The exhibit, “Matilda of Canossa, the Papacy and the Empire” which will open at Vatican museums on August 31, was presented this morning at the Vatican.
The exhibition will run until January 11, 2009, at two separate sites: the Casa di Mantegna in Mantua and the abbey of San Benedetto Po.
The display will focus on the biographical and political events of Matilda's life to allow visitors to examine a period of confrontation between Popes and emperors which led to the separation of the religious and secular power – a concept that has continued in the West today.
Countess Matilda of Canossa, born in 1046 was a powerful feudal landowner who supported the Papacy in the controversy over the appointment of Church officials. She died in 1115.
The exhibition includes works of art, documents and artifacts from various museums in Italy and Europe which reveal a world undergoing a profound transformation. Matilda's fame and the need to make her a symbol of support for the Papacy has inspired such figures as Dante, Giulio Romano and Gianlorenzo Bernini who recreated her figure in masterpieces of literature, painting and sculpture.