Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


Diocese in Bavaria. The city dates back to the stronghold of Noviomagus, in the territory of the German tribe of the Nemetes, on the left bank of the Rhine. In the course of time a Roman municipality (Colonia Nemetum) developed out of this stronghold; in 451 the municipality was entirely destroyed by Attila. From its ashes arose a new city, Spira of Speyer. Christianity found entrance into the city in the time of the Romans. The first bishop, Jesse (Jessius), is mentioned in the Acts of the synods of Sardica (343) and of Cologne (346), but his historicity is not quite certain. On the other hand there is positive proof of Bishop Hilderich who attended the Synod of Paris held in 614. Since his episcopate the succession of bishops has been unbroken. In 748 Speyer was made suffragan of Mainz ; and in 1030 the first stone of the present Romanesque Cathedral of Our Lady was laid; it was intended to be the mausoleum of the Salian emperors. In the struggle over investitures, Bishops Huzmann (1073-90) and Johann I (1090-1104) upheld the Emperor Henry IV and died under the ban of the Church. In 1146 St. Bernard preached the Crusade at Speyer and won King Conrad III to the cause. Beside the four Salian emperors, Philip of Swabia, Rudolph of Habsburg , and the rival kings, Adolph of Nassau and Albert of Austria, are also buried in the cathedral. A lay brotherhood, the Twelve Brothers of Prayer, prayed without intermission in the cathedral, for the repose of the souls of these kings. Among the later bishops Matthias of Ramung (1464-78) should be especially mentioned for his reforming the clergy and people, and bringing new life into the diocese.

At the time of the Reformation several Diets were held at Speyer, the most important being in 1526 and 1529. In 1526 the condition of political affairs enabled the Protestants to secure the relatively favourable decision that each constituent state should act in reference to the matters contained in the Edict of Worms (1521) as it could answer to God and the emperor. But the action taken in 1529 was more decided: the Edict of Worms was to be executed, and the ecclesiastical innovations were to be abolished. Against this the Evangelical constituents protested. By the Reformation the diocese lost two thirds of its churches and benefices. Bishop Eberhard von Dienheim (1581-1610) sought to introduce the reforms ordered by the Council of Trent in the remaining territory. The gains temporally acquired during the Thirty Year's War were nearly all lost by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). The diocese suffered greatly during the predatory wars of Louis XIV of France, and in 1689 the city and cathedral were burned. In 1794 the cathedral, which had been restored at great expense, was once more ravaged by the lawless soldiery of the French Revolution . In 1801 that part of the diocese on the left bank of the Rhine had to be ceded to Mainz ; in 1815 the diocese was assigned to Bavaria ; in 1817 it received new boundaries in the Bavarian Concordat and was made suffragan of the new metropolitan Bamberg. By the liberality of King Louis I of Bavaria, the cathedral was suitably decorated (1846-53), the frescoes being done by Schraudolph. The area of the diocese corresponds to that of the Bavarian Palatinate of the Rhine. Dr. Michael Faulhaber, formerly a professor at the University of Strasburg, was appointed bishop in 1910. The diocese has 120 deaneries, 235 parishes, 6 curacies, 86 chaplaincies and vicarships, 377 secular clergy, and 10 regular clergy. The Catholic population is 413,481; the Protestant population is about 500,000. The diocese has also 1 Dominican monastery (Oggersheim), 1 Capuchin monastery (St. Ingbert), and 100 houses for nuns.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:1-9
1 Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 13-14
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2016 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman ... Read More