Katarina Cathedral Church

About Katarina Cathedral Church

“Katarinakyrkan“, a Stockholm landmark, stands on historic ground; the site was first mentioned in 1303, and the first chapel built at the end of that century, by Papal Bull of 1388 sanctioning a pilgrimage site to be known as the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Photo, ©: HC Ericsson

King Johan III ordered building of a small chapel commemorating the Sture family. The new Maria Parish of south Stockholm quickly outgrew it, and a larger church was erected in the early 1600´s. After appealing to the king, the parish was divided in 1654, and architect Jean de la Valle (1620 - 1696) was chosen to design a cross-shaped church, with altar and pulpit in the center.
Building began in the spring of 1656, first services 21 April 1656, and the new church was finally completed in 1695.

During the witch hunts of the 1670´s, trials based largely on false accusations took place at that site, followed often by burnings at the stake.

In May of 1723 the church and many buildings in the area were destroyed by a city fire, but by 1724 it was restored and rededicated. Several improvements were made during the mid-1700´s, including pulpit, altar and organ. Exterior restoration took place in 1784. In 1862, the Church Council noted the "need of a heating system in our cold climate", so heating pipes were installed under a new wooden floor. Major restoration took place in 1952-54, and a new copper roof completed in 1988.

May 17, 1990 was a sad day for the congregation, as their church burned to the ground, fortunately without loss of life. Only a medieval cross and items in the vault were saved. Collections began the day after in Stockholm, and people throughout Sweden became involved in the "Save Katarina" project, through gifts of funds and services.

The 700 choristers of Katarina gave concerts to build and install a new organ from J.L. van den Heuvel of Dordrecht, Holland, to be dedicated in December of 1998, during Stockholm´s year as "Cultural Capital of Europe".

Photo, ©: HC Ericsson

Church restoration has cost about Skr 240,000,000 (about $34,000,000), of which insurance covered Skr 145,000,000. Since the outer walls remained sound, it was decided to rebuild, using historic 17th century techniques, with work supervised by Royal Court architect Ove Hidemark. Wooden beams were brought from the forests of Mellanskog in Helsingland, and skilled craftsmen were joined by young apprentices to re-build the church, based on historic records, and using only traditional masonry techniques, hand-forged spikes and wooden plugs, with birchbark insulation from Dalarna. For safety, a new fire protection system was installed, with electronic alarms, compartmentalization, and sprinklers to protect the brick- and wood structure. An elevator was added.

The new church interior blends traditional and modern, with handblown glass from France, a reconstructed organ facade, an "ad orientem" eastern altar representing the past, and a new, larger, lower pulpit, plus open spaces for plays, liturgical dance and meditation for modern needs. "Katarina" is the first church in Sweden to use a new loudspeaker system, with four speakers in every row of pews.

When you come to Katarina Church, you´ll find something for everyone, not just to look at... traditional Sunday services, choir- and organ concerts, prayer- and "songs of praise" services, children´s programs and meditation.


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