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Karl Zell

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Statesman, philologist, and defender of the rights of the Church, b. at Mannheim, 8 April, 1793; d. at Freiburg, 24 January, 1873. He attended the high-school of his native town, and studied philology at the Universities of Heidelberg, Gottingen, and Breslau (1810-14). In 1814 he became professor at the lyceum at Rastatt, in 1821 professor of classical philology at the University of Freiburg, where he soon attained prominence by his work as teacher and author. As representative of the university in the Upper Chamber of the Diet of Baden during the years 1831-35, he advocated a thorough reform of the high-school system of Baden and the establishment of a special board for the supervision and encouragement of the higher studies. Zell undertook the execution and completion of the new system, having been appointed ministerial councillor and member of the new council of higher studies. In 1848 he returned to academic work as professor of archaeology at the University of Heidelberg, in which capacity he developed a large and many-sided activity. He was elected (1848) a member of the Lower Chamber of the Diet of Baden, in which he was a deputy until 1855. In the severe struggles for its rights which the Church had at that time in Baden, then ruled by the Liberals, Zell courageously and unweariedly defended it by speech and writing, a championship in which he stood almost alone. The fame he won far beyond the boundaries of Baden led to his election as president of the congresses for Catholic Germany held at Munster in 1852 and at Vienna in 1853. During the Revolution of 1848-49 his loyalty to the grand-duke never wavered, just as his loyalty to the Church never changed. He refused to recognize the provisional revolutionary government which ruled Baden after the flight of the grand-duke or to take the oath to it. In 1855 Zell retired from the service of the State, and in 1857 settled at Freiburg. In the ecclesiastico-political battles in which Archbishop Hermann Bikari became involved with the Government of Baden for its active adherence to the Kulturkampf policy, Zell was the archbishop's constant adviser and active assistant. As a speaker at assemblies, in pamphlets and articles for periodicals and newspapers, like the "Freiburger Kirchenblatt" and the "Historisch-Politische Blatter", he constantly defended the rights of the Church, Christian schools, religious orders, and refuted the calumnies circulated against the Church. A permanent memorial of his labours for the head of the Church is the St. Michaelsverein (St. Michael's Association) for the Archdiocese of Freiburg, which he founded, in order to organize the gifts of the faithful for the Holy Father (Peterspence); the society still flourishes in the archdiocese. As an author he wrote on a great variety of subjects, devoting himself especially to Aristotle, Calderon, Shakespeare, and the history of Baden. Works still valuable are: "Fereinschriften" (3 vols., Freiburg, 1826-33; new series, 1857); "Treatise on St. Lioba" (Freiburg, 1860); and historical articles for the "Freiburger Diözesanarchiv".


WEECH, Badische Biographien, 534-37, contains a list of his most important writings; HANSEN, Lebensbilder deutscher Katholiken, V (Paderborn, 1910)

About this page

APA citation. Lins, J. (1912). Karl Zell. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Lins, Joseph. "Karl Zell." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to all who defend the Catholic Faith.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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