Religion: The Bishop Who Was a Major

At first glance, the life story of Matthias Defregger would seem to be a German version of The Cardinal, that durable novel about clerical success. Born in Munich, he was a bright boy, the grandson of a successful 19th century Bavarian painter, the son of a well-known sculptor. Before World War II he studied philosophy at a Jesuit college. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he was released from service in 1945 as a major, wearing the coveted Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross). Then, at 31, Defregger decided to become a priest. He was or dained in 1949 and assigned to a small church in...

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