Skip to main content

Exhibition in Meissen honours Bishop Benno

Mitre of Bishop Benno of Meissen. (Photo: Henning von Rochow)

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.

The “Fish miracle” of Saint Benno on the altarpiece of the Benno chapel in the church Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome. (Photo: © Pontificium Institutum Teutonicum Sanctas Mariae de Anima in Urbe/Hennig von Rochow)

Benno was the Catholic bishop of Meissen from 1066 to 1106. In the Cathedral, an Evangelical Church since the 16th Century, a sandstone plate has recently been put up at the former location of his tomb. The Bishop is patron saint of the Catholic diocese of Dresden-Meissen re-establihed in 1921 and of the archdiocese Munich and Freising. Furthermore he is considered to be patron saint of Bavaria.

Four focuses in the exhibition

The exhibition has four focusses. First Benno’s vita is presented, then the evolution of the worship of the Bishop, which initially was limited locally to the Meissen Cathedral. After that, the exhibition takes a look at the project of canonization, driven by George the Bearded, Duke of Saxony (1471–1539) in particular. The focus ends with the destruction of the tomb of Bishop Benno during the Reformation and the rescue of his mortal remains to Munich. The last focus will be the triumph of the Counter-Reformation with the increased significance of Benno as the patron-saint of Bavaria. 

The exhibition is based on a combination of original exhibits with modern multimedia contents. As an example, the large format altarpiece from the Benno chapel of the church of the German-speaking Catholics in Rome, Santa Maria dell’Anima, is exposed, but also a silver bust reliquary of the Bishop as well as the crook of his crosier. Last but not least an illustration shows where the traces of Saint Benno can still be found today. For this purpose, persons interested can follow the nearly 100 kilometer long Benno route from Meissen to Bautzen via Dresden.

Information

Source:epd/Schlösserland Sachsen Date:18-05-17
Keywords:
Exhibition, Reformation, Benno von Meißen, Meißen

Info

„Ein Schatz nicht von Gold“

Albrechtsburg Meißen
Domplatz 1
01662 Meißen

Opening hours:
12 May to 5 November 2017
until October, daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
November daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets:
Adults 6€
Discounted 4€
2 adults + at most 4 children 14€
Groups (from 15 people) 5 € p. p.

Further information:

benno.schloesserland-sachsen.de