Péter Pázmány de Panasz (4 October 1570 – 19 March 1637) was a Hungarian philosopher, theologian, catholic cardinal, pulpit orator and statesman. He was an important figure in the Counter-Reformation in Royal Hungary.
His most important legacy was his creation of the Hungarian literary language. As an orator he was dubbed "the Hungarian Cicero in the purple". In 1867, a street in Vienna, the Pazmanitengasse, was named after him.
Péter Pázmány was born in Nagyvárad (today Oradea, Romania) and was educated there and in Kolozsvár, which is where he converted from the Calvinist Reformed Church of Hungary to Roman Catholicism in 1583, partly under the influence of his stepmother. In 1587 he entered the Jesuit Order. Pázmány went through his probation at Kraków, took his degree in Vienna, studied theology at Rome, and finally completed his academic course at the Jesuit college in Graz. In 1601 he was sent to the Order's establishment at Sellye (today Šaľa, Slovakia), where his eloquence and dialectic won hundreds to Catholicism, including many of the noblest families. Prince Miklós Esterházy and Pál Rákóczi were among his converts.
In 1607 he was assigned as archbishop of Esztergom, and in the following year attracted attention in the Diet by his denunciation of the eighth point of the Peace of Vienna, which prohibited the Jesuits from acquiring landed property in Hungary. At about the same time Pope Paul V, on the petition of Emperor Matthias, released Pázmány from his religious vows. On 25 April 1616 he was made dean of Turóc (Slovak Turiec), and on 28 September he became primate of Hungary. He received the red hat of Cardinal from Pope Urban VIII in 1629. Pázmány was the soul of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Hungary.
Particularly remarkable is his Guide to Truth, which appeared in 1613. This manual united all the advantages of scientific depth, methodical arrangement and popular style. As the chief pastor of the Hungarian church, Pázmány used every means in his power, short of absolute contravention of the laws, to obstruct and weaken Protestantism, which had risen during the 16th century. In 1619 he founded a seminary for theological candidates at Nagyszombat (today: Trnava, Slovakia), and in 1623 laid the foundations of a similar institution at Vienna, the still famous Pázmáneum, at a cost of 200,000 florins. In 1635 he contributed 100,000 florins towards the foundation of the University in Nagyszombat (today's Trnava). The Faculty of Theology was later turned into Pázmány Péter Catholic University, and the rest of the university became what is now known as Eötvös Loránd University, which from 1921-1950 was known as Péter Pázmány University. Its theological faculty became Catholic Péter Pázmány University, Budapest/Piliscsaba, in 1992. Pázmány also built Jesuit colleges and schools at Pressburg (Bratislava), and Franciscan monasteries at Érsekújvár (now: Nové Zámky) and Körmöcbánya (now: Kremnica) (all in nowadays Slovakia).
In politics he played a considerable part. It was chiefly due to him that the diet of 1618 elected Archduke Ferdinand to succeed the childless Matthias. He also repeatedly thwarted the martial ambitions of Gabriel Bethlen, and prevented György Rákóczi I, over whom he had a great influence, from allying with the Ottoman Empire and the Protestants.
His grave was discovered during reconstruction on September 12, 1859 by priest Ferdinand Knauz and others. They found the body dry yet almost intact. His face was missing the nose and lips but was still bearded, and he still had his jesuit hat on his head with some hair underneath. He was wearing a red damask reverenda and had simple leather shoes on his feet.
- The Four Books of Thomas à Kempis on the imitation of Christ (Hungarian, 1603), of which there are many editions
- Diatribe theologica de visible Christi in terris ecclesia (Graz, 1615)
- Vindiciae ecclesiasticae (Vienna, 1620);
- Sermons for every Sunday in the Year (Hung., Pressburg, 1636)
- The Triumph of Truth (Hungarian, Pressburg, 1614)
Pázmány Péter és kora [P. P. and his times], ed. Emil Hargittay, Piliscsaba (Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem) 2001.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Vilmos Fraknói, Péter Pázmány and his Times (Hung. Pest, 1868–1872); Correspondence of Pázmány (Hung. and Latin), published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Pest, 1873). (R. N. B.)