Hove Steinkyrkje (Vik kommune) (Mai 2010)
Hove Stone Church
There are few communities that have three Churches, a Stave Church and a newer Parish Church in Vik. The history of the preservation of the Stone Church is as dramatic as the one of the Stone Church. This Church was also due to be demolished and once again Peter Andreas Blix saved the Church.
The Stone Church
Hove Stone Church is one of the oldest stone buildings in Sogn, built about 1170 with seating for about 35 persons.
Blix purchases the Church
In 1880 Blix led restoring of the Hakonshallen in Bergen and to fulfil this project he needed soapstone and advertised to this purpose. He received an offer from Vik for carved soapstone and Blix became suspect that the stone originated from an ancient building. Blix’s suspicion was correct The stones came from a builder in Vik who had bought the Stone Church for 400 NKr Blix obtained the Church and took over the restoration, and once again financed a project with private means.
Blix set out to rebuild the Stone Church as near to the original Church as possible and held a high standard of workmanship. Soapstone was found locally. The interior was decorated with patterns that Blix considered represented the middle ages. A new stone tower was built on die site of a former wooden tower.
Comparison of Craftsmanship
Studies of the stonework reveal that the chancel with its half-circled apsis is of stonework of high quality, stones fitting together without the need of mortar, obviously created by craftsmen, possibly from Bergen. The stonework becomes simpler further back towards the western side, perhaps the local stoneworkers took over the work.
The famous wooden sculpture of the Madonna from 1200 is now in the museum in Bergen. Otherwise the interior is somewhat simple in decoration. Peter Andreas Blix who purchased the church and restored it is buried here with the inscription on his grave: «Of love to the arts he restored this house of God».
In Vik at Hopstock Hotel there is a stone relief of Blix with the inscription; ^Given by grateful friends».
Myths on Hove Stone Church
There was once a man from Hov who was sentenced to death, but his sentence would be repealed if he could build a stone Church in one week. The man thought and speculated and went up onto the Hov hillside to think. Here he met a stranger who asked him about his troubles. The stranger offered him to build a Church in a week, the only payment was to be that the man should know the stranger’s name by the time the Church was finished.
The building progressed and the man had no idea of the stranger’s name. Once again the man went up onto the hillside to think and in his desperation he lay down on the ground and began to weep. Then he thought he heard a child crying and a mother’s voice comforting it with the words; «Do not cry, soon your father Iver Vinkjell will come home with human flesh». When the man heard this he hurried back to the Church building and said; ‘1 think the spire is leaning towards the east Iver Vinkjell». When the stranger heard these words he fell from the building and died.
Myth on the murder in the Church
Long time ago a tragic murder took place in Hov Church. During a wedding whist the bride and the bridegroom knelt at the altering the door was thrown open and in rushed a young man with dagger drawn. He stabbed the bridal couple and they were both murdered.
The murderer was arrested and received the death sentence. During execution blood from the murderer was smeared on the north wall of the Church as a warning. The red coloured stone in the north wall can be seen to this day. The reason given for the murder was that die parents of die bride had forbidden the murderer to marry their daughter.
The Travels of the Church Bells
Hove Church had two church bells, which hung in the Church when Blix bought it in 1880. When the Church was restored and the tower rebuilt, the bells were removed. Even though Blix protested the bells were sold to the Norwegian Missionary Society, and the bells eventually landed in Madagascar.