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Sortebrødre church Viborg

During the first half of the 13th century, Dominican monks – Black Friars- started to build a monastery on a hill facing north towards the Cathedral and east towards Asmild Monastery on the opposite side of the lake. It was probably inspired by Bishop Gunnar of Asmild.

Originally the Sortebrødre Church formed the northern wing of the monastery, which must have been quite an impressive building, judging by numerous relics that are uncovered from time to time.

The Black Friars’ late romantic church had one nave with vertical parapet gable richly decorated with bricked-up openings and ornate masonry. The main material is mediaeval bricks of different sizes and colours, with occasional pieces of granite. It is probable that the monks themselves worked the brickyard.

Owning to many repairs and renovations during the years, the church has lost its original style. The beautiful gables, in particular, have suffered greatly. The west gable has almost disappeared, overshadowed by the tower. The east gable, which is dominated by a beautiful group of windows comprising three slim, bevelled, slightly arched openings, was given a hip-roof during its restoration after the big fire in the town in 1726. Since the Reformation, this has been the parish church for the southern part of Viborg parish. To get more room, two side naves were added: the southern, by lifting the roof above the original northern cloister – its arches can still be seen. The northern nave is the result of incorporating two adjacent chapels.

The present tower was built in 1876 by the architect Storch. It contains the church’s twin-bells, remoulded by Caspar König after the 1726 fire when the church’s furniture was also destroyed. Everything had to be replaced.

The special paintings with biblical quotations that decorate the sides of the pews are by the painter M. C. Trane. A lit of imagination are zeal have been invested in those motifs. They are related closely to the so called “Emblemata Sacra”, a collection of symbolic drawings published in Frankfurt in 1624 by the theologian Daniel Cramer.

The crucifix on the northern wall in the main nave is a late Gothic work from the beginning of the 1500s. Originally, it hung in the previously demolished Grey Friars’ Church.

The pulpit and sounding board, which are baroque, are from about 1730and bear the names of Kings Frederik IV and Christian VI in meticulously rendered back-to-back monograms. The three figures on the sounding board symbolise hope, faith and love (charity).

The church’s most exquisite piece, the altarpiece, is from the chapel of Copenhagen Castle. It was donated to the poor parish by King Frederik IV in 1728.

It is from the famous Antwerp School of Sculpture from the first decade of the 1500s. A cupboard Altar with wings or doors, decorated with paintings on the back and front. The cupboard is divided into 8 symmetric areas of varying sizes, containing 89 coloured and gilded oak figures depicting scenes from the birth of Jesus, through His childhood, passion, etc. culminating in the large centrepiece with the scene from Golgata.

When open, the largest wing to the left contains a double motif: Top: Jesus at prayer in Gethsemane, bottom: Jesus arrested. The smaller wing shows Jesus with Pontius Pilate. Two small wings on the right depict the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost.

When closed, the wing shows, at centre, the Wedding at Cana, (unfortunately it is damaged), Pope Gregory’s Mass and, to the right, the founding of the Holy Communion.

In the middle nave, there are three heavy bronze chandeliers. The one with 16 prongs nearest the steeple is from 1736. The 20-pronged one nearest the nave is dated 1729. The crown in the choir, a gift from 1923, is a copy of the crown from 1736.

Since 1985 a 41-stop organ, built by Bruno Christensen & Sons, has been hidden behind the facade of Professor Storch’s organ from 1887.