Bishop of Strasburg, b. at Sigolsheim in upper Alsace, 6 April, 1794; d. at Strasburg, 17 November, 1887. After receiving his classical training at Schlettstadt and Nancy, Räss studied philosophy and theology at the seminary at Mainz under Liebermann and was ordained priest in 1816. At first he was a teacher in the seminary for boys at Mainz. In 1822 he received the degree of doctor from the theological faculty of Würzburg. When Liebermann left Mainz for Strasburg Räss was made, in 1825, director of the seminary at Mainz and professor of dogmatics at the same place. After failing to be elected Bishop of Mainz in 1828, on account of the opposition of the Hessian Government, he had charge for a short time of the theological seminary at Molsheim; in 1829 he became superior of the seminary for priests at Strasburg and professor of dogmatics, theology, and homiletics. On 5 August, 1840, he was made coadjutor Bishop of Strasburg with the right of succession, and was consecrated on 14 February, 1841. In 1842 he became Bishop of Strasburg. As bishop he devoted himself particularly to the training of the clergy and the extension or religious societies. He was one of the most determined defenders of Papal Infallibility at the Vatican Council . His declaration in 1874 in the German Reichstag that the Treaty of Frankfort was recognized by the Catholics of Alsace and Lorraine did much to shatter the great popularity he had until then enjoyed among his fellow-countrymen of Alsace.
In his earlier years, before he was raised to the episcopate, Räss showed great and very creditable activity as an author. One undertaking which is much to his honour is the founding, with Nicholas Weis, of the "Katholik" at Mainz in 1821. In the years 1819-39, also with the aid of Weis, he published a large number of works, chiefly translations and revisions of French and English originals. Among the most important of these are Alban Butler's "Leben der Väter und Märtyrer" (20 vols., Mainz, 1823-26; 2nd ed., 23 vols., 1838-40); a brief summary of this work; "Leben der Heiligen Gottes" (4 vols., Mainz, 1826—); later, completely revised by J. Holzwarth (2 vols., Mainz, 1854—); 13th ed. (1903); another was the "Bibliothek der katholischen Kanzelberedsamkeit" (18 vols., Frankfort, 1829-36). Räss also brought about the German translation of the "Annalen der Verbreitung des Glaubens", which he edited, and in this way did much to promote the interest in missions to the heathen. During his episcopate Räss published his well-known and most important work: "Die Convertiten seit der Reformation nach ihrem Leben und aus ihren Schriften dargestellt" (13 vols. and index, Freiburg, 1866-80).
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