(Road Trip 2018, Part 4)
Yes – another double-spired church!
On Monday afternoon (16th July), after having checked into our hotel in central Växjö, we went for a walk to the cathedral (just a few blocks away); arriving there just in time for a drop-in guided tour starting at 5 p.m. I had happened to read about that somewhere on the internet while doing my research for the trip… Only on Mondays in the summer holiday season, so I had kind of expected a bigger turnout. As it happened… Only one other visitor besides us, and two guides to give us a thorough tour of the history and interior of the cathedral!
The origin of the church goes back to medeival times. The first bishop of the diocese is said to have been Saint Sigfrid, born in England in the 10th century and active as a missionary-bishop in Scandinavia in the first half of the 11th. St Sigfrid is said to have baptised king Olof Eriksson Skötkonung, the first Christian monarch of Sweden (he reigned c. 995 – c.1023 in Svealand and Götaland – see the map in my introduction post to this roadtrip).
The foundation of the tower is still from the medeival cathedral, built in Roman style and with two spires, reminding of the church at Rydaholm. (But Växjö Cathedral was built with bricks instead of stone.) The original church was destroyed by fire in 1276, and was replaced by a bigger one. The church kept being changed and restored several times through the centuries. It was severely damaged again by fire in 1740; and in the mid 1800s, it was rebuilt in a different style, now without the two spires on the tower. It wasn’t until 1958-60 that the cathedral was again restored to the same look that it had back before 1740, with the double spires on the tower.
The present-day interior was designed as late as 1995, and includes a lot of wonderful modern glass art – relating to Växjö also being the ‘capital’ of a district in the province of Småland known as the Kingdom of Crystal, famous for its many glassworks and traditions of handblown glass going back to the 1700s. (The tour in the cathedral proved a good introduction for us, as the next day we were also going to visit the Glass Museum in Växjö, and two of the glassworks – and two more of those later on our trip.)
Guides and visitors at an old stone baptismal font
‘The Source of Life’ – a modern baptismal font (stone and glass) designed by Göran Wärff. It involves a lot of symbolism – including images of St Sigfried in the red stone, and of John the Baptist in the the grey stone; and the blue glass bowl is supposed to remind of Noah’s Ark.
Golden mosaic by Bo Beskow – representing the heavenly Jerusalem.
Possibly the same artist also made these stained glass windows below, but I’m not sure.
The huge altar-screen was made by one of our most famous glass designers, Bertil Vallien (2002). Entitled “Fiat Lux” and symbolising “from death to life, from darkness to light”. Absolutely packed with symbolism in all its intricate details.
Behind the altar piece, there are these beautiful stained glass windows (made by Jan Brazda in 1960)
A sculpture/candle tree in the north-west corner of the church, ‘The Tree of Life’ by Erik Höglund and Lars Larsson. This too is full of symbolism in all its details; and also serves as a holder for prayer candles.