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Bishop of Paderborn; b. 18 May, 1812, at Geismar, Province of Saxony; d. 16 July, 1879, at Mont St Guibert, near Brussels, Belgium. He studied at first under an elder brother who was a priest, and later at the "gymnasium" at Heiligenstadt; he studied theology and Oriental languages for two years at Munich under Döllinger and Allioli, then went to Halle where the famous Gesenius taught, and thence to Würzburg, where he passed the examen rigorosum for the degree of "Doctor Theologiæ". But before he could present the necessary Public Act, he was compelled to leave Würzburg, and undergo the same examination in Münster, Westphalia, because the Prussian ministry forbade studying at South German universities and did not recognize their degrees. In 1835 he obtained in Münster the degree of D.D., for his dissertation: "De Petri denegatione, qua inquiritur de huius criminis ethica natura et luculentioribus effectibus". Feeling an inclination towards academic teaching which the Diocese of Paderborn was unable to satisfy, he entered the Archdiocese of Cologne, and as a student of the theological seminary was ordained priest in 1836. Immediately after this he was appointed rector of the "pro-gymnasium" at Wipperfürth, which had just been established, and published, in Mainz, 1839, under the pseudonym Dr. Fridericus Lange, a sharp and forceful pamphlet against Hermesianism, written in classical Latin and entitled "Novæ annotationes ad Acta Hermesiana et Acta Romana, quas ad causam Hermesianam denuo illustrandam scripsit". The pamphlet created a sensation everywhere and caused the coadjutor Geissel of Cologne to appoint the young savant teacher of religion at the Marzellengymnasium at Cologne in the year 1840. In order to elevate the teaching of religion in the higher schools and to infuse into it a deeper significance, he wrote his famous text- book of the Catholic religion for high-schools, which appeared at Mainz in 1843 in two volumes and went through fifteen editions. It was used as a text-book in all Prussian gymnasia and translated into Hungarian and French, but later on, during the Kulturkampf, it was suppressed by order of the Prussian minister of education.
Before the end of the same year he was invited by Bishop Dammers of Paderborn to become professor of dogmatic theology in the faculty of his home diocese, but Geissel requested him to remain in Cologne and made him extraordinary professor of theology at the University of Bonn, inspector of the local seminaries, and, with Dieringer, university preacher. In 1848 he became ordinary professor of moral theology and published, in 1850, the "Lehrbuch der katholischen Moral" which as early as 1865 had gone through five editions. Dating back to his work as professor in Bonn, there exist numerous articles in the "katholischen Vierteljahrsschrift für Wissenschaft und Kunst" of which he was one of the founders, as well as in the "Kirchenlexikon"; there are furthermore an unfinished translation of the "Jewish History" of Flavius Josephus, a translation of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist and the Ten Commandments, an edition of Maldonatus's "Commentary on the Four Gospels" (1854 and 1862) and finally, "Die Wissenschaft von der göttlichen Dingen" a popular handbook of Dogma representing the ripe fruits of his long work upon the writings of St. Thomas (1855 and 1869). Soon, however, he was compelled to give up his work at Bonn.
In 1856 he was elected Bishop of Paderborn, and consecrated by Cardinal Geissel on 17 August. Filled with apostolic zeal he accepted the responsible office, and became one of the most illustrious bishops of Germany; one who with his untiring labour and perseverance encouraged Christian life in his extensive diocese, and who exerted a beneficent influence even far beyond his own domain, by his example and his writings. As a man of firm and unshakable faith he considered it his chief duty to protect the Faith against all attacks. It was his first care to train effective priests. In order to accomplish this purpose, he combined his annual confirmation journeys with detailed investigations so as to become acquainted with his clergy and to instil everywhere a true ecclesiastical spirit. He founded, in 1857, at Heiligenstadt a second seminary for boys and introduced the general examination for priests. In connection with ideas he formed in 1860 during the provincial council at Cologne, he founded with his own money a theological school at Paderborn. He even had the satisfaction of holding a diocesan synod at Paderborn in 1867, the first for two centuries; at this synod the resolutions passed at the Council of Cologne were adopted, although in slightly changed form. In order to give more effect to these resolutions, he caused them to be published in the "Acta et Decreta synodi diœcesius Paderborniensis", 1867 (2nd edition, 1888). He acquired especial merit through the establishment and enlargement of the Bonifatius-Verein, of which he was president from 1859 until 1875, and through the assistance of which he was able to found about fifty new missionary posts in neglected districts. In two magnificent works, "The Chief Duty of Catholic Germany", and "Another Message to the Christian German People in Matters Regarding the Bonifatius-Verein" he explained its noble aims and made a powerful appeal for the manifesting of Christian faith by giving assistance to poor Catholic churches and priests. Full of enthusiasm he even planned to lead the Protestants of Germany back to the Catholic Church and addressed to them three friendly brochures entitled: "An episcopal message to the Protestants of Germany, especially to those of my own Diocese, regarding the points of controversy between us" (Paderborn, 1866); "Second Episcopal Message to the Protestants of Germany" (same year); and "Why is there still this gulf between the Churches? An open message to Germany's Catholics and Protestants" (Paderborn, 1869). Naturally these writings did not have the success expected by him, but on the contrary made him many enemies; they stirred, however, many Catholics from their torpidity and strengthened them in their faith.
The Vatican Council gave him the opportunity to show his fidelity to the Holy See and to champion his faith. As a member of the "Congregatio dogmatica" and the "Commissio pro postulatis" he took a lively part in the discussions of the same, and was from the beginning a zealous defendant of the infallibility of the papal office; with him originated the wording of the most important chapter of the final decision. Soon after the new dogma had been formulated, and, in order to quiet nervous minds and to enlighten the faithful, he published several pastorals which passed far beyond the confines of his own diocese; as, for instance, "The Infallible Office of the Pope", (1870); and "A Pastoral Message: What the Vatican Council presents to us as Faith regarding the pope" (1871); and several more extensive works, in which he explains in detail the far-reaching consequences of the decision, as "The real meaning of the Vatican decision regarding the Infallible Papal Office" (Paderboen, 1871), the "Deliberations of the Vatican Council" (Paderborn, 1873), which was also translated into Italian, and "Omnium Concilii Vaticani, quæ ad doctrinam et disciplinam pertinent documentorum collectio" (Paderborn, 1873). This fidelity to the Apostolic See which he showed openly at every opportunity despite all hostile criticisms; his restless activity for the spread of the Catholic faith; the establishment of missions in Northern Germany, and his open message to the Protestants of Germany, formed the opportunity for the most vituperious attacks against him in the daily press and, as soon as the necessary laws had been passed, a welcome occasion to proceed against him by means of different oppressive measures and a chance to undermine his authority; but in vain, for as soon as the intentions of the Prussian government became clear to all, thousands of men from the whole diocese journeyed to the cathedral town enthusiastically to swear undying fidelity to their bishop and to the Catholic Church.
Finally, in 1874, because of his transgression of the May Laws, he was sentenced to imprisonment; in the following year relieved of his office, by order of the Minister of Worship, and incarcerated in the fortress of Wesel. A few months later, however, he succeeded in escaping to Holland, but was expelled on the demand of the Prussian government. He found a refuge with the Sisters of Christian Love, who had been banished from Paderborn and who had settled in Mont St. Guibert. From there, as a centre, he governed secretly his diocese, laboured as pastor and teacher of religion, and wrote several works, of which these are noteworthy: "Drei Jahre aus meinen Leben: 1874-1877" (Paderborn, 1877); "Zeitbilder oder Erinnerungen an meine verewigten Wohltäter", (Mainz, 1879). Numerous other writings, mostly the fruit of lectures in the seminary, in the mother house of the Sisters of Christian Love at Paderborn and in St Guibert, we must leave unnoticed. Some have only been found among his papers after his death, and were published by his companion and private secretary, Stamm, in seven volumes, 1882-1890.
STAMM, Dr. Conrad Martin, ein bibliographischer Versuch (1892); IDEM, Urkundensammlung zur Biographie (1892); IDEM, Aus der Briefmappe Martins (Paderborn, 1902).