I’m no friend of the Church, but I do like churches. And so I’m saddened to learn that Östergötland, the Swedish province subject to my on-going research, just lost one. Älvestad church caught fire Thursday afternoon and the fire left very little combustible material unburnt. Rural churches are a huge deal to their parishioners, and brave locals got hurt while trying to salvage stuff from the fire. They did get the 15th century reredos out. It’s some consolation that arson is not suspected.
Fires like these have occurred countless times through the centuries in Swedish churches, and the structures have generally been re-built shortly afterwards. Now, however, as the nation is largely de-Christianised and rural populations dwindle, there’s very little need for a church in Älvestad parish (pop. 331 in 1999). We’ll see if they can get the money together. Anyway, a recently ruined Medieval church is a very rare sight, so I’m making a point of visiting during my upcoming fieldwork week.