I found Tim Matthews' article of December 21 on Sweden's medieval churches very in teresting. Many of the churches he described were known to me, as I have visited my daughter, who lives in Sweden, frequently during the last eight years. May I. however, add a few additional facts and comments?
Mr. Matthews dismissed Lund Cathedral with a reference to humorous carvings on the pillars in the crypt rather as a guide would point out the "Imp" in Lincoln Cathedral to tourists. The distinctive features of Lund Cathedral are the beautiful Romanesque (Norman) apse and the spacious crypt, both of which date from the twelfth century. They are among the finest examples of the architecture of this period. Although Mr. Matthews mentioned the embarkation of St.
Bridget from Kalmar in 1349 for Rome, it was a serious omission to leave out any reference to-the church and abbey which were built in Vadstena during her lifetime. These are surely, one of Sweden's most notable shrines.
St. Bridget, the foundress of the Order hearing her name, died in Rome but her remains were brought hack to Sweden and now lie in an imposing reliquary behind the high altar. The church is well preserved and has changed very little since the Middle Ages. It contains medieval statues and triptychs of great interest, including an ancient wood-carving of "The Beautiful Madonna" and two wooden statues of St. Bridget herself. Much remains, also, of the original abbey buildings.
The Brigettine Sisters, who left Vadstena at the Reformation. returned about ten years ago. They built then a small convent incorporating a guest house for those who wish to study, meditate and rest.
I visited St. Bridget's Abbey last August and found that a new modern church and extensions to the convent had been added. These had been opened by Bishop Taylor of Stockholm only a week before.
Sister Patricia, who came from New Zealand some years ago to join the Order, told me that the Sisters now saw their mission as one of explaining the truths of Christianity to the Swedes. They are using all the means at their disposal — radio and television, literature, teaching and conversation with the visitors who stay at the guest house.
Mr. Matthews' account of the Karlstad centre which is run by Abbot Oswald Eaves was a worthwhile digression from his subject of medieval churches. I visited this centre and found myself equally enthusiastic about the work being done there.
Seven Dominican Sisters help Abbot Eaves in ministering to the people in the district of Varmland. Mass is said at several centres in the outlying villages and the Sisters teach both the children and adults and tend the sick.
In Karlstad itself. the in fluence of the centre is spreading in many ways. A shop has been opened and I was told that scarcely a day passes without a Lutheran clergyman coming in to browse among the books and talk to the Abbot and the Sisters.
One of the Sisters teaches at the town's High School and others teach French and ceramics at the centre, which is truly ecumenical. Their fairly spacious block of buildings contains a charming modern chapel and accommodation on the ground floor for the priest.
On the second floor, there are rooms for discussion groups and classes and accommodation for the Sisters. On the top floor there are rooms for visitors. As at Vadstena. the Karlstad Centre aims at expansion, but Abbot Eaves needs more priests to help him.
It is a hopeful sign that many Swedes arc seeking opportunities for quiet thinking. and the retreat centres, many of them ecumenical, are hooked up several months ahead. Doris Simpson 410 Ecclesall Road South. Sheffield.
It may be of use to you to know the sums Cafod has sent and arc sending for the Ethiopian and West African drought: Ethiopia — Sent: £2,000 cash: £3,000 medicines. Sending: £3,000 to Mother Teresa's Abandoned Children's Home; £3,000 cash for purchase of mobile van for supplies.
West Africa — Sent: Cash £2,000 for relief supplies. Sending: £10,000 for cattle breeding, sorghum seeds, manioc planting, wells and medicines: £3,000 for reafforestation.
The grants for Ethiopia will be going through Fr. Doheny of the Christian Relief Committee and those for West Africa (six countries) will go through Caritas and C.R.S.
Noel Charles Administrator, Catholic Fund for Overseas Development. 75 Kinncrton Street, London S.W.1.