Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Heinrich Joseph Wetzer

Learned Orientalist, born at Anzefahr in Hesse-Cassel, 19 March, 1801; died at Freiburg in Baden, 5 November, 1853. He studied theology and Oriental languages at the universities of Marburg (1820-3), Tübingen (1823), and Freiburg (1824), and was graduated as doctor of theology and philosophy at Freiburg in 1824. He continued the study of Arabic, Persian and Syriac for eighteen months at the University of Paris, under the celebrated Orientalists De Sacy and Quatremere. At the royal library of Paris he discovered an Arabian manuscript containing the history of the Coptic Christians in Egypt from their origin to the fourteenth century, which he afterwards edited in Arabic and Latin: "Taki-eddini Makrizii historia Coptorum Christianorum in Ægypto" (Sulzbach, 1828). In 1828 he became professor-extraordinary, and in 1830 professor-ordinary, of Oriental philology at the University of Freiburg. His interest in preserving the Catholic character of Freiburg, which had been founded and endowed as a Catholic university, incurred for him the odium of the Protestant professors, who, being in the majority since 1846, excluded him from all academic positions. He was nevertheless appointed chief librarian of the university library in 1850. With a view to maintaining the Catholic character of the university, he composed anonymously the little work "Die Universitat Freiburg nach ihrem Ursprunge..." (Freiburg, 1844). He had also begun a history of the controversy between Arianism and the Catholic Church in the fourth century, but only a small part of it was completed and published as "Restitutio verae chronologiae rerum ex controversiis Arianis, inde ab anno 325 usque ad annum 350 exortarum..." (Frankfort, 1827). His greatest achievement is the part he took in the production of the first edition of the "Kirchenlexikon" for which he drew up the "Nomenclator" and which he edited conjointly with Benedict Welte.

GYORY in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, XLII (Leipzig, 1897), 261-3.