PUERSTINGER (PIRSTINGER), BERTHOLD: Bishop of Chiemsee; b. at Salzburg (156 m. w.s.w. of Vienna) 1465; d. at Saalfelden (28 m. s.s.w. of Salzburg) July 19, 1543. In 1495 he appears, already a licentiate in law (doctor later), as chamberlain of the archbishop of Salzburg, then as vicar general. In 1508 he became bishop of Chiemsee, having his residence in Salzburg. Thenceforth he was often employed in important matters by Archbishop Leonard (d. 1519) and by his successor, Matthäus Lang (1519-40). He ordained Johann von Staupitz (q.v.) as abbot of St. Peter's in 1522 and thereafter the two men, both gentle, earnest, and spiritual, are repeatedly named together. Lang's energetic reformatory measures accorded with Berthold's deepest wishes, and he seems to have both inspired them and given them expression. When Berthold was sent to suppress the Lutherans in Kitzbühel he accomplished little, his retiring nature being unfitted for decisive action. Nor did he have the necessary practical endowments for the external duties of his episcopal office or the strenuous zeal requisite to uphold its secular and financial rights against the nobles. In 1525 at his own request on the ground of age and physical weakness he was given a coadjutor. His Onus ecclesi had appeared in 1524 and Archbishop Lang was anxious that Berthold should continue his literary work. In retirement at the monastery of Raitenshaslach, near Burghausen, he finished his Tewtsche Theologey toward the end of 1527 (Munich, 1528; Latin transl., Augsburg, 1531; ed. W. Reithmeier, Munich, 1852). The translation was made at Saalfelden, whither Berthold had retired permanently, and there he wrote also Tewtsch Rational über das Ambt heiliger mess and Keligpuchel Ob der Kelig ausserhalb der mess zeraichen sey (Munich, 1535). In 1532 he founded a brotherhood in Saalfelden and later erected for it an asylum, primarily for poor priests, though laymen and women were admitted if they were not Lutherans. The inscription over Berthold's grave, in which he was called father of the poor, was preserved in the Saalfelden church till 1811.
Berthold's writings have far more interest than the deeds of his active and public life; and they reveal the man with no less clearness. The Onus ecclesi was published anonymously (Landshut, 1524, Cologne, 1531, 2d ed. revised, Augsburg, 1531), but there is no doubt about his authorship. As early as 1548 it appears in a Venetian index of heretical books and in 1550 in the Louvain index. From the latter it passed to the Roman, but since Benedict XIV. has been omitted. Berthold's purpose is to call to repentance and reform; for this end he depicts in dark colors the "burden" which lies on the entire Church-a twofold weight of guilt and impending punishment, in which all are involved, but especially Rome and the clergy. The Turks, who were then threatening eastern Europe, are an instrument of the merited doom; and the "reformation" by which the Church was already divided forebodes more to come. The whole is worked up in apocalyptic manner in connection with the last days. Joachim of Fiore, the revelations of St. Bridget, and other productions of the contemporary medieval prophetism furnished material, with which personal observations and experience are interwoven, so that the whole presents a well-ordered and illuminating picture of conditions in South Germany and the archdiocese of Salzburg. Escape is possible only by a true reform; and its nature and method have already been indicated by Francis of Assisi. The poverty of the mendicant monks is the ideal toward which the Church, the papacy, and the clergy must strive by renouncing worldly goods; the immediate means for its attainment is a free general council "where expression is allowed to the lowly and faithful." The attitude toward indulgences is significant; their abuse is characteristic of the present evil time and will destroy the Church if not checked. The most carefully written chapter of the book (xv.) treats of this theme and it accords fully with Luther's ideas and utterances.
- The Tewtsche Theologey (for editions see above) is the first extended Roman Catholic treatise on dogmatics in the German language and the first comprehensive and systematic presentation of the Roman doctrine in opposition to the Reformation. It thus has importance as literature and linguistically; and is directly connected with the beginnings of the Counter-Reformation. The occasion and aim are stated in the preface-to lead back the misguided to the right faith and to set forth the truth. The polemical purpose is evident in the attempt to speak "from Scripture and the teachers, especially Augustine," and in the selection and arrangement of the material (faith and justification are put first). The dogmas and ethics set forth are really based on Thomas, but in the distorted form usual in the later Middle Ages. Anselm, Bernard, Bonaventura, Duns Scotus especially, all had influence, the prophets of the Onus are sometimes heard, and interesting reminiscences of Nicholas of Cusa and mysticism (Tauler) come to view. Indulgences are regarded quite as in the Onus and there are other resemblances between the two books. But the tone is different. A polemical antireformation note is struck in the Theologey which places it in the Roman reaction. Luther's justification by faith alone is repudiated; the power and privileges of the pope are emphasized. Thus the call to repentance of the earlier book is weakened. Berthold's personality, however, is the same in both works; he is sensible and upright, thorough, inclined to traditionalism and repelled by humanism, defective in academic training. The Theologey had only a limited influence either in the original language or in the Latin translation; it was too minute and pretentious, too clumsy in disputation, and admitted too candidly the faults of the Church.
- (JOHANNES FICKER.)