Christianity

 

 

Sjælland 2006-11
Tomb with Christ on the cross, Holtug Church, Zealand, Denmark. The letters INRI are from the Latin, Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, meaning “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Christianity as a religion came into existence around year 30 A.D., at the end of the Easter celebrations, when the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were convinced that he had arisen from the dead. Their new faith was based on Judaism, but of major importance was now the words and deeds of Jesus, his resurrection, and the pact that he, through his death, had made between God and humans.

His disciples now commenced major missionary work, especially Paul, who translated the Christian thoughts into Greek, which in those days was a collective language in the civilized world. Crucial in the new thoughts were the words Saviour, the Lord, the Son of God, and Remission of Sins. Some scholars maintain that, in reality, Christianity was created by Paul, as he changed the gospel of Christ, which stated that Our Father is Our Saviour. Instead, Paul now stated that Jesus Christ is Our Saviour. Missionary work was also expressed through the gospels, written by the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The word Christ is from the Greek khristos, which was introduced as a substitute for the word messiah – a Greek corruption of the Aramaic word meschicha, meaning ’the anointed one’. In Ancient Judæa, kings and priests were anointed, hereby being initiated to propagate God’s will and blessings to the people. Over time, the conception of Messiah was transformed into a belief that a new king of David’s line would arise on the very last day. Followers of Jesus regarded him as the new Messiah, who would save humanity. According to some authorities, the concept of Christ as the Son of God, who had descended to Earth, was instigated several hundred years after his death.

Initially, the new Christian missionary work had a free and open theological thinking as a result. Soon, however, this thinking succumbed to lust for power, and, similar to Judaism, a number of controlling posts evolved, such as deacons, priests, and bishops. Eventually, powerful Christian hierarchies came into existence, which had almost full control of European state affairs, as well as an immense influence on culture, with the Pope in Rome as supreme authority. In the 11th century, a breach between Rome and Byzantium took place, causing the eastern, Greek-Orthodox Church to be almost completely isolated from the Roman Catholic Church, the former now having a Patriarch as the highest authority.

In the 1500s, the so-called Reformation took place, in which a number of scholars, under the leadership of Martin Luther, broke with the Pope in Rome, the result of which was a number of Protestant Churches, e.g. Lutheranism and the Anglican Church, which, again, have been split into a large number of creeds and sects.

The Greek-Orthodox Church was also divided into many branches, e.g. the Coptic Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Church of India. These churches believe in the one single unified Nature of Christ, i.e. a union of the divine and human natures into one is necessary to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind.

 

 

Taiwan 2014b
Metal relief in the town of Morisaka, eastern Taiwan, depicting a scene from the Passion of Jesus Christ, in which he is carrying his own crucifixion cross to the Golgotha Hill. Exhausted, Jesus has just fallen to the ground, being kicked by a Roman soldier. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05
Bronze door in Ribe Cathedral, Denmark, depicting the symbols of the four Christian evangelists: Matthew (winged man), Mark (winged lion), John (eagle), and Luke (winged ox). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2016 
Roman Catholic church: Morning light on a church in the village of Sankt Peter am Kammersberg, Austria. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2018a
Roman Catholic church: Diminutive church, with seating capacity 12, built 2004, Passo Gardena, Dolomites, Italy. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01
Catholic nuns and school teachers, Mysore, Karnataka, S India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

LFM 1987-2016 
Protestant church: Godsted Church, Lolland, Denmark, built before 1300. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Taiwan 2018d
Protestant church: True Jesus Church, Taichung, Taiwan. The True Jesus Church originated in China during the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900s. Pentecostalism places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. – I wonder, why this church is called True Jesus Church. Does anybody believe in a False Jesus? (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Kirgisien 1999
Russian-Orthodox Trinity Church, Karakol, Kyrgizstan. This wooden cathedral, which dates from around 1900, was restored in the 1990s. It houses a famous ikon, which formerly belonged to the church in Svetly Mys. In 1916, all monks in Svetly Mys, except two, were murdered during a rebellion against the tsar, and it is told that the ikon shed tears. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Ethiopien 1996
Ethiopien 1996 
Ethiopien 1996
The predominant religion in Ethiopia is an ancient, orthodox form of Christianity, the Tewahedo Church. These pictures show a procession of priests during the festival of Timkat, in the town of Lalibela. Timkat is the Ethiopian Epiphany, usually celebrated on January 19. This festival is best known for its ritual re-enactment of baptism, celebrating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River. Some of the priests in the procession seek protection from the fierce sun beneath large umbrellas. – Read more about this religion on this website, see Travel episodes – Ethiopia 1996: Timkat – a Christian festival. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydlige Afrika 1996-97 
Fishing boats, Chipoka, Lake Malawi. – Obviously, the one in front is owned by a devout Christian, who has painted the following text on it: ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Early Christians

 

 

Egypten 1999
Egypten 1999
Saint Catherine Monastery, Sinai, Egypt, officially named “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai”, was constructed between 548 and 565, thus being one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. This picture shows a view of the monastery from the trail to Djebel Musa (Mount Moses) (top). – Skulls of deceased monks are kept in a separate room in the monastery (bottom). Note the padlock. Without it, light-fingered tourists would undoubtedly steal some of the skulls as a souvenir. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Irland 1987-99 
Séipéilín Ghallarais (Gallarus Oratory), a restored stone building from c. 8th century, Dingle, south-western Ireland, has been variously interpreted as a church or a shelter for pilgrims. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Norden 1967-86
Sverige 2015
Ruins of Sankta Brita’s Kapell (‘Saint Birgitta’s Chapel’), 27 metres long, 12 metres wide, Kapelludden, Öland, Sweden (top). According to legend, the boat, which brought back the body of Birgitta Birgersdotter (‘Holy Birgitta’) from Rome in 1374, landed at this place. Another legend has it that the chapel is dedicated to a Celtic female saint, Brigida. – Christian stone cross from the 1200s, standing next to the chapel (bottom). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Asien 1972-73
Asien 1972-73
Rock caves in central Anatolia, Turkey, which were formerly inhabited by a Christian people. In one of the caves, a cross has been carved on the wall. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Irland 1987-99 
Ruins of Mainistir Bhuithe (Monasterboice), an early Christian monastery in County Louth, Ireland, founded by Saint Buite, who died 521. From the tower, Christians were called to prayer. Note the crucified Christ and the tombstone, formed as a cross with a circle. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Island-Færøerne 1999
At the ancient settlement of Kirkjubøur, Streymoy, Faroe Islands, a magnificent cathedral, Saint Magnus Church, was erected during the 1300s. Today, the cathedral is in ruins. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008 
Ruins of Salomon’s Chapel, Hammerknuden, Bornholm, Denmark. This small chapel was constructed in the 1300s. In those days, enormous numbers of herrings were landed in a small local harbour, named Kragkås, and the Archbishop of Lund (in present-day Sweden) was of the opinion that the large population of fishermen here ought to have a church. The chapel possibly takes its name from Salomonius (1231-1314), a mystic of the Dominican Order. When the large herring boom ended in the 1500s, the harbour was deserted, and the chapel fell into decay. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Norden 1967-86
Ruins of Alvastra Abbey, Omberg, Östergötland, Sweden, a Cistercian monastery, which was founded in the 12th century. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Irland 1987-99
Irland 1987-99
Ruined cathedral, tombstones, and the Round Tower, from c. 800 A.D., Gleann Dá Loch, or Glendalough (‘Valley of Two Lakes’), Ireland (top). From this tower, Christians were called to prayer. – Ruins of the Reefert Church, Glendalough, erected around 1000 A.D. (bottom). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Churches

 

 

Bornholm 2008b
Bornholm 2008
Seven round-churches are found in Denmark, five of these on the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea. These churches were erected as veritable fortifications, with dual functions: a place of worship, and a refuge during invasions. The largest of these churches, Østerlars (top), from c. 1150, was constructed of cleaved boulders, in three storeys. It is dedicated to Saint Laurentius (St. Lawrence of Rome, c. 225-258), who, by order of Emperor Valerian, was executed in 258, being roasted alive on an iron grill. (In Danish, his name is shortened to ‘Lars’, while ‘Øster’ means ‘eastern’). – Ols Church (bottom), 13 metres high, is a slender round-church from the 1100s or 1200s, situated on top of a small hill, 112 metres above sea level. This church is dedicated to Saint Olaf the Holy One, who, before his canonization, was King Olaf II Haraldsson of Norway (995-1030). Apparently, the Catholic Church took a liberal view of his brutal behaviour as a king. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tyrkiet 2006 
One of Christendom’s most gorgeous buildings, the Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofia) in Istanbul, Turkey, which was erected 532-537, during the reign of Roman Emperor Justinian. In 1453, it was converted into a mosque, and today it is a museum. In the foreground is an avenue of flowering horse-chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01
Notre Dame de la Conception, a Jesuit cathedral, built 1691-1765. – Puducherri (Pondicherry), southern India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Skandinavien 2001-14
Skandinavien 2001-14
Lom Stavkirke, a stave church in the Gudbrand Valley, is one of the largest stave churches in Norway. It was probably erected during the 1100s. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydspanien 2005 
The famous mosque El Mezquita, in Córdoba, Andalucia, Spain, was erected between the 8th and the 10th century – one of the earliest and most beautiful examples of Spanish Muslim architecture. Inside, the ceiling is supported by 850 columns, made from granite, jasper, and marble. Following the expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492, this mosque was converted to a cathedral, but luckily its gorgeous architecture was preserved. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 1968-2001
White church in a white winter landscape, Lammartal, Salzburg, Austria. In the background the Gosaukamm Range. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008 
Originally, Svaneke Church, Bornholm, Denmark, was erected around 1350, but today only a tiny bit of the old church has been preserved in the southern wall of the present building. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01
L’Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus (‘Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus‘), Puducherri (Pondicherry), southern India, is a splendid Gothic building, constructed in the 1700s. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

LFM 1987-2016 
Evening light on Fanefjord Church, Møn, Denmark. This church, erected around 1300, is richly decorated with Middle Age murals, made by the so-called ‘Elmelunde Master’ (see ‘Church interior’, below). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydlige Afrika 1996-97
The pride of the tiny Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, is its huge cathedral, an impressive building, which was inspired by the cathedral in Salisbury, England, and almost as large. Construction began in the late 1800s and was completed in 1911. An enormous building like this seems rather out of place on this tiny island – perhaps fulfilling the ambitions of a bishop rather than the need of the inhabitants. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tyrkiet 2006 
Karanlık Kilise (‘The Dark Church’), Göreme, central Turkey, is a monastery, carved out of eroded tuff rocks in the 11th century. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

USA 2002-10
Church, dwarfed by skyscrapers, Manhattan, New York City, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05 
Choir and nave of Stødov Church, or Helgenæs Church, Denmark, were constructed of cleaved granite stones during the 1200s. Later, during the Gothic Period, tower and porch were added. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Chukotka 2011
Russian-Orthodox church, Anadyr Airport City, Chukotka, eastern Siberia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01 
New Jerusalem Church in Tarangambadi (Tranquebar), a former Danish colony in Tamil Nadu, S India. The year of construction, 1718, and the monogram of King Frederik IV, who was the patron of the church, are seen above the entrance. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Fyn 2010-16
The church in the town of Bagenkop, Langeland, Denmark, is a fairly modern church, built in 1920. It is almost symmetric. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

USA 2012a 
Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, constructed 1827, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008a
Condensed exhaust from a jet plane draws lines in the sky above Nicolai Church, Rønne, Bornholm, Denmark. This church is dedicated to Nicolaus, patron saint of sailors, lawyers, bakers, and other trades, and especially of children. He is identical to Santa Claus, who, on Christmas Night, brings gifts to children, creeping down the chimney and placing the gifts in stockings, which are tied to the children’s bed. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Cambodia 2009 
Church in a Vietnamese ‘floating’ village, situated in Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydspanien 2005
Nests of white stork (Ciconia ciconia) on the roof of a church tower in the town of Trujillo, Extremadura, Spain. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 1968-2001 
The tower of this church in the village of Sedrun, Tavetsch Valley, Graubünden, Switzerland, ends in a towering spire. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2006-11
The remains of Højerup Old Church, balancing precariously on the edge of a cliff, Stevns Klint, Zealand, Denmark. The choir and part of the graveyard fell into the sea in 1928. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01 
Santa Cruz, a Catholic cathedral in Kochi, Kerala, southern India, was built in 1887. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2012-16
The Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark, was constructed 1682-1695. However, its well-known helix spire, with an external winding staircase, was added much later, 1747-1752. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Ethiopien 1996
Ethiopien 1996
Lalibela, northern Ethiopia, is famous for its twelve stone churches, many of which are carved down into the bedrock. This picture shows the Mashal Chapel (top). – The most striking of the stone churches is Beit Giyorgis, shaped like a cross. You enter this church by walking in an underground tunnel, or by using a ladder, which is leaning against the sheer rock wall. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008b
Aa Church, Aakirkeby, Bornholm, Denmark, was constructed of granite c. 1150, with many additions and restorations taking place since then. The tower, with a twin roof, is 22 metres high, built in the 1500s. The church is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Skandinavien 2001-14
Skandinavien 2001-14
Hol Stavkirke, a Norwegian stave church from the 1200s. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Road altars

 

 

Alperne 2016a 
Typical Catholic road altar, depicting the crucified Christ and the Madonna, Höhlenstein Valley, Tre Cime Area, Dolomites, Italy. Note also the water bottle and the scented geranium. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2016a
Weather-beaten Catholic road altar, depicting the crucified Christ, Passo delle Erbe (Börz Würzjoch), Dolomites, Italy. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2018
Catholic road altar, erected to commemorate a deceased person, Krajcarca Valley, near Trenta, Triglavski National Park, Slovenia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Cemeteries

 

 

Californien 2013
Californien 2013
An abundance of similar tombstones, Veterans’ Graveyard, Cabrillo Memorial, San Diego, California, United States. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2016 
Grave in the village of Thomatal, Austria. The text beneath the image of Christ says: ‘Where You were, I was; where I am, You will be’. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Irland 1987-99
Ancient tombstones, one formed as a cross with a circle, Gleann Dá Loch, or Glendalough (‘Valley of Two Lakes’), Ireland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008a 
Tombstone for a deceased German, from the 1700s, on the island of Christiansø, Bornholm, Denmark. The text reads as follows: ‘Anno 1737, on February 6, Skipper Peter Fenger, from Lübeck, has passed away to rest with the Lord, and has been buried in this grave. – Christ is my life, to die is my gain’. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Californien 2011
Grave, adorned with e.g. plastic flowers and the American national flag, ‘Stars and Stripes’. – Cottage Grove Cemetery, Kern Valley, California, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Guatemala 1998
Guatemala 1998
To conserve space on this graveyard in Antigua, Guatemala, ashes of the deceased are placed in recesses in a wall, – The text on the plaque on the lower picture reads: ‘Old, my dear old Jose Guillermo España’. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Irland 1987-99 
Ancient stone cross in a graveyard, Boston, western Ireland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Norden 1992-98
Graveyard, Nuuk, Greenland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05 
Crosses on graves, casting long shadows, Jelling Church, Jutland, Denmark. In the background the famous Jelling Stones, runic stones from c. 965 A.D. The larger stone was erected by King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ to commemorate his parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyra. On one side of the stone is a carving of Christ – the oldest Norse image of Christ – and on the other an animal, entwined by a serpent. The text translates as follows: ‘King Harald ordered these runes carved to commemorate Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother – that very Harald who conquered all of Denmark and Norway, and made the Danes Christians’. – The smaller stone, which was erected by King Gorm, says: ‘King Gorm made these runes to commemorate Thyre, his wife, Denmark’s pride’. – Today, unfortunately, the stones are behind armoured plastic, partly because they had been subject to vandalism, partly because they were beginning to show signs of erosion from acid rain. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Californien 2013a
Californien 2013a
Cahuilla Cemetery, California, United States, a resting place for mainly Native Americans. The flowers are daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Guatemala 1998 
Many of the sepulchral monuments in this graveyard in Solola, Guatemala, are painted in lively colours. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydlige Afrika 1996-97
The cemetery on Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, is unique. Because of the rocky surface of the island, most graves are above ground, covered by numerous small rocks, sometimes with a stone or iron cross squeezed between the stones. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Californien 2011 
The grave of this little boy has been adorned with his toys. – Cottage Grove Cemetery, Kern Valley, California, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Chile 2011
Chile 2011
Chile 2011
Cemetery at Pueblo Pampa Union, a deserted mining town north of Carmen Alto, Chile. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Guatemala 1998 
New grave, decorated with grass, and a cross made from marigolds, Chichicastenango, Guatemala. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

USA 1998-99
Tombstones and autumn colours, New Lebanon, New York State, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Church interior

 

 

LFM 1987-2016
LFM 1987-2016
LFM 1987-2016
LFM 1987-2016
LFM 1987-2016
LFM 1987-2016
Elmelunde Church, Møn, Denmark, is adorned with numerous Middle Age murals, depicting e.g. Eve’s ‘birth’ (1), the Child Murder in Bethlehem (2), The Crucifixion (3), devils, leading lost souls to the Mouth of Hell (4), a unicorn (5), and a short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) (6). These paintings were made c. 1480 by an unknown artist, labelled ‘The Elmelunde Master’. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05 
Interior of Vesterø Southern Church, Læsø, Denmark, adorned with e.g. several multi-branched chandeliers and a ship’s model. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

In the tiny church in the village of Rondo, southern Tanzania, a series of gorgeous stained glass windows were created by English artist and biologist Jonathan Kingdon, depicting God’s creations.

 

Tanzania 1990
The galaxies. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990
The sun. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990 
The planets. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990
Plants, represented by angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia suaveolens). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990 
Amphibians and reptiles. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990
Birds, represented by yellow-collared lovebird (Agapornis personata) and brown-hooded kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990
Tanzania 1990
Mammals, represented by eland antelope (Taurotragus oryx) and leopard (Panthera pardus). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tanzania 1990
Tanzania 1990
Adam and the pregnant Eve. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Bornholm 2008b
Bornholm 2008b
Sandstone baptismal font in Aa Church, Bornholm, Denmark, carved in the 1200s by Master Sigraf from Sweden. This font is unique, as it not only depicts scenes from the life of Christ, but also motives from the Norse mythology, e.g. the Midgard Serpent (Jormungand). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 1999-2005 
Middle Age mural in St. Paul’s Church, Bornholm, Denmark, depicting the crucifixion of Christ. A Roman soldier, clad in European Middle Age dress, pierces the body of Jesus with a lance. Note the skull next to the horse. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Ethiopien 1996
This priest in Lalibela, northern Ethiopia, presents a golden cross, standing in front of a mural painting, depicting Saint George, a Roman soldier, who was executed around 303 for his Christian belief. He since became the patron saint for farmers, knights, and horsemen (the name George is from the Greek georgos = farmer). A famous legend relates that St. George killed a dragon, which held a princess captive. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05 
Middle Age mural, depicting the Three Wise Men, bringing gifts to the newborn Jesus. – Vesterø Southern Church, Læsø, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tyrkiet 2006
Tyrkiet 2006
Tyrkiet 2006
Murals on walls and ceiling inside the Karanlık Kilise (‘The Dark Church’), Göreme, central Turkey, depicting e.g. Joseph and the pregnant Maria, riding a donkey (top), The Last Supper (centre), and Christ, trampling a devil-like figure (bottom). Some of the paintings have been vandalized. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 1999-2005 
Middle Age mural in St. Paul’s Church, Bornholm, Denmark, depicting serious sins (at least according to certain puritan Christian sects), such as playing music, dancing, and playing games. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008b
Bornholm 2008b
The pulpit in Aa Church, Bornholm, Denmark, depicting angels, one holding a skull. In the background Virgin Mary, and Christ on the cross. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Jylland 2000-05 
Unusual Middle Age murals, depicting an ostrich with a human head, and a man with a ventilation hole as a mouth, making him look as if he sticks out his tongue at the churchgoers! – Vesterø Southern Church, Læsø, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2006-11
Wood carving in Højerup Church, Stevns Klint, Zealand, Denmark, depicting two creatures, which resemble a mixture of a dragon and a Bird Phoenix. This carving is probably influenced by Chinese mythology, in which the masculine virtues of the dragon and the feminine virtues of the feng-huang (often erroneously called ‘Chinese Phoenix’) complement one another, and they are often depicted together on Daoist temples. – More about these creatures is found on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

USA 2012a 
Stained-glass window from 1962, depicting Virgin Mary, called the Queen of Heaven, in Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, the centre chapel of Marywood Catholic University, Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States. The hand above Virgin Mary is the Hand of God. The small figure to the left depicts a legend, in which Mary hands her cincture to the apostle Thomas, as she is assumed into Heaven. The figure to the right shows the crowning of Mary, and beneath is her monogram. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2006-11
Middle Age mural, depicting swans, and a monster, swallowing other monsters, Holtug Church, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Tyrkiet 2006 
Murals on walls and ceiling inside Çarıklı Kilise (‘The Sandal Church’), Göreme, central Turkey, depicting Christ. Some of the paintings have been vandalized. The name of this church was given in allusion to the two footprints on the Ascension fresco near the entrance. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2006-11
Middle Age mural, depicting falconers, Skibby Church, Zealand, Denmark. Note the skeletons, and the devil in the upper left corner. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 1969-2005 
Wood carving below the pulpit, Vejlø Church, Zealand, Denmark, depicting ‘Slattenpatten’ (‘Pendulous Breasts’), an ogress with a dog’s head. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sjælland 2012-16
Mural from 1516, depicting a court jester, Jungshoved Church, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Church service

 

 

Alperne 2016a 
Outdoor church service in the village of Prägraten, Virgental Valley, Tyrol, Austria. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Zambia 1993
Unga people, living in the Bangweulu Swamps, northern Zambia, are Christians. On Sundays, they are called to church service by drums, or, as here, by a boy, beating an old truck rim with a piece of iron. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Chile 2011a
Chile 2011a
Roman Catholics, burning candles at a shrine for Virgin Mary, Cartagena, Chile. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydindien 2000-01 
Street vendors, selling brightly coloured ceramic figures to Catholic churchgoers, Puducherri (Pondicherry), southern India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Filippinerne 1984
During a baptism ceremony, which takes place in a Catholic church in Legazpi, Luzon, Philippines, this young mother lets her baby hold a burning candle. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sydlige Afrika 1996-97 
Achewa girls, singing during a Presbyterian church service, Chembe, Lake Malawi. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Kirgisien 1999
Burning incense for Virgin Mary inside the Russian-Orthodox cathedral in the town of Karakol, Kyrgizstan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Runic stones

 

 

Bornholm 2008
Bornholm 1977-96
Bornholm 1999-2005
Danes converted to Christianity c. 900-1000. On the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, runic stones only became popular after the introduction of Christianity. For this reason, the text on most runic stones on this island have a Christian stamp. – Runic stones and Iron Age standing stones in front of the ruin of the former Østermarie Church (top). The text on the stone to the left translates as follows: ‘Bjarne and Tue and Asgot let this stone erect to commemorate their brother Sibbe. Christ help his soul’. On the rear side (seen here), a large, flower-like figure, a so-called propeller cross, is engraved. – On the Marevad Stone, from c. 1100, the runes are carved to form a serpent (centre). The text translates as follows: ‘Aulakr erected this stone to commemorate his father Sasur, a good farmer. God and Saint Michael help his soul’. – This cross was carved into a runic stone, which is today located at Vestermarie Church (bottom). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Sverige 2015 
Swedes converted to Christianity c. 900-1000. The text on this runic stone, at Bjärby, near Runsten, Öland, translates as follows: ‘Härfrid and Vidbjörn erected this stone to commemorate Fastulv, their father. Siglaug erected (it) to commemorate her husband. He is buried inside the church’. – In those days, to be buried inside the church was probably a great honour. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Christian legends and customs

 

 

Bornholm 2016a
One of the most famous Christian myths is about The Fall of Man. Genesis, Chapter 3, 1-7, reads as follows: ”Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” – “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Traditionally, the Fruit of Knowledge is considered to be the apple (Malus domestica), although the text in Genesis does not mention this. However, it is more likely to be pomegranate (Punica granatum), or perhaps apricot (Prunus armeniaca), as the apple was not known around the Mediterranean at the time, when the text was written. – This mural painting in Nylars Church, Bornholm, Denmark, depicts Adam and Eve, eating from the forbidden fruit, watched over by the serpent. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Alperne 2016
Glass-stained window in a mountain chapel, Sölk Pass, Austria, depicting the legend of St. Christopher: A giant made a living from carrying people across a river. One day, a little boy called him to carry him across. The giant put the child on his shoulders, grabbed his staff, and entered the river. As he was approaching the opposite shore, his burden felt heavier and heavier. The giant leaned heavily on his staff, staggering on, while he was wondering how a little child could be so heavy. With a huge effort, he dragged himself ashore, setting down the child, which said: “I am Christ, and on your back you have just carried all the sins of humankind.” – Since then, the giant was called Christopher (from the Greek Christoforos: ’Christ Bearer’), and he was later sanctified, becoming the protector of wayfarers. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 2008 
Jon’s Chapel, or Jon’s Church, a 22-metre-high rocky outcrop, situated at the west coast of Bornholm, Denmark. According to legend, an early Christian missionary, Jon, used this rock as a pulpit to preach to the heathens. – Plants like ivy (Hedera helix) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior) grow on the rock. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Bornholm 1977-96
In northern Europe, a widespread custom is to celebrate Midsummer by lighting a huge fire and to sit around it, singing summer songs. In fact, this pleasant custom is a remnant from the Middle Ages, during which the Catholic Church undertook a gruesome persecution of so-called witches – often soothsayers, or women dealing with mind-expanding herbs or other ‘devilry’ – who were accused of sorcery and burned at the stake. Today, a ‘witch’, made of straw and dressed in old clothes, is often placed in the fire, sitting on a broom, on which she will fly to Bloksbjerg, a hill in Germany, where, reputedly, witches would meet to perform their grisly rituals – at least in the eyes of the common people. – Christiansø, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

Filippinerne 1984
Guatemala 1998
Guatemala 1998
Guatemala 1998
As opposed to Lutherans, Catholics often display a very relaxed attitude towards their deceased family members. This young man is playing a concertina on a grave, which is adorned with a large Bougainvillea spectabilis, Bontoc, Luzon, Philippines (top). – The other three pictures show Catholics, who, on November 2nd (the day after ‘The Day of the Dead’), visit graves of deceased relatives, Chichicastenango, Guatemala. It was raining heavily this day, but, nevertheless, people brought lunch baskets and held little family parties on the graves. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

USA 1998-99 
Catholic handicrafts from c. 1890, possibly originating in Germany, depicting the Three Wise Men, honouring the newborn Christ in the stables. According to legend, one of the Wise Men was black. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

(Uploaded May 2017)

 

(Updated July 2018)