Røldal (175 km with 1 ferry crossing)

The wooden church of Røldal in its landscape setting (photo Justin Kroesen)

The wooden stave church of Røldal was built during the first half of the thirteenth century. Originally, the church consisted only of the eastern part of the present rectangular nave. The narrower square chancel was added slightly later, and in 1844 the nave was extended towards the west.

Interior of the church looking east (photo Justin Kroesen)
Interior of the church looking east (photo Justin Kroesen)

The oldest church furnishing is the plain soapstone baptismal font from the early thirteenth century. The monumental triumphal cross which hangs over the chancel arch is dated to around 1250. In was considered miraculous, making Røldal a place of pilgrimage and bringing it considerable prosperity.

Figure of St Olaf from Røldal church, thirteenth century, now at the University Museum in Bergen (photo Justin Kroesen)  
Figure of St Olaf from Røldal church, thirteenth century, now at the University Museum in Bergen (photo Justin Kroesen)

The veneration of the crucifix survived the Reformation, as the object itself, in spite of several bishops denouncing the ‘idolatry’ committed here. The cross is known to have attracted pious persons seeking healing by as late as 1850.

A number of medieval artifacts from the chuch are now on display at the University Museum of Bergen. These include an altar frontal from c. 1340, an incensory, a chasuble and three thirteenth-century figures representing the Virgin and Child, St Olaf and probably St Michael. The same museum also possesses a number of votive gifts made by pilgrims in the shape of the limbs that had been cured.

The painted pulpit from 1627 (photo Justin Kroesen)
The painted pulpit from 1627 (photo Justin Kroesen)

Around one hundred years after the Reformation, in 1627-1629, new furnishings for Protestant worship were installed and painted by a certain Gotfrid Hendtzschell from Breslau in Silesia. The pulpit shows the four evangelists around the drum and in the altarpiece images and texts are combined.

Around 1630 the church interior was entirely painted with vines and flowers. Large-scale renovation and restoration work took place in 1844 and 1913-1918.

The church of Røldal in its actual state viewed from the south (photo Justin Kroesen)

 

 

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