Our last day was spent in Mainz. We visited the amazing St. Stephan's Church, for which the very persistent priest, Klaus Mayer, convinced Marc Chagall to create windows. Here is a link to details about the long conversation and the even longer production of these amazing windows. It is a very worthwhile article from the NY Times and not too long. I recommend it!
St. Stephan's occupies a high point in the city of Mainz. As we walked downhill to the old city center, our guide explained the political power of Mainz in the mid-1400s. Especially that of the Archbishop Dietrich, who through graft and strong arm, was actually the bishop over two bishoprics. This was the political and social climate that surrounded the development of the Gutenberg Bible. Look below for a link to read a short essay about it...)
We next toured the Cathedral of Mainz (aka Mainz Dom) to take in a bit more of the particulars regarding Catholicism in the 1400s and early 1500s, the time from Gutenberg to Luther.
Gutenberg's moveable type changed the world in much the same way as inventing the wheel must have. Which is to say, it changed everything! Prior to moveable type, anything that was committed to paper or vellum was done so through the laborious process of hand written copying by scribes. This meant that no two copies of anything were ever really the same. Little errors would continue to be perpetuated and the change of an accent mark or an "o" looking like an "a" could entirely change the meaning of a word. Had it not been for the printing press, it is doubtful that Luther's writings would have caused such a stir and so the Reformation would have proceeded very differently, if at all.
One of the highlights of visiting Mainz is going to the Gutenberg Museum to see the process explained and demonstrated. Following the demonstration, visitors are taken into the "Treasure Vault" to see the copies of the original Gutenberg Bible that they own. About 180 were printed, being completed in 1455, and 49 are known to still exist either in part or the whole. Prior to leaving on this trip, I read several books to shed light on printing and the Reformation. One was Gutenberg's Apprentice, which helped set the stage for the value of the printing press to the Reformation and another was Brand Luther, which made clear how extraordinary the man was as an author and the extent to which the Reformation depended on his writing and publishing those works. Follow this link to read a brief piece about Mainz and the time of Gutenberg.
Here's the group of pilgrims, after our farewell dinner and before we all disappeared back to our rooms to pack.