Gasser, Vinzenz Ferrer

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Prince-bishop of Brixen; b. Inzing (Tirol), Oct. 30, 1809; d. Brixen, April 6, 1879. After ordination (1833), he taught dogmatic theology and Oriental studies in the seminary at Brixen (183655). In 1848 he was elected to the Frankfort national assembly. Pius IX approved his nomination by Emperor Franz Joseph I as prince-bishop of Brixen (1856). As bishop he was an example of asceticism and scholarship for his clergy, for whom he also provided the necessary vocations by founding a seminary at Brixen, the Vincentinum, which still carries his name. As a member of the Tirol parliament (Landes-parlament), by virtue of his ecclesiastical position, he fought successfully for the exclusive recognition of the Catholic religion in Tirol, which had been guaranteed by ancient state laws. He became world famous during vatican council i as an outstanding theologian. As a member of, and speaker for, the commission on faith, which had the responsibility of rewriting the first schema on the Catholic faith, he defended successfully the first part of the new schema, prepared by himself. Later during the commission's discussions on the essential nature of the primacy of the pope, he was responsible for having inserted in the schema the explanation that the papal primacy does not limit the ordinary and immediate governing authority of bishops, but protects and strengthens it. Finally (July 11, 1870), he presented to the Council fathers the decree, composed by himself, on papal infallibility in a four-hour Latin speech with such conviction that the decree was approved by a majority of the bishops with only minor changes, and was solemnly defined a week later.

Bibliography: j. zobl, Vinzenz Gasser (Bressanone 1883). c. butler, The Vatican Council, 2 v. (New York 1930), with photo. a. sparber, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche 4:525526.

[f. maass]