Church of the Day – Gothenburg Cathedral, Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden, is a prosperous small city that is home to large R&D centers for AstraZeneca (recently in the news for its COVID vaccines) and Volvo car company. Gothenburg built its first Protestant cathedral in 1621. The town suffered a very large fire in 1802 and an earlier cathedral was completely destroyed. By 1815 they had rebuilt, resulting in this current cathedral.

Note the tower capital rather than a spire.

The sanctuary is in gleaming white and gold with gray accents, a color scheme implemented during an innovation from 2013 to 2015. The half-columns here are wood but covered to look as if they’re marble.

A lot of thought went into coordinating this interior design.

The two stunning angels were rescued intact from the 1802 fire. The rest of the altar is gilded wood reconstructed after the fire. The theme is the empty cross as it appears after Christ’s resurrection. The style could be described as high imperialism, neoclassical rococo or contemporary with the cathedral overall.

Here’s a side pulpit described as Empire style. Its elegant style does appear to be fit for a Roman emperor. Everything is gold: evangelists, angels, pinecones and the drapes.

The organ is relatively new, installed in 1962. The church has Friday and Saturday lunchtime concerts as well as other special concerts and recitals.

A church brochure observes that the organ façade is contemporary to the cathedral. More thought and planning…

We haven’t seen this in Protestant churches before. Confessional booths were installed in 2002 on both sides of the pews. The guide says, “Confessions are now held in Protestant churches but are not considered a sacrament as in the Catholic church.” The guide also says the congregation jokingly refers to them as the “trams.” See the sanctuary picture for another view.

With alternative styling, the “trams” could pass for 1950s diners.

We liked the Children’s Cathedral, a quiet side room with a small altar, pew and religious objects in the cupboard. Kids can do thematic play with a religious bent, readying them to be active in the church as they mature.

Note the multi-ethnicity of the kids on the rug.

A statue of a rather stern-looking Peter Wieselgren decorates the grounds, now a public park. He was a Lutheran minister at the cathedral in the 1830s-40s and was instrumental in the Swedish temperance movement. At that time Swedes were poor, drinking was heavy, and the spirit of choice was Brännvin, a liquor distilled from potatoes, essentially Swedish vodka, now made into aquavit. His efforts led to laws that rationed alcohol. (A vote on outright prohibition failed in 1922 51%-49%.) In the 1960s, rationing was replaced by very high taxes that remain in effect to this day. Any serious drinker in southern Sweden makes road trips to Germany for their cheap booze.

Don’t drink! He’s watching you.

Visited September 2021

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