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Wigand Wirt

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Theologian, born at Frankfort about 1460; died at Steyer, 30 June, 1519. He entered the Dominican Order at Frankfort, where he also, after his religious profession, made his ecclesiastical studies, obtaining on their completion the lectorate in theology. His literary activity began in 1494 with the publication of a polemical work in which he attacked the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception incidentally treated by John Trithemius in his "De laudibus S. Annae". The wide circulation of the work called forth much opposition from those in sympathy with the views of Trithemius, and while on 12 September, 1495, a reconciliation was effected between the contending authors, the announcement of a disputation on that subject for 18 June, 1501, by the Observantine John Spengler, was the occasion of renewing the controversy. Wirt, however, found a new opponent in Father Conrad Hensel, who, flinging his invectives against the entire order, forced the latter to turn with their complaint to the Bishop of Strasburg. The process instituted to settle the affair began on 24 September, 1501, and concluded in 1503 in favour of Hensel. But the matter had not yet come to an end. During the process Wirt published the "Defensio Bullae Sixitinae sive Extravagantis grave nimis". In 1483 Sixtus IV forbade the opponents to charge each other with heresy. The prohibition was renewed by Alexander VI on 20 February, 1503. But the Bull and its confirmation were now interpreted by the opponents of the Dominicans in the sense that the pope forbade the denial of the Immaculate Conception , an interpretation which renewed the controversy in all its bitterness. In reply to the "Concordia curatorum et fratrum mendicantium" of Wigand Trebellius, Wirt published his "Dialogus apologeticus". His severe attack on the Observantines and their leader, John Spengler, prompted the Archbishop of Mainz in 1506 to forbid the reading of the work. In the meantime Wirt was elected prior in Stuttgart, and in this capacity posted on the doors of the convent church a document in which he accused his opponents as promoters of heresy. The matter was then taken to Rome where, in 1512, it was decided against Wirt. At his death he was prior of the convent at Steyer.


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