Karl Suso Frank

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Karl Suso Frank OFM (born January 27, 1933 in Wiblingen as Karl Frank ; † January 4, 2006 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German Roman Catholic theologian and church historian .


Karl Frank was a child of the basket maker couple Anna and Benedikt Frank, he had seven other siblings. Characterized by his hometown Wiblingen (a district of Ulm), his school days with the Franciscans in Hadamar and his contact with the Franciscan monastery in Ulm , Frank joined the Thuringian province of the Franciscan Order in 1952 and received the order name Suso . His brother Isnard Wilhelm Frank became a Dominican and later professor for Middle and Modern Church History at the University of Mainz . The two brothers were jointly ordained priests in 1958 by the Cologne Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ferche .

Karl Suso Frank first studied philosophy and theology at the religious colleges in Sigmaringen and Fulda . From 1959 he studied church history, history, archeology and art history in Münster and received his doctorate in 1963 under Bernhard Kötting at the Catholic-Theological Faculty of the University of Münster . There he became a member of the Catholic student association Hansea-Halle zu Münster in the KV , to which he remained closely connected until his death.

From 1963 to 1964 Frank was an assistant at the Institute for Religious Folklore of the University of Münster, then until 1969 lecturer - this is the Franciscan term for professors - for ancient church history and patrology at the Franciscan religious colleges in Fulda and Münster. From 1965 to 1967 he was a fellow of the German Research Foundation with study visits to Lyon , Rome and Göttingen . After completing his habilitation in the subjects of Ancient Church History, Patrology and Christian History of Piety in Münster in 1968, Frank immediately received an appointment as Professor of Ancient Church History and Patrology at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Mainz . From 1974 until his retirement in 2000 he was Professor of Ancient Church History and Patrology at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau Three times - 1976/77, 1985/86 and 1994/95 - he was Dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Freiburg.

Frank died on January 4, 2006 shortly before the age of 73.


Karl Suso Frank enjoyed a great reputation as a scientist. His lectures were extremely popular with students because of their liveliness and brilliance. His importance as a historian is based in particular on his overview works on ancient church history , which have become standard works, and on his numerous works on the history of monasticism , which have been translated into several languages. In addition, he published numerous writings on art history topics. For the Lexicon for Theology and Church alone he wrote 625 articles. His almost unmistakable publications brought Frank a high reputation internationally, his research was recognized by membership in several academies and international scientific associations.

From 1983 to 1997 Frank was chairman of the Church History Association of the Archdiocese of Freiburg , he also published several works on the history of the Upper Rhine and Freiburg dioceses.


Karl Suso Frank's work as a church historian was honored, among other things, by being awarded the Werner Heisenberg Medal by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and by being awarded the Konrad plaque, the highest distinction of the Archdiocese of Freiburg . He was also a member of the Bavarian Benedictine Academy .


  • Stephan Ch. Kessler : Academic recognition for Karl Suso Frank OFM on the occasion of his retirement. In: Thuringia Franciscana 55 (2000), pp. 436-442.
  • Hugo Ott : In memoriam: Professor Dr. theol. Karl Suso Frank OFM . In: Freiburg Diocesan Archive 125, 2005, pp. 367–370.
  • Bernward Schmidt : Karl Suso Frank . In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 27, Bautz, Nordhausen 2007, ISBN 978-3-88309-393-2 , Sp. 457-462.
  • Peter Kranz: Karl Suso Frank . In: Siegfried Koß, Wolfgang Löhr (Hrsg.): Biographisches Lexikon des KV. 7th part (= Revocatio historiae. Volume 9). Akadpress, Essen 2010, ISBN 978-3-939413-12-7 , pp. 48-49 (with numerous other references).

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