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 Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.