Ribe Cathedral Museum

Walk the 44 steps up the tower staircase and visit Ribe Cathedral Museum, which presents the architectural history of the Cathedral and describes the nature of religious life for the ordinary man and woman in the street before and after the Reformation in Denmark in 1536.

The Museum is located up in the southern gallery with a wonderful view of the rest of the church. The exhibition also highlights fixtures and special spots in the church that are visible from the gallery.

The Reformation and the exhibition

In 1517 a major schism took place in the Catholic Church.
Large parts of Germany, Scandinavia and, later, England broke away from the papacy in Rome.

It was criticism by the German monk, Martin Luther of the trading of indulgences and of the Pope’s authority that started everything. He claimed that one should only use the Bible as a guiding principle for the organisation and content of the Church. In Denmark, the Reformation took place in 1536.

Now people sang hymns and read the Bible in their mother tongue, monasticism was abolished, people were no longer categorised as priests or laity, and the worship of saints was phased out.

The Church was now a national institution headed by the King. Most of the Church’s land was seized by the King, who gave it away as fiefdom to the nobility. The clergy kept the rest of the land as rectory property, which they had to cultivate. The clergy could now start families.

In Denmark and other countries many monasteries and churches were demolished, and the churches changed in appearance. For example, altars venerating saints were removed and often destroyed.

The Reformation part of the exhibition focuses on the difference between life before the Reformation and after the Reformation. It demonstrates how important the Reformation was for the power holders of the country, for Ribe Cathedral and its clergy, and for the town and its population.
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