Trondheim is a place of pilgrimage, for two types of pilgrim, religious and rock ‘n rollers. First St. Olaf (in the Norwegian brochures it is St Olav, in English, St. Olaf. St. Olaf is pretty engrained in my brain so we’ll Viking King who converted to Christianity and, according to my instruction at his namesake college converted the Norwegians, not always willingly. (One story we were told was that he lined up a village along a river and gave them two choices, baptism or drowning. Free will according to Olaf.)
Olaf was killed in battle, buried in Trondheim, miracles started to happen, so King Olaf Haroldson became St. Olaf. Some of his enemies stole his body, it was snatched back and buried on the grounds of, what is now Nidaros Cathedral in a secret place so it would not get snatched again. No one knows exactly where Olaf is now. (In heaven presumably, but you know what I mean.) The cathedral grew into a gothic wonder with a beautiful front full of statues and then became a place of pilgrimage. St. Olaf’s Way, from Oslo to Trondheim (with side routes from other towns) is marked with signs directing you in the right direction. It has become a popular pilgrimage walk. There are pilgrim hostels along the way and pilgrimage churches (the Church in Edisfjord that I mentioned in an earlier post is one.)
Here I have to take a step back and ask how does pilgrimage fit into Lutheran theology? Pilgrims originally walked St. Olaf’s way as a good work that would help forgive them of sins and ease their way into heaven. That was before the reformation. Luther didn’t like that kind of thing. Works would not do it. Salvation is “By Faith and Faith Alone.” So, I don’s see how such a major undertaking of good works as walking from Oslo to Trondheim does you any good as an entry ticket to heaven. Such a walk can do you a world of good physically, and even spiritually in this life, but how does it relate to salvation in Lutheran theology?
When we got to the Cathedral, about a half hour walk from the ship, we found there was an admission fee, a combination ticket for the Cathedral and Bishop’s palace, where the crown jewels are kept, is 200 Kroner ($22). If you are a pilgrim and get your ticket punched at the Pilgrim Welcome Center you get in for free. The cathedral does not allow photography inside (not that many people took that seriously, but I did) so I can’t show you pictures of the beautiful rose window and organ, which in the diffuse light of a misty morning glowed with beautiful soft colors, or pictures of the opulent silver crucifix, but they were probably worth the price of the ticket. Nidaros had fallen into disrepair, subject to fires and the ravages of Norwegian weather, and in the mid-19th century Norway started a restoration that was just finished until this decade. They had drawings of the original stained glass but the restorers decided that copies of works should would not be appropriate for the national cathedral, the place where kings were consecrated, so they commissioned new work, new in the mid-19th century. I like that concept, and am thinking about Notre Dame. Should a restoration include copies of original art or should the art in such a cathedral be original? The windows are beautiful.
The Bishop’s palace had some of the original gargoyles from the cathedral that were replaced with the restoration. It also had a display on the role of Queens in the old Norwegian kingdom, but the centerpiece of the museum, the crown jewels were not easy to see. They are down in the basement. The people running the museum have decided that security in the museum was not adequate so they put up a set of bars across the entry to the room where they are displayed. The bars will stay there until they figure out a better security system. But in the interim they have tied a set of binoculars to the bars so can pick up the binoculars and try to look at the crown jewels sitting in their cases, subtilty light on the other side of the dungeon. For $22 they could have put in a higher wattage bulb to light the crown.
When we got out of the entryway to the dungeon it was raining so we went to the Resistance Museum, which was well worth the visit and had some lefse and coffee in a café until the rain stopped. We ended the day with a walk through the old town, a town of colorfully painted wooden buildings as the sun came out.
That is not how we had planned to end the day, we wanted to visit Rockheim, the Norwegian Rock ‘n Roll Museum. It is given a star rating as the top attraction in Trondheim by Lonely Planet, beating out St. Olaf and his cathedral. It apparently has an excellent collection of LP Album jackets among other good stuff. I was curious to see if Jo Nesbø, the Norwegian crime noir novelist and local rock star has a place in Rockheim, but, alas, it was Monday and Rockheim was closed. We only visited one point of pilgrimage.
And a couple of other pics of Trondheim. St. Mary’s, the oldest parish church in town and the art museum.