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Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim

In January, i was in Trondheim, Norway for the ordination of a friend of mine as a pastor in the (Lutheran) Church of Norway. More about that in another post, but here’s something about the Cathedral, which was for centuries the northernmost cathedral in the world.

Located at about the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, the city that is now called Trondheim was founded as Nidaros by King Olaf I Tryggvason, in AD 997 – that would be the same King Olaf who received Leif Eriksson and introduced him to Chrstianity, just before the latter made his famous voyage to establish “Vinland” – modern-day Newfoundland, Canada.

The diocese was erected by St. Olav (King Olaf II Haraldsson) in about AD 1030 and elevated to metropolitan see in 1153 with suffragan sees in Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. The cathedral was constructed during the later part of the 11th century and the entirety of the 12th. In the mid-1530s the Church of Norway came under the influence of the Lutheran reformation, and, like the Church of England, broke communion with Rome, and became an established church. For four centuries there was no official Catholic presence there, until a mission was re-established in the 1930s; now the de-facto Catholic cathedral of the Territorial Prelature of Trondheim sits just across the road from Nidarosdomen, in a squat temporary building. (A capital campaign is underway to build a new Catholic church there.)

Nidaros Cathedral houses the remains of St. Olav, patron of Norway – though the exact whereabouts have been unknown since a 16th century iconoclasm. The only known relic of St. Olav is his arm, which is located in the (Catholic) Cathedral of Oslo.

Next to the Cathedral one can still find the archbishop’s palace, though there is no longer an archbishop. The (Lutheran) Bishop of Nidaros has his offices there, and hosted us for an intimate reception after the ordination. The presiding bishop of the Church of Norway also officially has some offices there, as Nidaros is the primatial see of Norway, though she spends most of her time in Oslo, the national capital.

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