Thomas Michels OSB established the ifz in 1961


It was in in 1929, when Thomas Michels OSB followed the wish of his abbot Ildefons Herwegen and came to Salzburg as a lecturer for the history of liturgy and the history of religion. Together with two brothers, he established the “Salzburger Hochschulwochen”, an event that was meant to be a preliminary stage of an intended Catholic University, because the former university had been secularized after the liberation wars and closed in 1810.

Foundation and early years


The ifz’s primary and actual function has always been to work towards a holistic scientific demonstration of reality. This aim – a contribution towards a genuine universitas scientiarum in modern times – was to be prepared and attained through the research of individual institutes using dialogical methods.

Dr. Andreas Rohracher the Archbishop of Salzburg at the time, opened the “International Research Centre for Fundamental Scientific Questions” in 1961. The canonical construction took place in 1964 in the name of the Austrian Bishops conference (original statute, 19th April 1964), and the approval from the Federal Government´s Education Department took place three years later in 1964.

In 2009, the ifz was once again reorganized.


By January 2009, the ifz was fundamentally reorganized. Some of the previous institutes continued to exist as independent institutions. Univ. Prof. Clemens Sedmak was appointed the ifz’s new president by Archbishop Alois Kothgasser. Under Sedmak’s management, the ifz developed its new focus on the field of applied social ethics.

Edith Stein Our house patron


Edith Stein, the patron of our house, was a philosopher, feminist, catholic nun of Jewish descent, and a martyr. Pope John Paul II beatified her as the first catholic martyr of Jewish descent in May 1987 and canonized her in October 1998. In 1999, Edith Stein was declared as the patron of Europe. Her fest day is August 9th