Franz Hengsbach

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Franz Hengsbach bust in the Cardinal Hengsbach House in Essen-Werden
Silke Rehberg (2011): Hengsbach installation at Essen Minster
Franz Hengsbach is named on the honor roll of former students of the Theodorianum high school in Paderborn. (Right side, second from bottom)
Cardinal coat of arms

Franz Cardinal Hengsbach (born September 10, 1910 in Velmede , † June 24, 1991 in Essen ) was the first bishop of Essen . His appointment as cardinal was announced on May 29, 1988 by Pope John Paul II .


Franz Hengsbach was born as the first of eight children to the married couple Johann and Theresia Hengsbach. His uncle Konrad Hengsbach was pastor of the parish of St. Joseph in Gelsenkirchen-Schalke from 1922 to 1952 . Hengsbach attended the Petrinum Brilon grammar school from 1925 to 1926 , and from 1926 he prepared for the Abitur at the Theodorianum grammar school in Paderborn , which he completed there on March 6, 1931. During this time he lived in the Liborianum boys' seminar in Paderborn.


After graduating from high school, Hengsbach entered the Archbishop's Theologian Convict in Paderborn, where he studied philosophy and Catholic theology . In 1933 he moved to the University of Freiburg , where he became a member of the KDStV Hercynia Freiburg in the CV , and in 1934 returned to Paderborn. 1944 was followed by the promotion of Dr. theol. at the University of Münster with Adolf Donders with a dissertation on The Essence of Annunciation - A homiletic investigation based on Pauline principles . He was also a member of the VKDSt Saxonia Münster and the AV Alsatia Münster.

Church career

On March 13, 1937, Franz Hengsbach was ordained a priest by Archbishop Caspar Klein in Paderborn and that year took up his first position as vicar in the parish of St. Marien in Herne - Baukau . From 1946 to 1948 he was General Secretary of the Academic Bonifatius Association and in 1947 he also worked as General Secretary in preparation for the German Catholic Days and was responsible for the 73rd German Catholic Day in Bochum .

In 1948 he moved to the head of the Archbishop's Pastoral Office of the Archdiocese of Paderborn , which he headed until 1958. During this time he was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of German Catholics and was appointed Papal House Prelate in 1952, as well as being appointed Titular Bishop of Cantanus and Auxiliary Bishop in Paderborn on August 20, 1953.

The episcopal consecration by Paderborn Archbishop Lorenz Jaeger took place on September 29, 1953 in Paderborn Cathedral ; Co- consecrators were Auxiliary Bishop Friedrich Maria Rintelen and Bishop Wilhelm Weskamm of Berlin . On November 18, 1957, Hengsbach was appointed bishop of the newly founded diocese of Essen and enthroned on January 1, 1958 . His bishop's ring, now on display in the Essen Cathedral Treasury , was adorned with an edged piece of coal instead of a precious stone . With this he expressed his connection to the Ruhr area. In 1960 he was appointed by Pope John XXIII. Appointed to the Council Preparatory Commission for Lay Work. In addition to his function as Bishop of Essen, he was also a Catholic military bishop for the German Armed Forces from 1961 to 1978 , but since 1968 he has also been responsible for pastoral care for alternative service providers . He founded the episcopal press office in the diocese of Essen. At its time, this facility was the only one in Germany. He also enjoyed a long friendship with its director Wilhelm Bettecken .

In 1973 he was called to serve as a member of the Roman Congregation for the Clergy and the Central Committee for the Holy Year . On May 29, 1988, Pope John Paul II announced his appointment as cardinal ; the admission as a cardinal priest in the college of cardinals took place in the consistory of June 28, 1988 in Rome . He took possession of his titular church Nostra Signora di Guadalupe on December 10, 1988.

His resignation, which according to the provisions of the Codex Iuris Canonici, every bishop submits at the age of 75, was only accepted by Pope John Paul II after five years on February 21, 1991, which can be seen as a great recognition of his life's work. After a serious illness, he died in the early morning hours of June 24, 1991 in the Elisabeth Hospital in Essen and was buried in the west crypt (today: Adveniatkrypta) of Essen Cathedral, designed by Emil Wachter in 1981 . His successor on the Essen bishopric was Hubert Luthe in 1991 .

Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulcher

In 1954 he was appointed Knight of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher by Cardinal Grand Master Nicola Cardinal Canali and invested in the Church of St. Andrew's Basilica on December 8, 1954 by Lorenz Jaeger , Grand Prior of the German Lieutenancy ; lastly in the rank of Grand Cross Knight .

From 1975 to 1991 he was Grand Prior of the German Lieutenancy of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

For his work in the Holy Land he was awarded the Golden Palm of Jerusalem by Cardinal Grand Master Maximilien de Fürstenberg in 1979 .


Kidnapping of Theo Albrecht

On November 29, 1971, Theo Albrecht , one of the two Aldi owners, was kidnapped. The kidnapping lasted 17 days and only ended when Franz Hengsbach handed over a ransom of seven million marks.

The ransom was handed over by the bishop in agreement with the Albrecht family. The investigations senior police superintendent of food, Hans Kirchhoff had for Hengsbach the 82nd German Catholic organized in 1968 in Essen. He saw in the Bishop of Essen the person who could inspire the kidnappers with the greatest trust.

Due to the involvement of the bishop, Hengsbach was briefly discussed in 1988 as a mediator in the Gladbeck hostage drama .

Withdrawal of Uta Ranke-Heinemann's teaching permit

On June 9, 1987, the Auxiliary Bishop of Essen, Wolfgang Große , asked theology professor Uta Ranke-Heinemann to issue a binding declaration on the subject of the virgin birth , because her statements in this regard in the media had caused irritation. But after she insisted on her opinion in a TV program of the West-3 magazine "Gott und die Welt", topic: Virgo birth (June 13, 1987, 10:45 pm) that the virgin birth should not be understood biologically, Hengsbach withdrew his letter to the minister responsible for teaching on June 15, 1987.


Honorary doctorates

Honorary professorships

Church honorary degrees


Other honors

  • In his home town of Velmede a bridge was named after him Cardinal Hengsbach Bridge .
  • The episcopal conference center for priestly training, pastoral education and retreats in the diocese of Essen is called Cardinal-Hengsbach-Haus .
  • On October 13, 2011 , a monument to Hengsbach was unveiled in the courtyard of Essen Cathedral, north of Essen's Burgplatz . The colored bronze figure, designed by the sculptor Silke Rehberg from Münsterland , was financed by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation and Evonik Industries .
  • Hengsbach was a supporter of FC Schalke 04 . The association made him an honorary member.


  • Diocese of Essen (ed.): A man from the Ruhr. One of us: Bishop Franz Hengsbach. Bochum 1985.
  • Hans Jürgen Brandt, Klaus Hellmich: Contemporary witness Cardinal Franz Hengsbach. In memory of the founding bishop of the Essen diocese 1910–1991. Kamp, Bochum 1991, ISBN 3-592-87801-8 .
  • Ekkart SauserHengsbach, Franz. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 19, Bautz, Nordhausen 2001, ISBN 3-88309-089-1 , Sp. 652-654.
  • Norbert Schäfer: Franz Cardinal Hengsbach in memory. Address for the inauguration of the memorial stone for the first bishop of Essen in front of the Velmed parish church on June 23, 1996. In: Peter Häger, Detlef Müller: Church on the upper Ruhr. The parish of St. Andreas Velmede in the past and present. Freiburg 2000, ISBN 3-934756-00-X , pp. 390–395.
  • Reimund Haas , Jürgen Bärsch (ed.): Ruhrbishop Franz Cardinal Hengsbach. Aspects of his episcopate 1958–1961–1991–1992. Münster / Essen 2012 (= contributions and miscelles. Volume 7).

Record release

For the Holy Year 1975, Hengsbach published a series of short meditations on record entitled praying together .

Web links

Commons : Franz Hengsbach  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Chronicle of the pastors at St. Joseph Schalke
  2. ↑ List of high school graduates of the Association of Former Theodorians , Bonifatius-Druckerei, Paderborn 1985, p. 18.
  3. Ekkart SauserHengsbach, Franz. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 19, Bautz, Nordhausen 2001, ISBN 3-88309-089-1 , Sp. 652-654.
  4. Complete directory of the CV. 1969, Munich 1969, p. 494.
  5. ^ The publications in Rheinischer Merkur from June 12th / 26th. June 1987 and the numerous mirror articles as well as other media reports do not convey a uniform overall picture of this process.
  6. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF; 6.9 MB)
  7. Honorary Citizen of the UDE , UDE, accessed on July 13, 2012
  8. of October 13, 2011: Memorial for the smiling Ruhr Bishop Hengsbach ; Rheinische Post November 7, 2011: Dispute over the Essen bishop sculpture
  9. June 24, 2006 - 15 years ago: Ruhr Bishop Franz Hengsbach dies in Essen
  10. The foundation of the Ruhr diocese
predecessor Office successor
- Bishop of Essen
Hubert Luthe
Joseph Cardinal Wendel Military bishop for the German Armed Forces
Elmar Maria Kredel
Lorenz Cardinal Jaeger Croix de l Ordre du Saint-Sepulcre.svg Grand Prior of the German Lieutenancy of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem
Anton Schlembach