University of Tübingen. University of Bonn.
Ordained priest, 2 September 1863, he was for twenty-five years professor of religion at the Gymnasium at Essen. In 1886 he received his doctorate at the University of Tübingen, his thesis being "De salute infidelium". He was preconized titular Bishop of Juliopolis, 14 February 1889, and was thenceforth associated in the administration of the Diocese of Cologne as assistant to the auxiliary Bishop Baudri, then very old.
When Baudri died (29 June 1893), Fischer succeeded him.
In 1901 the See of Cologne became vacant by the death of Manager Theophilus Simar, and Fischer was appointed archbishop (26 November 1902).
On 23 June 1903, Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal. During the ten years of his episcopate Cardinal Fischer consecrated in the diocese several hundred churches and more than one thousand altars.
He was a devoted protector of the religious orders.
On several occasions during religious or *national celebrations he spoke of Kaiser Wilhelm II in very warm terms, which caused much comment. At the Congress of Liège in 1890 he called for the intervention of the State in matters of labour legislation. He declared "Aspiration towards progress, towards the betterment and preservation of earthly well-being is deeply enrooted in human nature and does not contradict the Christian moral laws." On 13 November 1905, he advised the Catholic miners assembled in Congress at Essen to co-operate with non-Catholic workmen in the discussion of common economic questions.
He was likewise the defender with the Holy See of Christian interdenominational syndicates, whose headquarters were at Mönchengladbach, and he exerted himself to counterbalance the influence brought to bear in behalf of purely sectarian syndicates by the Catholics of Berlin, the Bishop of Trier, and the Cardinal-Bishop of Breslau.