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Péter Pázmány

Péter Pázmány

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Péter Pázmány de Panasz was a Hungarian philosopher, theologian, catholic cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, pulpit orator and statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

. He was an important figure in the Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 in Royal Hungary
Royal Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary between 1538 and 1867 was part of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, while outside the Holy Roman Empire.After Battle of Mohács, the country was ruled by two crowned kings . They divided the kingdom in 1538...

. He worked to convert Protestants back to Catholicism in Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...


His most important legacy was his creation of the Hungarian literary language
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

. As an orator he was dubbed "the Hungarian Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 in the purple". In 1867, a street in Vienna, the Pazmanitengasse, was named after him.


Péter Pázmány was born in Nagyvárad (today Oradea
Oradea is the capital city of Bihor County, in the Crișana region of north-western Romania. The city has a population of 204,477, according to the 2009 estimates. The wider Oradea metropolitan area has a total population of 245,832.-Geography:...

, Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

) and was educated there and in Kolozsvár, which is where he converted from the Calvinist Reformed Church of Hungary to Roman Catholicism in 1583, partly under the influence of his stepmother. In 1587 he entered the Jesuit Order. Pázmány went through his probation at Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, took his degree in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, studied theology at Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and finally completed his academic course at the Jesuit college in Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

. In 1601 he was sent to the Order's establishment at Sellye
- Geography :* Sala Municipality, Sweden - a municipality in Sweden* Sala, Sweden - a city in Sweden, seat of Sala Municipality* Sala municipality, Latvia - a municipality in Latvia* Sala, Latvia - a village in Latvia, an administrative centre of Sala municipality...

 (today Šaľa, Slovakia) , where his eloquence and dialectic won hundreds to Catholicism, including many of the noblest families. Prince Miklós Esterházy and Pál Rákóczi were among his converts.

In 1607 he was assigned as archbishop of Esztergom
Esztergom , is a city in northern Hungary, 46 km north-west of the capital Budapest. It lies in Komárom-Esztergom county, on the right bank of the river Danube, which forms the border with Slovakia there....

, and in the following year attracted attention in the Diet by his denunciation of the eighth point of the Peace of Vienna
Treaty of Vienna (1606)
The Treaty of Vienna was signed on June 23, 1606 between Stephen Bocskay, a Hungarian noble, and Archduke Matthias. Based on the terms of the treaty, all constitutional and religious rights and privileges were granted to the Hungarians in both Transylvania and Royal Hungary...

, which prohibited the Jesuits from acquiring landed property in Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

. At about the same time Pope Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

, on the petition of Emperor Matthias
Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor
Matthias of Austria was Holy Roman Emperor from 1612, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1608 and King of Bohemia from 1611...

, released Pázmány from his religious vows. On 25 April 1616 he was made dean of Turóc
Turóc may refer to:* Turóc County* Turóc River...

 (Slovak Turiec), and on 28 September he became primate of Hungary. He received the red hat
A galero in the Catholic Church is a large, broad-brimmed tasseled hat worn by clergy. Over the centuries the galero was eventually limited in use to individual cardinals as a crown symbolizing the title of Prince of the Church...

 of Cardinal from Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

 in 1629. Pázmány was the soul of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Hungary.

Particularly remarkable is his Guide to Truth, which appeared in 1613. This manual united all the advantages of scientific depth, methodical arrangement and popular style. As the chief pastor of the Hungarian church, Pázmány used every means in his power, short of absolute contravention of the laws, to obstruct and weaken Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, which had risen during the 16th century. In 1619 he founded a seminary for theological candidates at Nagyszombat (today: Trnava
Trnava is a city in western Slovakia, 47 km to the north-east of Bratislava, on the Trnávka river. It is the capital of a kraj and of an okres . It was the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric . The city has a historic center...

, Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

), and in 1623 laid the foundations of a similar institution at Vienna, the still famous Pázmáneum
The Pázmáneum is a university in Vienna, founded in 1623 by Péter Pázmány as a seminary for theological candidates. It was created at a cost of 200,000 florins.-References:* -Further reading:...

, at a cost of 200,000 florin
Austro-Hungarian gulden
The Gulden or forint was the currency of the Austrian Empire and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1754 and 1892 when it was replaced by the Krone/korona as part of the introduction of the gold standard. In Austria, the Gulden was initially divided into 60 Kreuzer, and in Hungary, the...

s. In 1635 he contributed 100,000 florins towards the foundation of the University in Nagyszombat (today's Trnava
Trnava is a city in western Slovakia, 47 km to the north-east of Bratislava, on the Trnávka river. It is the capital of a kraj and of an okres . It was the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric . The city has a historic center...

). The Faculty of Theology was later turned into Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Pázmány Péter Catholic University is a private university of the Catholic Church in Hungary, recognized by the State. Founded in 1635, the PPCU is one of Hungary's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education....

, and the rest of the university became what is now known as Eötvös Loránd University, which from 1921-1950 was known as Péter Pázmány University. Its theological faculty became Catholic Péter Pázmány University, Budapest/Piliscsaba, in 1992. Pázmány also built Jesuit colleges and schools at Pressburg (Bratislava)
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

, and Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 monasteries at Érsekújvár (now: Nové Zámky
Nové Zámky
Nové Zámky is a town in southwestern Slovakia.-Geography:The town is located on the Danubian Lowland, on the Nitra River, at an altitude of 119 metres. It is located around 100 km from Bratislava and around 25 km from the Hungarian border. It is a road and railway hub of southern...

) and Körmöcbánya (now: Kremnica
Kremnica is a town in central Slovakia. It has some 5,700 inhabitants. The well-preserved medieval town built above important gold mines is the site of the oldest still-working mint in the world.-History:...

) (all in nowadays Slovakia).

In politics he played a considerable part. It was chiefly due to him that the diet of 1618 elected Archduke Ferdinand
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II , a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Bohemia , and King of Hungary . His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War.- Life :...

 to succeed the childless Matthias. He also repeatedly thwarted the martial ambitions of Gabriel Bethlen
Gabriel Bethlen
Gabriel Bethlen was a prince of Transylvania , duke of Opole and leader of an anti-Habsburg insurrection in the Habsburg Royal Hungary. His last armed intervention in 1626 was part of the Thirty Years' War...

, and prevented György Rákóczi I, over whom he had a great influence, from allying with the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and the Protestants.


Pázmány died in Pozsony (today Bratislava) in 1637 and is buried underneath the St. Martin's Cathedral.

His grave was discovered during reconstruction on September 12, 1859 by priest Ferdinand Knauz and others. They found the body dry yet almost intact. His face was missing the nose and lips but was still bearded, and he still had his jesuit hat on his head with some hair underneath. He was wearing a red damask reverenda and had simple leather shoes on his feet.


  • The Four Books of Thomas à Kempis
    Thomas à Kempis
    Thomas à Kempis was a late Medieval Catholic monk and the probable author of The Imitation of Christ, which is one of the best known Christian books on devotion. His name means, "Thomas of Kempen", his home town and in German he is known as Thomas von Kempen...

    on the imitation of Christ
    (Hungarian, 1603), of which there are many editions
  • Diatribe theologica de visible Christi in terris ecclesia (Graz, 1615)
  • Vindiciae ecclesiasticae (Vienna, 1620);
  • Sermons for every Sunday in the Year (Hung., Pressburg, 1636)
  • The Triumph of Truth (Hungarian, Pressburg, 1614)


Grazer philosophische Disputationen von Péter Pázmány, ed. Paul Richard Blum http://www.loyola.edu/academics/philosophy/faculty/PR_Blum/index.htmlhttp://renaissancephilosophy.blogspot.com/ and Emil Hargittay, Piliscsaba (Katholische Péter-Pázmány-Universität) 2003.

Pázmány Péter és kora [P. P. and his times], ed. Emil Hargittay, Piliscsaba (Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem) 2001.