He was the archbishop of Esztergom, cardinal, leader of the counter-reformation, writer, preacher and representative of the Baroque. A versatile man, who was born 445 years ago.

He was born into an ancestral noble family in 1750 in Várad (later Nagyvárad). His family was present in the Hungarian history since the time of the kings of the Árpád dynasty. At the time of his birth, his family was Calvinistic but their conversion to Catholicism came when he was 12 years old. These kinds of conversions were general in that time, a time when your religion determined your political faith, your outlook on life and how much you could vindicate your interests.

The previously committed Calvinist family turned into a committed Catholic family, which meant that they accepted the Habsburg dynasty as the one and only authority. The church serving the Habsburgs has wanted to form the conversions into a counter movement against reformation. This aspiration was the counter-reformation and its main organisation was the Jesuits. Péter Pázmány became a Jesuit and the main figure of the Hungarian counter-reformation.

Pázmány was first an exceptional follower, then an exceptional leader and the educator of his whole nation. He studied at the best universities of Europe. His writings are the most beautiful fulfilments of the Hungarian Baroque. He looked at his literary work as part of his service for the Catholic Church but they became the universal sources of national values, morals.

These are Dezső Kosztolányi’s thoughts: “He is the father and legislator of the Hungarian prose…When I read his work, I don’t feel the need for neology, and I don’t see the absence which was realised after a whole century, in the beginning of the 18th century.”

He founded a seminary (Pázmáneum) in 1623 in Vienna which still operates up to this day. He founded a university in 1635 in Nagyszombat with theological and liberal arts faculties. Its assigns are the Eötvös Lóránd University and the Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Photo: MTI

He died in 1637. He was undoubtedly one of the significant figures of his time. He left a rich legacy for us.

Written by Alexandra Béni

Source: Daily News Hungary

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