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Hergenröther was the foremost defender of the council and its decrees ; as early as 1868 he had been appointed, with Hettinger, consultor for the preparation of the council's work and had taken up his residence at Rome.His inexhaustible knowledge of ecclesiastical history, canon law, and Catholic dogma made him a valuable co-labourer in the many careful and detailed preliminary meetings of the council commission.The political troubles of 1848 prevented the completion of his theological studies at Rome ; he was ordained to the priesthood 28 March of that year, and returned to Würzburg, where he pursued his ecclesiastical preparation for another year.In 1849 he was appointed chaplain at Zellingen, and for some time devoted himself with zeal to the duties of his office.
He also publsihed (Der Katholik, 1871) another outlined memorial concerning the Vatican Council, in reply to eleven questions submitted by the Bavarian Minister of Worship to the theological and law faculties of Würzburg.
Until 1869 Hergenröther was occupied as teacher and writer, chiefly with early Christian and Byzantine ecclesiastical history.
The discovery (1851) of the Greek Christian text known as the Philosopho&úmena led him to examine its disputed authorship in a series of studies in the "Tübinger Theol. The results of his twelve years of research in the history of the Greek Schism appeared finally in the classical work, "Photius Patriarch von Constantinopel, sein Leben, seine Schriften, und das griechische Schisma" (3 vols., Ratisbon, 1867-69).
He was the second son of Johann Jacob Hergenröther, professor of medicine in the University of Würzburg.
His historical tendencies exhibited themselves at this early age in a dramatic poem entitled "Papst Gregor VII" (Würzburg, 1841).