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German town and bishopric in Hesse [now Rhineland-Palatine -- Ed. ]; formerly the seat of an archbishop and elector.


(1) Until the Suppression of the Former Archdiocese

Near the site of the modern Mainz there existed some centuries before the Christian era a Celtic settlement. Here, about 38 B.C. , Agrippa established a Roman camp ( Moguntiacum ), which, under Drusus, became the centre of the Roman province of Upper Germany. About the camp gradually developed a considerable town. According to St. Irenæus, whose statement received valuable corroboration from the excavations of 1907-8, Mainz possessed a Christian community in the second century. Crescentius, whom legend identifies with the disciple of St. Paul, is mentioned as first bishop. Of the bishops before Boniface, however, little is known. Bothardus built a basilica in honour of St. Nicomedes ; Riuthardus was imprisoned, when the Alamannian prince Rando sacked the town in 368, and Bishop Aureus was put to death by the Alamannian Crocus in 406. In 451 Mainz was pillaged by the Huns. Under the Frankish domination the town began again to prosper. Bishop Sidonius, who lived early in the sixth century, restored the old churches and built new ones. The Frankish king Dagobert surrounded Mainz with walls and established his residence there. Under him the Altmünsterkloster was erected by St. Bithildis. Bishop Gerold, who fell in battle against the Saxons, was succeeded in 743 by his son Gewilio.

The ecclesiastical and secular importance of Mainz may fitly be dated from the accession of St. Boniface. Strictly speaking, however, Mainz was not then raised to metropolitan rank; Boniface was himself an archbishop as formerly, before he occupied any see in Germany, but the archiepiscopal dignity did not descend immediately to his successor, St. Lul or Lullus. The long quarrel between Lullus and the Monastery of Fulda ended in the complete exemption of the latter from the episcopal authority. Lullus thereupon built the Monastery of Hersfeld, in which he was later buried. In 780 or 782 Mainz was elevated to metropolitan rank. The dioceses of Lüttuck, Cologne, Worms, Speyer, and Utrecht were first made subject to it, together with the sees of Erfurt, Buraburg, and Eichstätt, as dioceses founded by Boniface ; then the Swabian dioceses of Augsburg, Strasburg, Constance, and Chur. The dioceses of Erfurt and Buraburg, however, lapsed on the death of their first occupants, and in 798 Cologne was made a metropolitan see with Lättich and Utrecht among its suffragans (see C OLOGNE ). With the spread of Christianity in Saxony, the dioceses of Paderborn, Halberstadt, Hildesheim, and Verden were, on their erection, added to the suffragans of Mainz, and under Archbishop Willigis the newly-created sees of Prague and Olmütz were made subject to it. The ecclesiastical province then possessed fourteen suffragans, and extended from the Elbe to the Grison Alps and from the Vosges to the Thuringian Saale, thus representing the greatest ecclesiastical administration of the Middle Ages after the papacy. The actual power of the archbishops over their suffragans was, however, small. Mainz lost Prague and Olmütz during the fourteenth century, and Halberstadt and Verden through the Peace of Westphalia. In 1752 the addition of the newly-created Diocese of Fulda raised the number of suffragans to eleven.

Among the immediate successors of Lullus, Archbishop Richulf (787-813), who built the Monastery of St. Alban (famous for its school ), and especially Rabanus Maurus (847-56) deserve mention. Under Liutbert (863-89) the dignity of Archchancellor of the German Empire was first associated with Mainz. Hatto I (891-913) exercised a great influence on the fortunes of the whole empire. Hildebert (928-37) successfully upheld against Cologne and Trier Mainz's claim to crown the German king. The precedence of Mainz in the German Church was strongly emphasized by Frederick (937-54), when he sought the office of Vicar-Apostolic for Germany. William (954-68), natural son of Otto I, acquired for himself and his successors the office of Archchancellor of the Empire. About Hatto II (968-70) is related the legend of the Mäusethurm near Bingen. Willigis (975-1010), who saved the empire from disintegration during the minority of Otto III, fostered the commerce of Mainz; he built a cathedral, which was burned down on the day of its consecration, and obtained from the pope the right ot presiding over all synods held within the empire and of crowning the newly-elected king. Aribo played the chief rôle in the election of Conrad II. Bardo von Oppertshafen (1031-51) completed the new cathedral by Willigis (1037).

In the investiture strife the archbishops of Mainz, as the foremost spiritual princes of the empire, could not remain neutral. Count Siegfried I von Eppstein (1059-84) espoused the cause of the pope, promulgated the celibacy law of Gregory VII, and crowned Henry's two rivals, Rudolf of Swabia and Hermann of Luxemburg. Wezilo (1084-8), however, supported the emperor and his antipope. In Ruthard (1089-1109) and Adalbert I von Saarbrücken (1109-37) the emperor again found opponents; for his fidelity to the papal cause, the latter was imprisoned by Henry V for three years in the fortress of Trifels, until the citizens of Mainz secured his release by confining the emperor in their town until he guaranteed the archbishop's liberation. In recognition of this assistance, Adalbert granted the town a charter, which was engraved on the bronze doors of the Liebfrauenkirche. At Adalbert's proposal the right to participate in the imperial election was confined to certain princes, the foundation of the college of electors being thus laid. The popularity enjoyed by him and his brother and successor Adalbert II (1138-41) was not shared by Arnold von Selenhofen (1153-60), who alienated the good-will of the citizens by his sternness and his taxation to further Barbarossa's campaign against Italy, and was murdered by them in the Monastery of St. Jacob during a riot. To punish the citizens, Barbarossa deprived the city of its charter and levelled its walls. The rebuilding of the fortifications was begun by Conrad von Wittelsbach (1161-77): although appointed by Barbarossa, he refused to recognize the antipope Pascal, and had in consequence to fly from his see. Count Christian I von Buch (1165-83) was thereupon named archbishop by Barbarossa. On his death, Conrad, who had meanwhile become Archbishop of Salzburg, returned to his old see (1183-1200), now supported the emperor, and, at the Diet of Gelnhausen, persuaded the German bishops to espouse the emperor's cause against Rome. Count Siegfried II von Eppstein (1200-30) received in 1228 the right to crown the King of Bohemia –a right retained by Mainz until 1343. Siegfried exhausted the depleted exchequer of the see, and burdened the territory with a heavy debt. His nephew Siegfried III von Eppstein (1230-49), supported Innocent III against the Swabians, ratified the deposition of the emperor, and crowned two of his rivals. In 1223 the chapter granted him the twentieth part of the ecclesiastical revenue for the liquidation of the archiepiscopal debts on his swearing in the presence of the clergy to incur no debts thererafter and to impose no further burdens on the clergy. The canons bound themselves by oath never to elect an archbishop who would not take the same oath as Siegfried. Thus originated the election capitulations, which were later used by the chapter to secure new rights and privileges from the candidates for the see. It was also under Siegfried (1244) that the government of the town passed into the hands of a municipal council elected by the citizens.

As a free town of the empire, the prosperity of Mainz steadily increased, its linen and woollen industries being the most important along the Rhine. It thus became known as the "Golden Mainz". Under its leadership was formed in 1254 the "League of the Rhenish Towns", supported by most of the Rhenish towns and princes. A great architectural activity also manifested itself; the glorious cathedral was then built, and numerous monastic institutions were established. The discovery of printing by Gutenberg extended the fame of the town, while the limitation of the right of voting to the seven electors had greatly increased the influence of the archbishops. At the end of the interregnum Werner von Eppstein (1259-84) secured the election of Rudolf of Hapsburg, whose support he hoped for against the Landgrave of Hesse. In the growing power of Hesse, Werner rightly saw the most dangerous menace to the safety of Mainz. Gerhard II von Eppstein (1289-1305) likewise played the chief part in the election of Adolf of Nassau, but, not receiving the expected assistance in his domestic politics, went over with King Wenzel of Bohemia to Adolf's rival, Albert of Austria. Under Peter von Aspelt (1305-20) Mainz attained the pinnacle of its power. In opposition to Count Henry III of Virneburg (1328-46), appointed by John XXII , the chapter unanimously elected Baldwin of Trier, who granted to it or confirmed a series of important privileges. It was only on Baldwin's resignation that Henry could enter on his administration, having previously, in order to secure the chapter's recognition, granted it an important influence in the government of the archdiocese. As a partisan of Louis the Bavarian, he came into sharp conflict with Clement VI, who separated Prague and Olmütz from Mainz (1343), and deposed the archbishop (1346). However, Henry managed to retain the see until 1353, when Gerlach of Nassau (1346-71), appointed by the pope, entered into possession. By means of his personal property Gerlach greatly increased the power of the archdiocese. On his death Charles IV, fearing to see one of the powerful Nassau family in possession of the first see of the empire, secured the appointment of Count John I of Luxemburg in 1371, and of Margrave Louis of Meissen in 1375. The chapter, however, unanimously chose Adolf of Nassau, who took possession of the see. The fiercely contested war which ensued greatly weakened the power of Mainz, and increased the influence of Hesse. In 1381 an agreement was arrived at, Louis abdicating Mainz. Adolf founded the University of Erfurt in 1389. Conrad II von Weinsberg (1390-6) was succeeded by Adolf's brother, John II (1397-1419), who took a prominent part in the deposition of King Wenzel and the elevation of Rudolf of the Palatinate. Under Conrad von Daun (1419-34) Cardinal Branda, commissioned by Martin V, investigated the existing election capitulations, which he ordered to be replaced by a capitulation drafted by himself.

The contest between the rival archbishops, Diether von Isenberg and Adolf II of Nassau (the "Mainzer Stiftsfehde", 1461-3), resulted in great loss of men, money, and territory. To punish the guilds for supporting Diether, Adolf, having captured the town, deprived it of its charter. Diether (1475-82) founded the University of Mainz in 1477, which continued until 1798, but the town never regained its former prosperity. To retrieve the dangerous financial condition of the archdiocese by an alliance with a powerful family, the chapter petitioned the pope in 1480 to appoint Albert of Saxony archbishop. During his short reign (1482-4) Albert brought Erfurt again into submission. However, even Berthold of Henneburg (1484-1504), perhaps the greatest Archbishop of Minz, was unable to stem the decline of its secular power. Under Jacob von Liebenstein (1504-8) the loss of Erfurt to Saxony seemed imminent. In open opposition to the Saxon house, the chapter chose, on the death of Uriel of Gemmingen (1508-14), Albert of Brandenburg archbishop, although he already held the sees of Magdeburg and Halberstadt (see A LBERT OF B RANDENBURG and G ERMANY ). The indulgent attitude, at first adopted by Albert towards the innovators, allowed the Reformation to spread fairly widely through the archdiocese which was soon convused by this and the Peasants' War. In preserving the Catholic Faith, Lorenz Thuchsess von Pommersfelden, the cathedral dean, performed ever-memorable services. Albert's reign is also important on account of the administrative reforms introduced by him. Electors Sebastian von Hausenstamm (1545-55) and Daniel Brendel of Homburg (1555-82), strove indefatigably to heal the scars of the Reformation ; the latter summoned the Jesuits to Mainz. Wolfgang von Dalberg (1582-1601), however, gave such lukewarm support to the Counter-Reformation that he was suspected of conspiring with the Protestants. In the election capitulation the chapter imposed on his successor, John Adam von Bicken (1601-4), the obligation of founding a seminary, which, however, he failed to accomplish during his short reign. John Schweickhard von Cronenberg (1604-26) restored the Catholic religion in Eichsfeld and Bergstrasse, and adjusted the quarrel between Emperor Rudolf and his brother Matthias.

Mainz suffered grievously during the Thirty Years' War. Under George von Greifenklau (1626-9), who had a prominent share in the Restitution Edict, Mainz escaped practically unaffected, but Anselm Casimir von Wambold (1629-45) had to fly before Gustavus Adolphus in 1631. When the imperial troops reoccupied Mainz in 1636, the retiring Swedes committed many atrocities. Frightful ravage was also wrought by the French, when they later occupied the town (1644-8). The very existence, indeed, of the principality seemed threatened, as the Swedes demanded in the peace negotiations the secularization of the archdiocese. Its escape from dissolution was entirely due to the energetic protest of Saxony and the activity of John Philip von Schönborn (1647-73). As its situation left Mainz most exposed, after Cologne, to French attack, Lothaire Frederick von Metternich-Burscheid (1673-5), to save the archdiocese, adopted a friendly attitude towards France during the wars between the emperor and Louis XIV. In 1688 his third successor, Anselm Franz von Ingelheim (1679-95), had to surrender Mainz to the French, who were, however, driven out of the town in the following year. Lothaire Francis von Schönborn (1695-1729), who supported the emperor in the War of the Spanish Succession, reorganized the university, founded the Hospital of St. Roch , and showed himself a cultivated patron of the arts and sciences. Under him the town enjoyed a return of prosperity, testified even today by the numerous ecclesiastical and civil buildings dating from that period.

On the death of Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg (1729-32), who was also Bishop of Worms and Breslau and Archbishop of Trier, Philip Charles von Eltz-Kempenich (1732-43) was elected hastily to forestall the interference of the ruling houses. During the Seven Years' War, which occurred under Freederick Charles von Ostein (1743-63), the archdiocese was laid waste on various occasions. Emmerich Joseph von Breitbach-Bürresheim (1763-74) associated himself with the "enlightened" movement to found a national German Church, as far as possible independent of Rome. In 1766 he abolished many holy days, and issued decrees concerning the "reform" of the monasteries, the accumulation of real property in the "dead hand", etc. On the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, he employed their property for the improvement of elementary education. Frederick Charles Joseph von Erthal (1774-1802), the last Elector of Mainz, laboured at first in the spirit of the Church, but later, going over to the Enlightened, formally renounced Austria and associated himself with Prussia. During the French Revolution Mainz encountered varying fortunes. In 1792 the Confederation of the German Princes was founded in the town, which, after the first inglorious campaign of the German army, fell into the hands of the French during the same year. Though recovered by the Germans in 1793, it was ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo-Formio in 1797, and, after the Peace of Lunéville, became the capital of the French Department of Mont Tonnerre. During the negotiations of the Imperial Delegates the elector died on 25 July, 1802. By the Enactment of this assembly of 25 Feb., 1803, the greater part of the electorate was secularized. About five Aemter (administrative districts) remained ecclesiastical property, and were assigned to the coadjutor of the last elector, Theodore von Dalberg, who was named elector, chancellor, metropolitan, and primate of Germany. The primatial see was transferred to Ratisbon. Under French rule, Mainz was changed into a simple diocese in Oct., 1802, and made subject to Mechlin, its jurisdiction being confined to that portion of the old archdiocese which lay on the left bank of the Rhine.

(2) From the Foundation of the Modern Diocese of Mainz to the Present Day

The new diocese corresponded to the Department of Mont Tonnerre, and included portions of the earlier dioceses of Mainz, Worms, Speyer, and Metz. Under Ludwig Colmar (1802-18) was accomplished the delimitation of the diocese. On his death the diocese, which was again under German rule, was left vacant and administered by a vicar general. On the reorganization of ecclesiastical affairs in Germany, which resulted in the erection of the Ecclesiastical Province of the Upper Rhine, the Diocese of Mainz was made conterminous with the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and constituted suffragan of this newly erected province. Joseph Vitus Burg (1830-3), appointed by Pius VIII, had taken a prominent part in the negotiations concerning the erection of the new province; he was, however, affected by Josephism, and defended the ordinances ( Kirchenpragmatik ), which the Upper Rhine governments, in opposition to their earlier declarations, imposed on the bishops, although they had already been condemned by Rome. Burg also entered a very feeble protest when the seminary, founded by Colmar, was partially suppressed and its theological faculty transferred to the University of Giessen. On the death of John Jacob Humann (1833-4), Peter Leopold Kaiser (1835-48) found himself greatly hampered by government interference; while in the matter of the reopening of the seminary his action in parliament was not sufficiently energetic, he opposed unflinchingly the "German Catholic " movement of the followers of Ronge in his diocese, and was in his later years greatly influenced by the zealous Lennig.

On Kaiser's death the chapter chose Professor Leopold Schmidt of Giessen, but Rome refused to confirm the election on account of the candidate's practically indifferentist religious and philosophical views. As the chapter, dispensing with a new election, then referred the selection to the Holy See, Pius IX appointed Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, and, after his death, the see was left vacant in consequence of the attitude of the government, the payment of the episcopal dotation was suspended in 1880 and numerous parishes (about one fourth) left without a pastor. The diocese was meanwhile administered by Christopher Monfang. In 1886 an agreement was arrived at, and Paul Leopold Haffner, who had acquired a reputation as a philosopher and apologist, was appointed bishop. The seminary and diocesan colleges were reopened in 1887, and the task of filling the vacant parishes undertaken. In 1895 religious orders, which devoted themselves to education and the care of the sick, were readmitted. Haffner was followed by Heinrich Brück (1899-1903). The present bishop, George Heinrich Maria Kirstein, was elected on 20 Nov., 1903, and consecrated on 19 March, 1904.


The present Diocese of Mainz coincides territorially with the Grand Duchy of Hesse, except that three places belong to the Diocese of Limburg . Divided into 19 deaneries and 188 parishes, it possesses 186 parish priests and beneficiaries, 1 rector, 80 curates, 43 priests in other positions, 20 on leave or pensioned. The Catholics number 372,000; the non-Catholics 830,000. The chapter consists of the cathedral dean, 7 canons, 3 cathedral prebendaries ; the ordinariate of a vicar general and 6 spiritual councillors; the officialité of the official and 7 counsellors. The bishop is elected by the chapter from a list of candidates, which must first be submitted to the government. The public authorities may erase the names of the less acceptable candidates, provided that enough be left to render a canonical election possible. The members of the chapter are selected alternately by the bishop and the chapter itself. The diocesan institutions include the seminary (8 professors and 50 students); 3 diocesan colleges ; 4 episcopal boarding-schools and orphanages. Exclusively Catholic high-schools for boys are forbidden by the Hessian school laws and the activity of the female orders in instructing girls is very restricted. There are very few houses of the male orders; the Capuchins have 2 monasteries (Mainz and Dieburg) with 12 fathers and 10 brothers; the Brothers of Mercy 1 house with 12 brothers; the Brothers of St. Joseph parent house in Kleinzimmern with 8 brothers; the Schulbrüder 1 house with a middle school in Mainz. The female orders are: the Sisters of Mercy from the mother-house at Trier, 2 houses with 26 sisters ; the English Ladies 7 houses with 165 sisters ; the Franciscan Sisters from Aachen, 3 houses with 27 sisters ; the Franciscan Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration, 1 house with 35 sister; the Sisters of Divine Providence , mother-house at Mainz and 72 filial houses with 534 sisters ; the Sisters of the Most Sacred Redeemer from the mother-house at Niederbronn, 19 houses with 66 sisters ; the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, 8 houses with 120 sisters. Among the Catholic organs of the diocese, the "Katholik" and the "Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht" deserve special mention.

The principal churches of the diocese are: the Romanesque Cathedral of St. Martin at Mainz, one of the most interesting monuments for the history of architecture in Germany ; the Early Gothic Church of St. Stephen (1257-1328); the Baroque Ignazkirche (1763-74); the cathedral and late Gothic Liebfrauenkirche at Worms; the basilica of the former Benedictine abbey at Seligenstadt (Carlovingian); the former church of the Domicanesses (thirteenth century).

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