On Saturday, Trondheim will once again have a Catholic bishop. Abbot Erik Varden will be the first Catholic bishop to be consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral since the Reformation in 1537.
The historic ceremony starts at 11 o’clock on Saturday and will make 46-year-old Varden a bishop prelate.
He says that it is a privilege to be consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral itself.
“You are very concretely placed in a historical context, something that both enriches and commits. Nidaros Cathedral is a national shrine for Norway, so it forms a framework that is rich in tradition and enriching,” the future bishop told news bureau NTB.
“It is a sign of a kind of reconciliation, and it also points to a historical continuity. I see this as rewarding for all of us,” said Varden.
20 years in a monastery
He was appointed bishop by the pope last fall and was originally scheduled to be ordained in January this year.
It was postponed due to illness, but now Varden is ready to enter the new role.
“I’m looking forward to a lot. I look forward to the work with apprehension and trepidation because it is such a big responsibility I’m taking on,” he said.
Varden has recently returned to Norway after living abroad for 30 years, most of them in the UK.
“For 20 years I have lived a contemplative monastic life, a life rooted in liturgical prayer, studies, and great simplicity with a lot of practical work. I have milked cows and worked in a pottery workshop. Entering into a completely different framework makes me realize that I have an awful lot to learn,” he said.
Experiences as a foreigner
After living abroad for so many years, Varden has reflected a lot on what it is like to live as a foreigner in another country.
“I did not necessarily appear as a foreigner there, I was quite well integrated, but I still got to experience what it feels like not to belong completely. It can be a little uncomfortable sometimes because you want to belong,” Varden said.
“These experiences have given me some perspectives that I think can be useful in the role I’m now entering.”
Predecessor withdrew after abuse case
Trondheim has been without a bishop for eleven years after the previous Catholic bishop resigned in June 2009.
The official explanation was cooperation problems in the congregation, but the following year it became known that he had admitted sexual abuse of a minor altar boy around 20 years earlier.
The police dropped the case because it was obsolete.
In recent years, Catholicism has been on the rise in Norway, mainly as a result of labor immigration, especially from Poland.
As of January 1, 2020, 160,884 members were registered in the Catholic denomination in this country, according to figures from Statistics Norway (SSB).
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today