- Neumayr, Franz
- Known name forms: Neumayr, Franz
- Born: 1697, died: 1765
Van der Veldt discerns five important points of focus in Neumayr’s biography, which coincide with the most important duties he performed.
1. His first important function was that of popular missionary in Salzburg. The disputable methods he used in this function led to a riot of many Crypto-protestants in the area and subsequently to the exile of over 19,000 Protestants from Salzburg to Eastern Prussia.
2. As professor of rhetoric at the Jesuit college of Munich (1731-1736) and as praeses of the Latin Marian congregation (1739-1730), Neumayr wrote six tragedies (Theatrum Politicum), a musical drama and more than thirty scenic meditations (Theatrum Asceticum). In his dramaturgy, Neumayr admired Corneille and Gottsched. The influence of French classicism is recognizable in the strictly rational structure of his plays and the strong moral-pedagogic tendencies. Nevertheless, he adapted their theories to his own insights, allowing the use of baroque style prologues and interludes. Neumayr’s use of dramatized meditations was innovative. He grouped four or five meditations on the same theme in the lent term and connected the themes of meditational drama of a number of years, representing each year a subsequent phase from Loyola’s spiritual exercises. Neumayr’s theoretical ideas are expressed in his ‘Idea Rhetoricae’ and ‘Idea Poeseos’.
3. In 1752, Neumayr participated in a fierce polemic with the ex-Benedictine Rothfischer, who had defended his exit from the Catholic church and support for the Lutheran confession in a harsh and denigrating account of the Catholic church in Bavaria, focusing on the Jesuit educational institutes in Ingolstadt. Neumayr, at the time regent of the convict in Ingolstadt, reacted with three polemical writings, in which he refuted Rothfischer’s arguments for his transition to the Lutheran church (the finger of God, Rothfischer’s historical studies and Wolff’s philosophy). Neumayr’s polemical writings were reprinted frequently and made him well-known.
4. Neumayr’s final office, that of cathedral preacher in Augsburg (1753-1763) made him even more famous (and infamous, among his enemies) through his four yearly controversial theological sermons. These sermons were rhetorically strong and their themes were first taken from recent Protestant publications and later from deistic writings, in which questions on revelation were central.
5. Neumayr’s ascetic books for clergymen, monastics and laymen are all written in the spirit of the Ignatian Spiritual exercises. His Idea Theologiae Asceticae, which appeared posthumously in 1781 gives a short summary of Neumayr’s ascetic writings. It was one of his most successful and influential works.