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Ancient See of Stavanger

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Located in Norway; included the Provinces of Stavanger, Lister and Mandal, and Nedenes. It was formed early in the twelfth century out of the southern portion of the Diocese of Bergen, which had included until then the whole of Western Norway (Gulathingslagen). Reginald, an Englishman and most probably a Benedictine monk from Winchester cathedral, was the first Bishop of Stavanger. With the money given him in 1128 by King Sigurd Jorsalefarer, for allowing that monarch to marry one Cecilia during the lifetime of his consort Queen Malmfrid, Reginald began the cathedral and founded the chapter. He was hanged at Bergen in 1135 by King Harald Gille upon his refusing to impoverish his see by paying fifteen marks of gold to that monarch, who suspected him of concealing the treasures belonging to King Magnus IV. Reginald's successor, John Birgerssön, was translated to Trondhjem in 1152, as was also Bishop Eric Ivarssön in 1188. The great quarrel lasting from 1294 to 1303, which Bishop Arne (1276-1303) had with his chapter, was terminated only by the intervention of King Haakon, who decided in favour of the chapter and decreed, among other things, that they should have a voice in all nominations to, and deprivations of, benefices in the diocese. Bishop Gutterm Paalssön (1343-50) died of the Black Death. His successor, Arne Aslakssön, also died suddenly at Avignon, whither he had gone to seek a dispensation super defectu natalium. Consequently Clement VI appointed Sigfrid, a Swedish Dominican, Bishop of Stavanger by papal provision in 1351. Most of his successors were appointed in the same way after agreement with the king. In 1352 Sigfrid was transferred to Oslo, while Gyrd Aslessön, who had just been appointed to that bishopric, had to accept in 1354 the less lucrative See of Stavanger. He was soon succeeded by Botolph Asbjornssön (1355-81), who gave his library to the chapter and compiled a Domesday Book (Jordebog) for the diocese. It has since disappeared. Bishop Audum Eivindssön (1426-55) built many churches and gave the episcopal tithes of Valdres to the Brigittines of Munkalif near Bergen in 1441 in their hour of need. The last Catholic bishop was Hoskold Hoskoldssön (1513-37), who was taken prisoner by Thord Rod at Bergen and died there.

The fine Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and St. Swithun, with its twelfth century Norman nave and its Gothic choir (from 1275-97), which once contained the shrine of Saint Swithun, the chapel of the old Bishop's Palace (Munkkirken) dating from the same period as the cathedral choir, King Olaf Tryggveson's church (from 995) on the Island of Moster, the fine thirteenth-century church at Avaldsnes, and many other buildings are monuments of the Catholic past. The cathedral chapter consisted of dean, archdeacon, subdean, and ten canons. The Church of St. Olaf, Avaldsnes, was collegiate, though most often it was served by only one priest. It was a royal chapel, as were also the chapels of St. Peter at Saurboe (Ryfylke), of St. Lawrence at Huseby (Lister), and another chapter dedicated to St. Lawrence at Egersund. The last three chapels were not collegiate. The only monastery of importance was the Augustinian Abbey of Utstein founded about 1280. The bishops of Stavanger had many disputes with the abbots of Utstein. In 1537 the abbey was handed over to Thrond Ivarssön, who had, however, to maintain the monks. Other monasteries are said to have existed in the Diocese of Stavanger, but little or nothing is known of them. There was a hospital dedicated to St. Peter at Stavanger itself. There is now a Catholic church at Stavanger.


THORKELIN, Diplomatarium arna-magnaeanum (2 vols., Copenhagen, 1786); Diplomatarium norregicum, especially IV (Christiania, 1858); DAAE, Stavanger Stift I Middalderem in Historisk Tidsskrift, third series, vol. V (Christiania, 1899), 218-36; Norges Land og Folk, IX-XI (ibid., 1888, 1893, 1894); MUNCH, Paavelige Nuntiers Regnskabs-og Dagboger, 1282-1334 (Christiania, 1864); STORM, Afgifter fra den norske Kirkeprovins, 1311-1523 (ibid., 1897), 30-39, 113, 114.

About this page

APA citation. Taylor, A. (1914). Ancient See of Stavanger. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: The Encyclopedia Press.

MLA citation. Taylor, Arthur. "Ancient See of Stavanger." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 16 (Index). New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1914. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to the Christian Community of Stavanger.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1914. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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