1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ledochowski, Miecislaus Johann
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Ledochowski, Miecislaus Johann
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LEDOCHOWSKI, MIECISLAUS JOHANN, Count (1822-1902), Polish cardinal, was born on the 29th of October 1822 in Gorki (Russian Poland), and received his early education at the gymnasium and seminary of Warsaw. After finishing his studies at the Jesuit Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici in Rome, which strongly influenced his religious development and his attitude towards church affairs, he was ordained in 1845. From 1856 to 1858 he represented the Roman See in Columbia, but on the outbreak of the Columbian revolution had to return to Rome. In 1861 Pope Pius IX. made him his nuncio at Brussels, and in 1865 he was made archbishop of Gnesen-Posen. His preconization followed on the 8th of January 1866. This date marks the beginning of the second period in Ledochowski's life; for during the Prussian and German Kulturkampf he was one of the most declared enemies of the state. It was only during the earliest years of his appointment as archbishop that he entertained a different view, invoking, for instance, an intervention of Prussia in favour of the Roman Church, when it was oppressed by the house of Savoy. On the 12th of December 1870 he presented an effective memorandum on the subject at the headquarters at Versailles. In 1872 the archbishop protested against the demand of the government that religious teaching should be given only in the German language, and in 1873 he addressed a circular letter on this subject to the clergy of his diocese. The government thereupon demanded a statement from the teachers of religion as to whether they intended to obey it or the archbishop, and on their declaring for the archbishop, dismissed them. The count himself was called upon at the end of 1873 to lay aside his office. On his refusing to do so, he was arrested between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning on the 3rd of February 1874 by Staňdi, the director of police, and taken to the military prison of Ostrowo. The pope made him a cardinal on the 13th of March, but it was not till the 3rd of February 1876 that he was released from prison. Having been expelled from the eastern provinces of Prussia, he betook himself to Cracow, where his presence was made the pretext for anti-Prussian demonstrations. Upon this he was also expelled from Austria, and went to Rome, whence, in spite of his removal from office, which was decreed on the 15th of April 1874, he continued to direct the affairs of his diocese, for which he was on several occasions from 1877 to 1879 condemned in absentia by the Prussian government for “usurpation of episcopal rights.” It was not till 1885 that Ledochowski resolved to resign his archbishopric, in which he was succeeded by Dinder at the end of the year. Ledochowski's return in 1884 was forbidden by the Prussian government (although the Kulturkampf had now abated), on account of his having stirred up anew the Polish nationalist agitation. He passed the closing years of his life in Rome. In 1892 he became prefect of the Congregation of the Propaganda, and he died in Rome on the 22nd of July 1902.
See Ograbiszewski, Deutschlands Episkopat in Lebensbildern (1876 and following years); Holtzmann-Zöppfel, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirchenwesen (2nd ed., 1888); Vapereau, Dictionnaire universel des contemporains (6th ed., 1893); Brück, Geschichte der katholischen Kirche in Deutschland im neunzehnten Jahrhundert vol. 4 (1901 and 1908); Lauchert, Biographisches Jahrbuch, vol. 7 (1905). (J. Hn.)