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Quand Strasbourg accueillait Calvin (1538-1541)

Une exposition conçue et présentée par la Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire en collaboration avec la Faculté de Théologie.

Entrée libre
Lundi : 14 - 18 h
Mardi - samedi : 12 - 18 h
Fermé dimanches et jours fériés

Renseignements et réservations :
03.88.25.28.00
bnu.fr / contact@bnu.fr

Visites guidées : tous les mardis à 16h30

Publication :
Catalogue de l’exposition : 216 pages, Prix 25 €

Télécharger le dossier de presse

Quand Strasbourg accueillait Calvin (1538-1541)

23/10/2009 - 12/12/2009

John Calvin was born in Noyon on 10 July 1509. To mark the 500th anniversary of his birth, the Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Strasbourg and the BNU are organising an original exhibition focusing on the three years Calvin spent in Strasbourg.

Calvin was driven out of Geneva in April 1538 for having attempted to impose his own idea of ecclesiastic discipline (perpetrators of scandal were to be refused holy communion) and to ensure the independence of the new Protestant Church from the political powers; he withdrew to Basle, to continue his studies. However, Martin Bucer (1491-1551), the spearhead of the Reform in Strasbourg, who had recognised the younger man's talent(Calvin had made a name for himself in 1536 with his work entitled "Institutes of the Christian Religion"), managed to attract him away from his peaceful retirement and he came to Strasbourg.

Strasbourg had passed definitively into the Reformation camp in 1529; it was a free city in the Empire, and for many years had welcomed French-speaking refugees, particularly from Metz, who were being persecuted for their religious beliefs. These few hundred French-speaking refugees needed a pastor. John Calvin, despite his young age, was the ideal choice for a pastor and teacher - in Geneva he had made a name for himself as a brave, committed preacher; his writings displayed his erudition, his literary panache, and his sense of synthesis.

Calvin arrived in Strasbourg in September1538, and stayed for three years, before giving in to the pleadings of the people of Geneva who, having changed their governors, were now very keen to have him back.

These three years spent in Strasbourg were not, however, merely a parenthesis in the career of the man who, like Luther, left his mark on western Europe for centuries; from his contact with Martin Bucer, Jean and Jacques Sturm, and Wolfgang Capiton, Calvin was able to develop and indeed realign his idea of the Church and its relationship with politics.

With a less demanding workload than had been the case in Geneva, he was able, in calm surroundings, to draft writings of capital importance, including the first French version of his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" (1541), a literary monument that was the first real theological treatise in French.

Thus Calvin's three years in Strasbourg were of capital importance, and it is both natural and welcome that Strasbourg should concentrate its attention on this decisive period in history and mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformer's birth.

Jean Calvin, à l’époque où il quitta Strasbourg: Paul Lienhardt - Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme français. Huile sur bois, 34 x 47 cm.Jean Calvin, à l’époque où il quitta Strasbourg: Paul Lienhardt - Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme français. Huile sur bois, 34 x 47 cm.
The exhibition

The exhibition focuses on Calvin's time in Strasbourg (1538-1541), with the aim of supplementing or even renewing knowledge about the Reformer.. It is based almost exclusively on literary treasures from Strasbourg; of the 130 or so documents presented, most are from the BNU, with additions from the Archives of the City of Strasbourg and the Protestant media library. There are manuscripts and extremely rare - and in some cases unique - prints from the sixteenth century.

Strasbourg au XVIe siècle : Argentoratum – Strassburg: In : Georges Braun, Franz Hogenberg, Simon Novellanus, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Anvers et Cologne : Ph. Galle, 1572. Strasbourg, Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire. Iconographie alsatique. M.CARTE.10.583Strasbourg au XVIe siècle : Argentoratum – Strassburg: In : Georges Braun, Franz Hogenberg, Simon Novellanus, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Anvers et Cologne : Ph. Galle, 1572. Strasbourg, Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire. Iconographie alsatique. M.CARTE.10.583
These documents show the Calvin devoted to his studies, thinking and teaching as well as the man of action, involved in the life of the city and in the major debates of the time, and keen to promote an order of things marked by Christian values. The items displayed are not only from the years1538-1541; the exhibition also aims to show both the origin and consequences of Calvin's work during these years.

The eight stages of the exhibition:

1. John Calvin before his arrival in Strasbourg
2. The Reform in Strasbourg and Calvin's life in Strasbourg
3. His great work - "Institutes of the Christian Religion"
4. Pastor of the French Church
5. Teacher at the Haute École and Bible commentator
6. John Calvin and the division of Christendom
7. John Calvin and Strasbourg after 1541
8. John Calvin and his correspondents - the letters in the Sarrau Collection

Jean Calvin, Institutio christianae religionisJean Calvin, Institutio christianae religionis
The Sarrau Collection

The BNU's collections have recently been enriched by the donation of the Sarrau Collection, consisting of a bundle of fifteen signed letters which are to be presented to the public for the first time. These letters were received by Calvin between 6 October 1541 and 7 March 1563, and were given to Claude Sarrau, Adviser to the King at the Parliament of Paris, on 1 February 1647 by Jean Carré, pastor in Châtellerault. Since that date they have been kept together and carefully conserved by Claude Serrau's descendants. Count Gérald de Sarrau, the last owner of the collection, which has been passed down from one generation to the next to the eldest offspring, decided in 2008 to donate them to Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Strasbourg. The Faculty was extremely grateful and, with the donor's agreement, deposited the collection with the BNU. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth, the exhibition will mark the receipt of this heritage treasure.

Lettre de Théodore de Bèze à Jean Calvin: Blâmont, 5 octobre 1562Lettre de Théodore de Bèze à Jean Calvin: Blâmont, 5 octobre 1562

The exhibition is mainly historic in nature, but there are also several contemporary paintings designed by Philippe François, a pastor of the Reformed Church in Alsace and Lorraine and a doctor in theology, and produced by Bernard François, a painter and sculptor. Several motifs connected with the exhibition (Calvin and Humanism, the Strasbourg psalter), and also Calvin's theological legacy (paintings referring to Karl Barth, the famous theologian of the Reformed Church), show to what extent the Reformer is still a source of inspiration not only in the field of literature and religious thinking, where he made his mark, but also in the field of art, which is sometimes seen as the opposite of Calvinism.

Other events

"Protestants en fête" (31 October - 2 November 2009):

  • Friday 31 October: guided visits (register in advance)
  • open specially from 12 noon to 7 p.m. from Friday to Sunday

Lectures:

  • 31 October 2009 (6 p.m.): Calvin's thinking according to the "Institutes of the Christian Religion", by Marc Vial (Faculty of Protestant Theology)
  • 25 November 2009 (6 p.m.): Calvin and singing the psalms, by Beat Föllmi (Faculty of Protestant Theology)
  • 07 December 2009 (6 p.m.): Calvin today, by Matthieu Arnold (Faculty of Protestant Theology)


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