Nidaros Cathedral - Lycée Ferdinand BUISSON ELBEUF

Nidaros Cathedral

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Introduction:

Nidaros Cathedral is the cathedral of the city of Trondheim, Norway. It was built on the tomb of the King of Norway, Saint Olaf, who was killed during the battle of Stiklestad on July 29th, 1030. It is located on the banks of the Nidelva River and has Gothic sculptures on its facade. The cathedral was mainly erected during the reconstruction of the cathedral in the 19th century.

1/ the life of Saint Olaf :

Olaf Harldsson traveled in Europe when he was young, particularly in England where he has learned Christian religion, he has decided to be baptized in Rouen. Then, he wanted to unite Norway so he benefited that Denmark’s king named king Canute was in England to make Norway independent. The new king set up in Nidaros also known as Tromdheim where he built at first a church. He decided to convert Norway people to christianism. He proclaimed himself king and made peace with the king of Denmark and married his daughter. He finally lost the Helgea battle and was banished before dying during the Stiklestad battle to have back his kingdom. After, they buried him next to the Nidelva, but people wanted to honor him and decided to put him in the church, where a lot of pilgrims came. Finally it was burned and a second one was rebuilt, but after the war it was abandoned and was restored. Nowadays, a lot of kings have been crowned, the last one is Haakon VII.

2/ The Idea of building a Chapel / The story of the cathedral :

The cathedral of Nidaros was started in 1070 and its construction extends until around 1300. In 1328, a fire was declared and another burst in 1531. This destroyed the transept and part of the nave.

The reconstruction of the monument began in 1869 under the direction of several architects including Christian Christie and Henrik Bull, two Norwegian architects. The restoration officially ended in 2001.

Who are these two architects?

  • Christian Christie, born on December 24th, 1832 and died on September 13th, 1906, is a famous Norwegian architect who participated in several projects. He directed the restoration and preservation of many medieval monuments including the Church of Santa Maria, Håkonshallen. But his most important work is probably the restoration of the cathedral of Nidaros.
  • Henrik Bull, born on March 28th, 1864 and died on June 2nd, 1953, was a Norwegian architect known for his involvement in the restoration of Nidaros Cathedral. Among his most famous works are the Muse of History, the Ministry of Finance and the Nationaltheatret. Between 1912 and 1934 he was director of the École supérieure des arts industriels et de l’architecture.

3/ The Cathedral as we know nowadays/ Architecture :

This famous cathedral of Norway was first erected on the foundations of an 11th century basilica. On its west facade, you can admire several stone engravings, alcoves and sculptures built as finely as lace, located around the ornate rose window.

The interior of the cathedral combines different architectural styles including mainly its medieval architecture but also the Romanesque style with its transept, the Protogothic style with the nave and the 12th century chapel dedicated to Saint John and New Year’s Eve and the Gothic style.

The cathedral features a sparkling rose window and splendid stained-glass windows that illuminate the interior, a tower with breathtaking views of the city, as well as crypts containing tombs dating from the Middle Ages. Finally, the altar front depicts fascinating scenes from the legend of Saint Olaf, which will inform you about this heroic Norwegian king, canonized and buried in the cathedral in 1031.

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4/ The organs of the cathedral

The cathedral is composed of organs, a very large one, the first that was built, over the years they realized that there was a discrepancy of sound between what the people next to the organ were entangling and what the others heard further. Indeed, the largest organ in the cathedral has 9900 pipes.

A second organ at that time was built in the middle of the cathedral, so that there is no sound difference and that people hear the melodies at the same time. It is also hidden under arches so that it is not too visible.

In addition there is a third organ which is a gift from the Germans, it is moreover the only remaining organ given by the English, which is much smaller and is positioned on one side of the cathedral.

These organs therefore serve during Mass, on festive days, in big ceremonies, and finally in ceremonies within the cathedral that are important for the city or even the country.

The big one

The little hidden one

And the German organ

5/ Cathedral’s activities

Every day, you can visit the cathedral with guides. But this one is still active for religious life.

Every Sunday you can attend the high mass in the morning as well as the evening mass. You can participate in dinner prayer on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, carols on Tuesday, in a mass on Wednesday noon, and in vespers on Friday evening.

In summer, every afternoon there are pilgrim services.

Baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals can also be celebrated there.

The cathedral also offers organ meditations on Saturdays at the beginning of the afternoon.

Also, one of the weekends before Shrove Tuesday, children are invited to a carnival. For the whole family there is also the feast of the Holy Trinity to mark the end of Christmas with the cleaning of the crib, songs, sweets...

The cathedral offers other social activities to help the population, there are discussion groups and mourning groups…

In 2019, there was also the European Stone Festival.

Article written by Elisa HALTER

February 2023 :

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