St. Canute's Benedictine Abbey (Skt Knuds Kloster) was built to support the pilgrimage centre for the relics of the royal Danish martyr Saint Canute (died 1086), and was the successor to the priory of St. Mary and St. Alban, Denmark's earliest monastic house. Located in Odense, it was the island of Funen's most important medieval religious institution.
St. Canute's Abbey was founded in connection with the pilgrimage site at the tomb of Saint Canute, otherwise King Canute IV of Denmark, in 1096 when his remains were translated into the new church, St. Canute's Cathedral. The land was perhaps originally that of the royal farm at Odense where Canute, his brother Prince Benedict and their followers stayed until they sought sanctuary in the nearby Benedictine priory church of St. Alban's where they were killed.
Twelve monks were brought by King Erik I Ejegod from Evesham Abbey in England to build and operate the new monastery in Denmark. They are credited with planting the firstapple trees in Denmark in the abbey garden. Over the years the abbey acquired extensive land holdings on Funen making it a pre-eminent institution until the Reformation.
St. Canute's Cathedral formed the north side of the extensive abbey complex. Erik III Lam spent his last days in St. Canute's Abbey, where he died on 27 August 1147.
The abbey was sacked by the Wends in the same year, and the church and parts of the abbey were burned again in 1247 when Duke Abel 'laid Odense in ashes'. St. Canute's was rebuilt by 1301, and the Gothic Brick structure forms the core of the present St. Canute's Cathedral. Its form was unusual in that the shrine with the remains of Saint Canute and his brother, Prince Benedict, was placed beneath the high altar, so that pilgrims could visit it without interfering with the monks' services above them.
A cathedral school was first established in 1283. Later, additional schools were established with connections to other monastic houses in Odense. The most famous student wasHans Tausen, who later became one of Denmark's prominent Lutheran reformers.
The amount of income brought by pilgrims made it possible for the abbey to grow and expand its school and other works. In 1474 a quarrel between the Benedictine monks and Bishop Charles Rønnow resulted in the monks being driven from the abbey. They were able to return in 1489 upon orders from Pope Innocent III.
By the 1520s the winds of change were blowing in Denmark. Many Danes were weary of the economic burdens imposed by church tithes, fees and alms. Hans Tausen, a pupil ofMartin Luther, and others returned to Denmark determined to free the country from the influence, beliefs, and institutions of its long Roman Catholic past. Monastic houses, beginning with the Franciscans and Dominicans, were forced to close. In 1529 the last Roman Catholic bishop of Odense resigned. The Count's Feud decided the question to the advantage of the Lutherans. By the time Denmark became officially Lutheran in 1536, the great monasteries had reverted to the crown. The income properties were sold off or given away to nobles to whom Christian III was indebted or in return for services. In 1537 the three grammar schools associated with the former monasteries were consolidated.
The abbey buildings were among the largest in Odense until the 1800s and were used for a variety of purposes both private and public. The buildings were modified many times and older sections demolished and other structures built in their places.
In 1913 a fire destroyed the entire abbey complex and additions made over several hundred years. It was quickly decided that it should be rebuilt as a reminder of the historic nature of the site, without much thought to how the new building was to be used. It was completed in 1919 and eventually housed the Odense city library and reading room, which it remained until 1976 when the library was relocated. The building on the site of St. Canute's Abbey now houses Skt Knuds Kloster Historiens Hus, a museum of the site's history.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.