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The Church Inventory


Degernes old church, Østfold County.
Dated 1554. Columns and figures of evangelists probably added 1698.

After the Reformation, the preaching of God’s Word became a more central part of the service, and the pulpit was therefore given more prominence in the church. This partly redone pulpit is regarded as the earliest existing one in Norway. It is supposed to have been donated to Degernes church in 1554 by among others the vicar in Rakkestad, Østen Baardsøn. The vicar’s mark with the initials ØB can be seen in the panel down to the left.


Heggen church, Buskerud County.
Dated 1595. The left wing is missing.

According to the teachings of Luther the only path to salvation was through God’s Word in the Bible. After the Reformation, some clergymen understood this to mean that pictoral renditions in church could lead to idolatry and divert attention from the Scripture. In several churches, Catholic altarpieces with depictions of saints were therefore replaced with so-called text altarpieces. A total of 78 are known in Norway, mainly from 1580-1625.

Baptismal Font

Tørdal old church, Telemark County.
Probably about 1600.

In Lutheran churches the three main components are the pulpit, the altar and the baptismal font – the pulpit for preaching God’s Word, the altar and the baptismal font for the two sacraments, communion and baptism (Catholicism has seven). This plain baptismal font with columns and blind arches in the Renaissance style are typical of the new church furnishings from the second half of the 1500s. In the 1600s, churches were more richly decorated.

Baptismal Bowl

Svelvik old church, Vestfold County.
Dated 1670.

Since the beginning of the 1600s, the Lutheran baptismal ritual has consisted of the vicar wetting the child’s head with water from the baptismal font, which is placed in conjunction to the altar. The ceremony had formerly taken place near the church entrance, and the child was originally submerged in the water. From about 1600, baptismal fonts also became equipped with bowls for the water. These were of silver, pewter, or brass such as this.


Løten church, Hedmark County.
Dated 1598.

After the Reformation, restrictions were made on the use of candlelight as part of the service. Protestants regarded the use of many candles as a Catholic custom which could distract from pious thoughts. In an instruction from 1580 it was therefore decided that only two candles were allowed on the altar, to be lit only during the Eucharist. All the same there were many costly altar candlesticks, mostly of brass, in Norwegian churches at the time.


Ringsaker church, Hedmark County.
Dated 1559.

The most important change in the Eucharist after the Reformation, was that everybody partaking of the sacrament were also to drink the wine, something the priest had earlier done alone on behalf of the communicants. Chalices therefore had to be larger than before, to make room for all the wine. Chalices were preferably of silver or other costly materials, but there are also simpler variants – such as this, of wood with painted decoration.