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St. Olav

Saints were central figures in catholic Europe in the Middle Ages. Sinners and people afflicted by disease could ask for forgiveness and help if they turned to God through the help of a saint. 

Olav became one of the most important saints in Scandinavia. Churches dedicated to him were built in Scandinavia, around the Baltic Sea, on the continent and on the British Isles.  His grave in a silver shrine at the altar of Nidaros Cathedral became the most important pilgrimage site in Northern Europe, and people from near and far came to the cathedral to pray by the Saint’s grave.


The pilgrim church

The style and size of Nidaros Cathedral was influenced by its role as a pilgrim chuch. It was built to impress the pilgrims, who sometimes walked long distances to reach the goal. The cathedral must have seemed towering and magnificent in comparison to the small wooden houses of Nidaros.

Inside the cathedral there were corridors along the chancel which allowed the pilgrims to walk all the way up to the Octagon and the shrine of St. Olav. There were several chapels in the cathedral and more than 20 altars for the pilgrims to visit.

Pilgrimage today

Throughout the Middle Ages Nidaros Cathedral was the most important pilgrimage site in Northern Europe. Today this tradition has again come to life, and new pilgrims are walking the old pilgrim ways to visit the cathedral. While the pilgrimage in the Middle Ages was religiously motivated, today people are also attracted by history, local culture and the beautiful scenery along the routes to Trondheim.

Regardless of faith and religious background, many people go through a mental change on their pilgrimage through the stunning landscape towards Trondheim and Nidaros Cathedral.