being in the child itself. In the doctrine of justification also he made too many concessions to Protestants. He originated the doctrine of the double righteousness by which man is justified, that has justly been characterized as “semi-Lutheranism“. According to this theory, the imputed righteousness of Christ is the formal cause of the justification of man before God, while the individual righteousness inherent in man is always imperfect and therefore insufficient. These opinions of Pighius were adopted by Johannes Gropper and Cardinal Contarini; during the discussion at the Council of Trent of the “Decretum de Justificatione” they were maintained by Seripando, but the Council, with due regard for the ideas that were justifiable in themselves, rejected the untenable compromise theory itself.

FRIEDRICH LAUCHERT


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