The Churches of Gotland

MÄSTERBY

The apsidial choir and the nave were built of finely cut ashlars about 1200 but were vaulted only in connection with the augmentation of the nave walls in the mid thirteenth century. A hundred years earlier the tower had been erected and provided with the principal portal of the church. The old portal was moved to the northern side, where it served as the womens' entrance. A runic inscription in the door exhorts: "Virgins, say your prayers in the right manner". In the interior there are mural paintings from several periods. The oldest are the Romanesque paintings from about 1200: in the apse is the usual representation of Majestas Domini surrounded by the evangelist symbols and apostles and prophets etc. All this was, however heavily "restored" or rather repainted in 1633; the original high quality of the paintings is demonstrated by the beautiful Madonna, flanked by angels, fragmentarily, preserved in a niche to the left of the rood arch. The style is Franco-Rhinelandish. Over the rood arch the "Passion master" has placed a big composition of the Last Judgement. The rest of his wallpaintings have, however, been radically remodelled in 1633, when, too, the truly decorative foliage underneath was added. In the choir vault angels in mid-sixteenth century costumes are moving among late Gothic flowers,blowing trumpets The baptismal font is a work of the 12th century stone master "Byzantios".

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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