Enlarged image of the ship in the church at Medevi Brunn, from the photo in my previous post. (Also repeating, below, the original interior photo + one of the exterior, so that you won’t have to go back to compare.)
One reader asked in a comment to my post yesterday from Medevi, about the ship hanging from the ceiling in the church. Spontaneously, I was going to just answer that such model ships are rather common in churches in Scandianavia (and also some other European countries). They are called votive ships and were usually donated by sailors thankful to have been saved from a storm at sea. The name “votive” comes from the Latin term of Ex-Voto, meaning “made after a vow”. The practice goes back to the Middle Ages.
Googling Medevi church to check for details, I find something else about this particular votive ship that I did not know, though: It has a reputation of being able to predict the weather over the next 24 hours – at an accuracy of 99%. If its front points towards the altar (which in this church is to the north, rather than to the east, as is otherwise the common practice), it will be rainy, and you had better stay in. If it points towards the door (south), it will be sunny, and you will be able to spend time outdoors. If the fore of the ship points east or west, the weather will be mixed … I did not know about this when we were there; but looking at the photo now, if the altar is to the north, then the ship in my photo is pointing west – and the weather was indeed “mixed” that day. (We had rain later in the day, having rounded the north end of the lake...) The ship’s ability to predict the weather is said to be due to the quality of the hemp rope that it’s hanging from, which is said to react to air humidity. All according to Swedish Wikipedia. The same article also says that the ship was made by someone who was a patient in the asylum at Vadstena in 1821. Intriguing; but I’m afraid I can’t find any more details about that!
The interior of the church is also unusual, not only in that the altar is on the north side of the church, but also because the pulpit is above the altar. As we just popped into the church very briefly when we were there, I didn’t really take all these details in! (So thanks to Sandra for asking, and making me look into it further!) Moreoever, I learn that the main entrance from the south was only for the nobility, who then sat down on the left side (west side), facing east. The commons and poor people came in through a door on the east side of the church, and sat facing west. With the altar and the pulpit in the middle.
Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve seen this particular arrangement anywhere else, or at least not in any church of this (small) size. The usual standard in old churches is to have the altar to the east, and the entrance – and the tower, if there is one – to the west. And a raised pulpit usually to one side, and a little in front of the altar. (Although in big cathedrals, the layout can sometimes be a bit more confusing; and I’m really no expert!)