Lund Cathedral

The Lund Cathedral (Swedish: Lunds domkyrka) is the Lutheran cathedral in Lund, Scania, Sweden. It is the seat of the bishop of Lund of the Church of Sweden.


Lund was an important town long before there was a cathedral. Lund was the site of the Skåne Assembly (Danish: landsting) at St Liber's Hill into the Middle Ages. It was also the site of a pre-Christian religious center.

A cathedral was built in Lund before 1085, but it is difficult to know if the present building was built in the same place. In the gift letter of Canute the Holy, dated to May 21, 1085, there is a mention of a cathedral built during the 1080s. Canute gave several properties that enabled the building of the cathedral. However, sources indicate that Canute's cathedral is not the present Lund Cathedral. The Cathedral School was established in 1085, making it Denmark's oldest school.

King Eric I of Denmark went to Rome on a pilgrimage and secured two important concessions from Pope Pascal II: sainthood for his murdered brother, Saint Canute IV and the creation of an archdiocese that included all of Scandinavia. Lund was named as the headquarters. Bishop Asser Thorkilsson became the first archbishop for all of Scandinavia in 1104 and the cathedral was begun sometime after he took office. The building was constructed in the typical basilica style with half-rounded arches supporting a flat timber ceiling. The cathedral was constructed out of granite blocks. The high altar of the crypt was consecrated in 1123. The cathedral and the high altar were consecrated to St Lawrence on September 1, 1145 by Archbishop Eskil, Asser's successor. Of the present church only the apse has remained unchanged.

Lund became the religious heart of Denmark and over the years many monasteries, nunneries, priories sprang up around the cathedral.

Lund played a vital role in Denmark's history from the time it was made a bishopric. It was the place of many important meeting between kings and nobility. Valdemar II was crowned there in 1202.

In 1234 the church suffered an extensive fire. When the church was rebuilt a lecture wall, new vaults and a new facade to the west were added. Many valuable artistic additions were done to the church in mediaeval times. In 1294 Archbishop Jens Grand was arrested in the Cathedral. In the 1370s, magnificent gothic choir stalls where installed in the church, and in 1398 a gothic, cupboard-shaped wooden altarpiece was placed in the main chapel. An astronomical clock was installed in the nave around 1424 and renovated many times.

In the 1510s, during the reign of King John I, German artist Adam van Düren led a major renovation of the church. In the crypt, van Düren created a well decorated with interesting reliefs and a monumental sarcophagus for the most recent archbishop of Lund, Birger Gunnersen.

Lund was an important cultural and religious city in the Middle Ages, as attested by its large number of churches and monasteries. The Reformation caused a dramatic decrease of the influence of the church in the city and country. In 1527 the Franciscan Monastery was forcibly shut down by a mob of townspeople who had received permission to close the monastery. Franciscans were especially hated because they lived by soliciting alms in addition to tithes and other fees ordinary people had to pay to the church. Torben Bille was the last Archbishop and struggled vainly against the Lutherans until he was imprisoned in 1536. He was released the following year after he submitted to the Church Ordinances. The cathedral was stripped of statues, medieval artwork, side altars, and reliquaries.

After the Treaty of Roskilde, in 1658, the Bishopric of Lund was transferred to Sweden.

An extensive restoration was done by Helgo Zettervall in the late 19th century, when the towers got their present appearance. Mosaic decoration was added to the interior of the apse in the 1920s.

Art and architecture

The church was built of sandstone following the Romanesque style of Lombardy (Northern Italy) and the Rhine region (Germany). These influences are evident in the floorplan, the crypt and the arched gallery that decorate the upper floor of the apse.

The towers

The cathedral's towers stand 55 meters high and are, with their pyramidical roofs, a landmark on the skyline of Lund and clearly visible from the surrounding wide plain. The towers are not open to the general public. The oldest church bell was made in 1513.

The entrance

Two bronze doors built by Carl Johan Dyfverman serve as the main entrance. They hold 24 reliefs with motives from the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. Above the doorway, a concrete pediment has three holy men as motives: Jesus Christ, Canute IV of Denmark, and Saint Lawrence.


As a typical Romanesque building, Lund Cathedral is distinctively dark, with only small windows to allow sunshine to pass through. The Latin-cross church has three aisles and a transept. The quire (under the crossing) has splendid gothic choir stalls from the 1370s. The gothic winged-altarpiece of the main chapel of the apse dates from 1398.

The cathedral's south aisle has an information counter, a globe of light and various exhibitions.

Astronomical clock

The astronomical clock of the cathedral, the Horologium mirabile Lundense, was made around 1424. After having been in storage since 1837, it was restored and put back in place in 1923.

When it plays, one can hear In dulci jubilo from the smallest organ in the church, while six wooden figures, representing the three magi and their servants, pass by Mary and Jesus. The clock plays two times a day, at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. every day, except on Sundays when the earliest playing takes place at 1:00 p.m. in order not to interrupt the morning service.

On top of the clock there are two knights that mark the hours. The upper board of the clock is the astronomical clock. It shows, among other things, the different phases of the Moon and where the Sun sets.

The lower board of the clock is a calendar. With the help of it one can, among other things, calculate when different mobile religious holidays will fall and on which weekday a certain date will fall. In the middle of the calendar stands Saint Lawrence, the Patron Saint of the Cathedral, and by his side the Symbols of the Four Evangelists. The present board of the clock goes from 1923 to 2123, after that a new one must be obtained so that the clock can be used.


In the Lund Cathedral there are five organs. The biggest one is the gallery organ which was built between 1932 and 1934 by the Danish company Marcussen & Søn and is one of the largest in Sweden. The gallery organ has 102 stops distributed between four manuals and a pedalboard. There are 7,074 pipes in total. In 1992 it was renovated by the same company.

The smallest organ is in the astronomical clock. It plays In dulci jubilo daily. The three other organs are in the Crypt, the Baptism Chapel and the Choir.

The crypt

The crypt has remained largely untouched since its consecration in 1123. The crypt is identified by its numerous and densely built pillars. The pillars are very different in style and were built by the architect Donatus. The most famous pillar is the one with the statue of a man embracing it. Local legend tells that the figure is Finn the Giant, builder of the cathedral. Another column has a similar sculpture of a woman, the wife of Finn according to legend. It is not known who the man on the column actually represents, but it could be the Biblical character Samson.

The crypt's main altar is the oldest altar in the church and was consecrated on June 30, 1123 by archbishop Asser. The crypt contain many sarcophagi, chests and grave slabs. Among its most important works of art are the relief-decorated well and the tomb of archbishop Birger Gunnersen, created by Adam van Düren in the 1510s.

According to legend, the crypt may be the final resting place of the great hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, about whom legends abound in Irish and Scottish mythology.

Anders Sunesen is also buried in the cathedral.


Apart from its religious functions, the cathedral is also the place for the solemn ceremony of the conferment of doctor's degrees. It is also used for various sacral concerts.


This is an incomplete list of the architects of the cathedral.

  • Carl Georg Brunius (1837–1859)
  • Helgo Zettervall (1860–1902)
  • Theodor Wåhlin (1902–1942)
  • Eiler Græbe (1944–1967) see link: sv:Eiler Græbe
  • Carl-Axel Acking (1970–1977)

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