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Parish priest, ecclesiastical writer, and founder of a religious community; born 24 Aug., 1613, at Laugna in the Diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria; died 20 May, 1658. He was one of the eleven children of Leonard and Catherine Holzhauser - poor, pious, and honest people. His father plied the trade of a shoemaker, and was barely able to support his family. Young Holzhauser developed a great love for books and an earnest desire to enter the sacred ministry. At Augsburg he was admitted to a free school for poor boys, earning his living by singing at the doors and begging. He fell sick of an epidemic then raging, and after his recovery went home and for a time helped his father at work. Then, with the aid of kind friends and especially of the Jesuits, he continued his studies at Neuburg and Ingolstadt. His teachers were unanimous in praising his talents, his piety, and modesty, and entertained great hopes of his usefulness for the Church. On 9 July, 1636, he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, then studied theology, in which he merited the baccalaureate on 11 May, 1639. He was ordained priest by the Bishop of Eichstätt, and said his first Mass on Pentecost Sunday (12 June, 1639) in the church of Our Lady of Victory at Ingolstadt. He exercised his priestly functions at this place for some time, and was soon much sought after as a confessor. In the meantime he attended the lectures at the university and was declared licentiate of theology on 14 June, 1640. On 1 August of the same year he came into the Archdiocese of Salzburg, and was made dean and pastor of Tittmoning. On 2 Feb., 1642, the Bishop of Chiemsee called him as pastor to St. John's at Leukenthal (then Leoggenthal) in the Tyrol.
In the spring of 1655, on the invitation of Archbishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn, he went to Mainz and was soon appointed pastor at Bingen on the Rhine, and in 1657 dean of the district of Algesheim. Here he died at the age of only forty-five, after a life well spent in the service of God and for the welfare of his people and of his fellow-priests. Many wonderful things are related of him, extraordinary cures and the like. Lately a petition has been drawn up at Rome for his canonization. On the occasion of the second centenary of his death a great celebration was held at Bingen in the presence of Bishop von Ketteler of Mainz; his remains were again found, and in 1880 a new monument was erected over his grave at the parish church.
He founded the Bartholomites (United Brethren), or, as they are officially called, the "Institutum clericorum sæcularium in communi viventium", also called Communists. Great and many were the evils caused by the Thirty Years War among the faithful. Faith had become lukewarm; morals and discipline had relaxed not only in the laity but also in the clergy. In consequence Holzhauser, even in the early days of his university course, had been planning the formation of a congregation of secular priests, who would lead an apostolic life in community and become models of priestly perfection and zealous leaders of the people. Such as excelled in science and virtue he intended to place as teachers in the seminaries to educate a new generation of priests willing to use all their energy for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. The priests thus educated he would induce to join the community. The members were expected to live in the seminaries, or in twos or threes in the parishes, and to follow out a set routine of daily prayers and exercises. Funds were to be in common, and all female servants were to be discarded. No vows were to be taken, but a simple promise of obedience to the superior was to be made, confirmed by an oath. Holzhauser tried to establish such a community in the Diocese of Eichstatt, but did not succeed, though several priests were found quite willing to join him. At Tittmoning, encouraged by John Christopher von Lichtenstein, Bishop of Chiemsee, suffragan and principal adviser of the Archbishop of Salzburg, he made a good beginning. His first colleagues were George Kettner, a priest of noted piety who held a benefice at Ingolstadt, George Gündel, pastor of Mailing near Ingolstadt, and Michael Rottmayer, pastor of Leinting. Priests joined from the Diocese of Chiemsee and from other dioceses. At the death of Holzhauser the community had members at Chiemsee, Salzburg, Freising, Eichstätt, Würzburg, and Mainz.
In 1643 Holzhauser took control of the seminary at Salzburg, and placed it under the direction of Rottmayer; in 1649 it was transferred to Ingolstadt. The Seminary of St. Kilian and later many other seminaries were entrusted to the care of the community. In 1653 Dr. Rieger, one of the members, set out for Rome to obtain papal sanction for the institute and its rule. Pope Innocent X lauded the work, but gave no formal approbation. This was given 7 June, 1680, by Innocent XI at the request of Emperor Leopold I. After this the community spread in Poland, Sicily, and Spain. In Rome a house had been assigned them by the pope, but it was not long occupied. The institute had many enemies and did not meet with the appreciation it deserved, so that at the end of the eighteenth century it became extinct, after having had 1595 members (according to the necrology preserved in the archives of the cathedral of Mainz). After Holzhauser, the general directors of the institute were George Gündel, died 1666; Michael Rottmayer, died 1681; Stephen Hofer, died 1693; John Appel, died 1700; Sebastian Wittmann, died 1725; Anthony Kippel, died 1730; Matthew Kerschel, died 1742; Lambert Gastel, died 1769; John Christopher Hunold, died 1770. During the last century the wish was frequently expressed that Holzhauser's institute might be revived or similar unions formed.
The last-mentioned work contains the ten visions of Holzhauser, presented by him in 1646 to Emperor Ferdinand III and to Maximilian of Bavaria, together with the explanations given to Vairvaux, confessor of Maximilian. They are entitled: "De septem animalibus"; "De unâ monarchiâ et duabus sedibus"; "De s. Michaele archangelo et sedibus"; "De ecclesiâ sponsâ Dei"; "De propriâ personâ Jesu"; "De egressione Danubii"; "De verme grandi"; "De conversione Germaniæ"; "Exprobratio vitiorum, exprobratio impœnitentiæ, quomodo revertatur?"; "De duabus personis". These visions, with a commentary showing their partial fulfilment, were published in German in 1849 by Ludwig Clarus. One of the prophetic visions is about England. Holzhauser foresees the execution of Charles I and the complete ruin of the Church in that kingdom, but also that, after the Holy Sacrifice has ceased for 120 years, England would be converted and do more for religion than it had done after its first conversion. This seems to have been fulfilled, for prohibition of Mass under penalty of capital punishment was enacted in 1658, and partially recalled in 1778 (Rhode Island, 1663-1683).
This commentary, which Holzhauser wrote at Leukenthal, exists in several manuscript copies; printed in 1784 at Bamberg; in German in 1849 at Ratisbon by Clarus; in 1850 at Vienna. Holzhauser's idea is: The seven stars and the seven candlesticks seen by St. John signify seven periods of the history of the Church from its foundation to its consummation at the final judgment. To these periods correspond the seven churches of Asia Minor, the seven days of the Mosaic record of creation, the seven ages before Christ, and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Since, he says, all life is developed in seven stages, so God has fixed seven periods for regeneration. The first age of the Church,
The central features of this commentary - the strong ruler and the holy pope, a favourite subject of medieval prophecy, as well as the division of church history into seven periods; the idea that the Holy Roman Empire is to be the last on earth, and Chosroes, the Persian king, the predecessor of Antichrist; the special significance of the 1260 days of Apoc., xii, 6, are borrowed from Joachim di Fiore (died 1202; cf. "Hist. pol. Blätter," CXVIII, 142). Still the commentary is considered an instructive and edifying book.
Hurter, Nomenclator, I, 432; HUNDHAUSEN in Kirchenlex.; Studien u. Mittheil. aus dem Benediktiner Orden, XXIII, 403; life by GADUEL, Germ. by HEINRICH (Mainz, 1862); HEIMBUCHER, Orden u. Kongreg. der kath. Kirche, II (Paderborn, 1908), 452.