Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By this name is designated the European monarchy whose dominions have for their main life-distributing artery the River Danube, in its course from Engelhartszell, near Passau, to Orsova. South of the Danube lie the Austrian Alpine provinces and the provinces of Carinthia and Carnola; north of the Danube are the Carpathian and Sudetic provinces.

AREA AND POPULATION

The monarchy as a whole has an area of about 262,577 square miles (680,887 square kilometres), and a population of about 48,592,000. This gives it the second place in population, among the political divisions of Europe. The average density of its population is, approximately, 185 to the square mile. The monarchy holds sway over: (a) the kingdoms and provinces represented in the Austrian Parliament, or Reichsrat, which have together an area of 115,695 sq. m. (300,008 sq. km.) and a population of 26,969,812; (b) the provinces of the Hungarian Crown which have a total area of 127,204 sq. m. (329,851 sq. km.) and a population of 19,985,465; (c) Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an area of 19,678 sq. m. (51,028 sq. km.) and a population of 1,737,000, occupied and administered by Austria-Hungary, though still theoretically a part of the Ottoman Empire . These populations include a great variety of races. In the Austrian territory there are: Germans, 9,171,000; Czechs, 5,955,000; Poles, 4,259,000; Ruthenians, 3,376,000; Slovenes, 1,193,000; Italians and Ladinians, 727,000. In Hungary the population is composed of: Magyars, 9,180,000; Rumanians, 2,867,000; Germans, 2,138,000; Slovaks, 2,055,000; Croats, 1,734,000; Serbs, 1,079,000; Ruthenians, 443,000. The inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina are Servo-Croatians.

The capitals of the three main divisions are: Austria: Vienna, with 1,675,000 inhabitants; Hungary, Budapest, with 732,000 inhabitants; Bosnia and Herzegovina , Serajevo, with 38,000 inhabitants. The only strip of coast land in Austria-Hungary lies on the Adriatic and has a length of 1,366 miles (2,200 km.). The countries which border on Austria-Hungary are: Italy, Switzerland, the principality of Liechtenstein, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Russia, Rumania, Servia, Turkey, and Montenegro.

CHURCH HISTORY

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was created by the union of the Germanic, Slavonic, and Hungarian provinces which now lie within its territory. This union took place in 1526. Upon the death of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia at the battle of Mohács, in that year. Bohemia and Hungary were united to the Austrian possessions of Ferdinand I, of the Hapsburg family. This union was in accordance with the law of succession as well as the result of a free choice. Up to 1536 each of these three divisions of the present empire had its own separate religious history.

A. Early Christianity

The Romans in the time of Augustus took possession of those provinces of the present Austria-Hungary which lie south of the Danube. In the course of time they built roads, founded cities, turned the territory into Roman provinces, and here and there converted the inhabitants to Christianity. The cities of Aquileia and Salona, episcopal sees from the middle of the first century, were centres of Christianity for Noricum and Pannonia. In the year 294 five Christian workmen were thrown from the marble bridges of Sirmium (Mitrowitz) into the Save and drowned. During the persecution of the Christians under the Emperor Diocletian, in 304, the soldier Florianus was thrown into the Ems at Lauriacum (Lorch). The house of Augustinian canons, at St. Florian, in Upper Austria, now stands on the spot where the body of this saint was buried. A tradition gives the same date for the martyrdom of the two bishops Victorinus of Petovia (Pettau in Southern Styria ) and Quirinus of Siscia, who met death where the Kulpa empties into the Save. Even at this period Christianity must have had a large number of adherents in these districts, for already an established organization is found here. The bishops of Noricum were under the control of the Patriarch of Aquileia, while Pannonia was subject to the Metropolitan of Sirmium.

The last representative of Christian culture among the Roman inhabitants of the Danube district is St. Severinus. The story of his life, by his pupil Eugippius, is the only written document we have for the history of the Danubian provinces during the last years of the Roman occupation. Severinus settled near the present city of Vienna, built a monastery for himself and his companions, and led so austere a life that even in winter, when the Danube was frozen, he walked up and down over the ice barefoot. His journeys upon the frozen river were errands of consolation to the despairing provincials, who saw themselves threatened on all sides by bands of marauding barbarians. In these journeys Severinus travelled as far as Castra Batava (Passau), and inland from the river up to Juvavum (Salzburg). God had granted him the gift of prophecy. When Odovakar (Odoacer), King of the Heruli, set out on his march against Rome, he came to the saint and asked for his blessing. Severinus spoke prophetically: "Go forward, my son. To-day thou art still clad in the worthless skins of animals, but soon shalt thou make gifts from the treasures of Italy." After Odovakar had overthrown the Roman Empire of the West, and had made himself master of Italy, he sent and invited Severinus to ask from him some favour. Severinus only asked the pardon of one who had been condemned to banishment. The Alamannic king, Gibold, also visited him in Castra Batava, and the saint begged as a personal grace that the king cease from ravaging the Roman territory. His usual salutation was "Sit nomen Domini benedictum", corresponding to our "Praise be to Jesus ". When Severinus lay dying the sobs of his disciples prevented their praying ; he himself began to recite the last psalm, and with the closing words of this psalm, "Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum", he passed away (482). Six years later the Romans withdrew from this region, taking the body of the saint with them, and returned to Italy. Here he was buried with suitable honour in the castle of Luculanum, near Naples.

B. The Middle Ages

During the period of migrations which followed the fall of the Roman Empire, Austria was the fighting-ground of the barbaric hordes which poured through it. Vindobona disappeared from the face of the earth; Pannonia was entirely laid waste by the Avars, a people related to the Huns. The same fate befell Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, desolated by the Slovenes, who now took possession of those provinces. The land lying on the upper Drave has since borne the name of "Pustertal" (from the Slovenic pust, "waste"). The Croats and Serbs seized the country south of the Save. The Croats are the first-born sons of the Church among the Slavs. They were converted about the year 650, by Roman priests. The Bajuvari (Bavarians), a people from the West, spread themselves over the whole of Upper Austria. St. Rupert, Bishop of Worms, baptized the Bavarian duke, Theodo, at Regensburg (Ratisbon) and became the Apostle of the Austrian Bajuvarii. He travelled and preached nearly as far as Lauriacum, settled in Salzburg, and there erected a see and founded the monastery of St. Peter (c. 700). St. Peter's is the oldest Benedictine monastery which has had a continuous existence down to our own times, Monte Cassino having been repeatedly destroyed and deserted. The Benedictine cloister for women, Nonnberg, founded by Rupert's niece Ehrentraut, is also still standing. The Bavarian Duke Tassilo founded the Benedictine monasteries of Mondsee (748) and Kremsmünster (777). The Bishops of Salzburg brought the Christian Faith and German customs to the Slavs. A quarrel broke out, however, between the Carinthians and the Patriarch of Aquileia. Charlemagne raised the Carinthian see of Salzburg to an archbishopric in 798, settled the dispute with Aquileia by making the Drave the dividing line of the two provinces, and in 803 established the border territories known as the Mark of Friuli and the East Mark.

Moravia was won to Christianity by two brothers, Methodius and Constantine, Greek monks from Thessalonica, known in history as the Apostles of the Slavs. Constantine invented the Glagolitic alphabet, translated the Bible into Slavic, and composed the liturgy in that language. But, as Salzburg and Passau had claim to the region in which the brothers worked, complaint was made against them by the German ecclesiastics. Pope Hadrian II, however, authorized the liturgy in the Slavic language. Constantine remained at Rome in a monastery and took the name of Cyril, while Methodius, after many fruitful labours as Archbishop of Pannonia and Moravia, died 6 April, 885, at Vehlehrad, on the River March. The Apostles of the Slavs are now (pursuant to a decree of Leo XIII ) commemorated throughout the Catholic Church on the 5th day of July. The Latin Liturgy was reintroduced in Moravia by Swatopluk, the successor of Duke Ratislaus, and soon after his death the Magyars overthrew the empire of Great Moravia (906). When Moravia is again heard of in history (founding of the bishopric of Olmütz, 1063), it is a province of Bohemia.

Christianity was introduced into Bohemia from Moravia. Of the Slavic tribes which at the end of the fifth century controlled the interior of Bohemia and drove the Germans to the outskirts of the country, the Czechs of Prague were the most important division. In A. D. 871 their prince, Borziwoy, and his wife, Ludmilla, consented to receive baptism from St. Methodius. From this time on the history of Bohemia is an account of the struggles between two contending parties, the Christian-Germanic and the National Heathen. At the instigation of the National Heathen party the saintly Duke Wenzel (Wenceslaus) I was murdered by his brother, Boleslaw I. But even Boleslaw had to rule according to the wishes of the Christian-Germanic party, and his son Boleslaw II founded the Bishopric of Prague (973). The new see was placed under the Archbishop of Mainz, and its first bishop was the Saxon Dithmar. His successor, St. Adalbert (Wojtech), met a martyr's death (967) at the hands of the heathen Slavs of Prussia, whom he sought to bring to the truth. The Benedictine Order came into Bohemia with the founding of the monastery of Borevnov by Boleslaw II, and Boleslaw's sister, Milada, was the first abbess of St. George, the Benedictine cloister for women in Prague. Duke Bretislaw seized Gnesen and brought the body of St. Adalbert in triumph to Prague. Dabrowka, the daughter of Boleslaw I, married the Polish Duke Mieczyslaw, and the latter was baptized in 966. The son of Mieczyslaw laid the foundation of an enduring church-organization by forming the four bishoprics of Posen, Kolberg, Breslau, and Cracow, and placing them under the Archbishopric of Gnesen, which had been established in the year 1000.

The Magyars, a people from the Ural-Altai region, moved forward in 895 into the Avarian Wilderness on the Theiss. Attempts to convert them were made by the court of Byzantium as well as by St. Wolfgang, a monk of Maria Einsiedeln, by Piligrim, Bishop of Passau, who, as successor of the Bishops of Lorch, wished to be Metropolitan of all Pannonia, and by Adalbert of Prague. Thus it was brought about that the Magyar ruler Géza, great grandson of Arpad, and his wife Sarolta were favourably inclined to Christianity. The real Apostle of the Magyars, however, was Géza's great son, St. Stephen . Stephen received a Christian education and was baptized by St. Adalbert . Upon the occasion of his marriage with Gisela, sister of the future emperor, St. Henry II , Stephen vowed to give his people the blessings of Christianity. One of the most important measures taken by him for the security of the new faith was the founding at Gran of an archbishopric with ten subordinate sees. As Stephen's patron saint in battle had been St. Martin, he founded the Benedictine monastery of Martinsberg. He also founded hospices for the reception of Hungarian pilgrims at Ravenna, Rome, and Jerusalem. Astriens, the Abbot of Martinsberg, obtained for him, from the pope, the title of king. Sylvester II sent Stephen a crown of gold and, according to a tradition (which, however, is not well founded) a Bull which decreed to the Kings of Hungary the privilege of the "Apostolic Majesty". Having a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Stephen caused himself to be crowned on the festival of the Assumption, the 15th day of August, in the year 1000, and church historians have given to Hungary the title of "Mary's Realm" ( Regnum Marianum ).

The gradual advance of Christianity in Austria towards the east is shown in the shifting of the abode of the early rulers of the Babenberg (Bamberg) line from Melk, on the Kahlenberg, to Vienna. One of this family, Leopold I, the Illustrious, had already founded at Melk an establishment of secular canons. These were replaced in 1089 by twelve Benedictine monks from Lambach. At the time when Leopold's youngest son, Adalbert I, the Victorious, was margrave, three youths left this region to go to Paris to study. While on their way, they were obliged to spend a night in the open and fell to speaking of the future. Each wished to become a bishop, and each vowed that, if ever a bishop, he would found a monastery. One, Gebhard, became Archbishop of Salzburg and founded Admont and the Diocese of Gurk ; another, Adalbero, Bishop of Würzburg, founded the monastery of Lambach; while the third, St. Altmann of Passau, founded Göttweig for twelve canons under the Rule of St. Augustine . The canons at Göttweig were replaced after the lapse of ten years by Benedictines from St. Blasien in the Black Forest. All three of these bishops remained true to Gregory VII in the controversy of investitures. The Crusades began during the reign of the Margrave Leopold II, the Saint, and many of the crusading armies traversed Austria. Leopold's mother, Ida, took part in a pilgrimage of which Thieno, Archbishop of Salzburg, was the leader. The archbishop met the death of a martyr, and Ida was made a prisoner. Leopold erected a church on the Kahlenberg and founded the monasteries Klosterneuburg and Heiligenkreuz. His wife, Agnes, widow of the Hohenstaufen Duke Frederick, bore him eighteen children. Their third son, Otto, studied at Paris, entered the Cistercian monastery of Morimond, became Bishop of Freising, and wrote a chronicle, "De Duabus Civitatibus", and a second work, "Libri Duo de Gestis Friderici I". By reason of these two works he is the most noted German historian of the Middle Ages .

After a hard struggle, the saintly King Ladislaus (d. 1095) succeeded in regulating the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of Hungary. He founded the Bishopric of Grosswardein, and summoned the dignitaries of the Church and the State to a diet at Szabolcs. This diet is often called a synod, on account of the many decisions arrived at in church matters. The priests were ordered to observe celibacy strictly, the laity were commanded to keep Sunday and feastdays and to abstain from immorality. Ladislaus conquered Croatia, whose duke, Zwonimir, had received from a legate of Gregory VII at Salona (1076) a banner, sword, crown, and sceptre, with the title of king, in return for which he had sworn fealty to the pope.

Henry II, Jasomirgott, was the first Duke of Austria. He built a residence for himself at Vienna ( Am Hof ), in which was the Pancraz chapel, and founded the Schottenkloster for Benedictine monks from St. Jacob's at Regensburg. Octavian Wolzner, an architect from Cracow, erected for the new duke the church of St. Stephen, to which the parish of St. Peter was added. Leopold V, the Virtuous, son of Henry II, took part in the Third Crusade and fought so bravely that, as we are told, his armour was stained blood red, and only the part under the sword belt remained white. However, Richard the Lionhearted tore down the Austrian banner at the storming of Ascalon and the enraged duke went home at once. While on his way to England, Richard was seized at Erdberg, and held a prisoner by the duke at Dürrenstein. Crusaders being under the protection of the pope, Celestine III put Leopold V under the ban. To this the duke paid no attention; but when he fell with his horse, at Graz, broke a leg, and found himself near death, his conscience smote him; he sent for Albert III, Archbishop of Salzburg, who was in the neighbourhood, and received absolution from him. Frederick I, the eldest son of Leopold V, ruled only six years and died while on a crusade. The reign of his brother, Leopold VI, the Glorious, was a brilliant one. He too went on a crusade and endeavoured first to capture Damietta, the key to Jerusalem, but was obliged to return home without having accomplished anything. He married a Byzantine princess and formed relations with men of Greek learning and culture. The duke built a new castle for himself (Schweizerhof) and the church of St. Michael . The church was intended for the benefit of the duke's attendants, retainers, servants, and the townspeople who settled around the castle. The scheme to form a bishopric at Vienna was not carried out, but Eberhard II of Salzburg founded bishoprics at Seckau and Lavant, for Styria and Carinthia. Leopold's son and successor, Frederick II, the last of the Babenberg line, was knighted with much religious pomp at the feast of the Purification of the Virgin, 1232, in the castle church. Bishop Gebhard of Passau celebrated Mass and gave the consecrated sword to the duke, two hundred young nobles receiving knighthood at the same time. After the ceremony the young duke rode at the head of the newly made knights to Penzing, where jousts were held.

Within a short space of time the national dynasties of the countries under discussion died out in the male lines: the Babenberg Dynasty (Austria) in 1246, the Arpadian (Hungary) in 1301, and the Premyslian (Bohemia) in 1306. In 1282 the German Emperor, Rudolph of Hapsburg, gave Austria in fief to his son Albrecht. To Austria and Styria the dukes of the Hapsburg line soon added Carinthia, Carniola, the Tyrol, and the Mark of the Wends. The rulers of this line are deserving of great praise for their aid in developing church life in these territories. Albrecht I founded the court ( Hofburg ) chapel in his castle; Duke Rudolph IV in 1359 laid the corner-stone of the Gothic reconstruction of the church of St. Stephen. A hundred and fifty years elapsed before the great tower of the church was completed. With the consent of the pope the same duke founded the University of Vienna in 1365. The university was modelled on the one at Paris and possessed great privileges (freedom from taxation, right of administering justice ). When part of the Council of Basle separated from Eugenius IV and set up Felix V as antipope, the theological faculty of the university, of which at that time the celebrated Thomas Ebendorffer of Haselbach was a member, sided with the antipope. But the papal legate, John Carvajal, and Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini, the emperor's governmental secretary, prevailed upon Frederick III to espouse the cause of Eugenius and to sign the Concordat of Vienna (1448). The concordat provided that the annates and the confirmation dues should be restored to the pope, that the pope should have the right to appoint to the canonries in the uneven months, and that the filling of ecclesiastical vacancies at Rome should be reserved to him. The concordat was gradually accepted by all of the German rulers, and up to the present time the relations between the German Church and the papacy are regulated by its provisions. In 1452 Frederick was crowned emperor at Rome, being the last emperor to be crowned in that city. In his reign the Bishoprics of Laibach (1462), Vienna, and Wiener-Neustadt (both the latter in 1469) were founded. During this period a great many monastic houses were founded in Austria, especially by the more recently established orders: Carthusian houses were founded at Mauerbach, Gaming, Agsbach; Franciscan at Vienna, Klosterneuburg, St. Pölten, Maria Enzersdorf, Pupping; Dominican at Graz and Retz.

Under the Luxembourg line Bohemia attained a high degree of material and spiritual prosperity. Charles IV, before his reign began, succeeded in having Prague raised to an archbishopric (1344), and in this way made the country ecclesiastically independent of Germany. Charles had been a student at Paris, and immediately upon ascending the throne he founded the University of Prague (1348), the first university on German soil. Master Matthias of Anras and Peter Parler from Schwäbisch-Gmund began the erection of the stately Cathedral of St. Vitus which is now nearing completion. Parlor also erected the Teynkirche (Teyn church) in Prague, and the church of St. Barbara in Kutzenberg, while Matthias of Anras built the fortress-castle of Karlstein. The crown jewels of Bohemia were preserved in the sumptuous chapel at Karlstein. But Bohemia had a sudden fall from the height it had attained. King Wenzel (Wenceslaus), son of Charles IV, had no control of his temper, and began a quarrel with the archbishop. The archbishop's vicar-general, John of Pomuk (St. John Nepomucene), refused to tell what he had heard in confession. He was first tortured and then, gagged and bound, was thrown at night into the River Moldau. At this time the first signs appeared in Bohemia of a religious agitation which was destined to bring the greatest sorrow both to Bohemia and to the adjoining countries. Jerome of Prague had become acquainted with the writings of Wyclif at Oxford. He returned home, bringing the teachings of Wyclif with him, and communicated them to his friend Hus. Hus came from Husinetz near Prachatitz. He was the child of a peasant, and had become professor of philosophy at the University of Prague, preacher in the Bohemian language at the Bethlehem chapel, and confessor to Queen Sophia. A complaint was brought in the university against Hus on account of his teaching. Of the four "Nations" (Saxons, Bavarians, Poles, and Bohemians ), which had votes in the affairs of the university, only the Bohemians voted for Hus. Hus then turned a personal into a national affair. King Wenzel issued a command that henceforth the Bohemians should have three votes, and the other "Nations" only one vote. Upon this 5,000 students and the German professors withdrew and founded the University of Leipzig. The university was now simply a national one, and Hus without interference taught the following doctrines: the church consists only of the elect ; no man is temporal ruler, no man is a bishop, if he be in mortal sin ; the papal dignity is an outcome of the imperial power; obedience to the church is the invention of men. Hus was suspended by Archbishop Zbinko; he appealed to the pope ( Alexander V ) and then to Jesus Christ. John XXIII placed Hus under the ban, Prague under an interdict, and called the Council of Constance. The Emperor Sigismund gave Hus a safe-conduct which protected him from acts of violence on the part of the indignant Germans through whose territory he must pass, but not from the verdict of the council. Hus was repeatedly examined before the council, but would not retract his opinions; the members of the council, therefore, unanimously condemned his errors and delivered him to the secular power, by which, in accordance with the law of the land at the time, he was condemned to death at the stake (1415). Jerome of Prague suffered the same death the next year. While at Constance Hus sanctioned the receiving of the sacrament in both kinds which had been introduced by Master Jacob of Miez (Calixtines). As a former monk, John of Selau, was leading a procession a stone was thrown at him from a window of the town hall. The throng, led by the knight John Zizka of Trocnov, attacked the town hall and threw the judge, the burgomaster, and several members of the town council out of the window into the street, where they were killed by the fall. This is known in history as the "First Defenestration of Prague". King Wenzel was so excited by the episode that he was struck with apoplexy and died. The Hussite wars caused fearful devastation not only in Bohemia, but in the adjacent countries as well. Fortunately, the Hussites divided into the more moderate Calixtines, under John of Rokyzana, and the "Taborites", so called from the city and mountain which they named Tabor. The Taborites were led by John Zizka and Procopius the Great, who was also called the "Shaven" ( Iloly ) because he had been a monk. After Zizka's death the extreme radicals took the name of "Orphans" because no one was worthy to take Zizka's place. They were finally conquered, and an agreement, called the Compactata (Treaty of Iglau) based on the Four Articles of Prague, was made with the moderate party (1436). The Compacta provided: that in Bohemia everyone who demanded it should receive Holy Communmion under both kinds; mortal sins should be punished, but only by legal authorities; the Word of God should be freely expounded by clergy appointed for the purpose; ecclesiastics should manage their property according to the rules of the church. After this, Hussitism lived on in the " Bohemian Brethren ", who elected a bishop at Lhota near Reichenau (1467), and were finally carried into the current of the Reformation.

In Hungary Christian culture flourished during the reign of the House of Anjou. Louis the Great founded universities at Altofen and Funfkirchen, and built the fine cathedral at Kaschau. When Constantinople was captured by the Turks (29 May, 1453), a cry of horror resounded throughout Europe, and the pope sent forth John Capistran to preach a crusade. The saintly monk came with an immense following from Italy to Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. He preached in the open, as the churches could not hold his hearers. A stone pulpit with a statue of the saintly Capistran stands on the east side of St. Stephen'sCathedral, Vienna. A hundred thousand people crowded the square and the roofs of the houses to hear him. This was the more remarkable because Capistran preached in Latin. Yet all who saw and heard him were moved to their innermost souls. The Turks, in 1456, tried to capture Belgrad, the key to Hungary. The papal legate, John Carvajal, and John Capistran raised a crusading army with which John Hunyady was able to defeat, at Belgrad, a Turkish army much more numerous. This was called the "Battle of the Three Johns". Hunyady and Capistran died shortly afterwards from camp fever. Hunyady's son had been educated by John Vitez, Bishop of Grosswardein, afterwards Archbishop of Gran. This prelate instilled such a love of learning into his pupil that when the latter ascended the throne as Matthias Corvinus, he gathered learned men about him, re-established the decayed university at Ofen, and founded a new university at Pressburg. Thirty copyists were kept busy at Ofen transcribing the Greek and Latin classics. The volumes, which were beautifully illuminated anbd handsomely bound, were known as Corvinian books.

C. Modern Times

If in analyzing church history Christian antiquity is taken to represent the period of the life and labours fo the Church among the peoples influenced by Greek and Roman civilization, and the Middle Ages the period of the Church's life and labours among the Germans and the nations which came into contact with them, then the modern period of history must be taken as that in which the influence of the Church began to extend throughout the whole world. Modern times would, according to this theory, begin with the discovery of the New World. But if the beginning of the modern era is made, as it usually is, to coincide with the Reformation, then it is further marked by the rise of that monarchy which was formed by the union of the Austrian, Slavonian, and Hungarian provinces under the Hapsburgs in 1526.

Ferdinand of Hapsburg, the ruler of the German-Austrian crown provinces, had married, at Linz, Anna of Hungary and Bohemia. When Anna's brother, Louis II, was killed in the desperate battle of Mohács (1526), Ferdinand of Austria succeeded by right of inheritance and election as King of Bohemia and Hungary. The new doctrine taught at Wittenberg was soon brought into the Austrian provinces. Miners were the first to spread the new teaching. Noble families frequently sent their sons to German universities, and even to Wittenberg, and these students often returned with Protestant ideas, and even brought Protestant preachers with them. The constant danger from the Turks in Austria was exceedingly opportune for the new religious movement. One of the first preachers of the new doctrine in Vienna was Paul of Spretten (Speratus), a Swabian, who had been driven out of Salzburg on account of his Lutheran views. The new doctrine entered Hungary and Transylvania through merchants who brought Lutheran books with them, and it took hold, more especially, among the German population of the Zipser region and among the Saxons of Transylvania. Mátyás Biro, known as Devay, from the place of his origin, Deva in Transylvania, has been called "the Luther of Hungary ". Most of the Hungarian bishops had falleen at the battle of Mohács, and the subsequent disputes concerning the succession to the throne distracted the monarchy. For these reasons the new doctrines spread rapidly, and Devay was able to bring over to it such noble families as the Batthyany and Bocskay. It was then that Calvinism began to be called in Hungary Magyar hit (Hungarian faith ), Lutheranism Nemes hit (German faith ), and Catholicism Igaz hit (Right faith ). Equal success accompanied the preaching of John Gross of Cronstadt in Transylvania, despite the efforts of Georgy Utyeszenich to check him. Utyeszenich (also called, after his mother, Marinuzzi) was prior of the Pauline monastery at Szenstochov near Cracow, and governed Transylvania as guardian of John Sigismund Zápolyas. Gross added Honter to his name in memory of his deliverance by an elder bush (in the Transylvanian dialect hontert ) from death by drowning. In order to secure the crown for her son, John Sigismund Zápolyas, his mother, Isabella, was obliged to sanction the decisions of the diet which met at Thorenburg (Torda) near Klausenburg. These granted to adherents of the Augsburg Confession equal rights with the Catholics. In Bohemia and Moravia Lutheranism first found adherents among the Germans and especially among the sect of the Utraquists. Just as the Hapsburg Dynasty showed itself at this period to be the shield of Christianity against the advance of Islam, so also it proved itself by its constancy and zeal to be the support of the Faith against the religious innovations. Pope Pius IV conceded the cup to the laity in the Archdioceses of Gran and Prague, a concession, however, withdrawn by St. Pius V . Ferdinand I sought in many ways to be of aid: by his mandates, by the inspection of convents and parishes, by his care in selecting competent ecclesiastics, by the introduction of the newly established Society of Jesus, and by proposals which were sent to the Council of Trent in support of reforms. The mandates of Ferdinand were of little use, but the inspections and the enforcement of the decisions of the Council of Trent had effect. The Bishops of Vienna, Fabri (Heigerlein), and Frederick Nausea (a Latinization of Gran ; Nausia, horror, disgust) were unusual men. With unflagging zeal both preached on Sundays and feast days in the Cathedral of St. Stephen and took part in the religious movement by the publication of theological pamphlets. Nausea's sermons are characterized in a rude rhyme of the day:–

Viel tausend Menschen standen da Es predigt Bischof Nausea, Wie er denn pflegt zu aller Zeit Sein' Schäflein zgebn selbst die Weid.

"Many thousands gather where Bishop Nausea preaches, and himself, as his wont is, feeds his flock".–In the Austrian provinces the Jesuits were the most important factor in the defence of the Faith and the elevation of Christian life. Ferdinand I obtained from St. Ignatius the founding of a Jesuit college in Vienna. The first two Jesuits came to Vienna in 1551. They were followed, the next year, by St. Peter Canisius, the first German member of the order, were assigned the abandoned Carmelite monastery Am Hof, obtained two chairs in the theological faculty, and founded a gymnasium with a theological seminary attached. St. Peter Canisius was named court preacher, and for a time was administrator of the Diocese of Vienna. He still influences the present day through his "Summa Doctrinæ Christianæ"; an abridgment of which, called the catechism of Canisius, is still in use. A few year later the Jesuits founded at Prague a gymnasium, a theological school, and a university for philosophical and theological studies, which in contradistinction to the "Carolinum" was called the "Clementinum". They also founded schools at Innsbruck and at Tyrnau. The tutor and court preacher of Maximilian II, Ferdinand's eldest son, was Sebastian Pfauser, a man of Protestant tendencies. It was feared that Maximilian would embrace the new creed, but the papal nuncio, Bishop Hosius of Ermland, pointed out to him those inconsistencies in the Protestant doctrine which prove its falsity. Maximilian II gave permission to lords and knights to follow the Augsburg Confession in their own castles, cities, and villages. David Chytræus of Rostock drew up for the Protestants a form of church service. In Bohemia the Evangelicals united with the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren, and called the new agreement the "Bohemian Confession". They had a consistory of fifteen to which the Evangelical clergy were subordinate. Maximilian's position in the part of Hungary controlled by them was a difficult one, because rebels concealed their political schemes under the cloak of a struggle for relgious freedom. His brother Charles was master of the inner Austrian provinces, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Görz. He summoned the Jesuits to Graz and, in the religious pacification of Brück, granted the free exercise of religion at Graz, Klagenfurt, Laibach, and Judenburg. In return he demanded that the Protestants should leave him and his coreligionists undisturbed in their faith, rights, and estates; besides this the Lutheran preachers and teachers were obliged to leave the cities, market towns, and estates under the personal rule of the archduke. In order to counterbalance the endowed schools of the Styrian provinces the Archduke Charles founded the University of Graz (Carolina) in 1586. Charles's son Ferdinand (later the Emperor Ferdinand II ) was educated at Ingolstadt, and while there he declared, "I would rather give up land and people and go away in nothing but a shirt than sanction what might be injurious to religion". When he became ruler he appointed commissioners who cleared the land of these preachers (ranters). The bishops George Stobäus of Lavant and Martin Brenner of Seckau (the Hammer of the Heretics ) were at the head of these reformatory commissions. But no blood was shed in this counter-reformation.

At the distribution of provinces Archduke Ferdinand, husband of Philippina Welser, had received the Tyrol. The diet of 1570 decided the religious position of that province. The governor, Jacob of Pagrsbach, declared firmly that to grant the wishes of the Protestants would be contrary to the customs and ordinances of the land and, further, that it would be folly to rend religion, the strongest tie which binds hearts together. All classes agreed with him. Rudolph II, Maximilian's eldest son and successor, lived in the Hradschin at Prague, where he carried on his studies in alchemy and art. The Archduchy of Austria was ruled by his brother Ernst. Ernst was aided by Melchior Khlesl, who brought about the counter-reformation in Austria. Khlesl was the child of Protestant parents ; his father had been a baker in Vienna. He was converted by the court preacher,


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 in fifteen hardcopy 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


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter