The Albrechtsburg castle in Meissen is for the first time hosting an exhibition for the medieval bishop Benno (1010-1106). Entitled “A Treasure not of Gold”, it presents the life and work of the clergyman as well as his effect until the present day, explains curator Claudia Kunde. 200 exhibits from 40 lenders can be seen in six rooms on 400 square metres. Documents, manuscripts and works of art are among the exhibits. Benno is to this day venerated as Saxony’s first saint.
Exhibition in an authentic venue
The choice of the Albrechtsburg as the exhibition venue is not without reason. “The castle hill of Meissen is the authentic location of the history around Saxony’s first saint. Here Benno acted, here he was buried and here important events unfolded in the centuries after Benno, especially during the Reformation, explains Dr. Christian Striefler, initiator of the exhibition. As the “cradle of Saxony”, the Albrechtsburg stands like no other castle for the cultural history of this German federal state.
The focus of the exhibition in the year of the Anniversary of the Reformation is the veneration of the saints, which was severely criticised by Martin Luther. Only a few days before the solemn canonization of Bishop Benno in Meissen in 1524, the Reformer distributed the tract “Against the New Idol and the Old Devil to be Erected at Meissen”, in which he denounced this practice. Luther's pamphlet created a controversy on the worship of saints in the entire German Reich.
Benno found his last resting place at first in the Meissen Cathedral next to the Albrechtsburg. In the course of the Reformation however, reaching Meissen in 1539, his tomb was destroyed and his relics brought to Munich in 1576 via Stolpen and Wurzen. Only the revival of Catholicism in Saxony in the 18th century brought about the “return” of the Saint in Saxony.