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800 Years Old “Graffiti” Carved on the Nidaros Cathedral


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In Latin: «LAURENSIUS CELVI ANUS PETRI» is carved on the Nidaros Cathedral. (Photo: Asbjørn Svarstad/Dagbladet)

Trondheim historian reveals Norway’s oldest “gay graffiti” on the Nidaros Cathedral.

– Look! Here it is, laughs historian Terje Bratberg while pointing at a carved inscription on a huge boulder on the south wall of Nidarosdomen in Trondheim.

According to the expert, the four words written in Latin reads “LAURENSIUS CELVI ANUS PETRI.”

– In other words, Bratberg explains: “Lars is Peter’s butt.” He is certain it is a reference to a gay relationship.

The Story

At the end of the 1200s, during the building of the cathedral, Archbishop Jørund had a fierce conflict with the cathedral’s priests.

Towards the end of the 1290’s, Laurentius Kàlfsson (Norwegian: Lars Kalvsønn) was a priest in Nidaros (early name for Trondheim). He held a trusted position with the Archbishop.

After a quarrel, the Archbishop sent Lars as messenger to the cathedral’s priests. He read the letter proclaiming that most of them were excommunicated and thrown out of the church. The priests were not only outraged by the message – but also the messenger.

– We know one episode only a few days after the letter-incident where a bunch of students from the cathedral school attacked Lars. They stripped him naked in the biting cold, whipped him and used him as a target for snowballs before the archbishop’s mercenaries came to the wounded man’s rescue.

Later writings tell that Lars Kalvssønn became subject to a comprehensive and lasting hatred from the clergy in Nidaros.

By the time he finally got to go home to Iceland to become a bishop, Lars had served a sentence in a Norwegian prison – probably as pure revenge from the same priests that he had been arguing with.

Clear Message

– The priests had control over the Cathedral School, and they made sure to set the students up against the Archbishop and his people.

The pupils learned to read, write and the art of stone cutting – or got a kind of theological education. They were all equipped with knives, and it would take two or three hours for a couple of them to carve the four words on the church wall.

– The message is clear, but it is uncertain whether there is a reference to an actual love affair between two men or a simple way to ridicule Lars in public. I choose to believe that it is about love, Bratberg explains.

Petri

The other person mentioned is Petri. According to Terje Bratberg, he is identical to Peter of Husabø, Baron and member of The Council of the State.

He was Archbishop Jørund’s supporter in hefty settlements within the Church, including the right to ordain priests.

– Archaeologists must have discovered the inscription during the restoration and construction that took place in the 1900s. I am also sure they understood what the text meant, without any of them found it appropriate to share such kind of “inappropriate” information with the public, says Terje Bratberg.

Gay Destination

He can hardly hide his personal joy, and has shown the “gay graffiti” to all possible groups of visitors, and that people are very amused by the story.

– Personally, I secretly hope that this could become a major destination for gays from all over the world, Bratberg admits.

Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

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