POESCHL, pū´shl, THOMAS: Austrian chiliast; b. at Höritz (20 m. s.w. of Budweis), Bohemia, Mar. 2, 1769; d. at Vienna Nov. 15, 1837. He was educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood at Linz and Vienna, and after ordination became, in 1804, cooperator, catechist, and director of the school at Braunau-on-the-Inn. In 1806 he attended the Protestant Johann Philipp Palm at his execution, and became filled with wild hatred of Napoleon, while his impassioned, sermons caused some to regard him as a saint and others as a maniac. At this crisis he came into contact with the mystic and chiliastic Roman Catholic " Brothers and Sisters in Zion," and was accordingly removed to Ampfelwang, whither the " Brothers and Sisters " also transferred their headquarters. The great battle of Leipsic, however, caused his insanity to become unmistakable. Supported by the revelations of a certain Magdalena Sickinger, he now proclaimed himself called to convert the Jews and to found the true Judeo-Catholic Church. In spite of all efforts to suppress him, he continued to promulgate his doctrines at Vocklabruck and Salzburg. Finally, in 1817, he was committed to the hospital for the clergy at Vienna, where he remained until his death.

Under the leadership of a peasant named Johann Haas, the followers of Pöschl went on to still wilder vagaries than their leader, though without falling into sensuality or giving a single addition to Protestantism. Even when deserted by Haas and Magdalena Sickinger, they remained true to Pöschl, who had adherents a generation later, not only in Bohemia, but also in Baden, Franconia, Hesse, and Frankfort, while in 1831 some fifty emigrated to Louisiana, where they made an unsuccessful at tempt at communism. His three great tenets were the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith, the conversion of the Jews, and the repentance of the Christians; and he likewise advocated the use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the administration of the Eucharist under both kinds, and the rejection of images.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Würth, Die protestantische Pfarrey Vöklabruck (1818-18,136). Ein Beitrag zur Kenntniss . . der Pöschlianer, Marktbreit, 1825; M. Hiptmair, Thomas Pöschl im Lichte seiner Selbstbiographie, Vienna, 1893; T. Wiedemann, Die religiose Bewegung in Oberöstereich .... beim Beginne des 19. Jahrhunderts, Innsbruck, 1890; ADB, xxvi. 454-55; KL, x. 118-121.


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