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Förstörelsen av helgonbilder i reformationstidens Jämtland

The Breaking of Idols in Reformation-Period Jämtland



Olof Holm, f. 1973, fil.dr. i historia 2012, redaktör, Riksdagsbiblioteket, Stockholm/Centrum för medeltidsstudier vid Stockholms universitet.

Reformationen innebar en uppgörelse med den katolska helgonkulten, men i vilken utsträckning kastades helgonskulpturerna ut ur kyrkorna i Norge under reformationstiden? I denna artikel undersöks hur ansvariga kyrkliga företrädare gick till väga i Jämtland under de sista decennierna av 1500-talet och början av 1600-talet, då landskapet var dansk-norskt i kyrkligt hänseende och hörde till Trondheims stift. Det visar sig att de lokala kyrkoherdarna följde olika strategier: vissa lät helgonbilderna vara kvar i samband med att ny, protestantisk kyrkoinredning anskaffades, andra slängde ut dem. Toleransen kan sägas ha varit lägre här än i landskapen öster om Jämtland, som förblev svenska under perioden.

The Reformation implied the abolition of the cult of the saints, but to what extent were images thrown out of the churches in Norway? This question is studied here with Jämtland as a case in point. After having belonged ecclesiastically to Sweden for several hundred years, this province was transferred to the diocese of Trondheim in Norway in 1571. Norway was, at that time, part of the Danish conglomerate state. The author shows that in Jämtland the altar screens from the Catholic period on the high altars in the churches were, to a large extent, replaced by so-called catechism altarpieces towards the end of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th. These altarpieces had no images of the saints, but, rather, quotations from the catechisms in Danish; occasionally other quotations from the Scriptures too, in addition to painted symbols or motifs according to Lutheran ideals (Figs. 1–2). In connection with the acquisition of these new altarpieces and other Protestant church fittings, some local vicars chose to throw out all images of the saints, considering them to be idols. Others were more tolerant and allowed them to remain in the churches. On the whole, the tolerance towards images of the saints was obviously lower in the Danish-Norwegian province of Jämtland than in the provinces east of Jämtland, which remained Swedish during the Reformation period. This transformation of the churches of Jämtland in the late Reformation period appears as largely forced through by people in positions of authority, without support from the populace. The author describes one case (Offerdal) where the images of the saints, after having been thrown out by the vicar from the parish church, were taken care of by some locals and placed in small, non-official chapels where they continued to be worshipped.

Keywords: Iconoclasm, Religious images, Cult of the saints, Catechism altarpieces, Reformation, Denmark-Norway
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