Stavanger Cathedral is the oldest church in Norway that is still in use. Construction began on the church in 1123 by a Benedictine Monk named Bishop Reginald from Winchester in England.
In medieval times the church was quite different than it is today. Around the church interior were different altars dedicated to different saints. Daily masses were held around these altars. The St. Swithun relic, an arm bone from an English bishop could be found in the choir. The cathedral also had several relics during this time, these included a cloth with Jesus’ blood, a piece of Jesus’ cross and other relics connected to different saints.
New lighting for the cathedral was installed in the 1920’s. Emanuel Vigeland designed six chandeliers in the nave and eight lamps on the side walls. The lamps were designed with an angel figurine that holds a hanging lamp.The chandeliers look like thorn bushes and vines.
Faces in the Medieval portion of the church reflect the Norse heritage of the craftsmen.The ornate pulpit was a gift from the feudal overlord Henrik Below, in 1658, created by Scottish sculptor Andrew (Anders) Smith. As one of the biggest pieces in Norwegian baroque style the pulpit is an example of cartilage baroque. The base of the pulpit is the biblical character of Samson facing down a lion.
The various carvings display stories of the bible starting with the Garden of Eden towards the bottom and ending with a triumphant Jesus at the top.Since many people at the time couldn’t read, the carvings were used to tell the tales.Five large and elaborately carved memorial plaques are epitaphs for known men in the community. Their hanging in the cathedral brought honor to their families. Many rich and powerful families wanted to mark their position and make their presence known within the church. These families often received preferred seats in the front rows. This practice was popular in the 1600 and 1700’s.