The occasion — streamed by EWTN Norge — was a special commemoration of Archbishop Erik Valkendorf, who died in Rome 500 years ago on Nov. 28, 1522.
Valkendorf was the penultimate archbishop of Nidaros — now Trondheim — in Norway before the Protestant Reformation all but wiped out Catholic life in the country.
Bishop Varden, who had also celebrated vespers at Rome’s Santa Maria dell’Anima Church the previous evening, described the conflict between King Christian II and Valkendorf. The two, he said, had been “good comrades at first.” But then Christian prevailed upon Valkendorf to become archbishop of Nidaros in 1510 — and thus “metropolitan of all Norway, plus Greenland, Iceland, the Orkney Islands, and the Isle of Man.”
“Valkendorf took a promise from the king that the latter would not touch the rights of the Church, but Christian probably counted on some room for interpretation between old friends,” Varden explained.
“He was mistaken. Valkendorf became a sincere bishop who loved his diocese. He governed wisely and in turn was a popular shepherd.”
Varden noted that Norway owed Valkendorf “the first printed books in the country,” namely “a breviary and missal of the rite of Nidaros, published in 1519.”