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Franzelin, Johannes Baptist


Cardinal, theologian; b. Aldein, Tyrol, April 15, 1816; d. Rome, Dec. 11, 1886. After completing his preliminary training at the Franciscan college in Bolzano, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Graz in 1834. He later spent six years teaching in Austrian Poland. In 1845, he was sent to Rome to pursue a course in theology, but in 1848, he was driven from the Eternal City by the anti-Jesuit sentiment of the Italian revolution. His theological studies were completed at the University of Louvain. After his ordination in 1849, Franzelin was assigned to teach Scripture at the Jesuit scholasticate at Vals near Le Puy. In 1850, he was recalled to Rome to teach Oriental languages and lecture on dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University. He was named prefect of studies and confessor at the German College in Rome in 1853. Four years later he was called to occupy the chair of dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University. As professor he published an almost complete theology course that was widely used.

Chief among his works (all issued in Rome) are the De Sacramentis in genere (1868), De Eucharistiae sacramento et sacrificio (1868), De Deo Uno (1870), De Deo Trino (1869), De Verbo Incarnato (1870), and De divina Traditione et Scriptura (1870). In addition to teaching, Franzelin acted as consultor to various Congregations of the Roman Curia, including the Holy Office. In his theological lectures at the university he tried to open new vistas. He left no branch of learning untouched in his attempts to draw up a synthesis. By applying this knowledge he tried to give theology a more positive orientation. In this attempt he parted company with many of his predecessors and contemporaries who regarded theology as an abstract and speculative discipline, far removed from the empirical sciences.

During Vatican Council I, Franzelin acted as papal theologian. In this capacity he was asked to prepare a draft of the constitution Dei Filius on the nature of the Church. Franzelin's draft was rejected by the Council fathers in the form in which it was submitted. It was drastically revised, and eventually accepted and promulgated. In the consistory of April 3, 1876, Franzelin was named a cardinal by Pius IX. He was appointed to membership on several Congregations and made prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Honors did little to change the man; he remained an exemplar of the rule of his religious order.

Bibliography: n. walsh, John Baptist Franzelin (Dublin 1895). c. sommervogel, Bibliotèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (Brussels-Paris 18901932) 3:950951. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae, 5 v. in 6 (3d ed. Innsbruck 19031913) 5.2:150709. j. courtade, Catholicisme 4: 156466. p. bernard, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant (Paris 190350) 6.1:765767.

[c. r. meyer]

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