THE ARCTIC CATHEDRAL (Tromsdalen Church)
It all started with a church society and congregation.......it was to
take 40 years to realise the project, from conception to finished
7 November 1955 was an important milestone. The leaders of the local
church society committee decided that the area known as "Sofiero"
should be the new site for the church. At the same time the planning
committee decided to include a burial chapel and a congregation hall.
The first draft of the planned building, by architect Jan Inge Hovig,
was released in the summer of 1957,and a revised version on 8 February
1960. The final resolution came from the state department on 9 November
1962. The actual building project was started on 1 April 1964.
19 December 1965 The church was consecrated by Bishop Monrad Norderva.
costs including inventory were NOK 4,169,815. Donations and
contributions represent a total of NOK 537,977. The rest of the project
was funded by official funds.
The organ was delivered by Vestlandske Orgelverksted, Hareid, and built
as opus nr. 12. The organ has 22 voices and 124 keys (electropneumatic
windchest and register). The organ is situated by the west gallery.
Organist Helmer Telnes, from Troms¿ served as consultant and
designer. The organ project was supervised by architect Hovig.
THE CHURCH BELLS
The church bells were cast at O. Olsen"s bellmakers in Nauen, during
the summer of 1965. The largest weighs 1050 kg, and has a diameter of
118cm. It"s tone is f.1. The bell is inscribed (in Norwegian) "Hearken
unto me every one" (Mark 7:14) Engraved - the bible.
smallest bell weighs 570 kg, with a diameter of 99cm. Tone is 1.
Inscription: "Listen, my people" (Psalms 81:9)Ê Engraved - a
dove. The bells are located on the frontal part of the church, over the
main entrance. The bell ringing is automated.
The chandeliers are made in Oslo of Czechoslovakian crystal. The design
is by the architect Hovig. The chandeliers comprise of many prisms,
that represent hanging ice formations. In every chandelier there are
126 lights. A special technique used means that the light given from
each chandelier gives a very special colour effect, from the reflection
of each crystal.
The altar, christening font and
pulpit are made from light oak, by Målselv-Møbler and
Thorheim Snekkerverksted. The communion rail and pews are covered in
beige leather. The bridal chair and most of the churches other
decorations are made by The Norwegian Handicraft Association.
The stained glass window was unveiled 25 June 1972. The window is 23
metres high and covers an area of 140 square metres. The shape is
triangular and covers the entire east wall. 11 tons of glass were used
to finish the window. Each glass element comprises of 86 rectangular
sections that form a complete whole.
The man behind this work of art is Viktor Sparre. He envisaged
Tromsdalen church as a "building without a soul" unless the
proclamation of Christ was clearly brought through in the construction
of the church itself. He saw a chance to fulfil this purpose in the
design and construction of the stained-glass window.
techniques had to be employed by Sparre, due to the sheer size and
weight of the construction. The glass is 2 cm thick, single coloured
and with a natural lustre. It could not be bound together with lead,
like other stained-glass windows. After the glass elements were cut to
size, they were supported by steel stays and cast in concrete. Using
this technique, Sparre was able to make larger pieces that would allow
light to push through, creating a sea of light and colour on the east
Sparre and his colleagues worked for three years on the project. A
small-scale prototype was made, to be used as a reference model. He
then drew the decoration in full scale on tracing paper, in order to
calculate the size and position of the elements. The next stage was a
complicated and arduous jigsaw puzzle - each glass piece was mounted,
fitted to it"s counterpart, reinforced with steel and cast in concrete.
The last stage was to mount each rectangle in a wooden frame and fit
those frames together.
had the main motif planned already before the start: The resurrection
of Christ in His glory. In addition to this there are larger and
Uppermost in the triangle is God"s hand. This is an expression of God"s
power and influence in history. The message here is that God has almost
finished his work. The light breaks through and wins the battle over
darkness. The Lord returneth. The figure of Christ is powerful, the
victor in spite of His suffering. The Saviour´s meeting with His people
is symbolised by Adam and Eve who receive him in jubilation and prayer.
Under these figures are symbols that represent the negative aspect of
man"s influence on God"s creation. The barbed wire and skulls are
symbols of war and self-inflicted suffering. Elsewhere Sparre has used
figures of hammers, nails and dice, to symbolise the way Christ was
treated on his first coming. Also represented are the Bible, and a
clock face. This is as a reminder that there is still time to receive
God and be saved - to meet with God before the clock strikes twelve.
In this way this great work of art relates and expands on the central theme: The return of Christ.