The Coming of Christianity: Pagans and Missionaries
At the Fitzwilliam Museum
As a religion of the book, Christianity established its roots and
spread its message through texts. Manuscripts were as mobile as
the missionaries who converted the pagan people in the name –
and with the Word - of God. They were exchanged as gifts or pledges,
presented as tokens of devotion, treasured as the relics of saints,
and transformed into symbols of identity for entire communities.
Manuscripts disseminated the teachings of the early Church, reinforced
its political and cultural expansion, and enhanced the image of
Christian rulers who had embraced the new faith.
The manuscripts displayed in this first section of the exhibition
offer fascinating insights into the early history of Christianity
in the Latin West. They preserve tangible evidence about its spread
from Rome to Canterbury and from Ireland to the Court of Charlemagne.