Celebration of Martin Luther in Trondheim

SteinvikholmSTJØRDAL. Steinvikholm.PhotoGorm Kallestad / SCANPIX

Tuesday marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther’s hammering his 95 theses onto the door of a church in Wittenberg. It will be remembered with a celebratory service in Nidarosdomen.


The Royal Couple, the Crown Prince, and the leaders of different churches will be present during the Ecumenical Worship Service, which will be broadcast directly on NRK1. For the occasion, Dagsrevyen will be shortened by one quarter to air the Trondheim service, starting at 19.30.

The 500th anniversary will be marked throughout the world. Throughout the year, there have been a number of events all over the country.

‘It has exceeded all our expectations. We have hardly had funds, so we’ve encouraged others to do things. All diocese have made arrangements, and colleges across the country have organised seminars and lectures. There have been 10 to 15 books on the subject published, and there have been a number of cultural events.

All in all, there has been more than we could have dreamed about in advance,’ said Vidar Kristensen of the Church Council, who is the project leader for the Reformation’s anniversary.

The latest book published during the anniversary year is Frank Aarebrot’s ‘Reformation. The Great Story.’ He’d just delivered the finished manuscript before he died on September the 9th. The book was written with Kjetil Evjen, and came out on Wednesday last week.

Calls for political commitment

In Trondheim, in addition to worship, there are also five parallel events on Sunday. There is, among other things, a city walk that shows the traces left by the Reformation.

‘It is also interesting that the Bible Society has received a visit from the Secretary General of the Bible Society in Egypt to Norway. He will talk about the current situation for Christians in Egypt, who have been reportedly under attack from ISIS this year. It has become harder and harder for Christians in Egypt, said Kristensen.

The anniversary celebration Trondheim is the second of two main events this year. The first took place in Bergen in March.

There were various events during the Luther Jubilee. Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of Høyre (H) participated in several events there, including reading a text reader in church.

‘Apart from the prime minister, political Norway has been impossible to get on track during the jubilee year. The Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for church matters, has not done anything, despite the fact that we’ve made many attempts to bring them along. Clearly we are disappointed’, said Kristensen.

He believes one reason for the lack of commitment could be a poor sense of history.

‘I think many people lack historical knowledge, and don’t understand what the reformation has meant for Norwegian society.

The impulses from the Reformation have been very important for the development of society at many levels, from school development to health care’, said Kristensen.

On November the 23rd, a seminar will be held in the parliamentary hall on the theme of the Reformation and parliamentary government.

‘It’s actually the only parliament marking this jubilee. The seminar aims, among other things, to provide greater knowledge to parliamentarians, said Kristensen.

Encouraged to think for yourself

Former editor of Vårt Land newspaper, Helge Simonnes, wrote a column in Dagblad newspaper that Luther’s most important social contribution was encouraging people to think for themselves.

‘At that time, the Catholic church was not the least interested in people thinking for themselves. The priests held their sermons in Latin. The Bible was not available in native languages, and the spiritual rules helped keep people oppressed.

Exercise of religious power was not a beautiful sight, and the Catholic Church was heavily condemned for its lack of sensitivity when the Lutheran wave broke over Germany’, Simonnes wrote.

Martin Luther was a strong critic of the Papal church, and his publication of 95 theses is considered the start of what became the Lutheran Reformation. In Norway, the Reformation was only completed 20 years later, when King Christian III introduced Lutheran dominion as the state religion in Denmark and Norway.

Steinvikholm Castle

The most known trace of Catholicism in Norway is probably Steinvikholm Castle in Stjørdal, built as a fortress by Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson in Nidaros, who was opposed to the Danish king and to Protestantism.

Finally, he moved to Steinvikholmen with the Olavs Skrinet from Nidarosdomen, and from here, Norway’s last Catholic archbishop had to flee in 1537. For many years, these dramatic events were performed in a summer opera at Steinvikholm Castle.


©  NTB Scanpix / Norway Today