Diocese of Basel

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Diocese of Basel
Map of the Bishopric of Basel
Basic data
Country Switzerland
Ecclesiastical province Exemption
Diocesan bishop Felix Gmür
Auxiliary bishop Denis Theurillat
Emeritus diocesan bishop Kurt Cardinal Koch
Hansjörg Vogel
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Martin Gächter
Vicar General Markus Thürig
surface 12,585 km²
Parishes 520 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Residents 3,096,000 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Catholics 1,094,000 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
proportion of 35.3%
Diocesan priest 434 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Religious priest 241 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Catholics per priest 1,621
Permanent deacons 117 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Friars 304 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
Religious sisters 2,235 (December 31, 2011 / AP 2013 )
rite Roman rite
Liturgical language German , French
cathedral St. Ursus Cathedral
address Episcopal Ordinariate
Baselstrasse 58
4501 Solothurn
Website www.bistum-basel.ch
Development of membership numbers

The Roman Catholic diocese of Basel ( Latin Dioecesis Basiliensis ) is an old diocese whose beginnings go back to the 4th century in the time of the Roman Empire . Over the centuries, the bishop had various residential cities in his district , first in Kaiseraugst , then in Basel , later in Pruntrut and to this day in Solothurn .

As the episcopal residence city, Basel has been a spiritual and intellectual attraction for learned clerics and monks for centuries , as well as a place of activity for various orders . A meeting place for an important Roman Catholic church council ( Basel council ) was established here in the 15th century . a. led to the foundation of the University of Basel in 1460 by privilege of Pope Pius II . The city was also the place of work of the Roman Catholic priest , Augustinian canon and humanist Erasmus von Rotterdam , who with his critical new translation of the Greek New Testament into Latin ( Novum Instrumentum omne , a revision of the Vulgate ) among clerics and scholars for Provided topics of conversation and gave rise to theological debates. As a result of the Reformation by the Basel guilds, the cathedral chapter and the Roman Catholic nobility were expelled from Basel in 1529 and the cathedral was taken over. The Reformation had no effect on the secular rule of the bishop as prince-bishop . Since 1828 the city of Solothurn has been the residential city and the official administrative seat of the Bishop of Basel and the early classicistic St. Ursus Cathedral in Solothurn is the cathedral of the diocese; However, Basel still belongs to the diocese of Basel.

From 999 to 1803 the Bishop of Basel was Prince-Bishop , d. H. Bishop of the diocese of Basel and at the same time prince of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and as such a secular sovereign in today's canton of Jura , in the Bernese Jura , in Birseck , in Laufental and in Schliengen , Istein and Binzen in Markgräflerland in Baden - areas that are part of the territory of the principality Basel belonged.

Today the cantons of Aargau , Basel-Landschaft , Basel-Stadt , Bern , Jura , Lucerne , Schaffhausen , Solothurn , Thurgau and Zug belong to the diocese of Basel .



In its beginnings, the diocese of Basel goes back to a diocese based in the Colonia Augusta Raurica , which was initially in the Roman province of Germania superior , then from the year 297 after the Diocletian reform of the empire in the province of Maxima Sequanorum with the civil administrative capital in Besançon , as part of the Gallia Prefecture was in the Diocese of Dioecesis Galliarum . There is evidence that the first bishop Justinian took part in the councils of Serdica in 343 and Cologne in 346. However, as the excavations of the foundations of a late antique church in Kaiseraugst show, there must have been Christian communities in this area before. Around 400, Basilia is first mentioned as a bishopric, which at that time was located on the well-protected Basel Munster hill because of the Alemanni invasions.

The legendary Pantalus , who is venerated as a saint in the diocese , has been the first bishop since the High Middle Ages . In 618, the monk Ragnachar from the Luxeuil monastery bore the title of Bishop of Basel and Augst. Under the reign of the Frankish King Pippin III. († 768) then began with Walaus as bishop an almost complete series of bishops in Basel. At the time of Charlemagne , the diocese of Basel experienced its first heyday under Bishop Haito . Like Waldo , Haito was a monk and abbot of the Reichenau monastery and also a confidante and advisor to the emperor, for whom he traveled in 811 as an envoy to Constantinople to the eastern Roman imperial family and to the patriarch of Constantinople .

Principality of Basel

The secular territory of the bishops of Basel in the 16th century
The Basel Minster was the cathedral of the diocese until the Reformation

In the Middle Ages the Bishop of Basel, like many other bishops, gained secular power and became a prince-bishop . The development of the diocese to the prince-bishopric began in 999 with the donations of the venerable Benedictine abbey Moutier-Grandval , the monastery Saint-Ursanne and the Münstertal in the Jura by the childless King Rudolf III. from Burgundy its beginning. Added later as accesses to the Hauenstein Pass , the Sisgau and the Buchsgau and, outside the diocese , areas on Lake Biel , the Pruntrut rule , the Schliengen bailiwick with Istein and Kleinbasel . The center of the ecclesiastical principality of Basel was the city with its minster and the canons . The greatest extent was the secular rule under Bishop Burkard (1072–1107), who was in the favor of Emperor Henry IV because he supported him in the investiture controversy and even accompanied him to Canossa . The investiture dispute ultimately led to the Worms Concordat of 1122, which in future granted the Pope (and no longer the Emperor) the power to appoint all imperial bishops to their ecclesiastical dignities. This strengthened the ties between the dioceses and thus also the Basel diocese to the Roman curia. Not least because of this, after a long period of stagnation , the scattered and diverse secular possessions and rights of the prince-bishopric slowly began to collapse, with the bishop increasingly influencing the Habsburgs , who were successfully expanding their rule , but also the Basel citizens , who were persistently striving for their autonomy had to admit. The former episcopal cities of Breisach , Neuenburg am Rhein and Rheinfelden were spoiled by the Habsburgs and fell back to the Empire. From the second half of the 13th century onwards, the Habsburg influence also made itself felt to a large extent in Alsace and Basel itself. That is why the bishop consequently directed his territorial policy towards the Jura . The controversial election of bishops of 1436 was negotiated at the Council of Basel that met from 1431 to 1449 . With the beginning of the Reformation, the bishop moved his residence from the city of Basel to the prince-bishop's palace in Pruntrut in 1527, but the cathedral chapter remained in the city until 1529.

Reformation and exile of the Basel cathedral chapter in Freiburg im Breisgau

The coat of arms of the Principality of Basel until 1791: a red bishop's crook on a silver background

On February 9, 1529, a Shrove Tuesday, the Reformed people stormed into the Basel Minster and largely destroyed its furnishings in the iconoclasm on the Basel Minster . Immeasurable sacred art treasures from medieval Basel were lost. Fortunately, the famous Basel cathedral treasure was completely preserved. On May 12th, the canons and chaplains, who had not changed to the Reformation or had moved to their secondary beneficiaries, moved to the Catholic city of Freiburg im Breisgau . There, on August 28, 1529, the cathedral chapter concluded a contract with the city on legal and tax issues, the acquisition of houses, the chapter house and office building as well as the use of the Freiburg Cathedral. With this, Basel ceased to be the seat of the bishop and the cathedral chapter forever. From 1587 the administrative seat of the cathedral chapter was the Stürtzelsche Haus, today called Basler Hof .

Worldly expansion

Secular and spiritual sovereignty of the diocese of Basel in the 15th century

Secular princedom and spiritual diocese were not congruent. The prince-bishop's worldly possessions extended across the Jura chain from Lake Biel to the Burgundian Gate and into the Upper Rhine Plain . The area was linguistically divided into two parts: the majority spoke French, only the offices of Zwingen , Pfeffingen , Birseck , Biel , the three areas on the right bank of the Rhine and the princely court in Pruntrut were in German. The confessional situation was no less complicated: the south of the secular property was Reformed, the north and the German offices were Catholic. The constitutional situation was particularly confusing, as the north belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and, with Mömpelgard ( Montbéliard ) in Württemberg , formed an empire exclave between France and Switzerland. The southern offices, on the other hand, were locked with various Swiss locations . So was the city of Biel with Bern , Freiburg i. Ü. and Solothurn closely connected and was therefore considered a place close to the Swiss Confederation . The prince-bishop was only nominal head of the city. The town of La Neuveville and the Moutier-Grandval Provostry were allied with Bern, the Bellelay Premonstratensian Abbey and the Moutier-Grandval Monastery , based in Delsberg, were allied with Solothurn.

Pruntrut Palace , residence of the Basel prince-bishops from 1527–1792

Prince-Bishop Jakob Christoph Blarer von Wartensee allied himself to counterbalance the influence of Reformed Bern in the southern Jura in 1579 with the seven Catholic towns of the Old Confederation . Since the alliance was renewed again and again until 1735, the prince-bishopric was also considered a part of the Confederation for a time. However, acceptance as the 14th place in the Confederation failed due to the resistance of the Reformed places.

Spiritual expansion

The spiritual diocese, the diocese, was larger than the secular diocese and extended far beyond the prince-bishopric, as it also included parts of Alsace , the Austrian Fricktal and large parts of the canton of Solothurn . Most of the prince-bishopric belonged ecclesiastically to its own diocese, the Ajoie with splendor, the seat of the Basel prince-bishop, was spiritually subordinate to the archbishop of Besançon . For example, the Basel bishop first had to obtain the approval of the responsible bishop of Besançon for all official church acts in his residence city. It was not until 1779 that the Ajoie became part of the diocese of Basel as part of an exchange of territory. The south, south of the Pierre-Pertuis , was part of the Diocese of Lausanne , and the areas on the right bank of the Rhine with the Landvogtei Schliengen belonged to the Diocese of Constance .

The Basel cathedral chapter in Arlesheim

Arlesheim Cathedral , cathedral of the diocese of Basel and seat of the cathedral chapter 1678–1792

In the run-up to the Dutch War between Louis XIV and Emperor Leopold I , as an ally of the Protestant Netherlands , the Basel cathedral chapter in Freiburg was faced with growing difficulties. First of all, the Austrians cut their income in 1670 and in 1672 quartered the army in the Basler Hof. In 1675 the French confiscated the chapter's main income in Alsace and Sundgau. When the troops of Louis XIV then took the city of Freiburg in November 1677, the new rulers did not recognize the cathedral chapter as a neutral body belonging to the diocese of Basel. They kept his income back until the canons left Freiburg and settled in the diocese of Basel. In the Peace of Nijmegen on November 1, 1678, the cathedral chapter was finally granted free travel. At the request of the bishop in Pruntrut, the chapter moved to Arlesheim that same year , which was intended as the new seat. On December 5, 1678, the auxiliary bishop and between December 18 and 19 the other canons arrived in the small farming village of Arlesheim.

Under Bishop Johann Konrad von Roggenbach , it was decided to build a church, a chapter house for shops and files and houses for the cathedral capitulars. In 1681 the Arlesheim Cathedral was consecrated and the canons' houses were occupied.

French Revolution and Fall of the Principality

The Principality of Basel in the 18th century

With the outbreak of the French Revolution , dark clouds were brewing over the principality. Because of its exposed location, it soon felt the effects of the upheaval in France. When the French National Assembly abolished all feudal rights in 1789, the Prince-Bishop and the Cathedral Chapter lost all income from Alsace. Finally, in 1790, Alsace was ecclesiastically separated from the diocese of Basel and placed under the new constitutional diocese of Colmar. In the same year the first revolutionary clubs were formed in the remaining part of the diocese and riots broke out. Emperor Leopold II sent Austrian troops to the beleaguered Prince-Bishop, who in the following weeks marched into Pruntrut from Breisgau via Basel area and put down the uprising. After France declared war on the emperor on April 20, 1792 , French troops marched into the territory of the prince-bishopric. On the night of April 27-28, the prince-bishop and his court left Pruntrut and fled first to Bellelay, then to Biel. From here he tried to achieve the inclusion of the entire prince-bishopric in Helvetic neutrality ; However, he only succeeded to a limited extent with the southern part, as the Reformed cities of Zurich and Basel in particular did not want to take any risks with a challenge from France. After the Tuileries storm in Paris in August 1792, the mood became radicalized, so that in November local revolutionaries with French backing proclaimed the deposition of the Prince-Bishop and the Raurachian Republic proclaimed. With this the bishop had also lost the north of his country and fled to Constance under imperial protection. To administer the southern offices, he set up a Regency Council in Pieterlen near Biel, which was able to continue the administration in the southern, Swiss areas of the prince-bishopric until 1797. The cathedral chapter in Arlesheim kept quiet so as not to attract the attention of France; but on November 23, 1792, French troops entered the village. The chapter had brought its archive and cathedral treasures to Basel in good time. The canons also asked the two cantons of Bern and Basel for military protection; but they were unwilling to risk a conflict with France because of the Basel cathedral chapter. On December 9th, the French placed the canons under house arrest; but with the tolerance of the French commandant in Arlesheim, the canons were gradually able to move to the nearby, neutral canton of Solothurn. In a meeting in Constance with the Prince-Bishop, the chapter, which had melted from 16 to 6 canons, decided to move the seat from Arlesheim back to Freiburg im Breisgau. From May 1793 there were no more canons in Arlesheim. The canons' houses were then plundered, the furniture cut down, the rest of the chapter archive burned and the cathedral used as a cantonment and horse stable.

Prince-Bishop von Roggenbach died on March 9, 1794. The cathedral chapter elected Franz Xaver von Neveu as his successor, canon since 1790 and also pastor in Offenburg . The new prince-bishop initially resided in Offenburg and then went to Constance to join his small government in exile. Between 1794 and 1797 he tried to secure the Helvetic territories for his diocese and to get the occupied northern territories back. He also had the courage to move his seat from Constance to La Neuveville unannounced in the summer of 1796 . However, under pressure from France and neighboring Bern, he had to leave the village again and moved to the Lucerne monastery of St. Urban . On October 17, 1797, the second big blow against the prince-bishopric followed when Austria and France made peace in Campo Formio . The emperor ceded the entire left bank of the Rhine to France in a treaty and also gave France a free hand in Switzerland. On December 14th, French troops marched into the south of the diocese and occupied the Helvetic offices, including Biel. These areas were then made into the Département du Mont Terrible . Thus at the end of 1797 only the small office of Schliengen on the right bank of the Rhine was under the rule of the Prince-Bishop. Bishop of Neveu fled at the end of 1797 with the archives of the archbishopric from St. Urban to Constance on imperial territory and when France invaded Switzerland in early 1798 to Ulm , Passau and finally to Vienna in 1800 . Even the Second War of the Coalition gave no opportunity for the Bishop of Basel to return to his old principality. In the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of February 25, 1803, all ecclesiastical territories except Mainz , the Order of St. John and the Order of Germany were secularized and their territories were given to secular princes. The prince-bishop-Basler Schliengen came to the Margrave of Baden at the end of 1802. The prince-bishop, like all other imperial bishops and imperial abbots, lost his seat in the Reichstag along with his country , but received a pension like the canons. With this, the Principality of Basel finally ceased to exist.

Diocese of Basel

Transition from the prince diocese to the diocese of Basel

The St. Ursus Cathedral in Solothurn has been the cathedral of the diocese of Basel since 1828

After the secularization, the impoverished Franz Xaver von Neveu was only bishop of a Swiss mini-diocese, which consisted of the Fricktal , which has now become Swiss, and part of Solothurn. Neveu returned to his pastorate in Offenburg and tried from there between 1803 and 1813 with the help of the Nuncio in Lucerne to re-establish the diocese of Basel as a Swiss diocese. During the Napoleonic period, Neveu's efforts were in vain; but when the French Empire collapsed at the end of 1813 , he found new hope and asked the three Allied monarchs to restore his prince-bishopric. In the first peace treaty of Paris in 1814, France was restored within its borders on January 1, 1792. This meant that the diocese would become Swiss again, without, however, forming its own canton . In the autumn of 1814 the congress began in Vienna , which should also decide on the prince-bishopric. Prince-Bishop of Neveu had three goals:

  1. the restoration of his worldly rule,
  2. a guarantee for the existence of the diocese of Basel,
  3. securing his pension.

The Congress of Vienna was not inclined to re-establish ecclesiastical principalities after secularization, and distributed the former territory of the Principality of Basel as follows: Most of the Jura gorges and passes went territorially to the Canton of Bern and a smaller part, the Birseck , to the Canton of Basel. At least Neveu was able to enforce his other two demands. The cantons of Bern and Basel had to pay the pensions for him, his canons and some civil servants. The most important success, however, was the guarantee of the existence of a diocese of Basel in the final acts of the Congress of Vienna. This set the course for the restoration of the old bishopric of Basel.

The "new" old diocese of Basel

On September 17, 1814, the area of ​​the diocese of Basel, i.e. the northern part of the Jura and the former German offices, was ecclesiastically subordinate to the former Prince-Bishop Neveu. His diocese, however, consisted de facto only of the Fricktal, which had been Austrian until 1802, today's canton Jura and the share of the diocese of Basel in the canton of Solothurn and was thus hardly viable.

So Neveu continued to advocate the establishment of a larger diocese of Basel, the preservation of the name and splendor as its seat of residence. With the separation of the Swiss part from the Diocese of Constance, the Constance and, in the same year, the Lausanne part of the Canton of Solothurn became the Diocese of Basel, as did the right bank of the Canton of Basel, i.e. H. Kleinbasel , with the newly founded Catholic parish of Basel. In 1820, the canton of Lucerne, which had previously been subject to Konstanz, provisionally joined the diocese of Basel.

In 1828 it came about due to a concordat between Basel, Lucerne, Solothurn and Zug with Pope Leo XII. to re-establish the diocese of Basel with a bishopric in Solothurn.

The cantons of Solothurn, Bern, Zug and Lucerne were actively involved in the re-establishment of the diocese. The reorganization was solemnly announced on July 13, 1828 at the new bishopric in Solothurn . The collegiate monastery of St. Urs and Viktor became the core of the new cathedral chapter, consisting of three capitulars each from the cantons of Lucerne, Bern and one from the canton of Zug.

On August 23, 1828, the former prince-bishop and new bishop of the Basel diocese, Franz Xaver von Neveu, died in Offenburg. As his successor, the provisional general for the canton of Solothurn, Joseph Anton Salzmann , was elected by the cathedral chapter in 1828 .

The canton of Aargau joined the Concordat in December 1828, the canton of Thurgau in April 1829, and in October 1829 the Catholic communities in Birseck were also incorporated into the diocese area. In June 1864, the canton of Bern , whose areas on the left of the Aare had previously belonged to the diocese of Lausanne , joined the Concordat. The canton of Schaffhausen and the rest of the territory of the old canton of Basel (from 1833 half-cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft ) were not officially incorporated into the diocese until May 1978; the canton of Jura , founded in 1979, finally joined the concordat in 1981.

Since the 1970s there has been discussion about reorganizing the diocese of Basel, as it is by far the largest Swiss diocese and is also divided into two parts. In particular, a possible separation of the area of ​​the cantons Thurgau and Schaffhausen, as well as Lucerne, was discussed again and again. Until then, however, there were no visible consequences from this discussion.

Bishop election

A special feature of the diocese of Basel is the election of bishops: as in the noble institution of the prince-bishopric that perished in 1803, the cathedral chapter still has the right to elect bishops. The bishop is elected (not proposed) by the local clergy and can only be confirmed by the Pope. This is almost unique worldwide and can only be found in the diocese of St. Gallen .

Diocesan calendar

In the diocese of Basel, the regional calendar for the German-speaking area is supplemented by the following own celebrations (followed by the rank and the liturgical color ).

Abbreviations: H = solemn festival , F = festival , G = mandatory day of remembrance , g = non-mandatory day of remembrance , GK = general calendar , RK = regional calendar


See also

Web links

Commons : Diocese of Basel  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.bistum-basel.ch/de/Navigation1/uber-uns/Generalvikariat/Generalvikariat.html
  2. K. Schib: World history from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 18th century , 1983.
  3. ^ Dieter Kraus, Schweizerisches Staatskirchenrecht, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1993, p. 320 (note 718).