Mespelbrunn, Johann Ech-ter Von

Mespelbrunn, Johann Ech-Ter Von an eminent German theologian, of princely birth, was born at Mespelbrunn, near Mayence, March 18, 1545. In 1555, when but ten years old, he obtained a canonicate in Witrzburg, and in 1559 one in Mayence. He studied at Mayence, Cologne, Louvain, Douay, Paris, and Pavia; became prebendary of Wirzburg in 1569, and soon after dean of the cathedral, and finally prince bishop of Wtirzburg, Dec. 1, 1573. He was ambitious of honors and consideration, but aimed at the same time at the moral and religious improvement of his diocese. The emperor Rudolph II often employed him, particularly in 1578-79, to quell the disturbances in the Spanish Netherlands, and as envoy on affairs of state; in this capacity Echter was one of the prime motors of the Ligue. Yet in a difficulty he had with the abbot of Fulda concerning that abbey, both the pope and, in 1602, the emperor decided against him. In order to check the progress of the evangelical doctrines of the Reformation in Wirzburg, he occupied himself zealously with the interior affairs of his diocese, and endeavored to reform its Church. In 1576 he took part in the Diet of Regensburg, and in 1582 in that of Augsburg. He improved the system of education, organized several public schools, and in 1582 founded the University of Wirzburg. The chairs of philosophy and theology he filled with Jesuits, and founded three colleges, which were afterwards united into one under the name of Seminary of St. Kilian. On the other hand he deposed and exiled all the evangelical ministers and preachers, and even the civil officers of his diocese who favored the principles of the Reformation, whenever an occasion presented. He sought to retain the people in their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church by means of preaching and visiting tours, while he tried to reform the immorality of the clergy, and to restore them to a better standing. With this view he wrote his Constitutiones pro cultu divino, statuta ruralia pro Clero (1584; in German, 1589); several Antiphonien u. Psalterien (1602), and a Missal. He also founded the Julius Hospital at Wuirzburg. He died Sept. 13, 1617. See J.N. Buchinger, J. Echter v. Mespelbrunn (Wurzb. 1843). (J. HW.)

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