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Slomšek, Anton Martin, Bl.

SLOMŠEK, ANTON MARTIN, BL.

Slovenian archbishop, educator, writer, poet; b. Nov. 26, 1800, Slom, Ponikva, Lower Styria, Slovenia; d. Sept. 24, 1862, Maribor, Slovenia.

Born into a prosperous peasant family, he received his secondary education in Celje (Zilli in Old Austria, now Slovenia), Ljubljana, and Senj. Slomšek finished his theological studies in the Carinthian capital of Klagenfurt and was ordained (1824). He ministered in two Slovene parishes in Styria and was appointed (1829) spiritual director at the theological seminary in Klagenfurt, where he also taught the Slovene language.

In 1846, he became archbishop of the Lavant Valley (Carinthia), but in 1859 was transferred to Maribor (or Marburg, as the Austrian Germans called it) in the Slovene part of Styria. Slomšek was devoted to raising the cultural and moral level of the Slovene population. Schools were in a precarious state because of the Austrian suppression of the national language and the introduction of foreign teachers. Slovenian literature was forbidden out of fear of Panslavism. Following the adoption of the Constitution of 1848, granting national rights, he helped to found many schools, in which he also taught. His most important work, however, was the founding (185152) of the St. Hermagoras Society (Druzba svetega Mohorja ), whose aim was to distribute inexpensive and good books among the people.

Working as a Christian moralist and educational author, he published in 1834 Keršansko devištvo (Christian Charity ). In the same lucid Slovene prose (the best of the period) was the educational narrative Blaže in Nežica v nedeljski šoli (1842, Little Blase and Agnes in the Sunday School ), as well as essays and other books on a great variety of subjects. In 1846, he began the educational weekly Drobtinice (Crumbs ), designed to serve village priests and teachers. In 1849, his collection of sermons, Apostolska Hrana (Apostolic Food ), appeared. Slomšek was also, although less prominently, a poet. As a young priest of 26 he translated Schiller's Das Lied von der Glocke, and in 1833 was responsible for a collection of Slovene folk songs sung in Carinthia and Styria. His own poems are didactic, serene, and close to the style and rhythm of folk song. Although Slomšek was a zealous nationalist, his humility, childlike simplicity, and kindness won the admiration of foreigners.

Pope John Paul II beatified Slomšek on Sept. 19, 1999, at Maribor, Slovenia. The pope praised Slomšek, the first Slovenian to be beatified, for his work of evangelization and his ecumenical efforts.

Feast: Sept. 24.

Bibliography: a. slomŠek, Zbrani spisi, 5 v. (Celje 187690), collected works; Izbrani spisi za mladino (Celje 1924), selected works for youth. j. ambrozic, Pastorale familiare di Mons. Anton Martin Slomsek (Rome 1981). v. habjan, Anton Martin Slomsek (Ljubljana 1992). f. hrastelj, Otrok luci: zgodovinska povest o Antonu Martinu Slomsku (Ljubljana 1999). s. janezic, Slomsek in nas cas (Maribor 1992). i. jeric, Moji spomini (Murska Sobota 2000). m. klun, Fürstbischof Anton Martin Slomsek in Kärnten (Klagenfurt 1969). f. kosar, Anton M. Slomšek, Fürstbischof von Lavant (Marburg 1863). f. kovacic, Sluzabnik bozji A.M. Slomšek, 2 v. (Celje 193435). d. medved, Knezoškof Lavantinski A. M. Slomšek (Cakovec 1900). j. pogacnik, Kulturni pomen Slomskovega dela (Maribor 1991). b. zavrnik, Anton Martin Slomsek (Ljubljani 1990).

[j. lavrin/

k. i. rabenstein]

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