Sunday, November 24, 2013

Church at Tingvoll: Post-Reformation. History recap.

Tingvoll.  Tingvoll Church: 
Medieval beginnings. 

Restorations 1928, but mostly to the Reformation.

The sadness of the Tingvoll Church, built 1150's ff, is that its 1928 major restoration minimizes its oldest past, and gives us a glowing view only of Lutheran Reformation 16th Century. The larger history, however, moves from indigenous practices, like the still standing stones; then the tolerance of inclusive Celtic missionary Christianity (5th-6th Century roots, see see, followed by king-conversions to more institutional Christianity from England or France; to the strictures of full Roman Catholic practices and dogma; to other strictures, this time to the Lutheran Reformation.  For a detailed look at the most important elements, see  This is a Romanesque structure, some pointy arch areas that were added changed the look of some elements. See FN 1 -- a repeat for some,  new information perhaps for others first-timers.  At the entire site, including its photographs, see no reference at all to its fine standing stone, sentinel nonetheless.

Tingvoll Church now.  All colors and light, although our film shows brighter colors than I recall. The restorers cannot be faulted because that is what they had.  Still, I would have liked a series of models somewhere, so we could see deeped roots.

Dan Widing,at Tingvoll Churchm 1928 restored, but only to its 16th C. Lutheran Reformation, Norway

Orientation: the main aisle moves west, to the west gallery where the organ has been located since the 1600's. The north wall gallery, to the right, Dan's left, replaced an earlier gallery that extended fully to the chancel.  This new gallery stops.

1.  The Tingvoll pulpit.

Catholicism and Lutheranism both required focus on ritual, so earlier structures that allowed for milling about were unacceptable. Lutheranism: Altar, pulpit, and baptismal font were the mainstays of tbe new  Reformation Lutheranism, see Lutheran Churches at 301.

To the left of the pulpit is dean Sigurd Fjaer, who was priest at Tingvoll 1925-1937, and implemented many restorations in 1928-29.  He went on to become dean of Nidaros in Trondheim 1946-1959.  The ruffed neck made him look antique, but that perhaps is the usual clerical dress costume?

As to Catholicism, the Lutherans recognized only Baptism and communion as the only sacraments, see site.  This put that practice in line with the Cathars and other heretics and Manicheans and their dualistic beliefs,  persecuted and crusaded against in mainland Europe, is that so?  Need to vet to check:  was marriage not a sacrament? possibly not -- civil ceremony only?  

The Cathars did not recognize marriage as  a sacrament, but as more a cultural choice or not; and the nature of God remained in issue, see

This pulpit was imported from the Dutch Republic in 1632, carved from oak (not Norwegian pine as was customary), and the figures of Christ and the Evangelists later affixed to it. There is a large stand of oak at Tingvoll, dating back to origins some 1500 years ago, and remaining as the northernmost location found so far. Oak first arrived in Norway 8000 years ago, see The sculptures that decorate the pulpit, and the sound ceiling (see 2) were carved by a Norwegian artist who himself was inspired by El Greco 1541-1614.  The baroque elements in thie

The madonna figure to the left, at pew end, had been part of Roman Catholic processions, fixed to the tops of staffs. Roman Catholic artifacts are included, without the wholesale destruction of Roman Catholic representations in other parts of Europe during the Reformation.Opulence continues here.

2.  Saint George or not? 

From this photo, that could be cut off too soon at the left, does not look like St. George and the Dragon.   George here looks Roman, with wings. A small boy is nearby. It even looks like David and Goliath. Poor photo: Where is the dragon? Did I miss the shot? Is the dragon far to the left somewhere?  Norse dragons:  a mainstay of the oldest myths, see .  This painting shows 1661 as the date. St. George: patron saint, England, see  Aha. St. George -- little provable at all, but  and other places, perhaps dating from the 3d century Turkey, himself became a Roman soldier, and was martyred as a defender of Christians. He may be a "Christianised version of an older pagan myth," see BBC site.  The dragon part comes late and also questionably --  from the 15th Century, again BBC site has details.

Another location in the church shows a much earlier wall painting area, from Catholic times, of Jurian, as on stucco, and very hard to interpret. See it at

3.  Doorways to passageways in the walls;


As to passageways and doors, this church is apparently unique in its system of tunnels through walls, high enough to walk through erect, to the next place in the liturgy.  Was this also for safety in early times?  Who would have attacked them in the very first church, so that these passages would be intrinsic?

Vikings also raided Vikings not of their own community, see  Why not, when there was no unity of "nation".  Your community, to whom you owed loyalty, may well have been your fjord-mates, and not persons of a fjord farther away.

This also would explain the look-out balcony from which one could keep an eye on the fjord, now more a distance away than in earlier centuries,

St. Iurian. I find Iurian as a surname, but no connection yet to St. George.

2.  The Tingvoll pulpit canopy, or sound ceiling as the church brochure describes it.

The pulpit canopy, the sound ceiling, is also of wood, and dates from the 1630's.   Here it is, the view from standing in the pulpit and aiming the camera straight up. This was with permission of the pastor, who was there preparing for a funeral and encouraged us to climb about.

The floral-face motif that is part of the canopy -- what is that?  It looks like an acanthus leaf, same design painted on the walls at Tingvoll in the 1700's.  Acanthus. To the Greeks, the acanthus was a symbol of Apollo. Sun. To the Norse, its symbolism also fit the indigenous religiou.  See the acanthus motif and symbolism at  For the Norse religious mindset and culture pre-Christianity, read creative Varg Vikernes for a non-institutional perspective, at  Sources explaining symbolism that have an agenda that paints support a Christian view over the indigenous, and with a dire brush, may need balancing.

The acanthus also is painted in the weapons house appended to the main church, for worshippers to store their arms.  See

 The bench is not only for ease in taking off weapons, but also served for keeping those not to be included fully in services (unchurched women, babies still unexorcised?) until they were later afforded special, separate pews.

The weapons house:

5.  The dragons, the serpents, remaining on the "Christian" churches, under or at the ends of some eaves, on top of roofs.  Why are these omitted in stone churches?  We did see one stone church with its dragons, see Vik.  Dragons.  Like standing stones, these were vestiges of old roots with their own power ongoing, is that so. Why were they not incorporated in the stone churches, since the times of construction were so similar.  Early beliefs commingled freely with Christian ideas, neither a threat to the other, see Paganism at, a creative view of history, and one that does fit with impressions there.

There was decorative attention in other ways, here paid in the form of acanthus leaf wall painting inside, to the 17th century place for armaments: see

This was taken down and then replaced, thus the new look.

3.   The Tingvoll Reformation pastors.  

These 17th Century dignitaries are hung all around; the Lutheran Reformation meant no more images-worship, so images of saints went out, but apparently images of the new clergy came in.  Hans Tausman, clergyman here 1650-1697, was particularly generous, giving the altarpiece, the epitaph and the entire west gallery that includes the paintings of the apostles.

Some say the encircled crosses suggest older Templar connections with religion in Norway, as a place of refuge after the 1313 devastation of the Order; others assert that the crosses merely show that a bishop at some point consecrated the place.  But why so many? Interpretive information from sources with ideological agendas are suspect, but where to turn for objectivity in historical fact, or is objectivity in historical fact an illusion.  

  • Templars.  Not the burned and eradicated issue people may think. Beware the demonizing of any group by those who declare themselves victors over them.  The fear of manicheans, the interpretation of religious ideas against the current of institutional dogma, to suggest a  duality of good and evil, has spurred enough crusading.
As to Templars, the Vatican is set to exonerate them.  See /  With that safety for new research possible, who will research whether Templars migrated in the shattered pieces that they were, through or to Norway?

And who will debunk the manipulation of Templars into modern travesties, see

2.  Altarpiece.  

First, notice the small casket. A funeral was scheduled for later that morning, for an adult woman, and the casket was normal body size, not the ridiculous super-size me that the American West demands.

Behind the altar, and not accessible politely to us with a funeral pending, is the rune stone. See it at

This suspending of naval vessels from church ceilings is not unusual in Scandinavia.  This is a frigate, sporting the Danish flag aft, see

Epitaphium:  elaboration upon a funeral setting, here pictorial, but more often in oratory. This hangs at the chancel's north wall, and is by the same carver  of the large altarpiece.  Here, however, a Norwegian artist painted the pictures, not a Dutch artist as on the altarpiece.  See  Motifs:  Creation, hope, trust, sacrifice, longing for heaven, reconciliation with Jesus.

The 11 apostles (exclude Judas here) and Saint Paul are depicted with their martyrdom symbols. They date from 1682, four went missing, and in 1840 were redone.

The neatly set shoes are the black sturdy heeled ones, on the music storage stand. One of the windows accessible by a set of little stairs, with a weapons cache beside, is visible beyond the organ. High windows: the only natural light at the beginning.  Earliest churches were dim.

The 1928 renovations also were imaginative, if not precise revelations of old usage.  This is the little box used to hold hymn numbers, drawn by architect Glaerum, from items found in the attic. The Madonna and Child date from Catholicism. See

Cabinet, psalm numbers (and hymns?), Tingvoll Church, 1928 recreation, old Catholic era Madonna and Child.

Niches, place for earlier Catholic saint statues?

Norse egalitarianism in creation -- which is the Adam, which the Eve.

Norse culture - - women welcome, see  This would be anathema to institutional Christianity who made them unclean, incomplete, temptresses, instead of the upgrade from the Adamic prototype for human beings laid out in Genesis. 

Who so many crosses in circles?  Would not one be enough per sanctification, or is there really another meaning?

I do not see that kind of cross at this Lutheran site, see Lutherans Online 0101111555

However tolerant the Reformation in Norway was as to Catholicism, at least here at Tingvoll where Catholic artifacts were incorporated into the new theological bent, it did not extend to tolerance of practices deemed of the devil. Does that explain why the Reformation then ignored the standing stones at the churches, from ages past? Early Christianity co-existed, reformers denied, excluded, damned.  Witch hunts and burnings were carried on well after the Reformation in Northern Norway, Finnmark, in the 17th century, see memorial at Varanger, Steilneset in Vardo at
Most of the accused were Sami, indigenous northern people of different racial-cultural origin, see  See also Witches of the North, Scotland and Finnland by Liv Helene Willemsen 2013, at p 260.

FN 1  The Church building at Tingvoll dates from the 1150's ff.  Its decor and structure, however, show the elements of earlier forms of Christianity.  The standing stone in the graveyard beside still stands for the pre-Christian, elements of that also absorbed into the new evolving religious culture.Tingvoll shows elements of its past:  From indigenous religion in the standing stone, to 5th-6th Century first contacts with a Christianity, the Celtic missionaries along the fjords and perhaps including here; to royal conversions (Olavs I and II and following) to an evermore institutional but still permissive and tolerant Christianity, and the boom of  12th C. stone-stave churches; to 1350 institutional Catholicism with its inquisitions that reached even to Norway, with witch burnings in the north where the northern lights signified the gates of hell, to 1539 Lutheran Reformation, to 2012 no state church any longer. 

5th-6th Centuries. Began there a foothold for early Christianity that depended on preaching and working with the people, gaining trust, for its converts. These were largely Celtic missionaries, unthreatening,  persuasive by example, not force.

10th-12th Centuries. Denmark was forced to convert by the threat of the Holy Roman Empire at its borders, fresh from conquests of the indigenous groups in Northern Germany and elsewhere. Seeing the battles that led to those conversions, Norway's kings also converted -- two Olavs.  One while in Britain, the other while in France.  These early conversions, however tied to the institutional and coercive Catholicism of the Holy Roman Empire, allowed old practices to continue.  Tolerance was fine, just put up the new churches and move on. In order to unify the people to a sense of "nationhood" or at least the new monarchy, and ally them to that now powerful monarch, the kings allowing and encouraged coexistence with the old ways, and association of old symbols and beliefs as though extensions for the new.  Build churches -- by the thousands, ordered the kings.  And the churches so built, however, still reflected the Christianity that was peacable, preacher-worker, Celtic absorbing some Christian symbols and stories, believing others were really very like the Norse (as they were, many times).  Coexistence.

This tolerance prevailed until the Black Death in 1349 or so, when building stopped and populations -- including the old school priests and missionaries -- were decimated.

Norway became part of Catholic Denmark's territory in 1397 (the Kalmar Union) and remained so until 1523.  During the Kalmar Union, institutional Catholicism took over.

It was only in 1539 or so that the Lutheran Reformation displaced the Roman Catholic, and attacked (as did the Reformation elsewhere) images of saints, popish practices and virtual worship of the institution over the Founder.

At Tingvoll, as others off the usual path, find juxtapositions of baroque with medieval, and the varying architectural shapes - add a transept here, a sacristy there,  of places of worship. See Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Europe, edited by Andrew Spicer, 2012.*

* In that site, see in particular Ch. 11, State Church and Church State: Churches and Their Interiors in Post-Reformation Norway 1537-1705, pp. 2ff ff by Oystein Ekroll (here, google book site).

As to Norway becoming part of Denmark, in 1380, see, Then, the Reformation and Christian III of Denmark who ruled both Denmark and Norway declared Lutheranism the state religion in Norway 1539 or so. Roman Catholicism pushed to the background, see  See also  Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Europe,   Church shapes also changed: rectangles, to Y form or single top crossbar and, and ultimately to cruciform. Then came more octagonal naves, in the round.See p. 287. The inspiration is said to be Dutch Baroque. Tingvoll: see page 297.

Tingvoll:  Unchanged to 1600.s.  See Lutheran Churches at p. 295

1632 ff - Major renovations, removal of rood wall obstructing view of altar, new pulpit (Renaissance style)  and imported from the Dutch Republic and made of oak, not common Norwegian pine. Decorations, Christ and Evangelists, added.
1660 - new altarpiece

Restorations only to the past that the current group favors is understandable: 1928 had its benefactors with agenda.  And what to do with all the accumulations of successive religious institutions taking charge. More interesting, however, is the state of religious mindsets before institutions pitted themselves against each other.  What was the earliest church like, in its era of tolerance, mutual cross-pollination of concepts with the indigenous.  Do we need a side  museum of the Catholic era artifacts and models, then the Lutheran Reformation artifacts and models.  Will any group set aside its agenda and recreate its earlier history, leave the original church as medieval. Who can research whether there was indeed quiet preaching and good works, and living among the people and working alongside the people, in the early Celtic missionary model of Christianity 5th-7th Centuries give or take, and on to the battle-spurred conversions to institutionalism begun by the Olavs and others.    

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