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Cornelius Richard Anton van Bommel

Bishop of Liege (1790-1852)

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Bommel, CORNELIUS RICHARD ANTON VAN, Bishop of Liege, was b. at Leyden, in Holland, on April 5, 1790; d. April 7, 1852. He was educated at the college of Willingshegge near Munster, and later at the advanced school of Borght. Against strong opposition he entered the seminary of Munster and was ordained priest in 1816 by Bishop Gaspard Droste de Vischering. On his return to Holland he founded a college for young men at Hageveld, near Haarlem. This college was closed in 1825 in consequence of the royal decree that subjected all the educational institutions to State control. King William offered van Bommel the presidency of another college, but met with a firm refusal. The Catholics and Liberals joined forces in opposing the arbitrary policy of the Government, and van Bommel took a prominent part in the agitation that forced the king to promulgate the Concordat concluded with Leo Xli. Under the provisions of the Concordat, van Bommel was nominated to the See of Liege and consecrated on November 15, 1829. He took no active part in the revolution of 1830, but as Bishop of Liege he was forced to sever his connection with Holland. In a few years he remedied the evils which a vacancy of more than twenty years had occasioned in his diocese. He reorganized the seminary, revived Catholic elementary education, and gave the first impetus to the foundation of a Catholic university.

Bishop van Bommel was a zealous defender of the primacy of the Holy See, an aggressive opponent of Freemasonry, and an ardent advocate of religious education. At the reorganization of public instruction in 1842, his educational views were put in force in those gymnasia and technical schools which the State maintained wholly or in part. His writings comprise three volumes of “Pastoral Letters”, and a number of pamphlets on ecclesiastical and educational questions.


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