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Church of Norway

Den Norske Kirke

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by christopher oehler
Keywords: church of norway | cross | st. olav axe |
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[Church of Norway]
image by Jan Oskar Engene, 31 May 2006

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Church of Norway

At is an article about the Bishop of Oslo and an accompanying photo showing a red flag with a gold cross botonny superimposed on two axes. Wikipedia calls that design the crest [sic] of the Church of Norway.
Ned Smith, 30 May 2006

Alexander von Volborth in his 'Heraldry of the World' (1973) [vvb73] gives the arms of Olav Engelbrektson (1480-1538), last Catholic archbishop of Norway. Quarters 1 and 4 contain the above arms, however, the cross is silver (p. 138, ill. no. 749).
Jan Mertens, 30 May 2006

The arms and flag of the Church of Norway were approved by the Crown Prince Regent's Resolution of 28. September 1990. The official government adoption (by the Crown Prince Regent in state council because of HM King Olav's illness at the time) reflects that the Church of Norway is a established or state church, the Evangelical Lutheran religion being the official state religion according to the constitution and with the King as the head of the church.

The arms and flag had been in unofficial use before the formal adoption in 1990. The emblem was recommended by the bishop's conference as early as 1922 and 1923 and again in 1963 and 1965. The design is by heraldist Hallvard Trætteberg and is based on the emblem used by (Catholic) archbishops of Nidaros in the first part of the 1500's. The emblem combines the Christian cross with the axe of St. Olav, the patron saint of Norway.

In anticipation of approval by royal resolution regulations on the use of the arms of the Church of Norway were adopted by the Church Council on 8. June 1990. In these regulations the ratio of the flag is defined as 1 : 1,2 - or in other words 5 : 6. The regulations are available at
Jan Oskar Engene, 31 May 2006

Norwegian separating church and state - flag repercutions?

As several news portals reported today (at least over here, it was today), the Norwegian parliament decided unanimously to separate the Norwegian Lutheran Church from the state. See for example here
None of the articles I read mention the flag, but apparently all illustrate it with various photos or drawings of the national flag.
Now a question: has there been any discussion/ideas/hints that may suggest that a change of flag is being envisioned (proposed?) Obviously, the cross in the flag was only natural when the state had the official religion. But what now? Shall the state still "promote" one (several, actually) of the religious in its flag, even though it does not represent the official religion any more?
I do not suppose that, even if anyone thought of that (and I am sure there must have been people in Norway who considered it) there is little chance that the flag is going to be changed any time soon. It has strong tradition and is much beloved by the people, but anyway...
And if other Nordic countries follow the suit, may have have to change the term from "Scandinavian cross" to "old Scandinavian cross" any time soon?
(Caveat: Some of my semi-serious remarks were meant to be (somewhat) humorous and I had no intention of offending anyone. I apologize in advance if I did.)
Željko Heimer, 16 May 2012