The Priesthood Board

To the left of the desk where I sit in the the round medieval church of Østerlars, there is wooden board listing the names of the church’s priests from the Reformation up to present times. The woodwork previously served as a door to the confessional when the church was Catholic and features a scene from Luke’s gospel, the good Samaritan.

Last Sunday, a delightful old lady, accompanied by her son, came up to tell me, in Danish, that she had been confirmed in the church 75 years ago. She and her son were visiting Bornholm on a pilgrimage going down memory lane. I directed her to the priesthood board and asked her, in English, to show us the priest who had confirmed her. Her eyes lit up when she saw the names and she immediately pointed her finger at Poul Lange, priest from 1936 to 1945. She remembered the priest before him, Rohde, and added that Poul Lange had been the priest who had married her in Gudhjem church the neighbouring parish twinned to Østerlars. In rural communities, priests often serve two parishes and it was interesting to learn that the current situation, Gudhjem and Østerlars, has been operating for several decades.

Steen, the old lady’s son, was sorry that he did not have his phone to take a picture of the priesthood board. I suggested he gave me his email address and I promised to send him a picture. Later that day, after rummaging in the archives, I found a good picture of the board and sent it to the address Steen had given me. His reply warms my heart.

Hi Nicola, thx for your mail.

My mom and me loved your great engagement

Kind regards, Steen