Diepenbrock, Melchior von
DIEPENBROCK, MELCHIOR VON
German cardinal, theologian; b. Bocholt, Westphalia, Jan. 6, 1798; d. Johannesburg Castle, Jan. 20, 1853. The son of a merchant and counselor to the Prince of Salm-Anholt, he studied at the minor seminary at Wikinghege, near Münster, and at the French academy in Bonn, which he left for disciplinary reasons. During the campaign against France (1814–15) he served as a lieutenant in a Prussian regiment. Influenced by Johann Michael sailer, he reformed his life, studied political science at the University of Landshut, and prepared for the priesthood at Mainz, Münster, and Regensburg. He was ordained in 1823 by Sailer, who had become coadjutor bishop of Regensburg, then served his friend as secretary and shared in his activities to promote Christian unity. In 1845 Diepenbrock became prince-bishop of Breslau (Wrocław), where he resisted the encroachments of the Prussian and Austrian governments on the rights of the Church. He succeeded also in his opposition to Deutschkatholizismus, a religious movement with pronounced rationalistic tendencies, led by Johann czerski and Johann ronge. He reinvigorated parish life throughout his huge diocese by his visitations, and established a minor seminary and a theological faculty at the University of Breslau. Although he remained loyal to his Prussian rulers, he looked to the Hapsburgs to unite Germany. In 1850 he was created cardinal. Diepenbrock's sermons and pastoral letters were highly esteemed and continued Sailer's irenic and ecumenical tone. His interest in mysticism led him to write Heinrich Suso's Leben und Schriften (1829, 4th ed. 1884). His Geistlicher Blumenstrauss aus spanischen und deutschen Dichtergärten (1829, 4th ed. 1862) contains translations of Spanish and German mystics.
Bibliography: f. vigener, Drei Gestalten aus dem modernen Katholizismus: Möhler, Diepenbrock, Döllinger (Munich 1926). h. raab, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiasitques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 14:1509–11. f. lauchert, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 3:379.
[s. j. tonsor]