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Alois Koch

Play and Sport at the Jesuit College
"Stella Matutina" in Feldkirch

(published in: W. Schwank (and others ed.): Begegnung. Schriftenreihe zur Geschichte der Beziehung zwischen Christentum und Sport, volume 4. Aachen 2003, p. 13 - 35.


Contents

1. Preface

2. Historical Development of the College

3. Play and Sport Places

4. Plays and Different Sports in the "Stella Matutina"

5. The Educational Conception of the "Stella Matutina"

6. Impulses for the Catholic Sport Movement

7. Final Consideration

8. Literature

 


I. Preface

Pierre de COUBERTIN, the founder of the Olympiads in modern times, judged of the "physical training" at the Jesuit College in the Rue de Madrid in Paris, that only "childlike plays" were concerned there; the Jesuits had rejected "any sport", because so the pupils would not meet in "contests with other young people who went to national schools or schools open to people of all denominations resp. world-views" (COUBERTIN, 1974, p. 19-20). Also otherwise COUBERTIN imputed to church schools a reserved, if not even critical position to sports as it was understood by him: a fight that was encompassed with the nimbus of danger. From the refusal of a "sport" understood in such a way, he believed that he could conclude contempt of the body, yes, even enmity against the body (cf. COUBERTIN, 1974, p. 143).

Also in the German sport-historical literature one reads - even in newer publications - of a fundamental "body hostility", when one deals with the position of the Catholic Church. Just in the educational area, i.e. in the "institutions for education" is still an "embittered resistance" against a balanced valuation of the body (JACOB 1994, p. 210). On the other hand one refers to the care for play and sport endorsed by the Society of Jesus and practiced in its educational establishments. But these references are usually very general - when e.g. BEGOV refers to the fact that the physical training in the Catholic educational system was carried "considerably by the Societas of Jesus" (BEGOV 1980, p. 151 f). In a similar way DIEM says: "The Order retained this appreciation of the physical exercises ... through the centuries" (DIEM 1964, p. 184) - a judgement that contradicts COUBERTIN'S view clearly.

 


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What is missing in each case however, are individual investigations proving or differentiating the sweeping judgement. The author already showed by the example of the Jesuit College in Fribourg/Switzerland the place and rank of physical exercises in the concrete educating work (cf. A. Koch 2002). In the following this evidence is to be supplemented by the research on the College "Stella Matutina" in Feldkirch/Vorarlberg.

The "Stella Matutina" ("morning star" - a "title" of Jesus' mother Mary) deliberately wanted to resume the tradition of the college in Fribourg. After the so-called "Sonderbundkrieg" (in which the "protection union" of the Catholic Swiss cantons was defeated by the "federation") the activity of the Order had been forbidden since 1848 in Switzerland; the "Jesuit Article" in the Swiss Constitution forbade the residence, later also any activity of Jesuits in Switzerland. Their efforts to continue their school and educational activity had finally success in 1856 - not least owing to the benevolence of the Austrian Emperor FRANZ JOSEPH (1848-1916). In Feldkirch / Vorarlberg one could take over the urban High School; added was a boarding school for hundred external pupils for the time being.

In the Feldkirch boarding school the principle applied: "Everything as in Fribourg!" This principle was seen not least in the broad rang of play and sport in the pupils' life, namely as an important educational element - this as evidence for the high appreciation of play and sport in a church educational concept!

By this educational conception, that granted an amazingly broad range to play and sport to young people, several personalities were moulded who had large influence in church respectively Catholic youth and sport associations. Above all Carl MOSTERTS is to be mentioned (cf. WOTHE 1959 and SÖLL 1960), who had been a few years pupil of the "Stella Matutina"; he had a crucial share in the establishment of the Catholic Sport Federation "Deutsche Jugendkraft" (cf. RÖSCH 1995 and SCHWANK 1979). But also Philipp KÜBLE may be mentioned, who in the first years after

 


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the foundation of the DJK had large influence by his many publications in the federation organ. KÜBLE had been pupil for a few years, later tutor and director of the boarding school. Referred be also to Joseph SCHRÖTELER who in the twenties gave important impulses to the Catholic pedagogic as well as to the area of sports.

This essay is limited to the time between 1856, the year of the foundation of the "Stella Matutina", and 1931, the year of the 75th anniversary of the institute. The commemorative publication from this year (quoted in the following with "FS 2"), but also the "annual reports" of the High School (quoted with "JB") are the sources and proofs for the wide range of play and sport in the educational conception. Then there are quoted the commememorative publication of 1906 (quoted with "STIGLMAIR") and the magazine "Aus der Stella Matutina" (quoted with "STELLA"). Not least is used some verbal information of Paul STRÄTER, given 1969 to the author of this paper. STRÄTER was pupil and tutor in Feldkirch, and seven years a close co-worker of Carl MOSTERTS in Düsseldorf.

 

II. Historical Development of the College

Since the foundation of the college in the year 1856 four phases of development can be discerned (cf. STIGLMAIR 1906 and L. KOCH 1934, p. 545 f). Beside the boarding school for external pupils the Jesuits had taken over the urban High School. But in 1868 were removed from them both the public right and the lead of the High School. The institute was then only a private boarding school with a nationally not acknowledged college. One confined oneself thereby to the German instruction plan, the more so since the majority of the pupils came from Germany, particularly from the Catholic aristocracy of Rhineland, Westphalia and Silesia. The rising number of pupils made necessary a structural enlargement. It was realized 1877 - connected with the laying-out of wide places designated for the plays. 1892 the college became at last again a nationally


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acknowledged Austrian teaching institute with a - as before - private German department; this was acknowledged 1924 as German Foreign High School. But it had to be transferred 1934 to Sankt Blasien in the Black Forest.

The popularity and variety of the plays in the boarding school life are closely connected with the name of Father Karl SCHÄFFER, whose mother originated from England. Already as pupil he visited the "Stella Matutina". After his entrance into the Societas of Jesus and after first studies he became for four years tutor ("Prefect") in the boarding school; later he was "General Prefect" for sixteen years, i.e. leader of the boarding school (1882 - 1898), and finally still for two years Rector of the College. The arrangement and the variety of plays are above all probably owed to him. Thus football (at the beginning probably with adapted rules) became popular by him. He initiated also hockey and cricket during his time as Prefect. "Father SCHÄFFER had got the necessary balls, sticks and other sets with the help of his brother." (STELLA, 1927, P. 232) Not least Father SCHÄFFER was the great promoter of the mountain excursions. "Among us pupils he passed for the best expert of the surrounding mountain world." (FS 2, p. 170)

 

III. The Playgrounds and Sports Fields

For the daily plays of the pupils (usually there were available one and a half hour in the afternoon) "six large, gravel-covered playgrounds" were available (JB, 1909, p. 29) that could be transformed into "skating-rinks" in the winter (JB, 1892, p. 35). "Upon these places the youth plays, so urgently recommended by the school administration, were done to an extent that is possible in boarding schools only." (JB, 1909, p. 30) Since 1923 there was available also an own tennis court (STELLA, 1923, p. 280).

As already in Fribourg, great importance was attached to the fact that the pupils had opportunity for bathing and swimming. At first one bathed in the (today no longer existing) Rankweil pond resp. lake.

 


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Since its use made always "necessary a whole journey back and forth", one looked around for another possibility. Thus one dug a "bathing pond" already after 1860 in the neighbouring Tisis, hence an "open-air bath". This "bathing pond" was "surrounded with a wall, the ground paved with bricks ..." (STELLA, 1911, p. 43). In the year 1912 an indoor swimming-pool was built, with basin measurements of 24 x 10 meters. In the corresponding annual report is - after the detailed description of the whole place - referred full of pride that now were remedied "the complaints raised still two years ago by the inquiry for physical education in Vienna from a well-informed side; it read: 'No middle school in Austria has already ... a covered, also in the winter usable indoor pool.'" (JB, 1912, p. 31)

When after World War I a possible union of the Land Vorarlberg with Switzerland stood under discussion (there the "ban on the Societas of Jesus" was still valid), a Swiss journalist, filled with admiration by his visit of the "Stella Matutina", said in an article in the "Neue Zürcher Nachrichten" that the institute had a "swimming pool which was matched in whole Switzerland only by that in the city Sanct Gallen" (STELLA, 1920, p. 350).
Since the national acknowledgment of the institute as private High School in the year 1892 the subject gymnastics had become mandatory. Thus one saw oneself obliged to establish one's own gymnasium. Therefore the existing auditorium was provided with the utensils necessary for gym lessons (climbing poles, ladders, rings, high bar, spring-boards, clubs etc.) (cf. STELLA, 1909, p. 55-58). 1929 this interim solution could be replaced by a "modern gymnasium with bathing and tool-storage room" (FS 2, p. 7).

 


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IV. Plays and Sports in the "Stella Matutina"

The daily plays were for all pupils a matter of course. Hence there was granted - except with illness - not any "release from the healthy, but sometimes somewhat risky body training" (FS 2, p. 137). Another pupil remembers: "There was ... no backing out; everyone had to play." (FS 2, p. 193) The plays and sporting exercises changed with the seasons. But in the course of many years there were also new sporting plays, also adjustments to the otherwise usual forms and rules of plays.

In the initial years of the institute was - like in Fribourg - played with great passion the "stalking play", a soccer game on stalks. "We could not imagine Feldkirch without the stalking play." (FS 2, p. 81) The stalks, usually made from fir wood, were relatively short. They reached "with a transverse grab handle up to the middle of the thigh ... where they were clasped with a firm grip". It is understandable that "arm and leg muscles were activated, and thus strengthened, by running on stalks and particularly by striking the ball with them" (FS 2, p. 31). "On the playground there was ... only a gang of savage boys who, a big stalk in each hand, fought like possessed for a leather ball. ... There were some real masters among us, at home on the stalks just as on their own legs. ... As far as I am concerned, I was soon able to overtake in a race a good foot runner, to take obstacles jumping, to hop on one stalk - the other one swinging - across the whole width of the yard." Thus one of the pupils wrote later (FS 2, p. 41). Since the stalking play - as is said - "was played with fanaticism" there were not missing dangerous wounds: broken legs, lost teeth etc. were the order of the day. And there were always quarrels among the players: "They hit with the stalks." So Paul STRÄTER told the author. Hence it was no wonder that the stalking play was abolished - the most unpopular measure which Father LÖFFLER in his term of office as Rector of the institute (1875 - 1882) had to take, and which, as is told, was answered with a "strike" of the pupils. Anyhow the "entombment of the stalks did not take place without streams of tears" (FS 2, P. 81).

 


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Instead of the stalking play the soccer game was introduced then. But it seems that it has been adapted by Father SCHÄFFER to the Feldkirch situation, as Paul STRÄTER reports for the time about 1890. Photos too, for instance of the "goals", prove this "adjustment" - to the existing possibilities. It was allowed to touch the heavy leather ball - so STRÄTER - also with one's fists. The "goal" was called "aim". There was an own goalmouth, in which only the keeper was allowed to be. There was also no arbitrator, but only the two crew leaders selected each week by the department (named "division"). In case of a "fault" they had the right to exclude a player from the opponents.
Whether this variant of the soccer game is identical with the "so-called German soccer game", as is to be read in a report (STELLA, 1921, p. 122), can no longer be ascertained. Anyhow, this variant was given up later in favour of the otherwise usual soccer game. Particularly since the twenties the usual soccer game belonged to the most popular plays in Feldkirch (cf. STELLA, 1926, p. 42 - 44).

Beside the soccer game were "the most popular plays... driving ball, rounders, giant stride, and relay race" (JB, 1896, p. 97). With "driving ball" is meant hockey; the "hit-the-ball play" is usually named "rounders" in the reports. Obviously is this "hit-the-ball play" a kind of sport similar to baseball (cf. ENDREI 1988, p. 126).

From here is understandable the remark of a former pupil for the time about 1895, that this play was preferred by the "lazy", "because one could thereby sit occasionally" (STELLA, 1931, p. 747). Also the introduction of a new play with the name "tournament ball" is mentioned (JB, 1911, p. 29); unfortunately there are given no closer details about this play. There are time and again mentioned as plays also: Fist ball, cricket, lawn tennis, table tennis, Völkerball and hand-ball.

Since the national acknowledgment of the institute as private High School gym lessons were mandatory. The subject was given "by lay gentlemen from Feldkirch", i.e. by gym teachers of schools there (JB,

 


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1892, p. 24). Two years later is said that "gymnastics were given in five departments, twice a week", and that "with exception of eight ... all pupils had taken part in the gym exercises" (JB, 1894, p. 46). These happened "by favourable weather outdoors" (JB, 1896, p. 98). Since 1909 there was available an own gymnasium for the exercises.

The number of the gymnastics lessons was reduced since 1902 to one hour a week. Out of "regard for the gym plays done to such unusual extent" within the boarding school, this reduction was allowed "until further notice" (JB, 1911, p. 38). Which exercises were made in that "training" can no longer be found out clearly. But the sport kits mentioned or purchased in 1909 for the new gymnasium give probably a clue.

Here is to refer however also to the fact that the gym lessons were obviously not particularly popular among the pupils. STRÄTER even says for the first years about the gym teacher that he was the "most hated man" in the whole school, because there was mostly "marched", and the exercises were not demonstrated. In this connection is interesting that during World War I the subject "gymnastics" could be given only to a reduced extent, since there were no appropriate teachers available because of the war. The war affected also the life of the institute: "The daily life in the Stella Matutina got a certain military touch since the beginning of the war." (JB, 1916, p. 5) There is referred to "march exercises" and to "war games". In the annual report 1918 are mentioned "drilling exercises ..., messenger and signal exercises, signalling by Morse code, and exercises in map-reading"; by unfavourable weather "in the gymnasium of the institute shooting practices took place, which achieved quite good successes" (JB, 1918, p. 24).

When for the time after World War I also different ball plays and track-and-field athletics are mentioned under the term doing gymnastics, then here too becomes clear that the term doing gymnastics was taken in a wider sense as today. So are mentioned there - besides the listing of different ball plays - the 100-metre dash, high jump and pole-vaulting, javelin- and discus-throwing, and shot-putting.

 


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There were certainly also before already the corresponding exercises: "discus-throwing, shot-putting and javelin-throwing" (JB, 1909, p. 30). Mentioned is the "endurance run on the large lawns of the so-called 'battleground'" (so named after a battle place in the Napoleonic Wars), "In such exercises some pupils were able to run up to one hour in an endurance run." (JB, 1910, p. 37) After World War I even a great "gymnastic display and contest of Vorarlberg's middle schools took place in 1924, where our people together with branches of laurel and diplomas got the victory palms in all plays against Bregenz and Feldkirch" (FS 2, p. 343).

Although according to the memories of a pupil, already after 1860 "fencing instructions" were given (FS 2, P. 49), in 1910 fencing is mentioned only as a "free instruction object" at the upper High School. "By the lively interest which the young people understandably show in this noble art, four courses had to be set up immediately. Owing to the eager efforts of the fencing teacher the participants achieved quite excellent successes." (JB, 1911, p. 31) We can furthermore learn from the school report that the instruction covered two half hours weekly, and which various exercises stood on the educational program (JB, 1911, p. 8).

The reason why fencing was included in the "educating activities" is informative: "It has without doubt a high rank among the gymnastic exercises, because it is suitable in an outstanding way to promote both the skill of the body and to form a severe, but nevertheless not less worthwhile school of self-discipline, by avoiding all automatic movements." (STELLA, 1911, p. 62) But the fencing training had to be stopped during the war (JB, 1916, p. 31); in later annual reports it is no longer mentioned.

Up to the establishment of the indoor swimming pool in the school year 1911/12 bathing and swimming was only possible in the Rankweil Lake and in the swimming pool of Tisis. "Rankweil was our El Dorado" - so a pupil remembers. "The lower, open part of the long sheet granted the most refreshing bath; the upper, reedy one ... offered the opportunity to expeditions and mysterious Indian canoeing." (FS 2, p. 42 f)

 


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The Rankweil Lake receded into the background when in Tisis was built an own swimming-pool only twenty minutes away from the college. "In the summer we walked twice the week to the bathing pool" - is said for the years about 1890 (FS 2, p. 193). The basin was at "one side deep enough to allow different water arts" (JB, 1892, p. 35). After this time almost each annual report mentions bathing and swimming in this swimming pool near Tisis. When the indoor swimming pool could, war-conditioned, not be heated, but also later on still hot summer days, the swimming pool was used again eagerly. "On hot summer days one plunged from the height of the spring-board in an elegant head, or less elegant belly jump into the green flood." (FS 2, p. 322 f) Later there are mentioned "headers", "diving under the surface" and "swimming like small ellritzes (kind of fish)" (STELLA, 1925, p. 456).

When swimming was already a matter of course for most of the pupils as only the Rankweil lake and the swimming pool by Tisis were available, then it was kept up all the more after the indoor swimming pool was built. "The heated natatorium of the institute was again eagerly used. A good part of the pupils who could not swim yet learned it in the course of this year." (JB, 1916, p. 30) On the occasion of the inauguration is said: "In the future all pupils can bathe and practice swimming at any season in 6 to 8 departments several times in the week." (JB, 1912, p. 31) Informative is also the following remark from the year 1929: "One sees the sporting influence of our General Prefect" - Father KUEBLE is meant - "also by the order that all pupils are to be able to swim by Easter." (STELLA, 1929, p. 470)

A large room in the annual reports and also in the memories of former pupils take up the sporting activities during the winter months. Already for the starting time one reports how with the first frost "the yard was changed into an excellent skating rink by pumping in water". Also the frozen over Rankweil Lake with its "freshly swept wide icy surface" was liked (FS 2, p. 42 f). The swimming pool in Tisis too could be used in the winter as skating-rink.

 


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When later on the Reichenfeld the large playgrounds were available, these too were changed into icy surfaces (JB, 1909, p. 30). In the foreground was thereby the skating. Thus is said time and again in the annual reports: "The severe winter permitted the joys of skating in most extensive way." (JB, 1893, p. 60) It offered to "all pupils plentiful opportunity to physical movement and amusement" (JB, 1896, p. 97).

Apart from skating was tobogganing or sledging the great attraction. In the first time the pupils went with their sledges to one of the surrounding hills or to the Älple, a mountain in the neighbourhood of Feldkirch. It is told that one rushed "from the reached height, one after the other in prescribed intervals, down into the valley". "Was on the one hand the danger decreased by the softer snow surface which permitted a steering of the vehicle with straddled legs, then on the other hand the speed increased in an uncanny way by the great length of the run through course ... A wrong steering movement, and one fell into some snow-covered hollow way; a stone, a branch on the way, and one turned a somersault, flying ahead in a wide bow, and had only to see to it to creep quickly from the course before the boy behind went rushing over one's neck. It was a breakneck sport which however, according to my knowledge, caused never any serious accidents and strengthened anyhow courage and nerves." (FS 2, p. 42)

Obviously to this early time refers probably the following remark about the "technology" of tobogganing: "The Feldkirch sledging was at that time a far as sport is concerned an extremely highly developed art. It always surprised me that this artful and so elegant driving on the left thigh, with the right steering foot raised into the air, did not find anywhere imitation." (FS 2, p. 193)

When at the end of the seventies the playgrounds on the Reichenfeld were available, the individual "divisions" or departments built their toboggan-runs and - as a speciality - the so-called "Russian mountains", i.e. wooden frames which, "poured over with water", formed a skating-rink, "over which we shot down on small wooden sledges rejoicing ...


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Often the sledge turned over on the mirror-smooth ... surface, and one arrived the foot of the hill back ahead and legs into the air." (FS 2, p. 42) Further is said that the pupils built "sledge courses, furnished with lateral dams, which rounded in wide curves the playgrounds of the skaters" (FS 2, p. 206). Hence the toboggan-runs were "bordered by snow and ice dams" (JB, 1910, p. 35). The length of a course often amounted up to 300 metres (STELLA, 1911, P. 29). Of course it came then also to the "speed toboggan-runs", hence to time measurement (FS 2, p. 360).

Much room is given in the reports to the wintry "building of snow castles". Even if one cannot call it in the actual sense a "sporting exercise", so this activity belonged to the favourite occupations of the pupils. After the completion of these up to eight metres high buildings often "war plays" were carried out - according to the spirit of the time: "The hot fights which the cold walls of our fortresses saw would really have been a worthy object of a cinematograph." (STELLA, 1910, p. 18) All the more these "snow castles" served during World War I for such "war games". So one reads in the annual report of 1915 of "snow castles and trenches defended and taken by storm. All that made the pupils familiar with the seriousness of the present time, and pointed out to them the task presented to them in the future." (JB, 1915, p. 33). Of interest is the reference to the "social pedagogical use" of those "snow works": they require "patience and persistence, are carried out by division of labour, and harmonious co-operation, and give practical knowledge of a common enterprise. At last it is useful, when pupils from different social classes get to know in the same way the hardships and joys of manual work" (JB, 1910, p. 36).

After World War I skiing came into vogue by the sporting activities of the institute. Particularly the older pupils dedicated themselves during the winter months by appropriate snow situation to this sport. For the first time skiing is mentioned for the winter 1924/25. It is said that the coming winter time "should bring new joys"; "particularly the skiing to the upper department" (FS 2, p. 343),


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and that skiers take "all meadow slopes in possession": "Sportingly equipped the men of the upper department go up with long ski poles and still longer skis. Then a shy attempt, and soon they slip more or less elegantly downhill on the greased boards." (STELLA, 1925, p. 452) "There are made elegant curves, and swiftly hurries the winner, crowned with victory ... over the snowy hill. Somebody however lost his balance, and looked just like Ikarus after his bath in the water, only that the water became snow here." (STELLA, 1926, p. 46)

Under the General Prefect KÜBLE they do the skiing then not only on the college grounds. The pupils of the upper department were allowed to ski down from "Amerlügen and Schönblick" (STELLA, 1927, P. 178). Also in the following years is said that the older pupils "did skiing on Tuesday and Thursday above and below from Amerlügen" (STELLA, 1929, P. 536 f).

No other (sporting) activity practised in the spare time takes so much room, both in the memory of the former pupils and in the annual reports, as the "mountain excursions". "How often have I since that time, on numerous excursions in the Alps, gratefully remembered those Feldkirch excursions that gave us an understanding of the beauty of the Alpine world." (FS 2, p. 175) That is the impression which engraved itself upon a pupil about the year 1890.

Somewhat more emphatic sound the words of a pupil from the year 1929 about the experience on the peak of the Säntis: "A quiet presentiment of divine majesty and the greatness of the Creator filled our hearts ... Those impressive wonders of Creation will remain indelibly coined into our souls." (STELLA, 1929, p. 533 and 535) Another pupil saw in the peak experience a "delightful reading hour ... in God's grand mountain Bible" (FS 2, p. 406).

In each school year there were three or four times for all departments the small and large mountain tours - in the first years on the mountains within walking distance from Feldberg. Often these routes began already "after midnight" (FS 2, p. 43); and marching times of seven to eleven hours


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also for the youngest were almost natural. The "large excursion" could last even two and more days. Later, in the age of the car, the individual departments drove up to the foot of the mountains that should be climbed, "so that ... routes were possible within a far wider radius than in former times" (FS 2, Ss. 383). As aims of the mountain tours are named time and again: Freschen, Hochgerach, Gurtis, Gallina, Drei Schwestern, Mondspitze, Alpwegkopf, Zamangspitze, Scesaplana, Hoher Kasten, Saxerfirst, Alvier, Säntis, Sulzfluh and even Piz Buin. Already in the long vacations of 1913 the Piz Buin in the Silvretta group is the aim of a three-day-long "excursion": "Highlight was a large tour up to the 3316 metres high Piz Buin. A group of six chosen sport men with two Prefects started on August 4th at 10 o'clock in the morning from Garina." (STELLA, 1913, P. 90)

If one considers that on excursion days up to 500 pupils were on the way, then one can only wonder that only a few incidents are mentioned, which however always went off without much harm. With these mountain tours there were exacted some efforts from the pupils; often there is reported even of "exhaustion" (e.g. FS 2, p. 44). This is confirmed by a participant's report about the first excursion with 35 pupils to the Säntis in the year 1861. The way there from Feldkirch to Wildhaus, then the ascent and descent, finally the way back were mastered within two days (from midnight to midnight). No wonder that all participants arrived completely exhausted in Feldkirch, so that in the future an additional day was taken into account (cf. STELLA, 1911, p. 81-84).

"That a full 'division', without leaving a single man behind, could carry out the Saxerfirst excursion in one day's march shows how play and walks had hardened and trained us all ... Five hours march in the plain back and forth, and a climbing of 1600 - 1700 metres remain still an enormous performance, and nevertheless none of us wanted to leave it." (FS 2, p. 175)
Another pupil states: "To defeat high mountains with such masses of pupils in a disciplined way, meant always a maximum performance ... and was also an evidence of the unequalled high physical training that we enjoyed in Feldkirch." (FS 2, p. 195)

 


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V. The Educating Conception of the "Stella Matutina"

If one considers the astonishing large extent granted to play and sporting activities in the "Stella Matutina", the question about the underlying educating conception will of course arise. A former pupil formulates it so: "The educational standards, according to which the education in the Feldkirch boarding school is handled, are fixed in the constitutions of the Order. They essentially pointed the way through the whole time up to this day, even when they have been adapted in an intelligent and moderate way in each case to the changed time- and living conditions. That the religious and general educational means used in the house to form steadfast Catholic men will achieve that aim is not only granted by the educational experience and recognized educational wisdom of several hundred years of the Society of Jesus, but also by the fact that since the existence of the institute the predominant majority of the leaving pupils did correspond in their later life to the expectations set on them, and does still correspond." (FS 2, P. 16)

And somebody else can write full of pride: "At a time when in our countries nobody practically carried out youth plays, and several decades before e.g. the Austrian supervisory school authorities - realizing the value of these things for the physical well-being of young students and their educational value in general - took the initiative of systematically promoting the youth play exercises, they were here at this place already cultivated in an exemplary way." (FS 2, p. 206)

In nearly all annual reports is referred to this proven educational concept. Thus is said for the school year 1909/10: "Since a boarding school should as far as possible take the place of the parents' house for the pupils entrusted to it, the institute head office took solicitude of the health care and physical education of the pupils." (JB, 1910, p. 33)

 


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And regarding the sporting activities the same annual report reads: "We need not elaborate the hygienic advantages of such active work and merry play in the fresh winter air, and the educational advantages of such useful use of this prospering youth strength. But a further advantage deserves to be particularly emphasized: the social educational use of such exercises. The doing of gymnastics and plays accustoms to commands and military discipline, which are quite necessary for the students." (JB, 1910, p. 36)

So it is not surprising when the annual report in 1916, hence in World War I, points out: "The general experiences in the World War and some letters from the field, in which former pupils confessed with thanks how much they had just now learned to estimate the physical training and hardening in their youth, could only encourage the institute to keep to its principles and arrangements." (JB, 1916, p. 30)

Time and again the former pupils point to the profit for their later life. "I regard the healthy measure of Spartan life offered to us in Feldkirch as a boon for life." (STELLA, 1931, p. 734)

To a further positive aspect refers Kurt of SCHUSCHNIGG, the later Austrian Federal Chancellor: "We learned in the Stella to fit in well, to serve for the sake of a larger community. When they in the large world, particularly in intellectual circles, did still precious little talk and know of democracy and community education, we had been already educated to genuine democratic leadership." (STELLA, 1931, P. 738)

Modern seems the statement of another former pupil: "Cosmopolis - this the Stella always was, and that may - just in times when it is important again to build with infinite efforts Europe - be a mission for Feldkirch: to find (those) connections that were once so alive in the western Christianity." (STELLA, 1931, p. 736)

 


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This evaluation of the educational conception of the "Stella Matutina" is characteristic: "From the boys who went through this school arose many men of action, who do honour to the place that had educated them. ... Hence respect to those fields of youthful activity and struggle where upright men, who got themselves laurels at the battle-grounds of modern life, have competed in the contests of their youth." (FS 2, p. 206 f)

Perhaps by the Feldkirch "model" of this educational conception will also become clear how this view of the Jesuits corresponded with the conviction that one had found a way for the area of body care and physical exercises that should not be given up - just also in view of the negative developments within the profane area. Anyhow, the impression of a certain "exclusivity" suggestes itself at least for the time up to the end of World War I.

In my opinion it can be seen just in the adaptation of the different plays to the existing local conditions. Only after World War I the general usual play forms and rules were taken over; yes, one participates even in the Vorarlberg school championships - a fact that meant nearly the "betrayal" at the traditional educating conception. This "change" was to be attributed above all to KÜBLE's work; he brought "a completely different spirit ... into the sport" (FS 2, p. 396).

As far as the view of education by play and sport in the "Stella Matutina" is concerned, so is noticeable that in all reports and narrations - as they lie before us in the booklets "Aus der Stella Matutina", in the "Jahresberichten", and in the "Festschrift" on the occasion of the 75th anniversary - one topic is addressed only with a few vague suggestions, resp. certain reasons for the usefulness of play and sport do n o t  occur, although they are mentioned time and again on the part of the Catholic pedagogy, but especially on the part of moral theology: Play and sport as preventives against the dangers and vagaries of sexuality (cf. A. KOCH, 2002, p. 82-86).

 


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From the publications of some tutors of the "Stella Matutina" however can indirectly be get a picture that is in no way uniform, if not even inconsistent. At bottom two positions are opposed to each other: on the one side a more rigorist voluntaristic view, resp. an "instrumentalization" of play and sport, justified with educational principles; on the other side a more comprehensive and natural view.

For the more rigoristic view be here referred to the "Präfektenbuch" from Anton DAVID, who was active as tutor for more than thirty years in Feldkirch; on his line is later also Philipp KÜBLE, who was pupil, tutor and boarding school leader, and whose translation of LOCKINGTON'S "By Body Formation to Spiritual Strength" saw many editions.

Completely different is the view of Stanislaus von DUNIN BORKOWSKI, who was likewise pupil, tutor and religion teacher in Feldkirch. What he writes about "hygiene" is also today still worth reading. (DUNIN BORKOWSKI 1929)

 

VI. Impulses for the Catholic Sport Movement

The Feldkirch educational conception with its high estimation of play and sport did not only give important impulses to the in 1920 founded sport federation "Deutsche Jugendkraft" (German Youth Strength, but also to the fundamental and positive valuation of play and sport within the Catholic range. To mention is here of course above all Carl MOSTERTS, the first General Preses of the DJK, but also Philipp KÜBLE.

Both had in their essays and books recourse to events and experiences of their Feldkirch years. Characteristic for it are several formulations in the early writings of the DJK, which can hardly deny their Feldkirch origin, e.g. the terms "Spartanism",

 


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"youth strength", and others. Also the (failed) attempt of the DJK to do without actual arbitrators for football goes with certainty back to KÜBLE or to the Feldkirch practice, which assigned this task to the two selected team captains (cf. PREISLER 2002, p. 40). Not least the subtitle of the federation organ of the DJK "Zeitschrift für willenstärkende Leibesübungen und vernunftgemäße Gesundheitspflege" ('magazine for will-strengthening physical exercises and reasonable health care') reminds of the title of W. J. LOCKINGTON's book "Durch Körperbildung zur Geisteskraft", translated by KÜBLE into German.

A possible influence of the educating conception of the "Stella Matutina" could be the "exclusivity", characteristic in the initial years to the Catholic sport federation: the refusal of a participation in general sport competitions or the establishment of an independent sport management. Naturally here the misgivings of the danger of "contagion" by "Americanism" played a role, and thereby the thought to be able to establish a kind of "protected zone" for young people. At least many statements in the years 1920 to 1933 from the church area, for instance from bishops, and at the part of the DJK, are to be understood in this sense.

For Carl MOSTERTS, one of "the most faithful and most efficient sons of the Stella Matutina" (so Paul STRAETER: FS 2, p. 178), the physical training is "integrated into man's general aim in life"; the physical exercises are for him "important means to promote physical health and strength, to care for noble recreation and joy, and also to sharpen the spirit and to harden the will. ... Where not man fundamentally is the aim, and not its soul the measure of the physical exercises, but the overcoming of the present world champion, there the call "stop!" is useless, because there is not any aim. Our sport movement can escape only then Americanism and get a German spiritual and spiritualizing character, if the educating thought is not only an appendage, but becomes the starting point and the aim, and if soul and spirit have the lead in it." (DJK-Zeitschrift 1926, p. 294) Thereby it is not about an "intellectualistic voluntaristic attitude";

 


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but rather about the arousing from "vitality and joy of life". Just young people thirst after joy of life (cf. MOSTERT'S statements by SÖLL, 1960, p. 29-38). "Joy is a vitality without that no human being, above all no child and juvenile, can remain fresh and strong in life." (SOELL, 1960, P. 40)

 

VII. Final Consideration

If one bears in mind the existing reports about the manifold plays and sporting activities in the "Stella Matutina", then one is surprised both at the enormous temporal extent granted to those exercises and at their variety. Not least one is surprised at the engagement for mountain tours in a time when neither the mountain tourism nor the actual mountain climbing had a considerable significance.

The reasons why one from the outset kept to this extent to play and various sporting activities lie in the educational view of the college. Father Karl SCHÄFFER, for many years responsible for the boarding school education, summarizes in my opinion briefly and concisely this conception: "In the chapel you are to pray, in the study you are to work and on the playground to play!" (STELLA, 1931, p. 751) This principle shows also the otherwise in many places mentioned "reasons" for the wide range of play and sport as "rationalizations" of secondary kind. Play and sport represent an "activity out of an inner need, of an impetus of life" (BAMBERG 1984, p. 17); and therefore they are accompanied by an elementary joy in such exercises.

One could even say that the repeatedly mentioned other "educational aims" are only the "fruits" of the well-being of young people; with the words of a Rector of the "Stella Matutina" it reads: "Genuine religiosity and faithful performance of duties

 


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can ... especially by juveniles only prosper in the sunlight of cheerfulness. Hence the Stella - with its rich opportunity for youth plays and moderate sport - run for decades in front of the new movement in the youth education, and dedicates daily several hours to cheerful play, which together with physical training and hardening obtains at the same time skill and esprit de corps." (FS 2, p. 7)

 


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DAVID, A.: Ein Präfektenbuch. Feldkirch 1918.

DIEM, C.: 776 v. Chr. - Olympiaden - 1964. Eine Geschichte des Sports. Stuttgart 1964.

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