Saturday, 19 August 2017

Vadstena Abbey Church

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Vadstena Abbey Church, also called The Blue Church, from 1430.


It’s hard to give an idea how huge this church is.
I also don’t know what everything inside is.
All one can do is really to wander around in amazement!

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St James’s (the Great) Pilgrim’s altar


Monument of Duke Magnus
”Magnus, Duke of Östergötland (1542-1595), was the son of King Gustav Vasa and Queen Margareta Leijonhufvud. At times he lived at Vadstena Castle. The monument has been attributed to the castle constructor Hans Fleming.”

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The sculpture on the right is said to be of John the Baptist,
made in Lübeck around 1430.

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“St Anne, Virgin and Child”
(St Anne = the mother of Mary)
Made in Lübeck around 1425


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Left: Sculpture of Saint Birgitta, from 1435 or earlier.
Right: The red casket contains “Relics of Saint Birgitta and other unknown saints”.

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My guess is that this candle holder is one of the more modern objects in the church. ‘Tealights’ are used in it, which they probably didn’t have back in medeival times!


  1. Is this a Catholic church? I always think of Sweden as a Lutheran country.

    1. Janet, this church was built in the early 1400s, i.e. 100+ years before the Reformation, which took place in the 16th century. As I said in an earlier post about Heda Church (last weekend), the changes in the decorations etc of the old churches after the reformaton were not always as drastic as in some other countries. In many Swedish Lutheran churches there are still artifacts from Catholic times, such as crosses, crucifixes and icons. Sometimes wall paintings were painted over and old sculptures and such moved or stowed away in renovations over the centuries; but later found and restored and put on display again, when one had begun to regard them as historically valuable and interesting.

      This old abbey church is now Lutheran; but it also still often visited by pilgrims of Catholic faith. For a period of time after the Reformation, I think there were no Catholic churches in Sweden; but in later years, with a lot of immigrants, the Catholic church here has been growing again. And now not only is there a Swedish Catholic bishop in Sweden (the first ever) - he was even recently made cardinal by the pope in Rome.

      There is also a new (much smaller) Bridgettine convent in Vadstena (you can see it in the post Walking to the Abbey), and they have their own Catholic church. (But I kind of assume that they also still feel a certain bond with the old abbey.)

  2. All the sculptures are so interesting, and the windows are beautiful. Is this an active church, or just for touring?

    1. Ginny, it is an active parish church in the Lutheran Church of Sweden; but also visited by pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.

  3. Now that is what I call splendid.

  4. Quite a church, the outside does not give any idea as to the inside. I like the vaulted ceilings and the tomb effigy. All in all a stunning church

  5. I am really enjoying your photos and the information about this area of the world. These buildings are so well constructed. It seems incredible to me that they have lasted so long. What great knowledge and skill the people had who did this work.

  6. Graham has said it all!
    I find the Lübeck connection rather intriguing. Was this town maybe part of the Hanse?


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