April 22nd, 2015: Inauguration of the exhibition “A relationship of 650 years. University of Vienna and the Melk monastery”

On April 22nd, 2015, a special exhibition was inaugurated at Melk Abbey that thematises the relations between the abbey and the University of Vienna, which have existed for 650 years. In the deed of foundation of the university the abbot Johannes Radenbrunner (1360-1371) from Melk is mentioned as a prominent attester. From the start of the academic ministry until today there is an evidence of an active transfer of knowledge certified by multiple documents, manuscripts, deeds and other mementos. The “Melker Reform” of the 15th century would not have been imaginable without the interaction with the university. On the one hand university professors joined the monastery, on the other hand rectors (Berthold Dietmayr, Anton Reyberger,...) and professors of the university originated from the monastery school and the convent in Melk. The abbey library in Melk has always been a centre of attraction for scholars and researchers. Until the 20th century eminent professors like P. Hugo Hantsch (Professor for Modern History) were members of the monastery. Lecturers and students of the university still use the resources of the monastery and hold courses there. A compact course of the department of Fundamental Theology has taken place in the abbey every semester for several years.

The inauguration of the exhibition took place in the presence of Rector Heinz Engl, Vice Governor Wolfgang Sobotka and Abbot Georg Wilfinger. Ernst Bruckmüller held a ceremonial address on the topic “University and monasteries” and Meta Niederkom-Bruck (both from the Institute for History of the University of Vienna) provided further insights into the subject. Among the members of the Faculty of Catholic Theology Vice Dean Jan-Heiner Tück, Kurt Appel, Rudolf Kaisler and Jakob Deibl participated at the event. The latter was also part of the preparation team of the exhibition. Together with Johannes Deibl and Bernadette Kalteis (both working at the monastery library) he conceived the part on Melk's Benedictine Anton Reyberger, who acted as Professor for Moral Theology at the University of Vienna from 1788 to 1810, who was Dean of the Faculty of Catholic Theology in 1800/01 and who became Rector of the Universityin 1810/11. Reyberger propounded a systematic outline for a moral theology in 1794, in which he received many Protestant authors and contemporary philosophy (Kant not counting among the least).

The first part of the exhibition, which will remain open until December 31st, 2015, is located in the monastery library and can be visited in the course of a tour of the abbey. The second significantly more extensive part can be found in the so-called pillared hall and is freely accessible.