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Cusanusstift with gothic chapel and medieval library

The poor-law infirmary "St. Nikolaus" of Bernkastel (Cusanusstift) was founded by Cusanus and established throughout the years 1451-1457 in the historic part of Kues, not far from the Mosel river banks. The hospital aimed to care for those of the poor who could be restored to honest independence, but for many this was not likely to be possible. Today, we find here the most famous parts of Cusanus' library with a unique collection of handwritten, artfully decorated scientific books originating from the 9th - 15th century —one of the world's most precious private libraries. The building's medieval cloister with its open colonade along with the gotic chapel, all this impresses the visitor by the architectural perfectness.

With his scientific treatises and mnauscripts, his contributions to philosophy, science and epistemology (the theory of the origin, nature, and limits of human knowledge) Nikolaus von Kues (1401-1464) represents one of the constituent theorists who helped overcoming medieval stagnation. Despite his "modern" ideas, Cusanus also made remarkable career within the institutional church by achieving the position of a cardinal at Rome. Such a career was quite unusual at these times given his non-aristocratic background. His titular church as cardinal was S. Pietro in Vincoli at the bottom of Monte Esquilino in Rome. An image of Cusanus can be found on his tombstone and he is also depicted as benefactor on the middle part of the wing altar in the Cusanusstift's gothic chapel. The house where Cusanus was born lies at the end of the village Kues, upriver in the direction of Lieser.

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