Paderborn, August 2, 2013
The Christianization of Europe happened not as a linear process but as a dynamic phenomenon that went in different ways in different regions of Europe. The exposition describes achievements and failures of missionaries, facts on missionary activities associated with the military expansion and other coercive actions. The exhibition's organizers hope that those who observe the exhibition will think about the meaning of Christianity today and its role in the process of forming of national states.
About 800 exhibits from around 230 museums, libraries and private collections of various European countries--from Iceland and Italy to the Ukraine as well as the USA have been collected for the exhibition. Among the most valuable objects are the text of St. Paul's Epistle to Romans of early medieval period (kept at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin) and also "The Petersburg Gospel" from the Russian National Library, which is rarely exhibited.
A well-known "Epos of Charlemagne" that describes the meeting of the king of Franks with Pope Leo III in 799 in Paderborn (kept at the Central Zurich Library) will also be on exhibition as well. Moreover, the organizers have brought with them artwork from the Art History Museum in Vienna, San Marco in Venice, and also treasures from the National museum of the Ukraine and the Marienburg castle of Poland that were not exhibited in Europe before. They include the Byzantine decorations and elements of decor from the former residence of the Great Master of the Teutonic Order.
A separate part of the exhibition tells of recent archeological finds, shedding new light on the history of the spread of Christianity in Europe. Specifically, the exposition includes finds from the burial of an Anglo-Saxon prince, the so called "Prince of Prittlewell" (ca. 700) that was discovered in 2003.
Now restored and kept at the Southend-on-Sea museum (Essex), the burial vault was first reconstructed outside Great Britain.
The exhibition is held under patronage of the president of Germany Joachim Gauck and is organized jointly with the Paderborn administration, the Archbishopric of Paderborn and the Regional association of Westhalia-Lippe. This is the third successful joint national exhibition project after the exhibitions, "The Carolingian Culture and Arts" and "Canossa that Shook the World".