Vinzenz Eduard Milde
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Prince- Archbishop of Vienna, born at Brünn, in Moravia, in 1777; died at Vienna in 1853. The admirable monument erected to him in the left wing of St. Catharine's chapel in the cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna portrays a catechist bending over two children, inscribed "Charity", to the left, a priest in the act of elevating the Blessed Sacrament, attended by a young priest and a clerk, inscribed "and Prayer ". Under these two inscriptions, and extending across the whole length of the monument are the words "link together the inhabitants of this world and those of the next". The monument thus bears witness to Milde's distinction as a catechist and as the founder of a seminary for priests and teachers. Towards the close of his preparatory studies, Milde felt called to the ecclesiastical state which his stepfather was very much opposed to his entering. His mother favoured his purpose, however, and poor and without acquaintances, he entered the "Alumnat" or little seminary at Vienna in 1794. Here he formed an intimate friendship with Vinzenz Darnaut, the future professor of church history, and with Jakob Frint, later Bishop of St. Pölten. The three distinguished men were again united as court chaplains, and remained firm friends for the remainder of their lives. Meanwhile, Milde became catechist in the Normal High School and successor of the famous Augustin Gruber, and occupied also the chair of pedagogics at the university. Later, as court chaplain at Schönbrunn, Milde spoke so comfortingly to the Emperor Francis I, inconsolable after a battle lost to Napoleon, that the emperor replied: "I shall never forget this hour, dear Milde." Not content with words, the emperor named Milde Bishop of Leitmeritz in 1823, and in 1831 Prince- Archbishop of Vienna, Milde being the first archbishop named from the ranks of the people to this see, which had hitherto been always occupied by a nobleman. His farewell address is thoroughly characteristic: "The bond of the sacred ministry is broken, but the bond of the heart will never be severed. Those whom I have loved, I shall love to the end, and, though separated from you, I shall remain united with you in charity and prayer. Pray our heavenly father not that I may live long, but that I may live for the salvation of the faithful and for my own salvation." Milde thus greeted the people of Vienna : "Not only do I wish to be united with you in the bonds of the sacred ministry, but I wish to be united with you in the bonds of charity. Not for myself, but for you do I wish to live." He kept the promise which he made to his flock, and was to them a solicitous and loving father.
Nevertheless, the year of the Revolution (1848) brought him his bitterest enmities and his most severe illnesses. He was between two fires. On 13 March the storm broke, and four days later he warned his clergy, in a circular letter, not to overstep the bounds of their calling: "Priests are not intended to advise regarding the earthly affairs of men, nor to regulate them, but should only concern themselves with interior matters pertaining to the salvation of souls." But the revolution soon menaced the archbishop. Mock serenades were held repeatedly outside his palace and its windows were broken. On the other hand, a portion of the clergy clamoured that he should be declared incapable of managing the affairs of the diocese and expressed the hope of being led to victory by a stronger personality. A deputation of the clergy represented this to Milde, who complied as far as possible by retiring to his castle of Kranichberg. When the draft of the fundamental laws of the Austrian constitution was discussed by the assembly of the States of the Empire at Kremsier, the archbishop drew up an address to the assembly: "The undersigned bishops declare solemnly that they, as true citizens, promote the welfare and hold sacred the rights of the state, but it is the duty of their office and of their conscience to look after the freedom and the rights of the Catholic Church, to oppose encroachment and restriction on the part of the state, and to beg for that support which would promote the true interests of the state and the successful activity of the Church." At the great assembly of bishops in Vienna (1849), Milde was chosen one of a committee of five to continue the negotiations with the state. When finally in 1850 the imperial decisions were promulgated, which at first dealt a blow to the existing Josephist system, Milde published a pastoral for the purpose of stilling the tumult: "The uneasiness is indeed in great part the result of misunderstanding, but often also the result of malicious misrepresentation, since, through some newspapers and through speeches made by certain men inimical to the Church, the words of the august decree were distorted, and erroneous representations spread abroad." The words of Milde in "My last will" are strikingly beautiful. "Hope softens the separation. Those who did me evil I do not think wicked, but gladly persuade myself that I by my sensitiveness have in many cases been more deeply wounded than the occasion warranted. During the last years I have had to bear many bitter misunderstandings and shameful calumnies. I have kept silence through it all, not through apathy, but partly that the malice might not be excited further, and partly in imitation of my Redeemer."
Milde's "Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Erziehungskunde" is famous, and even yet much used (Vol. I: Von der Kultur der physischen und der intellectuellen Anlagen; Vol. II: Von der Kultur des Gefühls- und des Begehrungsvermögens, Vienna, 1811-13, 3rd ed., 1843). A compendium of the Erziehungskunde was published in 1821. J. Ginzel edited Milde's "Reliquien" (2nd ed., Vienna, 1859), which contained various discourses and addresses which he delivered as bishop and archbishop.
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