Johann Martin Schleyer

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Johann Martin Schleyer
JM Schleyer.jpg
Born Martin Schleyer
(1831-07-18)18 July 1831
Oberlauda, Grand Duchy of Baden
Died 16 August 1912(1912-08-16) (aged 81)
Konstanz, German Empire
Occupation Catholic priest
Known for Inventor of Volapük
Relatives Hanns Martin Schleyer (great-great nephew)

Martin Schleyer (18 July 1831 – 16 August 1912) was a German Catholic priest who invented the constructed language Volapük. His official name was "Martin Schleyer"; he added the name "Johann" (in honor of his godfather) unofficially.

He was born in Oberlauda (Baden). According to his own report, the idea of an international language arose out of a conversation he had with one of his parishioners, a semi-literate German peasant whose son had emigrated to America and could no longer be reached by mail because the United States Postal Service couldn't read the father's handwriting.

He was ordained in 1856. From 1867 to 1875 he was pastor at Krumbach near Meßkirch. At the end of this time he was jailed for four months for preaching against socialism during the Kulturkampf.

From 1875 to 1885 he was pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Litzelstetten. He later wrote that the first seven years in Litzelstetten were among the happiest of his life.

At this time he was editor of the magazine Sionsharfe, devoted mainly to Catholic poetry. In May 1879 he published an article on Volapük in this magazine. This sketch was followed by a full-length book in 1880. The language spread widely and new clubs sprung all over Europe. After 1885 Schleyer had to retire from his pastoral duties due to ill health, though he was still involved in the Volapük movement until it fell apart a few years later.

In 1894 Pope Leo XIII made him a papal prelate.

Schleyer died in Konstanz in 1912. A campaign to beatify him was started in summer 2001, based in his home parish of Litzelstetten. The high school Martin-Schleyer-Gymnasium Lauda-Königshofen in Lauda is named for him.

Employer representative Hanns Martin Schleyer, who was kidnapped and murdered by the German Communist Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) in 1977, was the great-grandson of Johann Martin Schleyer's brother.

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