Progress along St. Olav’s Way: Virtual pilgrim completes journey (part 2)

Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / Visitnorway.com The northern lights over Trondheim, with the spire of Nidarosdomen in the foreground.

Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / Visitnorway.com
The northern lights over Trondheim, with the spire of Nidarosdomen in the foreground.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

Trondheim, the Final Destination!
Trondheim is Norway’s third largest city and has a very important history. It was both a Viking capital and a religious capital.

It was originally founded in 997 as a trading post by the Viking king Olav Trygg­vason. Between 1030 and 1217 it was the capital of Norway. All of the kings were crowned at the mouth of the Nidelva River.

The city has had various names: Kaupangen (market place), Nidaros (the mouth of the Nid River), and Trondhjem (city in the district of Trøndelag).

Nidaros Cathedral
This cathedral is our final destination, the goal of our pilgrimage. St. Olav’s Way led us to the burial site of St. Olav.

Photo: CH / visitnorway.com Nidaros is the grandest cathedral in Norway.

Photo: CH / visitnorway.com
Nidaros is the grandest cathedral in Norway.

King Olav II was an 11th century Viking king who tried to Christianize Norway. After he was killed in 1030 in the Battle of Stikle­stad, he was buried on the banks of the Nidelva River. After miraculous events took place at his gravesite, he was declared a saint, first by the Bishop of Nidaros and then by the pope. He became the patron saint of Norway.

The building of the cathedral started in 1070 and was finally finished in 1300. It was designated as the cathedral for the Catholic Diocese of Nidaros in 1152. After the Reformation, it became the cathedral of the Lutheran bishops of Trondheim in 1537. The Diocese now has 21 churches and some of them are almost 1,000 years old.

Today pilgrims come from all over the world to visit this medieval cathedral. Since the reopening of the Pilgrim’s Way in 1997, there has been increased interest in making this pilgrimage.

The cathedral remains the major tourist attraction in Trondheim. It is the site of Olav’s Wake, a religious and cultural festival that takes place every year on the anniversary of St. Olav’s death, June 29.

Nidaros Pilgrim Center (Nidaros Pilegrimsgård)
After visiting the magnificent Cathedral of Nidaros, I made my way over to the cathedral’s Pilgrim Center. I wanted to collect my Olav Letter (Olavsbrevet) or diploma because this would be the proof that I had completed the pilgrimage. I had to hand in my passport to receive it. (Remember that I had been collecting stamps on my pilgrim passport along the way?)

Photo: CH / visitnorway.com Zero kilometers left until Nidaros! Stock image guy looks like he either hasn’t figured out that he’s made it yet, or doesn’t know where to go next.

Photo: CH / visitnorway.com
Zero kilometers left until Nidaros! Stock image guy looks like he either hasn’t figured out that he’s made it yet, or doesn’t know where to go next.

The diploma shows both St. Olav and St. James, who are the patron saints of all pilgrims. It also includes a map that shows other famous pilgrimage sites in Europe. They are the pilgrim centers in Rome and Santiago de Compostela and other centers such as Vadstena in Sweden, Viborg in Denmark, Canterbury in England, Cologne and Aachen in Germany, and Vezelav in France.

The text on the diploma is written in Latin and Norwegian as follows:

Latin: Notum facimus hanc ecclesiam cathedralem apud Sancti Olavi regis corpus aedificatam atque ad dei gloriam et ipsius Sancti Olavi regis ho – norem dicatam dom (pilgrim’s name) pietatis causa ac peregrinationis visitasse. Datum Nidrosia (date)

Norwegian: Vi gjør kjent at til denne domkirke bygget ved Kong Olav den Helliges grav og viet Guds ære og Kong Olav den Helliges heder, har (pilgrim’s name) gudfryktig vandret pilegrimsveien Nidaros (dato)

English translation: We declare that to this cathedral built over King Olav the Holy’s grave and dedicated to God’s glory and the honor of King Olav the Holy (pilgrim’s name) has devoutly walked the pilgrims’ way. Nidaros (date)

After receiving my diploma, I decided to stay in the Pilgrim Center, which is also a hostel. Since there was a special two-night rate for pilgrims, I opted to stay two nights. I would then cease being a pilgrim and become a tourist!

What a journey! I learned a lot about Norwegian history along the way and am very pleased that I undertook this journey. It was an unforgettable experience.

I hope that you, my dear readers, enjoyed traveling with me on St. Olav’s Way. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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