Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sweden, Part 2: Uppsala, Linköping, and Vadstena

One day during my week in Sweden, I visited Uppsala.  A scholar from our Extraordinary Scensescapes project lives and works there, and she offered to show me around.  She ordered some medieval manuscripts from the Birgittine monastery in Vadstena (now kept at the university library in Uppsala) for us to look at!  They were incredible.  Looking at manuscripts and other objects made and used by medieval nuns never gets old!  One of the books was actually a 17th-century manuscript that described the monastery at Vadstena, which was useful for illustrations and building plans.  Another was a book that the nuns in Vadstena used after it was written and used elsewhere first.  By the time it arrived in Vadstena, torn pages and parchment holes had been elaborately stitched up using brightly colored thread!  These repairs are so cool!  It basically looks like little doily patches on the pages!!
Seventeenth Century Plan and Description of Vadstena Convent Church
"Vadstena Kloster Kyrka" (Vadstena Convent Church)
Love this little manuscript that has a silk cover for the gold leaf on the 'B'
Written and illuminated by a nun in Vadstena Convent
Stitched parchment hole

After manuscripts, we had lunch with another scholar at Uppsala who works on Birgittine embroideries.  It was a great lunch, and I continue to be amazed and appreciative that established scholars are open and encouraging toward me and my research.  We went to look at Uppsala Cathedral after lunch, and then visited the cathedral treasury.  More great stuff!! And Eva was the perfect guide through Uppsala.  She is really an expert on many of these things, especially the Vadstena manuscripts we looked at!
Uppsala Cathedral
Italian silk copes
Embroidered Mary and Baby Jesus
I also visited a city called Linköping, which has a great cathedral and lovely little museum.  In Linköping I was picked up at the train station by Markus, who is the director of the museums in Linköping and Vadstena.  We looked through the cathedral, now a Lutheran church, and I was able to photograph the textiles in the museum.
Linköping Cathedral
Markus was kind enough to let me stay with him and his family in their magnificent country home!  The Swedish countryside is as charming as you might imagine, and Markus' family was delightful. As I already mentioned, he had horses and a tail-less cat named Sven Erik!  How much better could it possibly be?
Markus' Home
The man, the legend: Sven Erik
The next morning we went to Vadstena.  On our way, we passed the ruins at Alvastra where St. Birgitta of Sweden's husband was buried.  Beautiful church ruins on a lovely day!!

Vadstena is a sweet little town with a beautiful church and medieval monastery.  The old monastery is now home to a great little museum, and I was able to take tons of photos of the textiles there.  Vadstena is the monastery founded by St. Birgitta herself, and is where her shrine is currently located.  Standing on the grounds that Birgitta may have walked was thrilling, and to see the textiles that she so specifically described in her Rule was fascinating!  Once again, I had the best possible guide in Linköping and Vadstena-- Markus had a lot of answers to my questions and even fascinating questions that are as yet unanswered.
Painted vaulting in Vadstena Convent Church
Vadstena Convent Church
The monastery is located directly on Lake Vättern, which is an enormous and very choppy lake.  At sunset (around 3:45pm because Sweden is weird) I went out to photograph the lake and was surprised to see a couple swans right up near the monastery grounds!

Sweden was great, and I especially loved the countryside and Vadstena!  I owe an enormous "tack tack" ("thank you") to all of the people who helped me, let me stay with them, fed me, showed me around, and aided me when I was lost.


  1. The Swedish countryside looks wonderful. I love the little trees on the gate posts, and looks like a greenhouse in the background. Of course, the horses would be enough for me. In case you were wondering why you were led to ASU, and Corine Schlief, for your doctoral studies---- wonder no more. Trust the Process.

  2. Also, I love the little embroidery repairs, and I love the detail on the Mary and Baby Jesus.

  3. Dear Bevin, could you maybe tell me the date of the photo (with your decription Love this little manuscript that has a silk cover for the gold leaf on the 'B')? This would really help me with my thesis! Thanks in advance, Mariska