Heinrich Birnbaum

Heinrich Birnbaum

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Heinrich Birnbaum also known as De Piro (the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ized form of his German name), was a pious and learned Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

.

Little is known of him before his entrance into the Carthusian monastery at Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 on 14 March 1435, at the age of 32 years. On account of his edifying example in the observance of the rule and his extensive scriptural and theological learning he was highly esteemed by his confrères, and as early as 1438, only three years after his entrance into the order, he became prior of the monastery of Mont Saint André at Tournai
Tournai
Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

 (Doornik) in Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. The desire for a reform of the religious orders, which animated many great men of the 15th century, had also penetrated the soul of Birnbaum. Being a true reformer, he soon succeeded, by the irresistible force of his own pious example, in abolishing the few abuses that had found admittance into the various monasteries over which he became prior, and in restoring the austere monastic discipline established by the founder St. Bruno.

After holding the position of prior at Mont Saint André for 7 years, he was active in the same office successively at Wesel
Wesel
Wesel is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the capital of the Wesel district.-Division of the town:Suburbs of Wesel include Lackhausen, Obrighoven, Ginderich, Feldmark,Fusternberg, Büderich, Flüren and Blumenkamp.-History:...

 in the Duchy of Cleves
Duchy of Cleves
The Duchy of Cleves was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was situated in the northern Rhineland on both sides of the Lower Rhine, around its capital Cleves and the town of Wesel, bordering the lands of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster in the east and the Duchy of Brabant in the west...

, until 1457; at Rettel
Rettel
Rettel is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France....

 in Lorraine, until 1459; at Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, until 1461; and at Diest
Diest
Diest is a city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. Situated in the northeast of the Hageland region, Diest neighbours the provinces of Antwerp to its North, and Limburg to the East and is situated around 60km from Brussels. The municipality comprises the city of...

 in Belgium, until 1463. In 1463 he was appointed prior at Liège, but ill health forced him to resign this position and retire to the Carthusian monastery at Cologne, where he had spent the first days of this monastic life. The remaining ten years of his life Birnbaum spent in writing several ascetic works and in preparing for a happy death. There were with him at that time in the Carthusian monastery of Cologne some of the most learned and saintly men of Germany such as Hermann Appeldorn (d. 1472), Hermann Grefken (d. 1480), Heinrich von Dissen
Heinrich von Dissen
Heinrich von Dissen was a German Carthusian theologian and writer.-Life:...

 (d. 1484), and Werner Rolewink (d. 1502). Birnbaum wrote for the instruction and direction of the members of his order a number of works, many of which, however, have not yet been put in print, also:
  • "Defensio pro Immaculato Conceptu B.M.V."
  • "Excepta ex malo granato cum nonnullis conjunctis"


He has often been confused with his uncle of the same name, one of the most learned jurists of the 15th century, who was for some time provost of St. Kunibert's at Cologne, and who died in 1439.