Friedrich Justus Heinrich Knecht was born in Bruchsal, the fourth of seven children of the master tailor Heinrich Ludwig Knecht, and Catharina Schmer. He attended elementary school from 1843 to 1849 and high school from 1849 to 1856.
Justus Knecht, was baptized a Protestant but converted to the Catholic faith in 1855 at his mother's request, along with his father and the three siblings. After finishing high school in 1858, he studied Catholic theology in Freiburg (1858-1861). In 1861 he entered the seminary in St. Peterand was ordained a priest there on August 5, 1862 by Archbishop Hermann von Vicari.
From 1862 to 1864 he worked as a vicar in Durmersheim, Rastatt and Freiburg. He was also a tutor at the archbishop's seminary for boys and a religion teacher in a school in Freiburg.
From 1869 to 1871 Knecht was an administrator in Gengenbach, and in 1871 a parish administrator in Seelbach and finally from 1871 to 1877 a pastor in Reichenbach/Lahr. During this time he was appointed to be the archbishop's school inspector and intervened in the disputes between church and state in the Kulturkampf. From 1879 to 1882 he was pastor in Schuttertal and in 1882 Archbishop Johann Baptist Orbin appointed him to his cathedral chapter and entrusted him with the schools and religious education in the Archdiocese of Freiburg. In the same year Justus Knecht wrote the Practical Commentary on Biblical History, which remained in use in the German-speaking area for a entire generation. This was followed in the same year by the publication of the Brief Biblical History for the Catholic elementary school. This textbook was extremely popular in its day and has been translated into 20 different languages. His Practical Commentary on Biblical History, translated in 1925, was one of the foundations for the Catholic mission in China. In 1907, his Biblical History for Schools and Homes was published.
In 1893 he received from Pope Leo XIII. the honorary title of "Papal secret chamberlain" and was appointed titular bishop of Neve and auxiliary bishop in Freiburg on February 4, 1894. He was ordained a bishop on April 4 of the same year.
After the death of Archbishop Johann Baptist Orbin in 1886, he was considered a possible successor, but was removed from the list of candidates by the Baden state government. In 1896, Justus Knecht was appointed Dean of the Cathedral of Freiburg and thus, as vicar, head of the cathedral chapter. After the death of Archbishop Johannes Christian Roos from 1896 to 1898, he was regent of the Archdiocese, obtained the title of "Papal Assistant to the Throne and Comes Romanus" in 1903 and headed the Archdiocese of Freiburg during a two-year vacancy in the See.
In recognition of his great services as a religious education teacher and his successful literary activities, the Bruchsal city council awarded him honorary citizenship on the occasion of his approaching 80th birthday on October 2, 1919. Justus Knecht, honorary citizen of Bruchsal, died in Freiburg on January 31, 1921, at the age of 81, where he was buried on February 3.
- "Bishop Friedrich Justus Knecht". www.catholic-hierarchy.org.
- "Wer war Justus Knecht?". www.jkg-bruchsal.de.