Roman Catholic Diocese of Passau

Diocese of Passau
Dioecesis Passaviensis
Bistum Passau

St. Stephan's Cathedral, Passau
Country Germany
Ecclesiastical province Munich and Freising
Metropolitan Munich and Freising
Area 5,442 km2 (2,101 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2004)
515,852 (87.3%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 737
Cathedral St. Stephan's Cathedral
Patron saint St. Conrad of Parzham
St. Maximilian of Celeia
St. Valentine
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Stefan Oster
Metropolitan Archbishop Reinhard Marx
Emeritus Bishops Wilhelm Schraml
Prince-Bishopric of Passau
Fürstbistum Passau
State of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

Capital Passau
Government Principality
Historical era Early modern period
  Bishopric established 722
   Gained Reichsfreiheit
    from Otto III
  Bernhardine Charter
    grants burghers
    municipal freedoms

  Peace of Passau
   during Reformation

   Secularised to Bavaria 1805
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Swabia
Kingdom of Bavaria

The Diocese of Passau is a Roman Catholic diocese in Germany that is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.[1][2] It should not be confused with the Prince-Bishopric of Passau, an ecclesiastical principality that existed for centuries until it was secularized in 1803. The diocese covers an area of 5,442 km².

Pope Benedict XVI was born and baptized on Holy Saturday, 16 April 1927, at Marktl am Inn, which is located within the Diocese of Passau.


The Diocese of Passau may be considered the successor of the ancient Diocese of Lorch (Laureacum). At Lorch, a Roman station and an important stronghold at the junction of the Enns River and the Danube, Christianity found a foothold in the third century, during a period of Roman domination, and a Bishop of Lorch certainly existed in the fourth. During the great migrations, Christianity on the Danube was completely rooted out, and the Celtic and Roman population was annihilated or enslaved.

In the region between the Lech River and the Enns, the wandering Bajuvari were converted to Christianity in the seventh century, while the Avari, to the east, remained pagan. The ecclesiastical organization of Bavaria was brought about by St. Boniface, who, with the support of Duke Odilo or at least enacting an earlier design of the duke,[3] erected the four sees of Freising, Ratisbon, Passau, and Salzburg. He confirmed as incumbent of Passau, Bishop Vivilo, or Vivolus, who had been ordained by Pope Gregory III, and who was for a long time the only bishop in Bavaria. Thenceforth, Vivilo resided permanently at Passau, on the site of the old Roman colony of Batavis. Here was a church, the founder of which is not known, dedicated to St. Stephen. To Bishop Vivilo's diocese was annexed the ancient Lorch, which meanwhile had become a small and unimportant place. By the duke's generosity, a cathedral was soon erected near the Church of St. Stephen, and here the bishop lived in common with his clergy.

The Prince-Bishopric of Passau, circa 1760. It was much smaller than the diocese of the same name.

The boundaries of the diocese extended westwards to the Isar river, and eastwards to the Enns. In ecclesiastical affairs Passau was probably, from the beginning, suffragan to Salzburg. Through the favour of Dukes Odilo and Tassilo, the bishopric received many gifts, and several monasteries arose — e.g. Niederaltaich Abbey, Niedernburg Abbey, Mattsee Abbey, Kremsmünster Abbey — which were richly endowed. Under Bishop Waltreich (774-804), after the conquest of the Avari, who had assisted the rebellious Duke Tassilo, the district between the Enns and the Raab River was added to the diocese, which thus included the whole eastern part (Ostmark) of Southern Bavaria and part of what is now Hungary. The first missionaries to the pagan Hungarians went out from Passau, and in 866 the Church sent missionaries to Bulgaria.

Passau, the outermost eastern bulwark of the Germans, suffered most from the incursions of the Hungarians. At that time many churches and monasteries were destroyed. When, after the victory the Battle of Lech, the Germans pressed forward and regained the old Ostmark, Bishop Adalbert (946-971) hoped to extend his spiritual jurisdiction over Hungary. His successor Piligrim (971-991), who worked successfully for the Christianization of Pannonia, aspired to free Passau from the metropolitan authority of Salzburg, but was completely frustrated in this, as well as in his attempt to assert the metropolitan claims which Passau was supposed to have inherited from Lorch, and to include all Hungary in his diocese. By founding many monasteries in his diocese he prepared the way for the princely power of later bishops. He also built many new churches and restored others from ruins. His successor, Christian (991-1002) received in 999 from Emperor Otto III the market privilege and the rights of coinage, taxation, and higher and lower jurisdiction. Emperor Henry II granted him a large part of the North Forest. Henceforward, indeed, the bishops ruled as princes of the empire, although the title was used for the first time only in a document in 1193. Under Berengar (1013–1045) the whole district east of the Viennese forest as far as Letha and March was placed under the jurisdiction of Passau. During his time the cathedral chapter made its appearance, but there is little information concerning its beginning as a distinct corporation with the right of electing a bishop. This right was much hampered by the exercise of imperial influence.

At the beginning of the Investiture Controversy, St. Altmann occupied the see (1065–1091) and was one of the few German bishops who adhered to Pope Gregory VII. Ulrich I, Count of Höfft (1092–1121), who was for a time driven from his see by Emperor Henry IV, furthered monastic reforms and the Crusades. Reginmar (1121–1138), Reginbert, Count of Hegenau (1136–1147) who took part in the crusade of Conrad III, and Conrad of Austria (1149–1164), a brother of Bishop Otto of Freising, were all much interested in the foundation of new monasteries and the reform for those already existing. Ulrich, Count of Andechs (1215–1221), was formally recognized as a prince of the empire at the Reichstag of Nuremberg in 1217. The reforms which were begun by Gebhard von Plaien (1221–1232) and Rüdiger von Rodeck (1233–1250) found a zealous promoter in Otto von Lonsdorf (1254–1265), one of the greatest bishops of Passau. He took stringent measures against the relaxed monasteries, introduced the Franciscans and Dominicans into his diocese, promoted the arts and sciences, and collected the old documents which had survived the storms of the preceding period, so that to him we owe almost all our knowledge of the early history of Passau. (See Schmidt, "Otto von Lonsdorf, Bischof zu Passau", Würzburg, 1903.) Bishop Peter, formerly Canon of Breslau, contributed to the House of Habsburg by bestowing episcopal fiefs on the sons of King Rudolph.

Under Bernhard of Brambach (1285–1313) began the struggles of Passau to become a free imperial city. After an uprising in May 1298, the bishop granted the burghers, in the municipal ordinance of 1299, privileges in conformity with what was called the Bernhardine Charter. The cathedral having been burned down in 1281, he built a new cathedral which lasted until 1662. Albert III von Winkel (1363–1380) was particularly active in the struggle with the burghers and in resisting the robber-knights. The Black Death visited the bishopric under Gottfried II von Weitzenbeck (1342–1362). George I von Hohenlohe (1388–1421), who, after 1418, was imperial chancellor, energetically opposed the Hussites. During the time of Ulrich III von Nussdorf (1451–1479) the diocese suffered its first great curtailment by the formation of the new Diocese of Vienna (1468). This diocese was afterwards further enlarged at the expense of Passau by Pope Sixtus IV. Towards the close of the fifteenth century the conflict between an Austrian candidate for the see and a Bavarian brought about a state of war in the diocese.

The Protestant Reformation was kept out of all the Bavarian part of the diocese, except the Countship of Ortenburg, by the efforts of Ernest of Bavaria who, though never consecrated, ruled the diocese from 1517 to 1541. Lutheranism found many adherents, however, in the Austrian portion. Wolfgang I Count of Salm (1540–1555) and Urban von Trennbach (1561–1598) led the counter-Reformation. Under Wolfgang the Peace of Passau was concluded, in the summer of 1552. The last Bavarian prince-bishop was Urban, who in his struggles during the Reformation received substantial aid for the Austrian part of the diocese from Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, and, after 1576, from Emperor Rudolf II. All the successors of Urban were Austrians. Bishop Leopold I (1598–1625) (also Bishop of Strasburg after 1607) was one of the first to enter the Catholic League of 1609. In the Thirty Years' War he was loyal to his brother, Emperor Ferdinand II. Leopold II Wilhelm (1625–1662), son of Ferdinand II, a pious prince and a great benefactor of the City of Passau, especially after the great conflagration of 1662, finally united five bishoprics.

The Bishop-Prince Wenzelaus von Thun (1664–1673) began the new cathedral which was completed thirty years later by his successor Cardinal John Philip von Lamberg. The Cardinal-Prince and his nephew, also Cardinal-Prince Joseph Dominicus von Lamberg, some time later successor to his uncle (1723–1762), both became cardinals. They were brother and son to Franz Joseph I, Landgrave of Leuchtenberg, and both front-line diplomats for the Austrian court.

When Vienna was raised to an archdiocese in 1722, he relinquished the parishes beyond the Viennese Forest, hence was exempted from the metropolitan authority of Salzburg, and obtained the pallium for himself and his successors. Leopold Ernst, Count of Firmian (1763–1783), created cardinal in 1772, established an institute of theology at Passau and, after the suppression of the Jesuits, founded a lyceum. Under Joseph, Count of Auersperg (1783–1795), Emperor Joseph II took away two-thirds of the diocese to form the diocese of Linz and diocese of St. Pölten. The last prince-bishop, Leopold von Thun (1796–1826), saw the secularization of the old bishopric in 1803; the City of Passau and the temporalities on the left bank of the Inn River and the right bank of the Ilz River went to Bavaria, while the territory on the left banks of the Danube and of the Ilz went to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and afterwards to Austria. On 22 February 1803, when the Bavarians marched into Passau, the prince-bishop withdrew to his estates in Bohemia, and never revisited his former residence.

By the Bavarian Concordat of 1817, the diocese was given new boundaries. After the death of the last prince-bishop, Passau's exemption from metropolitan power ceased, and the diocese became suffragan of Munich-Freising.[4]


Name from to Comments
  Valentin of Raetia ? 475  
  Vivilo 739 ?  
  Beatus ? 753/754  
1 Sidonius 753 756  
  Anthelm ? ?  
2 Wisurich 770 777  
3 Waldrich 777 804/805  
4 Urolf 804/805 806  
5 Hatto 806 817  
6 Reginhar 818 838  
  Vacancy 838 840  
7 Hartwig 840 866  
8 Ermanrich 866 874  
9 Engelmar 875 897  
10 Wiching 898 899  
11 Richard 899 902  
12 Burkhard 903 915  
13 Gumpold 915 932  
14 Gerhard 932 946  
15 Adalbert 946 970/971  
16 Piligrim 971 991 Sieghardinger
17 Christian 991 1013 First bishop with secular authority
18 Berengar 1013 1045  
19 Egilbert 1045 1065 Engelbert
20 Altmann 1065 1091  
20a Hermann of Eppenstein 1085 1087 counter-bishop of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
21 Ulrich 1092 1121 Ulrich I.
22 Reginmar 1121 1138  
23 Reginbert of Hagenau 1138 1147/1148  
24 Conrad I of Babenberg 1148/1149 1164 Son of Leopold III, Margrave of Austria and Agnes von Waiblingen; also Archbishop of Salzburg (as Conrad II)
25 Rupert I 1164 1165  
  Albo 1165 1169 vertrieben
  Henry I of Berg 1169 1172 resigned, later Bishop of Würzburg from 1191 until his death in 1197
26 Diepold of Berg 1172 1190 Theobald
27 Wolfger of Erla 1191 1204  
28 Poppo 1204 1206 Cathedral provost of Aquileia
29 Manegold of Berg 1206 1215  
30 Ulrich II 1215 1221  
31 Gebhard I of Plain 1222 1232  
32 Rüdiger of Bergheim 1233 1249 Bishop of Chiemsee 1216–1233; excommunicated and deposed by Pope Innocent IV
33 Konrad I, Duke of Silesia-Glogau 1249 1249 From 1248 to 1251 was, with his older brother Bolesław II the Bald, Piast duke of the Silesian duchies of Legnica and Jawor). Also duke of Głogów, again with his brother until his brother's death, and continued to rule there until his own in 1274.
34 Berthold of Pietengau 1250 1254  
35 Otto of Lonsdorf 1254 1265  
36 Wladislaw of Silesia 1265 1265  
37 Petrus, Bishop of Passau 1265 1280 Canon of Breslau
38 Wichard of Pohlheim 1280 1282  
39 Gottfried 1282 1285 Protonotary of Rudolf of Habsburg, German king
40 Bernhard of Prambach 1285 1313  
Vacancy due to disputed election 1313 1317  
  Albert II, Duke of Austria 1313 1313  
  Gebhard II 1313 1315  
41 Henri de la Tour-du-Pin 1317 1319  
42 Albert II of Saxe-Wittenberg 1320 1342  
43 Gottfried of Weißeneck 1342 1362  
44 Albert III of Winkel 1363 1380  
45 Johann of Scharffenberg 1381 1387  
46 Hermann Digni 1387 1388  
47 Rupert of Berg 1388 1390  
48 George of Hohenlohe 1390 1423  
49 Leonhard of Laiming 1423/1424 1451  
50 Ulrich of Nußdorf 1451 1479  
51 George Hessler 1480 1482 from 1477 Cardinal
52 Friedrich Mauerkircher 1482 1485  
53 Frederick of Öttingen 1485 1490  
54 Christopher of Schachner 1490 1500  
56 Wiguleus Fröschl of Marzoll 1500 1517  
57 Ernest of Bavaria 1517 1541 Administrator
57 Wolfgang of Salm 1541 1555  
58 Wolfgang of Closen 1555 1561  
59 Urban of Trennbach 1561 1598  
60 Leopold V, Archduke of Austria 1598 1625  
61 Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria 1625 1662  
62 Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria 1662 1664  
63 Wenzeslaus of Thun 1664 1673  
64 Sebastian of Pötting 1673 1689  
65 John Philip of Lamberg 1689 1712 Cardinal from 1700
67 Raymund Ferdinand, Count of Rabatta 1713 1722  
68 Joseph Dominic of Lamberg 1723 1761 Cardinal from 1737
69 Joseph Maria, Count of Thun 1761 1763  
70 Leopold Ernst von Firmian 1763 1783 Cardinal from 1772
71 Joseph Francis Anton of Auersperg 1783 1795 Cardinal from 1789
72 Thomas John Caspar, Count of Thun-Hohenstein 1795 1796  
73 Leopold Leonard, Imperial Count of Thun 13 December 1796 22 October 1826 Last Prince-Bishop
74 Karl Joseph, Baron of Riccabona 25 December 1826 25 May 1839  
75 Heinrich of Hofstätter 6 July 1839 12 May 1875  
76 Joseph Francis of Weckert 4 October 1875 13 March 1889  
77 Antonius von Thoma 24 March 1889 23 October 1889  
78 Michael of Rampf 8 December 1889 29 March 1901  
79 Anton of Henle 3 April 1901 18 October 1906  
80 Sigismund Felix, Baron of Ow-Felldorf 18 October 1906 11 May 1936  
81 Simon Konrad Landersdorfer, OSB 11 September 1936 27 October 1968  
82 Antonius Hofmann 27 October 1968 15 October 1984  
83 Franz Xaver Eder 15 October 1984 8 January 2001  
84 Wilhelm Schraml 13 December 2001 1 October 2012  
85 Stefan Oster 24 May 2014 Incumbent  

Auxiliary bishops


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Passau". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

  1. "Diocese of Passau" David M. Cheney. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  2. "Diocese of Passau" Gabriel Chow. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  3. Maß, Josef (2005). "Der hl. Bonifatius und das Bistum Freising". Beiträge zur altbayerischen Kirchengeschichte (in German). 48: 9–27.
  5. "Bishop Sigismund Pirchan von Rosenberg, O. Cist." David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  6. "Bishop Benedikt Sibenhirter, O.S.B." David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  7. "Bishop Wolfgang Püchler, O.F.M." David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  8. "Bishop Albert Schönhofer" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  9. "Bishop Andreas Weinmair" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  10. "Bishop Bernhard Meurl von Leombach" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  11. "Bishop Heinrich Kurz" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  12. "Bishop Thomas Murner, O.F.M." David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  13. "Bishop Erasmus Pagendorfer" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  14. "Bishop Michael Englmayr" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  15. "Bishop Christian Krypper" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  16. "Bishop Hector Wegmann" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  17. "Bishop Christoph Weilhamer" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  18. "Bishop Blasius Laubich" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016
  19. "Bishop Johannes Maximus Stainer von Pleinfelden" David M. Cheney. Retrieved July 24, 2016

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