Ancient See of Strengnäs
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(STRENGAE, STRENGENSIA; STRENGENESIS).
Located in Sweden. The diocese consisted of the County of Nykoping, the County of Stockholm south of Lake Malar, and the southern half of the County of Orebro. In 829 St. Anschar and his companion, Witmar, having reached Bjoerkoe (Birca), an island on Lake Malar and a great centre of trade, were well received and made many converts. Returning to Germany in 831, St. Anschar was made first Archbishop of Hamburg by Gregory IV and given a share in the superintendence of the Northern Mission hitherto exercised by Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims. Ebbo's relative Gautbert (Simon) became Archbishop of Sweden and built a church at Bjoerkoe. This success incurred the enmity of the heathen, who drove him from the country in 837, and slew his relative Nithard. St. Anschar sent Ardgeir to Sweden in 844, but he did not stay long. St. Anschar revisited Bjoerkoe in 853, when a law tolerating Christianity was passed, and until 865 St. Rimbert, the biographer and successor of St. Anschar , and other missionaries worked there. In 936 Archbishop Unni visited Bjoerkoe and died there. In 1066 the city was utterly destroyed. About 1080 St. Eskil, an English bishop, while at Sodermanland, disturbed a heathen sacrifice held at Strengas and was killed. Botvid, a native layman converted in England, continued the preaching of Christianity until his murder, 28 July, 1120, by a Slavonic captive whom he had redeemed. About this time St. Regnhild, wife of King Inge II, died and was buried at Sodertelje, of which town she became the patron saint. In 1152 the limits of the Diocese of Strengnäss were determined at an assembly at Linköping. The first bishop was Gerder (1129-59), who founded a school at the Cluniac monastery of Strengnäs. He was succeeded by Bishop William (1160-1208). In 1160 the Cistercian Abbey of Juleta was founded. In 1165 Nericia (Nerike) was added to the diocese. About this time the building of Strengnäs cathedral was begun. In 1176 of 1179 the new stone church as Botkyrka was consecrated by Bishop William and Archbishop Stephen of Upsala; the relics of St. Botvid were translated thither. A hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was built over the grave of St. Eskil, and was restored in 1255. Bishop Olaf or Ulf Bonde (1208-24), called Bassatämir, a nephew of King St. Eric IX, was transferred to Upsala. The see lay vacant for nine years, but in 1233 Bishop Trogil was elected. About this time the Cistercian nunnery of Vaarfruberga (Mons Mariae) on the Island of Fogdoe and in 1234 the Franciscan priory at Nykoping were founded. About 1250 Frogil was succeeded by Colo or Kol (Charles?), who resigned in 1257 and was succeeded by Bishop Finved (1257-75). About 1268 the Dominican priory at Strengnäs was founded. In 1291 Bishop Annund (1275-91) consecrated the cathedral, which was burnt down on the same day, and rebuilt by Isarus, the next bishop (1291-1303). In 1305 it was decided that the city of Stockholm belonged to Upsala, but that Sondermalm belonged to Strengnäs.
The most famous of the later bishops was Conrad Rogge (1479-1501), a doctor of Perugia and a learned humanist. He built the present cathedral choir about 1481, and founded a charterhouse at Svartsjo about 1493 and a hospital for aged and infirm priests at Strengnäs in 1496. In 1495 he had the Breviary of Strengnäs printed at Stockholm in a revised edition. His successor, Matthias Gregerson Lilje, was the protector of "the Swedish Luther ", Olaus Petri Phase (b. at Örebro, 1493), who, having studied as a disciple of Luther and Melancthon at Wittenberg (1516-18), returned to Strengnäs in 1519. The bishop made him chancellor of the diocese and master of the cathedral school, and in 1520 he was ordained deacon and became canon of Strengnäs. There he taught Lutheranism, with which heresy Bishop Gregerson was entirely unacquainted. On 8 Nov., 1520, that unfortunate prelate was beheaded during the massacre at Stockholm. King Christian II gave the bishopric to Jens Andersen Beldenak, Bishop of Odense, who, however, returned to Denmark in April, 1521. During the vacancy the diocese was governed by Laurentius Andreae who had become archdeacon of Strengnäs in 1520. He greatly favoured Olaus Petri, and as chancellor of King Gustavus Vasa (1523) he promoted the interests of Protestantism. The last Catholic Bishop of Strengnäs, if he can be called so, was Magnus Sommar (1528-36), dean of Strengnäs in 1518, nominated bishop by Gustavus Vasa in 1522, and consecrated without papal confirmation by Petrus Magni, Bishop of Westeraas, 6 Jan., 1528. Messenius states that the bishops elect signed a document in which they promised to go to Rome to seek papal confirmation, and thus persuaded Petrus Magni to proceed to the consecration. Magnus Sommar was very submissive towards the king, but his concessions did not save him. For a slight offense he was deposed and imprisoned, and only released in order that he might retire to the monastery of Krokek.
The cathedral of Strengnäs with its numerous chapels, one of which now contains a fine museum of ecclesiastical art, the bishop's palace, built about 1490, now the cathedral school, the fine Church of St. Nicholas at the interesting old town of Orebro, and numerous ancient village churches bear witness to the piety of the inhabitants in Catholic times. Three provincial synods were held at Telge in the Diocese of Strengnäs in 1279, 1341, and 1380. The first two issued statutes on matters concerning the discipline of the clergy, while the synod of 1380 threatened with divers penalties those who molested the tenants of church lands. The "Sondermannalagen", a code of laws published early in the fourteenth century for the people of Sodermanland, contains a number of ecclesiastical laws. Among other institutions, there was in the diocese the chapter of the cathedral, funded about 1288, which counted thirteen members at the end of the fifteenth century, besides which there were a least eighteen chaplains, who served the eighteen altars. To the institutions mentioned throughout the article must be added the charterhouse of Mariefred (1491-1526), and the Carmelite priory of Orebro founded in 1418.
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