8.3.3. Aufsätze und Artikel zur Geschichte Leitmeritz

(LITOMERICENSIS), in Austria, embraces the northern part of the Kingdom of Bohemia (see map accompanying AUSTRIA-HUNGARY).


After the introduction of Christianity under Charlemagne and Louis the German, the present Diocese of Leitmeritz formed part of the Diocese of Ratisbon. Before the end of the tenth century the Christian religion was so widespread that Emperor Otto I founded the first Bohemian diocese (Prague) in 973, which included all Bohemia. The first church in Leitmeritz, dedicated to St. Wenceslaus, was built in 925, while in 1057 Duke Spitihnew built St. Stephen's church and founded a collegiate chapter. In time numerous monasteries were built; in 1384 the city, with its suburbs, possessed thirteen churches and chapels, and, besides numerous religious, twenty secular priests engaged in the cure of souls. The Hussite Wars put an end to this flourishing ecclesiastical organization. In 1421 Ziska appeared before Leitmeritz, which was spared only on condition of accepting the Hussite religion. The collegiate church alone, despoiled of its possessions, held firm to the old rite of Communion under one kind. Hussitism was the forerunner of Protestantism, which found the ground already prepared on account of the long religious wars, the decline of learning among ecclesiastics, the lack of priests, and the insubordination of the nobles, who had become rich and powerful through the wealth and possessions of the Church. At first the nobility accepted the teaching of Luther, and in many cities the transition from Ultraquism to Lutheranism soon followed. Through the priest Gallus Cahera, a disciple of Luther, Leitmeritz was also won over to Protestantism. The Thirty Years War brought a reaction. By the victorious campaign of the emperor in Bohemia the revolutionary nobles were overthrown, the cities lost their privileges, and the people emigrated or again became Catholics. For the better administration of the large Archdiocese of Prague, the bishop of that time, Count Ernst Adalbert von Harrach, a nephew of Wallenstein, divided its territory, and created the dioceses of Königgrätz and Leitmeritz as its suffragans.

In 1655 the then provost of the collegiate chapter of Leitmeritz, Baron Max Rudolf von Schleinitz, was named first Bishop of Leitmeritz (1655-75). He built the cathedral to replace the small collegiate church, organized the diocese, and expended his whole fortune on the improvement of his see. His successor, Count Jaroslaus Franz Ignaz von Sternberg (1676-1709), finished the cathedral and erected the episcopal curia (1694-1701). The fourth bishop, Johann Adam, Count Wratislaus von Mitrowitz (1721-33), appears to have administered also the Archdiocese of Prague. In the Seven Years War, during the administration of Duke Moritz Adolf of Sachsen-Zeitz (1733-59), who built the seminary, the diocese had much to suffer from the Prussians. His successor, Count Emanuel Ernst von Waldstein (1760-89), made little opposition to the efforts of the Government to spread through the diocese the ideas of Febronius; the convents of the Jesuits, Augustinians, Servites, etc. were confiscated, many churches closed as superfluous, and all brotherhoods disbanded. In 1784 the territory of the diocese was increased by two districts. The next bishop, Ferdinand Kindermann, Ritter von Schulstein (1790- 1801), had before his appointment to the bishopric won deserved fame as a reformer and organizer of the whole educational system of Bohemia; as bishop he continued to direct education in his diocese, built the cathedral parochial school, and erected an institute for the education of girls at Leitmeritz. The eighth bishop, Wenzel Leopold Chlumchansky, Ritter von Prestawlk and Chlumchan (1802-15), a true father of the poor, built the ecclesiastical seminary in 1805. Joseph Franz Hurdalek (1815- 1823) was obliged to resign. Vincent Eduard Milde (1823-32) became Archbishop of Vienna. Augustin Bartholomäus Hille (1832-65) opened in 1851 the school for boys and a normal college. He was succeeded by Augustin Paul Wahala (1866-77), in whose time originated in Warnsdorf the sect of the Old Catholics; Anton Ludwig Frind (1879-81), the learned author of the "Ecclesiastical History of Bohemia"; and Emmanuel Johann Schöbel (1882-1909), to whom the diocese is indebted for many churches and for the introduction of popular missions; and Joseph Gross (consecrated 23 May, 1910).