The Churches of Gotland

VÄTE

One of the great sights. Quite a lot of ashlars from a pulled down 12th century church have been preserved in the present building, comprising a great many reliefs; attributed to "Byzantios" and Sighraf. At the north side there is a whole 12th century portal preserved (presumably the former south entrance) with a framework of reliefs, at one side a woman suckling two beasts, a symbol of Luxuria, the Unchastity. Parts of another portal surround the entrance to the vestry. There are two window-frames, one with a fine grape-vine. The other reliefs seem to have belonged to the usual hunting-frieze. The fundaments of this church have been found under the floor. On the basis of these and the comprehensive building material it would be possible to make a fairly true model of the old church. The present choir was built at the end of the 13th century, and "Egypticus" erected the stately three-aisled nave before the middle of the 14th century with a richly ornamented portal. A tower was planned but never built. In the choir vault there is an ornamental decoration from about 1280. The "Passion master" has left apostle figures and in the choir a picture of St Christopher carrying the Infant Jesus over the river. Below the painting there is an inscription alluding to the saint's capability of saving a person, who had said his prayers to his image in the morning, from an evil death during the day: "Vultu(s) Xr (ist) offori. . . a morte subit(a). . . (au)x(il)io"- "The face (i.e. the sight) of Christopher saves from sudden death". There must have been a passion frieze by the master on the northern nave wall but it must have been removed in order to give room for a painting with the same motif by the more "modern" Master from 1520 (see Alva, Lau). The wonderful Rood is a work of the master of the Viklau Virgin and has, like the Byzantios-font, belonged to the 1 2th century church.

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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