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Dear visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.


Discusses Diocese and University of same name

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Wurzburg, Diocese of (HERBIPOLENSIS), in Bavaria, suffragan of Bamberg. The diocese includes the Bavarian governmental department of Lower Franconia, three communes of Upper Franconia, the Grand-Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, and several enclaves in Bavaria belonging to the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar (see Germany. Map). In 1911 it contained a city deanery with 10 parishes, 34 rural deaneries, 447 parishes and curacies, 62 benefices, 69 local chaplaincies and expositorships, 147 chaplains, 445 parish priests and curates, 35 holders of benefices, 67 local chaplains and expositors, 118 chaplains and assistants, 47 ecclesiastics engaged in administration and teaching, altogether 712 active diocesan priests, 55 retired priests, 121 regulars, 560,000 Catholics, and about 120,000 non-Catholics. The bishop is appointed by the Bavarian Government. The cathedral chapter consists of a provost, a dean, 8 capitulars, 6 prebends, and 1 cathedral preacher. The institutions for the education and training of the priesthood are: the Catholic theological faculty at the University of Wurzburg, with 8 professors; the Catholic seminary for priests at Wurzburg, with 75 students; the seminary for boys (the Chilianeum); and the episcopal house of studies. The following orders are represented in the diocese: Augustinians, 4 monasteries, 37 fathers, 52 brothers; the Benedictine Brotherhood of St. Louis, 1 house, 7 fathers, 20 brothers; Franciscans, 6 monasteries, 19 fathers, 47 brothers; Capuchins, 6 monasteries, 31 fathers, 45 brothers; Carmelites, 1 house, 10 fathers, 10 brothers; Franciscan Conventuals, 2 monasteries, 20 fathers, 24 brothers. Female orders and congregations: English Ladies, 6 convents, 154 sisters; Franciscan Nuns from the mother-house of Maria Stern at Augsburg, 41 houses, 209 sisters; Franciscan Nuns from the mother-house at Dillingen, 16 houses, 114 sisters; Carmelite Nuns, 1 house, 20 sisters; Sisters of the Most Holy Savior, 1 mother-house, 184 branch houses, 1160 sisters; Sisters of the Childhood of Jesus, 7 houses, 152 sisters; Sisters of Notre-Dame, 23 houses, 182 sisters; Sisters of St. Joseph from the mother-house at Ursberg, 1 house, 87 sisters; Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul from the mother-house at Munich, 1 house, 13 sisters; Ursuline Nuns, 1 house, 43 sisters. Catholic associational life is in a flourishing condition.

The cathedral at Wurzburg, a Romanesque basilica with pier-arches, the most important Romanesque cathedral in Germany, was built between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries. In the seventeenth century its interior was overloaded with Baroque stucco work and spiral ornamentation; it contains 35 tombs, several by Riemenschneider, of the prince-bishops. At the north end of the transept is the Schonborn chapel, a domed structure in the most elaborate Rococo style. The Neumunster Church, or Cathedral, of St. Kilian (Baroque style), built during 1711-16 in place of the earlier church over the grave of St. Kilian, contains the bodies of St. Kilian and his companions; the Hauger Collegiate Church, built (1670-83) by Petrini, has a fine dome; the Church of St. Peter, originally Romanesque with a Gothic choir, was enlarged in the Baroque style during 1717-20; the University Church, built by Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn and dedicated in 1591, is a curious mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles; the Chapel of the Virgin (Marienkapelle), a Gothic church, built 1377-1479, contains numerous figures by Riemenschneider; the Church of St. Adalbero, built 1896-99, is in Romanesque style from the design by Denzinger; the church of St. Burchard, erected in the eleventh century in the Romanesque style on the site of a monastery church built by St. Burchard, was enlarged in Gothic style during 1494 to 1497. Outside of Wurzburg special mention should be made of the church at Dettelbach and the collegiate church at Aschaffenburg. Places of pilgrimage are: the Church of St. Nicholas (called Kappele) near Wurzburg; the Franciscan monastery church near Dettelbach, and the Engelberg near Miltenberg.

The first Apostle of Christianity for the territory now included in the Diocese of Wurzburg was the Irish missionary, Saint Kilian (q.v.), who converted Gozbert the Frankish duke of Thuringia but who fell a sacrifice to the enmity of the duchess. In his castle above Wurzburg, Gozbert’s son Hetan built the first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; on this account the castle received the name of Marienburg. The first mention of Wurzburg is in 704, when it is called Castellum Virtebuch. A diocese was established in Wurzburg by St. Boniface, who in 741 consecrated his friend St. Burchard as bishop; in 742 Pope Zachary confirmed the selection of Burchard. St. Burchard (741-53) built the first cathedral church, and buried there the bodies of St. Kilian and his companions; he connected with the church a monastery which followed the Rule of St. Benedict. Karlmann, the Frankish mayor of the palace, gave great gifts of land to the bishopric. In 752 or 753 the church of Wurzburg was granted immunity for all its possessions, also secular jurisdiction, whereby the foundation was laid for the future secular authority of the bishops. Like the majority of his successors, St. Burchard lived at the Marienburg, which he had received from the last duke in exchange for another fortified castle. His successor, St. Megingoz or Megingaud (753-85), did much towards Christianizing Saxony. Bishop Bernwelf (785-800) replaced the Benedictine secular clergy at the cathedral by the Brothers of St. Kilian, who led a common life after the Rule of Chrodegang of Metz. Arno (855-92) rebuilt the cathedral, which had been destroyed by lightning, on the site of the present cathedral; in 892 he took part in the campaign of Emperor Arnolf against the Duke of Moravia, and was killed by the enemy while celebrating Mass. During the episcopate of Dietho (908-31) the privileges of the diocese were confirmed anew by Henry I. Burchard II (930-41) rebuilt the cathedral, which had been burned a second time. Poppo I of Henneberg (941-61) obtained for his diocese from Emperor Otto I, whose chancellor he had been, the right of the free election of the bishop. Bishop Henry I of Rothenburg (995-1018) built, on the site of the first cathedral, the Neumunster Cathedral of St. Kilian, and founded the Benedictine Abbey of St. Stephen and the abbey of Augustinian Canons called Haug, in which he himself was buried. He gave an unwilling consent to the separation from his diocese, by Emperor Henry II, of a large part of its territory; this portion was made into an independent diocese, the “imperial” Archdiocese of Bamberg. Bernhard of Rothenburg (1018-33) received from Emperor Henry II the right to the use of the forest in the Steigerwald, and from Emperor Conrad II the right of coinage and of exacting customs. The Saxon Bruno (1034-45), a cousin of Conrad II, laid the cornerstone of the present cathedral, and restored the Abbey of St. Burchard. His nephew and successor, who is venerated as Saint Adalbero of Lambach and Weis (1045-90), sided with the pope in the Conflict of Investitures, took part in the election of both rival kings, and was therefore declared deposed from his bishopric by Emperor Henry IV, and forced into exile. The city and diocese suffered greatly during the struggles in which papal and imperial bishops frequently engaged. During the episcopate of Erlung (1106-26), who received from Henry V the formal confirmation of the dignity of a Duke of Eastern Franconia, peace was restored in the diocese. Embrico (1125-47) favored the founding of monasteries of the reformed orders, as: the Cistercian Abbey of Ebrach; the Premonstratensian Abbey of Zell near Wurzburg, established by St. Norbert himself; the Scotch Abbey of St. James in Wurzburg. Under Gebhard of Henneberg (1150-59) Frederick Barbarossa celebrated at Wurzburg his marriage with Beatrice of Burgundy; Herold of Hochheim (1165-71) received from Barbarossa “complete judicial authority in the entire diocese and duchy of Wurzburg and over all countships situated in the diocese or duchy”.

The brilliant position which the bishops occupied among the German princes often cost the diocese heavy sacrifices on account of the wars and expeditions to Rome which the bishops were obliged to undertake in the retinue of the emperors; the bishops were involved, not only in the Conflict of Investitures, but also in the struggle of the Hohenstaufen dynasty with the popes. The city of Wurzburg made use of this struggle to gain greater freedom from the episcopal power, and strove to obtain freedom of the empire. The vigorous Bishop Hartmann von Lobdenburg (1225-54), a loyal adherent of Frederick II, was able to keep the citizens within bounds, but during the episcopate of his successor, Iring von Reinstein (1254-66), Wurzburg joined the confederation of the cities of the Rhine as an independent city. This bishop encouraged the settlement of the Dominicans in the diocese. His successors had to wage many wars with the city. Albrecht von Hohenlohe (1345-72), during whose reign the diocese was ravaged by the Black Death, checked the presumption of the citizens with the aid of Emperor Charles V; Gerhard von Schwarzburg (1372-1400) by his victory over the citizens at Bergstein, in 1400, put an end to the schemes to make Wurzburg a free city of the empire. John I von Egloffstein (1400-01), an excellent administrator, founded the university. John II von Brunn (1411-40) brought the diocese to the brink of financial ruin. Gottfried IV von Limburg (1443-55), a zealous reformer, and John III von Grumbach (1455-66) had to fight against the claims of the Margraves of Ansbach and Bayreuth of the Brandenburg line. The able Rudolph von Scherenberg (1466-95) raised the diocese to a very flourishing condition, so that he was regarded as the second founder of the bishopric. The same spirit animated Lorenz von Bibra (1495-1519)1 a friend of Humanism and a patron of Trithemius, whom he appointed abbot of the Scotch monastery at Wurzburg. Conrad von Thungen (1519-40) sought to the utmost of his ability to prevent the entrance of the new doctrines. During his episcopate the peasants who had revolted devastated the diocese, and the episcopal castle suffered a long siege from 20,000 peasants. Melchior von Zobel (1544-58) sought to preserve his diocese to the Catholic Faith by instituting reforms, and for this purpose he attended the Council of Trent, but the cathedral chapter, which was composed of worldly minded nobles, blocked his efforts; he was murdered by a Protestant nobleman, William von Grumbach. Frederick von Wirsberg (1558-73) brought the Jesuits to Wurzburg, and in 1570 gave them charge of the seminary for boys and a boarding-school which he had established. He was followed by the greatest bishop Wurzburg ever had, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1573-1617), during whose episcopate the diocese took on fresh life. Of his labors the university, which he refounded, and the Julius Hospital, built by him, for hundreds of years the largest charitable institution in all Germany, still exist. John Gottfried von Aschhausen (1617-22) united for the first time the dioceses of Wurzburg and Bamberg. During the episcopate of Philip Adolph von Ehrenberg (1622-31) many persons were put to death, among them the bishop’s nephew, for superstitious belief in witches. This led the Jesuit Frederick von Spee to write his celebrated treatise against belief in witches.

In 1631 the Swedes conquered the diocese and city, which, united with Bamberg, was given to Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar as the Duchy of Franconia. It was not until the imperial troops were victorious at Nordlingen in 1634 that Bishop Frederick von Hatzfeld (1631-42) could enter his diocese. Notwith standing their oppression by the Swedes, the population remained loyal to the Catholic Faith. During the reign of John Philip von Schonborn (1642-73) the diocese recovered from the injuries of the Thirty Years War. Francis Philip von Greiffenklau (1699 1717) had the cathedral and the Church of St. Pete ornamented in the Baroque style. The diocese and city prospered greatly under Philip Francis von Schonborn (1719-24), who laid the cornerstone of the episcopal palace at Wurzburg, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the world, Christopher von Hutten (1724-29), and Frederick Karl von Schonborn (1729-46). Adam von Seinsheim (1755-79), during whose episcopate the Seven Years War caused the diocese great suffering, did much for the benefit of the primary schools. He was followed by the excellent Bishop Francis Ludwig von Erthal (1759-95). The last Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg was George Karl von Fechenbach. In 1802 the diocese, which contained over 250,000 inhabitants, was secularized and given to Bavaria. After the Peace of Pressburg, Bavaria was obliged to cede it to the brother of Emperor Francis, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who ruled it as the Grand Duchy of Wurzburg until 1814. After the fall of Napoleon the territory reverted to Bavaria. After the death of the bishop ecclesiastical affairs were administered by the auxiliary bishop, Zirkel, who courageously and successfully maintained the rights of the Church against the Governments and statesmen.

The Bavarian Concordat of 1817 and the Bull “Dei ac Domini nostri,” of April 1, 1818, established the Diocese of Wurzburg with its present boundaries, and made it a suffragan of the smaller and less ancient Diocese of Bamberg; the Bishops of Wurzburg, however, were granted the right to the pallium. The new bishop, Frederick Gross von Trockau (1818-40) did much for the reorganization of the diocese and for the training of the clergy. During the episcopate of George Anthony von Stahl (1840-70) there was held in 1848 at Wurzburg the conference of German bishops which inaugurated a new development of Catholic life in Germany. Bishop von Stahl died at Rome during the Vatican Council, in which he had taken an active part. He was followed by Valentine von Reissmann (1871-75), his vicar-general for many years; von Reissmann took successful measures against the spread of the Old Catholic Church. Francis Joseph von Stein (1878-98), who labored for the improvement of the education of the clergy and courageously defended the rights of the Church, was transferred to the archiepiscopal See of Munich-Freising (see Archdiocese of Munich-Freising).

The present bishop, Ferdinand von Schlor, was appointed on March 5, 1898, and consecrated on May 22, 1898.


UNIVERSITY OF WURZBURG.—John I of Egloffstein (1400-1411), Bishop of Wurzburg, obtained from Pope Boniface IX a charter, dated December 10, 1402, for the university. The university was designed after that of Bologna, and gave special attention to the faculties of theology and canon and civil law. After the death of its founder it began to decay, as the cathedral chapter, which was composed of members of the nobility, withdrew its means of support. More than a century later, Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn reestablished it, and on March 28, 1575, Pope Gregory XIII issued the Bull granting the charter to the new university, which was to have the privileges of the universities of Paris and Bologna. The buildings were erected during 1582-91, and the university was opened on January 2, 1582. The Julius Hospital came into close connection with the university, and thus gave the medical faculty a large field for observation and practice. In the eighteenth century the bishops who did most for the encouragement of learning were Frederick Charles Count von Schonborn, Adam Frederick Count von Seinsheim, and Francis Louis von Esthal. At the close of the eighteenth century the university was characterized as “the best Catholic university in the whole of Germany” by Magister F. C. Laukhard, a man who was well known in the universities both of Germany and of foreign countries. In its subsequent development also the university sought to maintain this reputation. The faculties of theology and philosophy were entrusted to the Jesuits until the suppression of the Society; from that time the Jesuit professors remained as secular priests. In 1803 the ecclesiastical principality of Wurzburg was secularized, and after a short period, during which it was ruled by the Grand Duke of Tuscany (1806-14), it was united with Bavaria. The reputation of the university grew, especially of the medical faculty, which ranked very high. Since the middle of the nineteenth century separate buildings have been built for the departments of medicine and natural sciences; in 1897 the new academic building was erected. The theological faculty also has included names of note; of those in modern times mention may be made of Cardinal Joseph Hergenrother, Francis Seraph Hettinger, Anton Scholz, and Hermann Schell. The Bishops of Wurzburg during 1840-1898 (von Stahl, von Reissmann, and von Stein) had all been members of the theological faculty of the university. In the summer of 1911 the students numbered 1509.


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