The Slovene Museum of Christianity features two permanent exhibitions:
The exhibition entitled “Life behind Monastic Walls” presents the rich history of the Stična Abbey, the oldest operating monastery in Slovenia. Throughout its 900 years of history, the abbey has left a significant religious, economic and cultural mark on present-day Slovenia.
Janez Vajkard Valvasor: Topographia Ducatus Carnioliae Modernae, 1679
Visitors can see monastic workshops with various tools (for cobblers, tailors and cheese-makers), objects used for baking the host and various kitchen utensils. There is also a collection of bee-keeping and farming tools.
The next room is dedicated to the best-known Slovene monks of the twentieth century. Father Simon Ašič (1906–1992) is known to Slovenes mostly as an herbalist whose work and books about natural ways of healing with herbs made him one of the most prominent experts in this area in Slovenia. The display features several of his personal items and a portable pharmacy. In the same room the visitors can see some of the works of the prolific painter, Father Gabrijel Humek (1907–1993).
Typewriter of Father Simon Ašič, 19th century, register no. S-PSA 14
The twentieth-century art history collection features paintings and sculptures by major Slovene artists: Matej Sternen, Ivana Kobilica, Ivan Vavpotič, Ivan Grohar, Maksim Gaspari, Maksim Sedej, Lojze Spacal, Anton Gojmir Kos, Albert Sirk, Matej Metlikovič, France Kralj and France Gorše.
The Leopold Kozlevčar cultural history collection features Biedermeier furniture, clocks from the early nineteenth century, porcelain and glass items and works of art. Most of these objects were gathered by the private collector Leopold Kozlevčar (1904–1988).
Wardrobe, 18th century, reg. no. K 1338
The religious items collection features objects of a pious nature that were accessible to the average believer in different centuries. The display includes statues and images of saints, paintings on glass, wooden crucifixes, votive images, aspersoria, nativity scenes, rosaries and other trinkets from pilgrimages dating mostly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The room of saints features depictions of certain saints, both male and female. The main exhibits are the paintings of St Vitus and St Florian by the celebrated Slovene Baroque painter Fortunat Bergant. Visitors to this room can also become acquainted with Sts Cecilia, Clare, Margaret, Sebastian and others.
Unknown painter, St Cecilia, detail, oil on canvas, 18th century, reg. no. ŠLU 33
The collection of ecclesiastic vestments encompasses embroidered chasubles, dalmatics and other vestments from the seventeenth to twentieth century. Visitors can also admire the insignia of some of the Stična abbots.
The display at the Laurence Keep features museum exhibits connected with the spiritual and cultural mission of the Stična monastery. It includes portraits of some Stična abbots, a reconstruction of the Stična scriptorium, a facsimile of a Stična manuscript from the fifteenth century and many printed books from the modern era.
Reconstruction of medieval scriptorium
Liturgical vessels (chalices, ciboria, monstrances) are kept in the treasury, along with procession crosses, reliquaries and a unique collection of wax figurines; the most significant of these are two eighteenth-century dolls of infant Jesus from Prague.
Silver procession cross, detail, 18th century, reg. no. S 238
The permanent exhibition entitled “History of Christianity in Slovenia”, which is located on the second floor of the museum, is the first exhibition of its kind in Slovenia. It is chronologically organised in twelve exhibition rooms. It acquaints visitors with the beginnings of Christianity in Slovenia in the third century and takes them on a 1700-year journey through history that ends in the jubilee year 2000.
The first two rooms present Christianity in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (third to eleventh century). The visitor is acquainted with the beginnings of Christianity in Slovenia and learns about Bishop Victorinus of Poetovio, Bishop Modestus and the brothers Cyril and Methodius. The most prominent exhibits are an original bronze fibula from the fourth century and a facsimile of the Freising Manuscripts, which were written between 972 and 1039.
The room next door features a display on the Middle Ages (twelfth to fourteenth century) and the establishment of the permanent Church structure in Slovenia at that time. A network of original parishes was established and the first monasteries were founded. Visitors can learn about the earliest monastic orders in Slovenia: the Benedictines, Cistercians, Knights Hospitaller, Teutonic Knights, Poor Clares, Dominicans, Augustinians and others.
In the room dedicated to the fifteenth century the main emphasis is on the Turkish raids, the emergence of towns and the founding of the mendicant orders. Two important events marking Christianity in Slovenia were the founding of the Ljubljana diocese (1461–1462) and the collegiate chapter in Novo Mesto (1493–1494). The main exhibits in the room are two Gothic frescoes and a stained glass window by Johannes de Laybaco and several statues from that period.
St Margaret, ca. 1389, inv. no. 3825
The sixteenth century is marked by the spread of the Reformation and Protestantism and the efforts of Protestant preachers to introduce the Slovene language into the liturgy. Visitors can learn about the most important Protestant writers (Primož Trubar, Sebastijan Krelj, Adam Bohorič and Jurij Dalmatin). The main exhibit is the facsimile of Dalmatin’s Bible in the Slovene language (1584).
The next room takes us to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the period of Counter-Reformation and the Restoration of the Church. After the Council of Trent (1545–1563) the restoration of the Catholic Church also took place in Slovenia. The most important protagonists of the Catholic restoration were the Jesuit and Capuchin monks, who began their activities in Slovenia at that time. The most notable exhibit is the Gabrče Chasuble from the seventeenth century.
St Andrew, 18th century, reg. no. K 436
The blossoming of Baroque art and reforms of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Joseph II are presented in the next room. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many new churches were constructed and furnished in the new Baroque fashion. The reign of Joseph II brought many reforms to the Catholic Church: the restructuring of dioceses, abolition of folk piety, dissolution of most monasteries and so on. In the early eighteenth century the Ursuline nuns arrived in Slovenia and founded the first girls’ schools in the country. Here you can see Baroque sculptures and Valentin Metzinger’s painting of St Nicholas.
Valentin Metzinger, St Nicholas of Myra, detail, oil on canvas, ca. 1740, reg. no. L2
The next room is dedicated to the nineteenth century. The main topics are the Revolutions of 1848 and the Slovene national awakening. During this time, most changes took place in the Maribor Archdiocese under the guidance of Bishop Anton Martin Slomšek (1800–1862). Visitors can also learn about other important national leaders who came from the ranks of the Catholic Church (Matija Majar Ziljski, Anton Korošec, Janez Evangelist Krek etc.).
The last exhibition room depicts the twentieth century and mainly addresses the events of the First and Second World War, social changes and the Republic of Slovenia’s independence. The most important exhibit in the room is Franc Dolinar’s First Mass chalice, which was designed by the leading twentieth-century Slovene architect, Jože Plečnik.
Unknown painter, Anton B. Jeglič, detail, oil on canvas, early 20th century, reg. no. ŠLU 997
A special room is dedicated to various forms of folk piety, including setting up the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday and pilgrimages to various destinations in Slovenia and abroad. Many believers offered various votive items to the Blessed Virgin and the saints and brought back home souvenirs such as images, rosaries, figurines and candles.
A collection of original book editions, objects and correspondence of the missionary and bishop Friderik Irenej Baraga (1797–1868) and a collection of Slovene emigrant literature from the USA, Canada, Argentina and Australia have been collected and arranged by the Salesian priest Karel Ceglar (1912–1999), who lived in Canada after the Second World War.
Archive of missionary Friderik Irenej Baraga