Trondheim Cathedral

Trondheim Cathedral (Norway)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In 1016 CE, Olav II Haraldsson was selected as the new king of Norway. A Christian, he was determined to bring the country into the Christian world. He mandated the conversion of Norway to his religion. However, he met with strong opposition, and in 1028 was dethroned. Leaving Norway for two years, Haraldsson returned in 1030 to fight for his crown and Christianity. He was slain in battle, and his body taken to Trondheim on the bank of the Nid River. Four years later, his son assumed the throne and proceeded with his father’s original plans.

In 1031 Olav’s grave was opened, and it was discovered that his body had not decayed but looked much as it had at the moment of death. The bishop present at the exhumation declared Olav a saint. His body was taken to the local church. A chapel was then erected over the spot where Olav had been buried. That chapel was then replaced by a cathedral, which was erected at the end of the eleventh century. In the middle of the twelfth century, Trondheim was chosen as the center of Norway’s first archbishopric, partly because the cathedral had become a major pilgrimage site. Pilgrims came to view the shrine above the high altar of the church in which the former king’s preserved remains were now located. The naming of the archbishopric became an occasion for the significant enlargement of the building.

Through a variety of ups and downs to both the cathedral and the country, the church survived as a symbol of Norwegian nationalism. Not the least of these events was the movement of Norway toward the Lutheran Church in the 1530s. Two fires ravaged the cathedral in the early 1700s. In 1869, the decision was made to completely rebuild the cathedral and bring it back to its original state. This project took over a century, but was officially completed in 2001. In spite of the center of Norway’s life moving to Oslo, the Trondheim Cathedral remains the center of its religious expression.


Long C. Trondheim: One Thousand Years in the City of St Olav. Trondheim, Norway: Tapir Academic Press, 1992.
Mittet, Per. Trondheim and Trondelag. Trondheim, Norway: F. Bruns, 1948.
Raso, Alison. Pilgrim Road to Nidaros: Oslo to Trondheim. Milnthorpe, Cumbria, UK: Cicerone Press, 2002.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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