Who was Paracelsus?

   Philippus Aureolus Paracel­sus (1490-1541) was a Swiss physician and alchemist. An alchemist was a medieval chemist who attempted to prolong life indefinitely, to discover a universal cure for diseases, and to change common metals into gold. As a physician, Paracelsus preceded sir Joseph Lister in maintaining "All that is necessary [to heal wounds] is to prevent infection in wound diseases."
   Paracelsus was born near Einsiedeln, Switzerland. He received his early education from his father who was a physician and chemist. He studied at the University of Basel, but left without getting a degree. Traveling to the mines in Tyrol, he studied the mechanical problems of mining, composition of minerals, and diseases of miners.
   When he returned to lecture at the Uni­versity of Basel in 1526, Paracelsus was met by intense opposition. His books in which he set forth his theories and methods of treating disease were burned by his enemies before he could begin his series of lectures.
   He also lectured in German instead of Latin, the language of scholars, which was an inexcusable breach of their scholarship.
   His opponents declared that his ideas had serious defects and that he did not have a degree. Finally, feeling became so heated that Paracelsus was forced to flee Basel. He wandered from place to place until 1541 when Archbishop Ernst invited him to live in Salzburg and offered him protection. However, his security lasted only a short time, for on September 24 of that same year Paracelsus met a tragic and brutal death at the hands of his enemies when he was thrown down a steep incline.