Västra Kyrkogatan 2
S-62150 Visborg (Visby)
26 June - 13 August
Mon 9.00 - 21.00
Tue 9.00 - 21.00
Wed 9.00 - 21.00
Thu 9.00 - 21.00
Fri 9.00 - 21.00
Sat 9.00 - 21.00
Sun 9.00 - 21.00
14 August - 25 June
Mon 9.00 - 17.00
Tue 9.00 - 17.00
Wed 9.00 - 17.00
Thu 9.00 - 17.00
Fri 9.00 - 17.00
Sat 9.00 - 17.00
Sun 9.00 - 17.00
The parish lives with the seasons that so clearly characterise Gotland. All year round it is a parish church that celebrates worship and mass almost daily. But in the summer, the church also becomes a pilgrimage destination for parishioners, tourists and summer visitors alike. The cathedral is visited by 300,000 people every year.
Themed weeks and encounters with the divine
During the Gotland theme weeks, such as Almedalsveckan and Medieval Week, this is clearly demonstrated. The cathedral invites you to all kinds of events and becomes the ecclesiastical centre for the thousands of medieval or political travellers during the week. It was built to serve man's encounter with the divine. Here you can worship, be in silence, light a candle or let an prayer travel in the boat of prayers.
Visby Cathedral Parish
St Mary's Cathedral is visible from a distance as you approach Visby - but here you'll also find Terra Nova Church and Visborg Church. Baptisms, weddings, funerals and life in between, it's all here in Visby Cathedral Parish. There are groups for all ages, from Clap & Sound for the little ones, Confirmation, Young Adult and discussion groups. And many choirs!
Discover with the children!
Exploring the church space with children can be very exciting. Here are some tips. There is also a drawing table next to the tree of lights at the front of the church. A warm welcome!
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We look towards the rising sun, as an image of waiting and expecting hope and light. The centre of every church is the altar in the east. It is here that the Eucharist is celebrated, the meal that seeks to give a glimpse of a united humanity.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the high altar in the cathedral has been decorated with an altarpiece designed by the Gotland-born architect and artist Axel Herman Hägg. It was created as part of the major renovation that he was responsible for and carried out around 1900. The aim of the restoration was to restore the church to its medieval appearance, but some of this has been lost in later restorations.
The saints not perfect either
The main motif is the kings' adoration of the newborn baby Jesus surrounded by four standing saints; St Bridget and St Olof on the left and St Catherine of Vadstena and St Nicholas on the right. Saints are people who have spread God's love through their lives. But like us, the saints were not always perfect.
Behind the altar you see the twelve apostles, Jesus' closest friends, who were not a perfect crowd either. It's good to know that God can work through us anyway.
Towards unity and healing
The altar is where the Eucharist, the centre of the Christian rite, is celebrated. Here, bread and wine are shared as a sign that we are moving towards a united humanity.
Mary is important in many people's faith. Partly as an intercessor and friend, partly as a symbol of God's tenderness and care. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is portrayed as the queen of heaven on a throne wearing a stunning golden dress and cloak.
The statue is a reconstruction of the original from the 13th century. It was carved in basswood by Fred Fleming and unveiled as recently as the turn of the millennium.
Suppressing the beasts
In her right hand she holds a spire. In her lap is the baby Jesus. Look also at what Mary has under her feet. She is lightly pressing down two beasts symbolising evil powers. Traditionally, the image of Mary has been placed on the north side. The tradition is based on the idea that Mary sits on the right side of the enthroned Christ - the place of honour.
Here many children have been dipped
The magnificent baptismal font in front of Mary dates from 1240. Eight hundred years. Isn't it breathtaking to try to understand how many people have been baptised in it over the years? It's a large one because children used to be dipped with their whole bodies. The water was heated with heated stones for the good of the child.
Everyone is part of a story
Water has a double symbolism as a force of chaos and a giver of life. In a way, it stages the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism involves a passage where something dies for something else to push through. Baptism is also a promise that we are never alone. We are incorporated into the church and a community that transcends time and national boundaries. We are included in a story of life where darkness never has the last say.
Paradise font and angels
The font belongs to the mussel cup or paradise font group, which developed into an important Gotland export to the countries around the Baltic Sea in the 13th and 14th centuries. Of the examples that stayed on Gotland, the Visby font is the most magnificent. Children who are baptised here today are given a little angel to hang on the tree you see next to it.
The chapel in front of you is a silent memorial to those who died in shipwrecks on the Baltic Sea. It is also a memorial to those who perished in the tsunami and the M/S Estonia. The place is also for your memories.
Gotland's location has made the island a natural meeting place, with thousands of years of trade and international contacts. Ships have come and gone over the centuries, some of them wrecked or sunk. On the bottom of the sea, in our memories and in our hearts, there is their history.
In memory of the victims of the steamship Hansa
On a November night in 1944, the steamship Hansa was torpedoed. 84 people died and 2 survived. They are honoured here in the cathedral. Today it is believed that the cause of the sinking was a russian torpedo. At the time of the sinking, the steamship Hansa was one of the regular Gotland ferries between Nynäshamn and Visby.
In memory of refugees from the Second World War
During the autumn and winter of 1944-45, around 20,000 Balts fled across the Baltic Sea to Sweden. They made their way in anything that could float. Refugee boats were often completely unsuitable for crossing the Baltic Sea. In addition to the risk of hypothermia, there was the risk of being shot at by machine-gun fire from overflying planes.
Many people made it to Gotland, but how many fled and never made it is impossible to know. The memorial plaque is for these people. More people are fleeing today than ever before in human history. Many are escaping from war and climate change will drive even more from their homes. Churches around the world, together with other good forces, are helping to welcome and support refugees.
M/S Estonia and the tsunami
Here in the chapel there is also a memorial plaque to the victims of the M/S Estonia in 1994 and more recently to the victims of the tsunami disaster in Thailand in 2004. Having a place to remember disasters together can provide an opportunity to embrace the pain in shared grief. The loss remains but the wounds can hopefully heal.
Adam, Eve and the fruit. The story of paradise says much about healthy boundaries, human relationships and God's care.
Paradise, the place where everything was perfect in the beginning of time. Or was it?
A myth and a truth
The story of paradise depicted here is a myth, that is, a story that tells a truth in fictional form. The truth is that we belong together, that a life in balance is possible, but that because of destructive forces in and around us, we do not live in that balance. Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise. That is where we live, in a beautiful but fragile world. And we should manage it as best we can.
From Burgsvik to the side chapel
The altar was made in the 17th century from sandstone quarried in Burgsvik on southern Gotland. The sandstone was then painted. This altarpiece was a gift from the governor at the time, Johan Cedercrantz. Originally it was allowed to decorate the high altar, but for more than 100 years it has had its place here in the south side chapel.
Let your desires travel
Here you will also find the prayer boat, which is quite new even with its Viking touch. Write a prayer, a thought, a sigh and let it travel along with thousands of others' prayers.
In the middle of the church, enthroned above the central altar, is an 13th-century statue of Christ in oak. In original! That' s something. But what was the hole in the ceiling above him used for?
If you look past Christ, you'll see a hole in the middle of the ceiling in the chancel arch. There has been some thought about what it might have been for.
Play with the story of Christ
One theory is that the image of Christ was used in medieval church plays, where people staged and played - in the best sense of the word - the Bible stories. It is then imagined that the heavenly Christ ascended into that hole.
800-year-old special effect
What a special effect in those days! And how much more alive the stories become when you can see and feel them - not just hear the words.
Christ blesses all
Here we see the risen Christ. Probably he used to hold a resurrection banner in his left hand. Even today, he raises his right hand in a gesture of blessing. Christ, the one who showed that the way of love can cost and went all the way through death - he wants to give his blessing, wants everyone to be filled with peace and serenity.
Every instrument in the Church has its history. The Klinte organ has travelled back and forth and been in an attic for some years. The oldest organ is still in use despite its 400 years of age. The cathedral has a rich musical life and several organs.
In the main chapel there is an organ that was originally built for Klinte Church in 1870 and was used there until 1977. For more than twenty years it was then stored in the barn at Klinte vicarage awaiting restoration.
Klinte organ - the perfect one
In 1998 it was given its place in the Cathedral. Some now call her perfect. The organ has six voices and an auxiliary pedal, but with its octave coupling it fills out the chapel in an impressive way. The work was paid for by Consul CM Herlits in the sum of SEK 3100 to Klinte parish.
Transported for two weeks
He also paid for the organ to arrive properly. Here is what he wrote:
"the transport of the organ from Wisby to the church, travel back and forth once for three persons between the mentioned places and board and lodging for not more than 3 men for not more than 14 days, as well as a handyman during said time."
The great organ of the cathedral
The church's great organ, located in the northern nave gallery, was rebuilt just before the turn of the millennium on the basis of the organ built by Åkerman & Lund in 1891. Today it has two manuals and 25 voices as well as two octave couplers.
The organ of 1599
The 1599 organ is located in the nave gallery. It has three manuals - overwork, chest work and back positive and has been in storage since 1838. The reconstruction was done in 2016-17 by Grönlund's organ building company. The disposition, range and architecture tell us that we are in the Renaissance rather than the Baroque. A few decades later, the pointed turrets on the back positive were rounded and the range was expanded from two-bar A to three-bar D. The organ is voiced in middle-tone and church pitch by Mads Kjersgaard.
At the altar of Mary there is a two-manual organ built by A Magnusson's organ building company in 1984. The facade was designed by Jerk Alton. The organ was expanded in 1999 to its present layout by Robert Gustavsson's organ building company.
The organ was built in 1996 by Ålems orgelverkstad. It has four voices, normal tempering and standard tuning.
Rich musical life
The cathedral has a rich choral and musical life, with everything from concert pianists and micro-organists to gospel choirs and vocal ensembles. The variety of musical expression is part of the diversity of the Christian faith.