Berthold of Chiemsee

A German bishop and theological writer, b. 1465 at Salzburg, Austria; d. 19 July, 1543, at Saalfelden (duchy of Salzburg). His real name was Berthold Pürstinger, frequently called Pirstinger; but he is generally known as Berthold of Chiemsee, from his episcopal see, situated on one of the islands of the Bavarian lake of Chiemsee. We have but little information regarding his early life. He was licentiate in civil, and doctor in ecclesiastical law, and in 1495 he appears as the Magister Cameræ of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and in 1508 was appointed Bishop of Chiemsee. During his episcopal career (1508-25), he resided at Salzburg, in the quality of coadjutor to the archbishop of the latter place.

Berthold twice conspicuously used his influence with the Archbishop of Salzburg in behalf of the unfortunate: in 1511 in favour of the Salzburg town-councillors who had been condemned for high treason, and again in 1524 in the interest of the rebellious peasants. He was present at the Provincial Council of Salzburg (1512), and also took an active part in 1522 in that of Mühldorf (Bavaria), which was convened to devise means of stemming the tide of Lutheran progress. Soon after, he resigned his bishopric (1526) and retired to the monastery of Raitenhaslach on the Austro-Bavarian frontier. In 1528, or 1529, he removed to Saalfelden, where he founded (1533) a hospital with a church for infirm priests. He died there and was buried in the parish church.

After his resignation of his episcopal functions Berthold devoted his time to literary pursuits. At the suggestion of Matthew Lang, the Cardinal Archbishop of Salzburg, (1519-40), he wrote his "Tewtsche Theologey" (German Theology Munich, 1528) and translated it afterwards into Latin Augsburg, 1531). Earnestness in the suppression of abuses and mildness in his dealings with others were characteristic traits of Berthold, and they appear also in his works; his "Theology" does not bear the bitterly polemical stamp of similar contemporaneous writings. The work does not seem to have been in great demand, as neither the original nor the translation was reprinted until Reithmeier re-edited the work (1852). The book, however, was important. The German original is valuable from both a linguistic and theological point of view. Linguistically, it proves that Luther was not the only able exponent of religious doctrines in the vernacular; theologically, it exhibits the character of Catholic teaching at the time.

The other writings of Berthold

From the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 Online at

In 1214 the Rhine Palatinate was united to Bavaria. Louis II (1253-94) was succeeded by his son Louis III (known as Emperor Louis IV of the Holy Roman Empire) who, by an agreement in 1329 at Pavia, took Bavaria proper, leaving to Rudolph, his brother, the Rhine Palatinate. The large possessions which Louis III secured for his family (Holland, Brandenburg, the Tyrol, etc.) were lost to his successors by discord and successive partitions. Albert IV, however, reunited the country into one domain and secured it against further division by his law of 1506. His son William IV (1508-50) and his grandson Albert V (1550-79) prevented Lutheran and Anabaptist doctrines from entering Bavarian territory. During the reign of William V (1579-98) and still more during the reign of Maximilian I (1598-1651), Bavaria stood at the head of the counter-Reformation and the Catholic League. To these two rulers it was due that the progress of the Reformation was checked, and that some of the territory which had been affected by it was restored to the Church.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 Online at

As was to be expected, mysticism went astray in this period and degenerated into sham pietism. A striking example of this is the anonymous "German Theology", edited by Martin Luther. This work must, however, not be confounded with the "German Theology" of the pious bishop Berthold of Chiemsee (d. 1543), which, directed against the Reformers, is imbued with the genuine spirit of the Catholic Church.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 Online at

Bishop Berthold Purstinger of Chiemsee believed that the locusts of the sixth trumpeting angel in the book of Revelation were the Lutherans.