June 14, 2016

Church decorations

05

Part of the glass window above the main entrance

The stained glass panels in the entrance to the church, in the doors into the nave and in the pulpit, as well as the baptismal font, are all the work of Leifur Breiðfjörð. The glass panels of the pulpit incorporate reproductions on glass from Hallgrímur Pétursson’s manuscript of Hymns of the Passion, together with traditional symbols for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The rear of the pulpit has a glass panel with Christ’s monogram – the Greek letters chi and rho – flanked by the letters alpha and omega, reminding us of Revelations 21:6 “I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.

Above the pulpit is a canopy (or a sounding board) around which is carved “Let God’s hand lead you here“, taken from the 44th Hymn of the Passion, and below is a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The colours of the glass also have their meaning: green for hope, development and maturity; violet for repentance, the colour of Lent. The pulpit was the gift of Sigurbjörn Einarsson, former Bishop of Iceland, who was the parish’s first priest.

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The baptismal font

The baptismal font, from 2001, combines a base of Icelandic basalt and a bowl of Czech lead crystal. In the glass is engraved a passage from the Gospel of Mark (16:16): “He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.” The stone is engraved with a prayer by Hallgrímur: “May God the Father be my father.” The font was the gift of the Ladies’ Guild.

In the nave, on the left as one faces the altar, there is a sculpture called the Martyr, by Sigurjón Ólafsson (1908 – 1982), and opposite it is a small bronze statue by Einar Jónsson (1874 – 1954), The Guardian Angel, dedicated to Hallgrímur Pétursson. Einar in 1948 gave the church the statue of Christ that stands to the left of the door as you leave the nave. It shows the Redeemer after His immersion in the River Jordan, when the Spirit of God descended upon Him.

To the left of the chancel is a picture of Mary, Mother of God, with the Godchild, by Guðmundur Einarsson (1895 – 1963). On each side of the chancel are ikons by Kristín Gunnlaugsdóttir (b. 1963), depicting the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.

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The main entrance

The two big bronze doors is the main entrance of Hallgrímskirkja. The door is the lowest part of the window that decorates the front of the steeple. It was installed in 2010. The door was consecrated by then bishop of Iceland, reverend Karl Sigurbjörnsson. The door is a donation from friends of Hallgrímskirkja.

On the door is a symbol from Christianity and Christian art. The form of the symbol is “four leaves”, which is an important symbol of the whole piece. In the four-leaves-form on the door is the image of Christ on the right and man on the left. A crown of thorns is braided around those forms. In that way the suffering of man is also the suffering of Christ. The crown of thorns ends in the door handle. There the hand of God and the hand of man are united. Inside, the door handle forms a cross.

Part of the four-leaves-form is inlaid with red mosaic, Italian. It reminds us of the blood of Christ, his love and sacrifice. This forms a cross, the classical symbol of the crucifixion, the death of Christ and His resurrection. The four forms on the inside of the door are The Good News – The Gospel and are also the symbol of the church that receives the Word of God. The four archangels; Gabriel, Michael, Rafael and Uriel, have each of their own symbol in those forms.

On the door are the words: “Come to me.” Those are the encouraging words of our Lord Jesus Christ to all men and a promise of His eternal love.

Above the door is a verse from the Hymns of the Passion, hymn 24:

“Dare not bring before thy God
Hypocrisy’s oblation.
Stand in His holy place unshod
With humble adoration.
Bow before Him both heart and knee,
Confess His grace thine only plea,
And shun all ostentation.”