Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

St Olaf

Today is the feast day of St Olaf, the patron saint of Norway.

It is a good occasion upon which to send my greetings to my Norwegian friends and an opportunity to share the notes on St Olaf from John Dillon on the Medieval Religion discussion list. As with the recent post on another Scandinavian saint, St Bridget,I have not bothered converting the links. They include some wonderful images of medieval art - Norway has preserved some superb examples of English inspired or influenced high medieval art, of the sort that was lost in England itself in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Olav, king and saint

St Olaf, from a frontal c.1320-30 now in Trondheim cathedral

Olaf of Norway (d. 1030). Olaf II Haraldsson became king of Norway in 1015, reconquered areas that had been under the control of Danes and Swedes, and effected, partly by force, the conversion to Christianity of his then still largely pagan country. A rebellion forced him from his throne in 1028; he died two years later trying to regain it. Olaf was buried at what much later became Trondheim. His son Magnus promoted his veneration as a saint and built a chapel at his grave. In 1075 that chapel was replaced by a cathedral (now the cathedral of Nidaros). The later twelfth-century archbishop of Nidaros, St. Eystein (also spelled Øystein; latinized as Augustinus) wrote the Passio preserved in O.'s Office (BHL 6322, 6324). A paper on it by Eyolf Østrem is here:

Olaf's mid-thirteenth-century statue at Tyldal kirke in Østerdalen:
An English-language site on the much rebuilt cathedral of Nidaros:
Olaf's spring in the cathedral:
An illustrated, English-language page on the cathedral's early fourteenth-century St Olav altar frontal (thanks again to John Shinners for sharing this with the list two years ago):

Some Olaf -related visuals outside of Norway:
a) Olaf in the mid-fifteenth-century vault paintings in Överselö kyrka in Strängnäs kommun (Södermanlands län):
b) Olaf on the fifteenth-century rood screen at St Michael, Barton Turf (Norfolk):
c) An English-language page on, and some views of, the originally mostly fifteenth-century St Olave's church in Chester (restored, 1859):
and here is another image of Olaf from Chester cathedral:
d) An English-language page on, and some views of, the originally late medieval St. Olav's church in Tallinn:
Many views of the church are here (follow the sequence of thumbnails near the bottom):

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