Thomas Michels OSB established the ifz in 1961

Thomas Michels establishes 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.

This intended Catholic university, where, based on the American example, teaching and research were meant to be separated, was never realized. In 1961, Michels established the “Internationales Forschungszentrum” (international research centre) on the Mönchsberg and he was the institution’s president until 1977. He remained in the directorate of the “Institute for Religious Studies and Theology” until he passed away.

Thomas Michels is known to be one of the great figures of German and Austrian Catholicism during the 20th century. His unfaltering resistance against the National Socialists is just as admirable as his virtually global pastoral care (which he exercised from his monk’s room at Salzburg’s Nonnberg). As a result of his biography, he was cosmopolitan and wise. Through his presidency of the ifz, he was able to realize his wish to support young researchers.