University biographical mosaics – Schönvisner István

Two hundred and fifty years ago, in 1773, Pope Clement XIII dissolved the Jesuit order, accelerating the process of the university's transfer to the state. Between 1635 and 1773, many distinguished Jesuits of great knowledge taught at our university, leaving a lasting mark on the history of the institution. In February our feature is on István Schönvisner, the father of Hungarian scientific archaeology.

István Schönvisner was born on the 15th of December 1738 in Sóvár, Sáros County. After studying at the Jesuit college in Eperjes, he enrolled at the University of Vienna in 1754, and in 1756 he applied for admission to the Jesuit order. He was ordained a priest in 1768, then taught in Trnava and Vienna. After the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1777, the queen appointed him the second keeper of the University Library. From then until the end of his life, he remained an employee of the library, in 1794 he became the director of the library. One of his important tasks was the management of the coin collection in the library. He also taught medal and antiquities at the university, during the academic year 1794/1795 he was the rector of the university. His scientific achievements include the excavation of the public bath in Aquincum, the elaboration of the history of Savaria (Szombathely), the three-volume catalog of Ferenc Széchényi’s medal collection and his work on the history of Hungarian medalology. Several of his manuscripts works have survived in his legacy, including a collection of diplomas relating to the history of the university, which can be found in the manuscript collection of our library today. 

The picture shows the first page of his university history manuscript.

Source/author of illustration:
ELTE University Library and Archives