Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Saint Gall
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Diocese of Saint Gall
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(The Diocese of Saint Gall; SANGALLENSIS)
A Swiss bishopric directly subject to the Holy See. It includes the Canton of St. Gall and, as a temporary arrangement, the two half-cantons of Appenzell Outer Rhodes and Appenzell Inner Rhodes. In 1910 its statistics were: 9 deaneries, each directed by a dean; 117 parishes; 116 additional cures of souls; 128 Catholic teachers; 233 secular priests; 46 regular priests; about 169,000 Catholics; and a non-Catholic population of 152,000. The bishop is elected by the cathedral chapter within three months after the see falls vacant. According to the concordat of the Canton of St. Gall with the Holy See, he must be a secular priest of the diocese and must be approved by the Catholic collegium of the cantonal great council. The bishop has a cathedral chapter of five resident and eight honorary canons, with a cathedral dean as its head. The resident canons have charge of the cathedral services and the care of the cathedral parish, in which they are aided by 3 coadjutors and 3 vicars. Besides the chapter there is also a vicar-general. For the training of the clergy there is a seminary for priests at St. Gall which, however, is limited to the actual practical seminary course of a six months term. As a rule the students of theology attend for their academic training the theological faculties of the Universities of Innsbruck and Fribourg in Switzerland. The male orders are represented in the diocese only by 4 Capuchin monasteries. The female orders in the diocese are: 1 house of Benedictine nuns; 2 of Cistercian nuns; 2 of Dominican nuns; 8 of Franciscan nuns; 1 of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; 2 of the School Sisters of the Holy Cross; 1 of Premonstratensian nuns; 1 of the Italian-Missionary Sisters of St. Francis; and numerous houses of Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross (Ingenbohl Sisters). The most noted church of the diocese is the cathedral, the church of the former Benedictine abbey (see above). Among other of pilgrimage are: the Wildkirchlein, on the Santis; the little monastery of Notkersegg, near St. Gall; the parish church at Kirchberg, in the District of Toggenburg; and Dreibrunnen, near Wil. Catholic associations are highly developed; a Catholic congress is held annually in the diocese. There are 12 Catholic newspapers, of which the "Ostschweiz", published at St. Gall, is the most important.
The Abbots of St. Gall had exercised nearly all the rights of episcopal jurisdiction within their territory. After the suppression of the ancient abbey. there was evident need of a reorganization of ecclesiastical affairs, which had sunk into a deplorable decay, and the plan was proposed to replace the abbey by a Diocese of St. Gall. At that era a part of the present territory of the diocese belonged ecclestically to the Diocese of Chur, and another part to the Diocese of Constance. In 1815 the Swiss part of the Diocese of Constance was separated from Constance by Pope Pius VII, and placed under the provisional administration of Provost Goldin of Beromüster, in the Canton of Lucern. On the death of the provost in 1819 this district fell to the Diocese of Chur. The arrangement, however, was only intended to be a temporary one. After long negotiations the desired Diocese of St. Gall was established in 1823, but it was connected by personal union with the Diocese of Chur. However, the abbey church of St. Gall that was raised to a cathedral received a separate cathedral chapter and an independent seminary. The Bishop also was obliged to live alternately at Chur and at St. Gall. This double diocese satisfied neither the inhabitants of the Grisons nor those of St. Gall. The former wanted their bishop for themselves, the latter feared that the Bishop of Chur might regard St. Gall merely as an appendage of his old diocese and look down on it. Moreover, the government of the Canton of St. Gall meddled incessantly in ecclesiastical matters and in the Church's right of jurisdiction, and demanded for itself the right of approval (placetum regium) in all more important discipline. When therefore the bishop, Count von Buolschauenstein (1823-35), died, the governments of both cantons refused to recognize his successor, and the Catholic collegium of the great council of St. Gall appointed an episcopal administrator, Father Zürcher, for the Catholics of the canton. Finally Gregory XVI, at the request of the Canton of St. Gall, suppressed the double diocese and erected in 1836 a Vicariate Apostolic of St. Gall; the vicar Apostolic was Johann-Peter Mirer of Upper Saxony, parish priest of Sargans.
Negotiations concerning the erection of a separate Diocese of St. Gall were soon begun with Rome in order to bring this state of affairs to an end. It was, however, only after great difficulties that an agreement was made that was satisfactory both to the Holy See and to the Canton of St. Gall. In 1845 the Concordat was signed by the papal nuncio and the authorities of the canton; on 12 April, 1847, Pius IX issued the Bull of circumscription, and on 29 June Mirer was consecrated in the cathedral as first Bishop of St. Gall. The new bishopric had soon a hard fight to wage with the Liberal party, which had gained ascendancy in the canton from 1855, as to the rights and liberties of the Church. The bishop, a highly talented and very orthodox man, was ably and vigorously supported in this struggle by Father Greith, Gallus Baumgartner (father of the celebrated Jesuit Alexander Baumgartner) the jurist Leonhard Grün (president of the Catholic administrative council), and the advocate J.J. Müller. Yet, notwithstanding all their efforts, they could not prevent the suppression of the newly-established Catholic lyceum, the wasting of a part of the diocesan funds, or the combination of the Catholic cantonal school with the Protestant town gymnasium to form a school in which both religions were placed on a parity, to put an end to ecclesiastical influence in education. These actions were the result of the terrorism of the Liberal Party (see on these events Greith, "Die Lage der katholischen Kirche unter der Herrschaft des Staatskirchentums in Sankt Gallen", St. Gall, 1858). The diocese, however, maintained itself notwithstanding the storms, and Catholic religious life developed and flourished greatly. A large part of the credit for this prosperity was due to Karl Johann Greith, who was elected bishop after Mirer's death in 1862. Not long after his consecration Greith was also made provisional administrator of the Canton of Appenzell, which, after the dissolution of the Diocese of Constance, had up to then been administered by Chur. This provisional administration has become in fact, although not legally, a permanent condition.
After a few years of quiet new discords broke out in the diocese in connection with the Old-Catholic movement in Switzerland, and Greith was accused of contravening the concordat and the constitutional oath. It did not, indeed, go as far as the deposition of the bishop, as Liberals demanded, but the episcopal seminary for boys, which Greith had founded and maintained at a great sacrifice of money and time, was closed in 1874 by the government, and has not so far been reopened. Soon after this, civil marriage was introduced by the law of the Swiss Confederation, and the religious education of the young was endangered by the introduction of irreligious school books, and by forcibly putting both religions on a parity in the schools. Greith was succeeded by his vicar-general Augustinus Egger (1882-1906). A widely-read author and a skilful orator, he deserves much credit for what he did to encourage Catholic life, not only in his own diocese but also in the whole of Switzerland. During his administration the extreme Radical government of the Canton of St. Gall was replaced by a moderate one, and the new constitution of 1890 has brought about a more satisfactory state of affairs between Church and State. According to Article 24 of the constitution the ecclesiastical authorities alone have charge of religious and purely ecclesiastical matters. The Catholic and Protestant districts of the canton settle their own denominational organization subject to the approval of the great council, the Catholic organization being in harmony with the laws of the Catholic Church. Authorities chosen by each denomination have charge of denominational matters of a mixed nature as well as of the administration of the denominations, of the state. Augustine Egger was succeeded in 1906 by the present bishop, Ferdinand Rüegg, b. 20 Oct., 1847, consecrated 10 June, 1906.
BAUMGARTNER, Geschichte des schweizerischen Friestaats und Kantons Sankt Gallen (3vols., Zurich and Einsiedeln, 1868-90) ZARDETTI, Requies Sancti Galli (Einsiedln, 1881); BAUMGARTNER, Gallus Jakob Baumgartner, Landammann von Sankt Gallen, und die neuere Staatsentwicklung der Schweiz 1797-1869 (Freiburg im Br., 1892); DIERAUER, Politische Geschichte des Kantons Sankt Gallen 1803-1903 (St. Gall, 1904); OESCH, Dr. Karl Johann Greith, Bischof van Sankt Gallen (St. Gall, 1909); GSCHWEND, Die Echtung des Bistums Sankt Gallen (2 vols., Stans, 190.0); Mitteil ungen zur vaterlandichen Gechichte, herausgegeben vom Historischen Verein Sankt Gallen (St. Gall, 1862-); FÄH, Die Kathedrale in St. Gallen (2 pts., St. Gall, 1896 and 1900).