The role of monks in the shaping of European cultural identity in the case of the Benedictines, Carthusians, and Cistercians

The one-day international symposium entitled The role of monks in the shaping of European cultural identity in the case of the Benedictines, Carthusians, and Cistercians is organized by the Slovene Museum of Christianity. The museum is housed in Stična Abbey, the oldest and only still operating Cistercian monastery in Slovenia. The monastery, in which “white monks” continue to live today, was founded in 1136. With its exquisite Romanesque basilica, partly reconstructed in the Baroque period, its Gothic cloister, ancient Renaissance prelature, and late Baroque abbot’s chapel, the monastery has the status of a cultural monument of national importance. The Cistercian monastery of Stična, in which the famous Stična manuscripts were written towards the end of the 12th century, is situated 35 km east of Ljubljana, the capital of the Republic of Slovenia.

The Slovene Museum of Christianity, which occupies part of the monastery, is a national museum and the central Slovene museum institution responsible for collecting, studying, and exhibiting movable sacral cultural heritage. The museum communicates with the public through exhibitions, publications, and various events, because we aware that Christianity is not only part of the historical context, but has its place in contemporary society as well. Special attention is dedicated to the education of the young, because the actual intercultural dialogue is also a dialogue between different religions. This dialogue is increasingly topical in today’s world and will have a decisive role in the future of mankind.

The one-day international symposium is one of the activities in the framework of the two-year European project entitled Religion in the Shaping of European Culture Identity – RISECI ( The museum joined the project, which also includes institutions from Spain, Sweden and Scotland, as a co-organiser in 2013.

The project is based on the idea that in order to know Europe we must know its religious heritage as well. At the same time, it is an opportunity for a new dialogue in contemporary Europe, one that will include both religious and non-religious traditions. In our globalized world religions have triggered an avalanche of unexpected consequences, which in very different ways relate to civil society. To disseminate knowledge is the essential objective of this project, in which universities, museums, societies, and cultural organisations participate from environments where either the Anglican, Lutheran, or Catholic Church dominates. As in the past, religion is important to the wider society in various ways in the present too. It is this diversity that lends the project a special character.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, nine lecturers from Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and Slovenia, experts from the fields of history, theology and art history, will try to answer at this symposium in Stična the following question: how did the monastic life of the Benedictines, Carthusians, and Cistercians influence art, and in what sense can this art be called “European art”, if the notion can be used at all. One of the interesting themes that will be discussed is the Role of the Rule of St Benedict, which actually was not written for artists, but indeed for craftsmen.

Nataša Polajnar Frelih, MA, Director of the Slovene Museum of Christianity



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Welcome Address
Nataša Polajnar Frelih, Director of the Slovene Museum of Christianity
p. Janez Novak, Abbot of the Cistercian Abbey Stična
Silvester Gaberšček, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia

Anton Jamnik, Nadškofija Ljubljana, Slovenia
Europe’s Identity derives from its Christian roots

Anton Nadrah, Cistercijanska opatija Stična, Slovenia
The Influence of the Rule of St. Benedict on European Art

Immo Bernhard Eberl, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Philosophische Fakultät, Germany
The Cistercians – An Order for European Unity since the Middle Ages 



Annette Schäfer, Markt Hirschaid, Germany
Cistercian and Benedictine architecture in Franconia – abbeys and monasteries around Bamberg 

Maria Adelaide Miranda, Instituto de Estudos Medievais/Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
Santa Maria de Alcobaça: a global project of Cistercian art and spirituality 

Mija Oter Gorenčič, Umetnostnozgodovinski inštitut Franceta Steleta ZRC SAZU, Slovenia
The secular in the medieval art of the reform orders in Slovenia



Silvester Gaberšček, Ministrstvo za kulturo, Slovenia
Christianity at the roots of Slovene culture 

Krijn Pansters, Tilburg University, School of Catholic Theology, Franciscan Study Centre, Netherland
The Construction of Contemplation. On the Spiritual Craft of the Carthusians 

Zvone Pelko, Kulturno društvo Zgovorna tišina, Slovenia
The monk routes of Slovenia

Miquel Tresserras Majó, Facultat de Comunicació i Relacions Internacionals Blanquerna
Universitat Ramon Llull, Spain
Is it possible to have contemporary Christian art analogous to that which was generated by medieval monastic and cathedratic communities?


Closing Discussion

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