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Franz Neumayr

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Neumayr, FRANZ, preacher, writer on theological, controversial and ascetical subjects, and author of many dramas on sacred themes in Latin, b. at Munich, January 17, 1697; d. at Augsburg, May 1, 1765. He entered the Society of Jesus October 3, 1712, and after his studies in the Society, taught rhetoric and belles lettres for ten years. He then for two years preached on the missions, when he was made director of the celebrated Latin sodality at Munich, a post which he filled with great credit for eleven years. From 1752 to 1763 he preached at the cathedral of Augsburg with extraordinary success. His controversial sermons, directed in a great part against the false teachings of the Lutherans, and in particular against the apostate monk Rothfischer, and Chladonium, were of a solidity of argument that baffled the efforts of his adversaries. Father Neumayr produced a surprising number of volumes: Latin plays for the use of his Latin sodality, which periodically staged such productions for the pleasure and edification of the literary men of Munich; sermons which he had delivered in the pulpit of Augsburg cathedral; works on asceticism, treatises on Rhetoric and Poetry, and some essays on moral theology in defense of the Jesuit system. Some of his Latin plays were republished in his two collections “Theatrum Asceticum” and “Theatrum Politicum”. “Theatrum Asceticum, sive Meditationes Sacrae in Theatro Congregationis Latinaes de B. V. Mariae, ab Angelo Salutatae exhibitae Monachi verno jejunii tempore ab anno 1739 usque ad annum 1747”, 871 pp., Ingolstadt and Augsburg, 1747 (5 editions), contains dramatic renderings of such subjects as the conversion of St. Augustine, devotion to the B. V. Mary, the evil of sin, the fear of God, Divine Mercy and Love. “Theatrum Politicum sive Tragoedae ad commendationem Virtutis et Vitiorum detestationem, etc.”, Augsburg and Ingolstadt, 1760, 518 pp., contains episodes from the lives of Eutropius, Papinianus, Anastasius, Dicorus, Tobias, and Sara, etc. One amusing title which occurs is “Processus jucidialis contra fures temporis”. These plays, besides numerous others, were published also in separate booklets. On his ascetical writings probably the most famous and most valuable is the excellent little book “Idea Theologise Asceticae, Scientiam Sanctorum exhibens”, a posthumous work first published in Rome by Alexander Monaldi in 1839. It has gone through five editions in Latin and has been translated into various languages. The English edition bears the title: “The Science of the Spiritual Life.” He wrote also several works in defense of Probabilism. Of his literary treatises the “Idea Rhetorices” deals with the precepts and use of Rhetoric; “Idea Poesis” is a similar volume on poetry and in the title he tells us the uses of the art, “Ad Ingeniorum Culturam, Animorum Oblectationem ac Morum Doctrinam “—ends which he had very well kept in mind in his own dramatic works. A tribute to Father Neumayr on the occasion of his jubilee in religion styles him: “The Champion of Faith and Good Morals, a Follower and Rival of the great Paul, the Hammer of the Heretics, Physician of Sinners and Oracle of the Just!” His works, as enumerated in Sommervogel, number 112 books and pamphlets.


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