Patroni Regni Svecie – Sveriges rikes skyddspatroner
Title: Patroni Regni Svecie – The Patron Saints of Sweden
This article presents the Swedish “national” patron saints – patroni regni svecie – as they emerged in liturgy and art from the latter part of the 14th century onwards. The author follows their development from the first written evidence in 1371 when they were first considered as a group, then consisting of SS. Erik, Sigfrid, Henrik and Eskil – all from the missionary period. By 1396, four more saints had already been added, SS. Botvid, David, Elin (Helena) and Birgitta. Each of them represented one of Sweden’s seven dioceses (the diocese of Strängnäs had two, Eskil and Botvid). St Olof was not officially one of the Swedish patron saints, but occurs frequently among them in altarpieces and mural paintings: in fact, the Norwegian national saint had had a dominant position in Sweden since the 12th century. In the middle of the 15th century the patron saints were still celebrated separately, each in their city and on their special day. But in 1474 an important decision was made at a council in Arboga: the introduction of a shared celebration for all the patron saints, Festum Patronorum Regni Sueciae. This evidently led to a large increase in the number of images of them: the article traces this development, and considers for instance local preferences and differences between the dioceses. A special rhythmical office was written for the new feast, in which St Ansgar, the first missionary in Sweden, was included among the patroni regni svecie. Special attention is given to the image of St Ansgar, the “apostle of the North”, whose portrait is strangely uncommon in Sweden, and the author gives several examples of images that in fact may be interpreted as St Ansgar. At the end of the 15th century, St Katarina of Vadstena and Bishop Brynolf of Skara were added to the patroni.