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Franz Jacob Clemens

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A German Catholic philosopher, b. 4 October, 1815, at Coblenz; d. 24 February, 1862, at Rome. After spending some time in an educational institution at Metz, he entered, at the age of sixteen, the Jesuit College of Fribourg, Switzerland, attended the Gymnasium at Coblenz, and thence passed to the University of Bonn. In 1835 he matriculated at the University of Berlin, where he devoted special attention to the study of philosophy and received the doctorate in philosophy (1839). At the end of a literary journey through German and Italy, he became, in 1843, instructor in philosophy at the University of Bonn, and taught there with great success until 1856. In 1848 he was elected a member of the Frankfort Parliament, and attended, at Mainz, the first General Congress of German Catholics, at which he suggested the foundation of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Germany. In 1856 he was appointed professor of philosophy in the Academy of Munster. So great was his popularity as a teacher at Bonn that, when he removed to Munster, he was followed by some seventy students. The attendance at his lectures in the Westphalian capital was an extraordinarily large one; but his health failed after a few years. In 1861, upon the advice of his physicians, he sought relief in a southern climate; he died at Rome in the beginning of the following year and was buried at the Gesù.

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Clemens was a layman of sound Catholic principles, who ably defended the Church even on theological questions. He published his first great work, "Giordano Bruno und Nikolaus von Cusa", in 1847, at Bonn. He also wrote in defence of the Holy Coat of Trier, "Der heilige Rock zu Trier und die protestantische Kritik" (1845), against Gildemeister and von Sybel. His other principal writings were connected with two controversies in which he became involved. His book, "Die speculative Theologie A. Günthers" (Cologne, 1853), a clear demonstration of the contradiction between Catholic doctrine and the views of Günther, elicited answers from Professors Baltzer and Knoodt, to which Clemens replied. His "De Scholasticorum sententiâ, philosophiam esse theologiae ancillam, commentatio" (Münster, 1856) treated of the subordinate position which philosophy should occupy in regard to theology. It brought him into conflict with Professor Kuhn of Tübingen, against whom he published, in defence of his position: "Die Wahrheit etc." (Münster, 1860) and "Über das Verhältniss, etc." (Mainz, 1860).

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