Catholic Mass in Haltdalen Old Stave Church at Sverresborg

New during this year’s Olsok celebration is the Mass on Saturday 30 July at 11am in the old stave church from the 12th century at Sverresborg Folk Museum. It was dismantled at the beginning of the 19th century and later rebuilt at Kalvskinnet in Trondheim in 1883 before it came to Sverresborg. We went there on a beautiful summer’s day by the end of June to do a small report for the website.

By the stave church some carpenters were busy restoring the portal and the door. A provisional door stood bright against the dark timber that has recently been treated with wood tar.

Thor-Aage Heiberg, who is in charge of the maintenance of the historic buildings at the museum, took the time to explain what they were doing. A huge log lay beside the church, ready to be cleaved by hand by Heiberg and two experienced carpenters from Stiklestad. The western wall where the door was, is probably as new as 1883, and when the church went through a thorough repair process during the last year, we found that the wall materials were of poor quality, says Heiberg. All the wall planks were replaced. We found that the original portal was beyond repair due to rot, he says. The portal has to be replaced by a copy, but there is hope for the original door.

It is not daily fare for Heiberg and Sverresborg Folk Museum to make a portal like this with the old techniques from the time when the church was built. We found the log in the woods of Klæbu, he says. When it is cleaved, we will form the pillars with bases and capitals. We hope to finish the work by the end of summer.

It will not be finished before Olsok. The bishop and the priests will have to pass through the provisional door, but they will enter a room that points to early medieval times in Norway. Haltdalen Stave Church is very small, and the congregation must be prepared to stand on the grass below during mass. From there we will look up towards a small but stately church that bears witness to Christian faith from the century that followed the martyrdom of Saint Olav.