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Friedrich August von Klinkowström

Artist, author and teacher; b. at Ludwigsburg in Swedish Pomerania on 31 August, 1778; d. at Vienna, 4 April, 1835.

This famous convert came from an old Pomeranian noble family. At the age of sixteen, in deference to the wishes of his father, a lieutenant-colonel in the Swedish army, Friedrich adopted the military calling, but only remained in the service from 1793 to 1802. After this he was allowed to follow his own inclination and become a painter. To perfect himself in his studies, he went to the famous Dresden Gallery. His early pictures as well as the whole earnest bend of his mind showed a strong leaning towards the Catholic Church. After four years of successful study he was called home and obliged to remain there quietly for two years, owing to the gloomy political condition of the country after the battle of Jena. Then a great longing seized him for Rome, the home of all art. He journeyed first through Paris where the victorious Napoleon had amassed the ripest art treasures from all lands. His stay in Paris lasted nearly two years, and terminated happily with his engagement. Finally in 1810 he started for Rome. But the quickly formed friendship with Thorwaldsen, Rauch, Overbeck, and other artists, unfortunately only lasted a year, as Klinkowström was obliged to look about for an assured position. This led him to Vienna to take a place as instructor, and his marriage followed in 1812. But the grave political situation after the battle of Leipzig led the quiet artist once again to join the army. He displayed great activity in forming the volunteer corps in Leipzig, Dresden, and Aachen. After the Treaty of Paris he returned to Vienna, where he found that during his absence his wife had been received into the Catholic Church by Father Klemens Hofbauer. When he was told of this, he exclaimed: "So Louise has become a Catholic before me". A few months after this he followed the example of his "dear Louise". Then there came three quiet years of painting and literary work. He devoted himself particularly to children's books for which he provided designs and illustrations gradually working up to his true calling, the instruction of youth. There had been a plan under discussion for some time in Vienna to found a school for the sons of the higher nobility. But the difficulty was to find the right man, one qualified to undertake the work and carry it out within the provisions of the Austrian School Laws. Such a one was found in Klinkowström. The new foundation was opened in 1818, and enjoyed the personal favour of the emperor, the fact that the empress also showed an active interest in it naturally lent additional prestige to the school. The founder devoted himself unsparingly to its direction, maintenance, and advancement, and his efforts were eminently successful. Contemporaneous opinion is unanimous in declaring that for excellence and importance Klinkowström's school took precedence of all other educational institutions of the day. His untiring zeal used up all his strength, so that owing to ill-health and increasing suffering, he was obliged in 1834, after sixteen years of personal guidance, to give over the schools to other hands. He died six months after this, his wife having died before him, in 1821. Both of his oldest and youngest sons, Joseph and Max, entered the Jesuit Order, and became renouned preachers. The third son, Klemens the head of the house in Austria, has acquired as Imperial and Royal Archivist a literary fame, while to the fourth son, Alphons we are indebted for an excellent biography of his father. The only daughter joined the Order of Salesians after her father's death.

Joseph von Klinkowström

Eldest son of the preceding, b. 30 August, 1813; d. 30 March, 1876. He received his early education at his father's school, and in 1831 entered the Jesuit novitiate at Graz. After completing his novitiate and the study of rhetoric and philosophy, he taught for three years in the lower forms of the gymnasium. He made his theology in Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1846. On his return to Graz he taught rhetoric, and subsequently, during the confusion caused by the revolution of 1848, held the position of tutor in a noble Westphalian family. When, two years later, the great popular missionary movement began in Germany, Father Klinkowström was allotted to the German missionaries, proved himself to be unusually efficient. He continued his efforts in Austria in 1852, and his sermons caused so great a sensation in Vienna that the emperor expressed a desire to see him. The result of the interview was the establishment of a Jesuit community in Vienna. Here from 1859 to 1872, in which year his strength began to fail, Klinkowström continued his preaching activity, his great gift of eloquence and his deep religious fervour making a great impression, especially on educated laymen.

Max von Klinkowström

Youngest son of Friedrich, b. 21 October, 1819; d. 28 March, 1896. Until his ordination Father Max was educated on the same general lines as his brother Joseph. From that time, however, the young scholastic led a more active life. Even while making his theology in lnnsbruck he took part, under the direction of the celebrated Francis X. Weninger , in the popular missions in Tyrol and Vorarlberg. During the revolutionary year of 1848 he was appointed curate-in-charge at Kirchberg, to him an unwelcome change. This was followed by a still sadder experience, when he was chosen to accompany a band of Catholic emigrants to Australia. This expedition resulted for him only in suffering and privations. After two years of this labour he was allowed to resume his chosen work of popular missions. He was a regular and highly esteemed preacher on Sundays and holy days, now at Vienna and Prague and now at Innsbruck and Presburg, from 1857 to 1887, save for two short interruptions in 1859, when he served as chaplain in Northern Italy, and in 1871, when he escorted a band of pilgrims to the Golden Jubilee of Pius IX. His last office, which he occupied from 1887 to 1891, was that of superior and preacher at the cathedral of Laibach. Then, after a slight apopletic stroke, his health failed, and he spent the remainder of his life at Kalksburg near Vienna.


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