Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A cardinal and Austrian statesman, b. at Vienna, 19 February, 1552; d. at Wiener-Neustadt, 18 September, 1630. While France was governed by Cardinal Richelieu, Austria also had her cardinal minister of State; but whereas the former had but one journée des dupes , the latter lamented his downfall for years. Klesl's parents were Protestants, and his father was a baker. He studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, and was with his parents brought into the fold of the Church by the court chaplain, Father Georg Scherer, S.J. He received minor orders in 1577, when he was assigned a canonry, and, even while in minor orders, he preached and held conferences at Korneuburg and in the vicinity, making many conversions. In 1579 he became doctor of philosophy and provost of St. Stephen's at Vienna, which dignity carried with it the chancellorship of the university, and was finally ordained to the priesthood. As early as the following year he was appointed councillor of the Bishop of Passau for Lower Austria. Rudolf II, impressed by the vigour and success of his campaign against Protestantism, entrusted him with the work of the counter-Reformation, which became his life work. He brought back into the fold the cities of Baden, Krems, and Stein, though not without great difficulty, nor indeed without actual risk of his life. In 1585 he was made imperial councillor by Rudolf II, who three years later appointed him court chaplain and administrator of the Diocese of Wiener-Neustadt. It took him but a very short time to restore the Catholic rule in this thoroughly disorganized bishopric. He was compelled in doing so to be constantly on his guard against the monastic council, which, in a memorial on the subject, he calls, "the cause of all evil, the champion of godless prelates and priests against their bishop, a parasite".

In 1598 Klesl was named Bishop of the Diocese of Vienna, which was spiritually and materially in a state of degradation. He was not consecrated until 1614, and received the purple from Paul V in 1616. In 1611 Matthias placed Klesl at the head of his privy council. As such he held full sway in the Govermnent. He himself admits that he "spoke, wrote, and negotiated" for the emperor. It was the question of the succession to the throne which caused his downfall. Klesl had every reason to fear that his influence would wane, if Archduke Ferdinand were once formally declared to be the heir apparent. For this reason he delayed the settlement of this question. When the Bohemians, having thrown their governor out of the window of the palace at Prague for the second time, broke out into open rebellion, and Klesl could not be induced to take energetic measures against them, the Archdukes Max of Tyrol and Ferdinand of Steiermark caused the cardinal (20 July, 1618) to be seized in an antechamber of undecided emperor, and had him conveyed to the fortress of Ambra. A few days later he was brought to the castle of Innsbruck, whence he was transferred after a year to the monastery of Georgenberg. In November, 1622, the Castle of Sant' Angelo in Rome became his place of confinement. He was granted his freedom by the emperor in June of the following year, but was to remain in Rome. He lived to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing himself solemnly brought back to Vienna on 25 January, 1628, and reinstated as bishop. He decreed that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December be henceforth observed in his dioceses "in the same manner as Sundays and other prescribed holy days", and in spite of the nuncio's protestation, he strove to maintain the peculiarly Viennese custom whereby Holy Communion was distributed on Good Friday. His heart reposes before the high altar of the cathedral of Wiener-Neustadt, while his body rests in the cathedral of St. Stephen's.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter