Diocese of Würzburg: Exhibition shows a time of spiritual awakening

Würzburg. An exhibition with the title “1821 – Break, Beginning, Change. 200 Years of the New Diocese of Würzburg ”opened on Friday in the archive and library of the Diocese of Würzburg.

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Chance of a new beginning

In older historical research, secularization and the upheaval associated with it were often seen as a robbery and a destructive attack on the Catholic Church, said Vicar General Dr. Jürgen Vorndran. “It was only with increasing distance that it was recognized not only as a violent end to an old order, but also as an opportunity for a positive new beginning.” spiritual authority to work. “Let us, as the Diocese of Würzburg, accept the task given to us at the present hour of the Church, to live and shape the Church in transition out of a deepened faith,” said the Vicar General.

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In a lecture, Thomas Wehner, deputy head of the diocesan archive and maker of the exhibition, explained what it looked like in Würzburg 200 years ago. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Weiß, chairman of the Diocesan History Association, presented Bishop Dr. Franz Jung and Vicar General Vorndran each have a copy of the latest volume in the Würzburg Diocesan History Papers.

The fundamental political as well as social and spiritual changes at the beginning of the 19th century had not only led to an institutional new beginning for the Catholic Church, said Vicar General Vorndran in his address. They would also have brought about an inner change and a religious upheaval and awakening. “This was followed by a concentration on the present-day pastoral core tasks under the changed conditions, the development of a new spirituality as well as a deepening and renewal of the pious life under the sign of Catholic Romanticism.”

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Up front paid tribute to everyone involved in the academic review of the anniversary and the various accompanying events. He would like everyone who visited the exhibition to take away a powerful impetus for shaping the future.

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A blessed era in the Diocese of Würzburg is coming to an end

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Five sections

The presentation in the foyer of the archive and library is divided into five sections. “The focus is on the territorial changes and the most important Würzburg personalities of the time of crisis since 1803, the legal basis for the establishment of a new diocese, the new Würzburg diocesan bishop, the new cathedral chapter, the diocesan administration and measures for the spiritual awakening in the diocese,” explained Wehner. The exhibits came almost exclusively from the company’s own archive and library holdings.

Territorial changes

Three maps from the 15th century, 1817 and 1896 illustrate the territorial changes from the old to the new diocese of Würzburg. Between 1808 and 1813 about 150 former Würzburg parishes in the Steigerwald, Taubertal, Hohenlohischen and Neckar-Odenwald areas were separated and in 1821 assigned to the new archbishoprics of Bamberg and Freiburg or the diocese of Rottenburg.

Conversely, the new Diocese of Würzburg received the former Mainz area in the now Bavarian Untermain, in the Spessart and Odenwald with Aschaffenburg, Lohr and Miltenberg, as well as the parts of the Diocese of Fulda located on Bavarian territory with the main towns Hammelburg and Brückenau. “This affected a total of 85 parishes with around 125,000 Catholics. To classify: In 1821 the diocese had a total of 392 parishes with around 455,000 Catholics, ”explained Wehner.

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Thomas Wehner explains Vicar General Dr. Jürgen Vorndran and Bishop Dr. Franz Jung (from left) some of the exhibits. © Markus Hauck (POW)

The Würzburg auxiliary bishop Gregor Zirkel, appointed in 1802, recognized the future lines of conflict with the state early on. Bavaria understood the church as an institution inherent in the state, which should act as a moral and order-creating authority for the well-being and benefit of the state, but at the same time should limit itself to the interior of the church and the performance of its core pastoral tasks, said Wehner.

Bishop Adam Friedrich Freiherr von Groß zu Trockau was then the driving force for further developments in the Diocese of Würzburg. On Christmas Eve 1821 he called the diocesans “to Christian piety and charity” in his pastoral letter and warned against religious indifference and superstition and a form of enlightenment and reason “which aimed exclusively at the earthly and material meaning of life”.

Administration reorganized

In his term of office until 1840, Bishop Groß zu Trockau reorganized the diocesan administration, reformed the training of priests, integrated the new diocese areas, standardized pastoral care and the mediation of faith, combined church and popular piety, intensified the life of faith and piety and defended church rights against the state church appropriation – ” with simultaneous loyalty to the Bavarian royal house ”.

“The bishop’s measures for religious renewal led increasingly to conservative attitudes and ultra-Montan loyalty to the church in the Würzburg local church and aimed at a closed Catholic world based on popular piety and demarcating the secular zeitgeist,” explained Wehner.

Newly created order

The order that was newly created 200 years ago had become the basis of church life in Bavaria until the Concordat of 1924 and beyond. “Some of the decisions made back then still form the foundation for our conditions today.”



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