Staupitz, Johann Von

Staupitz, Johann Von, the genial patron and friend of Luther, was descended from an ancient noble family of Misnia, though the names of his parents and the date and place of his birth are not known. He became an Augustine monk, and studied theology at Tübingen, where he was also prior of his convent and was made theological doctor. He was not attracted by scholasticism, but gave himself rather to the study of the Scriptures. The elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, called him to participate in the founding of the university at Wittenberg, and in the prosecution of that work he journeyed to Rome to secure for the institution the papal privileges. In 1502 he became the dean of its theological faculty, and in 1503 he was made vicar- general of the Augustines for the province of Germany. In this character he introduced the reading aloud of the Holy Scriptures instead of Augustine's works at meal time in the monasteries under his supervision, and earnestly sought to promote their general prosperity. The duties of the latter office seriously impaired his efficiency as an academical instructor; but it is related that he was nevertheless venerated by the students. Staupitz discovered Luther during an inspection of the Convent of Erfurt, which the latter had entered in 1505, and not only obtained his release from the menial position to which he had been assigned, but gave him kindly spiritual counsel that guided his feet into the way of truth and delivered his mind from slavish and superstitious fears. SEE LUTHER. It was also through Staupitz that Luther was called, in 1508, to fill the chair of dialectics and ethics in the Wittenberg University, and that he was induced to ascend the pulpit, and afterwards in 1512 to accept the doctor's degree in theology. How great was the confidence placed by Staupitz in his young friend appears from his appointing the latter his substitute in the inspection of forty convents, while himself absent in the Netherlands, in 1516, to collect relics for the new Church of All-Saints at Wittenberg. The sympathies of Staupitz were necessarily with Luther when the latter began his reformatory work. He expressed his sentiments repeatedly, and did not hesitate to expose himself to the ill will of Cajetan by coming to the Reformer's support when the latter appeared before the cardinal in October 1518, at Augsburg. He was not, however, fitted to be himself a reformer. His disposition was quiet, tender, and contemplative rather than bold and heroic. He consequently drew back from Luther and his cause in time, but did not, like Erasmus and many humanists, consent to be used against the Reformation. He spent the closing years of his life, beginning with 1519, at Salzburg, whither he had been attracted by the cunning of cardinal Matthew Lang. He became a preacher to the cardinal in 1519, and soon afterwards passed from the Augustine into the Benedictine order of monks. In 1522 he became abbot of the convent at Salzburg, taking the name of John IV, and subsequently was made vicar and suffragan to the cardinal- archbishop Lang. He still, however, kept up his connection with Luther, and as late as 1519 invited the latter to take refuge with him, "ut simul vivamus moriamurque." The Reformer, nevertheless, complained of neglect at the hands of Staupitz, and was mortified that the latter should have declared his willingness to submit to the pope when charged with being Luther's patron, and that he should have consented to become an abbot. Staupitz retained his evangelical spirit to the end, and felt dissatisfied and oppressed in his new relations, and he exercised a reformatory influence by permitting his monks to read the works of Luther, brought with him on his first arrival. One of his successors caused the suspicious writings contained in the library of Staupitz to be burned. Staupitz, died Dec. 28,1524, and was buried at Salzburg. The literary remains of Staupitz consist of ten Letters, collected by Grimm and published in Illgen's Zeitschrift fir hist. Theol. 1837, 2, 65 sq., and a number of minor ascetical and miscellaneous works. His theology was Augustinian, Scriptural, and mystical; his tendency practical, though not profound; his entire personality noble, engaging, and dignified. His highest claim to notice must ever be that he stimulated and encouraged his great disciple, until the latter had developed into fitness for the mighty work to which he was called of God. See Adam, Vita Staupitii, in Vitoe Theologorum, 1st ed. p. 20; Grimm, ut sup.; Tillmann, Reformatoren vor der Reformation, vol. 2; D'Aubigne, Reformation, vol. 1, bk. 2, ch. 4 sq.; De Wette, 1, 25; Luther's Werke, Walch's ed. vol. 22, passim.

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