Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pius Bonifacius Gams

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 6
Pius Bonifacius Gams

by Henri Leclercq


An ecclesiastical historian, b. at Mittelbuch, Würtemberg, 23 January, 1816; d. Munich, 11 May, 1892. His classical studies made at Biberach and Rottweil (1826-1834), he studied philosophy and theology at Tubingen (1834-38), entered the seminary of Rottenburg in 1838, and was ordained priest on 11 September, 1839. He filled various posts as tutor, vicar, parish priest, professor until 1 May, 1847, when he was appointed chairs of philosophy and general history by the theological faculty of Hildesheim. Finally he entered the Abbey of St. Boniface at Munich, which belonged to the Bavarian congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, and pronounced the monastic vows, 5 October, 1856, adding the name of Pius to that of Boniface. Gams filled several monastic offices, being successively master of novices, sub-prior, and prior. He is best known for his "Kirchengeschichte von Spanien", 3 vols. (Ratisbon, 1862-1879), and his "Series episcoporum Ecelesiae catholiae quotquot innotuerunt a beato Petro apostolo" etc. (Ratisbon, 1873-86, with two supplements). The "Kirchengeschichte von Spanien" is a conscientiously and methodically written work, critical, also, to a certain extent, in dealing with the earliest period of Spanish ecclesiastical history, though the author rarely abandons the aid which unreliable sources seem to furnish. The "Series episcoporum" has rendered useful service and is yet very helpful. It is a collection of the episcopal lists of all ancient and modern sees known to the author. Gaps are frequent in the lists of ancient sees, especially those of the Eastern Church. It was, of course, impossible to draw up a critical list (names and dates) for such remote times and larger information must be sought in extensive documentary works, e g. "Italia Sacra" and the like; as a rule, however, the author has ignored a number of scattered dissertations which would have rectified, on a multitude of points, his uncertain chronology. In 1850 Gams founded with his colleagues Alzog, F. W. Koch, Mattes, and G.J. Muller a "Theologische Monatschrift" which lasted two years (1850-1851), and in which he published a number of essays.


Works

"Geschichte der Kirche Jesu Christi im neunzehnten Jahrhunderte mit besonderer Rucksicht auf Deutschland"; 3 vols. (Innsbruck, 1854-1858); "Johannes der Taufer im Gefangnisse" (Tabingen, 1853); "Die elfte Sacularfeier des Martyrertodes des heiligen Bonifacius", etc. (Mainz, 1855); "Die Kirchengeschichte von Spanien", 3 vols, in five parts (Ratisbon 1862-79); "Spanische Briefe" in "Historisch-politische Blatter", LVI, 134 sq., 208 sg, 311 sq., 418 sq., "Wetterleuchten auf der pyrenaischen Halbinsel", ibid, LVI, 67 sq; "Series episcoporum Ecclesiae catholicae quotquot innotuerunt a beato Petro apostolo" (Ratisbon, 1873) supp I: "Hierarchia catholica Pio IX Pontifice Romano" (Munich, 1879), Supp. II: "Series episcoporum quae apparuit 1873 completur et continuatur ab anno circa 1870 ad 20 Febr. 1885" (Ratisbon, 1886); "Das Jahre des Martyrtodes der Apostel Petrus und Paulus" (Ratisbon, 1867).

H. LECLERCQ