Vestervig Abbey Church

Vestervig, Denmark

Vestervig Abbey was established in about 1059 making it one of Denmark's most ancient religious houses. About 1030 Saint Thøger settled at Vestervig and built the first wattle and clay church in Thy. Thøger was a Thuringian missionary who had been living in England when Olaf II went there on a Viking expedition. Thøger's wonderful sermons brought an invitation to return to Norway with Olav as his personal chaplain. He had, even as a young man, a reputation for being able to heal the sick. He became a personal advisor to Olaf II. When Olaf was driven from Norway in 1028, Thøger went with the king eastward into Sweden and as far as Kiev. Olaf returned to Norway in 1030, raised an army and tried to take the throne again. He was killed at the Battle of Stiklestad 29 July 1030. Olaf was locally canonized as Saint Olaf. Thøger fled Norway and settled at Vestervig. He began to teach the local people about Christianity without much success.

The abbey church and Vestervig church with the sacred spring were both dedicated to Saint Thøger and were locally important as pilgrimage sites. Thøger's fame as a healer spread far beyond Thy. Vestervig became the seat of the Bishop of Vestervig (later Børglum) in 1059 when Vendsyssel (Jutland above the Limfjord) was created as its own diocese after the death of Bishop Val. Thøger was named the patron saint of the diocese.

The Augustinian Canons who established themselves at Vestervig no later than 1140, were instrumental in the establishment of the Børglum Abbey which later supplanted Vestervig as the seat of the diocese. They were probably immigrants from England. The western end of the Limfjord had filled in making it impossible for ships to sail through the fjord from the North Sea. International trade virtually stopped. One reason for the transfer of the see to Børglum may have been to access the coast easier.

The Augustinians built a new church in the 13th century out of large red brick, the most common building material of the time. There was a nunnery at Kappel near Vestervig Abbey, and rumor had it that the monks built a tunnel that ran from the abbey to the nunnery, so that the canons could move back and forth without being seen. Local histories cite claims of brick work found under fields between the abbey and Kappel as evidence for the tunnel, but no serious excavations have been undertaken to prove or disprove the old story.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536 when Denmark became officially Lutheran. The monks either put off their habits and became local residents or left the country, perhaps south into Germany. The abbey became crown property and the properties which over the years had become part of the abbey estate were sold or given away. Several land owners purchased or inherited the property from that time.

Most of the abbey was destroyed by a fire in 1703. After the destruction of St. Thøger's Church in 1752, the abbey church became the parish church for the town of Vestervig. The church tower has two bells still in use from the abbey days: one cast in 1513 by Sven Andersen and the other cast by an unknown bell maker from the 15th century.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1059
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Frits Slavensky (43 days ago)
There I was baptized
Niels Blixenkrone (2 months ago)
Beautiful and historically interesting.
Hanneke Kossen-Boot (12 months ago)
Because of its historie
N Christensen (14 months ago)
Excellent organ
Lea Bevc (2 years ago)
Nice tourist spot. Beautiful place.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.