Help Now >
FREE Catholic Classes
The Archdiocese of Bamberg, in the kingdom of Bavaria, embraces almost the whole of the presidency of Upper Franconia, the northern part of Middle Franconia (in particular the cities of Nuremberg, Furth, Ansbach, and Erlangen), parts of Lower Franconia, of the Upper Palatinate, and of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. According to the census of 1 December, 1900, the archdiocese then contained 379,442 Catholics ; in 1907 the Catholics numbered 410,000 and members of other denominations 720,000. Bamberg as an ecclesiastical province includes, besides the Archdiocese of Bamberg, the suffragan dioceses of Würzburg, Eichstätt, and Speyer, all of Bavaria.
In the early centuries the region afterwards included in the Diocese of Bamberg was inhabited for the most part by Slavs ; the knowledge of Christianity was brought to these people chiefly by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Fulda, and the land was under the spiritual authority of the Diocese of Würzburg . The Emperor Henry II and his pious wife Kunigunde decided to erect a separate bishopric at Bamberg, which was a family inheritance. The emperor's purpose in this was to make the Diocese of Würzburg less unwieldy in size and to give Christianity a firmer footing in the districts of Franconia. In 1008, after long negotiations with the Bishops of Würzburg and Eichstätt, who were to cede portions of their dioceses, the boundaries of the new diocese were defined, and John XVIII granted the papal confirmation in the same year. The new cathedral was consecrated 6 May, 1012, and in 1017 Henry II founded on Mount St. Michael , near Bamberg, a Benedictine abbey for the training of the clergy. The emperor and his wife gave large temporal possessions to the new diocese, and it received many privileges out of which grew the secular power of the bishop (cf. Weber in "Historisches Jahrbuch der Gorresgesellschaft" for 1899, 326-345 and 617-639). Pope Benedict VIII during his visit to Bamberg (1020) placed the diocese in direct dependence on the Holy See. In 1248 and 1260 the see obtained large portions of the estates of the Counts of Meran, partly through purchase and partly through the appropriation of extinguished fiefs. The old Bishopric of Bamberg was composed of an unbroken territory extending from Schlusselfeld in a north-easterly direction to the Franconian Forest, and possessed in addition estates in the Duchies of Carinthia and Salzburg, in the Nordgau (the present Upper Palatinate), in Thuringia, and on the Danube. By the changes resulting from the Reformation the territory of this see was reduced nearly one half in extent; in 1759 the possessions and jurisdictions situated in Austria were sold to that State. When the secularization of church lands took place (1802) the diocese covered 1276 square miles and had a population of 207,000 souls.
Up to this period the Diocese of Bamberg had been ruled by 63 bishops. The first eight were appointed by the German emperors; after this they were chosen by the clergy and people jointly; still later they were elected by the cathedral chapter. On several occasions, when the election was disputed, the appointment was made by the pope. The first bishop, Eberhard I (1007-40), chancellor to Henry II, greatly increased the possessions of the diocese ; Suidger (1040-46) became pope under the name of Clement II ; Hartwig (1047-53) defended the rights of his see against the Bishop of Würzburg and received the pallium from the pope in 1053; Adalbero (1053-57) was followed by Gunther (1057-65) who held the first synod of Bamberg (1058). Gunther died at Odenburg (Sopron) in Hungary, while on a crusade. Hermann (1065-75) acquired the Principality of Banz; in the struggle between the empire and the papacy he took the side of the empire. He was charged with obtaining his election by simony and deposed. Rupert (1075-1102), as partisan of Henry IV, was a member of the pseudo-Synod of Brixen which declared Pope Gregory VII to be deposed ; on this account the bishop was excommunicated. During his episcopate Rupert did much for the encouragement of classical learning in the diocese. St. Otto I ( 1102039), the Apostle of the Prussians and Pomeranians, had a large share in the reconciliation of the pope and the emperor by the Concordat of Worms; he founded numerous churches and monasteries and during a famine showed large-hearted generosity to his subjects. Otto's immediate successors were men of less distinction: Egilbert (1139-46), who had been Patriarch of Aquileia ; Eberhard II of Otelingen (1146-70) who with great pomp celebrated, in 1147, the canonization of Henry II. Eberhard increased the territory of the diocese, but, being a partisan of Frederick I, he was for a time under sentence of excommunication. He was succeeded by Hermann II, of Aucach (1170-77). Otto II , of Andechs (1177-96), rebuilt in 1181 the cathedral, which had been burned. Otto II understood how to remain loyal both to the emperor and the pope. Thiemo (1196-1202) obtained in 1200 the canonization of the Empress Kunigunde, joint foundress with the emperor Henry II of the see ; Conrad, Duke of Silesia (1201-03), died soon after his election; Eckbert, Count of Meran and Andechs (1203-37), was suspected of being privy to the murder of King Philip of Germany in 1208; the ban of the empire was proclaimed against him, and he was removed form his see, but in 1212 he was restored, and in 1217 took part in an unsuccessful crusade to Palestine. In spite of his warlike disposition he was zealous in promoting the spiritual life of his clergy. Poppo I, Count of Andechs (1237-42), soon retired from his office; Henry I of Bilberstein (1242-51) received from the emperor the title of Prince-Bishop for himself and his successors, as well as numerous rights of sovereignty. Thenceforth the Bishops of Bamberg had ecclesiastical precedence directly after the archbishops.
Their power was encroached on, however, from two directions; on the one side by the cathedral canons, the so-called Brothers of St. George, who abandoned the vita communis during the episcopate of Bishop Berthold of Leiningen (1257-85) and developed gradually into a cathedral chapter. In time the cathedral chapter of Bamberg was chosen, as in other German dioceses, exclusively from the nobility; the chapter, by so-called election pacts ( Wahlkapitulationen ) forced the bishops to abandon numerous privileges and many of the church livings under their control in favour of the chapter, limited the bishop's disciplinary authority over the clergy as well as his right to levy taxes, and abridged other powers. The episcopal authority was also limited, as in other parts of Germany, by the growing power of the towns which rebelled against the secular jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical princes. Thus the city of Bamberg revolted (1291) against Arnold of Solms (1286-96), a quarrel which was settled in 1291 by arbitration in favour of the bishop. During this episcopate the finances of the diocese became much involved, and the indebtedness increased under Leopold I of Grundlach (1297-1303). A Dominican appointed by the pope, Wulfing of Stubenberg (1304-18), founded in Bamberg a Dominican monastery and a convent of Dominican nuns. Several of the succeeding bishops ruled for brief periods: John of Guttingen (1322-23), afterwards Bishop of Friesing; Henry II of Sternberg (1324-28), a Dominican ; John, Count of Nassau (1328-29), who died before consecration ; Werntho Schenk of Reicheneck (1320-35); Leopold II of Egloffstein 91335-43), who maintained ecclesiastical discipline in his diocese and shrewdly kept out of the quarrels between pope and emperor. Frederick I of Hohenlohe (1344-52) did much to establish peace between the imperial and ecclesiastical authorities ; in 1348 he had a register ( urbarium ) drawn up of all the estates and rights belonging to the see. Leopold III of Bebenburg (1353-63) was granted the right of coinage and re-established the disordered finances of the see. Frederick II of Truhendingen (1364-66) was followed by Louis, Margrave of Meissen (1366-74), who soon became Elector of Mainz. Lamprecht of Brünn (1374-98), formerly Bishop of Strasburg, imposed new taxes in order to reduce the indebtedness of the see. This led to a revolt of the citizens of Bamberg, and the bishop was put to flight in 1379; in 1380 he conquered the city and imposed heavy penalties upon it. Albert, Count of Wertheim (1399-1421), settled a quarrel of many years' standing with the Burgrave of Nuremberg and protected the Jews living in the diocese. Frederick III of Aufsess (1421-31), one of the most religious princes of his age, convened a synod in order to restore ecclesiastical discipline and to check the avarice and immorality of the clergy ; the opposition to these reforms, especially that of the cathedral canons, forced him to resign the see (d. 1440). Anthony of Rotenhan (1432-59) was unable to improve the bad condition of the episcopal finances of the bishopric ; in 1440 the citizens of Bamberg forced him to flee, but he soon afterwards took the city by storm and executed a number of the citizens. The diocese was several times devastated by Hussites. More peaceful times now followed: George I of Schaumberg (1459-75), an able ruler, restored ecclesiastical discipline among the people, clergy, and monasteries, and encouraged the newly discovered art of printing (the printer Pfister had a press at Bamberg as early as 1460). Philip of Henneberg (1475-87) continued the labours of his predecessor, redeemed a large number of the estates mortgaged by Anthony of Rotenhan to the Jews, and in 1478 drove the Jews out of the diocese. Henry III Gross of Tockau (1487-1501) was an energetic organizer and issued a number of laws ; in 1491 he held a synod. Veit I Truchsess of Pommersfelden (1501-03) and George II Marschalk of Ebnet (1503-05) had very brief reigns.
The period of the Reformation was an unfortunate one for the diocese. Luther's doctrines very soon found entrance into its territory. The fortieth bishop, George III Schenk of Limburg (1502-22), did much to encourage art and the erection of churches, but he showed himself weak in his opposition to the religious innovations and allowed the writings of the Reformers to be printed and spread in the diocese. Luther's doctrines also found friends and well-wishers in the cathedral chapter. Weigand of Redwitz (1522-56) desired to make a stand against the progress of the Reformation, but was prevented by political and social conflicts. In 1524 the peasants, excited by the preaching of evangelical freedom by the adherents of the new teachings, revolted in several places and refused to pay tithes. The city of Bamberg also rebelled against the bishop ; the citizens called on the peasants for aid, plundered the episcopal palace, the houses of the canons and clergy, the monasteries, and a large number of estates in the open country which belonged to the nobles and clergy. Geoerge von Truchsess, commander of the army of the Swabian Confederation, restored order; a number of the revolutionary leaders were executed, a heavy punishment was inflicted on the city of Bamberg, and the nobles who had suffered loss received unnecessarily large compensation. In spite of the bishop's zeal for souls, the Reformation spread through the diocese, and Protestantism gained a footing, especially in Nuremberg and in the Franconian possessions of the Electors of Brandenburg. This period was followed by an era of calm during the episcopates of George IV Fuchs von Rugheim (1556-61), Veit II of Würzburg (1561-77), John George I Zobel of Giebelstadt (1577-80), Martin von Eyb (1580-83); none of these men, however, were able to correct abuses and reduce the debts of the see. The cathedral chapter was chiefly responsible for the troubles under which the diocese suffered; their nepotism, simony, avoidance of ordination to the priesthood, and, in many cases, their evil lives (concubinage was common) prevented reform. Ernst von Mengersdorf (1583-91) took energetic measures against the moral decay of clergy and people; in 1585 he founded a seminary in Bamberg for the training of priests ; he also did much to improve the material welfare of the people. Neithart von Thungen (1591-98) laboured with great success in behalf of the counter-Reformation; he provided for the education of the clergy, enlarged the ecclesiastical seminary, and re-established the Catholic religion in his territory in accordance with the then accepted principles of law. A less successful episcopate was that of John Philip von Gebsattel (1599-1609), during whose reign the pest desolated the diocese. John Gottfried von Aschhausen (1609-22), who, after 1617, was also Bishop of Würzburg, took energetic measures against concubinage among the clergy. In 1612 he called in the Jesuits, to whom he gave the house and church of the Carmelites ; he put the Jesuits in charge of the ecclesiastical seminary and made them the cathedral preachers. In this way the bishop insured the reform of his clergy and the spiritual renewal of Catholicism. There is one stain on his memory which also rests on that of his successor: the toleration and encouragement of trials for witchcraft.
Many misfortunes befell the diocese during the Thirty Years War ; among those were heavy war imposts, spoliation, and devastation. In 1632 Bamberg was conquered by the Swedes, and in 1633 was obliged to recognize Barnard of Weimar as its ruler. Bishop John George II Fuchs von Dornheim (1623-33) died in Carinthia far away from his see. Franz von Hatzfeld (1633-42) was not able to enter his diocese until 1635. Melchior Otto Voit of Salzburg (1642-53) changed the gymnasium into a university in 1647; his successors, Philip Valentine Voit von Reineck (1655-72), Philip von Dernbach (1672-83), Marquard Sebastian Schenk von Stauffenberg (1683-93), followed his example in encouraging the spiritual activity of the Jesuits and other orders, in the improvement of schools, and in reducing the indebtedness of the diocese. A time of great prosperity was the period of the two Counts von Schönborn, Lothair Franz (1693-1729), and Frederick Charles (1729-46). After 1695 the former of these two bishops, Lothair Franz, was elected Elector of Mainz ; he built the prince-bishop's palace (now a royal residence), a large college for the Jesuits, as well as several castles, and was a great patron of art and learning; the latter, Frederick Charles, added faculties of law and medicine to the university and adorned the city with numerous public buildings. On account of his pulpit eloquence his contemporaries gave him the name of the German Fleury. The reigns of the next bishops, John Philip Anthony von Frankenstein (1746-53) and Franz Conrad, Count von Stadion (1753-57), were also peaceful. During the administration of Adam Frederick, Count von Seinsehim (1757-79), the diocese suffered greatly from the Seven Years War ; during its progress the Prussians ravaged and plundered the region, levied contributions on the inhabitants, and carried off the church treasures. When pestilence and famine followed the other miseries of war the bishop showed great liberality in providing for his starving subjects. Franz Ludwig von Erthal (1779-95), who was at the same time Bishop of Würzburg, was another prelate who aimed to promote the welfare of the diocese ; he issued wise laws tried to equalize the burdens of taxation, founded charitable institutions (the general hospital at Bamberg among them), and raised the standard of the clergy. But although personally religious, in the political relations of the Church he yielded in a measure to the prevailing tendencies of the Aufklarung (illumination) movement of his day. Christoph Franz von Buseckj (1745-1802) was the last Prince- Bishop of Bamberg. In 1796 he took refuge at Prague from the French invasion, and in 1799 at Saalfeld. He had only just returned, in 1802, when Bavaria seized his prince-bishopric; and in 1803 the delegates of the empire formally enacted the secularization of Bamberg, and allotted it to be a possession of the Elector of Bavaria. All the provostships and monasteries were then suppressed, the university was changed into the still extant lyceum, and the prince-bishop was pensioned.
Upon the death of von Buseck (1805) George Charles von Fechenbach, Bishop of Würzburg, administered the affairs of the diocese until 1808. After this the see remained vacant for ten years; the ecclesiastical government was carried on by a vicariate-general, consisting of a president and eight counsellors. The concordat agreed upon between Bavaria and Rome in 1817 brought in a new era. Bamberg was made an archbishopric with boundaries as given at the beginning of this article. The first archbishop, Count Joseph von Stubenberg, previously Prince- Bishop of Eichstätt, took possession of the archiepiscopal see of Bamberg in 1818 and administered both dioceses until his death in 1824. Bishop von Stubenberg deserves great credit for the manner in which he protected the property of the Catholic Church. He was followed by (1824-52) Joseph Maria, Freiherr von Fraunberg, who had been Bishop of Augsburg, (1842-58) Boniface Caspar von Urban, (1858-75) Michael von Deinlein, who founded a seminary for boys and encouraged Catholic associations and missions among the people, (1875-90) Frederick von Schreiber, and (1890-1904) Joseph von Schork, a noted pulpit orator. Archbishop von Schork promoted missions ( Volksmissionen ) among the people, as well as charitable and social organizations among clergy and laity. Frederick Philip von Abert (b. at Munnerstadt, 1 May, 1852) was appointed Archbishop, 30 January, 1905.
The Archdiocese of Bamberg is divided into the archiepiscopal commissariat of the city of Bamberg and 20 rural deaneries. The diocesan year-book for 1906 gives: 194 parishes and dependent stations; 35 curacies; 113 chaplaincies; 58 benefices ; 583 churches and chapels ; 406 secular clergy ; 29 regular clergy ; 788 Catholic parish schools ; 23 Catholic district school inspectors; 202 local school inspectors. The cathedral chapter is composed of 1 provost, 6 deans, 10 canons, 1 honorary canon, and six curates. The secular priests have a clerical association ( Faaedus Ottonianum ) with 320 members and a home for invalid priests ; the association has also a retiring fund (Emeritenfonds) of $92,500. There are 7 houses of male orders, with 90 members, namely: 4 Franciscan with 17 priests and 29 brothers; 1 of Calced Carmelites with 5 priests, 3 clerics, and 7 brothers; 1 of Conventual Minorites, with 5 priests, 5 brothers, and 3 novices ; 1 of Brothers of Charity, with 2 priests, 11 brothers, and three novices. The archdiocese contains a large number of houses of the female orders and congregations: 17 houses, in 8 localities, of the English Ladies ( Englische Fraulein ) with 223 inmates; 13 houses of the Poor School-Sisters, with 1223 inmates; 3 houses of the Franciscan Sisters, with 11 inmates, from the mother-house of Maria-Stern at Augsburg ; 8 houses of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis, from Mallersdorf, with 35 inmates; 8 houses of the Franciscan Sisters, from the convent of Dillingen with 43 inmates; 5 houses of Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul with 55 inmates; 17 houses in 10 localities containing 107 inmates, of the Sisters of the Most Holy Saviour from the mother-house at Oberbronn, with 107 inmates; 12 houses, with 32 inmates, of the Daughters of the Holy Redeemer from the mother-house at Würzburg ; 2 convents, with 11 inmates, of the Sister of Oberzell; making a total of 85 houses with 640 female religious. For the training of the clergy there are an archiepiscopal seminary for priests (50 students) and an archiepiscopal seminary for boys (75 pupils). The students of the seminary ( Priesterseminar ) are educated at the Royal Lyceum, which has philosophical and theological faculties and 9 clerical professors; the pupils of the seminary for boys' school ( Knabenseminar ) attend the two gymnasia of Bamberg in each of which an ecclesiastic acts as religious instructor ( Religionslehrer ). The clergy have also charge of the von Aufsess seminary and home for Catholic students. The Franciscans have at Bamberg a seminary for students at the gymnasia who wish to enter the order after completing their studies. Of the female congregations, the English Ladies conduct 3 Academies and boarding-schools for girls, and 7 primary girls' schools ; the other congregations conduct common schools, housekeeping and industrial schools, and creches. The orders and congregations in the diocese have some 90 charitable institutions under their care, among these are: 15 alms-houses and infirmaries; 12 hospitals ; 22 creches; 15 centres for obtaining visiting nurses; 1 insane asylum ; 4 homes for unemployed servants; 5 poor-houses, etc. Among the Catholic societies in the diocese may be mentioned: 50 Associations for workingmen and Mechanics; 14 Journeymen's Associations ( Gesellenvereine ); 7 Apprentices' Societies ; 1 Workingwomen's and 1 Shopgirls' Association; the Ludwig-Mission Association; the St. Boniface Association; the Christian Family Association; the Society of Christian Mothers; the Catholic Men's Society, the People's Union for Catholic Germany, etc.School or Church closed? - Here's FREE help!
The most important ecclesiastical building of the diocese is the cathedral. The edifice erected by the Emperor Henry II, the Saint, was destroyed by fire in 1081; the new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111, and in the thirteenth century received its present late-Romanesque form. It is about 309 feet long, 92 feet broad, 85 feet high, and the four towers are each about 266 feet high. Among the finest of its monuments is that to the Emperor Henry II and his Empress Kunigunde, considered the masterpiece of the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. Among other noteworthy churches of the city are the twelfth-century church of the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael and the upper parish church, a Gothic building dating from 1387. Among the finest churches of the diocese are those of the Fourteen Martyrs, Gossweinstein, and Mariaweiher — all places of pilgrimage ; the Gothic church of Our Lady at Nuremberg, and the churches of the former abbeys of Banz and Ebrach.
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.