The
Nidaros
Cathedral

Image of Angel killing the Dragon
Seal of 1260 from 'Krefting,1885'


This is an humble attempt to convey to you an important part of the Norwegian history; the history of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. In doing so I will use pictures from my personal collections, and a text written by myself. Certain sources of information have been useful in this work. Any suggestions and comments for improvement are welcome. If you find actual errors in this text, please inform me. All pictures and text material are the intellectual property of me, Ragnvald Larsen, unless othervise stated. Restrictions apply. Copyright ©Ragnvald Larsen.

Feel free to contribute with funding for scanning and further publishing,

Solnedgang over Nidarosdomen

Divide text with composition from Krefting
How does it feel; to walk around in the Cathedral one quiet evening? I can tell you; it is like being told a poem aloud without hearing the words. Below you will find my own translation of the words of the Swedish poet Thomas Transtromer.

If you ever come to Trondheim, you are welcome to enter the silent poem of our Cathedral. Whichever faith or religion, you will not leave "empty-handed".

The Angel is watching

Roman arches

by Tomas Transtromer

Inside the great Roman Church the tourists found themselves
       in the semi-darkness.
Vaults beyond vaults
Flickering candles.
There, the voice of a faceless angel caught me - filled me
vhispering into my very body:
"Do not feel ashamed human, be proud!
Inside you, vaults are opening and new vaults beyond these - forever.
Never will it stop. Never shall it stop."
Blinded by tears I stumbeled out on the sunny piazza
together with with Mr and Mrs Jones, Master Tanaka and
       Signora Sabatini
and inside all of them vaults beyond vaults were opening - forever.




Divide text with composition from Krefting

Dragondevil

The history of our Cathedral starts at Stiklestad in 1030. King Olav Haraldsson was elected King of Norway in 1016 at Orething. He was a Norwegian king with a firm belief that he was to Christanize Norway. His first step was to make a foundation for the Norwegian Church by law . Thence he travelled around in the country to make sure that all men were Christian men. Not all of them were. The ancient text of Fagrskinna says: "King Olav wanted all men in his country to become Christian men. If they did not accept baptism, the y were left with two alternatives; exile or death." The chieftains would not let go of the Old Norse Gods, and the peasants rebelled. The Danish King Knut had made several tempti ng promises to the Norwegian chieftains, and he was elected the King of Norway at Orething. King Olaf had to flee Norway in 1028, but returned i 1030 to fight for the crown. Shortly after, King Olaf was slain at the battle of Stiklestad. He was then broug ht to Trondheim by some of his companions, and put to rest at the banks of the river Nid.




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Devilish ape

King Knut later proved to be a stern king. Neither did he keep his promises, and most people were discontent. 11 months after the battle of Stiklestad, the grave of King Olaf was opened. Surprisingly he seemed to be not one day older, and he still had rosy cheeks! Bishop Grimkel, present at the opening of the grave, thence declared King Olaf's sainthood. King Olaf was brought to the "Klemetskirken" (and several years later brought to the Cathedral). A smal l chapel was built on the banks of the river Nid. Nearby a source sprung. This marked the beginning of the building of the Nidaros Cathedral and the famous St. Olaf well. Together they were to become the central pillars of pilgrimmage to Trondheim.




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Bishop on octogon(south-west)

In St. Olav Norway now found it's own saint. The belief in his hoolyness and martyrdom made the Danish throne weaken. The people turned on the regency of King Knut, now represented by his son King Sven, and sought a new leader. Four years after the death of King Olaf, his son Magnus, was presented the crown. King Magnus arrived in Norway in 1035 and was Norways king until 1047. He made a shrine for the remains of his father. One of his followers, King Olaf Kyrre (10 66-1093), started building a stone cathedral. But one hundred years went by before the most central person in the history of the Cathedral started his work. This was the architect and master builder Archbishop Eystein Erlendsson.




Divide text with composition from Krefting

Devilish ape

All of this marked the beginning of a long story; both of Cristianity, the Cathedral, Kings and people. All of which underwent great changes during the centuries. Christianity blooming in the ages of pilgrimage and the reformation in 1537, to mention just some of the milestones. The Cathedral was severely damaged by fire several times. The Kings were born and died, few of them did so peacefully. The people were struck by the Black Death and put under Danish and Swedish supremacy, and the Norwegian culture was heavily influenced of all of these events.




Divide text with composition from Krefting

In short - it ends at what you, today, will find in our town. Here the Nidaros Cathedral reaches for the heavens with the characteristics of it's Gothic arches. But, if you take a look at our Cathedral with keen eyes, you will see the richness of architecture reflected in a wealth of style. All of them the result of an accompanying wealth of people paying tribute to God; to the best of their ability, in their time.

The Angel is watching, bigger version


Divide text with composition from Krefting

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Divide text with composition from Krefting

Other Cathedral related links:


Visitors information from
Trondheim Aksess
The St Olaf Festival
The World Council of Churches Ministry of Education,
Research and Church Affairs
Norway on the Web Historical information
on Trondheim


Made by Ragnvald Larsen
ragnvald@stud.ntnu.no

v1.1 Updated october 21. 1996
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