Heroes, Martyrs, Saint. Routes to Paradise

11 April 2019 - 4 October 2020

Heroes, martyrs, saints - we are fascinated by brave heroes, strong-willed visionaries and staunch defenders of what is (supposedly) right. Stories about them interest and at the same time motivate us to emulate the protagonist. Heroes like this provide an example for our own lives and can bring hope in difficult times. And it is irrelevant whether the person is a historical or fictional figure. Around 50 exhibits from the 13th to 15th century, highlights from the museum’s collection of sculptures and paintings, illustrate the mediaeval idea of an exemplary life and the sure route to paradise.

An archetype for recounting great heroic deeds - the “hero’s journey” - has become established, and from classical texts through to Hollywood movies has been based on a similar dramaturgy. The hero or heroine follows a calling, is put to the test, must avert danger while risking his or her own life, and put things back on an even keel. There are numerous examples, such as St. George saving a princess from a dragon, or Saint Vitus, who was thrown to the lions but spared. How did the people of the Late Middle Ages know of these stories; where did they find out about them? The exhibition shows how people identified with heroes, martyrs and saints in the religious world of the Late Middle Ages.

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