Nuns, munks, religious faith, building
We are up in Jutland, near the wild marsh. We can hear the North Sea, hear it tossing about, for it is quite close by. Before us there rises a great sand dune; we have been looking at it for a long while, and we've been, and still are, driving toward it, very slowly, through the deep sand. On the top of this sand dune is an old, rambling building, the Börglum Monastery, the largest wing of which is the church. We arrive there in the late evening, but the air is clear and the night is bright, so we can enjoy an expansive view over meadow and moor as far as the Aalborg Fiord, over field and heath, out over the dark-blue sea.
There is a stranded ship on the coast, and the Bishop's men are active there on the beach. While the ocean has spared some of the voyagers, these men spare none; the water will wash away all trace of crimson blood that has flowed from broken skulls. The stranded goods – and there are many – all belong to the Bishop. The waves have washed up the anchor and barrels filled with fine wines for the cellar of the monks, where there is already a full supply of ale and mead; there is also a plenitude of poultry, sausages, and ham in their kitchen, and in the ponds outside are fat bass and delicious carp. The Bishop of Börglum is a man of power; he owns much land and yet he wants to acquire more; all must bow before him, Oluf Glob.(...)
Bishop Oluf of Börglum, what are you pondering over? What are you writing on that white parchment? What is it that you now conceal under band and seal and then give to a knight and his servant, who ride off with it, out of the country, far away to the city of the Pope?
The time of the falling leaves, the season of storms and wrecks, is past, and now icy winter comes. Twice it has come with no tidings from abroad, but now finally with its return the knight and his servant ride back from Rome, bearing a papal ban against the widow who dared oppose the pious Bishop.
"A curse upon her and all that is hers! Cast out is she from church and congregation. None shall dare lend her a helping hand; friends and kinfolk alike must shun her as a plague and pestilence! What will not bend must break," said the Bishop.
The people all forsake her; yet she is steadfast in her trust in God, who alone will be her strength and bulwark.
"I will master you yet, Bishop of Börglum! You are safe from the law, sheltered by the mantle of the Pope, but not safe from Jens Glob!" He writes to his brother-in-law, Sir Oluf Hase of Salling, bidding him meet him Christmas Eve at Mass in Hvidberg Church; the Bishop must leave Börglum and come to Thyland, to read the Mass there; this Jens Glob knows.(...)
The church is the courthouse; the altar is the counsel table. The candles in the heavy brass candlesticks are all burning.(...)
It is past midnight, Christmas Eve. The wind has died down; the church is lighted up, the light shining from the windows over meadow and heath. The service is ended, and the house of God is so still that the wax can be heard dripping from the candles to the stone floor. Now at last Oluf Hase arrives.(...)
The altar lights burn red, but redder is the stain that shines from the church door; there, lying in blood, is the Bishop, with a cloven skull, and lying dead around him are his men. It is quiet and calm on the holy eve of Christmas.
The third evening after Christmas, funeral bells in Börglum Convent. The murdered Bishop and his slain men lie in state beneath a black canopy, lighted by candelabras swathed in crape. The once mighty lord is a corpse, robed in a silver-bordered mantle, with the crosier in his powerless hand. Incense fills the air as the monks chant a funeral dirge;
Now it is morning; the new day brings sunshine into the room. But the wind still blows, and there is news of a wreck, as in the olden times. Last night, down by Lökken, the little red-roofed fishing village visible from our windows, a ship was wrecked. But by the use of a rocket apparatus a line was cast ashore and a bridge made between the wreck and the mainland; all on board were saved and brought to land, and beds were found for them. Today they are going to Börglum Convent. There they will find warm hospitality, be sheltered in comfortable rooms, see friendly eyes, and hear kindly voices speaking their own language.