In 1877, only a little over 20 years after foundation of Saint John’s Abbey, two German monasteries—Metten and Ottobeuren—donated over a thousand books to this fledgling Benedictine offshoot on the edge of the prairie. Building on experiences and information gathered during the Benedictine Heritage Tour in June 2010, Dr. Heintzelman will place the stories of the two Bavarian library collections within a broader historical context. In the early 19th-century, the newly founded kingdom of Bavaria pursued a policy of secularization toward all Bavarian monasteries and religious houses, some with roots extending back to the age of Charlemagne. These spiritual communities lost not only their books and manuscripts, but also their very community, all other monastic properties, and even their own history. When monasticism finally reappeared in southeastern Germany a generation later, most communities needed to start over with almost nothing. Traces of this history can still be found today in the rare book collections at Saint John’s. The presentation will include materials from the Saint John’s University rare books collection that depict this story of loss and reconstruction. A story of loss and rebirth manifested in Saint John’s own history and HMML’s mission of photographic preservation of manuscripts.
Heintzelman, Matthew, "A Tale of Two (or Possibly Three?) Libraries: Monastic Libraries on the Edge of the Prairie" (2011). HMML Lectures. 1.